Teachers worry about plans to keep schools safe

School bus drivers walk through a depot in Ronkonkoma on July 7.

School bus drivers walk through a depot in Ronkonkoma on July 7. Credit: James Carbone

With most school districts on Long Island looking to provide at least some in-person instruction, the two teachers, who also head their district teacher unions, said in the webinar they wondered whether returning is safe.

"They've been giving little bits of guidance and it's not really clear," said Ronald Verderber, a Jericho music teacher and president of the local teachers union. "Before I walk through the door, I want to know what protocols are in place for my safe return to schools. I don't think there's any school leader who has the answer." 

Cordelia Anthony, a Farmingdale science teacher and head of the teachers union there, said she believes the majority of teachers lack the confidence that they will be safe from the virus.

"My district is doing the best job it can," Anthony said. "But will the best be good enough?"

New York school districts were required to submit their plans for reopening to the state by July 31. Some Long Island district leaders say there were “distraught” to hear they were among the schools that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said hadn’t submitted their plans.

Most of the 28 Long Island districts called out by Cuomo on Monday say they had either submitted their plans to the state Department of Health and state Education Department before the announcement or that they have since rectified the issue by resubmitting their plans.

NY new cases are low, tests conducted sets a record

New York State performed a record-high 87,900 tests for the coronavirus on Wednesday, Cuomo said, with infection levels remaining below 1% for the fifth straight day.

The statewide level of positives was 0.84%, with Long Island logging in at 0.6%, according to state data.

"New York State continues to stay vigilant in the face of an ongoing crisis across the country as we pursue a phased reopening," Cuomo said in a statement. "Yesterday we did a record-high number of tests — which is critical to our cautious, data-driven reopening strategy — and we'll keep closely monitoring the numbers we receive daily.”

While the coronavirus indicators continued in a positive direction, Cuomo warned against easing up on virus mitigation measures.

The number of new positives reported today: 34 in Nassau, 39 in Suffolk, 438 in New York City and 737 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of tests conducted on Long Island in recent days. Search a map and view more charts showing the latest local economic trends, as well as trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

The lines illustrate the cumulative number of people who have...

The lines illustrate the cumulative number of people who have undergone coronavirus testing by location.

Long Island startup to test vaccine on humans

Codagenix president and chief scientific officer Steffen Mueller at work...

Codagenix president and chief scientific officer Steffen Mueller at work in the company's Farmingdale lab.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A tiny Long Island biotechnology startup in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has rolled out plans for a human trial.

The Phase 1 trial using about 50 paid young adult volunteers will evaluate the safety of the Codagenix Inc. vaccine and will be conducted in London by a unit of Dublin-based Open Orphan plc.

The vaccine is made from a live, but attenuated — or weakened — version of the whole virus that is re-engineered to slow its ability to make copies of itself. That differs from nearly every other vaccine candidate of the 169 cataloged by the World Health Organization.

Steffen Mueller, president and chief scientific officer at Codagenix, based at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park in Farmingdale, said a pilot study that infected vaccinated hamsters was encouraging.

"They were all fine," he said. "There was protection. It's very promising."

'It was like walking through a living morgue'

Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling speaks at Northwell Health Labs in...

Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling speaks at Northwell Health Labs in Lake Success on March 2. Credit: Barry Sloan

Michael Dowling recalls walking the halls of two Northwell Health hospitals on Long Island during the peak of the pandemic and being stunned by the eerie silence.

“Usually hospitals are bustling,” Dowling, CEO of the health system, told Newsday in an interview. “Most of the patients were on ventilators. There were no visitors. The only noise was the staff as they shuffled around … it was like walking through a living morgue. You could hear yourself breathe.”

Dowling recounts the hard-learned lessons, harrowing stories and heroic actions of his staff in the state’s largest health system in a new book titled “Leading Through a Pandemic,” which comes out Aug. 25. He penned the book with Charles Kenney, Northwell’s chief journalist, during rare weekend breaks in the spring.

YMCAs are in jeopardy and may not bring back employees

Without a timetable to reopen their fitness facilities, Long Island's...

Without a timetable to reopen their fitness facilities, Long Island's YMCAs, including the Huntington location, shown here, continue to suffer severe financial losses.   Credit: Danielle Silverman

Long Island YMCAs are continuing to suffer severe financial losses that have now led to the furlough of the majority of their staff — some perhaps permanently — and forced them to grapple with the threat of closure.

In a memo dated Aug. 6, YMCA of Long Island president and CEO Anne Brigis informed staff that those furloughed will have to reapply for jobs and that “every position added to our staff roster must drive revenue and impact.”

Many of the YMCA’s moneymaking programs, like fitness classes and day camps, either remain closed or are severely limited. That's led to less money for other programs and staff.

“Each month we are closed results in a devastating financial loss, which may force Y branches across Long Island to close,” Brigis said in a statement. “Never has there been so much uncertainty as to the YMCA’s sustainability.”

More to know

Long Island homes went into contract at a furious pace in July, as buyers and sellers rushed back into the market after the shutdown.

The number of laid-off workers applying for unemployment aid fell below 1 million last week for the first time since the pandemic intensified.

Nearly $134 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans went unused despite multiple extensions of the application deadline and a last-minute push by lenders, federal data show.

New York State has directed a panel of local business executives, university presidents, union leaders and nonprofit officials to come up with a plan for Long Island’s pandemic economic recovery.

News for you

Robert Roth's car- and beer-themed garage in Manorville.

Robert Roth's car- and beer-themed garage in Manorville. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Repurposing your garage. Spending more time at home could mean spending more time in the garage. Some Long Islanders rid their garages of clutter and transformed them into their own spaces. Find out how.

Go downtown with a digital passport. Long Island shoppers can now sign up for a mobile passport that aims to drive them downtown with discounts. Initially it's limited to six downtowns: Farmingdale, Great Neck, Greenport, Huntington, Patchogue and Rockville Centre. More than 100 merchants are listed.

Socially distant Labor Day plans. Adventureland will host two drive-in concerts on Labor Day weekend: Almost Queen on Saturday, Sept. 5, and “Freestyle Carstock” on Sunday, Sept. 6.

Making ends meet. From delivering food to becoming a personal shopper, there are opportunities to make extra money during the pandemic. Here are some ideas.

Plus: Re-watch and recap Newsday’s recent nextLI webinar titled "How COVID-19 Exposed LI’s Racial Inequities," during which a panel said the pandemic hit Black and Hispanic communities harder than white ones and exposed racial and ethnic disparities in income, education and health. 

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



   Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Nuthawut Somsuk

Fighting cancer in the pandemic means fighting cancer alone. A doctor pointed out at a recent appointment that my latest bout with oral cancer tracked the first spikes of the coronavirus pandemic, writes Laura B. Kadetsky for The Washington Post.

On that beautiful, cancer-free day in late May, workers chatted over lunch outside the hospital entrance, and I gawked at their carefree togetherness while I hurried by wearing my mask and gloves. It was a world apart from March, when I hastily scheduled a biopsy in case the hospital canceled ENT procedures entirely, and April, when I had the surgery in an abnormally quiet hospital, where coronavirus precautions were expanding daily.

In March, horror stories were flooding in, and the threat of the virus hung over everything. Waiting for the biopsy results only heightened that pandemic-induced anxiety: How do you deal with cancer when no one knows what's safe anymore? Although it felt like the pandemic put most of life on hold, serious health issues don't wait for a worldwide crisis to end.


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