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Vaccine eligibility expands to 60+ tomorrow

Cuomo: NY expanding vaccine eligibility to ages 60 and older

The new, lower-age group vaccine eligibility of those 60 and older takes effect Wednesday at 8 a.m.

This change adds to the list of at least 10 million people deemed eligible in the state, even though vaccines have been in short supply and many were frustrated trying to get appointments for shots. State officials estimate the new group adds about 500,000 to the list.

Meanwhile, others in "public-facing" occupations will be added to the eligibility list starting March 17. Those include public and nonprofit employees who deal with the public as well as building workers in those roles.

Also starting Wednesday next week, Cuomo said most vaccination sites can dispense the shots to all people on the eligibility list, except for pharmacies, which will remain focused on people 60 and older and teachers.

The state had limited eligibility to people over age 65 to ensure that the most vulnerable could get in line first, but Cuomo credited President Joe Biden for increasing the vaccine supply.

About the new CDC guidance: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans on Monday, suggesting it's safe for them to gather in small groups without masks or social distancing. Here are some questions and answers about which activities experts suggest are safe, and which precautions remain.

The chart below shows the percentage of New Yorkers who received one vaccine dose and those who have been fully vaccinated in recent days.

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

LI colleges planning for 'a much more normal' fall semester

Colleges and universities on Long Island will shift to more in-person instruction in the fall, administrators say, although plans could change if the pandemic worsens.

Forced into remote instruction when the virus hit last spring, schools reopened in the fall with a mix of in-person, remote and hybrid instruction. Now, with widening vaccine availability and lower infection rates statewide, they're ready to return to a more normal academic year.

"Students are increasingly unhappy with being Zoom Post-it stamps on a screen and the type of interaction that happens," Hofstra University Provost Herman Berliner said. While the university is prepared to modify plans based on conditions in the fall, "At least the trendline now means we’ll be able to be much more in-person and it should be a much more normal semester."

Read more about schools' plans.

Restaurants are eligible for COVID-19 relief grants, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday the COVID-19 relief package that cleared the Senate on Saturday includes $28.6 billion in grants for eateries.

With the Senate's passage of the American Rescue Plan — the House is expected to approve the legislation later this week — Lucy Domingo, owner of Cafe Il Villaggio in Babylon, said she can finally breathe easier after struggling and losing revenue during the pandemic.

"It gives you the opportunity to say 'OK, I don't have to absorb all of this myself,'" said Domingo, who plans to apply for the funding.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday urged restaurants, bars, catering halls, brew pubs, taprooms and tasting rooms to apply to the Small Business Administration for relief dollars. Funding is to be available to restaurants with 20 or fewer locations and can be used to offset expenses from Feb. 15, 2020, through the end of 2021.

Northwell donates materials from first vaccine to Smithsonian

The COVID-19 vaccine shot at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in December will be memorialized at the Smithsonian, officials announced Tuesday.

Items including the empty Pfizer-BioNTech vial that contained the first doses of the vaccine administered to Northwell Health staff, and the scrubs worn by nurse manager and Port Washington resident Sandra Lindsay — believed to be the first person not in a clinical trial to receive the vaccine in the U.S. — will become part of the medical collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

"I hope that when people visit the museum and see all these items that they stop to honor the lives of people who did not make it and remember the loved ones they left behind. I hope it will inspire some discussion and education for future generations," Lindsay said in a statement.

Lindsay’s vaccination card and her Northwell employee identification card will also be conserved by the Smithsonian. Northwell also donated materials used to administer the vaccines, including syringes.

More to know

The White House on Monday said relief checks to millions of eligible Americans will likely be disbursed by "the end of the month," as the U.S. House prepares for a final vote this week on the relief package.

The Long Island Rail Road has added nine trains to its scaled-back schedule — and more are on the way — after widespread complaints about crowding, the LIRR president said.

Factories on Long Island and across the state can vie for nearly $1 million from four new COVID-19 relief programs, state officials said.

Theaters reopening in New York City this weekend did not set the box office on fire, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Singer-actress Rita Wilson, who with her husband, Tom Hanks, announced a year ago they contracted the virus, reflected Sunday on the anniversary of the diagnosis.

News for you

Spring cleaning takes on new meaning this year. After being stuck at home for months, what better way to start fresh than by getting organized, decluttering and disinfecting? We've got a list of tips for what to tackle first, both indoors and outdoors, for a clean space. As the vice president of Long Island Steam Cleaners puts it, "Kids have been home more. Houses are kind of a mess."

The return of high school football (sort of). The start of the season was moved from fall 2020 to March 2021. The season opens Friday night across Long Island, with football games in March for the first time in local history. Some teams, however, are going to have to wait a bit longer

What to expect from the Grammys this year. Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, BTS and Cardi B are among those set to perform at next week's Grammy Awards. The show was originally supposed to take place on Jan. 31 but was delayed to March 14 because of the pandemic. The academy said in a statement that "artists will be coming together, while still safely apart, to play music for each other as a community and celebrate the music that unites us all."

A virtual book series. Write America, a free reading series hosted by Huntington’s Book Revue, takes place at 7 p.m. on Mondays. Books are available for sale on its website, and in some cases, the authors give a sneak peek from works in progress.

Plus, a reminder: Newsday Live's next virtual discussion, Wednesday at 1 p.m., features a conversation with experts about vaccine efficacy. Join us by registering here.

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A heavy burden for health care workers. A Newsday editorial writes: Sometimes the burden lands as a forgotten detail on routine rounds. Or snapping at a co-worker after days working a COVID-19 unit. Or just a feeling of numbness, a dark cloud that’s impossible to shake. This is the fallout from the tremendous stress that health care workers and first responders have shouldered all through this pandemic. Their mental health burden is one that must be eased.

Hundreds of hospital staff on Long Island contracted COVID-19 last year and struggled with short- and long-term ailments, but the stress of caring for patients went beyond the physical. Recently, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health, in collaboration with New York City Health + Hospitals, debriefed intensive care unit directors and physicians in the region about their harrowing year. The raw reports are searing, with descriptions of clinicians unprepared for witnessing "large numbers of patients dying in unfamiliar settings and in unfamiliar ways."

The increased number of patients individual nurses had to care for was overwhelming. Staff with little experience in ICUs struggled with the trauma.

"I see my colleagues; they are not the same people that they were before," one participant said.

The burden is not over. New York still has busy ICUs, and staffers are still caring for patients for whom little can sometimes be done. Underscoring the challenge, a hospital official told the editorial board about a pregnant COVID-19 patient who died recently in a Northwell Health hospital despite staffers’ ministrations. Keep reading.