Will NY embrace new CDC guidance on masks?

Spectators wear masks in the stands at a football game between Farmingdale...

Spectators wear masks in the stands at a football game between Farmingdale High School and Syosset in April.   Credit: James Escher

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday issued new guidelines that allow fully vaccinated people to no longer wear masks or practice social distancing in most situations.

"New York State should immediately adopt the CDC guidance that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID no longer need to wear masks or physically distance, indoors or outdoors in almost all circumstances," Curran said in a statement Friday. "The vaccine works and our residents need to return to normal life."

Curran's comments were something of a challenge to Gov. Cuomo, who has said the state is studying the guidelines put out by the CDC and will decide what to do.

The guidelines are provoking mixed reactions. Some officials are saying they are long overdue, will help usher in a greater sense of normalcy, and are appropriate since COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining.

But others contend they will lead to confusion, since people who are not vaccinated may act like they are and refuse to wear a face covering — and no one will know who is really vaccinated and who is not. They also contend it is premature to ditch masks since the virus is not stamped out.

How does this impact you? We know you might have several questions about the updated guidance, including:

  • Does this mean I can completely stop wearing my mask if I’m vaccinated?
  • How will the new rules be enforced?
  • Won’t people just be able to say they’re vaccinated even if they’re not?

Get answers to these and more common questions.

The number of new positives reported today: 112 in Nassau, 134 in Suffolk, 802 in New York City and 2,068 statewide.

The graphic below shows when we could expect to see 70%, and then 90%, of Long Island's population to be fully vaccinated if the current pace continued.

If the current pace of vacccinations continued, this is when...

If the current pace of vacccinations continued, this is when we could expect to have 70%, and then 90%, of Long Island's population vaccinated.

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

Excelsior Pass a hot ticket — if you can get one

The state's Excelsior Pass was designed to make it easier for...

The state's Excelsior Pass was designed to make it easier for people to attend indoor and outdoor events at entertainment venues and other sites with proof they have been vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19. Credit: NY.Gov

The Excelsior Pass is becoming one of the hottest tickets around for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the potential to open doors to sporting events, Broadway shows and travel.

But not all have been able to access the downloadable digital pass, which was announced by the state in March as a way for New Yorkers to prove they have received the vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test. Some are finding that they are not in the state database.

Jennifer Givner, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said the "overwhelming majority of users have a seamless experience" accessing the pass, which can be downloaded to a smartphone app.

Not John Petrizzi, of North Babylon, who got his second shot on Jan. 24 and is still trying to access the pass.

Read more of this story from Newsday's Lisa L. Colangelo.

Meanwhile, questions surrounding vaccination cards such as whether businesses will ask to see proof upon entry and if employers can ask their workers to produce verification were answered by experts during a recent Newsday Live webinar. See the responses.

Cops: CVS employee stole vaccine cards to sell them

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder discussed the arrest of a Levittown...

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder discussed the arrest of a Levittown man accused of stealing blank COVID-19 vaccination cards from a CVS store.   Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Levittown man stole dozens of blank COVID-19 vaccination cards from his job at a CVS pharmacy and planned to sell them to his unvaccinated friends, according to Nassau police and charging documents.

Zachary Honig, 21, of Meadow Lane, was arrested Tuesday in Westbury by the Nassau County Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Rapid Response Team, authorities said. Officers observed Honig sitting in a gray Mazda with the engine running in a high crime and drug area, according to Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

Inside the vehicle, police found eight pre-filled vaccination cards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 54 blank vaccination cards that Honig stole from the CVS on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, according to Ryder and charging documents.

Honig told detectives: "I sell the cards to kids so they can go to school," according to the documents.

He also planned to distribute the cards to family and friends who would use them to attend events such as baseball games but insisted he had yet to distribute them, Ryder said.

Get more on this story from Newsday's Robert Brodsky.

Outbreak reaches Yankees clubhouse

Gleyber Torres of the Yankees was fully vaccinated and had already had...

Gleyber Torres of the Yankees was fully vaccinated and had already had the coronavirus, but he tested positive.   Credit: Getty Images/Greg Fiume

The COVID-19 outbreak among the Yankees’ coaching and support staff has infiltrated the clubhouse.

To what extent cannot yet be determined.

Gleyber Torres, held out of Wednesday night’s game while awaiting test results, had indeed tested positive for the virus, the team announced Thursday afternoon.

Torres, who actually had COVID-19 in December and is fully vaccinated, is the first known Yankees player to have tested positive during the current outbreak on the club.

Read more from Newsday's Yankees reporter Erik Boland.

More to know

Regal Cinemas will reopen its venues in Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma Friday, after already reopening a handful of venues across Long Island.

Employees are slowly returning to offices, with 27.1% of office workers in 10 major cities back at their desks as of May 5, according to a recent report, but the New York metropolitan area, which includes Long Island, is lagging.

Complaints of identity theft surged to record levels during the pandemic, with more than 67,000 allegations filed statewide in 2020, a jump of 85% from one year prior and quadruple the amount from a decade earlier, according to a report released Thursday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Franchising is expected to recover this year — after losing close to 20,000 establishments and more than 900,000 jobs nationwide — with one research and advisory firm projecting more than 26,000 new franchised businesses opening in 2021. Locally, experts are already seeing amped-up interest.

News for you

People walk off the beach at the end of the...

People walk off the beach at the end of the day at Kirk Park Beach in Montauk. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Montauk day trips. If you're looking to get away this summer but still want to stay relatively close to home and only have a day to spare, set your GPS to Montauk. Whether you're driving or taking the LIRR, here's a guide to squeezing in the best of what "The End" has to offer, including beaches, restaurants and more.

LI's next 'it' restaurant destination? Our restaurant critic thinks the newest dining destination could be a hamlet by the bay, which has deep seafaring roots and a Main Street "so cute you almost want to pinch its cheeks." Have you guessed it yet? Check out her picks of where to dine and what's opening in Sayville soon.

Dead & Company to play Citi Field. Get out your tie-dye T-shirts because the dead are about to rise. Jam band Dead & Company will be performing at the stadium in Flushing on Aug. 20, and tickets go on sale this month. The lineup consists of singer/guitarist John Mayer with Grateful Dead members singer/guitarist Bob Weir, percussionist Mickey Hart and drummer Bill Kreutzmann plus bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti.

Another opening, another show. "Diana: The Musical," which celebrates the life of England's Princess Diana, is coming to Broadway a month earlier than expected, the show's producers announced Friday, adding to the list of productions opening and reopening on the Great White Way.

Budgeting for a 'new normal.' As life begins to transition to something resembling normalcy, you'll want to reassess your finances and your budgeting behavior too to prepare for what lies ahead. Follow these tips to review your past spending habits and recalibrate for the future.

Plus: There's drive-in movies and concerts, free science demonstrations and a kayak cruise focused on conservation happening this weekend on Long Island. Check out our weekend guide for more details.

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Commentary

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a rise in overdoses.

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a rise in overdoses. Credit: iStock

Help needed for opioid overdoses. One of the most insidious tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the way it makes so much that was already bad, worse.

For years, Long Island has suffered through an opioid epidemic, and the coronavirus has exacerbated that conflagration, erasing recent gains. Now Nassau and Suffolk counties have been forced to grapple with double-digit projected percentage increases in 2020 fatal drug overdoses, according to Newsday analyses.

The pandemic’s ties to drug overdoses are a window into just how isolating and disruptive the last year has been. It was a year in which people couldn’t gather or easily meet, meaning those struggling with substance abuse often lost access to in-person support groups and newcomers couldn't connect to groups and sponsors. Outpatient services went virtual, which doesn’t work for everyone. And drug users were more likely to use drugs without people around, making it less likely that a friend could call for help or administer Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses.

It was a year when routines changed, including how people buy and sell drugs. Continue reading