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Travel if you like, but take COVID precautions, experts say

'It’s never fun to be sick on vacation'

Highways and airports are filled with travelers this summer, free from pandemic restrictions and taking vacations they put off. But vacationers should avoid states — and countries — where fewer people are vaccinated and positivity rates are increasing, medical experts said.

"I wouldn’t go to Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi or Montana, where vaccination rates are very low compared with the rest of the country," said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief public health and epidemiology officer at Northwell Health and chief of infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

And cases have been going up across the globe because of the delta variant, a more easily transmissible strain first discovered in India in 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said delta is believed to be the prevalent variant in the country and could account for almost 80% of cases in the Midwest and upper mountain states.

In areas where the vaccinations rates are low, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are up, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.

"For people who have not been vaccinated, I think travel should be dramatically restricted," Farber said. "You don’t want to get COVID at home, but you really don’t want to get it in Italy, Turkey or a national park someplace. … It’s never fun to be sick on vacation."

Read more about travel precautions in this story by Newsday’s Lisa L. Colangelo.

Plus: Newsday Live held a webinar this afternoon all about the delta variant and travel. Experts discussed what you should know before planning a trip in the U.S. or abroad. Watch it here.

The number of new positives reported today: 91 in Nassau, 83 in Suffolk, 550 in New York City and 956 statewide.

Are we going to need COVID-19 booster shots? U.S. and international health authorities say for now, those fully vaccinated seem well protected. Get some more questions and answers about vaccine immunity and boosters.

This chart shows the number of new cases confirmed in recent days in Nassau and Suffolk.

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

New COVID-19 cases climbing on LI

Long Island has been seeing levels of new cases of COVID-19 that are nearly as high as last summer's, despite a massive vaccination program launched earlier this year, according to the latest state figures.

The number of confirmed cases on Long Island nearly doubled in the last week, fueled by the delta variant and a substantial segment of the population that is not vaccinated, according to the data and medical experts. Long Island's seven-day daily average of new cases reached 109 in the results released on Wednesday, compared to 117 on July 14, 2020, Newsday's Bart Jones and Matt Clark report.

A week ago, the seven-day daily average on Long Island was 63 cases per day.

And: According to a Siena College poll released Tuesday, most New Yorkers believe the worst of the pandemic has passed, but 17% think the worst is yet to come and 50% believe the state will experience a resurgence of COVID-19.

Home buying and home owning during the pandemic

Home prices hit record highs in Nassau and Suffolk counties last month, as low interest rates and intense competition for suburban dwellings drove up the cost of housing, Newsday's Maura McDermott reports.

However, there are signs the Long Island real estate market could be getting a little less competitive. One broker said the frenzy of bidding wars is starting to abate, and it’s becoming less common to see long lines at open houses.

And for Hamptons homebuyers, there is some relief after a yearlong bidding wars frenzy. The number of Hamptons single-family houses and condominiums going into contract fell by 37% last month compared with June 2020, when the COVID-19 real estate shutdown ended, brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraisal company Miller Samuel report.

Meanwhile, Long Island homeowners are facing soaring renovation costs during a COVID-19-related scarce supply of building materials — and it's driving up the price of new homes by more than $35,000.

'I am a miracle': Grandmother shares story of COVID-19 recovery

Wyandanch grandmother Alisa White, who had survived a battle with COVID-19, had taken a turn for the worse — facing a severe bout of potentially life-threatening pancreatitis after the virus caused massive damage to her pancreas.

After suffering a seizure and sustaining 15 electrical cardioversion shocks to treat abnormal heart rhythms, White was transferred to Huntington Hospital, where doctors performed a procedure to clean an infection that formed in her pancreas. Seven follow-up endoscopic surgeries would be performed to further treat the infection.

More than seven months after the initial procedure, White — now healthy and on the road to a full recovery — and the doctors that saved her life gathered at Huntington Hospital on Tuesday.

"I am a miracle and I am here," said White, 61, who has five children and 11 grandchildren. "So many people died of COVID and I could have been one of them. I just thank God but I am heartbroken that I could have died." Read more of her journey in this story by Newsday's Robert Brodsky.

More to know

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 last week to 360,000, its lowest level since the pandemic struck.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that students at New York City public schools will continue wearing masks for the immediate future and potentially when classes resume in September.

Pop star Olivia Rodrigo showed up at the White House on Wednesday to meet with President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci to encourage young Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" will return to Broadway on Nov. 12, four days earlier than the Nov. 16 date announced earlier.

News for you

Stay local and find some sunflowers. If you're a fan of the sunflower, this is your chance to get up close and personal to thousands of them highlighted in East End fields. Here's a list of some that should be in full bloom.

Tour the bay houses. Having missed last year’s tours of bay houses due to the pandemic, Long Islanders are ready for the upcoming tours this season. Get the details on their history and where to go.

Music festival coming to Patchogue in October. The Great South Bay Music Festival was postponed to 2022 due to the pandemic — but founder/promoter Jim Faith is bringing the Aurora Music Festival to Shorefront Park in Patchogue from Oct. 1 to 3. It will be a scaled-back version of Great South Bay, with capacity reduced from 7,500 to 4,000-5,000. Get more details.

Shark Week is here. And so is Montauk-based Dr. Craig O'Connell, the Discovery channel's go-to shark expert who stars in seven programs this year. He got COVID-19 last year, and "long haul" symptoms sidelined him right up until the week production began. Newsday's Verne Gay spoke with him in this Q&A.

Plus: Plan your weekend with this list of 10 events and things to do around Long Island, or get a glimpse of some of it in this video with Newsday's Faith Jessie. If you're looking for drive-ins or outdoor movies, here's an updated list.

Commentary

Kids deserve the vaccine, too. Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health and a professor at the Yale University schools of medicine and public health, writes for the The Washington Post: As rituals of summer return to America, the national goal of herd immunity against the coronavirus has been largely abandoned. States are instead focusing on at least partially immunizing at least 70% of adults. There's a problem with this strategy, though: It leaves out children. In fact, some parents and doctors have recently suggested there should be no urgency to vaccinate U.S. children at all, given the risk of rare heart complications, the fact that COVID-19 is typically mild in young people and the concern that vulnerable people still lack the vaccine worldwide.

But teens and even young children, if the vaccine is approved for them, must remain part of our approach if we are to end this pandemic, for many reasons — not just because all individuals irrespective of age can be infected with and can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Sustainable control of COVID-19 will certainly require vaccinating children. And kids have the right to live free of the threat of the virus, too. Keep reading.

The next edition of Newsday's Tracking the Coronavirus newsletter will arrive in your inbox on Monday.

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