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'Vax and scratch' lottery-ticket giveaway extended to two LI sites, Gov. Cuomo says

Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination center at Jones Beach Field

Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination center at Jones Beach Field 3 in Wantagh. Credit: Howard Schnapp

New York’s lottery-ticket giveaway will move to two Long Island COVID-19 vaccination sites next week, with a chance at a $5 million prize in exchange for getting vaccinated — part of the state’s efforts to boost a slowing pace of inoculations.

Any adults getting the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine Monday through Friday will get a lottery ticket that retails for $20, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Saturday in a statement.

The Jones Beach Field 3 vaccination site in Wantagh and the Suffolk County Community College location in Brentwood are among 10 sites statewide with the free tickets.

The sites are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with no appointments needed.

The so-called vax and scratch program began May 20, and there have been 10 vaccination sites with lottery tickets each week.

The number of people getting vaccinated statewide has fallen from a peak of an average of 121,678 vaccine shots each day in early May to 43,917 on average for the seven days ending Tuesday, according to a Newsday analysis of state data.

Even so, there has been an increase in shots given in the past several days, from 68,355 in the 24-hour period ending 11 a.m. Wednesday, to 91,711 through 11 a.m. Saturday, according to state data.

More than 66% of New Yorkers 18 and older — and 54.4% of all state residents of any age — have now received at least one vaccine dose.

Nassau County continues to have the highest vaccination rate of any large New York county: 62.2% of all Nassau residents have received at least one dose. Suffolk's rate is lower, at 55.8%.

Experts have credited the vaccinations, along with warmer weather that has led to more time spent outdoors, with pushing the state's coronavirus infection rate to record lows.

Friday was the 61st straight day that the seven-day test-positivity rate decreased, the governor's office said. The rate fell to 0.54%, down from 0.56% on Thursday. On Long Island, the seven-day rate was stable, at 0.51%.

The one-day rate rose, to 0.54% of tests Friday coming back positive, up from 0.42% on Thursday, but health experts focus more on the seven-day rate, because it smooths out anomalies.

Of the 761 New Yorkers whose test results were positive, 51 were Nassau residents and 48 were Suffolk residents.

Hospitalizations dropped to their lowest number since Oct. 10. There were 868 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, down from 916 on Thursday.

Fourteen New Yorkers died from the effects of COVID-19, including two Suffolk residents and one Nassau resident.

The release of the COVID-19 data comes as school officials statewide discuss whether to allow kids to attend classes without masks starting Monday.

The state Friday said schools could choose whether to require masks, unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention objected to New York State's lifting of the mask mandate.

Officials with the CDC, which still recommends that masks be worn in schools, could not be reached for comment Saturday.

With Matt Clark

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