Cuomo: Delta variant, jump in COVID-19 cases a 'serious situation'

Jolanta Gawlik gives Juliana Cepeda, 20, the Pfizer vaccine on...

Jolanta Gawlik gives Juliana Cepeda, 20, the Pfizer vaccine on Friday in New York City. Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan

The highly contagious delta variant and accompanying sharp jump in COVID-19 cases has turned into a "serious situation," Cuomo said.

The governor again recommended that local governments follow new CDC guidelines on wearing masks in indoor public settings, saying the state cannot issue a mandate without a law being passed. He noted the daily number of confirmed cases in the state has increased fourfold in the last month.

He also pushed local school districts to mandate that teachers get vaccinated if the case numbers continue to rise, and suggested that if these sectors don't do so, the state may step in and mandate it by law.

Speaking after Cuomo in his own briefing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city is urging, but not mandating, that people follow the CDC guidance on vaccinated people wearing a mask in indoor public settings.

Plus: Cuomo also announced the MTA’s 68,000 workers will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. The mandate would take effect on Labor Day.

The number of new positives reported today: 220 in Nassau, 223 in Suffolk, 1,202 in New York City and 2,143 statewide.

The chart below shows how many patients were hospitalized for the coronavirus in the state throughout the month of July.

This chart shows how many patients are currently hospitalized for the...

This chart shows how many patients are currently hospitalized for the coronavirus.

View charts showing the latest local trends in vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

More hospitalized for COVID-19 in NY

The number of New Yorkers hospitalized with COVID-19 more than doubled in 16 days, and Long Island’s positivity rate increased 700% in the past month, as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to spread, state data released Saturday shows.

Dr. David Hirschwerk, an infectious disease expert and interim chairman of medicine at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in Hempstead, said in this story by Newsday's David Olson that he expects numbers to continue to tick up as long as many people remain unvaccinated and don't wear masks.

And, more than 11,000 fully vaccinated people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, outside of New York City, according to data provided to Newsday. The number of breakthrough cases equates to 0.18% of fully vaccinated people outside of the city, according to the state Health Department.

Doctors told Newsday's Lisa L. Colangelo that they believe most of these people don't become seriously ill, because overall, the vaccines have proved to be up to 95% effective against COVID-19. It's still unclear how effective vaccines are against the now-dominant delta variant.

LI restaurants, theaters push back on state's vaccine suggestion

Patrons dine at Toast Coffeehouse in Patchogue on Saturday.

Patrons dine at Toast Coffeehouse in Patchogue on Saturday. Credit: John Roca

Cuomo's push to have restaurants, bars and theaters serve only vaccinated people is receiving strong pushback, with some owners saying the move could turn off patrons and transform their workers into public-health enforcers.

The suggestion — not a mandate — was made on Thursday, saying businesses can help fight the growing spread of the highly infectious delta variant. He argued it could help businesses because people would want to go to a place they know is safe.

People entering Toast Coffeehouse in Patchogue won't be asked their vaccination status, said manager Melissa Reinheimer.

"We're not looking to alienate anyone," Reinheimer said Saturday.

More LI colleges are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations

Stony Brook University student Christopher Jean, of West Hempstead, also...

Stony Brook University student Christopher Jean, of West Hempstead, also the student government vice president of student life, sees a transition period to normalcy until mandates prod more students to get vaccinated. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Long Island colleges and universities are increasingly mandating COVID-19 vaccinations as the way to get back to a normal semester.

Local schools are now among the more than 600 nationwide that will require most students to get vaccinated or stay home, reports Newsday's Carol Polsky. Adelphi University, Molloy College and St. Joseph’s College all announced new mandates for students, following Hofstra University’s spring announcement.

Mandates will go into effect for SUNY and CUNY students, and at the New York Institute of Technology, once any of the three vaccines now available under an emergency-use authorization wins full FDA approval. Read more.

Plus: Where do you need a vaccine? Here's a list of employers, restaurants, schools and theaters that have issued vaccine mandates.

Staff shortages threaten services to vulnerable populations

Roland Delia, left, DSP direct support counselor, assists resident Charles...

Roland Delia, left, DSP direct support counselor, assists resident Charles Stoltz at Life's WORC group home for adults with developmental disabilities on June 15 in Dix Hills. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Local nonprofits are being forced to do more with less as organizations serving some of the Island's most vulnerable face staff shortages and increased hiring challenges.

Local organizations that focus on domestic violence, mental health, developmental disability and poverty said recruiting — always tough — has grown even more difficult in the pandemic-changed job market, reports Newsday's Victor Ocasio.

That's left existing employees, facing heavier workloads in low-paying, often challenging jobs, in danger of burnout. Read more.

More to know

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Sunday that "things are going to get worse" as the aggressive delta variant continues to push up cases of COVID-19 around the country.

Evictions which have mostly been on pause during the pandemic — are expected to ramp up on Monday after the expiration of a federal moratorium. New York's ban on evictions is in effect until the end of August.

The Broadway League announced that owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theaters will require vaccinations for audience members, performers, backstage crew and theater staff for all performances through Oct. 31.

The Biden administration announced last week that the nation's millions of federal workers will be required to verify they've been vaccinated against the virus or face mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and other rules.

Employers are losing patience with unvaccinated workers, with a growing number imposing rules from mandates to requiring the unvaccinated to undergo regular testing.

News for you

Lisa Barnes, of Queens, Shaniqua Davis, of Queens, O'Naris Spencer,...

Lisa Barnes, of Queens, Shaniqua Davis, of Queens, O'Naris Spencer, of West Hempstead, Nicole Joyner, of Queens, and Jaclyn Vives, of Elmont, enjoy the VibeNic picnic experience at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Make your picnic Instagram-worthy. Local companies are creating next-level picnics at picturesque locations across Long Island. They scout out the spot, set up tables, comfy cushions and elaborate place settings — and all you have to do is arrive with your picnic basket. Take a look.

Jones Beach concerts return. The 2021 concert season kicked off at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Friday night with country trio Lady A. It marked the venue’s first show since 2019 after last year's season was canceled. Check out the concert lineup for the rest of the season. And here's a reminder of what you should know before you go.

Free outdoor NYC concerts. George Clinton, Remy Ma and KRS-One are among headliners of the "It’s Time for Hip Hop in NYC" series of free concerts celebrating the city's emergence from the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. Proof of vaccination will be required for the concerts taking place this month.

This week on Newsday Live. Join us on Wednesday for a chat with Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, about his books "After the Roof Caved In" and "Leading Through a Pandemic," his leading efforts against COVID-19 and more. Register for it here.

Plus, school start dates: The first day of school for Long Island’s public school students will vary. See a breakdown and read more about school districts' plans.

Commentary

The State Legislature can approve a school-masking law and require teachers to...

The State Legislature can approve a school-masking law and require teachers to be vaccinated but shows little will to do so. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

COVID fight needs leadership. The Newsday editorial board writes: It was supposed to be a summer of festivities and freedom.

Then the delta variant of COVID-19 appeared, fueled by vaccine hesitancy, and the angst of a society in crisis returned. We are, more clearly than ever, not all in this together.

We have not all taken the same protective steps.

We face dramatically different levels of danger, depending on whether we have been vaccinated and other factors.

We disagree about the seriousness of COVID and how restrictive attempts to limit danger should be.

We disagree on the balance between personal liberty and societal responsibility around vaccinations and masking.

And we do not know for sure how easily this infection spreads in different settings, how much masking and distancing help, how easily and frequently the delta variant moves between vaccinated people, and whether delta will be the worst variant. Keep reading.