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School districts will decide own mask, social distancing rules

School districts will decide own mask, social
distancing rules 1

State: Districts can decide masking, social distancing policies

It’s back to local control for school reopening plans. State officials said Thursday that school districts should come up with plans for masking, testing and vaccinations for the coming year.

“With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are re-established as the controlling entity for schools,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement Thursday. “Schools and school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible, and I recommend following guidance from the CDC and local health departments.”

The majority of Long Island schools open in less than a month, and some districts already have signed off on reopening plans. (ICYMI: Take a look at the start dates for Long Island’s districts.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month — citing new information about the infectious power of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people — recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff and students, regardless of their vaccination status.

The number of new positives reported today: 297 in Nassau, 301 in Suffolk, 1,955 in New York City and 3,644 statewide.

Search maps and view charts that show the latest local trends in vaccinations, testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

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The charts tracking COVID-19-related deaths, such as the one below, now include more comprehensive tallies provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New figures: COVID-19 cases again near 600 on LI, hospitalizations up

State figures released Thursday show the number of confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 hit close to 600 on Long Island for the second time this week, statewide hospitalizations reached nearly 1,000, and positivity levels rose again — fueled by the spread of the delta variant.

As recently as June, that daily figure was well below 100. But the highly contagious delta variant is spreading rapidly, many people remain unvaccinated, and many mandates such as mask wearing and social distancing have been lifted.

Meanwhile, New York State is launching an “Excelsior Pass Plus” program that will help expedite people’s travel overseas to such destinations as Greece, France, Spain, Italy and the Bahamas.

More have died of COVID-19 in NY than state publicly reports, data shows

More than 2,000 additional people have died on Long Island from COVID-19 than New York State is publicly reporting, a Newsday analysis of federal and state data found.

Newsday’s David Olson reports that the gap is rooted in New York’s continuing exclusion of some COVID-19 deaths from its publicly released totals, even though the state is aware of those additional deaths and reports them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The New York State Department of Health says on its COVID-19 Tracker website that 7,297 people died on Long Island from COVID-19 as of Tuesday — but the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports a death toll of 9,405 through Wednesday — a number nearly 29% higher.

Where COVID-19 vaccinations will be required

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that New York City will require proof of being vaccinated against the coronavirus to participate in many indoor activities, including at restaurants, gyms and theaters.

The mandate will be phased in around Aug. 16, with inspections and enforcement beginning around Sept. 13, de Blasio said. Proof could be shown via a copy of a paper vaccination card or a government-issued smartphone app like the Excelsior Pass.

Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater was the first Long Island theater to announce patrons ages 12 and older will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon entry.

And following suit, Gateway Playhouse in Bellport said it will begin asking guests to provide proof of vaccination and don masks beginning Aug. 17.

The Black Sheep Ale House in Mineola is now requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination for entry.

ICYMI: See our updated list on employers, government agencies, schools, restaurants and venues that are starting to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

Faculty union at Stony Brook wants universal mask mandates

A union representing faculty and staff at Stony Brook University wants universal mask mandates in the fall, as concerns grow about rising infection rates from the delta variant and about the large number of commuter students who are not, as yet, required to get vaccinated.

While the university just announced masks would be required inside campus buildings — including classrooms, libraries and common areas — as well as on shuttles and buses regardless of vaccination status between Aug. 3 and Sept. 7, only unvaccinated people would have to wear them after that.

Newsday’s Carol Polsky has more in this story.

More to know

Moderna officials say while its COVID-19 vaccine’s protection is holding up, it’s planning for booster doses to help fight the highly contagious delta variant.

The CDC issued a new eviction moratorium that would last until Oct. 3. The ban announced Tuesday could help keep millions in their homes as the delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid.

The New York International Auto Show scheduled for later this month has been canceled due to concerns about COVID-19 and the spreading delta variant, according to the show’s organizer.

The Biden administration is taking the first steps toward requiring nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official said Wednesday.

RXR, one of the largest landlords on Long Island, will require its employees to get vaccinated and its vendors, contractors and other corporate guests to show proof of vaccination before entering company property, the firm announced Wednesday.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week by 14,000 to 385,000, evidence the economy and job market are rebounding from the coronavirus recession.

News for you

Let the kids Slip & Slide in socks. To help families get in some exercise after a school year of extended screen time, the newest indoor exhibit at the Long Island Children’s Museum — “Slip & Slide Sock Skating” — lets kids “skate” around in their socks. Get the details.

Pop culture convention coming this weekend. After two years of no superheroes or creatures crawling about Long Island, Eternal Con is back this weekend at a new venue: Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex in Hempstead. Here’s a look at what to expect.

Looking for a local day trip outdoors? Say no more — try Rockaway Beach. There’s plenty to do, things to see and must-stops where you should eat at this Queens beach, and it’s a short trip away. Newsday’s Corin Hirsch has suggestions to plan your day.

Next on Newsday Live. With COVID-19 cases and the delta variant on the rise, what new challenges will Long Islanders face? Nassau and Suffolk health commissioners address those questions, whether we’re facing another wave and more. Register here for the Friday afternoon webinar.

Plus, planning your weekend? Here are 10 events and things to do this weekend on Long Island, from whale watching to cardboard boat races.


The ban on evictions can’t become permanent. Michael R. Strain, of Bloomberg Opinion, writes: President Joe Biden’s decision to bypass Congress and extend the moratorium on evictions for two more months may be unconstitutional, but as a practical matter, keeping it in place through September is reasonable.

It will give states and localities time to distribute unspent pandemic relief funds to renters.

Then it should expire on Oct. 3, as scheduled.

When COVID-19 struck in the spring of 2020 and governors started locking down their states, Congress took the unprecedented step of prohibiting properties receiving federal financial assistance or with government-backed financing from evicting tenants. In September 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed an even more sweeping nationwide ban on evictions. Read more.

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