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NY records lowest positivity rate since start of pandemic

Cuomo: NY has lowest daily COVID-19 positivity rate since pandemic began

The 0.59% positivity rate from test results on Thursday outdid the previous low of 0.65% last Aug. 27, according to state data, marking the lowest rate since the start of the pandemic. That daily figure was based on 159,504 tests across the state.

"As we head into summer, it is incredible to reflect on where we were with COVID a year ago," Cuomo said in a statement.

Thursday also marked the first time since Oct. 28 that all 10 regions in the state were below 2% in the seven-day average positivity rates, state data showed. The state’s seven-day average positivity rate of 0.76% was the lowest level since last Aug. 29, he said.

Statewide, 11 people died on Thursday of causes related to the virus, including one in Nassau. That was Nassau’s first virus-linked death in a week. No one died in Suffolk on Thursday from the virus, according to the state.

Plus: The CDC said kids at summer camps can skip wearing masks outdoors, with some exceptions. Federal health officials said Friday that children who aren’t fully vaccinated should still wear masks outside when they’re in crowds or in sustained close contact with others, and when they're inside. Read more.

The number of new positives reported today: 52 in Nassau, 56 in Suffolk, 390 in New York City and 937 statewide.

The chart below shows the seven-day average positivity rates in New York City and in the state in recent days.

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

Thousands of LIers needed food assistance during COVID-19

There was a 60% surge in people seeking emergency food assistance in the first year of the pandemic, the chief executive of the Long Island Cares food bank said, something he attributed to many losing their jobs.

"During the first 12 months of COVID [March 2020 to March 2021], we saw 192,542 Long Islanders come to us for the very first time," said Paule T. Pachter, chief executive of Long Island Cares — The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank.

"We vetted everyone that came to us," Pachter said. "So we knew exactly why they needed the food and 89% of the time … it was the same thing: 'I lost my job. I got furloughed'. Today, it's I 'lost my job. I got furloughed and I don't know when I'm going to be able to go back to work. My business closed.'"

A total of 217,910 Long Islanders were food insecure in 2019, Pachter said, citing Feeding America projections for Long Island and the food bank's own data. But that figure grew, Pachter said, and a total of 348,192 people were food insecure in the past year, a 60% increase over 2019.

Read more from this story by Newsday's Olivia Winslow.

3 East End businesses are ready for return to normalcy

Small business owners hurt by the pandemic in the East End's tourism industry are hoping to describe this summer with two words: "more normal."

"Many of them have been through the ringer ... emotionally and financially," said Kristen Reynolds, CEO of Discover Long Island, the area's official tourism promotion agency. Industry insiders are betting on "a completely different summer than the roller coaster that was 2020's," she said.

But challenges impeding the tourism sector's full economic recovery remain, experts said.

Newsday reporter Daysi Calavia-Robertson spoke to three Long Islanders who run tourism businesses on the East End about their pandemic-related struggles, and progress, as things get back to normal. Here are their stories.

In 75th year, Farmingdale butcher goes online

Now in its 75th year, Farmingdale Meat Market and Main Street Wholesale Meats is starting to get back to normal as pandemic restrictions recede and restaurant dining rooms fill up again.

"The pandemic and everything has obviously been super challenging," said company president Lee Seelig. As an essential business, they stayed open and became "more connected to the community."

But the pandemic has forced them to change their business, Seelig said in this story by Newsday's Ted Phillips. To counter the shrinking wholesale business to restaurants and country clubs, they began using their fleet of a dozen trucks to deliver online orders to doorsteps across Long Island.

"We can be your local butcher now with our new website," he said.

More to know

The Knicks announced if they advance to the second round of the postseason, tickets will be exclusively available to fully vaccinated fans.

Americans increased their spending by 0.5% in April, a slowdown after a massive gain in March that had been powered by the distribution of individual stimulus checks.

Long Island Ducks baseball is back with the opening of its 21st season Friday against the Lexington Legends, marking the first time the Ducks have played a meaningful baseball game on Long Island since Oct. 2, 2019.

Pay packages for CEOs of the biggest companies rose yet again last year, even though the pandemic sent the economy to its worst quarter and slashed corporate profits around the world.

News for you

The ultimate Memorial Day guide. The Bethpage Air Show returns, Splish Splash reopens and summer fun begins Memorial Day weekend. Here are some events happening across the Island. And, check out our full coverage of what to do this long weekend, from where to get ice cream to grilling recipes.

A new 'pedal party' bike tour. Pedal Parties is a new company offering pub or restaurant hopping tours through Patchogue Village. What you need to know? A newfangled bicycle that can fit six riders on each, and a company driver who controls the braking and steering. Read more.

Rehabilitating zombie homes. Architect Carolina Bassal's business — despite COVID-19 limitations — is helping salvage "zombie homes" on Long Island, structures abandoned by owners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments or others that have become unlivable. Here are nine things to know about the process.

Business internships post-pandemic. Many internship opportunities were canceled last summer or were virtual. This summer, more than 40% of employers are planning to hold hybrid internship programs — virtual and in-person. See what business experts say.

Plus: If you're heading to the 2021 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach this weekend, keep an eye on the weather.

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Time to get real on rent relief. A Newsday editorial writes: Long Islanders are still hurting. An economic pain ripples through the region more than a year after the start of the pandemic.

Too many can't pay their rent. That, in turn, means landlords across Long Island, large and small, aren't getting the income they need. For the region to make a full comeback, rent relief has to get into the hands of those who need it.

Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. A recent Newsday analysis showed that only about 1% of Long Island's pot of nearly $90 million in federal rent relief actually has reached landlords and tenants. There are many reasons for that, from the bureaucracy of the programs and the lack of clear guidance and rules to the fact that too many tenants haven't bothered to apply, in part because they've been protected by a statewide eviction moratorium.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo just this week announced plans for more rent relief — a total of $2.7 billion statewide, with applications for the new funds to be accepted beginning June 1.

That's good news — but only if tenants, landlords and the community organizations helping them can cut through the red tape. Keep reading.