TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
NewsHealthCoronavirus

Restaurant, bar curfew extended to 11 p.m., Cuomo says

Bars, restaurants get another hour

The new rules allowing bars and restaurants to stay open until 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. go into effect on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Cuomo said.

"Our decisions are based on science and data and we adjust as the virus adjusts. The infection rate and hospitalizations have continued to significantly decline," Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo had imposed the restaurant and bar restrictions to keep down spread of the virus.

Indoor dining returned Friday to New York City, at 25% capacity, for the first time in months.

Cuomo noted the curfew change comes as the state is also partially reopening stadiums and large venues to professional sports games and concerts at locations including the Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum. Those events can begin Feb. 23.

In vaccine news: The Northport VA Medical Center will offer COVID-19 vaccines without appointment Saturday to qualifying veterans, facility public affairs officer Chad Cooper said in an email. The walk-in clinic will open at 10 a.m. and be held at the VA campus.

Regarding nursing home deaths, Gov. Cuomo’s top aide said the administration withheld information about them from the State Legislature for six months because it was facing a Trump administration probe into the deaths and had to provide it with the information first.

The statement, however, didn't quell the criticism from a growing number of Democrats who want his emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic to be rescinded or from Republicans, who accuse Cuomo of undercounting nursing home deaths and want it investigated.

The number of new positives reported today: 748 in Nassau, 810 in Suffolk, 4,195, in New York City and 8,404 statewide.

The chart below shows the daily totals of new cases on Long Island over the last two weeks.

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

Resistance to vaccinations exists in communities of color

Systemic racism in the medical field, coupled with a history of misleading communities of color without their consent, resulted in a culture of skepticism among minorities who are hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, according to Long Island doctors and experts.

"We have to embrace this issue and this history as we have this conversation about the vaccine because people have real feelings with why they feel the way they feel about medicine," said Dr. Jedan Phillips, medical director with the Health Outreach and Medical Education program at Stony Brook University Hospital.

"The historical PTSD we have as people of color has to be acknowledged as we roll out the vaccine to get more people to understand the importance of it."

Phillips was one of several physicians of color who participated in a webinar panel meant to lay out facts about the COVID-19 vaccine. The event was sponsored by Suffolk’s Office of Minority Affairs, Chapter of 100 Black Women and African-American Advisory Board.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a participant, said, "It is important for us to provide you the information so that you can make the best choice to help keep you and your family healthy and to help protect all of us in the community."

1 opening, 480 applicants: The new LI job market

Fred and Lisa Gianchetti, owners of Del Vino Vineyards, were stunned last month when more than 480 people applied for a single opening for a line cook at their Northport winery.

Fred Gianchetti said the business posted the job on Indeed.com and a few other online job boards as usual.

"I’ve always struggled to fill kitchen positions, and now there’s an abundance of people who are looking for work," Gianchetti said. "I’m getting resumes from not only our local area but also Manhattan, the five boroughs, New Jersey and Connecticut."

Other employers, particularly those in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector, report similarly high numbers of applicants in a job market turned upside down by the pandemic. With the region down more than 104,000 jobs in December from a year earlier and at least 79,200 Long Islanders looking for work as of last month, competition for some job openings has grown intense.

'Bored in quarantine,' LIer launches cookie pie business

"I’ve never baked in my life" so says Grace Reilly, a Farmingdale State College student who nonetheless went on to launch her own stuffed "cookie pie" business in the midst of the pandemic, Baked with Grace.

"I was so bored in quarantine. I just wanted to do something."

Three weeks after baking her first-ever cookie back in May, Reilly, 21, was selling about 400 of them a week. By August, her business had grown so much she set up shop at the Coliseum Kitchen & Caterers in Plainview, where she now turns out nearly 1,000 cookie pies a week in flavors such as birthday cake, Oreo brownie, red velvet cheesecake and cinnamon roll.

For the uninitiated, a cookie pie is a stuffed cookie that’s baked in a pie tin then embellished with sprinkles, frosting and such. Find out where to get them.

As for what’s next in her lineup of baked goods, Reilly will only say it's "something that’s never been done before."

More to know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is strong evidence now that in-person schooling can be done safely, emphasizing mask wearing and social distancing, and that vaccination of teachers is important but not a prerequisite for reopening.

President Joe Biden announced the federal government has purchased an additional 200 million COVID-19 vaccination doses, asserting that the U.S. is on track "to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July."

Nearly 1.8 million counterfeit PPE masks were seized by investigators in a Long Island City warehouse, a haul that is believed to be the largest ever involving fake masks during the pandemic, officials said.

The COVID-19 relief package will give New York overall $50 billion in state and local funding and more than $20 billion to support families’ health, financial security and well-being, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is taking a break this spring, according to the revised spring training schedule released by Major League Baseball, which was "created with health and safety considerations in mind."

News for you

Remote school in an igloo? Bobby Reuter and Tiger Winston built this snow fort in Commack, outfitted it with electricity and brought in chairs and laptops for their remote-schooling at The Stony Brook School. See what materials they used to make it, along with other Long Islanders' snow creations.

Drop-in dodgeball for adults. If you're looking to play a team sport without the commitment, Pick-up Play might be for you. The drop-in-style format is offered by LI-Kick for soccer, dodgeball, pickleball and wallyball with COVID safety rules and precautions in place.

Plan your weekend. Like everything, Valentine's Day will probably look different amid the pandemic, but we've curated a list of socially distant activities including a scavenger hunt and drive-in movies, as well as some in-person events like painting for couples that have precautions in place.

LIer coming to Disney+. Fans of "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" will soon see one of Long Island's own join the show, as Andrew Barth Feldman, who played the title role in "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway in 2019, will guest star.

Plus: Why extracurricular activities such as drama and musical performance are still on COVID-19 state recommended restrictions while sports such as wrestling, basketball and cheerleading have been allowed to resume was the topic of a recent Newsday Live webinar. Read about the discussion and watch the replay here.

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

Commentary

We could reach herd immunity so much faster. Here's how. Alex Tabarrok, the Bartley J. Madden chair in economics at George Mason University, writes for The Washington Post: Deaths in the United States from COVID-19 have been falling, but it would be premature to assume that trend will continue.

The recent mutations discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil — which have spread to the United States — are more transmissible. "We're in the eye of the hurricane," warns Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Death rates could increase as we enter a fourth wave that could peak even higher than the first three. We are in a race against the virus to reach V-Day, when we have vaccinated enough people to reach herd immunity.

Simply waiting for vaccine production to ramp up is inadequate. With thousands of people dying daily, there's a strong case for stretching the doses we have now. A "first doses first" approach — that is, prioritizing first doses by delaying the second shot from three to four weeks (the period studied in clinical trials) to 12 weeks — would allow more people to get vaccinated quickly, for example. "Fractional" dosing, such as half-doses, would instantly double the vaccine supply and has been used successfully in previous epidemics. Continue reading

Health