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$1.9 trillion virus relief bill approved

Congress approves $1.9T virus relief bill

A Congress riven along party lines approved a landmark $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Democrats claimed a triumph on a bill that marshals the government’s spending might against twin pandemic and economic crises that have upended a nation.

The House gave final congressional approval to the sweeping package by a near party line 220-211 vote, precisely seven weeks after Biden entered the White House and four days after the Senate passed the bill without a single Republican vote. GOP lawmakers opposed the package as bloated, crammed with liberal policies and heedless of signs the crises are easing.

Most noticeable to many Americans are provisions to provide up to $1,400 direct payments this year to most adults and extend $300 per week emergency unemployment benefits into early September. But the legislation goes far beyond that. Read more.

See what Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday would be in store for Long Island as part of the bill.

Pharmacists see new vaccine group interest

Those age 60 and older became eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday morning, and already pharmacists started hearing from them. The state announced the eligibility requirement changes on Tuesday and also said pharmacies would be focused on vaccinating that group, along with teachers.

"I've already heard the calls coming in, and they're asking for appointments," said Nidhin Mohan, who owns New Island Pharmacy in Deer Park and is the co-owner of West Islip Pharmacy in West Islip.

Mohan said the West Islip location received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine earlier this week, and that most, if not all, of those doses are already scheduled.

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"We expect more deliveries next week and hope to have it in Deer Park soon, too," he said.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average positivity rate was 3.11% statewide and 4.25% on Long Island.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said 143,592 vaccines were administered in the state in the last 24 hours. A total of 5,941,072 vaccines have been administered in the state since December.

The number of new positives reported today: 577 in Nassau, 598 in Suffolk, 3,420 in New York City and 6,489 statewide.

This chart shows the percentages of Long Islanders who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and those who have been fully vaccinated.

Looking for a vaccine appointment? Check our guide.

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

What Long Islanders miss (and don't miss) about pre-pandemic life

The once-familiar sights of traffic on the Long Island Expressway, crowded concerts and packed restaurants have become an afterthought for many Long Islanders since the pandemic began.

It's sights like those many say they aren't eager to return to. A change of pace helped some realize there were aspects of busy lives they could do without.

Newsday asked Long Islanders what they don't miss — and what they do miss — about their lives before COVID-19 altered their day-to-day routines.

Watch video submissions to see what they had to say.

A look back on COVID-19's impact on sports

On March 12, 2020, it occurred to Tim Brando that he and his Fox colleagues had just worked the final college basketball game of the season.

One year later, Brando still marvels at the oddness of what occurred during the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, which illustrated an extraordinary 24 hours in sports history.

From the time Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11 to the time the NCAA axed its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, most sports seemed to vanish.

Take a look back on those memorable 24 hours at the start of the pandemic, and review a timeline of how the sports world has reacted — and adapted — from March 10, 2020, to right now.

More to know

New York City’s indoor dining capacity is being expanded to 50% of an eatery’s capacity on March 19, Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Long Island's Irish pubs and restaurants are facing another muted St. Patrick's Day in 2021.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce Wednesday the U.S. is buying an additional 100 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

News for you

A new place to throw axes. NY Axe, an ax-throwing range with digital targets, opens in Farmingdale on Friday. It was scheduled to open last year, but the pandemic put its opening on hold. While the venue space can hold up to 60 people for an hourlong session, capacity is kept at 30 to keep people separated safely.

Rebranding a business during a pandemic. Some experts say rebranding efforts in a time like this can be beneficial, especially if the market's changed or if you're looking to show vibrancy and growth. Read more.

Virtually discuss this LI native's book. Northport native and author Forsyth Harmon says when it's not a pandemic, she'd usually make monthly trips here. Instead, Harmon will make a virtual trip to Book Revue in Huntington on March 17 to discuss her first novel, "Justine." Here she talks about the book, which has Long Island as its setting.

Plus, up next on Newsday Live. Join us at 4 p.m. Thursday for a virtual discussion with local health professionals and camp experts as they discuss the question of reopening summer camps during the pandemic. Register here.

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

Commentary

Carnival company seeks fair deal to recover from COVID closures. Newsday Opinion columnist Lane Filler writes: If you’ve searched out fun on Long Island in the past 70 years, it’s almost certain that you’ve been hosted by the Newton family and their employees. Maybe you’ve eaten their cotton candy and funnel cakes, been whirled on their carousels or ferried on their Ferris wheels. Perhaps you’ve oohed and aahed at their fireworks, maybe won a stuffed animal for a date who became a wife or the child who is your life.

But we did not do those things in 2020, and Mike Newton and his brother, John, and his son, John Jr., and their eight or 10 full-time employees did not really make a living. The nonprofits they partner with did not fill their coffers, and the part-timers who staff the fairs and carnivals and feasts had no work.

Newton Shows is what’s known in the trade as a "40-miler," Mike Newton, 67, says. They haul their 1 million pounds of rides and booths and other equipment around Nassau and Suffolk counties and Queens from their East Northport headquarters, but not much farther. They don’t own a fairground but instead set up at the locations of their partners, like the annual St. Anthony’s Family Feast and Festival run by the parish in East Northport or "The Best Feast in the East" at the Church of St. Rocco in Glen Cove or the Sayville Summerfest.

John and Mike’s dad, Lewis, started the business in 1949 with one Ferris wheel and the need to feed a growing family. COVID could end it. The COVID-19 stimulus packages have helped the company some, but not enough. The upcoming season, normally from April to October, could make or break Newton Shows, which has not operated an event since the October 2019 Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay. Keep reading.

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