Questions linger about vaccine distribution on LI

Steven Gerson, assistant pharmacy director at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island,...

Steven Gerson, assistant pharmacy director at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island, moves vials of COVID-19 vaccines inside a locked freezer on Tuesday. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Shipping, tracking, storing and distributing the vaccines require a sprawling logistical operation with few precedents, officials and supply chain experts said. Vaccinations have begun among local front-line health care workers, but questions loom about getting and distributing millions more doses across the region.

Local hospital officials said they don't know whether they'll be responsible for vaccinating the general public. The timing and frequency of future shipments are unclear. And a state health department spokesman did not answer questions about how future vaccine allocations will be divvied up between regions.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo acknowledged the complexity of the task in a statement earlier this month.

"I can’t think of a government operation that has been commenced that is more difficult and intricate than what governments will be asked to do here," he said.

Even getting vaccines to Long Island — and storing them — can be a challenge.

Plus: Can your employer require you to get the vaccine? The short answer is yes, but with some exceptions. Find answers to this question and more in our latest FAQ.

The number of new positives reported today: 999 in Nassau, 1,037 in Suffolk, 3,523 in New York City and 10,407 statewide.

The chart below shows the number of new cases reported on Long Island in recent days.

These bars show the number of new coronavirus cases confirmed...

These bars show the number of new coronavirus cases confirmed each day. 

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

Cuomo's order: $1M fines, licenses in peril for vaccine fraud

Health care providers who fraudulently obtain or use the COVID-19 vaccine could face up to $1 million in fines and lose their state licenses, Cuomo said Monday. He said he planned to immediately sign an executive order to set the strict penalties.

"We want to send a clear signal to the providers that if you violate the law on these vaccinations we will find out and you will be prosecuted," he said.

The announcement comes after state officials said they're probing Brooklyn-based ParCare Community Health Network for possible fraud in how they received vaccines from the state and administered them to some members of the public, in violation of state guidelines. The case has been referred to state Attorney General Letitia James, Cuomo said.

The percent of New Yorkers testing positive rose sharply on Sunday to 8.3%, but the state is looking at whether the change reflects a surge or is from a smaller pool of people getting tested after the holiday, Cuomo said.

Trump reluctantly signs pandemic relief bill

President Donald Trump rides in a motorcade vehicle as he...

President Donald Trump rides in a motorcade vehicle as he departs Trump International Golf Club on Sunday in West Palm Beach, Fla. Credit: AP/Patrick Semansky

Shelving his objections, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion-plus COVID-19 and annual federal spending package, providing relief for millions of Americans.

While the president's demands for larger $2,000 pandemic relief checks seem destined to fail, his push served up a political opportunity for Democrats, who support the larger stipends and are forcing Trump's Republican allies into a tough spot.

On Monday, the Democratic-led House is set to vote to boost the $600 payments to $2,000, sending a new bill to the Senate. There, Republicans have the majority but oppose more spending and are likely to defeat the effort.

The $900 billion in COVID aid and $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown that otherwise would have started Tuesday, in the midst of the public health crisis. Keep reading.

Some businesses find relief in bartering

Elana Schondorf, owner of The Sunflower Bakeshop in West Hempstead, with...

Elana Schondorf, owner of The Sunflower Bakeshop in West Hempstead, with morsels she is leveraging for an advertising campaign. Credit: Chris Ware

With many businesses struggling under the economic ravages of the pandemic, some are finding relief in bartering, industry members said.

Rather than necessarily trading one to one, barter exchanges, like the Jericho-based National Commerce Exchange, create a network of businesses so members can earn "credits" by offering goods or services to other businesses. Those credits can later be redeemed with other businesses in the network.

"Unfortunately, due to the circumstances, we’re actually in a good time to consider barter, simply because there isn’t much cash around," said Marge Sasso, vice president of the National Commerce Exchange.

The National Commerce Exchange represents around 3,000 local businesses and earns a 10% commission on members who receive a bartered service. And though there hasn’t necessarily been a significant uptick in bartering during COVID-19, the nature of barter has changed slightly, Sasso said. "In the past, people would sometimes use barter for more frivolous items, but now, frivolity is not the point of the day," she said.

More to know

Employees of retailers and other service firms saw their wages drop this year for the first time in more than a decade, according to surveys from The Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday the U.S. is headed for a "post-seasonal" surge of the pandemic, following mass global travel and congregating in homes for the holiday season.

Finland has become the latest European country to report a case of the more contagious virus variant first identified in Britain, health officials said.

Across the European Union, doctors, nurses and the elderly began receiving the first doses of the vaccine on Sunday.

Millions of people in the U.K. faced tough new restrictions, with Scotland and Northern Ireland demanding tighter measures to try to halt the new variant of the virus. Read more.

News for you

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and...

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, before receiving his first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday. Credit: Getty Images/Pool

Ask Dr. Fauci your questions. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, will be joining us for a Newsday Live virtual discussion about the COVID-19 vaccines. Submit your vaccine questions for Dr. Fauci here, and he may answer them during the event.

Pop-up ice skating rinks. They're popping up across Long Island at shopping centers, farms, malls and more. Some have restrictions and masks are required.

Socially distant activities with your pup. We're all itching to get out and explore — and if you're experiencing cabin fever, we've got some local places you can bring your dog to shop, play and relax together this winter on Long Island.

Plus: The pandemic isn't stopping the opening of the new Moynihan Train Hall, directly across from Penn Station. It opens Jan. 1.

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



   Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

The pandemic has caused unwise cuts to needed programs. Joseph Smith, executive director of Long Island Reach, writes for Newsday Opinion: We are experiencing a once-in-a-century pandemic that has caused significant loss of life.

A vaccine is here, but the need for social distancing continues to wreak havoc in our communities.

We see much of the pain and suffering in the news. However, many on Long Island are unaware that an increasing number of people — young and old — are on the edge. Stress, isolation and despair are driving people to alcohol and substance abuse. Suicide rates are going up, and opioid use and overdoses are on the rise as well. At Long Island Reach, we have responded with more than 21,000 telehealth visits.

Recently, as a result of lack of state and federal funding, Long Island Reach and other providers were notified by Nassau County that funds, including $100,000 for our organization for chemical dependency and mental health treatment services, are being cut.

It appears that elected leaders have blinders on. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not seeing that this is the absolute worst time to cut these programs. Mental health and addiction issues from the pandemic are causing loss of life and this will continue for months, if not years. Keep reading.


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