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Two friends on the staff of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport are engaged in a poetry-photo challenge. Their goal is to lift the spirits of their quarantined colleagues.

Ed Clampitt has been a member of the Museum’s security staff for four years. He challenged Ellen Mason, a volunteer tour guide for 14 years, to write poems inspired by his photos. Clampitt, who also has written some of the poems, likes to record seasonal beauty at Eagle’s Nest, the spectacular 43-acre Vanderbilt Estate that is also home to the Vanderbilt Museum and Reichert Planetarium.

Ellen Mason

“During discussions about our upcoming children’s book, Ellen discovered her previously untapped talent for writing poetry,” Clampitt said. “I enjoy being her muse and inspiring that wonderful talent to blossom!”

Mason said, “Ed suggested that he take photographs at the Vanderbilt and challenged me to write poems to correspond to them. He surprises me with the photos and gives me no prior information. And I surprise him with the poems.”

Then the creative partners email the results to the Vanderbilt staff and members of the Board of Trustees. Their responses: delight and gratitude.

“It’s such a pleasure to receive their poems and photos,” said Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan, the Vanderbilt Museum’s interim executive director. “Ed and Ellen’s creations remind us of how lucky we are to work in such beautiful surroundings, especially now when we cannot physically be at Eagle’s Nest. Their pictures and words are inspiring.”

Ed Clamplitt

Clampitt, a Huntington resident who also has worked for Stop & Shop supermarkets for 40 years, is a front-line worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also co-creator and author of Team Dawg, a character-education program and children’s book series that has been widely used in elementary schools throughout Long Island.

Mason, a Stony Brook resident and retired Centereach High School English teacher, leads tours of the Vanderbilt Mansion. She tells visitors stories about the Vanderbilt family and provides details on the Mansion’s architecture and centuries-old art and furnishings. During summer Living History tours, she and the guides dress in 1930s costumes to portray famous summer guests of Rosamond and William K. Vanderbilt II.

Here are two of Mason’s poems and one by Clampitt, with four of Clampitt’s photos taken on the Vanderbilt Estate:

Separation

By Ellen Mason

Wrought iron gates / Now closed to us;

No sound of car / Or van or bus.

 No children shout /Or laughter rings

Amid the trees /Where birds still sing.

The empty paths / And courtyard bare

Of visitors /A sight so rare.

A vista /Just around the bend,

Might give us hope / And chance to mend.

To breathe the air / At Eagle’s Nest,

Would lend our hearts / And souls some rest.

The day will come / When we’ll return,

To hug and share / Our lessons learned.

We’ll walk the paths / Blue sky above,

And celebrate / This place we love.

Night in the Museum

By Ellen Mason

The grounds are dark, /And silence reigns;

No traffic noise / On roads or lanes.

No human sounds /Disturb the night,

As paths are bathed /In pale starlight.

Within the hushed /Exhibit halls,

Some species stir /On floors and walls.

With restlessness, /They shift and shake,

And move their eyes, /And try to make

Some sense of what / Has come to pass:

No students here / With friends and class,

In lines of two, / With cell phones poised,

They used to laugh /And make loud noise

Where are the folks, / The steady band,

Who climb the stairs / With map in hand?

The whale shark swings / Both to and fro,

To catch the sight: / No one below.

The polar bear, / Now wide awake,

Believes there must be / Some mistake.

In the museum, / High on the hill,

In quiet rooms, / Alone and still,

The sharks, the eels, / The manatee,

Hang, waiting for /Humanity

Their vigil here, /Throughout the night,

Continues on / In morning light.

And so they wait, / And hope to learn,

Why we were gone, / When we return.

The Plan

By Ed Clampitt

 She’s still hard at work, / Preparing this place,

For the day coming soon, / When we meet face to face.

Each day brings new changes, /Some larger, some small,

She knows in her heart, /We feel blessed by them all.

Mother Nature the Wonder /Signs of hope that abound,

Just trust in her plan / What’s been lost will be found.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Peggy Olness

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts” said our NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. This simple but important statement has re-emerged in this unusual era as a call for truth, and can sometimes be the difference between life and death. Being informed is every citizen’s responsibility, whether making sense of a cacophony of voices during a pandemic or ultimately choosing leaders on election day. Use this time of enforced and prudent social distancing to educate yourself on how to separate fact from opinion and fiction. 

Over 100 doctors and nurses serving on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic recently sent a letter to the largest social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Google, & YouTube, warning that misleading information about COVID-19 is threatening lives. The letter called on these organizations to more aggressively monitor the posting of medical misinformation appearing on their websites.

Misinformation about COVID-19 includes unfounded claims and conspiracy theories about the virus originating as biological weapon development and being deliberately spread by various groups or countries. Even more dangerous have been the unsubstantiated claims for “sure cures” that involve certain types of therapies or treatments with substances, many of which are poisonous or which must be monitored by a medical professional. There have been documented instances of people dying or suffering serious harm as a result of following this misinformed advice.

For COVID-19 information dependable places to start are the websites of the CDC and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was created by Congress in 1946 to focus on infectious disease and food borne pathogens. It functions under the US Public Health Service (PHS) to provide leadership and assistance for epidemics, disasters and general public health services. It is responsible for the Strategic National Stockpile, a stockpile of drugs, vaccines, and other medical products and supplies to provide for the emergency health security of the US & its territories.

Also under the PHS are the National Institutes for Health (NIH), responsible for basic and applied research for biomedical and public health, founded in the 1880’s to investigate the causes of malaria, cholera and yellow fever epidemics. A subagency, of the NIH, the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is the lead agency studying the nature of the coronavirus and its treatment and prevention. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D, NIAID Director since 1984, has helped NIAID lead the US through a number of crises including HIV-AIDS, Ebola, West Nile Virus, SARS, H1N1 flu, MERS-CoV, Zika and COVID-19. Dr Fauci has been trying to communicate the facts his agency has discovered about coronavirus and COVID-19. Scientists are seekers of findings that can be replicated, and their research is constantly being updated, revised, communicated, and it is collaborative and open. 

Misinformation and rumor have always been a part of society, and the children’s game of “Telephone” has been used for generations to show how factual information can become changed or distorted when it is passed down a line of people. So what can we do about it? Before making decisions about action, be sure that the information and sources that are guiding you are reliable and trusted. During this COVID-19 crisis, actions taken by those around you can have negative consequences. Remember to use social media with an emphasis on “social;” your source for facts and your basis for decisions should be well-documented media/journalism and peer-reviewed science. Be sure, as President Reagan advised, you have trusted but also verified.  

The Suffolk Cooperative Library System, with the assistance of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters and building on the work of the Westchester LWV, has produced a 10 minute professional development video: “INFODEMIC 101: Inoculating Against Coronavirus Misinformation” which can be found on the Livebrary YouTube channel https://youtu.be/7qmy3FaCjHU

Peggy Olness is a board member of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, visit http://www.lwv-suffolkcounty.org, email [email protected] or call 631-862-6860.

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With Suffolk County expected to hit the final two metrics to enter Phase 1 of an economic reopening, businesses including construction, manufacturing and curb side retail, will open tomorrow.

One of the final seven metrics the county needed to reach was the hiring and training of contact tracers, who can help follow the link between positive testing among residents and the people those with the virus interacted with while they were infectious.

The county is training 1,368 employees in contact tracing, and will have more than enough contact tracers, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said, which will allow officials to call in additional people, even if it’s for a short time, to handle any sudden increase in positive tests.

“Everybody is anxious to get this going,” Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. The county needs to “get the economy reopened again.”

The county executive described the contact tracing work as a “Herculean task,” which will require buy in from residents.

Bellone planned to speak with community-based organizations to make a point to address the issue of supporting contact tracers and encouraging residents who test positive to understand the public health role these people are playing in preventing the spread of the virus. The county executive said he has had conversations with businesses as well about supporting the contact tracing effort.

Bellone will be asking other community leaders to “reach out to their network to spread that word even further,” he said. “We are putting that ask to them, to reach out to their networks to spread the word about contact tracing for people to cooperate.”

In some homes, where isolation or quarantine may not be possible after a positive COVID-19 test, Bellone said the county planned to provide separate housing where those infected with the virus could recover until they are no longer infectious.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said these counties that are starting to reopen need to keep on top of any kind of COVID-19 resurgence.

“I said to the county executives, watch the numbers, when you see a cluster of cases, jump on it,” Cuomo said. “Those regional control groups have to be disciplined.”

With some retail businesses opening for curbside as a part of Phase 1 reopening on Long Island tomorrow, the police and county officials are supportive of creative ways to use what might be limited curb space for shoppers.

“We will work with the Police Department and their partners and enforcement teams to coordinate” on efforts to restart businesses, he said. “People understand, in an unprecedented situation, [that the county is] trying to give businesses that need to reopen the ability to do that. To the extent we can assist businesses doing curb side retail in creative ways, we would be supportive of that.”

While Bellone awaits word from Cuomo on his request for an executive order supporting a 45-day suspension of temporary property tax relief, he did receive word from the governor’s office that pushes the tax collection back 21 days.

“That takes the pressure off any immediate issues,” Bellone said. Residents to not need to sign a form attesting to the hardship created by the pandemic to receive that 21-day extension.

As for the viral numbers, an additional 126 people tested positive in the last day for the virus.

The number of people in the hospitalized declined by 8 to 335 as of May 24 The number of people in Intensive Care Units fell by five to 106.

Hospital beds are at 64 percent capacity, with 59 percent capacity in the ICU.

Over the last day, an additional 20 people left the hospital after a battle with the coronavirus.

At the same time, 11 people died from complications related to the virus, raising the total killed in Suffolk County to 1,851.

In terms of the next phase of reopening, which could start as late as June 10, Bellone said Governor Cuomo has spoken about the possibility of a shorter duration between phases.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Bellone said. “Everything about this is new.”

The county will continually monitor the metrics and will look for any changes or spikes in those numbers.

Amazing Olive in Port Jefferson village is just one of many businesses which has turned to online orders as nonessential shops have been closed. Photo by Kyle Barr

After the pandemic caused New York state and Long Island to shutter businesses for months, Long Island moved within two days of entering phase one of reopening.

Hospitalizations continued to fall, with the number of beds occupied with COVID-19 patients dropping 31 to 343 in the period ending on May 23rd, the most recent date for which the county had figures. The number of people in Intensive Care Units battling the virus also declined, by eight to 111.

In the last day, an additional 18 new cases of residents with COVID-19 have required hospitalization.

At the same time, 38 people have left the hospital in the last day, continuing their recovery at home.

An additional six people died in the last day from complications related to the virus, raising the total in Suffolk County to 1,840.

Patients with COVID represented 64 percent of total hospital bed occupancy and 61 percent of ICU bed use, well below the 70 percent required for reopening.

“We are looking forward to hitting that first phase this Wednesday,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.

So far, the attendance at the newly opened beaches has been light due to the weather during the three-day weekend.

“We are determined to make sure families and kids will enjoy a summer, even in the midst of this global pandemic,” Bellone said. “We believe we can do this safely.”

Bellone was also pleased that the area was able to hold a Memorial Day ceremony at the American Legion Post in Patchogue. The ceremony, which didn’t include the typical parades and moments to honor the service men and women who died for their country, was streamed live on FaceBook.

Bellone was especially eager to recognize the fallen service men and women this year, on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“It was a pleasure to be there with all my colleagues, democrats and republicans,” Bellone said which included Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1), who, is a U.S. Army Veteran and also spoke at Calverton National Cemetery. “It is a time for all of us to be reminded of the fact that what unites us is so much more important than petty disagreements.”

Bellone added that, “we are all Americans and we are all in this together.”

Separately, as the county and Long Island prepare to enter Phase One of a reopening plan, officials cautioned residents to continue to practice social distancing and to wear masks when they can’t remain at least six feet away from others.

Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said he was in his office today, on Memorial Day, to continue to prepare enforcement plans for the area.

“I’m not certain how people are going to react,” Cameron said on the call with reporters. “I hope they are going to react with good judgment. We are prepared to act if necessary.”

Cameron added that the police department has been successful in educating people and asking for their compliance. He said officers have been able to convince residents and business owners to continue to follow guidelines that protect public health.

“If necessary, we will move to an enforcement phase,” Cameron said. The SCPD has issued summonses to a few businesses and to individuals.

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Reacting to a stirring front page of the New York Times that included the names of people felled by COVID-19 the day before Memorial Day, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) took stock of all the county has lost, and protected.

The New York Times is a “reminder, when you look at it, of the fact that these are not just statistics we are reporting every day,” Bellone said on his daily call with reporters. The losses families, friends and caretakers have felt these losses keenly each day, causing an untold impact on the county, the state and the country.

Amid all the death and loss, Bellone said he takes comfort in the way Long Islanders have abided by social distancing and face covering restrictions, which has kept the unimaginably high death toll in the county — which increased another 12 to 1,834 over the last day — from being even higher.

“Thousands of people are alive today because of the extraordinary efforts” of everyone from first responders to business owners who have closed up their shops to reduce the spread of the virus.

Bellone urged residents to “continue to be smart.”

Bellone cited an incident in Patchogue at Dublin Deck on Friday night that included numerous videos of people crowding around a bar in clear violation of social distancing rules.

The owners of Dublin Deck have apologized on their Facebook page, saying said they had invited people in because of the rain. They acknowledged they were wrong and that it will not happen again.

“What we saw in those videos is unacceptable and not smart,” Bellone said. “Police are aware of that and will continue to follow up.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart explained that the owners were vocal and apologetic and that 85 precent of the patrons had cleared out by the time the police arrived. An officer stayed at the location until everybody had cleared and responded at other times to make sure it was in compliance.

Dublin Deck posted an apology to its social media site and indicated “there are no excuses when it comes to public safety.”

As for the viral figures in the county, the number of people who tested positive in the county in the last day were 162, bringing the total to 38,964. That figure excludes the 12,272 who tested positive on an antibody test.

Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell by 35 through May 22 to 374. That is the first time since Marcy 27 that total hospitalizations were below 400.

The number of people in Intensive Care Unit beds declined by six to 119.

With 3,031 total hospital beds, the number of available beds was 1,041, which keeps the county on track to start opening on Wednesday. Similarly, with 230 ICU beds available from a total of 595, the number of beds occupied with COVID-19 patients is below the 70 percent maximum.

Over the last day, 45 people have been discharged from the hospital.

The county executive said four sites would be reopening for residents to purchase green key cards. The cost of the cards is $30 and they are valid for three years. The sites are at the east booth at Smith Point Park, at Indian Island County Park in Riverheads, at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown and at Sears Bellows County Park at Hampton Bays.

Bellone urged residents to practice social distancing at these sites and to wear face coverings.

Matthew Lerner. Photo from SBU

By Daniel Dunaief

Though hampered by the pandemic in their direct contact with people who have autism, the founder of The Autism Initiative and research director Matthew Lerner along with the Head of Autism Clinical Education Jennifer Keluskar at Stony Brook University are managing to continue to reach out to members of the community through remote efforts. In a two-part series, Times Beacon Record News Media will feature Lerner’s efforts this week and Keluskar’s work next week.

Through several approaches, including improvisational theater, Matthew Lerner works with people who are on and off the autism spectrum on ways to improve social competence, including by being flexible in their approach to life.

In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, he has had to apply the same approach to his own work.

Lerner, who is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Pediatrics in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, recognizes that it’s difficult to continue a project called SENSE ® Theatre (for Social Emotional NeuroScience Endocrinology), where the whole function of the process is to provide in-person social intervention.

The SENSE Theater study is a multisite National Institute of Mental Health-funded project focused on assessing and improving interventions to improve social competence among adolescents with autism. The core involves in person intervention through group social interaction.

Matthew Lerner with his sons Everett,6, and Sawyer,2. Photo by Chelsea Finn

That, however, is not where the effort ends.“There are arms of that study that are more educational and didactic,” Lerner said. “We’re starting to think about how we could capitalize on that.”

In the ongoing SENSE effort, Lerner is coordinating with Vanderbilt University, which is the lead site for the study, and the University of Alabama.

Stony Brook is in active contact with the families who are participating in that effort, making sure they know “we are doing our best to get things up and running as quickly as possible,” Lerner said.

The staff is reaching out to local school districts as well, including the Three Village School District, with whom Lerner is collaborating on the project, to ensure that people know the effort will restart as soon as it’s “safe to be together again.”

Lerner is also the founder and Research Director of The Autism Initiative at SBU, which launched last year before the pandemic altered the possibilities for in-person contact and forced many people to remain at or close to home for much of the time. The initiative provides programs and services for the community to support research, social and recreational activities and other therapeutic efforts.

The Stony Brook effort initially involved video game nights, adult socials and book clubs. The organizers and participants in the initiative, however, have “stepped up in a huge way and have created, in a couple of weeks, an entirely new set of programming,” Lerner said.

This includes a homework support club, guidance, webinars and support from clinicians for parents, which address fundamental questions about how to support and adapt programs for people with autism. The group is keeping the book club active. The initiative at least doubled if not tripled the number of offerings, Lerner suggested.

Additionally, SBU has two grants to study a single session intervention adapted for teens with autism. The project has been running for about nine months. Lerner said they are looking to adapt it for online applications. For many families, such remote therapy would be a “real boon to have access to free treatment remotely,” he said.

Lerner had been preparing to conduct a study of social connections versus loneliness in teens or young adults with autism. Since COVID-19 hit, “we have reformulated that and are just about to launch” a longitudinal a study that explores the effects of the lockdown on well-being and stress for people who have autism and their families.

Lerner is looking at how the pandemic has enhanced the importance of resilience. He said these kinds of studies can perhaps “give us some insight when we return to something like normalcy about how to best help and support” people in the autism community. “We can learn” from the stresses for the community of people with autism during the pandemic.

To be sure, the pandemic and the lockdown through New York Pause that followed hasn’t affected the entire community of people with autism the same way. Indeed, for some people, the new norms are more consistent with their behavioral patterns.  “Some autistic teens and young adults have said things to me like, ‘I was social distancing before it was cool,’” Lerner said.

Another teenager Lerner interacted with regularly went to the bathroom several times to wash his hands. When Lerner checked in on him to see how he was doing amid the pandemic, he said, “I was made for this.”

Lerner also said people who aren’t on the spectrum may also gain greater empathy through the changes and challenges of their new routines. People find the zoom calls that involve looking at boxes of people on a full screen exhausting. After hours of shifting our attention from one box to another, some people develop “zoom fatigue.”

Lerner said someone with autism noted that this experience “may be giving the rest of us a taste of what it’s like for folks on the spectrum,” which could provide insights “we might not otherwise have.”

Even though some people with autism may feel like the rest of the world is mirroring their behavioral patterns, many people in and outside the autism community have struggled with the stresses of the public health crisis and with the interruption in the familiar structure of life.

The loss of that structure for many with autism is “really profound,” which is the much more frequent response, Lerner said. “More kids are telling us they are stressed out, while parents are saying the same thing.” In some sense, the crisis has revealed the urgency of work in the mental health field for people who are on and off the spectrum, Lerner said.

The studies in autism and other mental health fields that come out of an analysis of the challenges people face and the possible mental health solutions will likely include the equivalent of an asterisk, to capture a modern reality that differs so markedly from conditions prior to the pandemic. There may be a new reporting requirement in which researchers break down their studies by gender, age, race, ethnicity, income and “another variable we put in there: recruited during social isolation.”

A May 21 car parade was as classic as it gets.

Classic car owners from various clubs on Long Island came together to drive pass Huntington Hospital to show their gratitude for health care workers battling COVID-19. Hospital employees and neighbors had the chance to see scores of classic cars going pass the facility located on Park Avenue.

Before the parade, the car owners met at Mill Dam Park at 6 p.m. where the drivers donated food to Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares. Approximately, 1,000 pounds of food and $680 in funding was collected for the nonprofit that provides food for local residents experiencing food insecurity.

Organizations involved in the parade included Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, Mopar Club of Long Island, Classic Car Club of America, Long Island Corvette Owners Association, Mustang Shelby Club of Long Island, Model A Ford Club of Long Island, Long Island Street Rods, Antique Automobile Club of Long Island, Thunderbird Club of Long Island and Cap-A-Radiator Co.

Also on hand May 21 were residents who every day at 6:45 p.m. show up at the hospital entrance to cheer for the health care workers around the time shifts change.

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The lot north of Arden Place is being studied to see if it can be modified to increase the number of stalls. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though the building that once housed the Gap in Port Jefferson remains an empty shell, village officials say they want to look at the surrounding parking lot to see if better use can be made of the space.

The current lot right off of Arden Place and East Broadway curves and ducks behind many prominent storefronts, and on the busy days is one of the first lots filled come peak business time.

The village voted unanimously to hire Hauppauge-based VHB Engineering for $18,700 to study the lot as well as create conceptual plans for a “multi-deck” parking structure.

Though the difficulties of creating anything in that lot are easily apparent. 

“The Gap lot is not a square box, it’s a very unusual layout,” Mayor Margot Garant said. “The property has so many constraints, so it’s going to be difficult.”

In case of a kind of parking garage, Garant said the scope of the work will reveal whether or not the space could maintain a structure based on its unusual shape, even something as high as two levels.

“We can’t rule that out until we know that,” she said. “Then I get to cross that off my list, and then we can look at reconfiguring that lot in place and just see if reconfiguring it surface only can I gain [more] spots.”

Trustee Bruce Miller, who in the past has opposed any mention of multi-level parking structures, again shared his disapproval.

“I’m on the record [that] I’m against any kind of multi level parking garage,” he said.

Other Ongoing Initiatives in Port Jeff

• Port Jeff officials approved accepting the bid of Long Island-based D&B Engineering to replace and repair the retaining walls both at East Beach and along Highland Boulevard for a cost of $41,500.

• Port Jefferson completed an $8,000 project for drainage installations in Upper Port in anticipation of the installation of Station Street, which would connect Main Street and Oakland Ave to avoid the parking lot. That project starting up depends on when current slated apartments by Conifer Realty LLC, a real estate development firm with projects across New York State and south into Maryland, for “affordable” apartments in what was once the Bada Bing structure.

• The village is not giving up hope of having fireworks this year, but whether it will take place July 4, as normal, or at a later date is to be determined. At its May 18 meeting the village voted to enter into agreement with Fireworks by Grucci for a total of $20,000. While the board does not know if the village will do its usual beach display the 4th of July, trustees like Bruce D’Abramo pointed out current limitations on gatherings would mean there likely won’t be a show two months from now unless something changes. The board reserved the ability to host a fireworks show sometime this year, with village attorney Brian Egan saying their permits would likely allow it.

• The village posted a notice to its website Sunday, May 17 hastily sharing the laws regarding selling alcohol outside windows, as some shops were doing that weekend. Takeaway cocktails must be in an enclosed container, not have a straw inside the cup and must come with food to comply with New York State law. Garant asked police 6th precinct for two officers to be in the village to enforce guidelines next weekend. The mayor added she has spoken with some businesses such as Old Field and Ruvo East or in Chandler Square for shared outdoor dining. She added the village would waive all outdoor dining fees except for the application fee.

Planes from the 106 National Guard Rescue Wing flew over St. Charles and other local hopsitals May 16. Another flyover from the Bayport Aerodrome Society is planned for Memorial Day. Photo by Brendan Duffy

After 66 days stuck in New York Pause, Long Island is expecting to start phase one of its economic reopening on Wednesday.

“If we continue on this track, and we believe that we will, we are looking to reopen Long Island” on Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. “That is great news.”

Phase One includes construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, retail (which is limited to curbside or in-store pick up or drop off), manufacturing and wholesale trade.

Bellone urged residents to continue to wear face coverings when they are indoors or when they are around other people and can’t maintain a reliable six feet of social distancing. He also acknowledged that the reopening of the camping reservation web site did not go as planned last night, when it reopened at 7 p.m.

The site crashed amid a high demand which was built up by the long layoff from recreational and leisure activities.

Bellone expects to get the site up and running this week and indicated he would provide plenty of notice for when it is reopening so that people can book their reservations for periods starting after July 15.

This morning, Bellone joined residents at Babylon cemetery, who came out to place thousands of flags at the graves of veterans across the county.

Volunteers placed flags at the graves of former service men and women, thanking veterans across the generations and centuries who are all “part of this great American story that gives us and has given us our freedom,” Bellone said.

As for the COVID-19 update, the number of residents who tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours was 130, which brings the total to 38,802. That doesn’t include the over 12,000 who have tested positive for antibodies to the virus.

As of May 21, the number of hospitalizations from the virus declined by 16 to 409, while the number of people in the Intensive Care Unit declined by six to 125.

Bed capacity fell below 70 percent usage, with 993 beds available out of a total of 3,035 and 212 ICU beds available out of a total of 547.

Over the last day, 43 people left the hospital. An additional eight residents from the county died from complications related to COVID-19, which raises the terrible death toll to the virus to 1,822.

To honor the veterans and health care heroes, the Bayport Aerodrome Society, which is the last remaining public grass airfield on Long Island, will do a flyover with eight World War II era planes on Memorial Day.

Starting at noon on Monday in Brookhaven, the planes will fly over Long Island Community Hospital, Mather, St. Charles, Stony Brook, St. Catherine’s, Huntington Hospital, and Good Samaritan. The planes will end their flight over South Side Hospital in Bayshore.

Three of the pilots are veterans.

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SWR student John Basile works on the Wildcat Pause 2020 senior issue. Photo from Jean Branna

It was months before the start of the crisis, and the editors of the Wildcat Pause school newspaper at Shoreham-Wading River High School were anticipating the school year’s end and the annual senior issue. Last year, printing troubles resulted in only a few copies getting published. This year was supposed to be different. 

‘I will miss the relationships I have created with teachers and peers. Some of us went to kindergarten together, so it’s not easy to recreate the same type of relationship.’

—Brianna Cohen

Quoted in SWR 2020 senior issue

Then the pandemic happened. The schools were closed. Students started learning at a distance online, and for the editors of the Pause, a new concern popped into their heads. What would happen to the senior issue, the one supposed to cap off both their and their fellow student’s final year?

“It became obvious that we needed to have it ready,” said high school journalism teacher Jean Branna. The newspaper is planned to be available online and will be printed in time to be handed out alongside the yearbook.

What became apparent to both the teacher and school newspaper editors was this senior issue, the last of their K-12 careers, would mark a defining moment for so many of their classmates. What they were experiencing was historic, a disruption to traditional schooling not seen in more than a century.

It was a marking point for a graduating class which editors said has become tight knit through adversity, such as the students who came together in the 2018 high school walkouts, protesting gun violence in schools after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“The senior class is very close, we went through a lot of stuff in the past several years,” said Heather Tepper, co-editor-in-chief of the Pause. “To see the last three years taken away from a lot of people, you really see them react with deprivation and disappointment.”

Tepper, along with co-editor-in-chief Sasha Medvedeva, SWR senior John Basile and Branna have taken to the task of producing the senior issue come hell or high water.

Of course, nothing comes easy, especially in a crisis. The school newspaper crew is unable to use Adobe InDesign from home, as Branna said the program does not meet the data privacy and security requirements by state law. Instead, thanks to the technical expertise of Basile, the editors have started laying out using Google Docs. Normally just a tool for straight text formats, using tables and cells the students have learned to format the papers, despite limitations of the program.

The fact the students and teacher have had only three weeks to put together issue meant some long hours compiling pictures and senior comments, then laying everything out. Tepper said there was one night she logged on to see Branna was still working on a page at around 11:30 p.m. She told her teacher to “go get some sleep.”

Doing this project, she said, is as much for the students as it is to show appreciation for her teacher.

‘Be yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff. The years go by way too quickly to worry about the little things, and one day you’ll look back on those things and realize how stupid they were. Also, be yourself and never change for anyone because you’re happiest when you’re you.’

— Mike Casazza 

Quoted in SWR 2020 senior issue

“Branna is so invested with journalism in general, she’s so into her work, and I felt like I wanted to go out with a bang,” Tepper said.

But the hours have been worth it, as students from the journalism class take in the massive number of quotes from seniors. In previous years, when student-journalists would get comments from seniors wandering the halls, comments had been terse or simple platitudes. Now, while students are forced online, seniors became more verbose. To read some of their quotes is to understand the mindset of those graduating seniors, hurtling themselves into the many unknowns the pandemic has produced.

“I’ve learned about how their friendships, their experiences have changed with other people,” Medvedeva said. 

The senior was planning to attend Binghamton University to study neuroscience, but she still does not know if the college will even have a fall semester, or what shape it will take. Tepper was set to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and study advertising with a goal of going into public relations. Similar to her fellow editor, she also does not know what the future may bring. It is possibly the most daunting and most uncertain time for a person to graduate since the 2008 financial collapse.

Though in writing the senior issue’s editorial, co-written by both editors, what became clear was just what this issue of the Wildcat Pause meant to the graduating students. Medvedeva in hearing some of the anecdotes from seniors has “learned about their friendships with other seniors, of how some experiences throughout their high school career have changed them. It has just warmed my heart to hear those.”

Tepper, who shared in her fellow seniors’ anxieties over the future, added this Pause issue may memorialize the shared experiences of her classmates.

“I still think there’s something to celebrate, as things were taken away from us,” she said. “I think that given the unfortunate circumstances, we can appreciate what we had even more.”