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Long Island Nonprofit Events August 2020

A virtual paddleboard event is coming to the Long Island Sound (Getty Images)

BEE STRONG LI 5K BENEFIT VIRTUAL TRAIL RUN/WALK
Proceeds from this fundraising event, held in partnership with Hallock State Park Preserve, will be donated to Lucia’s Angel’s, the Coalition for Women’s Cancers, Fighting Chance and the North Fork Breast Coalition, beestrongli.com Upload times between Aug. 9-16. 

PADDLE FOR THE SOUND
Enjoy our great outdoors while fighting for regional environmental protection. Participate in a friendly virtual competition by paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, or walking, to see who can cover the most distance and raise awareness and funds to protect the Long Island environment. savethesound.org/Paddle2020 Aug. 14-31.

VIRTUAL 9TH ANNUAL COMMACK AMBULANCE 5K RUN/WALK
The Run For Your Life event is presented by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and all proceeds will go to the Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corp, events.elitefeats.com Upload your times Aug. 15-22.

VIRTUAL CHRISTOPHER DECRESCITO MEMORIAL 5K
Proceeds from the race will support the Christopher DeCrescito Memorial Foundation established in memory of Christopher DeCrescito, who was killed by a drunk driver on February 27, 2013. The goal is to raise awareness about drunk driving, help others who have lost a family member or loved one, and help prevent further tragedies caused by drunk driving, elitefeats.com Upload virtual results Aug. 15-22.

SLOANE’S RIDE
Dedicate a bike ride to Sloane, who died of complications associated with congenital heart disease in October 2017. Because this event is virtual you can choose your own location, start time, and distance. give.childrensheartfoundation.org Aug. 21-23.

BEACHSTOCK
This drive-in benefit concert is hosted by and supports the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Audio will be transmitted via FM radio. Tickets include a “Benefit in a Box” with local treats and goodies. Westhampton Beach Great Lawn, 35 Main St., Westhampton Beach, whbpac.org $150-$175 per car. 7-9 p.m. Aug. 22.

 

Long Island Malls Cleared To Reopen on Friday, With Air Filters

Roosevelt Field Mall

Indoor malls are set to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown Friday on Long Island if they have proper air filtration systems installed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Malls were originally included in phase four, which started Wednesday on LI, but last month were bumped from that final phase when the Cuomo administration determined the risk of air filtration units in potentially spreading COVID-19. 

“We’ve had a lot of consultation work done on air filtration systems,” he told reporters. “There are a lot of air filtration systems that can take COVID out of the air, there then winds up a series of questions about what filters work on which HVAC systems.”

Cuomo said that HVAC filtration systems must be upgraded in malls to have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 11. The MERV rating is measured from 1-16, with 16 marking the highest filtration level. 

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who has been pressing for malls to reopen, shared her excitement of the news, noting the positive effects it would have on the economy.

“I am actually getting goosebumps right now,” Curran said Wednesday. “This is great news for our economy. It is great news for our employees, employers and for revenue. It is with the filters, which I think makes a lot of sense.”

Large malls set to reopen include Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City and Broadway Commons in Hicksville, according to Curran, who spoke with some mall owners who already installed the filtration system. Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove and Walt Whitman Shops in Melville will also reportedly open Friday.

Outdoor Outlets such as Americana Manhasset, Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and Riverhead, and the Gallery at Westbury Plaza will all be open.

Westfield Mall in Massapequa still has to install the filtration system, delaying the opening. Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream did not answer for comment on the expected date of opening.

-With Dana Chieuh

Related Story: Filters May Be Key To Reopening Malls, Which Were Bumped From Phase 4

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Long Island Social-Distancing Violations Reported Over Fourth of July Weekend

Suffolk County police warn beachgoers on Fire Island to follow social-distancing rules. Photo via changeatbabylon

Police responded to a string of social-distancing violation complaints over Independence Day weekend — including an incident on Fire Island where a large group of unmasked beachgoers packed the oceanfront.

Nassau County police responded to 68 complaints, gave 16 warnings, and issued three appearance tickets during the holiday weekend. East Hampton Town Police cited three Montauk restaurant owners for failing to enforce social-distancing rules. And Suffolk County police twice warned crowds on the beach in Fire Island Pines that they needed to follow rules intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“These individuals seem to be going out of their way to violate these rules,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said of the Fire Island case. “That is simply unacceptable. It is a slap in the face for all of those people that have sacrificed and for those that have worked so hard to get us to this point.”

Photos of the large crowds on Fire Island went viral on social media, but no citations were issued in that case.

In Montauk, the owners of two restaurants were arrested on Saturday night on misdemeanor charges related to alleged violations of the State Liquor Authority Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, during inspections related to COVID-19 safety regulation compliance. These restaurants also saw a denial to comply with social distancing when videos surfaced of people crowding a restaurant. These restaurants could lose their licenses.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reminded residents that protocols have to be continuously followed for the infection rates to stay low and warned of “COVID fatigue”  — peoples’ decreasing motivation to comply with regulations — by pointing to other states where the virus is on the rise as an example of what can happen. Reopening has been paused or reversed in some other states.

“We have to bend the curve,” the governor warned. “The bend doesn’t happen naturally. The bend happens when people change their behavior and actually reduce the transmission rate. That mountain plateaued because we did masks and social distancing and closed down. That’s how we bent the curve.”

Related Story: Hamptons Restaurant Crowds May Force Phase 2 Reversal, Cuomo Warns

Related Story: Long Island Bar Has Liquor License Suspended Due To Social Distancing Violations

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

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7-Eleven Cancels Free Slurpee Day Due To COVID-19

Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven is an annual tradition. (Photo by Lauren Siegert)

Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven, held annually on July 11, has been cancelled due to coronavirus.

This company said it would be difficult to maintain social distancing protocols with the crowds that turn out for the popular event.

“For nearly two decades, July 11th has been the busiest day of the year for 7‑Eleven stores as millions of customers visit us to kick off summer with their favorite frozen drink,” said Marissa Jarratt, the company’s chief marketing officer. “But this year, we have to make changes for the greater good.”

Some of the busiest 7-Elevens in the nation are on Long Island and the region’s stores also sell more coffee than any other 7-Elevens in the country, according to the company. 

Instead of in-store giveaways, the convenience store plans to donate one million meals to Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the country. 

“Gathering 9 million of our closest friends in stores on one day just didn’t feel right,” Jarratt said. “But I am heartened that we now have the opportunity to help the communities and neighborhoods that have been the lifeline of our business since 1927.”

The chain also stated that they will still be giving away a free Slurpee drink coupon through their 7-Eleven loyalty rewards app that can be redeemable throughout the month.

7-Eleven, like many other retailers, has enhanced its standards and procedures for hygiene, hand washing, sanitation, food handling, and preparation in stores, including increased frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces.

All store associates are encouraged to wear masks and gloves when serving customers. Customers now have access to disposable gloves, tissues, and sanitizer stations while shopping in stores.

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

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Long Island Nonprofit Fundraisers July 2020

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AIRBORNE VIRTUAL 5K 
The Airborne Run/Walk in memory of SSG Christina is meant to provide wounded veterans with opportunities, physical challenges, and goal-oriented physical achievements to maximize their potential and increase their self-esteem through their involvement in the team. Proceeds from the event will support the Airborne Tri Team. Register ($35) at events.elitefeats.com Upload your virtual run results beginning July 11.

AT YOUR SERVICE CYSTIC FIBROSIS VIRTUAL 4 MILE- COMMUNITY AMBULANCE & CF WAFFLE RUN
Virtual post-race party and awards ceremony, prizes, costume contest and challenges for participants, to raise money for several local organizations. Register for $28 at runsignup.com July 11-12.

JORDAN’S RUN VETERANS’ MEMORIAL VIRTUAL 5K RUN/WALK
This race is in memory of United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jordan Christian Haerter who was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. Proceeds from this event will support the memorial fund, in Jordan’s Honor, Ltd.Register ($20) at events.elitefeats.com Begin uploading your Virtual times July 26 – Aug 2.

LONG ISLAND VIRTUAL SUMMER BENEFIT
Proceeds will support The Nature Conservancy to achieve cleaner waters, restored coastal habitats and fisheries, protected lands and renewable energy. Donors will receive a zoom link to attend the virtual benefit. nature.org 5 p.m. July 30.

VIRTUAL FOOD DRIVE
Want to donate food but don’t want to leave the house? Donating to or hosting a virtual food drive saves the hassle of carrying heavy food boxes and allows Island Harvest to save on resources and get the most-needed items to our neighbors struggling with food insecurity. islandharvest.org

VIRTUAL BLOOD DRIVE
In the absence of in-person blood drives and a blood shortage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the American Red Cross SleevesUp Campaign invites donors to publicly pledge to make blood donations, which can be scheduled to maintain social distancing. sleevesup.redcrossblood.org

Related Story: 13 Ways To Donate To Help Fight The Coronavirus Pandemic

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Long Island Gym Owner Plans Class-Action Lawsuit After Reopening Bumped From Phase 4

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A Farmingdale gym owner plans to file what he expects will be a class-action lawsuit to force New York State to allow gyms statewide to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo bumped gyms from phase four — which is Long Island is expected to enter on July 8 — after gyms were deemed unsafe to reopen due to fears that the air conditioning systems might recirculate the virus and infect others. But SC Fit owner Charles Cassara, who is filing the lawsuit, argues he is being denied the same rights of other business owners that have been allowed to reopen. He argues that social distancing measures can also be applied to gyms just like retailers and restaurants.

“I am very happy that the economy is opening back up and am not upset, but I want my opportunity to open up my business,” Cassara said. “You cannot close an entire industry with no data.”

The White House has said gyms can reopen “if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols” and preparedness measures that “state and local officials may need to tailor the application of these criteria to local circumstances.” Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Georgia have reopened gyms with added precautions. All but Georgia are now considered coronavirus hot-spot states.

“Logic suggests if you see a problem in other states that you explore it before you move forward in your state, and that’s what we’re doing with gyms, theaters, and malls,” the governor told reporters Friday. “Our Department of Health is trying to determine if there is any filtration system for an air conditioning system that can successfully remove the virus from air circulation.”

Cassara and his Syosset-based attorney, James Mermigis, are currently recruiting up to 2,000 gym owners statewide from Montauk to Buffalo to join the lawsuit.

“We plan to file this case under the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th amendment of the constitution,” Mermigis said. “We intend to file civil action on Friday and by Tuesday, file an injunction for an emergency hearing from the judge.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran backed Cuomo’s assertion that opening gyms may be too risky.

“There are many other options for working out other than gyms,” she said, adding that the “benefits of exercise at a gym do not outweigh the risks of the virus.”

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OneKeyMLS Replaces MLSLI Website

Spring is typically peak residential real estate sale season on Long Island. (Getty Images)

OneKey Multiple Listing Service has launched its new real estate website, OneKeyMLS.com, which replaced the popular Multiple Listing Service of Long Island portal.

OneKey MLS was formed in 2018, following the merger of the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service and the MLSLI. The revamped platform aims to connect buyers, sellers, and brokers by making one consumer site serving Nassau, Suffolk, Manhattan, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Orange, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. It features 40,000 listings for sale and for lease.

“By coming together, we are able to offer more opportunities for our realtors by giving them access to products and services that they need,” Jim Speer, OneKey MLS’s CEO told reporters on June 22 during a news conference announcing the new website’s launch. 

The website’s capabilities include search tools in 21 languages. According to Tracy Weir, another member of the OneKey MLS team, consumers are able to save searches and listings, and can share their favorites with friends and family. Every user can sign up to receive alerts on new listings, open houses and saved searches. 

Additionally, gradings of the school community in homes’ neighborhoods and demographic information are available for consumers to search. The New York State tax database is used to derive the houses’ and neighborhoods’ billing information as well.

The website is updated every five minutes to provide  the most up-to-date data to users. Virtual tours are also available through the website. There will be a phone app developed later on to emulate the online experience and serve as a searching tool for consumers along with the website.

“Since OneKey MLS was formed, we have been committed to offering REALTORS® and consumers alike the most accurate listing data available,” said Richard Haggerty, president of OneKey MLS and CEO of Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS®, Inc. “We have worked tirelessly to create a platform that will become the most trusted real estate resource in New York and we look forward to consumers being able to experience it.”

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Long Island Enters Phase 3 of Reopening

Patrons dine al fresco in Huntington on June 22, 2020. Photo by Mira Lerner.

Long Island officially entered phase three of reopening from the coronavirus shutdown on Wednesday.

Phase three allows restaurants to open indoor dining at 50 percent capacity as well as personal care, such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage therapists, and spas. 

“We are very anxious and excited to move into phase three,” Suffolk  County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters Tuesday during his daily coronavirus news briefing. “It is a huge milestone.”

Upstate New York has already entered into phase three while New York City entered phase two on Monday. If no spikes in coronavirus cases are reported, Long Island is on track to enter the fourth and final phase on July 8. Phase four includes education, recreation, and arts and entertainment.

Businesses set to reopen during phase three are preparing with measures to help protect customers from the coronavirus. Disposable menus, silverware and dishes will be used to reduce the risk of transmission and make customers more comfortable and at ease with their safety.

The latest phase comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned of complaints of people who did not comply with social distancing rules earlier in the month in the Hamptons and New York City. The governor addressed these concerns by threatening to “roll back the reopening in those areas” if local governments and restaurant owners fail to enforce the law. 

Concerns have also risen with the record spike in cases in states such as Florida, where the economy opened up with no social distancing or mask requirements. Cuomo has said he is considering ordering anyone who arrives in New York from Florida self quarantine for 14 days, but no decision has been made to date.

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Mark Jay Epstein, LIRR Commuter Council Chairman, Dies at 55

Mark Jay Epstein, prominent Melville personal injury attorney and commuter advocate for the Long Island Rail Road, died of a heart attack on Thursday. He was 55.

Epstein was involved in a number of community organizations as commissioner of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission and served as chairman of the Suffolk County Jewish Advisory Board, devoting himself to the community. He was also a member of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, The Huntington Lawyers Group, The Long Island Association (LIA), The Jewish Lawyers of Nassau County and is a graduate of the Suffolk County Police Department’s Citizens Academy.

“In Mark we had an advocate who was committed to partnering with government, financial institutions, nonprofits, other law associations, and neighborhoods to achieve a more unified, peaceful, merciful and just world,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “Mark served with humility, integrity and grace and for all these reasons and more, he will be missed.”

A graduate of American University and New York Law School, Epstein worked as a defense attorney in insurance law and police union attorney. Later, he joined Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, earning his title of New York’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

He secured his place on the New York Law Journal’s Hall of Fame for Highest Premises/Verdicts after winning a $5 million settlement for a client and was on the board of directors of the National Trial Lawyers Association.

“It’s difficult to put into words how it feels to lose a partner and friend I’ve known and worked with every day for my entire career,” said Epstein’s colleague, Michael Jaffe. “Mark was like a brother to me. He was the consummate professional, honest, reliable, treating everyone he encountered with dignity and respect.”

Epstein became chairman of the LIRR commuter council in 2011, tirelessly advocating for better service for Long Island residents relying on public transit.

“Mark was a fierce and tireless advocate on behalf of LIRR commuters,” LIRR president Phillip Eng said. “He was dedicated to creating a better LIRR and he challenged the LIRR’s leadership to strive for excellence on the system that he loved and rode on every day. His passion for the region was unparalleled.”

Epstein also is survived by his mother, of Melville; his father, of Florida; his stepmother, Brenda Epstein; and sister Elisa Indek, of Plainview.

Epstein had a virtual funeral on Monday and a small graveside burial at a local cemetery.