First responders received the Moderna vaccine at Stony Brook University Hospital and residents and staff members at the Glen Cove Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation on Tuesday received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Newsday's Chelsea Irizarry has the story. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman; Howard Schnapp; Facebook / Governor Andrew Cuomo/Raychel Brightman; Howard Schnapp; Facebook / Governor Andrew Cuomo

This story was reported by John Asbury, Matthew Chayes and Lisa L. Colangelo. It was written by Colangelo.

New Yorkers who are exposed to COVID-19, but have not tested positive, can quarantine for 10 days instead of 14, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday, though officials continued to warn the public not let its guard down.

Individuals excused from the longer quarantine must spend an additional four days monitoring themselves for symptoms and immediately self-isolate if they develop, Cuomo said, adding that the latest update is consistent with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The advisory targets the general community members, health care personnel and travelers.

Health officials in Colorado said Tuesday they have found the first U.S. case of a more contagious COVID-19 variant that caused a wide economic shutdown in the United Kingdom. The case involved a man in his 20s with no travel history.

Cuomo said last week that he was asking New York hospitals to test for the variant in the state.

Even with the quarantine shift, protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing face coverings, socially distancing and avoiding gatherings, remain in effect.

"As we approach the New Year and the end of the holiday season, all New Yorkers must remember one simple truth — celebrating smart stops shutdowns," Cuomo said in a statement. "While the holidays have always been synonymous with socialization, the data shows the vast majority of new cases are stemming from private gatherings."

Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, fever and chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, and loss of sense of smell and taste.

People wait at the Rosa Parks Hempstead Transit Center on...

People wait at the Rosa Parks Hempstead Transit Center on Dec. 5. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Newly released state statistics show an additional 11,438 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday for the previous day, including 979 in Nassau County and 1,212 in Suffolk County.

The state's rate of positive cases from 160,164 tests was 7.14%, a dip from the 8.3% reported on Monday. Nassau's positivity rate was 6.8% and Suffolk's was 8.9%.

There were 124 additional deaths related to COVID-19, eight in Nassau and 11 in Suffolk, the state said. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased overall by 255 to 7,814.

Both Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued stark warnings, urging residents to avoid holiday gatherings.

"Over the course of the last month, we have watched our positivity rate continue to tick upwards at an alarming rate, breaking 9 percent yesterday, and just under 9 percent today," Bellone said.

"With New Year’s Eve only a few days away, I cannot stress enough the importance of celebrating responsibly and safely," he said. "The surge we are continuing to see should make anyone planning to attend a celebration with individuals outside of your household rethink their plans. Staying home and celebrating only with your immediate family is the best bet when it comes to keeping our friends, family, and neighbors healthy."

Curran pointed out the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Nassau has "more than tripled" since Thanksgiving.

"The risk of contracting COVID in Nassau County is higher than it has been in months, which calls for increased vigilance from all of us," Curran said in a statement. "Let’s keep wearing our masks and avoiding unsafe gatherings so we can avoid lockdowns and build momentum for a strong recovery in 2021."

EMS first responders waiting in line to receive the Moderna...

EMS first responders waiting in line to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Stony Brook University on Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Islanders get vaccines

Vaccinations continued this week for priority groups, including high-risk health care workers in hospitals, federally qualified health center employees, EMS workers, coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers, as well as staffers and residents at facilities for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill, and staff in addiction treatment centers.

In addition, urgent care center employees, people administering COVID-19 vaccines and residents of facilities for addiction treatment will start being vaccinated this week.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two shots, about 21 days apart, and the Moderna vaccine requires two doses, about 28 days apart.

Approximately 140,000 New Yorkers had received the first dose, Cuomo said on Monday.

Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, an ex-Island Park fire chief who is still an active member of the department, received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Monday at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital.

Members of other fire departments, including Freeport, Oceanside, Lynbrook, Lawrence-Cedarhurst and Bellmore, also received vaccinations on Tuesday.

"It was for anyone who is an active member to calls or an ambulance on the front lines," D’Esposito said. "Everyone has their own opinions, but should do their research for what’s best for them and their families. I think it looks safe and is a new beginning and an opportunity to move forward. I respect those waiting for more research to come back."

NYC opening storefronts

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday to expand and extend a pandemic-era program for store owners and restaurants to operate on city streets.

The program, called Open Storefronts, now runs through Sept. 30, 2021, and allows the use of sidewalks to sell prepackaged food and expanded the number of restaurants allowed to use those sidewalks for takeout.

The city’s coronavirus infection rate — based on a seven-day average of testing — is 7.45%, said de Blasio, who said the figure may be abnormally high due to "different patterns of testing" at Christmastime.

With AP

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