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LI schools, 20 ZIP codes see growth in COVID-19 numbers, officials say

Several cases of COVID-19 emerged in the Sachem

Several cases of COVID-19 emerged in the Sachem Central School District following a social event last weekend, officials said. The Sachem School District building in Lake Ronkonkoma is shown on Aug. 12. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Clusters of COVID-19 cases in 20 ZIP codes continued to hamper New York's battle against the virus, which took another life in Nassau County on Friday.

Meanwhile, Long Island continued to see cases emerge in schools in Port Washington and the Town of Islip, as well as several cases that emerged in the Sachem Central School District following a social event last weekend, officials said.

The hot spots in Brooklyn, Queens and Rockland and Orange counties yielded 450 new cases out of 8,676 tests Friday, and those ZIP codes had an overall infection rate of 5.2 %, according to state figures.

In the remainder of the state, 1,281 new cases emerged from 125,591 tests for a positivity rate of 1.01%, the figures said.

"This pandemic is not over. We continue to closely monitor the data throughout the state, push our testing capacity to new highs and keep an especially close eye on the ZIP codes in hot spot areas, which represented 26% of yesterday's cases despite being home to 6.7 % of the population," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

Long Island registered a positivity rate of 1.2%, near where the figure has hovered for days. Nassau had 133 new cases for a total of 47,167. The COVID-19 positivity rate was 1.4%. Nassau’s hospitals are reporting 44 COVID-19 patients, with 12 patients in the ICU and five on ventilators, according to County Executive Laura Curran.

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"Long Island remains in relatively solid shape, but we risk losing our reopening progress if we take our eye off the ball," Curran said. "The county will continue to enforce state health and safety guidance designed to protect us all, but by and large our residents and businesses continue to do the right thing."

Suffolk had 103 new cases for a total of 46,770, the state said.

The number of deaths in the state grew by six, including the one in Nassau, for a total of 25,505, the figures said.

New York City had an infection rate of 1.4%, where it has hovered for days.

There are 12 neighborhoods in New York City — in Queens and Brooklyn — that continue to drive a plurality of the city’s infections, the city health department said Saturday in an email, each with 3% positivity or higher. The highest concentration is in Far Rockaway, which is near the Long Island border. Several of the neighborhoods have large Orthodox Jewish populations, and the city is trying to discourage large gatherings and encourage social distance, masking and testing.

Cuomo noted that the state has conducted 11 million tests, including a record daily number of 134,267 tests Friday.

"We know that washing hands, socially distancing and wearing masks makes all the difference in our ability to tame this beast," Cuomo said in a statement. "So my message to New Yorkers is please stay vigilant and my message to local governments is do the enforcement. We can beat this thing if we work together and stay New York Tough."

On Long Island, schools continued to be affected by students and staff testing positive.

Students at Sachem High School North, East and Seneca Middle School have tested positive for COVID-19. Each of the students who tested positive had attended the same social event last weekend, according to a district letter Friday.

Superintendent Chris Pellettieri noted that contact tracing had begun on these students, and he cautioned the school community to remain vigilant in following precautions to protect themselves.

"The district was informed that each of the students who tested positive had attended the same social event last week," he said. "I know we are all eager to be back together and enjoying social activities, but I implore you to stay vigilant: continue to embrace social distancing guidelines, practice proper hygiene and stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19."

Officials at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma had closed the building Thursday and Friday due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 among more than one student. Classes are expected to resume at the school on Monday.

In addition, Port Washington Superintendent Michael Hynes notified the school community that a person at Manorhaven Elementary School tested positive for the virus and contact tracing has begun. All students and staff in the class related to this case, and individuals considered to be close contacts, have been instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. The district is following building sanitation and cleaning protocols, he said in a letter Friday to the school community.

Also, a student at Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School has tested positive for COVID-19, school officials said. The individual was last in school on Wednesday and has been home on quarantine since that time.

"The district was informed that this positive case is believed to have stemmed from an off-site social gathering that occurred last weekend, which has subsequently spawned multiple positive cases of COVID-19 across our region," said Connetquot Central School District Superintendent Lynda Adams.

A staff member at Sycamore Elementary School has also tested positive for COVID-19, Adams said in a letter to the school community. She said this staffer has not been in any district facility for "prolonged period of time." Before receiving a positive result, the staff member had already been home on quarantine due to a family member being identified through contract tracing.

"As such, the SCDHS has determined that due to the length of time that this staff member has been away from the district, there was no contact concerns with any school community member during this person’s infectious period," she said.

Sayville High School in Suffolk County had temporarily closed Thursday after the district was notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, said John Stimmel, superintendent of the Sayville school system.

The high school reopened Friday for in-person instruction, following contract tracing by the county health department and "enhanced cleaning procedures," Stimmel said.

With Catherine Carrera and Mathew Chayes

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