COVID-19 indicators on Long Island dipped on Monday, and New York City took more major steps toward reopening, including sending 1 million public school students back to class for in-person learning.
The total number of new confirmed cases on Long Island in test results from Sunday was 461, including 250 in Nassau County and 211 in Suffolk County.
The total was a drop from 914 the previous day. It was unclear if Monday marked a temporary dip or the start of a trend.
The seven-day average for positivity in testing on Long Island declined for the fourth day in a row, falling from 4.42% on Wednesday to 4.12% on Sunday, according to state data released Monday.
The statewide average has leveled off, dipping slightly in test results from Sunday to 3.19%.
Indicators on Long Island and throughout the state had been rising rapidly since mid-July amid the spread of the delta variant. Medical experts said the increase in numbers has been fueled by the variant, along with relaxed antivirus mandates on masks and social distancing, and people who refuse to get vaccinated.
"We are continuing to closely monitor the numbers across the state and working with localities to identify hot spots and dispatch resources as necessary," Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. "We all want to put COVID-19 behind us, but the reality is we still have more work to do — and we need to stay vigilant. "
She said the "greatest weapon" against the virus remains the vaccine, and urged those unvaccinated to get the shots.
Across the state, 29 people died on Sunday of causes linked to the virus. The fatalities included one in Nassau and two in Suffolk.
The number of people hospitalized because of the virus in the state increased by 24, to 2,391.
The start of school in New York City represents the nation's largest experiment of in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
It coincided Monday with several milestones in the city's pandemic recovery that hinge on vaccine mandates.
Nearly all of the city's 300,000 employees were required to be back in their workplaces, in person, on Monday as the city ended remote work. Most will either need to be vaccinated, or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing to remain in their jobs.
The city also was set to start enforcing rules requiring workers and patrons to be vaccinated to go indoors at restaurants, museums, gyms and entertainment venues. The vaccination requirement has been in place for weeks, but previously had not been enforced.
There also will be a vaccine mandate — with no test-out option — for teachers, though they have been given until Sept. 27 to get their first shot.
Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that many Broadway shows are reopening, along with the Metropolitan Opera.
At the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan on Monday, lines formed at the door as patrons swiped through phone apps or dug into their wallets for their proof of vaccination.
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