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More mass vaccination sites opening on LI

Cuomo: Three big vaccine sites opening on LI this week

The new mass vaccination sites at SUNY Old Westbury, the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University and the Brentwood campus of Suffolk County Community College will open Friday and will operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

They'll start taking appointments at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Gov. Cuomo joined with Black community leaders on Monday at the SUNY Old Westbury site to urge people to take the shots he calls "the weapon that will win the war" against COVID-19.

"We're committed to quickly expanding the state's vaccine distribution network to get shots in arms as quickly and efficiently as possible, and these three sites will help Long Islanders access the vaccine and gain some peace of mind as we continue battling the pandemic," Cuomo said.

He said a total of 15 million people in the state are now eligible for the vaccine out of a total population of about 19.5 million. Only two million people so far are fully vaccinated.

Need an appointment? Here are some resources for booking one.

Some other changes happening this week:

  • Starting today, weddings of up to 150 people are allowed, with limitations.
  • On Wednesday, another group of essential workers will become eligible for vaccines in the state: public-facing government and public employees, not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need and essential in-person public-facing building service workers.
  • On Friday, maximum capacity for indoor dining in the state will increase to 75%, except in New York City, where it will increase to 50%.

The chart below shows what percentage of Long Islanders had been vaccinated in recent days this week.

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

The number of new positives reported today: 540 in Nassau, 560 in Suffolk, 3,004 in New York City and 5,807 statewide.

Is NY returning to post-pandemic normal too soon?

The loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in New York and other states risks reversing gains in controlling the spread of the virus, health experts say.

"It’s a little baffling and alarming to see this," said Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in Manhattan.

With the number of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations still relatively high, and the full effect of more contagious variants still unknown, it's premature to ease restrictions so dramatically, said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

"We are at a critical point," said Schaffner, who believes there likely will be an increase in hospitalizations and deaths because of the rollbacks. "We’re vaccinating fast and furiously. We need to hang on as a society a bit longer."

Read more about what health experts say on loosening restrictions and the risk.

Nassau teams up with agencies to vaccinate those vulnerable

Nassau County is donating COVID-19 vaccine doses to help inoculate vulnerable communities, including those who are homeless and those with developmental disabilities.

County officials partnered with the health care organization ProHEALTH in Lake Success on Saturday to administer more than 60 vaccines to members and staff of Woodbury's The Center For Developmental Disabilities and the Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead.

Nassau also partnered with Northwell Health to hold a pop-up clinic in Westbury to vaccinate 500 people at St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope school. That event was aimed at reaching minority communities — which experts say have been hit hard by the virus — through the county’s office of Hispanic Affairs and Northwell Health’s Equity Taskforce.

"We’re doing everything we can on the county level to get vaccines in arms of as many people as we possibly can," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Educators hopeful as more students return to schools

Long Island educators said they are already building the bridges they hope will lead schools out of the COVID-19 era. The combination of mass vaccinations and safety protocols is gradually bringing students safely back full time, helping them reconnect with peers and teachers, educators said.

"The future is happening now," said Caren Gough, a lecturer in the science education program at Stony Brook University. "Merely getting them back to school, where they will have some routine in their lives, will have a huge effect."

Moving forward, Kishore Kuncham, superintendent of the Freeport Union Free School District, predicts this fall will be a time of "hope and promise." By then, the Island should be well on its way toward achieving herd immunity and the great majority of students back in school five days a week, he said.

More: Look back on the year that changed everything for schools, starting from March 16, 2020, when Cuomo directed school systems to close for just two weeks to ultimately reinventing the system.

More to know

The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach will return this Memorial Day weekend, Cuomo said, though pandemic protocols will limit crowds to 50% capacity.

More than 30,000 New Yorkers lost to the pandemic were commemorated in a "COVID-19 Day of Remembrance" ceremony hosted by the Mayor’s Office that took place live online Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said COVID-19 regulations will be "much more liberal" by July 4, when President Joe Biden said he hopes Americans will be able to congregate at holiday cookouts so long as they are vaccinated and conditions are safe.

The Islanders' Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Noah Dobson were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Sunday and didn't play in the game against the Devils.

The tax-exempt status of more than 300 tech startups across the state is imperiled by the pandemic and working from home, with some facing large tax bills next month unless a law change is passed, officials said.

News for you

The art of embracing the grays. Keeping gray hair away can be a chore. And oddly enough, the pandemic has given people a chance to embrace their natural hair color in private. The decision to go gray might not have been intentional (see: hair salon closures), but for some, it's been money-saving and liberating. Take a look at Long Islanders' experiences, and tips from experts.

LI dance groups shifted online. Dancers on Long Island are staying on their toes from their homes until in-person classes are back in session. Here's how many are meeting virtually to keep their break-dancing, line dancing and folk dancing skills sharp.

It's awards season. The Grammys awarded performers from a social distance on Sunday, and the Oscars are preparing for a show in April. Netflix’s "Mank" took the lead when the Academy Awards nominations were announced Monday, earning 10 nods overall. See a list of nominees for major categories.

Plus, coming up this week on Newsday Live: A conversation with Nassau and Suffolk counties' health commissioners on protocols, how the virus is being treated and what still needs to be done. Register here.

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

Commentary

COVID still preying on nursing homes. Newsday Opinion columnist Randi F. Marshall writes: When Carole Major experienced excruciating ankle pain in January, her devoted family faced a tough choice: keep her home in their bubble or take her to a rehab center.

They chose the latter, where their mom tested negative for COVID-19 and got the first dose of the vaccine. A few weeks later, however, the coronavirus claimed the 78-year-old, making her one of more than 6,000 Long Islanders lost to the disease.

Throughout the pandemic, the nursing home crisis has centered on data and policy. But behind the data are heartbreaking individual stories, as too many vulnerable Long Islanders are still dying after contracting COVID-19 in rehab facilities and nursing homes.

Long Islanders like Major. Keep reading.

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