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Masks in schools no longer required, state says

Masks in schools no longer required, state says 1

State lifts mask requirement for all students

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, in a letter to the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “as a minimum state-wide guidance” schools do not have to make vaccinated or unvaccinated students wear face masks while indoors, though it is “strongly encouraged” for those who have not completed their vaccinations for COVID-19.

The new order also applies to summer camps, and goes into effect Monday.

“Indoors, mask use will be strongly encouraged but not required for students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated,” Zucker wrote to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He added that “both indoors and outdoors, students, campers, and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks. Schools and camps may choose to implement stricter standards.”

Read more from this breaking news story.

The number of new positives reported today: 43 in Nassau, 38 in Suffolk, 350 in New York City and 779 statewide.

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The chart below shows the number of new coronavirus cases confirmed each day for New York City and across the state.

Search a map of new cases and view more charts showing the latest local trends in vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

Why restaurant jobs are going unfilled

Long Island restaurant owners say they can’t find the workers needed to meet customer demand, pointing to enhanced unemployment benefits as the main culprit. But workers and their advocates cite a different reason for the staffing crisis — low wages — and say the problem predates the jobless aid and the pandemic.

“A bunch of owners feel that the supplemental payout for unemployment is driving people to stay at home and collect their money, and unless workers were offered some major increase in their minimum wage or their past wages, they’re not going to leave their home to do hard labor,” said Mark Irgang, president of the Long Island Hospitality Association.

Worker advocacy groups reject the idea that the extra $300 unemployment benefit is to blame for unfilled positions, and instead point to low wages, difficult working conditions, lack of access to child care and health concerns.

“There was already … a labor shortage prior to the pandemic,” said Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, which advocates for service workers.

Learn more about what’s driving this issue in this story by Newsday’s Victor Ocasio.

Heart reaction probed as possible rare vaccine link in teens

Health authorities are trying to determine whether heart inflammation that can occur along with many types of infections could also be a rare side effect in teens and young adults after the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

An article on seven U.S. teen boys in several states, published online Friday in Pediatrics, is among the latest reports of heart inflammation discovered after COVID-19 vaccination, though a link to the vaccine has not been proven.

The boys, aged 14 to 19, received Pfizer shots in April or May and developed chest pain within a few days. Heart imaging tests showed a type of heart muscle inflammation called myocarditis.

None were critically ill. All were healthy enough to be sent home after two to six days in the hospital and are doing ‘’doing pretty well,’’ said Dr. Preeti Jaggi, an Emory University infectious disease specialist who co-authored the report.

From the Piano Man to drumming with his new band

During quarantine, Michael DelGuidice, best known for his Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot and performing in the Piano Man’s actual band, offered fans a biweekly livestreaming show on Facebook Live called “Live on the Porch.”

“It was just me going outside literally on the porch in front of the house with my dog and my guitar,” says DelGuidice, 50. “It started as a way to really interact with fans to see the comments and talk to people directly.”

His views grew into the thousands as people were craving live music during the pandemic shutdown. DelGuidice takes requests in the moment via posts that fans type in while performing on his acoustic guitar or piano.

The Miller Place native is now also singing behind the drum kit in his new music outfit, From the Cans Band.

“I’m not happy unless I’m pushing myself to get better in every possible way,” he says. “How am I even supposed to breathe to sing a note when I’m already out of breath playing the drums? It’s the excitement of mastering that.”

Learn more about his experiences performing with Joel and where you can watch DelGuidice perform live this summer. Read the full story by Newsday’s David J. Criblez.

More to know

A temporary executive order that has allowed restaurants to offer “alcohol to go” service during the pandemic may soon become law for a year, depending on the outcome of negotiations this week in the waning days of the state legislative session.

Tom Cruise’s seventh “Mission: Impossible” film had production temporarily shut down on Thursday by Paramount Pictures after someone tested positive for coronavirus.

U.S. employers added a modest 559,000 jobs in May, an improvement from April’s sluggish gain but still evidence that many companies are struggling to find enough workers as the economy rapidly recovers from the pandemic recession.

Long Island’s Northwell Health Nurse Choir earned a spot in the finals of “America’s Got Talent” as the 18 front line nurses from 10 local hospitals wowed the judges on the season-16 premiere while also recalling what it was like to care for patients during the pandemic.

News for you

What to expect when you return to the office. “I’ve been fully vaccinated, and I don’t want to sit next to others who aren’t. Can I request that my employer make an accommodation?” That was one of the questions asked at a virual town hall Thursday. It was hosted by Newsday, in partnership with the Long Island Association business group, to help prepare remote workers and employers for a return to the office in the coming weeks and months. Get answers to this and other questions by reading the Q&A and watching a replay of the webinar.

New restaurants to try. Whatever your feelings are about last year’s moneyed migration to Montauk and the Hamptons, it appears to have inspired a whole host of new eat-and-drinkeries by restaurateurs eager to sponge up all that excess capital. Here are three to try this weekend.

See ‘Rent’ star, more live shows. There still may not be musicals on the stage of the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, but there’ll be plenty of music and laughs happening there this summer. The theater unveiled a series of summer concerts featuring Broadway talent, including “Rent” star Adam Pascal, as well as comedy nights throughout July and August.

Find the winery for you. Long Islanders have at least 44 wineries they can visit, which can make figuring out where to go a challenge. Do you want a little live music with your glass of wine? Want to be able to picnic? Bring your dog? Your kids? Use our interactive winery finder to help you choose. Also, plan a winery getaway this summer.

Plus: Where can you travel in the U.S. and internationally? What restrictions are still in place this summer? Our panel of industry experts will answer your questions on these issues and more during a talk moderated by Newsday Associate Editor Joye Brown on June 9. Register now.

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Another year for drinks-to-go. The Newsday Opinion Editorial Board writes: Want a margarita along with the meal you’re ordering for dinner tonight?

As long as you’re safe and responsible about it, go ahead and add one to your takeout order. The ability to do so may soon end, however, since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s pandemic-prompted executive order allowing alcohol-to-go is set to expire Saturday.

A bill making its way through the State Legislature would allow to-go alcohol sales to continue for the next year. But the bill is more than just a way for Long Islanders to add a cocktail to their dinner plans. It comes at a critical time, when the economic rebound is still in its early stages, and when restaurants — a key component of the region’s economy — are looking for ways to jump-start their recovery. The legislation could make a difference in whether local restaurants can stay in business during the all-important months to come. And New York is not alone; more than 30 states loosened their laws during the pandemic and many are keeping the change in place.

The proposed bill in New York appropriately limits the size and number of drinks that can be ordered and requires food be ordered along with the alcohol. Restaurants wouldn’t be able to sell full bottles of wine or liquor. And the law’s planned expiration will force lawmakers to revisit the issue next year.

But the bill still has vocal opposition. Continue reading.

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