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Opinion

Testing the virus and the bars

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin recently relinquished responsibility

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin recently relinquished responsibility for Hempstead's housing choice voucher program, giving federal, state and local officials the ability to make sure the program is transferred into appropriate hands. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Clavin throws CARES Act cash to testing

From the minute it was announced that the Town of Hempstead would receive $133 million from the federal CARES Act, the spotlight was bright: Suffolk County got $257.6 million of CARES Act money while Nassau received only $103 million because Hempstead, thanks to a population above the 500,000 direct-funding threshold, took a lot of the pot.

Hempstead Supervisor Donald Clavin has said he knew how much caution was needed, along with bipartisanship: he’s been working with the county, the 23 villages in Hempstead, community organizations, the town board and a law firm to allot the money properly. 

The newest spending was approved by the town board Tuesday morning, $2 million to Northwell Health to fund the operation of 15 coronavirus testing and education sites in the town.

“We will have at least one in every council district but the focus and most of the sites will be in the hardest-hit areas,” Clavin told The Point. He said sites will include churches, community centers and parks.

Find out why some Democrats are opposed to Clavin's control over the funding.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Cuomo cracks down on COVID-19 restriction violators

On a press call Tuesday morning, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ramped up his demands that local governments do more to enforce coronavirus restrictions at restaurants and bars that are overcrowded and allow customers to socialize without masks.

“The state government cannot substitute for every local government's enforcement role – we just don't have enough resources on the state side,” Cuomo said, especially hammering Southampton Town and its supervisor, Jay Schneiderman, for allowing a concert to get out of control Saturday night. There could be criminal penalties, Cuomo implied.

Now the Southampton debacle is putting Long Island in the crosshairs.

Cuomo had beefed up the small squad of State Liquor Authority investigators with ones from other agencies and then paired them up with state troopers to visit problem hot spots. The Point has learned that Nassau and Suffolk counties will work with the state teams this weekend in what one local official described as an “all-out” crackdown. The coordinated effort will start Thursday night and go through the weekend. County and local officials will pass along “in real time”  complaints, tips and the identity of repeat offenders who did not heed initial warnings from local police departments. Violations will be issued as well as license suspensions if the situations at the watering holes are especially egregious.

Of the 45 places to date that have lost their licenses, 43 are in New York City and two on LI – in Island Park and Deer Park.

Cuomo has said that while New York’s effort to suppress the coronavirus is going well, a significant uptick of infections among 21- to 29-year-olds is worrisome and is likely connected to those congregating at watering holes. 

—Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Pencil Point

Trump's wall

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Final Point

Life on the outside

During the height of the coronavirus in New York, jails and prisons were struggling to keep the pandemic at bay. In Yaphank, a section of single cells was turned into a quarantine location – but that meant women already there were moved into a shared dorm. 

Latoya Rolle and Janean Villanueva were among them, and they talked about their experiences for Episode 35 of “Life Under Coronavirus.” 

Suffolk County jail officials were able to limit infections, according to Kristin MacKay, director of public relations for the county sheriff's office. Across Suffolk’s correctional facilities in Riverhead and Yaphank and over the full pandemic as of last week, 22 correction officers had contracted COVID-19 out of 858 total. Four deputies out of 252 also contracted the virus. One inmate tested positive for COVID-19 while incarcerated, and 1 came into the jail already positive. 

But conditions inside were difficult for staff and inmates alike. Rolle and Villanueva describe berths close enough to sneeze on someone, and a mounting list of limitations on visitors, programs, and movement as the jail tried to keep the virus away. In the spring, the women reentered a locked-down world. 

“When I came home, I expected to do everything that I craved to do,” said Villanueva. “And due to COVID, I can’t.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

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