Lessons learned from spring

A ventilator in storage at Mount Sinai South Nassau in...

A ventilator in storage at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

"We've been preparing continuously since the day we stopped having a surge," said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside.

Hospital officials said they are stocked with personal protective equipment, can quickly move staff around to treat a major influx of COVID-19 patients, and have conference rooms and other space ready to accommodate beds and medical equipment — if needed.

The spring surge, which at its peak in April had thousands of Long Islanders hospitalized with COVID-19, occurred suddenly and rapidly.

In one week in late March, the number of COVID-19 patients at South Nassau increased nearly tenfold, and the coronavirus caseload kept climbing through mid-April, as doctors, nurses and other hospital staff scrambled to keep up. Some patients lay in beds in hallways until rooms were available. Similar scenarios played out at other Long Island hospitals.

Hospital officials say that even though the number of coronavirus patients has increased in the past few weeks, it is still a fraction of the COVID-19 patients in the spring.

The number of new positives reported today: 295 in Nassau, 345 in Suffolk, 1,285 in New York City and 3,490 statewide.

These bars track how many patients are hospitalized for coronavirus...

These bars track how many patients are hospitalized for coronavirus each day in New York State. The number Sunday was 1,968. Credit: Newsday

The chart above shows current hospitalizations for coronavirus in the state. Search a map and view charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

COVID-19 rates rising on LI, statewide

Long Island's COVID-19 positivity level rose past 3% again in the latest test results, continuing a trend of higher rates over the last week, officials said.

The 3.5% level of new positives in test results from Sunday was up from the previous day's level of 2.7%. A week ago, Long Island surpassed 3% for the first time since May, and it stayed above that figure for most of the week.

Officials attributed the rise to people spending more times indoors as the weather turned cooler, Halloween gatherings, weddings and other events, and parties at people's homes.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday the growing rates are happening statewide.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran urged Nassau residents to take particular caution during the Thanksgiving holiday, as she pardoned a turkey at Old Bethpage Village Restoration.

Cuomo continued to press for New York City to reexamine its policy to shut down schools if the city's test levels hit 3%, though he said parents and teachers would have to buy in to any changes. Mayor Bill de Blasio said city schools would be open until at least Tuesday but reiterated they would be shuttered if virus cases met the 3% threshold.

"We've got a fight ahead to keep them open, but I'm not giving up and you shouldn't give up either," de Blasio said.

Moderna on Pfizer's heels

Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot in Binghamton that is...

Nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot in Binghamton that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., on July 27. Credit: AP / Hans Pennink

For the second time this month, there's promising news from a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Moderna said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the United States and around the world. Stocks rallied in response.

The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from its ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the United States.

Moderna's president welcomed the "really important milestone" but said having similar results from two different companies is what's most reassuring.

"That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives," Dr. Stephen Hoge said.

Report: LI districts spent the most to safely reopen

"We were committed to having our students experience instruction," Malverne...

"We were committed to having our students experience instruction," Malverne Superintendent Lorna Lewis said. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Long Island school districts spent the most of any region in the state — an average of more than $1.1 million — on COVID-19-related expenses to safely reopen schools this fall, as districts had to purchase equipment, expand transportation and provide technology for students, a statewide survey found.

The average spending per student on Long Island topped $370, while the statewide average was $209.

The report, "A Lost Generation. The Impact of State Aid Cuts and COVID-19 on Students," found that districts statewide had planned on spending an average of about $500,000 on remote, hybrid and in-person learning.

Malverne Superintendent Lorna Lewis said her district, which has more than 1,700 students, has spent more than $829,000 to reopen. That figure does not include the additional cost of hiring substitutes when staff must quarantine.

"We were committed to having our students experience instruction," she said. "Once the board of education and community established that, we had to fund it."

COVID forces singing man in gorilla costume online

Kerry Prep performs a singing telegram for head chef Michael Ross'...

Kerry Prep performs a singing telegram for head chef Michael Ross' 60th birthday at Pearl in Island Park. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Kerry Prep has been a gorilla and a chicken, a rock star and a panda. He's even been a nun.

And now, after 38 years in the singing telegram business, the Huntington resident and owner and operator of "PreppyGrams" has had to become one more thing: digital.

Prep, 63, who's also a musical theater adjunct at Adelphi, had to revamp the business model at the outset of the pandemic. Masks are good — even if they are gorilla masks — but even more than that, he was getting more and more requests for digital deliveries. Clients would request special songs for birthdays or anniversaries or even office morale, and there was Prep, chicken head and all, ready to deliver in a Zoom conference room.

Prices are lower for remote work, but it's working out, he said.

After all, if anyone can adapt to a strange new world, it's a guy in a gorilla suit and a tutu.

More to know

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the organization's headquarters in...

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the organization's headquarters in Geneva on Feb. 12. Credit: Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi via AP

The World Health Organization has recorded 65 cases of the coronavirus among staff based at its Geneva headquarters, including at least one cluster of infections, an internal email shows.

New York will sue the federal government if the Trump administration's distribution of a COVID-19 vaccination gives short shrift to minority communities, which have been hit hardest by the pandemic, Cuomo said Sunday.

Top public health officials appointed to President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory board raised concerns Sunday that the delay in an official presidential transition has hampered their ability to communicate with their federal counterparts as cases surge nationwide.

Turkeys were gone in an hour at a weekend giveaway in front of a Wyandanch supermarket as "people are really hurting," an organizer said.

The amount of office space available for sublease on Long Island has increased at least 22% over the past year, as more workers operate remotely and companies try to recoup some of what they spend on now-unused outposts.

New York's two senators held a news conference on Sunday to urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow the Senate to push through a comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill.

One and done: the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy had a perfect, tiny football season, beating the Coast Guard Academy 24-14 in Kings Point on Saturday in Division III's version of Army-Navy.

News for you

Displays like this "snowflake tunnel" will be found at the...

Displays like this "snowflake tunnel" will be found at the Riverhead Holiday Light Show in Calverton. Credit: BOLD Media

Christmas, Hanukkah and seasonal scenes. The drive-through Riverhead Holiday Light Show is set to return, giving families a contact-free way to take in some festive spirit. The event, billed as "the largest drive-through light show in Suffolk County," will take place at Long Island Sports Park in Calverton on Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 19 through Dec. 30.

Next up at Newsday Live. Our author series returns Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. with a talk with Robert Kolker, who will discuss his new book "Hidden Valley Road" and more. Register here.

Fall is perfect biking weather in these parts. So get out the bike, pump up the tires and explore some of the Island's many bike paths and trails.

Plus: If exercising outside in the cold isn't your thing, bring your workout indoors this winter with seven tips from Long Island trainers.

Sign up for text messages to get the most important coronavirus news and information.

Commentary

Credit: Getty Images / Tang Ming Tung

Local health departments need support to vaccinate everyone. The path to vaccine-based protection will require more than just the science working in our favor, Jennifer B. Nuzzo and Joshua M. Sharfstein write for The Washington Post.

As public health experts like to say: Vaccines do not save lives; vaccination saves lives. Distributing and delivering the vaccine are enormous challenges that will determine the speed and strength of our recovery.

It will take well into 2021 before enough vaccine is ready for everyone. Even before then, we will have to overcome a wide array of challenges. They include moving and storing a vaccine that must be continuously kept at freezing temperatures; identifying and locating groups of individuals who have been chosen for priority access on the basis of risk or employment; and communicating about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

And after sufficient quantities of vaccine finally become available, we will need far-reaching campaigns to actually vaccinate many people as quickly as possible.

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