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Only 1% of $90M for LI rent relief has been distributed

Officials: Only tiny fraction of rent relief has reached landlords, tenants

With a total of $94.3 million set aside for rent relief for Long Island — most from federal stimulus packages passed to provide timely help to those reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic — state, county and town governments have distributed $960,876, government officials said.

The officials said distribution has been delayed because they had to navigate complex and evolving rules.

Government officials and housing advocates also said they believe many tenants have not applied for help because they are still protected by a state eviction moratorium.

But many tenants and landlords say they are growing impatient.

Newsday has the exclusive story from Sarina Trangle including a breakdown of funds by town and county.

Cuomo: Fully vaccinated New Yorkers reaches 54%

Some 63% of New Yorkers over the age of 18 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, while 54% are fully vaccinated, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday.

"Even as we continue to lift many restrictions and resume a number of activities across our state, we have to remember that COVID is still out there and the vaccine remains the best weapon we have against it," Cuomo said in a statement.

All New York State mass vaccination sites are now open to eligible New Yorkers for walk-in vaccination on a first come first serve basis, he said. Among those sites are Stony Brook University, Jones Beach, and Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

The number of new positives reported today: 83 in Nassau, 80 in Suffolk, 573 in New York City and 1,540 statewide.

This chart shows what percentage of coronavirus tests were positive for the virus on average each day over a seven-day period.

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

Local band hopes its song will inspire you to get vaxed

Maybe a catchy tune will spur those still hesitant to get a COVID-19 shot.

A trio of 60-plus Long Islanders recorded a song and music video encouraging people to get immunized to protect themselves and others from the deadly virus.

"Hopefully it’s more upbeat than the occasionally preachy public service ads on TV," said Matt O’Connell, a venture capitalist and songwriter of the happy, hummable "Tomorrow I’ll Smile (The Vaccine Video)."

He recorded it with his wife, Libby, an Emmy-winning producer and historian, and their friend, John Zona, a sales consultant. The video was posted April 30 and as of mid-May, it had more than 1,100 views and its share of rave comments like this one:

"Great happy song and makes me want to get vaccinated … again!!"

Watch the music video and an interview with the band.

Educator, health expert: Vaccinate kids for 2021-22 school year

No one seems sure what the 2021-22 school year will look like, but experts speaking at the latest Newsday Live webinar, "Kids and COVID-19 Vaccine: A Guide for Parents," agreed Friday that getting your kids vaccinated as soon as possible — and, having them follow mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines — likely will remain the best course of action for some time to come.

Dr. Andrew S. Handel, of Stony Brook Children's Hospital, said: "The truth is we have no reason to believe there are long-term effects from these vaccines," noting he'd get his own children vaccinated as soon as they're eligible.

The experts agreed much of what happens next for school-aged children will be determined by state officials, the state Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Robert Dillon, District Superintendent for Nassau BOCES, said, "Right now, masks are required [in school]. But we would be looking to Albany for guidance, to our own health departments."

Dillon also said he does not believe continual mask-wearing has been a negative for students, though he said there have been concerns about those in speech and speech therapy classes.

Read more and watch the replay of the live discussion to see how experts answered other questions related to vaccinating kids.

More to know

Dr. Anthony Fauci says vaccinated Americans would "not necessarily" need to get booster shots this fall for further protection from COVID-19; it will depend on variants, which scientists are tracking.

More than half of students across 57 Long Island school districts in grades 3-8 opted out of the math assessments given earlier this month, a Newsday analysis found. The tests were different on several levels this year, including that remote learners did not take them at home.

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, a measure approved by Congress earlier this month, aimed at addressing an uptick in attacks directed at Asian Americans since the onset of the pandemic.

News for you

New dining options at the beach. Anyone visiting Jones Beach State Park this summer should bring their appetite as there will be new breakfast, lunch and dinner choices, including Mexican fare, officials said.

More summer concerts set. The Tilles Center is taking the music outdoors for its Summer Concert Series and utilizing a specially crafted socially distanced seating plan. Tickets will be sold in pods of two and four and those who present proof of full vaccination will not be required to wear a mask inside their pod.

Your guide to summer movies. With vaccines widely available and restrictions on businesses being lifted, we can expect a summer movie season this year and long-delayed tentpoles such as Universal’s "F9" and Disney-Marvel’s "Black Widow" should finally arrive in cinemas. Check out this guide from Newsday's film critic Rafer Guzmán.

Your weekend plans. An exotic car show with wine tastings, live music and the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" vehicle. A 15k/10k run that starts and ends at a brewery. Plus, drive-in movies, concerts and even a drive-in filmed concert featuring Bon Jovi are among the events happening on Long Island. Check out these and more.

Plus, get to these restaurants before the crowds: Mid 70s, sunshine, low humidity. Whether you’ve shed your mask or not, we all can agree that this is the weather we deserve, writes our food critic Corin Hirsch. She suggests you head to the shore to try one of these three restaurants this weekend, the last one before Memorial Day, before crowds materialize.

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Commentary

Why I understand today's mask anxieties. Marin Cogan writes: A few weeks ago, I was walking with my husband in our Washington D.C. neighborhood when a man approached from the opposite direction on a narrow sidewalk.

It had been a few days since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated people could walk outside without masks - a decision I welcomed. My two-week post-vaccination window had just ended, but I'd long felt safe outdoors, based on what I'd read about the low probability of outdoor coronavirus transmission.

I'd kept wearing a mask outside as a social courtesy to my neighbors, who were still keeping them up whenever they left the house. But when the CDC changed its guidelines, I decided I'd stop wearing one while exercising outdoors.

As we came closer, the man on the sidewalk pulled up his mask. Then, he burst into a run. He sprinted past us, stopping only when he had made it down the block. I watched, feeling dumbstruck. Continue reading

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