The struggle to bring down COVID-19 levels continued to stagnate statewide and on Long Island as New York entered the Easter holiday weekend, officials said Friday, even as the number of people vaccinated steadily climbs.
On Friday, New York State also began allowing arts and entertainment venues to reopen with limited capacity, after having been closed for more than a year.
The capacity cap is 33% of normal, with up to 100 people indoors and 200 outdoors. If all attendees show proof of a negative coronavirus test before entry, the cap rises to 150 indoors and 500 outdoors, according to an announcement last month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Social distancing and other precautions are required.
The Easter holiday will bring some risk in spreading COVID-19, area doctors said Friday.
“We have to take the emotional needs of people, including going to church and seeing family, with the medical needs of the community,” said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
Nachman said small gatherings of 10 or fewer people who were vaccinated and showing no signs of being sick were safer.
“I’d certainly screen to make sure everyone feels all right, and if children are coming, make sure they’re no signs of symptoms and that they haven’t been in contact with anyone who has developed COVID,” Nachman said. “There’s more risk the more unvaccinated people are included. And I’d certainly avoid a larger gathering.”
She added that a church service was safer if people wore masks, socially distanced and had been vaccinated.
“Some churches might hold abridged services too,” she said.
Meanwhile, the statewide seven-day average of positivity in test results for the virus Thursday was 3.59%, an increase from 3.58% and 3.47% the previous two days, Cuomo said Friday.
The seven-day average on Long Island, which continues to have among the highest levels in the state, was 4.52%, according to state data. That was also an increase from 4.39% and 4.38% the previous two days.
“Vaccinations for COVID-19 are progressing as fast as we can get shots in arms, and while that’s good news, the pandemic isn’t over and New Yorkers have to stay vigilant,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday.
The daily statewide level of positivity from test results Thursday was 3.02%.
Statewide and on Long Island, the level was about 1% throughout the summer.
The number of new confirmed cases in test results Thursday was 638 in Nassau County, 706 in Suffolk County, and 3,794 in New York City.
Those numbers were also far above the figures in the summer, when Nassau and Suffolk each had well below 100 cases a day.
Statewide, 63 people died of COVID-19-related causes on Thursday, including two each in Nassau and Suffolk. In the summer the statewide figure generally was in single digits.
The lack of progress on those fronts came even though New York is rapidly increasing and even breaking its own records for the number of people vaccinated.
Cuomo announced Friday that the state will open 18 new temporary pop-up vaccination sites throughout the state over the next week including three on Long Island. One of those will be on the lands of the Unkechaug Tribal Nation in Mastic.
The sites are expected to vaccinate 8,500 people, and will be reestablished in three weeks to administer the second shot.
Since Jan. 15, more than 180 pop-up sites have administered more than 69,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Cuomo said. No walk-ins are allowed. Residents must make appointments.
The sites on Long Island will include the Patchogue YMCA at 255 W. Main St., open on Tuesday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Also, Temple Beth El of Great Neck at 5 Old Mill Rd. will operate Tuesday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The site at the Unkechaug Tribal Nation at 151 Poospatuck Ln. in Mastic will operate Friday, April 2, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
On Thursday, Cuomo announced that New York had administered 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the last seven days, a record since the state began inoculating people in December
Nassau County marked its own milestone, as County Executive Laura Curran said 500,000 residents had received their first COVID-19 shot. That accounted for about half the county’s adult population.
“New York is expanding eligibility and opening new vaccination sites statewide with a particular focus on historically underserved communities, and we’re holding fast to that commitment,” Cuomo said Friday.
“However, New Yorkers should take continuing infections and new variants into account as we move forward toward the light at the end of the tunnel together.”
With Matthew Chayes and David Reich-Hale
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