Indoor dining, personal services to be allowed
In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Monday, June 22 was a decisive day in New York State.
Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran touted figures that showed how far the state has come since the peak of deaths and infections in April.
That morning, the governor announced that Long Island was on track for a Phase 3 reopening on Wednesday, June 24.
Hours later, Curran cited the latest favorable figures and stated, “And you know what these numbers mean, right? It means that Phase 3 starts on Wednesday,” pumping her fist for emphasis and drawing applause.
Under Phase 3, restaurants will be allowed to serve food indoors, and personal care services can reopen.
“It means that one can get a massage, a tattoo and facial,” according to Curran.
“More importantly,” she went on, “it’s so crucial to get this economy cranking again. The economic devastation that we have seen has left thousands out of work and thousands food insecure.”
Curran noted that in May, the county social service department processed 2,385 SNAP (food stamp) applications, a 125 percent increase from May 2019.
She was speaking in front of the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC, a social service hub in Cedarhurst serving the needs of the area. She had earlier toured the center, with its food pantry and low-cost clothing to support those in need.
The JCC is a partner of United Jewish Appeal, which according to Curran has “allocated $46 million to the metropolitan area alone to make sure the most vulnerable in our community get the help they need during this crisis.”
She also emphasized that the JCC can also help with domestic violence and other social problems caused by the quarantining and isolation brought on by the lockdown.
“We cannot forget the psychological impact of this crisis,” Curran said. “One thing I’m concerned with is that stigma and shame could stop people from getting the help they need. It is estimated that one in four people eligible for SNAP or food stamps don’t even get the help that they need because of the shame and the stigma. We’re all here to let everyone know if you need help, if your family needs help, it is available and there’s no shame in getting help. We want to make sure that everyone gets to the other side of this crisis.”
New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) brought up the issue of food insecurity, noting that the Gural JCC had seen a 40 percent increase in demand for its food products since the start of the pandemic.
Across Nassau County, he asserted, there are insufficient resources dedicated to putting food on the tables of people who cannot get it. The Senate managed to secure an additional $1.1 million for efforts to fight hunger on Long Island, but much more needs to be done. He urged those with means to support food pantries like Gural and Island Harvest and others. Buy an extra item of grocery, he suggested, and donate it.
“We may be getting out of the worst of it but we’re not out of it yet, and food is one place where we can help out,” Kaminsky concluded.
By The Numbers
Curran said that as of June 21, the latest batch of exactly 5,000 test results showed only 36 positive cases of COVID-19, a rate of .7 percent. Just seven people remain on respirators, and there were three recorded deaths, bringing the county’s total to 2,178. There were 70 patients hospitalized for the virus, with 21 in intensive care. All of these were new lows since the intensification of the pandemic.
“We are watching very closely the numbers spiking in the rest of the country, but the numbers here in Nassau County continue to decline,” Curran observed. “And I really believe this is because our residents continue to use common sense. It’s also thanks to the phenomenal work of our health department under the leadership of Dr. Larry Eisenstein.”
She added, “Our health department workers continue to track, trace and isolate positive cases, which does reduce the spread. These ‘disease detectives’ are very good at what they do.”
Curran was asked about possible violations of distancing and personal protection guidelines under Phase 2 rules, which allow outdoor dining.
“I was out and about all weekend, and I saw everybody was doing the right thing,” she replied. “We went out for breakfast outside. We went out for lunch outside. We went for a walk at dinner time at Jones Beach. People were practicing social distancing. They had their face coverings on. Those are the reports I’m getting from all accounts. I want to tell our residents, ‘I’m proud of you and let’s keep it going.’ ”
Curran was also asked what she heard from business owners, given that a recent survey indicated that they might not be hiring under current conditions.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people have been laid off,” she conceded. “There are some businesses that are not going to make it, which is why I’m so eager to get started.”
She suggested that anyone with a business permitted to operate under Phase 2 and Phase 3 visit www.nassaucountyny.gov/reopen to learn about regulations and protocols.
“The fact that there is food insecurity. The fact that we are seeing issues with domestic violence, with people getting cooped up. It means that we need to get back to some kind of normal as soon as possible,” Curran asserted. “I’m speaking to business owners all the time. They’re very excited about being able to open and they’re very innovative, coming up with various ways to make it work.”
Employee and consumer confidence is a key to fully reopening, Curran emphasized.
[In a survey,] 40 percent of our businesses said that consumer confidence was their number one worry,” she said. “So we’re going to do everything we can and anything we can to give them the confidence, and that confidence is contagious…so that we can get this economy moving again.”
Asked by Anton Media Group about situations in which residents have been observed gathering and violating lockdown rules, Curran replied, “I’m confident our people will continue to use common sense.”
New York has a page dedicated to Phase 3 protocols. Visit here learn more.