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Nassau official to state: Set up mass vaccination site at Coliseum

'Long Island, Long Island, Long Island'

Nassau Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said Long Island needs more help in fighting COVID-19 since it has persistently registered the highest infection rate of any region in New York.

The call for more urgent action in the region came during a Thursday morning vaccine hearing at the legislative building in Mineola, citing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's own complaints about Long Island's positivity rate tracking higher.

"Long Island has continued to see the highest infection rate in the state. In the governor's own words 'Long Island, Long Island, Long Island,'" said Nicolello, speaking for the Republican majority.

He noted that the Democratic governor and other officials are opening a mass vaccination site Friday at Yankee Stadium, where 15,000 doses will be administered in the first week. Nicolello said that is almost as many as Nassau County has administered since the vaccine rollout began weeks ago.

Republicans hold an 11-8 majority on the county's Legislature. Democrats there supported the proposal.

Cuomo spokesman Jack Sterne said: "These legislators either haven't been paying attention for months or are playing politics with public health — and they need to stop misleading their constituents. The reality is Long Island has received the most vaccines in the state after New York City, we've launched two mass vaccination sites on Long Island, and we've deployed seven community vaccine hubs to the region, with more in the works."

The number of new positives reported today: 611 in Nassau, 651 in Suffolk, 2,939 in New York City and 7,414 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of patients currently hospitalized for coronavirus each day in New York State.

Search a map of new cases and view charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

His family needed a miracle, and a dying pastor got one

COVID-19 damaged Hauppauge church pastor Doug Jansson's lungs so severely, death was just hours away.

Doctors summoned his wife, Kelly, to Stony Brook University Hospital. It was Dec. 23 and Kelly Jansson was hoping she could be there to comfort her husband of two decades in what were possibly his dying moments. Because of a November change in visitor policy for families of patients facing "imminent end-of-life situations," she could.

"They let me come in as a compassionate visit to say goodbye," she said, her voice cracking from emotion.

"I went over there to pray over him," she said, "and never told him why."

Not long after Doug Jansson had been so close to death, unbelievably, he started to rally with help from a device that acts like artificial lungs. The device earned FDA approval in 2020 for patients with severe reactions to the virus.

The Smithtown resident left Stony Brook University Hospital Wednesday afternoon after 53 days.

After cruel month, a letter to family made things worse

Sara Pascucci took one look at the eight-word letter dropped in the mailbox of her home on Berkshire Road in Bethpage and could hardly believe her eyes, particularly after enduring the toughest month of her life.

"Take your Christmas lights down!," the unsigned typed letter read. "It's Valentine’s Day!!!!!!"

It was all too much for Pascucci, 31, especially after COVID-19 came for two members of her family last month. She buried her father, Anthony Pascucci, 61, on Jan. 15, and her aunt, Connie Pascucci, 70, on Jan. 9 after both siblings succumbed to the virus.

"I thought it was somebody trying to be funny but considering the circumstances we didn't really find it funny," Sara Pascucci said of the letter during a news conference Wednesday. "It was actually very hurtful."

Neighbors on the close-knit street have rallied behind her.

Parents to rally over hybrid school schedule

A group of Smithtown parents plans a car caravan to school buildings Sunday to demand a full return to in-person learning for the district's secondary school students.

Health experts agree "kids need to be back in schools," said organizer Stacy Murphy, an Amityville schools guidance counselor whose two children attend elementary school in Smithtown. "They're falling behind in school and do not feel prepared. They're isolated from teachers and isolated from peers."

District Superintendent Mark Secaur said at a Jan. 26 online school board meeting that the district would begin a staggered return to five days for grades 6-12 no earlier than March 1, delaying for the second time a tentative start date because the coronavirus infection rate "has simply been too high and bringing back more students would exacerbate staffing and quarantine concerns."

The district calls its timelines "aspirational," though Secaur said he is more confident about the timing now than when earlier timelines were announced.

Newsday reported in November that 61% of Long Island schools were using a hybrid schedule, 34% were in-person and 4% were remote.

Couple talks about foods that taste rotten

Cilantro, oranges, plain and vanilla yogurt, cottage cheese and smoked Gouda cheese now taste rotten for her.

It's coffee, soda, chocolate and peanut butter for him.

Those are the foods a couple told a Newsday Live webinar Wednesday the coronavirus has indefinitely ruined, even months after recovery from infection. The man and woman are like 1 in 10 COVID-19 patients who become "long-haulers."

Long-haulers experience prolonged COVID-19 illness after acute COVID-19, according to an August article in The BMJ, a medical trade journal. It's not known whether the damage is permanent.

More to know

A state judge ruled Wednesday that the state Department of Health violated the law in delaying for months the release of data on the number of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 after being transferred to hospitals. She ordered the department to release the total number of deaths of nursing home residents, whether they died in a nursing home or after being sent to a hospital.

Seeking to allow more programs to play longer regular seasons, the New York Public High School Athletic Association decided to cancel all state championship tournaments for 2021 spring sports in a vote Wednesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says avoid Super Bowl watch parties: "Just lay low and cool it."

Cases of coronavirus in Long Island's courts have continued to mount even after state administrators modified operations to a mostly virtual model and significantly reduced in-person workforces late last year, state records show.

News for you

Winter weekend fun on the North Fork. All of the North Fork doesn't shut down in the winter. Here are some activities to consider on your next trip out east — handily organized under family fun, friends getaway or couples retreat.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Adventureland announced its April drive-in concert series.

Plus: You shouldn't meet friends for the game, but how about to-go Super Bowl deals from local restaurants?

This afternoon from Newsday Live. Is it time to end remote learning? Watch our event Thursday at 4 p.m.

Sign up for text messages to get the most important coronavirus news and information.

Commentary

Pregnant people deserve better data on COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers studying COVID-19 vaccines failed to get much of any data on pregnant people, Faye Flam writes for Bloomberg Opinion.

That disservice was compounded last week when the WHO recommended against giving pregnant women the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, appearing to conflict with earlier advice offered by the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It later backtracked, though too late to avoid raising a round of new questions.

Experts who study sex differences, pregnancy and the immune system say the limited evidence available suggests pregnant people are more at risk from the virus than from the vaccine.

"Shame on everybody for not including pregnant females at every stage along the pipeline," said Sabra Klein, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University. That should have included testing vaccines on pregnant animals as well as enrolling pregnant women in clinical trials, she said.

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