Coming back from COVID-19, experts say LI might see more traffic

Looking west from the Pinelawn Road overpass in Melville, eastbound...

Looking west from the Pinelawn Road overpass in Melville, eastbound traffic builds up on the Long Island Expressway in September. Credit: Barry Sloan

Some transportation experts predict Long Island could emerge from the public health crisis with even more traffic congestion — an outcome they attributed to changes on the roads during the pandemic.

Flexible new work schedules could make rush hours longer, some experts said, while those working from home could increase weekday backups on local roads. Long Island Rail Road riders may opt to drive instead of taking a crowded train, and surging levels of online shopping may continue, keeping many more delivery trucks on the roads.

Those predictions could deepen long-standing problems in the region linked to its dependence on cars.

"The levels of traffic are going to either remain the same or go higher," said Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association. "Long Island has a love affair with the car, and there's nothing that's changing that."

Traffic congestion fell by half during the state shutdown last spring, according to the state. But it's now reached about 85% of its pre-pandemic level, according to Rich Causin, acting director of the department’s Long Island office.

Read more about the predictions, and what could contribute to more traffic here.

The number of new positives reported today: 553 in Nassau, 662 in Suffolk, 3,467 in New York City and 7,213 statewide.

This chart shows the cumulative percentage of New Yorkers who have been vaccinated so far.

This chart shows the percentages of New Yorkers who have...

This chart shows the percentages of New Yorkers who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and those who have been fully vaccinated. 

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

Suffolk ramps up vaccine access for those struggling

A man arrives last month for his COVID-19 vaccine at a Suffolk County...

A man arrives last month for his COVID-19 vaccine at a Suffolk County vaccination site in Hauppauge. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County officials said Tuesday they are ramping up COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts by having more pop-up community sites and pursuing at-home vaccinations for homebound residents.

The county is targeting groups that have struggled to access vaccines, such as people who are homeless or detained at county jails and industrial workers who had been excluded from eligibility, officials said.

County Executive Steve Bellone said the stepped-up efforts came after he spent months "advocating for the state to expand eligibility to include our industrial workforce because the economic success of our region is directly tied to the strength of the business and manufacturing sectors."

State figures show 33.8% of Suffolk residents had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Tuesday, while 40.5% of Nassau County residents had received first shots.

Plus: New York expanded vaccine eligibility to those 16 and up on Tuesday, opening the opportunity for some teenagers to get vaccinated.

Smaller city firms seek more space on LI

Claudia Adamo and Duane Davis, co-founders of DNA Valuation Management,...

Claudia Adamo and Duane Davis, co-founders of DNA Valuation Management, in their new office in Melville on Friday. Credit: Danielle Silverman

A handful of New York City companies have opened outposts in recent months on Long Island, fueling optimism among landlords and brokers that newcomers will help the market recover from COVID-19.

The pandemic dragged down demand for office space in the city and on the island, with the economy reeling and many industries instructing staff to work from home. The amount of workspace available for lease grew 15% on Long Island from March 2020 to 2021, according to CoStar, an international commercial real estate analytics firm.

Further, commutes that don't rely on mass transit, floor plans with fewer elevators and relatively cheaper rents have mostly drawn in smaller companies. Newcomers have claimed at least 19,270 square feet of office space, a fraction of the 9.95 million square feet available across the island, according to CoStar.

Duane Davis decided to move his appraisal firm, Sielken Davis LLC, to Melville, where he also launched DNA Valuation Management with partner Claudia Adamo when his lease expired in Queens.

"There’s just a frenzy to move to Long Island, so I don't think we’re going to lose out," said Davis, of Dix Hills. "People will be more into shorter commutes, being closer to home, child care [flexibility] and all the other things that COVID opened us up to."

Vaccines bring hope on this Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust survivor Agnes Herman, 87, gets a vaccine with Charles...

Holocaust survivor Agnes Herman, 87, gets a vaccine with Charles Kriss, 82, by her side in Lawrence on Feb. 28. Credit: Morgan Campbell

For Holocaust survivor Abraham Rodstein, becoming fully vaccinated against the coronavirus also came with a dose of relief.

The resident of the age-55+ Snug Harbor Condominium community was among the Holocaust survivors who have been fully vaccinated under a special effort to inoculate that elderly population. Like others their age, they are among the most vulnerable to the virus — and Wednesday evening begins Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah in Hebrew.

Rodstein still plans to remain vigilant — masks indoors, avoiding crowded places — but completing the vaccine two Sundays ago was a sign of hope following a year with few such signs.

"Even if I get this thing in a mild form," Rodstein, 92, of Amityville, said of COVID-19. "I won’t have to go on a respirator … or to the ICU."

More to know

The scene at Coney Island Beach in May 2020.

The scene at Coney Island Beach in May 2020. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

All eight of New York City’s public beaches will open for the summer beginning Memorial Day weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, with social distancing restrictions in place.

Roughly 40,000 American children have lost a parent to COVID-19, according to a new report co-authored by a Stony Brook University professor.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agreed to end the malpractice immunity he provided to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mets participated in a doctor-run class on COVID-19 vaccines, which was mandated by management after several players were publicly skeptical of being vaccinated.

News for you

Camper Avery Grantis has his temperature taken before lunch at Park...

Camper Avery Grantis has his temperature taken before lunch at Park Shore Country Day Camp in Dix Hills in July. Credit: Johnny Milano

What's the plan for summer camps? Many families are feeling more comfortable sending kids back to camps this year, thanks to Cuomo’s decision that day and sleepaway camps can reopen if numbers don’t surge and some success from Long Island day camps operating last summer. See how some camps are expecting to bring back the fun safely this year.

45 public golf courses on LI to try. Looking for a place to play? We've got a guide to several public golf courses that are open to all. Hours listed are for peak season play and are weather permitting.

The outlook for in-person business events. Virtual business and networking events could be on their way out, according to a recent survey. It found 81% of planners are trying to hold their next in-person event some time this year, with most of that activity occurring in the second half of the year. Read more.

Plus, up next on Newsday Live: Education and employment experts will gather at noon on Thursday to discuss finding your first job during a pandemic. Register here.

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

Commentary

Funerals one more place to get COVID-19. Reader Geraldine O’Keeffe of St. James writes in a letter to Newsday Opinion: In my view, funerals are being overlooked by the Department of Health, and funeral directors are not taking enough precautions against COVID-19.

My husband contracted COVID-19 at a wake, and I got it from him. I am hearing more and more about this. The wake I went to was wall-to-wall people. No social distancing. Seats were close together.

Just because people are grieving does not mean that the funeral directors cannot be more proactive.

Masks help, but the stagnant air is a danger to everyone in that room. COVID-19 can easily spread when people return to their normal lives, especially if they are asymptomatic. Aren’t there COVID-19 guidelines at funerals? See this letter and more here.