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A continuing decline in COVID-19 cases

State: NY COVID-19 cases continue to decline

The seven-day average positivity rate of 2.8% was hailed by the governor as a sign the state is reversing a surge in cases, positivity levels and deaths from around Thanksgiving that continued through Christmas and lasted for weeks.

The seven-day positivity average on Long Island fell to 3.04% after weeks hovering around 4.5%. New York City's average was 3.01%.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units on Monday declined to 823, the lowest figure since Dec. 3, Cuomo said. A total of 45 people died in the state on Monday of COVID-19-related causes, including two in Nassau County and six in Suffolk.

The improving numbers come as the weather turns warmer, people are outside more, and are more likely to open windows in buildings for ventilation. And tens of thousands more New Yorkers and Long Islanders are getting vaccinated every day.

The number of new positives reported today: 277 in Nassau, 290 in Suffolk, 1,774 in New York City and 3,922 statewide.

Check the new additions to our data page, including charts on projections for vaccine distribution on Long Island and in the state, like the visual below.

Plus, the latest on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Experts at the agency that regulates drugs for the European Union said they found a "possible link" between the vaccine and very rare blood clots, but confirmed the vaccine's benefits outweighed the very small risks.

NY urges nursing homes to offer vaccines to staff

New York has ordered nursing home operators to offer COVID-19 vaccines to their employees over the next few weeks.

The state rolled out the requirement last week after Newsday reported lagging levels of shots among nursing home staff compared to health care workers, despite an early effort to make vaccines available to them. About 60% of nursing home employees in the state had received at least one dose as of Sunday, reflecting a slight improvement.

Executives at Long Island nursing homes have said they've been pushing for vaccinations but have fought an uphill battle.

The new state rules will force nursing homes to offer all consenting, unvaccinated personnel and residents an opportunity to receive a dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of the regulation, issued last Thursday.

LI community colleges see enrollment drop

Nassau and Suffolk community colleges have seen a greater decline in enrollment than local four-year colleges over the past year, school officials said.

Enrollment losses have been straining these schools' finances, thwarting people's ability to reach their chosen career, and potentially hampering the Island's ability to sustain a well-trained workforce, school officials and education experts said.

"If you look at the pandemic, it had a greater impact on blue-collar workers and communities of color. Those are our students," interim Suffolk County Community College President Louis Petrizzo said. Read more.

County executives request LI championships for fall sports

The Long Island county executives co-authored a letter to Sections VIII and XI — governing bodies of public school sports in Nassau and Suffolk — requesting they agree to hold Long Island championship games in the fall high school sports currently in session.

"We have recently been informed that Sections VIII and XI have determined that certain high school sports teams will not participate in Long Island championship games due to different playoff schedules in each Section," the letter by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reads. "This decision will deny many of our student athletes the chance to participate in the same annual rite of passage as their peers through no fault of their own."

Pandemic-related adjustments not only caused state championship tournaments to be canceled, but forced the Long Island sections to shoehorn three seasons into six months.

More to know

The state attorney general is investigating whether Cuomo broke the law by using state resources and personnel in producing his book about his administration’s handling of the virus.

There is $800 million in new state grants that aim to help small businesses.

Ticket sales for the upcoming Bethpage Air Show resumed after the state's ticketing website crashed on Monday within minutes of going online. The show was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

News for you

Decluttering room-by-room. After more than a year of staying at home, it's time to get rid of the accumulated clutter and look forward to better days. In our latest guide, decluttering experts focus on heavy-use areas — it all comes down to assessing, reducing, sorting and editing. Get tips from LI experts.

Summer shows coming to Westhampton Beach. Seth Meyers is among the acts set to perform at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center this summer. It’s one of the first to announce a series of outdoor summer concerts on LI. Learn more.

Mini-golf at the Vanderbilt Museum. A mini-golf course is popping up on weekends at the Vanderbilt in Centerport. Starting times are staggered to accommodate social distancing and masks are required for play. Get the details.

Bringing boxing back to Nassau County PAL. After a 15-year hiatus, the Nassau County Police Athletic League is bringing back boxing and has gotten an overwhelming response. It’s giving kids a way to relieve stress and find normalcy after a pandemic year. Read more and watch a video.

Plus, this week on Newsday Live: People are getting back to daily life, but COVID-19 is still around. Join us for a virtual discussion at noon on Wednesday on how businesses and customers can safely resume more normal activity without causing another surge. Register here.

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How the pandemic revealed the power of live video. Scott Duke Kominers, the MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, writes for Bloomberg: For years, video consumption was rising — from television to streaming apps to social media platforms. But one of the most thrilling parts of entertainment was mostly missing from the video world until the pandemic hit: the power of truly "live" streaming content.

But with large gatherings off-limits during the pandemic, musicians and arts organizations started putting together live performances over streaming platforms. These events have turned out to be well worth the price of virtual admission. Yo-Yo Ma performed a spectacular series of concerts (there's another one coming up in May); the Met and Carnegie Hall streamed their annual galas; and even the guys from #SeaShantyTok joined in the action.

It turns out to be a surprisingly intimate experience, with cameras tightly focused on the stars. Every viewer has a front row seat to witness a unique moment in time — along with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of others. (Pop star Dua Lipa's virtual concert over the Thanksgiving weekend drew more than 5 million viewers.)

The economics of paid virtual events are promising, too. Keep reading.