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Coronavirus Causes Blood Shortage; Donors Sought

U.S. Army Spc. Hayeon McCurley prepares U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Gray to give blood. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Areca T. Bell

Coronavirus has caused thousands of blood drives to be canceled to avoid spreading the disease. Now health professionals are warning that a resulting blood supply shortage could cause health complications for patients. 

The American Red Cross said blood drive cancellations have caused the organization to receive 200,000 fewer blood donations than expected, and the organization fears the number of received donations will continue to decrease as the pandemic progresses. Long Island hospitals are doing their best to make their current supplies of blood last as long as possible and have taken the precaution of postponing non-essential elective procedures. But hospitals still need a steady supply of blood to deal with medical emergencies and treatments.

“Red blood cells are crucial to helping people who are either anemic or are bleeding,” explains Dr. Alexander Indrikovs, the associate chair of laboratory medicine at Northwell Health. “Another blood component called “platelets” is mostly used to prevent or treat bleeding in patients with low platelet counts, such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. We don’t need 50,000 donors to go out and donate all at once because donations can only be stored for so long. Instead, a steady stream of donations to flow daily is necessary.” 

To help, the American Red Cross and other blood donation agencies like the New York Blood Center, are ramping up safety measures to make sure people are safe when they donate. Some of these protocols include; spacing donation beds to provide social distancing, having their employees and people who donate participate in a self-assessment of their health, constant sterilization of areas touched by donors, and providing hand sanitizer for people to use before and after their donation. 

“You can still go out and give blood,” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. “We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

For information about upcoming opportunities to donate blood locally visit redcrossblood.org or donate.nybc.org.

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Book Fairies Helps Students in Need During Coronavirus Crisis

Read More Books

After Long Island schools closed last week and switched to virtual learning to avoid spreading the coronavirus, a local literacy nonprofit donated books to children in need so they could keep reading.

On March 17, The Book Fairies, a Freeport-based organization, opened its headquarters for scheduled appointments and donated more than 11,000 books to eight different schools and organizations, including Northwest Elementary School in Amityville. Although the group had suspended all activities for two weeks, when educators approached the organization about needing books for students who may not have access to much-needed reading material while virtually learning from home, The Book Fairies sprang to action and temporarily opened its doors for scheduled pick-ups.

“We are getting books because we want all of our kiddos and young children and even adults to be reading during this time,” said Natasha Cherry-Perez, the Senior Associate Director of Community Engagement at Uncommon Schools, who came to The Book Fairies headquarters to pick up books on behalf of the organization. “Reading is fundamental. Reading is going to invigorate us and let our imaginations fly while we are trapped inside.”

Founded in 2012 by Amy Zaslansky, The Book Fairies collect and distribute donated books to schools, libraries, and organizations so that people in need have access to reading materials. The group recently donated its two millionth book and broke the record for the longest line of books, 3.81 miles, at two Wyandanch schools in November.

When founding the organization, Zasliansky hoped that the organization would help boost literacy and academic success, produce a love of reading among various age groups, and provide some temporary relief from the various personal struggles people regularly face.

“While distributing books to the under-served is our mission, we felt especially proud today to be able to support our neighbors during this crisis.” said The Book Fairies Executive Director Eileen Minogue.

For more information on the group visit thebookfairies.org or email the organization at info@thebookfairies.org

3 New Restaurants To Try on Long Island

Il Piccolo Villaggio in Islip has been getting rave reviews from since its recent debut.

PUBLICANS

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Publicans is back, with new ownership.

Have a drink at the bar, or sit at a table and enjoy a menu featuring organic and locally sourced food that contains no added hormones or antibiotics. Guests can indulge themselves with a selection of tacos ($15-$19), salads ($11-$15), handcrafted pastas ($15-$19), burgers served with freshly cut fries ($14-19), or a dozen chicken wings ($16). 

Remember sharing is caring when sharing a delectable Mediterrianean plate consisting of grilled pita, crudité, olives, and house-made hummus ($16). For those feeling extra hungry, Publicans even offers its own set of entrees, such as the vegan curry ($21) or New York ($32). 

550 Plandome Dr., Manhasset, 516-627-7722, nda.solutions/publicans

FUKU ASIAN CUISINE 

As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. This is especially true for this restaurant named Fuku, which chef and owner Eric Zheng says means “wealthy” in Japanese.  

Zheng makes sure to live up to this name by providing dishes that are fortunate in both taste and appearance. Bento boxes, lo mein, and sushi are some of the fixtures found on the menu alongside Fuku’s hibachi grill stations where guests can be treated to meals of chicken ($18.95), shrimp, salmon, scallop, steak (each $20.95), filet mignon ($23.95), or lobster ($29.95). 

Make sure to leave room for dessert as offerings of mochi ice cream ($3.95) and tempura oreo ($5.95) will surely hit the spot after a delectable meal.

440 N. Wantagh Avenue Bethpage 516-933-7225, fukuasiancuisineny.com

IL PICCOLO VILLAGGIO RISTORANTE  

Il Piccolo Villaggio, which is Italian for “The Small Village,” is big on taste.

This cozy restaurant allows guests to relax with wine paired with authentic Italian dishes. Begin the meal by choosing any choice of  antipasti such as the vongole oreganata, an appetizer of baked clams coated in breadcrumbs with white wine and lemon butter ($12). Then choose an entree from any of their offerings of pasta, fish, poultry, and meat, like the scalloping di vitello al Marsala, which is veal topped with mushrooms and Marsala sauce served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. 

At this small village, guests should expect to bring a big appetite.    

260 Islip Ave., Islip. 631-650-0620.

New Rules For Nursing Homes Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities on Long Island and across New York State are under new restrictions intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus among adult care facility residents, who are among the most vulnerable.

New York State Department of Health guidelines urge such facilities to restrict or prohibit visitors to the facility if the facility operators have a reasonable cause to believe that visitors could impact the safety of the people living there. In addition, the facilities are required to have staff members readily available to screen visitors for potential exposure or symptoms of the coronavirus. That’s because officials say the coronavirus hits the senior population and those with underlying health issues the hardest.

“We know the young folks are generally going to be okay when they get [coronavirus, but] older folks have more complications and not as positive outcomes,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “We’ve got to do everything we can to protect our seniors and to protect those with lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. These guidelines should help make sure that our adult care facilities are protecting their residents as best they can.”

At least three of the more than 60 coronavirus patients on Long Island are senior citizens, including an 81-year-old woman who was in hospice at The Bristal Assisted Living at North Hills. An employee of Peconic Landing assisted living facility in Greenport is also among those diagnosed.

To communicate key health tips to the public, the state has provided facilities with posters with essential information for the public to read at the entrances of these facilities.

“Our senior centers are the best in the country,” said Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence E. Einsentein. “They have great leadership, they have great medical staffs, and honestly most of this stuff they’re already on top of anyways.”

Prior to the positive case at the Bristal, the assisted living facility had already implemented a program that includes consistent and frequent cleaning at all of its facilities. They also recommended no visitation to the facility, unless necessary. If a visit is necessary, they are requiring the visitor to make a declaration that they have not been out of the country and do not show symptoms of being ill.

“As part of our expanded health care protocol, we have been checking each resident and every Bristal staffer for any potential signs of the virus,” explained Bristal’s principal Steven Krieger. “When we detected a cough and fever in this individual, she was promptly brought to the hospital for further care and observation. While awaiting the official diagnosis, the Bristal in North Hills immediately launched a thorough cleaning of the facility, which has included all public spaces. In addition, those who might have come in contact with her during private hospice care have been identified.”

Long Island School Officials Explain Coronavirus Response

Long Island school officials are increasingly taking measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as canceling events, sanitizing buildings, and transitioning to online classes.

The moves came after New York State officials said that a school must shut down for at least 24 hours if a student or staff member is diagnosed with the virus. Within those 24 hours, schools are to be thoroughly cleaned and state officials will assess the situation. But in some cases, schools are being closed as a precaution even if there hasn’t been a coronavirus case in the school — the goal being reducing opportunities for the virus to spread.

“We need to look at this in two priorities: The first is safety and the second is education,” said Rockville Centre School Superintendent William H. Johnson. “There is a possibility that we may end up closing for two weeks or more, and we are working with our teachers, principals, and administrators to put together plans that enable us to provide electronic connections with our families in the community.” 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced Wednesday that all SUNY schools would transition to internet-based classes for the rest of the semester. Several private Long Island colleges and universities were already doing the same before that mandate came down.

Related Story: Coronavirus School Closings on Long Island

School officials are preparing for the possible needs for online classes by gathering electronic devices, such as iPads and Google ChromeBooks, and researching means of providing wireless hotspots in certain neighborhoods for students who may not have access to the internet. In addition, officials are providing time for teachers to plan lessons with school administrations that can be sent home to students. 

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this. As some of you may or may not know, you can go on YouTube or you can access things like the Khan Academy,” explained Johnson. “Teachers  who are trying to develop lessons on their own are encouraged to visit the websites, find things that would be compatible with what they are learning in the classroom, and utilize what they find effectively to provide some continuity of learning.”  

Many local schools and colleges are cancelling classes and campus events as a precaution, while others are directly effected.

“As you can imagine, events are a fabric of our institution,” said Jermaine F. Williams, president of Nassau Community College, which canceled classes and events after someone with ties to NCC tested positive for coronavirus. “However to continue to ensure the health and safety of our NCC community this step needed to happen.” 

When it comes to closing schools as a form of social distancing students from infection, particularly within grade school, local health officials warn that there are multiple factors to consider.

“The good news is there are no documented cases of pediatric deaths from coronavirus anywhere, [but] one of the challenges with closing schools is now the kids aren’t at school…Are parents going to be able to stay just home with their kid[s], or will there be play dates and trips to the movies and the mall?” said Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence E. Einsentein. “At that point, the exposure is beyond the school district. The worst thing that could happen is we keep kids home from school, and they go spend the day at grandma’s house and potentially bring the virus to them. Social distancing has to be done with guidance and done correctly for it to be effective.”

Buses, Trains Getting Extra Clean To Avoid Coronavirus

Nassau County officials held a news conference to discuss coronavirus on March 10, 2020. Photo by Adam Brownstein/Long Island Press

Amid growing concerns of Long Islanders catching the coronavirus by riding public transportation, Long Island officials are implementing new public transportation protocols to keep the virus from spreading.  

The Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) bus system and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that runs the Long Island Rail Road have both recently announced new protocols that they hope will help ease the concerns of riders. 

“We are encouraging everyone to go about their daily business, but some people are concerned,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters on Tuesday. “We will continue to update protocols as needed to ensure the continued health and well being of [mass transit] riders and employees.”  

Precautions the MTA and NICE have include deep cleaning and sanitizing all trains, buses, and para-transit vehicles, with an emphasized focus on high-touch areas such as polls, handrails, seats, benches, grab bars, ticket machines, and turnstiles. 

The NICE Bus company is also installing touchless hand sanitizer stations in various locations and providing public service messages regarding personal health on all vehicles and at all transit centers. Curran said that these messages will be provided in both English and Spanish.  

Similarly, the MTA has begun to air health guidance Public Service Announcements in stations, trains, and buses, and will complete full sanitization of all trains and buses consistently throughout 72 hours periods 

Additionally, the MTA has bought a lasting inventory of necessary cleaning and hygienic supplies and is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and other government agencies.    

“The safety of our customers and employees is our first priority as we continue to monitor the coronavirus,” said MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren. “The MTA is enhancing its cleaning regimen across all our operating agencies to ensure the system is safe for everyone. The best defense against COVID-19, according to the National Centers for Disease Control, continues to be good hygiene – frequent hand washing and self-care.”

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby sees these precautions, among others, as steps in the right direction for Long Islanders to overcome the epidemic. 

“Hopefully we will all get through this and I’m sure we will with all the precautions we have taken,” said Goosby.

Nassau Busts Businesses Exploiting Coronavirus

Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs investigators fined seven more businesses for price gouging violations amid the coronavirus outbreak, bringing the total to nine, officials said on Wednesday.

The businesses were fined for allegedly overcharging for Coronavirus-related personal health products such as hand sanitizer and face masks. There are also 15 alleged price gouging investigations currently ongoing, officials added.

“We want to make sure that people aren’t taking advantage of this panic,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.  “We have a very robust Office of Consumer Affairs that is really cracking down and doing investigations.” 

Nassau officials discussed six of the seven violations, which included businesses in Great Neck, Hicksville, Carle Place, Manhasset, Syosset, and Wantagh.

A gas station in Great Neck, a store in Hicksville, and a convenient store in Carle Place were all fined $5,000 for selling overpriced hand sanitizers. The store in Hicksville is said to have sold small bottles of 7-Eleven branded hand sanitizer for $13 each. 

A Manhasset variety store was fined $10,000 for selling hand sanitizers at “a highly inflated price.” Officials did not state why the Manhasset store had been fined double that of the others.  

Lastly, a store in Syosset and a convenient store in Wantagh were fined $5,000. The Syosset store was selling masks individually for $16 each, while the Wantagh store was selling masks individually at an undisclosed price with zero sales tax.  

Officials warn Long Islanders to not buy masks sold individually as buyers don’t know who touched them.

“As families across Long Island take extra precaution to protect themselves from the spread of Coronavirus, they shouldn’t also have to protect their wallets from price gougers,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

Price gouging related tips can be sent to Nassau consumer affairs officials by emailing  pricegouging@nassaucountyny.gov

Coronavirus Cases on Long Island Increase To 20

Blood sample tube positive with COVID-19 or novel coronavirus 2019 found in Wuhan, China

Two more patients tested positive for coronavirus in Nassau County, bringing the total on Long Island to 20, including a pair of school bus drivers, officials said Tuesday.

UpdateLong Island Coronavirus Cases Reach 31

As a result of the development, several schools have canceled classes Tuesday to allow cleaning crews to disinfect the campuses. The county Department of Health’s disease detectives have contacted most of the families of the 80 students that ride the pair of affected school buses, and those who have not yet been contacted will be shortly.

“We’re taking extra precautions to protect the well being of all our residents, with a particular focus on our seniors, by altering practices and deep cleaning facilities,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Tuesday in Mineola.

The number of cases in New York State increased to 173, and more than 760 cases were reported nationwide, including 26 deaths. The new LI total does not include an Uber driver from Queens who New York City officials said had driven around LI.

Health officials in Nassau added that 72 people are in mandatory quarantine, 74 are in precautionary quarantine, and 10 tests are pending.

Nassau officials said they have also issued $5,000 fines for price gouging to a pharmacy in Island Park and a convenience store in Hicksville that allegedly were selling overpriced masks. A Glen Head pharmacy was also issued a warning. And Nassau consumer affairs officials urged the public to send tips to pricegouging@nassaucountyny.gov 

Officials continued to urge the public to thoroughly wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, and those who don’t feel well to stay home and contact their healthcare provider. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems are again urged to avoid large crowds.

“We have to protect our seniors, those are the ones most at risk,” Curran said. “Those with compromised immune systems and people who are not so young are most at risk. And the whole point of what we are talking about is containing as many people we can with confirmed cases to contain and isolate them as much as we can so we can keep our seniors safe.” 
 

Related Story: Coronavirus School Closings on Long Island

Related Story: Hofstra University Cancels Classes All Week Due To Coronavirus

Related Story: Molloy College Suspends In-person Classes For 18 Days Amid Coronavirus Crisis

 -With Timothy Bolger

Hofstra University Cancels Classes All Week Due To Coronavirus

Hofstra University, statue of Thomas Jefferson, in front of Student Center building. Photo by Paul Berendsen

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted Hofstra University to cancel classes for the week to avoid potentially spreading the disease.

Hofstra University announced Sunday night that it was cancelling classes after a Hofstra student was sent to the hospital to get tested for the virus. 

“On Sunday, March 8, a student contacted the Student Health and Counseling Center reporting flu-like symptoms, after attending a conference where an attendee has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19),” Hofstra said in an email to students. “The student is being tested and is in isolation. In keeping with current state Department of Health directives, six individuals who have been in close contact with this student have also been asked to self-isolate pending the student’s test results.”

The developments came a day after Suffolk County saw its first coronavirus case confirmed, the number of cases in Nassau County increased to 17, cases statewide topped 140, and national figures hit more than 500.

According to a social media account of the Hofstra University student in quarantine, the student, who is currently being tested for coronavirus at Nassau University Medical Center, attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) from Feb. 27 to March 1. The American Conservative Union, the group that runs CPAC, alerted all attendees on March 7 that someone who attended the conference had tested positive for the coronavirus.

After learning of this development, the student, who noticed coronavirus-like symptoms after attending the conference, sought medical treatment. At the time of publication, the student is still being tested.

In addition to cancelling all in-person classes, the University has also announced that as of March 9, guest privileges for off/on-campus residents are restricted, and only people living in a respected dormitory building/complex can enter said building/complex until further notice.

Hofstra University’s administrative offices will remain open throughout the week, and the school will still keep its residence halls, dining services, and other student services open throughout the week for students who live on campus.

“We want to emphasize that this action is a precaution taken to provide peace of mind to students, faculty, staff, and families,” Hofstra said. “There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 associated with the university. We will keep you updated and informed as more information becomes available.”

Related Story: Molloy College Suspends In-person Classes For 18 Days Amid Coronavirus Crisis

15 Top Accountants on Long Island

Alfonso J. Mollica CPA PC
With more than 30 years of experience, Mollica strives to assist small business owners, with a personalized client service that never outsources the work to others. 96 Gardiners Ave., Levittown, 516-597-4991, ajmcpa.com

CPA Services, a Kurcias Jaffe Co. CPA Firm
CPA prides itself on having a reputation of providing its customers — including individuals, businesses, and nonprofits — with service and expertise that is on par with big-named accounting firms, without the cost of said firms. 1400 Old Country Rd., Westbury, 516-482-7777, cpaservices.com

Edwin Casanova, CPA PC
Casanova has gotten many rave reviews for his family friendly interpersonal skills, which pair well with his knowledge and bilingual ability. 321 Dante Ct. Suite 8 Holbrook, 631-485-7272, casanovacpas.com

Grassi Advisors and Accountants
After starting with just a desk and empty file cabinet in 1980, Grassi has gone on to become one of the largest accounting firms in New York. 50 Jericho Quadrangle, Suite 200 Jericho, 516-256-3500, grassicpas.com

James Castaldo CPA & Associates
Following his role as the Manager of Compliance for Cablevision, Castaldo began this full service accounting firm which strives to build long-term professional relationships from the very beginning with free initial consultations. 68 South Service Rd., Melville, 631-
440-5447, li-ny-cpa.com

John Lepore, CPA 
The firm aspires to provide outstanding service to customers by dedicating themselves to three core principles: professionalism, responsiveness and quality. 4220 Merrick Rd., Massapequa, 516-297-3708, leporecpa.com

Lori Raynoha, CPA
Raynoha’s hands-on work with customers is based on the idea that in order for them to improve a customer’s financial position, they need to educate and help clients understand their current financial situation. 20 Watson Lane, Setauket, 631-751-1506, loricpa.com 

Marcum LLP 
With offices in Long Island, California, New England, Florida, Ireland, and China, Marcum is committed to providing training and continuing education for its workers, so they can utilize those experiences to provide satisfactory results to their clients. 10 Melville Park Rd., Melville, 631-414-4000, marcumllp.com

Rosen & Federico CPA
With their combination of experience, energy, and staff expertise, Rosen & Federico make sure each client receives close, personal attention at a professional level. 135 Crossways Park Dr. Suite LL03, Woodbury, 516-681-3783, rosenandfederico.com

Rost & Company, CPAs PC
Through the various tax and business services they have to offer, Rost and Company aims to utilize their expertise to provide their clients with a friendly, affordable experience. 3505 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Suite Q, Ronkonkoma, 631-371-5091, rostcpa.com

Saranto Calamas, CPA P.C.
Guided by a vision to “add value to everyone we touch,” Saranto Calamas Saranto Calamas
provides a personalized experience to help their clients save money. 640-D Belle Terre Rd., Port Jefferson, 631-928-0002, saranto.com 

Shalik, Morris & Company, LLP
Shalik, Morris & Company utilize a team of accountants, business advisors, and strategic planners as a means of approaching everything from a business and technical perspective. 80 Crossways Park Drive West, Woodbury, 516-338-8700, shalikmorris.com

Shawn R. Tracy, CPA
Priding himself on hard work and dedication, Tracy’s mission is to help his clients maintain financial success in the present while keeping an eye on the future. 33 Chichester Rd., Huntington Station, 631-514-4055, shawntracycpa.com

Thomas Brown CPA PC
This medical CPA firm works with doctors and other healthcare professions to help identify tax and accounting solutions as a means of improving the performance of medical practices. 626 RexCorp Plaza, Uniondale, 516-776-9227, tbrowncpa.com 

Weisman & Co., CPAs
Weisman & Co. are ready to apply the knowledge and experience they have learned over the last 30 years as a means of enhancing the success of their clients. 1200 Veterans Memorial Hwy. Ste. 350, Hauppauge, 631-761-6755, weismancpa.com