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When will NYC reopen 'full strength'?

De Blasio wants to reopen NYC by July; Cuomo says before then

Speaking on MSNBC, de Blasio cited the city’s COVID-19 vaccination progress and declining virus infection rate as reasons to reopen.

"Our plan is to fully reopen New York City on July 1. We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters — full strength, because look, what we’re seeing is, people have gotten vaccinated in extraordinary numbers, 6.3 million vaccinations in New York City to date," he said.

During an early afternoon question-and-answer session with reporters in Buffalo, Cuomo said such decisions will be guided by health metrics, not just wanting to get back to normal. He also said he wants to reopen New York City before July 1.

"I am reluctant to make projections because I think they’re irresponsible. July 1. You have May. You have June. What happens in May? What happens in June? I would like to get the reopening ... date before that. I don’t want to wait that long" Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County will begin offering walk-in vaccinations, County Executive Steve Bellone said. Residents will be able to get vaccinated without an appointment starting today from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Selden campus of Suffolk County Community College.

Plus: The State Legislature repealed some of Cuomo’s pandemic directives for the first time, including making it no longer mandatory to make a food purchase when ordering an alcoholic beverage in restaurants and taverns. Read more.

The number of new positives reported today: 249 in Nassau, 271 in Suffolk, 1,605 in New York City and 4,073 statewide.

The chart below shows the concentration of cases in Long Island communities.

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

Mask easing reveals LIers ready for post-pandemic times

Liberated but hesitant summed up how a number of Long Islanders felt Wednesday about their newfound freedom — courtesy of some relaxed federal guidelines — to skip masks when alone outdoors or in small, vaccinated groups.

Another hopeful theme emerged in interviews with Newsday: Going without masks felt like a stepping-stone back to the pre-pandemic world. But some people expressed they'll continue wearing masks. It remains uncertain, according to health experts, how easily someone vaccinated can infect another person, though it is believed to be significantly more difficult.

Read more from this story by reporters Joan Gralla and David Olson. And here's a reminder of the new CDC guidelines, among other things to know if you've been vaccinated.

Officials ask state to lift LI beach restrictions this summer

Long Island officials are asking the state health department to lift restrictions this summer on Long Island beaches.

A delegation of state representatives, led by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, sent a letter Wednesday to state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker asking to increase beach capacity from 50% to 100%. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also called for fully reopening them.

"We are beach people. We are islanders. It’s in our name. It’s in our DNA," Curran said. "People go to the beach and support their local businesses. We need the beaches open 100%. We know we can do it safely."

On-the-job COVID-19 deaths the focus of labor memorial

The pandemic and its toll on the labor force was the focus of the Long Island Workers' Memorial Day Service in Hauppauge, where speakers urged more be done for workplace safety.

For Bello Lamadieu, who works at two nursing homes in Nassau County, the memories are fresh of his fellow respiratory therapists who died last year after contracting the virus while caring for patients. He said some of the therapists might still be alive if their employers had done more to make the workplace safe, including greater access to masks and other personal protective equipment.

"I lost many friends from this disease," said Lamadieu, 67, of Valley Stream. "I’d like to acknowledge all my co-workers who have lost their life, their job … God bless."

Read more from this story by Newsday's James T. Madore.

More to know

The Long Island Pride celebration will return as an in-person event on June 13 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

The state has stopped 1.1 million fraudulent unemployment claims since the pandemic began, keeping more than $12.3 billion out of the hands of scammers, Newsday has learned.

The U.S. economy is achieving a fast recovery from the recession that ripped through the nation last year from the virus.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped by 13,000 last week to 553,000, the lowest level since the pandemic hit last March.

News for you

Meet animals around Long Island. Long Island has plenty of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians to see at aquariums, farms and other preserves. Here's our list of places you can take the family to get a closer look.

Genesis plans a show at UBS Arena. They're bringing a tour to UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Elmont in December, marking its first show on Long Island in 40 years. Genesis announced the reunion tour in the spring of 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Tickets go on sale next week.

Spend time away in a cabin or tent. Camping has gotten more glamorous around Long Island, where public parks have recently added furnished cabins that visitors can rent by the night or the week. Check these out.

Plus: Newsday Live hosted a webinar this afternoon that focused on how to get your resume noticed online. Watch the replay here.

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COVID-19 only exacerbated a longer pattern of health-care worker stress. Agnes Arnold-Forster and Samuel Schotland write for The Washington Post: The scale of the coronavirus crisis is taking its toll on health-care professionals.

With a seemingly endless stream of cases, limited resources and staff shortages, hospital workers have been pushed to their limits. Thankfully this has not gone unnoticed, with media coverage, individual doctors and nurses, and professional organizations now paying careful attention to the emotional fallout. Members of Congress have even introduced legislation to support health-care professionals' mental health amid the pandemic.

Although extreme, the issues health-care professionals are facing today are not entirely new. Throughout the 20th century, politicians, policymakers and professional organizations in Britain, the United States and elsewhere have sought to understand and improve health-care workers' emotional health and well-being.

And yet, our current conversation often fails to appreciate this longer history and rarely acknowledges the deep-seated, cultural and structural problems baked into our health systems. Keep reading.