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NY reports declines in positivity rates

Positivity rates decline, but NY lags behind other states

The statewide positivity rate, averaged over seven days, was 3.05% — the lowest since Nov. 25 — and 46 people died on Wednesday from COVID-19, Cuomo’s office said in a news release.

The office said that hospitalizations were at 3,963, the lowest since December.

But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control uses slightly different metrics that show the state isn’t doing as well as others. The CDC statistics measure infection rate per 100,000 of the general population. The state's positivity rate captures the number of people who test positive out of the population tested.

Excluding New York City, which reported 265 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day average, the state overall had 234 cases per 100,000. All but a half dozen or so states have a lower case count, the CDC figures show.

Plus: Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in a letter asked Cuomo to expand permitted capacity at the Nassau Coliseum to 50% by May 7.

A correction from yesterday's newsletter: Cuomo announced yesterday that limited numbers of spectators will be able to watch horses race at Belmont and other racetracks in New York with restrictions starting April 22, not April 23.

The number of new positives reported today: 527 in Nassau, 627 in Suffolk, 2,734 in New York City and 6,884 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of hospitalizations recorded in the state during the past few months.

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

U.S. jobless claims plunge to 576,000

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to 576,000, a post-COVID low and a hopeful sign that layoffs are easing.

The Labor Department applications plummeted by 193,000 from a revised 769,000 a week earlier. Jobless claims are now down sharply from a peak of 900,000 in early January, and well below the 700,000-plus level they had been stuck at for months.

The decline in unemployment claims coincides with other evidence that the economy is strengthening as vaccinations accelerate, pandemic business restrictions are lifted in many states and Americans appear increasingly willing to travel, shop, eat out and spend again. Keep reading.

J&J vaccine to remain in limbo while officials seek evidence

Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine will remain in limbo for a while longer after government health advisers declared Wednesday they need more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot — and if so, how big the risk really is.

The reports are exceedingly rare — six cases out of more than 7 million U.S. inoculations with the one-dose vaccine. But the government recommended a pause, not long after European regulators declared such clots are a rare but possible risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved for use in the U.S.

The good news: The government says there are no signs of similar clots after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

In case you missed it: Vaccine resources

  • If you're still looking for a vaccine appointment, or are trying to help someone find one, take a look at this guide for some resources.
  • Some people who have been vaccinated have experienced mild side effects. Here are some common questions answered and what you should know about COVID-19 vaccine effects.
  • Should your teen get vaccinated? A panel of experts appearing on a Newsday Live webinar last week said there was no plausible reason not to.
  • What do you do with the vaccination card you receive after getting a COVID-19 shot? Here are answers to questions about the importance of it.

More to know

The Jones Beach concert featuring Steely Dan and Steve Winwood that was supposed to go on in July has been rescheduled to June 2022.

Longtime Islanders’ radio voice Chris King resumes his play-by-play duties for Thursday night’s game after missing the previous six games because of COVID-19 protocols.

More than 90% of season tickets at the still-under-construction UBS Arena at Belmont Park have sold out, the Islanders announced, and all available tickets for the final six regular-season games at Nassau Coliseum also have sold out (attendance is currently limited to 10% at the Coliseum).

The parts of the U.S. excelling with vaccinations and those that are struggling are starting to look like the nation’s political map: divided between red and blue states.

Supermodel Christie Brinkley has assured her Instagram commenters that she and 15 other unmasked people gathered at a beach table in the Turks and Caicos Islands were vaccinated.

News for you

Mark your calendars for these dog-friendly events. As the days get longer and it gets warmer, you and your dog might want to escape the home bubble and get outside. Taking walks are nice, but here are some dog-friendly events you can go to together (keeping COVID-19 protocols in mind).

Navigating COVID-19 career changes. For some, the pandemic reframed career trajectories, while others are still contemplating what's next. Consider these steps, whether you're thinking of going back to work or looking for a change.

Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl's pandemic anthem. They teamed up to record a hard-rock pandemic anthem talking about lockdown, "virtual premieres," numbers that are "grim" and Zoom calls.

New Long Island ice cream shops to try. It was a long winter this year, and it might take ice cream to fully emerge into summer and away from the pandemic. Here are three newer establishments that should become regular stops on your warm-weather rotation.

Plus, Friday on Newsday Live: Why is Long Island’s COVID-19 rate so high? Join us at noon on Friday for a virtual discussion with the health commissioners of Nassau and Suffolk counties to discuss the number of cases here in comparison to the rest of the state, and what it means. Register here.

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Commentary

It really is back to the office this time. Lionel Laurent, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, writes: People lucky enough to have the option are looking forward to working from home more after the pandemic, polls suggest — provided they're not schooling from home at the same time. And polls also suggest employers are looking forward to offering that flexibility. Momentum is building for a "hybrid" workplace, according to experts, which would most likely allow for two to three days per week at home.

Still, as vaccine rollouts gather pace and economies reopen, there doesn't seem to be much daylight between the concept of "office-first hybrid" and simply getting staff back to their desks.

Google parent Alphabet last week told staff to prepare a return to their desks by Sept. 1 and that anyone wanting to work remotely would have to get prior approval. Amazon.com also called for an "office-centric" return to work. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Group bankers are dutifully trooping back to headquarters after scathing comments from Chief Executive Officer David Solomon, who called working from home an "aberration" that was bad for innovation and collaboration and said it was not "the new normal."

Of course some big companies have said they will embrace at least some remote work. And there are creative ideas on how to do so, including plans by European startup Revolut to allow people to work overseas up to two months a year. But for many the future is starting to look a lot like the pre-pandemic days. Keep reading.

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