Lt. Gov. Hochul: NY can require masks in schools

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to the media Wednesday after touring...

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to the media Wednesday after touring a Queens public school to view its COVID-19 safety precautions. Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Lt. Gov. Hochul, a Democrat, is set to take office as New York’s first female governor on Aug. 24.

Her assertion about masks in schools is in contrast to guidance from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who earlier this month said he lacked the legal authority to impose mask mandates on his own.

"In a matter of days, I’ll be able to say we will have mask mandates," Hochul said in Queens on Wednesday. "I just don’t have that authority at this time, when I’m not going to overstep."

Hochul said that nearly all school leaders and superintendents she had spoken with support a mask mandate in schools. And she said the state could end up lifting a statewide school mask mandate in parts of the state with lower positivity rates.

This summer, Cuomo's administration decided not to release long-promised back-to-school COVID-19 guidance — which school leaders had expected to include recommendations about mask-wearing.

Two Long Island superintendents discussed plans for the coming school year and what it might look like during a Newsday Live webinar this week. Read more and watch a replay here.

The number of new positives reported today: 407 in Nassau, 515 in Suffolk, 2,380 in New York City and 5,138 statewide.

This map shows the concentration of new cases around Long Island.

A map of Long Island showing concentration of new cases,...

A map of Long Island showing concentration of new cases, with data as of today.

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

High school sports will begin with 'no restrictions' for the fall

Long Island's governing bodies for public high school sports will not issue additional health and safety protocols for fall sports practices that begin next week, and will let school districts decide on their own requirements, the executive directors of Nassau and Suffolk said Wednesday.

"We have no restrictions," Nassau’s Section VIII executive director Pat Pizzarelli said. "We’re proceeding as normal. Any restrictions are strictly by the local schools."

Practices for football in Nassau begin Monday, while all other fall sports begin practice on Aug. 30, Pizzarelli said. Practices for all fall sports in Suffolk begin Monday, said Suffolk’s Section XI executive director Tom Combs.

"We get our guidelines from the Suffolk County Department of Health and the New York State Education Department," Combs said. "If they make a statement that mandates masks, then we will comply with that. But, we don’t make our own health and safety rules other than for heat alerts and things along those lines."

What to know about COVID-19 booster shots

A health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer...

A health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan on July 22. Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

U.S. health officials announced plans to dispense booster shots to all Americans to enhance protection from the delta variant and amid evidence the vaccines' effectiveness was falling.

Newsday's Bart Jones and Matthew Chayes report the federal booster plan, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top authorities, calls for an extra dose eight months after getting the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Health officials said they were waiting for more data to determine if people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine would need an extra shot.

The overall plan is subject to a Food and Drug Administration evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose, officials said.

More questions about boosters? We have an FAQ for you.

Why so many people are quitting their jobs

Brandon V. and Alicia Ray of Freeport have both changed...

Brandon V. and Alicia Ray of Freeport have both changed jobs since the pandemic shutdown.  Credit: Reece Williams

The pandemic's shutdown and remote work presented an opportunity for people to reflect on their careers, families and long-term goals — resulting in many quitting their jobs.

Many found more flexibility working from home and have no intention of giving it up even if it means looking for another job, leading to a nationwide trend many are calling the "Great Resignation," Newsday's Victor Ocasio reports.

In April, 4 million Americans quit their jobs, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. That's 2.8%, the highest quit rate in the 21 years such data has been collected. The rates in May and June weren't far behind.

"It’s very unusual," said Martin Kohli, the bureau’s chief regional economist in Manhattan. "We are in unusual times, and this is an unusually high level of quitting."

Meet some Long Islanders who discussed what drove them to quit a job — and what makes them want to stay.

Plus: The delta variant has thrown a curveball at some employers bringing staff back, leading some to implement safety measures that had been relaxed.

More to know

The TSA has extended the federal law requiring face masks in public transportation settings including trains, buses, commercial planes and airports to mid-January, officials said.

NYPD cops who aren't vaccinated must now wear masks on duty or risk disciplinary action, according to an internal department directive.

Nursing home staff will be required to get vaccinated as a condition for facilities to continue getting federal Medicare and Medicaid funding, President Joe Biden said.

Korn had to reschedule its gig at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater this past Tuesday because lead singer Jonathan Davis tested positive for COVID-19.

Farmingdale Lanes was set to close this week, with owners saying having to limit the number of customers due to the pandemic was one of the reasons for the "difficult decision."

Country music star Garth Brooks is canceling his remaining tour dates in five cities due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week for a fourth straight time to a pandemic low.

News for you

The scene in downtown Utica.

The scene in downtown Utica. Credit: Toronto Star via Getty Images/Bernard Weil

New travel destinations, but in NY. If you're looking for a new destination to visit but want to stay away from the popular attractions and crowds — you might try one of these resurgent cities in the state.

LI 'Voice' winner joins virtual benefit. Carter Rubin, the Shoreham teen who won NBC's "The Voice," will be a part of the virtual benefit "Celebrating Work — A Labor of Love: An Evening of Entertainment" to help create employment opportunities for those with disabilities. The show is on Oct. 21.

Northwell Health Nurse Choir shines on 'AGT.' Long Island's Northwell Health Nurse Choir earned a Golden Buzzer and all four judges' praise for its performance on "America's Got Talent." Read more.

Feeling stressed? You're not alone. Renee Fondacaro, founder of Old Field Apothecary, says she may have a solution. During the pandemic, she started making candles using essential oils that eventually became her business. Read about her endeavors.

Plus: Figure out the weekend plans with this updated list of things to do on Long Island and where to see outdoor or drive-in movies.

Commentary

Dr. David Chiang, 60, of Lake Success, receives his third COVID-19...

Dr. David Chiang, 60, of Lake Success, receives his third COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Northwell Cancer Institute in New Hyde Park on Tuesday. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

A needed boost in COVID fight. The Newsday editorial board writes: If we have learned anything about COVID-19 over the hard year-and-a-half past, it’s the importance of staying ahead of the deadly virus.

That is the crucial context for the booster shot announcement Wednesday from the Biden administration.

"The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination," pronounced a collection of Department of Health and Human Services leaders in a sobering statement. Combined with the dangerous and highly transmissible delta variant, the health and medical experts said that "we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease."

Hence the need for booster shots starting next month for recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, pending a Food and Drug Administration review. Johnson & Johnson boosters are likely to follow. The expectation is that people would get a booster shot to strengthen their immune response eight months after their initial regimen ends.

Americans might understandably be frustrated with this development. Early results from the vaccines had been downright extraordinary, and life was getting almost back to normal for many protected by the shots.

But boosters were always a real possibility. Keep reading.

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