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Masks and summer camps: New guidance from the state

Masks and summer camps: New guidance from the state 1

State: Masks urged, but not required for all children at camps

The state government will be “encouraging, not requiring, children ages two-to-five to wear masks, effective immediately,” the Office of Children and Family Services and the Department of Health said.

The original mask mandate, announced last Wednesday, was criticized by some elected officials along with camp and day-care owners. It would have obliged children over the age of 2 and staff who are not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings except when eating, drinking, showering, swimming, sleeping and resting.

The agencies said in their statement Monday evening that children’s safety is “of paramount importance,” and that “we strongly encourage any remaining child care staff who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to prevent the spread of COVID.”

Children up to age 11 aren’t eligible to be vaccinated yet. Read more about the guidance and some day care and camp owners’ reactions.

Plus: Moderna said Tuesday its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12, a big step toward putting it on track to become the second option for that age group in the U.S. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only one currently approved for those over age 12.

And, about mask mandates: Do you need to wear one in stores on Long Island? Here’s a list of mask policies at major retailers here.

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The number of new positives reported today: 43 in Nassau, 48 in Suffolk, 288 in New York City and 767 statewide.

This map shows the concentration of new cases across Long Island communities.

Search this map, and view charts showing the latest local trends in vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

LI students find admissions to top-tier universities tough this year

Long Island’s colleges and universities — like schools across the country — say their freshmen classes this fall will be more diverse, with more students who are first in their families to attend college.

The picture is more strained for high school seniors frustrated by denials or wait-listed at highly selective schools across the nation, where in past years they might have expected acceptances, guidance counselors told Newsday’s Carol Polsky. Applications to those schools surged after SATs were made optional during the pandemic.

“We saw a huge trend in students being wait-listed at schools where according to our data from the last three to five years, they would have gotten in,” said Linda Bergson, chair of the Ward Melville High School guidance department in the Three Village Central School District in East Setauket. “They were frustrated, upset and disappointed.”

Accidental BNL find now the key for 2 vaccines

Long before anyone knew anything about COVID-19, scientists studying an obscure enzyme at Brookhaven National Laboratory stumbled upon one of the key building blocks of two vaccines that today are saving potentially millions of lives, Newsday learned.

The discovery nearly four decades ago of the so-called T7 expression system by a Brookhaven team led by senior biophysicist F. William Studier initially was of little interest to the general public. But scientists quickly grasped it could be used to study molecules and develop cancer treatments — and pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna incorporated the process into the COVID-19 vaccines.

And it was all an accident. Read more from this story by Newsday’s Carl MacGowan.

LI proms are getting creative this year, with some moving outside

The prospects of high school proms were crushed for many last year because of the pandemic. But this year, prom is looking promising.

High schools across Long Island are in the planning stages, listening to the changing state guidelines and making adjustments to their typical festivities.

Some are moving the event outdoors, while others hope to celebrate inside with safety measures. Patchogue-Medford High School is using its own community as a venue — it will shut down Main Street for its seniors to celebrate together there.

Newsday’s Rachel Weiss has more details in this story about prom plans around Long Island this year.

More to know

The shortage of chlorine tablets across the nation is affecting pool season on Long Island, which supply companies say is partly because of demand from so many people installing backyard pools during the pandemic.

The U.S. on Tuesday will reach 50% of American adults fully vaccinated for COVID-19, the White House said.

MetLife Stadium will return to full capacity starting Friday, which means no limits on attendance for Giants and Jets games in 2021, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Stephen Colbert’s late-night show will return to doing live episodes on June 14, with a vaccinated audience in Manhattan’s Ed Sullivan Theater, CBS said.

News for you

Long Island hotels with pools and summer fun. Looking for a vacation close to home? You might consider booking a night or a weekend getaway at a Long Island hotel that has a pool and other fun amenities. Take a look at this list. For other staycation ideas, view our guide.

Cinema reopenings coming this week. The Port Jefferson Station multiplex PJ Cinemas will reopen again on Friday, after it reopened in October only to close again in mid-December. And, the Sag Harbor Cinema will celebrate its official grand opening Memorial Day weekend. Its reopening has been a long time coming because of COVID-19, and a fire that nearly destroyed the building in 2016.

The strawberry festival returns. After a pause for the pandemic, the Annual Strawberry Festival in Mattituck is coming back from June 15 to June 20, with state health and safety guidelines in place. Read more.

An LI acupuncturist finds pandemic TikTok success. Joy Moy took a chance on TikTok, and it saved her acupuncture and integrative medicine practice during the pandemic. She started creating short-form videos on the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, and now has more than 340,000 followers and 1.3 million “likes.” She shared more in a Q&A with Newsday.

Plus, Memorial Day is coming: Review our list of things to do on Long Island this weekend, from the air show to fireworks and more. And, start your summer checklist with this list of summer staples on Long Island.

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Commentary

Vaccine pass must not fail. A Newsday editorial writes: Misspelled names. One shot recorded, rather than two. Or nothing recorded at all.

The problems New Yorkers have run into attempting to download the Excelsior Pass, the digital form of proof that residents have been vaccinated, have ranged from frustrating to worrisome. And they reflect larger concerns: How up-to-date are the state’s vaccination data? How do we handle public health information? And why can’t the federal and state governments coordinate and communicate with each other, and with the providers?

More than a million people have successfully downloaded the Excelsior Pass. According to the state, 95% of those who’ve tried to download their passes did so successfully. But that leaves potentially tens of thousands of people who’ve had difficulty.

While vaccinated individuals can use the physical card provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pass is meant to be a more convenient solution. And going forward it could be utilized in travel or even as an important tool to communicate about booster shots or other information.

But that will work only if everyone who wants a pass can get one. So the state needs to resolve quickly existing data and technology issues. Keep reading.

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Humans are hard-wired to expect the worst. No wonder we can't let go of masks.

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