A new Siena College poll found that 68% of New Yorkers feel that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us. But some Long Islanders aren’t ready to celebrate just yet. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Most New Yorkers believe the worst of the pandemic has passed, but 17% think the worst is yet to come and 50% believe the state will experience a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus, according to a Siena College poll released Tuesday.

Nearly half are still worried that they or a family member will be stricken by the virus, the poll found, and 51% said they have felt depressed during the pandemic.

"While we haven’t made it back to living like we did prior to COVID-19, we’ve come a long way," said Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute.

"At the end of last summer, only 34 percent thought the worst is over. Today, 68 percent say so."

Still: "Sixty-nine percent think it somewhat or very likely that in the fall for many of us, it will feel like COVID-19 is over but simultaneously, half anticipate a resurgence," Levy said.

The poll was conducted between June 16 and June 29 through 404 random cellphone and landline calls to adults statewide, as well as "from a proprietary online panel of New Yorkers," Siena said in a news release.

Some medical experts said Tuesday that while the worst phase of the pandemic is likely over for most people in this country, the virus is unlikely to go away anytime soon and may persist on Long Island, in the state and beyond for months or years more — or never fully go away.

They said that is largely because many people are declining to get vaccinated and new, more contagious variants, including the delta, are spreading.

"I think almost everyone agrees who understands the science … that the worst is behind us in this country," said Dr. David Battinelli, chief medical officer at Northwell Health. "I don’t think there is much question that the worst is not behind us throughout the rest of the world," with countries such as India and Brazil likely to see increased cases.

Battinelli said the virus likely will persist here in a fashion akin to diseases such as measles.

"They come under control, but they don’t ever go away," he said. "We’re going to continue to need vaccines and boosters for probably up to three more years at a minimum" for COVID-19.

Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Medicine, said the worst is over for many people in this region, but not for those who are unvaccinated, have comorbidities, and/or face other issues.

COVID-19 indicators have been inching up for the last few weeks in New York, and the latest figures released Tuesday underscored that trend.

For the third day in a row, the daily positivity level in tests for the virus statewide was above 1%, hitting 1.28%.

The seven-day average also broke 1% on Long Island for the first time in weeks in test results from Monday, hitting 1.04%. In contrast, the seven-day average for Long Island exactly two weeks earlier was 0.36%.

In terms of new confirmed cases on Monday, Nassau County saw 66 and Suffolk County registered 54. Across the state, six people died on Monday of causes related to the virus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.

Nachman said the state and the country have not reached "herd immunity" through vaccinations and therefore have not brought the virus totally under control.

"We have not gained control of it, because if we had gained control of it, those numbers would be going down, not in the wrong direction," Nachman said.

Experts also attributed the rising numbers to the lifting of most restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing, and people's eagerness to resume normal life — even if they are unvaccinated.

Some Long Islanders said they were uncertain if the worst of the pandemic is over yet, while others were more optimistic.

"I’m not sure. I feel it could go either way," said Joe Almeida, of Carle Place. "Out here we are OK right now, but things are starting to spike up, so it could change."

He added that "everybody should be vaccinated. It’s for the good of the country."

Suzanne Gordon, of Great Neck, said she thinks Long Island and the state are in good shape.

"I really like living in New York because I feel comfortable with the numbers in New York," she said. "Right here, I think we’re really safe. We’re doing OK."

But Guy Russell, of Uniondale, said he still sees dangers.

"I think the delta variant is going to change the dynamics there. It’s a real threat," he said. "We better get on it … before it overwhelms us again this fall."

Meanwhile, Long Island FQHC said it will provide up to 2,000 free ride-share Uber rides before the end of the year to people getting vaccinated at its health centers in Nassau.

United Way of Long Island said it is providing free Lyft rides worth up to $25 each way to vaccination sites in Nassau and Suffolk.

With Cecilia Dowd and David Olson

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