A Freeport student is given a COVID-19 vaccine at Freeport High School...

A Freeport student is given a COVID-19 vaccine at Freeport High School on July 15. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Nine people died on Long Island on Wednesday of causes linked to COVID-19, while nearly 600 new cases were reported, underscoring the virus’ tenacity more than 18 months into the pandemic.

Six people died in Suffolk County, and three died in Nassau County, according to state data released Thursday. Across the state, a total of 40 people died of COVID-19-related causes. The total number of people who have died of the coronavirus on Long Island is 9,766 — 5,055 in Nassau and 4,709 in Suffolk, according to tallies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nassau registered 247 new cases in test results from Wednesday, while Suffolk logged 342, for a total of 589.

The seven-day average for positivity in testing has stabilized on Long Island at just under 3% since the beginning of the month. The average was 2.72%, according to state data released Thursday.

Statewide, the average was 2.52%.

Gov. Kathy Hochul urged caution among residents as the holiday season nears.

"As we look forward to the holiday season, it is important that New Yorkers remain vigilant in their fight against COVID," Hochul said in a statement. "Wash your hands, wear a mask, get your flu shot and get your COVID vaccine if you haven't already — it's the best thing you can do to keep your community safe."

Meanwhile, Nassau is making a renewed effort to increase low vaccination rates among 12- to 17-year-olds, including free movie tickets, gift cards and sweepstakes to win tickets to NFL games, officials said Thursday.

Nassau push to vax youth ages 12-17

County Executive Laura Curran said her administration would partner with the state Department of Health and Northwell Health to help increase the vaccination rate of the school-age population, though she did not provide the vaccination rate for those ages 12 to 17 in Nassau.

Besides the movie tickets, young people who get vaccinated can receive gift cards or get entered in a sweepstakes to win Jets or Giant tickets.

Curran said special vaccine events will be held in October on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kennedy Park in Hempstead and on Saturdays on Marcus Avenue in New Hyde Park from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

One will also be held at Roosevelt High School’s homecoming on Oct. 23 from 2-8 p.m.

Northwell Health will administer the Pfizer vaccine, Curran said.

Appointments can be made on Northwell’s website, though walk-ins are welcome.

"The best way to build on our progress and help keep all of our communities safe is to vaccinate all who are eligible, 12 and over," Curran said.

Nearly 30% of new cases in Nassau were in children 17 and younger, Curran said. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to receive any vaccine.

About 600 children nationally have died of COVID-19 related complications, officials said.

"It’s really a vital time to get 12- to 17-year-olds vaccinated," said Dr. Larry Eisenstein, Nassau's health commissioner.

Because the vaccine is so widely available, Curran said she did not anticipate setting up more mass vaccination sites.

While the county health department will "fill in the gaps" for underserved communities, Eisenstein said, pediatricians will be the primary administers of the vaccine to young people and, once the vaccine is approved, for children under 12 as well.

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