This story was reported by Rachelle Blidner, Matthew Chayes, Scott Eidler, Bart Jones, Jordan Lauterbach and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.
Virus infection levels continued to slide throughout the state, according to test results released Thursday.
The statewide daily positivity level from 203,644 COVID-19 test results from Wednesday was 1.27%, the lowest since Oct. 22, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement issued by his office. The seven-day average was 1.62%, the lowest since Nov. 3.
On Long Island, the seven-day average of positivity was tracked at 1.57%, while the figure in New York City was 1.55%. The number of new confirmed cases was 145 in Nassau, 160 in Suffolk, and 1,042 in New York City.
Still, 23 people died in the state on Wednesday of causes related to the virus, including two in Nassau. Suffolk had no COVID-19 deaths.
"As we make progress defeating the COVID beast and the numbers continue to come down, we are incrementally reopening our economy based on the science and the data," Cuomo said. "This is all good news, but we aren't through this pandemic yet."
What to know
The statewide daily positivity level for COVID-19 was 1.27% Wednesday, the lowest since Oct. 22.
Long Island Ducks baseball fans will be able to get vaccinated at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip before the May 28 opening night.
Nassau County is hosting a four-day vaccination event to get teens vaccinated next week.
Suffolk reported the first day in months without COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday.
On Monday, Cuomo announced major reopenings set for May 19 that will remove most capacity restrictions for businesses and institutions and ease limits on gatherings. The move could mean a big return of New Yorkers to restaurants, museums, theaters, Broadway, retail, shops and offices, though some business operations may experience delays in returning to normal.
News of the return of regular seating for vaccinated spectators at large-scale outdoor events, such as baseball games, starting on May 19, came Wednesday — with unvaccinated people needing to maintain 6 feet of social distancing at up to 33% capacity. Cuomo also announced plans for a full return of Broadway shows on Sept. 14.
Suffolk offers shots for Ducks fans
Ducks fans will be able to get vaccinated at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip before attending the May 28 opening night game, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced at a news conference Thursday at the ballpark.
"We want to make vaccinations as easy as possible," Bellone said. "This is a great opportunity. You can have a great outing with your family and, at the same time, if you haven’t been vaccinated, we’ll be able to do it nice and easy."
Bellone said the brand of the vaccine offered has not been determined and will be announced at a later date. The first 250 people who get vaccinated will receive a voucher for a free ticket to a future Ducks game, he said.
"We’re going to make you happy. We’re going to make you comfortable. We’re going to make you safe," Ducks founder and CEO Frank Boulton said.
Fairfield Properties Ballpark previously served as a vaccination site for Suffolk County, Bellone said.
Fans will be subject to seating arrangements announced by the state for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Additionally, no testing will be required to enter the ballpark.
"Whether you're vaccinated or not, you’re going to have a good seat here," Boulton said. "We’re not going to sit unvaccinated people all the way down the line — not that all the way down the line is terrible … We’re going to make everybody comfortable."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran asked the governor in a letter Thursday to push the state’s reopening further to expand indoor stadium capacity, saying that raising the limit from 30% "to at least 50%" at those venues would be a welcome change before the New York Islanders’ playoff run at Nassau Coliseum.
"Nassau County’s high vaccination rate, declining COVID-19, and the Excelsior Pass" issued by the state to document vaccination "should enable the safe expansion of seating capacity for vaccinated fans, or those with a negative COVID-19 test, at indoor stadiums like Nassau Coliseum to at least 50%, and up to 100% if vaccination is required for all ticket holders," the letter stated.
One day without COVID-19 deaths
Suffolk County had no reported deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, the first time this year without a virus fatality, said Lisa Black, the county’s chief deputy county executive.
At least one person in the county has died of virus-related causes every day for the past six months, Black said. Wednesday was the first day since November when that was not the case.
The county’s infection level was at 1.2%, with hospitalization and case figures also at their lowest levels since November, county health officials said.
"That’s really encouraging," Black said.
The state reports 3,362 Suffolk residents have died of COVID-19 since March 2020.
Nearly half of county residents — about 722,000, or 48.8% — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That is about 63% of eligible residents, ages 16 and older, according to state and county health data.
Nassau to young: Don't miss out
Nassau County will host a four-day event next week to get teens vaccinated, Curran said Wednesday.
"Getting back to normal is very appealing to so many young people, and maybe it could help your social life as well," Curran said.
High school students will be able to get the vaccine during "student days" at the Nassau Community College gym, from May 13-16, as the county aims to inoculate 500 teens a day. Students can sign up through the county website.
Nassau, in partnership with Northwell Health, will administer the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for those 16 and older.
Students who participate in community service will qualify for two days of service, and getting vaccinated will result in six hours of credit for getting the shots.
"Up to now, we’ve really been focusing on vaccinating the most vulnerable," Curran said, noting that 83% of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated in Nassau.
"We have the luxury now of turning our focus on young people, because we have the supply," she added. "We want to make sure we are getting our kids vaccinated as well. To soundly defeat this pandemic and return to normal life, we need as many people as possible to roll up their sleeves, and now it’s time for the young folks."
Curran said getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is "appealing" to young people, with proms, graduations, and regular social interactions potentially affected by their inoculation.
Elsewhere, Stony Brook University said the vaccination center at the state-run facility at the school's Innovation & Discovery Building in the university's Research and Development Park administered shot No. 200,000 on Thursday. The location has been up and running since Jan. 18.
In total, Stony Brook Medicine has administered 350,000 vaccines at distribution sites throughout Long Island.
Stop & Shop on Thursday said its pharmacies have started to provide same-day COVID-19 immunizations. The supermarket chain said customers can still schedule a vaccine appointment on its website, but appointments are no longer required.
Stop & Shop operates about 30 pharmacies on Long Island, and more than 250 pharmacies across the Northeast, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Earlier this week, Walmart and Sam's Club said its COVID-19 immunizations were also available without an appointment at its 107 New York pharmacies.
NYC wants to vaccinate tourists
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants state permission to offer vaccination to out-of-state tourists, requesting a change in the state rule limiting vaccines to state residents.
"It makes sense to put mobile vaccination sites where the tourists are. That is good for all of us that they get vaccinated," he said.
The city would use the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with mobile sites at Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Central Park, the High Line and other tourist hot spots.
De Blasio said the city was prepared to start this weekend, pending state permission. An email inquiry to Cuomo's office wasn’t returned.
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