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Back inside the Red Zone 

'We are at capacity' on this floor

Back on the front lines, hospital workers tackled the holiday COVID-19 surge. Newsday’s Faith Jessie takes us back to a Long Island hospital battling the coronavirus.

She goes inside Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital for an exclusive look at how health care workers are fighting the second wave of COVID-19. Watch it here.

Watch the rest of the videos in the series at

Plus: As eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine increases, the supply still remains low. Newsday’s Chelsea Irizarry has Long Islanders' reactions in this video.

The number of new positives reported today: 579 in Nassau, 526 in Suffolk, 3,700 in New York City and 6,753 statewide.

The chart below shows the percentage of New Yorkers who have been partially and fully vaccinated.

Search a map of new cases and view charts showing the latest on vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

LI researchers study heartburn aid for potential COVID-19 relief

Researchers on Long Island are looking for volunteers to help determine whether an over-the-counter stomach aid could provide relief to people with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases.

The clinical trial of famotidine, sold under the brand name PEPCID, is being conducted by the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Researchers are looking for people ages 18 and over who have tested positive for COVID-19, have mild to moderate symptoms and have not been hospitalized.

While famotidine, a histamine-2 blocker, is used to reduce stomach acid in people with heartburn, researchers are looking to see if it also will halt the inflammatory response to COVID-19, said Dr. Joseph Conigliaro, professor at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and sub-investigator on the clinical trial.

"I think it’s really important to be able to give back to science," said Jennifer Scruggs, of Bethpage, who is participating in the trial with her husband, Bill.

CPS reports fell, as kids were away from those trained to see signs

Reports of child abuse and neglect dropped by 15% on Long Island in 2020, as more children were away from school buildings and adults who could recognize signs of abuse, according to county data and child welfare advocates.

Social services officials and outside experts say they suspect much of the drop-off in reports is due to children having to stay away from school, organized sports and clubs and, sometimes, medical appointments, for much of the year. That meant children were interacting with fewer people who are trained to recognize indicators of abuse and are mandated to report suspicions to authorities, officials said.

"Knowing the high stress levels, knowing that families are isolated at home, we suspect that there's actually probably an increase in the number of cases, primarily the sex abuse cases, and they're just not getting reported," said Debra Lyons, of the Nassau County Child Advocacy Center at The Safe Center LI, a Bethpage-based nonprofit which provides support to victims of abuse.

Lindenhurst small businesses are celebrating survival

A ribbon-cutting ceremony typically commemorates the beginning for a business, but for Rea Leunes and her family, the ribbon-cutting outside their Pita Bowl restaurant in Lindenhurst was a celebration of survival.

The restaurant opened just weeks before the pandemic shutdown began last March and never had a chance to have an official ceremony, so she decided to finally hold the event while marking her one-year anniversary.

"It was a celebration of a continuation," said Leunes, 52. "It was to say, ‘Here we are, we made it!’"

The Pita Bowl is one of a half-dozen businesses that opened in the village in the months prior to the pandemic. New establishments already are shaky — add a pandemic to the mix, and owners suddenly found themselves scrambling.

More to know

New York voters continue to support Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, but a majority don’t like his handling of data on nursing home deaths which took months to be made public, according to a poll.

Long Island home prices remain elevated compared to last year, but appear to have hit a plateau, experts say.

The Hofstra men’s basketball team has paused all team activities due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program, the school announced Monday.

The Knicks had their first postponement of the season as Saturday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the San Antonio Spurs was called off because of the Spurs having four players test positive.

News for you

Bringing back fans to MSG. Madison Square Garden announced plans for allowing fans back into the arena, which starts next week. Fans must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event, take a health survey and wear masks, among other safety protocols.

Virtual reptile adventures for kids. The "Mr. Rogers of Reptiles" is taking Long Island students on virtual reality adventures, with a new magazine Erik Callender has put together called "Nature Now 360." Each issue focuses on two reptiles, amphibians, or insects and includes 12 QR codes, each leading to a 3-dimensional, panoramic YouTube video.

A video series on NYC's future. Long Island real estate developer Scott Rechler is hosting a video series on "how to rebuild" New York City after the pandemic, starting Thursday at 7 p.m. Each video will run about 30 minutes and depending on the guest may include Long Island content, a spokesman said.

Plus: A Newsday Live virtual discussion Tuesday featured experts giving tips for businesses to hold on until vaccines are widely in use. Re-watch it here.

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Why add more people to the vaccine list? Reader Bob Ranieri, of St. James, writes in a letter to Newsday: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently expanded the list of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to include taxi drivers, restaurant staff and some facility residents.

These will be added to prior categories of essential workers, those over 75, and then those over 65. Now, there will be even more people trying to schedule appointments for limited available spots. (I have been trying for four weeks on the phone and website for both the state and the county, only to be told there are no openings.) So the thinking seems to be: "Let’s add more people to compete for limited appointments."

Basic leadership decision-making is based on "ready" (plan and research what needs to be done), "aim" (create a plan that looks to minimize obstacles) and "fire" (put the well-thought-out plan into action). The current thinking seems to be "ready" (let’s come up with something quickly without much research), "fire" (get it out there to show we are responding) and "aim" (oops, now how are we going to fix this?). Because of this repeated poor planning, many of us are reluctant to believe "I’m from the government, and I am here to help you." Read this and more letters from Newsday readers.