As bars, restaurants ready to extend last calls, NY COVID-19 rate drops

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The overall daily rate of new COVID-19 cases in the state continues to decline, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday, a day before bars and restaurants across the state could stay open an hour later .

Of the 243,171 COVID-19 test results reported to the state on Saturday, 5,704 were positive for a daily positivity rate of 2.35%, according to a statement from the governor.

These new cases included 343 in Nassau and 395 in Suffolk. Long Island’s daily rate was 2.4%.

The statewide seven-day rate was 2.92% and slightly higher in Long Island at 3.21%.

This rate, which had remained around 4% for months, finally fell a little last week.

Vaccinations are increasing, the statement said, with more than 40% of New Yorkers receiving at least one dose of the vaccine on Sunday morning.

More than 8.2 million New Yorkers have received at least one dose and more than 5.5 million have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Nearly one million Long Islanders have received at least one dose and more than 639,000 have completed their vaccine series.

“New York is making huge strides in our goal of vaccinating all New Yorkers while keeping infection and hospitalization rates low, but virus variants remain a concern across the state,” Cuomo said in a statement.

35 more New Yorkers have died from COVID-19, the state reported on Sunday, bringing the grim total since the start of the pandemic to 41,485. Three of those deaths were in Suffolk County.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine remained on a hiatus set last week by the federal government after several people – mostly women between the ages of 18 and 48 – developed unusual blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said on Sunday he doubted the break would become permanent. A decision will be made Friday after a meeting of an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

Fauci said it was possible for the vaccine to resume with a warning or restriction.

From Monday, bars and restaurants can stay open until midnight. The previous curfew, set under COVID-19 restrictions, was 11 p.m.

Cuomo told reporters last week that if the number of COVID-19 cases drops steadily, the curfew could be extended again. The restrictions were put in place last year to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

In February, the closing hours of bars and restaurants at 10 p.m. were extended to 11 p.m. The owners of these establishments said extending their hours of operation was essential to help keep struggling businesses afloat.

On Sunday, the village of Lindenhurst held a grim Remembrance Day service in the village square to commemorate the first anniversary of the first locally confirmed COVID-19 case.

There have been several prayers given by local religious leaders and chants as well as the recognition of volunteer firefighters who have assisted the community throughout the pandemic.

Mayor Mike Lavorata also thanked residents for caring for each other as well as vulnerable neighbors.

“As a community, we persevered,” he said. “As individuals, we have all had to experience the new normal.”

Lavorata also pointed out another sign of hope: in a year when so many businesses have closed, 10 new businesses have opened in the village.

But he warned everyone still needs to wear headgear and practice social distancing because the pandemic is not over.

“Especially as the weather warms, we might be tempted to forget about COVID precautions,” he said. “We can not.”

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