Cuomo to pro teams: Play ball

A pedestrian passes a closed Citi Field on the scheduled date for...

A pedestrian passes a closed Citi Field on the scheduled date for Opening Day in March. Credit: Getty Images/Al Bello

Cuomo's public backing of professional sports' playing again came even as New York City and its suburbs — where most of the state’s major teams play — are still working toward meeting the criteria for Phase One reopening.

But, as Cuomo explained it, he wants to help make sports happen anyway.

“Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen,” Cuomo said. “The state will work with them to come back.”

In practice, Cuomo’s open-mindedness to athletics means the most to baseball, which is aiming to restart spring training by mid-June and begin an 82-game season played mostly in teams’ home stadiums by early July — at which point New York City might have cleared the threshold for a Phase One reopening anyway. 

The goal: 35,000 tests per day in nursing homes

During his daily briefing, Cuomo also defended the state's push for testing staff twice a week at New York's 600 nursing homes, despite complaints from nursing home operators on the burdensome mandate, he said.

"If you watch what happens with the staff, it’s a canary in the coal mine for what’s happening in the nursing home and it clearly keeps the residents of the nursing home safe,” Cuomo said.

To help accomplish the stepped-up testing, the state will be sending 320,000 test kits to those facilities this week, Cuomo said. The goal is to conduct some 35,000 tests a day, he said.

On a personal note, he said he was "pleased to report" that he tested negative for the virus, after publicly undergoing a specimen collection Sunday to show how easy it is. 

The map below shows the concentration of cases in Long Island communities.

This map shows concentration of cases in Long Island communities, with Nassau...

This map shows concentration of cases in Long Island communities, with Nassau data as of May 15 and Suffolk data as of May 18

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

The numbers as of 3 p.m.: 39,225 confirmed cases in Nassau, 38,224 in Suffolk, 193,230 in New York City and 351,371 statewide.

Once 'gasping for air,' LIer recovering after plasma transfusion

Jennifer Woodard received a transfusion of blood plasma from a...

Jennifer Woodard received a transfusion of blood plasma from a donor who had recovered from the coronavirus. Credit: Jennifer Woodard via Skype

Jennifer Woodard had spent nearly a week at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside with COVID-19 and wasn’t getting any better. Then she received a transfusion of blood plasma donated by someone who had recovered from the disease.

“The next morning, I woke up and I literally felt like someone had given me like a burst of energy,” she said.

The Lynbrook woman is one of hundreds of COVID-19 patients across Long Island who have received plasma transfusions, both as an attempt to help individual patients and as part of studies to determine whether the improvement of patients like Woodard is because of the plasma or some other reason.

“Anecdotally, there are some patients that have done well” after transfusions, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, South Nassau’s chairman of medicine and chief of infectious diseases. “Unfortunately, there are other patients that have not.”

If plasma is beneficial, as preliminary data from South Nassau and limited studies on plasma treatment suggest, the question is “what that benefit is, and how big a benefit it is, and for who it is beneficial,” Glatt said.

'Everything on the table' as LIRR looks toward return of riders

A passenger rides on a westbound Long Island Rail Road...

A passenger rides on a westbound Long Island Rail Road train in Queens. Credit: Charles Eckert

Practicing social distancing on the Long Island Rail Road after most of the railroad's 300,000 weekday riders return to work will require rethinking the rush hour as commuters know it, transit experts said.

The MTA is consulting with health experts, transit advocates and trade groups, and seeking ideas from transit agencies around the world about social distancing on trains. MTA chairman and chief executive Patrick Foye said “everything is on the table.”

LIRR ridership remains at around just 3% of normal levels during this pandemic, the MTA said, but it predicts that as many as 60% of its riders could return by year’s end.

A key piece of the MTA's social-distancing strategy will be an appeal to major employers to help ease the rush-hour pressure by staggering work hours and work days, and allowing for remote working. Cuomo has signaled his support for using the opportunity to fundamentally change the region's commuting culture.

Join us tomorrow at 10 a.m. for our next free webinar, which will feature a discussion and interactive Q&A with LIRR and MTA leaders on what the system could implement for riders' return. Reserve your spot.

Sachem cheer squad raises more than $20,000 for front-line workers 

The members of the Sachem 11 cheer team were recognized for...

The members of the Sachem 11 cheer team were recognized for raising more than $20,000 to purchase food for police officers and health care workers. Credit: Lindsey Gasparro Kolb

The Sachem 11 cheerleading team is making a difference in the lives of health care workers, law enforcement employees and Long Island restaurant servers — and it all started with a bake sale.

“The girls decided they wanted to start a bake sale to raise some money to send lunch to a few nurses who are very close to our team,” says Lindsey Kolb of Ronkonkoma, a team mom and one of the head coaches. “With the help of all the girls’ parents posting on social media, we quickly realized this was going to be much bigger.”

Six weeks into their fundraising efforts, Kolb says more than $20,000 has been raised toward food donations serving 3,300 people working in 34 hospitals and medical facilities, NYPD precincts and the Suffolk County 911 Call Center.

It's all through the efforts of the Sachem 11s — the “11” referring to the ages of most of the squad members, who, with help from their parents, are doing all the baking in their homes.

They've been featured on NBC’s “Today” morning show.

More to know

Suffolk County police wear masks and personal protective equipment to keep them...

Suffolk County police wear masks and personal protective equipment to keep them safe outside the Third Precinct in Bay Shore earlier this month. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Just 3.5% of Suffolk's police officers have been infected with the coronavirus due in large part to training the department developed a decade ago with experts at Louisiana State University.

An experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in very early testing, triggering hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers, its maker announced.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to keep New York City's beaches closed for Memorial Day was criticized by a Nassau official, while other Long Island elected leaders worried about people flooding local beaches.

Former Mets manager Art Howe was released from a Houston hospital after a stay in intensive care because of the coronavirus.

Tax hikes for New York's super rich are among several measures state lawmakers are weighing that would raise billions if some or all of the federal aid New York needs to fill a projected budget hole doesn't arrive. 

News for you

Kara Hoblin, 30, of Cutchogue, normally works with chalk, drawing...

Kara Hoblin, 30, of Cutchogue, normally works with chalk, drawing wall art at local businesses.  Credit: Kara Bella Art/Kara Hoblin

Chalk it up to talent. Amazing works of art have been popping up on driveways and sidewalks all over Long Island as some professional local artists join the “Chalk Your Walk” campaign. See some of the "masterpieces," including a timelapse video of a drawing paying tribute to essential workers.

Beach rules. If you're planning to hit the sand as local beaches reopen, read up on the new regulations that you'll be expected to follow.

Think you have 'COVID toes'? Skin doctors suddenly are looking at a lot of toes — whether by emailed picture or video visit — as concern grows that for some people, a sign of COVID-19 may pop up in an unusual spot. Here's what you should know about this rash.

Quarantine comedy. Comedian Kevin James has been serving up funny, short videos on a weekly basis while isolating in his Nassau home. Check them out along with an exclusive interview about his new internet venture, being buds with Billy Joel and why he never wants to leave Long Island.

Miss restaurants? "During this period of unspeakable, multivalent horror, I should just be glad I’m still alive, that I have a job and boxes of pasta, and yet, I miss restaurants, dammit," writes food critic Scott Vogel. If you too are longing for the days of dine-in experiences, read his love letter.

PlusVisit our help center to find resources for receiving financial help during the crisis including applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and tracking down your stimulus check.

Get real-time updates about the virus' impact on the Island by visiting our live blog and watch our latest daily wrap-up video.

Commentary

Jennifer Culp, a contact tracer, featured in the "Life Under...

Jennifer Culp, a contact tracer, featured in the "Life Under Coronavirus" podcast. Credit: Suffolk County Health Dept.

The contact tracers. To stop the spread of COVID-19 and reopen for business, Long Island needs more contact tracing.

Episode 22 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is an interview with a Suffolk County health official and a nurse epidemiologist who work on tracking the disease.

That means painstakingly re-creating the “index” patient’s every movement, from home to cubicle or place of work and back, and giving some tough advice about the need for quarantine and caution.