Tags Posts tagged with "face masks"

face masks

By Daniel Dunaief

For the first time since May 2023, Brookhaven National Laboratory required masks on site at its facility starting on Jan. 8, as the rate of hospital admissions for the virus that caused the pandemic climbed.

Following the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, BNL, which is a Department of Energy-sponsored site, reinstituted the mask policy once Covid admissions climbed above 20 per 100,000 people in the county, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The CDC level rose to 24.8 on the evening of Jan. 5 and the lab re-implemented its mask requirement on the following Monday. Area doctors said they’ve seen an increase in illnesses tied to Covid, particularly after people traveled during the December holidays.

“We’ve seen a lot more Covid,” said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Nachman said people who are talking to friends and neighbors are hearing regularly about those who are sick with Covid.

Stony Brook University Hospital is not requiring masking at all times. The hospital is recommending that people consider wearing masks. Medical staff entering patient rooms are wearing them.

People walking into the hospital will see “more people wearing masks” in general, she added. In addition to Covid, hospitals in the area are also seeing a “huge amount of flu,” Dr. Nachman said.


METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

COVID got me again. This second time around makes me angry, which is probably irrational. I mean, really, I paid my dues, I succumbed like almost everyone else a couple of years ago, and I feel that should be that. Also, I did everything I was supposed to do. I was vaccinated again in the middle of October this past year and felt pretty immune, although I know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the disease, just makes it less severe if it hits. Still, I felt relatively protected and didn’t bother wearing a mask when in a group. I won’t make that mistake again.

I did take Paxlovid this time, as I had the first time, and perhaps my symptoms were less acute. This onset was a little different. Instead of the painful sore throat in the beginning, I developed a dripping nose and assumed I was getting a simple head cold. Then I got quite stuffy and began to cough and to run a low grade fever. I stayed out of the office, finally donned a mask and bought a test kit. The first test I took was negative, but the next day I tested positive, and I have been home since then.

I am sharing these details in the hope that they may be helpful for those who are experiencing COVID presently or who should be alerted now to the clear and present danger. Fortunately, I am again testing negative, but the weather is uncooperative at 17 degrees. The extreme cold and dry air is not recommended for a newly recovered respiratory system, and so I remain home for now. But I can reveal some more specifics that might be of interest.

Neurological aspects were less pronounced this second time around. The sore throat was less sore and lasted for a shorter period of time, I didn’t lose my sense of taste either time, and while the cough continues, it seems less frequent during this home stretch. But according to what I read, post COVID fatigue is worse, and I can confirm that. I haven’t slept this many hours each day since I was a teenager. Napping is also a help. I have craved hot soup, and little else, throughout these past few days. Blessings on my friends and neighbors, who have provided me with an endless supply, from homemade chicken broth to the store bought wonton variety. I am also drinking smoothies made up of fruits and especially dark green leafy vegetables, like bok choi and baby kale and arugula. This particularly helps ward off dehydration. And while I have lost a couple of pounds, this is not the preferred way to diet.

There are some studies on patients who have had COVID more than once. Experts are still unsure about how damaging that might be, if at all. New variants, like JN.1, and periodic upticks keep the virus a current threat. There are at least 1200 covid-related deaths each week, and in the last week of December, nearly 35,000 Americans were hospitalized with COVID. No one seems to know if repeated exposure to the coronavirus increases the risk of Long Covid.Those who were hospitalized with the first round of COVID were more likely to have a severe second bout. That is well established. Lingering symptoms, like fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog may also persist, especially after a difficult first attack. But evidence is still unclear that links repeated infections with Long COVID.

So what to do next?

We should all forego our complacency, and actively try to avoid COVID-19, even though the disease appears to be less severe for most. We really don’t know the long term effects of repeated infection. That means going back to basics: washing hands often, avoiding crowds, if possible, staying home if ill, using Paxlovid, which has been highly successful in moderating the virus, and especially returning to wearing masks. No one wants to be mildly ill or to increase the health risk for others.

Stock photo

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced that the County will host a free test kit and KN95 mask distribution event on January 24 between noon and 6 p.m. in the lobby of the H. Lee Dennison Building, located at 100 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge.  Approximately 1,000 test kits and nearly 1,000 KN95 mask will be available for residents to pick up.

All Suffolk County residents are encouraged to attend to obtain kits for their household. Each resident is eligible to pick up two test kits per household member. Test kits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

“While many of us have resumed daily life, living with COVID-19, it is still important that everyone has access to the tools available to prevent exposure and spread,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “As we continue to see new variants, it is clear that availability to test kits is imperative as we work to keep this virus under control.”

“Testing is still crucial to slowing the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When we test positive early in the course of illness, we have the opportunity to seek treatment to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID infection, and can limit the spread of the virus to others,” added Dr. Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County Health Commissioner.

Together, with local municipalities, County legislators, the Suffolk County Police Department, community groups, not-for-profits and more, the County has distributed approximately 660,680 test kits to residents, including seniors, first responders and other vulnerable populations.

Suffolk Health is also offering COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to all Suffolk County residents who are eligible to receive them. Childhood vaccinations are also offered for children who are uninsured. Walk-ins are welcome.

County clinic dates and times are available as follows:

January 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sachem Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook

January 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Riverhead Library, 330 Court St., Riverhead

January 31 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at West Babylon Library, 211 Route 109, West Babylon

For more information, call 631-853-4000.

Photo from John W. Engeman Theater
The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport released the following statement on August 3:
Due to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases and our ever changing public health safety environment, all patrons of The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport will need to be fully vaccinated* with an FDA-authorized vaccine to attend a performance. All patrons entering the theater must show proof of vaccination with their valid ID. A Vaccination Card or Excelsior Pass are both acceptable forms of proof.

At this time, we echo the CDC’s recommendation that all patrons wear a mask inside the theater unless actively eating or drinking.

Proof of vaccination will be required of all patrons over the age of 12. Children under the age of 12 may still attend performances with a fully vaccinated adult, but they will be required to wear a mask throughout their time at the theater.

Please understand these measures are in place for the safety and health of our patrons, employees and our community as a whole. We hope to continue providing beautiful memories and productions for as long as possible and these protocols will help us to do so. We thank you in advance for your cooperation and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

“Fully vaccinated” means the performance date you are attending must be:

At least 14 days after your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or

At least 14 days after your single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

The John W. Engeman‘s COVID-19 protocols remain subject to change. Any changes will be clearly communicated to ticket holders in advance of their performance.

Parents gathered at an ‘Unmask Our Kids’ rally last week in Hauppauge. Photo by Kim Brown

The last week has been really confusing surrounding children wearing masks in schools and during recess.

With under three weeks left of classes, parents across Long Island have been rallying outside the county offices, demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ends the mask mandates for little ones. 

But it became political, fast. 

We agree: Masks are annoying, and we can only imagine how it’s impacting children in schools emotionally and physically. The weather has been hot — field days and outdoor sports have been starting back up in high and humid temperatures. But public health is still a top priority. It should not be political. 

And while U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) and Andrew Giuliani (R) held the same exact rally, in the same exact spot just a week apart, something must have worked because Cuomo announced a change in the state mandate two days after Zeldin’s gathering. 

But then that changed because the state Department of Health said it isn’t time for kids to be maskless inside yet — outside they can.

Parents were confused, upset — and rightfully so. Districts had to send out letters every other day updating what was allowed and what was not allowed. 

We’re all very tired. We want this to end. What we don’t want, though, is for things to happen prematurely. Is it better for the kids to spend the next few days with a mask on and then its summer break? Remember only people over 12 can be vaccinated, leaving many students in schools unvaccinated either because of age or their family’s choice.

In this case we think patience is a virtue. It’s not completely over yet. Be safe and be smart.

Help the Three Village Historical Society reach its fundraising goal of selling 100 face masks!

Help raise funds for the Three Village Historical Society by buying a “Three Village Strong” Face Mask!

The design, beautifully created by Setauket artist Sam White, features the 439 ton whaling ship Daisy, which was built at Nehemiah Hand’s shipyard along Shore Road in East Setauket in 1871-72 and, with naturalist Robert Cushman Murphy aboard, sailed on a whaling expedition to the Antarctic in 1912-13.

The triple-ply cotton face masks, which come in black or white, sell for $15 plus shipping at www.tvhs.org. The fundraiser runs through Sunday, Sept. 27. 100% of the proceeds will be used to help support and fund the Three Village Historical Society’s educational programming. For more information, call 631-751-3730.

A temporary sign asking for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Stony Brook University Hospital, April 2019
Face masks (top to bottom): surgical, N95, and handmade, Port Jefferson, May 2019

The Long Island Museum (LIM) in Stony Brook has announced that they will be seeking the collection of objects, images and stories as related to the COVID-19 coronavirus to document for future generations on how Long Island responded during the crisis. 

Titled Collecting Our History: Long Island During COVID-19, the compilation will serve as a record of the community’s shared history, and will influence future exhibitions, programs, research, and other projects. The LIM is particularly interested in seeking material that exemplifies how the virus has impacted victims, medical personnel and other frontline workers, the operation of businesses, schools, religious and cultural organizations, and the structure and interactions of our daily lives both large and small.  

“The COVID-19 coronavirus is the most severe pandemic to impact Long Island since the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1919,” said Jonathan Olly, Curator at the LIM. “It is affecting our lives in dramatic and sometimes tragic ways.”

People living or working on Long Island, in Brooklyn and in Queens are invited to offer contributions of any digital or physical item that documents their experience and that of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Material may include photographs, audio, and video, signs and posters, artwork, masks and other personal protective equipment, home recipes, journals, and planners. 

An empty paper goods aisle at Stop & Shop, Setauket, March 2019

Digital items can be emailed to [email protected]. Photos should be in JPG, PNG, or TIF format, audio in MP3 or WAV, videos in MP4, AVI, WMV, or MOV, and documents in PDF, TIF, PNG, or JPG. All submissions must be by persons 18 years or older, and convey copyright (if applicable) to the Long Island Museum and include a description and contact information. 

“The LIM helps to preserve the experiences of Long Islanders and so we’re reaching out to our community to share with us the objects and images that help tell this story. In the coming years Collecting Our History: Long Island during COVID-19 will allow us to be able to look back on this time and see how it changed us, and how we persevered,” said Olly.

Select online submissions may be featured on the LIM’s website and/or social media platforms. Due to the volume of submissions the LIM may be unable to individually notify people if or when their digital submissions will be posted. The LIM prefers not to have objects sent to the Museum at this time, as the offices are currently closed. 

For further questions, please email the LIM’s Assistant Collections Manager, Molly McGirr at [email protected], or LIM’s Curator, Jonathan Olly at [email protected].

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This is the year we all disappeared behind our masks. “Who is that masked man?” people would ask about the Lone Ranger, as he rode the range decades ago in every child’s imagination and kept the peace. Now they might ask the same question of us, masked men and women and children, as we peacefully go about our new freedoms of shopping and ordering meals for alfresco dining. We are not always immediately recognizable behind the variety of face coverings we see on the streets. The importance of wearing a mask has been accepted by almost everyone, and with good reason. An example of the benefits can be found in Japan.

According to Motoko Rich, a reporter for The New York Times, face coverings are common in Japan during flu and hay fever seasons, on crowded public transportation when commuters commonly have colds and even when women “don’t want to bother putting on makeup.” Mask sightings are routine.

Could that be the explanation for Japan’s surprisingly low number of victims of COVID-19 compared to other countries?

Initially, we Americans were advised not to wear masks, that they were unnecessary and should be saved for hospital workers. We all know what happened next. Cases of novel coronavirus spiked and the number of deaths exceeded the capacity of morgues and funeral homes for weeks. We were directed to shelter-in-place. Yet in Japan, which did not order a lockdown or massive testing or emphasize social distancing, and kept karaoke bars open and public transportation packed, terrible spikes in cases and deaths did not occur. The numbers there were 17,000 infections and 900 deaths. Yes, they have a smaller population, but in the United States, whose residents number two-and-one-half times that of Japan, some 1.9 million have fallen ill and 110,000 have died.

Eventually bars and businesses did close, and schools were shut early, as cultural and sports events were canceled, but note that none of those restrictions was mandatory. What the people did do was to nearly universally don masks. That response follows a cultural tradition of hundreds of years. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, mining workers used masks to prevent inhaling dust. The Japanese wore them during the 1918 flu epidemic and more recently during SARS and MERS outbreaks, as well as to protect against pollution and pollen. The country was “relatively unscathed,” during the epidemics, according to Motoko Rich.

Members of the scientific community weigh in on the matter. “I think there is definitely evidence coming out of COVID that Japan, as well as other countries which practice mask-wearing, tend to do much better in flattening the curve,” said  Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale, as quoted in the NYT. 

Masks can block respiratory droplets that are emitted when people speak, cough or sneeze. Those droplets may carry the virus, even when the wearer has no symptoms, and hence transmit the disease if not captured by the mask.

The reporter goes on to emphasize that masks alone are not sufficient to prevent disease, that social distancing is also required. Even with masks, crowds are a danger for the spread of infection. It will be informative to learn the unintended health consequences of the many protests against racism, triggered by George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer, that have occurred over the past two weeks. Most of those protesters, crowded together, seemed to be wearing masks.

From my travels to Japan, I would add a couple of cultural differences to this story. We found the Japanese to bow rather than shake hands and to be a little physically distant with each other rather than hugging often. Their country is, for the most part, amazingly clean and uncluttered, and they seem fastidious about themselves. These traits would also argue in favor of less contagion when disease is present.

I would also like to predict that masks — designer, decorated, color coordinated, whatever — will be with us well after the pandemic ends.

Photo from METRO

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Perhaps the worst is over. With this first phase of recovery for Long Island, suddenly there is hope that the strange pandemic life we are leading will pass into history. Of course, we are far from home free. The virus is still just as contagious and the threat is still real. We continue to ache for those whose lives have been cut short by this virulent disease, and our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones without even a farewell or proper service. 

But we have, to a great extent, adapted to a coexistence with the virus as we wear face masks, habitually practice social distancing, wash our hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time and otherwise limit our interactions with family, friends and colleagues to regular Zoom sessions. 

Working remotely, for those who can, has proven not to be so bad and will probably carry over well beyond sheltering-in-place. And for those on the front lines of response, the intensity, if not the fear, may have somewhat diminished.

We are thrilled to see the stores open up, if only for curbside or doorway pick up of items. Some of the establishments have constructed barriers to keep customers safely apart or added ultraviolet lighting to kill the microbes. And perhaps those on unemployment can now be called back to work. 

Some may not return even though they are required to respond to their employer’s call. Ironically, they may be doing better financially by being on unemployment, at least for the short term. The federal government has put itself in competition with small businesses, who can’t pay workers as much, and sometimes the Feds win. Those small businesses that have received the Payroll Protection Plan money are able to call back workers and to pay them until their eight-week period runs out.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has built up quite a following for his daily briefings and won positive ratings for his down home manner, offered this as he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday: “Wearing a mask has got to be something you do every day. When you get up, when you walk out of the house, you put the mask on. This is cool.” 

He also admonished people not to be rude to those who might not be wearing masks, that we should encourage them to do so nicely and politely. He did go on to add, recognizing that he was, after all, governor of New York State, “But it’s New York. We have to be careful that nice and polite stays nice and polite.” 

Cuomo met with President Donald Trump (R), a longtime fellow New Yorker, Wednesday, and urged spending for infrastructure as a way to provide many jobs. That goal was mentioned by Trump shortly after he took office in 2017 and is considered one of the few subjects on which there could be bipartisan support. In particular, Cuomo advocated for an AirTrain to La Guardia Airport, a rail tunnel under the Hudson River and a northern extension of the Second Avenue subway.

It is most unfortunate that, along with the deadly consequences of the novel coronavirus, there is an underpinning of highly partisan sentiment in the country. Traditionally, when there is a crisis, Americans pull together. Certainly that was true during Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, for example. But the nature of this pandemic is asymmetrical in that areas of greater density tend to be more stricken, while those more rural or away from the big cities and the coasts are more lightly touched. 

It is hard for those not in the throes of the ghastly metrics of death and affliction to feel the extreme stress of those who are. It just so happens that the divide between red and blue states overlays our map, not perfectly, but remarkably. Suffolk County, considered a red county, yet in a dense area, is an exception with its high casualties. 

So we have those demanding an “opening” of the economy vs. those who are concerned about contagion. We must unfailingly continue to practice what has worked to win us entry thus far into Phase One.