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Vaccines opening to 30-plus, then 16-plus in NY

State: NYers age 30 and older are vaccine-eligible Tuesday

New York residents age 30 and older will be eligible to make appointments for and receive the vaccine starting 8 a.m. Tuesday. Those 16 and older will follow as of April 6.

This expansion will make all adults eligible nearly a month before President Joe Biden's May 1 deadline. In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called the expansion "a monumental step forward in the fight to beat" the coronavirus.

"As we continue to expand eligibility, New York will double down on making the vaccine accessible for every community to ensure equity, particularly for communities of color who are too often left behind," Cuomo said. "We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but until we get there it is more important than ever for each and every New Yorker to wear a mask, socially distance and follow all safety guidelines."

New York's vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government. Due to limited supply, officials encouraged New Yorkers to remain patient and not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.

While vaccine eligibility continues to expand, the positivity rate across the state continues to increase. The statewide positivity rate Sunday was 4.13%, up from 3.52% one day earlier, statistics show. Long Island's positivity rate was 4.34%.

Still looking for a vaccine appointment, or will you be trying to get one soon? Read our guide for some places you can check.

The number of new positives reported today: 580 in Nassau, 685 in Suffolk, 3,985 in New York City and 7,622 statewide.

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The chart below shows the cumulative percentage of people in the state that have been partially or fully vaccinated in recent days.

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

Medical experts: Death toll related to COVID-19 is actually higher

The true U.S. death toll linked to COVID-19 is likely far higher than the nearly 550,000 in official counts because of heart attacks and other medical emergencies in people who didn't get treated because of fears of contracting the virus, medical experts said.

The effects may be seen for years, as some who skipped annual checkups, cancer screenings and diabetes assessments become sicker than they would have if they hadn’t forgone medical appointments, said Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a professor of surgery.

Deaths traced to coronary artery disease jumped 139% in New York City and 44% in the rest of the state from March 18 to June 2, 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, according to a paper published in January in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"There will be more deaths as a result indirectly of what COVID did in preventing people from getting the care that they should have gotten," Frederick said.

Pandemic aid bumps some LI residents off food stamps

Nassau County had fewer monthly food stamp recipients on average last year than in 2019, despite a significant increase in poverty and hunger that came with the pandemic, according to state figures. That surprised local advocates, who saw long lines and an abundance of requests for food last year from food banks and pantries.

The reason for the food stamp decrease in Nassau, according to county officials, speaks to the positive effect of federal efforts to help those in need during the virus crisis. For example, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, the federal government increased the amount of money received by people on unemployment benefits by $600 a week. That boost, which lasted until August, elevated most recipients' income above the eligibility threshold for food stamps, officials said.

But while extra money in unemployment benefits helped, it didn't eliminate the need for many people, said Rebecca Sanin, president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.

"Think about the cost of living on Long Island. Someone loses a good job, but they still have to pay their mortgage or their rent, their utility bills and buy food," Sanin said. "Many people still had to rely on their local food pantry."

'Candles in the Window' will honor COVID-19 victims

Franklin Square resident Deborah Salant wanted to do something simple "that would show love, solidarity and support" for those who lost loved ones to COVID-19.

That's when she got the idea of placing an electronic candle on her window sill. "And the 'Candles in the Window' initiative was born," Salant, 66, said.

Salant, who in December donated her family’s burial plots at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale to victims of COVID-19, said her "heart's biggest wish" is to have as many people as possible join her in lighting the candles.

Salant's call is for Long Islanders to light an electronic candle — in lieu of a flame candle, for safety reasons — starting April 1 and throughout the rest of the month.

"We have to support one another during these terrible, terrible times, and this is such a simple way to do it, to show you care, to show your compassion … it's one candle," she said.

More to know

The federal moratorium on evictions of tenants who have fallen behind on rent in the pandemic is getting extended by the Biden administration through the end of June. It was set to expire Wednesday.

Palm Sunday brought some worshippers on Long Island back to church this year, after last year when the day fell at the beginning of the pandemic.

Brazil currently accounts for one-quarter of the entire world’s daily COVID-19 deaths, far more than any other single nation, and health experts warn it's on the verge of even greater calamity.

Many older adults who have been vaccinated across the U.S. are emerging from their COVID-19-imposed hibernation and starting to do things again like in-person shopping, going to the gym and visiting family.

News for you

Your new DIY project. A growing number of people on Long Island have gotten hooked on crafting with epoxy resin because of the one-of-a-kind glasslike designs they can create — ranging from coasters, tumblers, dog tags and keychains to jewelry, trays and furniture. It’s been some people’s pandemic projects. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

The LI eatery that opened right before the pandemic, and survived. The Onion Tree in Sea Cliff opened on March 6, 2020, and was instantly busy. Ten days later, the shutdown brought business to a halt. Co-owner Raquel Wolf Jadeja recalls: "We were forced to pivot again and again." Read more.

Hollywood Health Club returns to Long Beach. Hollywood Health Spa opened in Long Beach in 1986. In 2000, it was sold to the parent company of New York Sports Club, which ran it until last September — when the company filed for bankruptcy during the pandemic. As of November, Hollywood is back.

Plus, up next on Newsday Live: Virus variants remain a wild card during the pandemic, even as Long Islanders get vaccinated. Find out what you need to know during our next virtual Q&A with experts on Wednesday. Register here.

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

Commentary

Planning a return to normal after COVID is not a science. Faye Flam, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, writes: The accelerating reopening of businesses in the U.S. doesn't violate "the science" of COVID-19. Some individual scientists are warning of increased virus deaths associated with these choices, but there's no science that can tell us precisely how to balance public health with other human needs. Some people want to minimize COVID-19 cases at all costs — but that's a moral stance. It's not "the science."

Yet as tension grows over governors' decisions to reopen restaurants, gyms and other venues, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky not only warned that the U.S. could see a surge in new cases, but pleaded with Americans to continue with public health measures like masks, solitude and avoiding travel. This sort of public health advice conflates science, morality, values and partisan politics. We've seen too much of it in the past 12 months.

Risk communication consultant Peter Sandman made the distinction this way: "I am simply not interested in an epidemiologist's opinion on whether schools should be reopened. I'm interested in an epidemiologist's opinion on how much more the virus will spread if schools are reopened. Whether schools should be reopened — that's not their field. It bothers me when they try to pretend that it is."

UCSF physician Vinay Prasad took a similar view. "Science can only articulate our best estimate of what would happen if we did something or if we did something else. But science can't tell you how to value those things. Those will always be decisions for the body politic."

At this point most people know the vaccines aren't perfect, but the signs are everywhere that many people think they're good enough to return to travel, restaurants and other activities. That means public health officials need to be more specific and less draconian. Keep reading.

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