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Foundation Surveys Pandemic’s Impact on Long Island’s Small Businesses

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The Rauch Foundation, a Long Island-based organization that invests in community growth, is conducting a survey for local entrepreneurs to learn how COVID-19 has impacted their business.

The survey aims to gather information and provide the foundation with a deeper understanding of what Long Island’s small businesses and downtown districts need to recover.

“It’s easy to guess what the impact of the pandemic might be on local small businesses,” said Nancy Rauch Douzinas, president of the Rauch Foundation, “but until we hear from the business owners themselves, we can’t really know for sure. 

“As the region defines how to move forward,” she continued, “it’s important that our business community is included in the recovery process and that their experiences and hardships are taken into consideration.”

The survey is available online in English and Spanish through Nov. 30. It takes about five to 10 minutes and asks questions about how store owners were managing the changing retail environment before the pandemic, how COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their bottom line and what types of solutions they would support to move forward.

The Rauch Foundation has also hired canvassers to walk through downtowns and speak with business owners.

Kevin Law, president of Long Island Association and co-chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, noted that this survey is “the first one exclusively focused on our village communities — the heart of our region.”

“I strongly encourage local businesses to reply to the survey,” he added, “so we might better plan appropriate responses to current conditions.”

The Rauch Foundation previously published the Long Island Index, which consistently studied Long Island downtowns, for 15 years until 2019. With this initiative, they hope to reinvigorate this work by helping Long Island downtowns in this difficult time.

A full report and analysis of the survey results is expected in early 2021.

Business owners can access the survey at research.net/r/lidowntown.

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Virtual Support Groups Assist COVID-19 Survivors

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Health care workers, including mental health providers, are seeing COVID-19 patients exhibit symptoms even after they’ve beat the illness. In response, Paragon Management, which runs nursing and rehabilitation centers in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens and Westchester, launched three virtual, post-COVID-19 support groups in June.

“The big [misconception] is that when you’re done with COVID, you’re done with it, and that’s not true,” said Lisa Penziner, a nurse and special projects manager at Paragon. “There’s lingering effects.”

Common side effects that survivors can face for weeks and months after fighting off the virus include brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, hair loss, and heart issues, Penziner said. 

The virus can also take mental and emotional tolls on people, and many suffer from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks — including those who came close to losing their lives to COVID-19. Along with Penziner, a psychologist joins each support group session to assist with mental health issues that the individuals may be facing.

“These people are afraid of getting sick again,” Penziner said. “They’re very angry to see people not wearing masks and not taking this seriously.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran urged coronavirus survivors to take advantage of the support groups during a news briefing on Thursday. She and Penziner, as well as two members of the support group who joined the briefing via Zoom, spoke about the benefits of joining the group.

“No matter what you are feeling post-diagnosis,” Curran said, “we want to reassure everyone that you are not alone and that there is support. There is a place for people who have overcome [the virus] but still are suffering to start a dialogue with others and get solutions.”

One of the two support group members, who is a nurse, said she was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March. Though she has recovered, she now deals with anxiety, hair loss and brain fog. She said that having people to talk to about her experience who understand gives her “a better peace of mind.”

Paragon offers three biweekly support groups for COVID-19 survivors. The meetings are held via Zoom and anyone can join regardless of where they live. The next session is Nov. 18. For more information, email lisa.penziner@paragonmanagementsnf.com or call 516-457-5585.

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Alex Trebek’s Widow, a Long Island Native, Thanks Fans for Support

Jeopardy television game show host Alex Trebek speaks on stage during the 40th annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Beverly Hills, California June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

Jean Currivan Trebek, Alex Trebek’s widow, who is from Huntington, posted a “thank you” message to fans after the famous Canadian-American game show host died of pancreatic cancer on Sunday.

Alex hosted more than 7,000 episodes of Jeopardy! from 1984 up until last month, just two weeks before succumbing at the age of 80 to a years-long battle with the disease. Trebek passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends, the show said on Twitter.

“My family and I sincerely thank you all for your compassionate messages and generosity,” Jean wrote on Instagram Wednesday. “Your expressions have truly touched our hearts. Thank you so very, very much.”

Jeopardy! which requires contestants to display their knowledge of a broad range of trivia topics by providing their answers in the form of a question, has consistently drawn more than 20 million viewers a week in the United States and Canada, making it the most-watched quiz show in those markets.

Trebek won six Emmy Awards for outstanding game-show host, most recently in 2019, and also received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2011. The Hollywood Reporter said in a 2014 article that Trebek was earning $10 million a year.

Along with her message, Jean posted a photo of her and Alex on their wedding day in 1990. Jean was a businesswoman working in real estate projects, and the couple first met in 1988 at a party. They have two children together, Emily, 27, and Matthew, 30.

In a recent interview before his death with People magazine, Alex said his one regret was not meeting Jean sooner in life. 

“If I’d just met Jean in my 20s,” he told reporters, “we could have had a longer life together.”

-With Reuters

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French Country Mansion in Huntington Asks $7.9M

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Escapade a La Campagne, a 10,000 square-foot, stone and stucco mansion built in 2017, is listed for sale at 100 Sweet Hollow Road in Huntington. 

Fittingly, “Escapade a La Campagne” translates to “Getaway in the Countryside.” 

Though it’s a modern build, the French Country architecture design is inspired by the historic villagescapes of Provence, France. The estate forms a U-shape, with the main house, Escapade a La Campagne, at its center and high-class amenities on either side.

The home boasts a grand entrance foyer and cathedral ceilings, giving the interior an open, spacious vibe. Features also include guest quarters, an exercise room, home office, powder room, walk-in closets, an elevator and more. 

Escapade a La Campagne has eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and three half bathrooms — plus, there’s a greenroom attached and heated flooring throughout the buildings. There is also a solar farm on the grounds, as well as gardens, a bocce court, an indoor pool and plenty of patio space. 

The mansion sits on 5.4 acres of property, fully surrounded by protected, lush greenery. Tall, glass windows in the house allow the views to be visible from inside the cozy living space.

Though giving the illusion of seclusion in nature, the home is in the heart of Huntington and not far from the lively neighborhood, including Walt Whitman High School, South Huntington Library, Walt Whitman Shops and restaurants.

The asking price is $7,900,000, not including the annual property tax of $94,144.

The real estate agents listed for the property are Maggie Keats and Mollie Grossman, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, and can be reached at 516-883-5200.

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Bethpage Turkey Drive Puts Call Out for Island Harvest Donations

L. to R.: Former New York Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet and Island Harvest volunteers at the 2019 Bethpage Turkey Drive for Island Harvest Food Bank.

As food insecurity soars during the pandemic, more Long Islanders are in need than ever before. This year’s drive-through Bethpage Turkey Drive will seek to provide bountiful Thanksgiving meals for families who are struggling.

“Our message this year is to support your neighbors,” said Linda Armyn, senior vice president of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, which runs the turkey and food drive each year. “Countless families continue to have financial struggles. Let’s help them enjoy a holiday meal.”

Organizers are asking for donations of turkeys, non-perishable food items or cash. 

Non-perishable food items needed include canned goods, cereal, pasta, rice, boxed juices, and shelf-stable milk. Do not bring glass containers. Smaller-size turkeys are particularly needed to accommodate this year’s small family gatherings.

All cash donations will benefit Island Harvest Food Bank, which will help supply meals to more than 300,000 food-insecure Long Islanders at its 400 pantries, soup kitchens, and other food programs.

“The economic upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater need among Long Islanders seeking food assistance, many for the first time,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank. “We look forward to another successful Bethpage Turkey Drive to help food-insecure families enjoy a more hopeful holiday season.”

Those making donations will not be allowed to leave their cars. Instead, volunteers will remove donations directly from inside the cars.

The 12th annual Bethpage Turkey Drive will take place on Friday, Nov. 20, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s headquarters located at 899 South Oyster Bay Rd. in Bethpage.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Test Center Opens on Long Island

A volunteer participates this week in the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine trial at an NYU Langone Health Vaccine Center. (NYU Langone Health)

NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island in Mineola has opened a new center to expand trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca.

At the new center, health professionals seek to enroll 30,000 people globally, ages 18 to 85, who will each randomly either receive the experimental vaccine or a placebo solution.

“It’s very exciting for us, and Long Island, to participate in vaccine trials aimed at controlling COVID-19,” said Dr. Steven Carsons, director of the Vaccine Center at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, which was until recently known as NYU Winthrop Hospital. “While emerging infectious diseases will always be a threat, COVID-19 is clearly the greatest health threat in a hundred years. By working together to establish effective vaccines, hopefully we will conquer it.”

NYU Langone Health is one of 10 hospitals in the nation accredited as a specialized National Institute of Health-funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, or VTEU. As a VTEU, Langone is part of the COVID-19 Prevention Network, supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and composed of existing NIAID-supported clinical research networks with infectious disease expertise, designed for rapid and thorough evaluation of vaccine candidates.

In addition to assisting with the creation of a vaccine for COVID-19, the new vaccine center on Long Island will enroll residents in future vaccine trials for other illnesses, such as influenza.

“Our new location at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island brings cutting-edge medical research to patient populations that we serve,” said Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and director of the Vaccine Center at NYU Langone Health, “including those currently underrepresented in clinical trials such as Black, Hispanic and elderly people who are at higher than average risk of COVID-19 infection.”

To learn more about vaccine trial enrollment, visit nyulmc.org/covidvaccine or contact NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island at 516-663-3890 or nyuwinthropvaccine@nyulangone.org.

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As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Suffolk Adds Contact Tracers

ProHEALTH Urgent Care medics collect COVID-19 test samples in Jericho on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Suffolk County is more than doubling its number of contact tracing workers, who make phone calls to investigate the spread of COVID-19, in an effort to crack down on a recent spike in cases.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday the county had an average weekly positivity rate of 2.17 percent. That means out of all county residents tested, an average of 2.17 percent tested positive for the virus each day. A week prior, the average rate was around 1 percent. The county saw a 3.8 percent positivity rate on Nov. 8, the highest it’s been since late May.

“It’s critical that we get this under control,” Bellone said. “We have been expanding [our contact tracing] team rapidly, and we’re continuing to do that throughout this week.

On Friday, the county doubled its number of case investigators from 25 to 50. On Tuesday, the number again doubled to about 100. By the end of the week, Bellone said he hopes to nearly double the number again, so close to 200 county workers will be assigned to making contact tracing calls.

Many of the investigators are existing county employees who received training earlier this week and will begin making calls immediately, Bellone said. 

Bellone attributed the sudden rise in cases to small gatherings where people are not social distancing or wearing masks. He said it’s possible that this spike could be a result of Halloween parties, even if they had less than the state limit of 50 people.

Nassau County has also seen a sharp increase in cases. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement Tuesday that the positivity rate was 3.4 percent, up from 1.4 percent on Nov. 1.

“What happens next will come down to what each of us does in the next few days and weeks,” she wrote.

Both Long Island leaders urged residents to take precautions, especially when gathering in small groups, including social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands often. Bellone said anyone who believes they may have been exposed should get tested right away.

“Getting tested is the most effective way that we can track this virus,” he said, “because if you get tested and you are positive, we can isolate people, we can quarantine people who need to be quarantined so that we can stop the virus.”

The increase in cases on Long Island reflects an uptick in cases statewide. On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state positivity rate is 2.5 percent, not including microclusters in certain communities.

“What we’re seeing is what scientists predicted for months,” he said. “It really is getting much, much worse by the day.”

Related Story: How An Army of Contact Tracers Are Key To Long Island’s Reopening

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Advisory Issued for Possible COVID-19 Exposure at 2 Oakdale Restaurants

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

Suffolk County is warning people who recently visited Mannino’s Restaurant or the Village Idiot Irish Pub, both in Oakdale, to get tested as patrons could have been exposed to COVID-19, officials said.

The Department of Health Services issued an advisory Wednesday for anyone who visited the restaurants, both located on Montauk Highway, between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. County health officials urge those who were potentially exposed to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after visiting either restaurant. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Health officials also encourage potentially exposed individuals to get tested for COVID-19. For information on COVID-19 or to find your nearest testing site, visit suffolkcountyny.gov/COVID19.

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Disability Advocates to Hold “Save Our Services” Rallies

Advocates are urging the state not to cut mental health and disabilities funding. Photo by Ed Shin

The Long Island Advocacy Network for the Developmentally Disabled (LIANDD) and Family Advocacy Information Resource (NYC FAIR) are holding coinciding drive-in “Save Our Services” rallies on Nov. 17.

The demonstrations will seek to increase public awareness about financial threats to services for children and adults with learning and developmental disabilities. They also aim to capture the attention of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators in Albany who could provide them with funding.

“Together we can fight harmful budget cuts and service transformations that may impact how we fulfill our mission,” the Adults & Children with Learning & Developmental Disabilities, Inc., website states.

As a result of statewide budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates fear that services for vulnerable populations will weaken and become substandard. 

Advocates are encouraging participants to bring signs, write on their cars, honk, chant and make noise at the rally. Assemblywoman Melissa (Missy) Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) and former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg of Long Beach will both speak during the Long Island event.

On Long Island, LIANDD is holding the demonstration at the old Sears parking lot at 195 N. Broadway in Hicksville. In New York City, NYC FAIR is holding the event in front of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office at 633 Third Avenue in Manhattan. Both begin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 17.

For more information about the “Save Our Services” drive-in rally, visit acld.org/get-involved/take-action.

Related Story: Mobile Rally Rolls Against Funding Cuts For Developmental Disability Support Groups

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Manhasset Mansion With Great Gatsby Ties Asks $11.8M

The home has a private beach and the largest private dock on the Manhasset harbor.

The Whitney Boathouse, a waterfront estate that was the weekend retreat of John Hay “Jock” Whitney, who F. Scott Fitzgerald took inspiration from when writing The Great Gatsby, is listed for sale at 95 Lake Rd. in Manhasset.

Whitney was U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1961. He was also publisher of the New York Herald Tribune and president of the Museum of Modern Art. He owned a vast art collection, including several Picassos and van Goghs, which have all since been donated or sold, and was a well-known philanthropist in his time.

Built in 1928, the brick and stone home is now fully renovated, featuring cathedral ceilings, a formal dining room, six bedrooms and six bathrooms, plus one half bathroom, two garage spaces, an elevator, an eat-in kitchen, a ballroom-sized clubroom with a stone fireplace and an indoor pool and spa. The pool is inground and heated.

The .89-acre property also features the largest private dock on the Manhasset harbor. There is a private beach, guesthouse, multiple patios and decks and a long pier to access a floating dock.

This outdoor beauty can be seen from inside the house, where there are walls of glass windows and doors throughout.

The asking price is $11,800,000, not including the annual property tax of $150,115.

The real estate agent listed for the property is Maria Babaev, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who can be reached at 516-621-3555.

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