Luca Moore, 11 months, of Queens, recives his first of...

Luca Moore, 11 months, of Queens, recives his first of two Moderna COVID-19 vaccination shots at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Wednesday. Credit: Reece T. Williams

Long Island remains the state’s COVID-19 hot spot while the rollout of a new vaccine for kids under 5 continues at a slow pace.

Overall, the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 test results are on a downward trend but Long Island’s numbers have been stubbornly stuck between 7% and 8% in recent days, compared with a statewide average of around 5%.

And on the Centers for Disease Control tracking map as of Wednesday, Long Island is the only region rated orange in New York, showing a high community level of COVID-19.

Long Islanders should not be troubled by this trend, but remain vigilant against the disease that isn’t going away anytime soon, according to Dr. Bruce Hirsch, attending physician in infectious diseases at New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health.

“COVID is more common now,” said Hirsch. “It’s more mild and we’re not seeing it cause those terrible deaths and long stays in intensive care like we did in the early part of 2020. The illness is different.”

Hirsch said people are also checking in with their doctors more often, getting tested and those tests are getting reported.

“I think it’s a combination of the commonality of how frequent it is and also how frequently medical care is being sought,” Hirsch said.

Another important factor is changes in testing and how it is being reported in New York and around the nation. More people are taking home COVID-19 tests, which are not counted in the state’s positive result totals. In addition, state officials have said they are not counting COVID-19 reinfections in their daily summary of positive test results.

The state reported 4,211 new positive cases out of 91,382 test results on Tuesday. That included 483 positive cases in Nassau County and 365 in Suffolk County.

Virtually no COVID-19 restrictions remain, except for masking requirements in medical offices and Long Islanders are hoping for a relatively “normal” summer, even as the pandemic continues.

“COVID is always evolving,” Hirsch said. “A lot of us have some type of immunity either from previous COVID or the vaccination or a combination … but in the next three months or the next six months it might be a different situation. We could have strains that are much more effective at evading the immunity we have now. I’m very much aware that there is a potential for COVID to become more severe again.”

The good news, Hirsch said, is that COVID-19 treatments Paxlovid appears to be effective with new strains of the virus.

Vaccinations for the youngest starts slowly

Many health facilities across Long Island said on Wednesday they were waiting and preparing for delivery of the recently authorized Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 5. Some pediatricians with Allied Physicians Group received doses on Monday and started vaccinating patients almost immediately.

Northwell Health hosted a news conference at Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Wednesday where the young children and grandchildren of several doctors received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccinations.

Dr. Sophia Jan, chief of general pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said the authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendations by the CDC this past weekend means “an additional 20 million children in the U.S. are eligible for vaccination.”

Jan administered the shots with the help of staffers and family members who helped distract the young children with toys. The event was designed to highlight the importance of getting children in this age group vaccinated.

Chain pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS have made plans to vaccinate some younger children. Walgreens, which will vaccinate kids 3 years of age and older, had appointments available starting Saturday.

CVS has said it will vaccinate children between the ages of 18 months and 4 years of age at its Minute Clinic sites. It had appointments available at several Long Island locations on Wednesday evening.

Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside, which has been administrating the COVID-19 vaccine through its mobile unit called the vaxmobile, expects to have doses for younger children available next week, officials said.

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