The number of new confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 surpassed 400 on Long Island, while a noted restaurant owner in New York City will require patrons to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to eat or drink inside.
Nassau County registered 252 new cases in test results from Wednesday, while Suffolk had 183, for a regional total of 435. Long Island’s seven-day daily average of new COVID-19 cases reached 341 Wednesday, an increase of 293 cases or 610.4% in the last 30 days.
It was the latest sign of rising COVID-19 indicators as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, large numbers of people remain unvaccinated, and mitigation measures such as mask wearing and social distancing are dropped.
New York City had a total of 1,393 new cases.
The positivity level in testing continued to rise, with the seven-day average on Long Island over the last three days going from 2.36% to 2.42% to 2.58%. Statewide the average has gone from 1.97% to 2.04% to 2.17%.
“The vaccine is our strongest defense against the COVID virus, particularly the Delta variant. We don’t want to go backward, we can’t go backward and with the vaccine available there’s no reason why we should go backward,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement Thursday.
He added: “Talk to your doctor, avoid misinformation” about the vaccine, which he called “safe.”
The number of people hospitalized with the virus rose by 20, to a total of 611. Two people died on Wednesday of causes related to the virus. Neither of the fatalities was on Long Island.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday praised restaurant owner Danny Meyer’s move as a bold example of how to help fight the rise of COVID-19 cases.
Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will require people be vaccinated to dine in its restaurants in both New York and Washington, D.C. They include such businesses as the Union Square Café.
“This is a major step by a major employer in sending a message … vaccination is the answer, vaccination is the future, vaccination is the way,” de Blasio said. “This is really important because when someone as respected as him steps forward it’s going to send a message to the private sector.”
Meyer also founded the Shake Shack chain, but de Blasio said it was not yet clear if the policy would also be implemented there as well.
De Blasio said when his administration announced recently the mandate for city employees be vaccinated, he’d hoped businesses would follow. He called Meyer’s announcement a first step in that direction.
He also noted that New York City will begin offering a $100 gift card to anyone who gets vaccinated at city-run sites starting Friday.
Meanwhile, New York State Attorney General Letitia James called on Facebook and other companies to help stop a disinformation campaign about the vaccines that is proliferating on social media platforms, especially those impacting the Latino community.
James said she sent a letter to Facebook on Thursday “urging the company to address and dispel harmful and inaccurate myths about the virus and the available vaccines, which has resulted in vaccine hesitancy among Facebook users.
“The Latino community, in particular, has been targeted by inaccurate information about the vaccine, which has led to vaccination rates nearly 45 percent lower than some other ethnic groups. Vaccine hesitancy is even higher among individuals who primarily speak Spanish,” she said.
James, in a statement, added: “As COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation and unvaccinated communities, particularly the Latino community, see the worst of the disease, Facebook and other powerful social media companies must choose lives over profits and take real action to combat the spread of destructive lies.”
She said vaccination rates in some Latino communities barely surpass 15%. James send the letter in conjunction with a coalition of Latino organizations in New York.
With Matt Clark
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