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Graduation guidelines issued for NY

NY details rules for graduations, rolls out vaccine push for students

Effective May 1, indoor and outdoor graduation ceremonies will be permitted with different capacity limits and requirements for guests depending on the number of people in attendance.

See the new guidance here.

Cuomo said the state wanted to give graduating students and their families a chance to celebrate graduation milestones after a year in which many had gone virtual.

"This has been a long year … the graduation ceremonies we think are important and we hope schools have graduation ceremonies," he said.

But, he added, the state still encourages virtual, drive-in or private celebrations as the safest options.

Earlier in the day, Cuomo said the state is inviting colleges, including private ones, to help vaccinate students before they return home from this semester.

He said the state would initially allocate 21,000 doses of vaccine for SUNY residential and non-commuter students, and 14,000 for private colleges.

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Some of the initial allocation on Long Island will be administered at mass vaccination sites at SUNY Old Westbury and Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Students can make appointments through the schools.

The number of new positives reported today: 394 in Nassau, 449 in Suffolk, 2,176 in New York City and 4,926 statewide.

This chart shows the cumulative percentage in recent days of people who have been vaccinated on Long Island.

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

State: Over 40% of nursing home employees still not vaccinated

Despite an aggressive effort to get nursing home staff and residents vaccinated, more than 40% of nursing home employees remain unvaccinated for COVID-19 in the state.

The vaccination level among staff at those facilities falls short of the 75% of health care workers who are fully vaccinated, according to state figures.

Nursing home executives said they've been stressing the importance of vaccines in internal notes, emails, videos and group and one-on-one discussions with staff.

"We still have a lot of employees who are skeptical for a number of reasons," said Ken Knutsen, administrator at Huntington Hills Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Melville, which has vaccinated about 50% of its staff.

Online instruction brings different experiences for students with disabilities

The shift to online instruction has been liberating for many college students with mobility challenges, allowing them easier access to classes, extracurriculars and appointments.

But for others — those with a complex array of disabilities — it's posed new obstacles and a need for new accommodations.

COVID-19 forced rapid changes, said Wendi Mathews, director of Stony Brook University’s Student Accessibility Support Center, which arranges accommodations for about 1,700 students registered with the center, up from about 1,500 pre-pandemic.

"It took away some barriers for some of our students, but for other students it created an increase in barriers," she said. "It required us to rethink, revamp and do it very quickly."

Stats: Projected fatal drug ODs on LI increased during pandemic

Projected fatal overall drug overdoses increased 34% in Nassau and nearly 12% in Suffolk during 2020, which experts said is linked to social isolation, financial anxieties and mental health challenges during the pandemic.

Public health experts, prosecutors and police said the rising number of deaths is a step back in the battle against opioid abuse on Long Island.

The pandemic has fueled a troubling increase in drug and alcohol abuse, experts say.

"People are losing jobs, losing loved ones and mourning the loss of life as we once knew it," said Steve Chassman, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Clients are saying, ‘What do I have to lose? I have lost everything and I want to get high.’"

A preview of this summer on Long Island

Long Islanders may have to brace for another pandemic summer, one that could resemble last year's, with beach and crowd restrictions in place.

But local officials are hoping to bring back a sense of normalcy.

There have been some signs of classic Long Island staples returning, such as the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, with crowds limited to 50%. And Adventureland reopened to the public Saturday.

Long Island's county executives say it depends on loosened restrictions and more vaccinations.

Take a look at what we know so far about the coming summer.

More to know

State Department of Health guidance now says students can sit 3 feet rather than 6 feet apart in school classrooms, similar to CDC recommendations.

Pfizer and BioNTech SE of Germany asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand the emergency use authorization for their vaccine to include adolescents ages 12-15.

The Valley Stream Fire Department on Sunday dedicated an ambulance to volunteer firefighter and EMT Michael Field, who died a year ago of COVID-19 after contracting the virus on his last service call, officials said.

Immigrant advocates hailed the new "Excluded Workers Fund" the State Legislature approved this week for those who lost jobs during the pandemic and didn't qualify for federal stimulus money or unemployment benefits.

Millions of people in Britain could return for haircuts, casual shopping and restaurants on Monday as the government was set to lift restrictions that have been in place since early January.

The Met Gala is coming back, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced, planning a return in person first in September and again in 2022 in its usual slot in May.

News for you

This pandemic farmers market is continuing. The Oyster Bay Market, a farmers market born during the pandemic last year, returned last month for its second year with 26 vendors signed up to sell food and products. The market on Audrey Avenue operates every other Sunday.

Try these local hiking trails. There are thousands of miles of trails on Long Island. Some are suitable for kids and others have guided tours. Take a look at these 10.

Horseback riding on Long Island. You can take lessons and trail rides at stables across Nassau and Suffolk as they've reopened from shutdowns. Check out the updated list.

'The Producers' cast reunites virtually. The cast of "The Producers" will mark the Broadway musical premiere's 20th anniversary with a virtual reunion on Saturday's edition of "Stars in the House," a virtual series hosted by James Wesley and Seth Rudetsky.

Plus, later this week: Newsday will host the health commissioners of Nassau and Suffolk counties to discuss why Long Island is still tracking higher positivity rates than the rest of New York. Register and submit your questions here.

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Commentary

Congrats on the vaccination. You still need to keep your mask up. Rob Davidson, an emergency physician in West Michigan and executive of the Committee to Protect Medicare, writes for The Washington Post: As an emergency physician in rural Michigan, patients often ask me when it will finally be OK to stop wearing masks in public places.

Here's my answer: I'll stop wearing a mask in my favorite restaurant when 90% of the people in it have been vaccinated. Let me explain.

As a doctor of over two decades and a graduate student in public health at the University of Michigan, I still wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and skip indoor dining. And I've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since January. I urge you to take the same precautions, even if you're fully vaccinated, too.

While a single vaccination protects an individual, we must also protect a community, a state, the nation and the world. And that's what a vaccination program does. It's the difference between caring for one person versus caring for an entire population. Plus, a vaccinated individual could still be vulnerable, though at a greatly reduced rate, if the community they're in does not have immunity.

The science behind vaccination is simple. Keep reading.

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