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Masks are optional for summer school, state says

Masks optional for summer school, state health department says

This announcement on masks expands to summer schools the state’s policy for summer camps, where masking has been made optional.

"Given current low rates of COVID-19 transmission, schools/district may decide to implement revised masking policies" as issued last month for camps, according to the announcement, a copy of which was provided to Newsday by the department.

For now, the masking-optional policy does not cover fall schooling and beyond.

"The above information applies to the 2021 summer session only and additional information will be shared regarding the 2021-2022 school year soon," the department wrote in a statement.

Check back for updates on this developing story by Newsday's Matthew Chayes.

The number of new positives reported today: 64 in Nassau, 30 in Suffolk, 452 in New York City and 670 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of new daily coronavirus cases in New York City and 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.

State shutting down 3 mass vaccination sites

Faced with declining demand for vaccinations, New York State is shutting down three mass vaccination sites, including one at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The closures will take effect after vaccinations are given on Friday. The state is also closing the mass vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan, as well as one in upstate Ulster.

Cuomo has said the state will shift its focus to other efforts, including smaller pop-up sites in locations where the vaccination rates are low, Newsday's Lisa L. Colangelo and David Olson report.

Report: Nearly two-thirds of eateries seeking federal aid shut out

Only 35% of the restaurants, bars and caterers in New York State that applied for COVID-19 help from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund will receive grants, according to a new report.

Nearly 9,800 eating and drinking establishments across the state won a total of $3.7 billion from the RRF as of June 30, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which runs the program. More 17,860 applicants, who together sought almost $6 billion, were shut out.

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

LI libraries will expand free Wi-Fi areas outside

Dozens of Long Island public libraries plan to keep or expand free Wi-Fi zones they set up during the pandemic to cover parking lots and nearby parks.

In Nassau County, 25 libraries offer 24-hour high-speed access to anyone within 300 feet of their buildings through the Nassau Library System's Wi-Fi Whenever project. Almost all 56 library districts in Suffolk offer similar coverage and some will apply for federal funding to move Wi-Fi further into their communities, said Kevin Verbesey, Suffolk Cooperative Library System director.

Most Long Island libraries have offered Wi-Fi inside their buildings for years. When buildings closed to the public last year, librarians said they saw people with phones or laptops huddling near their buildings to catch the signal from inside, Newsday's Nicholas Spangler reports.

More to know

The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 4 million on Wednesday, as the crisis continues to be a race between vaccinations and the highly contagious delta variant.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week by 2,000 to 373,000, Thursday's report from the Labor Department shows.

Fans are banned from the Tokyo Olympics, which open in two weeks, following a state of emergency, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said.

News for you

Where to find live music outdoors. Enjoying dinner or cocktails with some live entertainment is a must on Long Island in July and August. Here are seven seasonal hot spots where you can go to find it.

Five boating excursions for the summer. Trying to get out on the water but not sure where to start? Explore one of these excursions around Long Island and New York State waters for a fishing adventure or just to catch some views.

Your summer guide to the North Fork. It's bustling with classic spots and new opportunities to dine and unwind this summer. From winery tours to live music, here's a guide to some things you can try this season.

Plus: Don't let the rain stop you from planning your weekend. Here are some ideas.

Commentary

Following the science isn't curing COVID confusion. Faye Flam, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and host of the podcast "Follow the Science," writes: The delta variant is the new pandemic scare story. Its spread into the United States hasn't led to a surge in deaths or packed hospital wards, but the news of its existence rained on the Fourth of July parades.

Public health specialists have responded with a baffling spray of contradictory recommendations, conflicting information and seemingly inconsistent scientific facts. The result, as in earlier phases of the COVID-19 scourge, has been needless confusion and rage. Should vaccinated people wear masks? It depends whom you ask. Can economic life return to normal? Expert opinions vary.

Some say it depends on local conditions. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser, says everyone should mask up in Alabama, which has a low vaccination rate and climbing cases.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, recommended indoor masking for any community with a vaccination rate under a third. But Los Angeles County wants vaccinated people to wear masks despite a relatively high vaccination rate. Keep reading.

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