When the coronavirus struck in March 2020, Newsday recognized the urgent need to provide Long Islanders with vital information. This newsletter was part of that effort, and for 17 months we’ve compiled our best coverage each weekday, including health news, data and ways to keep life fun amid lockdowns and restrictions.

Today, most of those restrictions have been lifted, more than half of Long Islanders are fully vaccinated and vaccines are available to all age 12 and older. Newsday continues to provide in-depth coverage each day, and this newsletter from now on will send the best of it to your inbox two days a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

NY COVID-19 positivity level tops 1% for second straight day

Statewide, 73.3% of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have...

Statewide, 73.3% of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, according to the CDC. Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

The state has tracked daily positivity rates above 1% for two days in a row. It's the latest example of COVID-19 indicators inching upward in the past few weeks, despite the state's strong vaccination rates and summer weather bringing more people outdoors.

The statewide daily average in results from Sunday was 1.10%, up from 1.02% the previous day, state data showed. Exactly two weeks earlier, tests on June 27 produced a positivity level of 0.52%.

Nassau County saw a daily positivity level of 1.12% on Sunday. Suffolk County registered 1.05%. Exactly two weeks earlier, Nassau sat at .047% and Suffolk registered .061%, according to state data.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other officials have said convincing the unvaccinated population to get the shots is key to wiping out the virus. Newsday had reported on Saturday that the rate of New Yorkers testing positive for the virus was edging back up, and the state health department said those unvaccinated are more likely to be infected.

Plus: The Jones Beach mass vaccination site will shut down on July 19, along with three other similar sites in the state, Cuomo said Monday.

The number of new positives reported today: 42 in Nassau, 41 in Suffolk, 350 in New York City and 573 statewide.

The chart below shows the seven-day average positivity rates on Long Island from June to now.

Seven-day average coronavirus positivity rates are seen in this chart.

Seven-day average coronavirus positivity rates are seen in this chart.

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

What to know about the COVID-19 delta variant

The coronavirus' delta variant — known as the more infectious mutation — has spread across the world and into every state, where in some places it's believed to make up as much as 80% of new cases.

What makes it worse than others, where was it first detected and how effective are vaccines against it? Newsday's Matthew Chayes has some questions and answers about the variant.

Plus, coming up on Newsday Live on Thursday: What you need to know about the variant and travel. Local experts will discuss restrictions and the latest during a virtual webinar. Register for it here.

LIRR considering new ticketing types as commuting patterns change

Long Island Rail Road passengers purchase tickets at Jamaica Station...

Long Island Rail Road passengers purchase tickets at Jamaica Station in Queens last July. Credit: Charles Eckert

Sales of the Long Island Rail Road’s monthly commuter passes have plummeted 85% during the pandemic, according to a Newsday analysis, prompting railroad officials to consider new ticket types that better reflect the commute for many who won't be regularly returning to the office.

LIRR president Phillip Eng said railroad officials have "been discussing internally and reviewing different options" for new ticket types that would better reflect how often, and when, passengers travel to work.

"We’ve been monitoring ridership that’s been returning. We want to make sure that the tickets that we have can better sustain and support the changing ridership," Eng said June 29. "All of this is going to be reviewed and discussed and, eventually, brought to the MTA Board for consideration."

Newsday's Alfonso A. Castillo has more in this story.

Why some people are waiting on getting the vaccine

A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Roosevelt Health...

A patient receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the Roosevelt Health Center of Long Island FQHC on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Maryann Reina has been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for four months. But the Central Islip woman just got her second vaccine dose on Thursday.

"You don’t want to be the guinea pig, the first one," said Reina, 60, after she and her husband, Hugo Reina, 68, received the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Hauppauge, three weeks after getting the first dose. "You want to wait to see what happens to everyone else."

The number of Long Islanders receiving vaccines has fallen sharply over the past several weeks, as it has statewide and nationally. But thousands of residents are still getting the shot every day, more than three months after New York made all residents 16 and older eligible for vaccinations and two months after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for kids 12 to 15.

Like Reina, many wanted to see how the vaccine affected others before getting inoculated, Newsday's David Olson reports.

More to know

The FDA is preparing to announce a new warning for the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying the shot has been linked to a serious but rare side effect — Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the immune system attacks the nerves, according to people familiar with the situation.

The state has begun distributing $800 million in pandemic-relief grants to small businesses and small for-profit arts and cultural organizations, officials said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that unvaccinated Americans should be particularly concerned about the growing number of delta variant cases, which current vaccines can protect against.

Starting Thursday, families with children ages 17 and younger will start to receive up to $300 a month through the end of the year as part of an expanded child tax credit made available through the virus relief package passed by Congress in April. Here's what you need to know about it.

News for you

Jason Wotman, franchise owner of Mighty Quinn's Barbeque in Garden...

Jason Wotman, franchise owner of Mighty Quinn's Barbeque in Garden City, says, "I'm glad I opened when I did." Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

A long, drawn-out grand opening. Jason Wotman planned to open a Mighty Quinn’s BBQ franchise in Garden City in late March 2020, but construction was shut down. He opened in August 2020 — just a few months into the pandemic — and by that time, things looked different with capacity limits, social distancing and barely anyone at the bar. Read how it's going now and how he's adapted.

Making your outdoor oasis seem larger than it is. If your outdoor space is on the small side, you might consider some of these ideas to help your mini getaway feel a little more spacious than it actually is. These tips can help expand the look of your outdoor space at home.

This Sayville bar hopes to help strangers reconnect. Remember the days before partitions and personal silos? Sayville Bait & Tackle is trying to help you forget those things with one of the longest bars you've likely ever seen, oversized cocktails and other shareables that were probably unthinkable a few months ago. Read more.

Next on Newsday Live's Music Series. On Wednesday night, join us for a conversation with Jorma Kaukonen, Grammy winner and founding member of the legendary rock groups Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, as he discusses his life and his music. Register here.

Plus: Wondering why Long Island lobster seems more expensive in 2021? One seafood wholesaler owner says prices have risen since last summer when the pandemic drove demand low. And, don't forget about our list of lobster rolls to try if you're venturing out for one.


Patti Wukovits is pictured with daughter Kimberly Coffey.

Patti Wukovits is pictured with daughter Kimberly Coffey. Credit: Courtesy of Patti Wukovits

Grieving mom's plea: Get vaccinated. Patti Wukovits, a nurse from Massapequa Park who is executive director of the Kimberly Coffey Foundation and co-founder of the Families Against COVID-19 initiative, writes in an essay for Newsday Opinion: In the spring of 2012, I lost my 17-year-old daughter to a disease that is now preventable by vaccine. Just days away from prom and her high school graduation, Kimberly felt ill one day after school. The next, we were rushing her to the emergency room. Hours later, doctors told me they suspected Kim had meningitis.

To me, that was unbelievable — as a nurse myself, my kids were always up to date on their vaccines, and Kim had been given her meningitis vaccination.

What we didn’t know at the time was that a different serotype of meningitis — meningitis B — existed, but we were still two years away from having a vaccine to prevent its spread. The science just wasn’t there yet, and because of that we lost Kim to the devastating disease.

So now, as summer is upon us, and graduations, proms and other activities have finally resumed after more than a year of the pandemic, I struggle when people tell me they’ve not yet been vaccinated, or don’t want to vaccinate their kids against COVID-19.

I didn’t have a chance to protect Kim against meningitis B. But today, we all have the opportunity to help protect ourselves and our families from the potentially deadly consequences of COVID with the COVID vaccine. Keep reading.

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