Timothy Bolger

Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.

COVID-19 Hospitalization Uptick Eyed on Long Island

FILE PHOTO: Scientists work in a lab testing COVID-19 samples at New York City's health department, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York U.S., April 23, 2020. Picture taken April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/

Long Island officials are closely watching a slight increase in patients being treated for coronavirus at hospitals across the region in recent weeks.

As of Monday, 64 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Nassau and 35 hospital patients have been diagnosed with the virus in Suffolk, officials said. While nowhere near the April peak of about 2,500 in Nassau and 1,658 in Suffolk, virus hospitalizations are up from a low of 24 for each county in recent months.

“That can largely be attributed to infections in our community primarily originating in high school- and college-aged people,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Monday during a news conference in Mineola. “While the numbers are slightly higher, it’s nowhere near where we were at the worst days of the pandemic.”

As for the most serious COVID-19 hospitalizations, Nassau reported 16 patients in intensive care units and Suffolk had five in ICUs as of Monday. That’s compared to the peak of 592 in Nassau and 562 in Suffolk in April. Overall, there were nearly 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday. 

“They don’t do a lot of discharges over the weekend,” Cuomo said. “The good news in the 934 is the admissions were down over the weekend … Fewer people went into the hospitals.”

Officials are watching hospitalizations closely as health experts have warned of the possibility of a second wave this fall. LI’s coronavirus infection rate has hovered around 1 percent since the summer, although parts of the Five Towns area have seen spikes that prompted New York State to include some of Lawrence, Inwood, and Cedarhurst in a recent crackdown aimed at curbing the spread.

Suffolk officials noted that some hospital patients were admitted for other ailments or injuries and tested positive for coronavirus during their treatments.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had cautioned last week that officials were “watching very closely” a trend of increasing hospitalizations in the county. Virus hospitalizations had hovered around 20 over the summer, but had been closer to 40 for a couple weeks. But there was good news this week.

“That trend has not continued,” he said on Monday.

Related Story: NY Limits Activity in Lawrence, Inwood Amid COVID-19 Hot Spot Response

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Long Island Movie Theaters OK’d To Reopen From Coronavirus Shutdown

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Movie theaters on Long Island will be allowed to reopen on Oct. 23 after the industry was held back from New York State’s phased reopening from the coronavirus shutdown over the summer.

Theaters will be required to limit capacity to 25 percent per theater, or 50 people per screen, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made the announcement Saturday during a news conference. 

Movie theaters statewide were closed along with most other businesses to curb the spread of coronavirus when its spread peaked in New York in March. But theaters were among a handful of industries, including catering halls, concert venues, and amusement parks, that were left out of the fourth and final phase of the reopening plan this summer. So were gyms, bowling alleys, casinos, and malls, but those industries were belatedly allowed to reopen.

Theaters have struggled nationwide since the pandemic hit. Regal Cinemas, the world’s second-largest movie theater company, announced recently that it would temporarily close all of its U.S. locations to stem financial losses. As a result, Regal’s half dozen Long Island locations are likely to remain shuttered come Oct. 23.

In the meantime, Long Islanders have been taking advantage of a resurgence of drive-in movies — a more socially distant alternative — to watch films while traditional theaters have been closed.

Theaters will remain closed in New York City and areas in Rockland and Orange counties where the infection rate recently spiked, Cuomo said.

Besides theaters, COVID-19 has also prompted Hollywood to delay the release of numerous movies to 2021 while others were released straight to online streaming services, such as Disney releasing its live-action remake of Mulan to Disney Plus.

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Oyster Fest Goes Virtual Amid Pandemic

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The sprawling carnival atmosphere of The Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay, one of the largest annual events on Long Island, is being replaced by remote events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of an outdoor food court, stage, rides, and other activities at the waterfront Theodore Roosevelt Park overlooking Oyster Bay Harbor, this year the festival will be celebrated as Oyster Week, featuring a massive online auction, restaurant week, gofundme campaign, and Halloween drive-in movie night, with the annual shucking and eating contests streaming online.

“Instead of booths and stages and tents, you can enjoy Oyster Week in the comfort of your home,” the organizers said.

Oyster Week will run Oct. 16-25. with local restaurants offering hot deals for takeout, curbside pickup, and limited on-site dining. There will also be an online auction, streaming music performances, and a drive-in movie at the park on a first-come, first served basis starting at 5 p.m. Oct. 23.

For more details, visit theoysterfestival.org

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Hamptons Man Charged With Seeking Absentee Ballots For Dead Mom

Photo by www.houstondwiattorney.net

A Water Mill man was arrested Friday for allegedly submitting two absentee ballot applications for his mother months after she died, Suffolk County prosecutors said.

Wayne Tappe, 57, was charged with two felony counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. He is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 5 at Suffolk County First District Court in Central Islip.

“Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and we will not tolerate any violation of the election process here in Suffolk County,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “My office is committed to investigating any and all instances of alleged voter fraud and prosecuting anyone who attempts to violate the security of our elections.”

Authorities said the Suffolk County Board of Elections received two applications for absentee ballots for a Lucille Tappe, of Commack, that indicated they were signed on Sept. 4 and Oct. 6, but the agency had been notified in June by the New York State Department of Health that Tappe had died on June 16.

On Sept. 9, the BOE received an application for an absentee ballot from her son, Wayne, after the agency had already received an absentee ballot application from him in March. The agency referred the applications to prosecutors for investigation.

A forensic scientist at the county Crime Laboratory conducted a handwriting analysis of the September application from the mother and found that it was written by her son, according to investigators.

Tappe faces up to four years in prison, if convicted.

Authorities ask any Suffolk County residents looking to report suspected voter fraud can call the district attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau at 631-853-8298.

Related Story: Key Dates To Watch For 2020 Election Voters

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Islip Will Split Into Council Districts To Settle Lawsuit

Fred Brewington points to a map showing where Latino residents live in the Town of Islip on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. Long Island Press photo

The Town of Islip will divide into council districts to settle a federal lawsuit in which minority residents sought representation on the town board, which is lacking under the current at-large system.

The plaintiffs argued that the town’s largely minority communities of Brentwood, Central Islip, and Bay Shore do not have a voice on the town council, which is comprised of white Republicans who live in the town’s wealthier waterfront communities. If the five town council members were designated to represent specific communities instead of sharing responsibility for all 333,758 town residents, the local lawmakers would be more responsive to the constituents, the plaintiffs said.

“Our community will finally have representation in our town — someone who looks like us and knows what it is like to be a Latino in Islip,” said Ana Flores, the lead plaintiff and a member of the nonprofit advocacy group New York Communities For Change. “I feel that my community and I will at long last have a voice in this town. For too long we have been made to feel invisible by the town.”

The use of council districts, known as the ward system, is used by three of the 13 towns on Long Island—Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Brookhaven. 

Under the settlement, two seats up for election in 2021 will be for two districts, including one that will cover Brentwood, which is mostly Latino. Candidates for the other two districts will be on ballots in 2023. Council members will continue to serve staggered four-year terms.

“Justice is being served, and the cry to all of Islip is that change for the better has come, and the voting rights of the Latino community in Islip will no longer continue to be denied,” said Frederick Brewington, the Hempstead-based civil rights attorney who tried the case. “This is a monumental change.”

Related Story: Lawsuit Aiming To Split Islip Into Town Council Districts Heading To September Trial

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How To Open New Doors With Continuing Education Classes

Continuing education can be for professional development or personal enrichment. (Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has many people exploring new career goals, hobbies, and expanding their minds. And one of the best ways to do all three is to enroll in continuing education courses.

Continuing education courses are noncredit classes offered at colleges and universities on Long Island as well as at local libraries and many area school districts. Offerings range from one-time classes on painting or boosting one’s self esteem to a series of lectures on cooking or learning new technologies — and virtually every topic in between.

The best part? Many are now offered remotely due to COVID-19, making it easier for those who have trouble fitting continuing education into their busy schedules. Here is how to find such classes.

With more than 100 local libraries in communities across Nassau and Suffolk counties, there are plenty of options available regionwide. Just visit your neighborhood library’s website and search for the continuing education or adult services section to peruse upcoming course offerings. And make sure to register early in case they fill up. 

While some classes are limited to library cardholders, others are not, so attendees can often take classes at a neighboring library. Additional online course offerings can be found at universalclass.com

Like local libraries, there are also more than 100 school districts across LI and many of them also offer continuing education classes. But unlike many libraries, local school districts don’t require attendees to have a membership card to sign up. Attendees can also sign up for classes outside their district.

There are more than a dozen colleges and universities on the Island and of those, five are a part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system: Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College, SUNY College at Old Westbury, Nassau Community College, and Suffolk County Community College. Each boasts an array of continuing ed classes drawing on their top-notch professors’ expertise. Find offerings online.

Like their SUNY counterparts, Long Island’s private institutions of higher education also tout hearty continuing education course catalogues for people looking to expand their horizons. They include Hofstra University in Hempstead, LIU Post in Brookville, Adelphi University in Garden City, Molloy College in Rockville Centre, St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, and Touro College, which has multiple campuses.

Register today!

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NY Forcing 7 Long Island Judges To Retire


New York State court leaders ordered the seven oldest judges on Long Island to clean out their chambers at the end of the year as the judiciary cuts payroll to solve a coronavirus pandemic-induced budget crisis.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and the state Office of Court Administration (OCA) administrative board declined to recertify the judges, who are all older than 70. State law requires septuagenarian jurists biannually apply for recertification between ages 70 and the mandatory retirement age of 76.

“This extremely difficult but necessary determination will save the court system more than $55 million over the next two years,” Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks wrote Sept. 29 in a memo to judges statewide.

The LI judges — three in Nassau County, three in Suffolk County, and one appellate justice — are among 46 statewide older than 70 who the OCA has declined to recertify. The measure is one of several, including a court staff hiring freeze, that come after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut the judiciary’s budget by $300 million to help close a $14 billion state deficit since COVID-19 unleashed an economic crisis. State Supreme Court justices make $210,900 annually.

Among the jurists getting the axe are State Supreme Court Justices for Nassau, including Judge Antonio Brandveen, Judge Jeffrey Brown, and Judge Thomas Feinman, who all preside in Mineola. Also in Nassau, Judge Stephen Bucaria, who was among those who wasn’t recertified, intended to retire at the end of the year before the memo was issued.

On the other side of the county line, Riverhead-based State Supreme Court Justices for Suffolk getting pinks slips are Judge Stephen Lynch, Judge Vincent Martorana, and Judge Robert Quinlan.

The seventh judge on the chopping block for LI is Presiding Appellate Term Justice Thomas Adams, who hears appeals on cases in the 10th judicial district that covers Nassau and Suffolk. There are currently 64 judges and acting justices hearing cases in the district’s trial courts.

Attorneys who try cases before the judges were not pleased with the move.

“This budget cut is a matter of grave concern to the New York State Bar Association because it will inevitably create hardship for litigants and delay the administration of justice,” New York State Bar Association President Scott M. Karson said in a statement. “The association is keenly aware that these are difficult times, but that makes it even more important that our federal and state governments work together to find revenue sources and restore this money. Let’s make sure that justice delayed is not justice denied.”

The OCA reiterated that the choice was not an easy one, but was necessary.

“We are living through a centennial event,” said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the OCA. “The 46 judges who were denied certification or recertification are part of the shared sacrifice that all 16,000 judicial and non-judicial employees have and continue to make and to live through, as we have kept and keep the nation’s largest and busiest court system functioning and serving the people of New York State.”

The judges have until Dec. 31 to clear out of their courtrooms. 

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The Chainsmokers Hamptons Concert Organizers Fined $20K For Social Distancing Violations

The Chainsmokers performed at KTUphoria on Saturday, June 15, 2019. (Photo by Amanda de Lauzon)

Organizers of a Hamptons drive-in concert headlined by EDM group The Chainsmokers were fined $20,000 for allegedly violating New York State social distancing orders over the summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

In addition, the governor said that the Town of Southampton, which authorized the concert, is going to require state approval before allowing any other group gathering permits in the future.

“I spent time speaking to the people in Southampton,” Cuomo told reporters during a news conference call. “Frankly, I don’t know what they were thinking.”

Social media videos from the July event in Water Mill show a not-so-distanced crowd dancing and singing in close proximity. The state immediately launched a probe into allegations that the concert broke the governor’s social-distancing orders meant to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The benefit concert, dubbed Safe and Sound, was hosted by promoter In the Know Experiences. Representatives for the group did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The organizers previously said in a statement that they collaborated with all state and local health officials and the concert followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

The drive-in event had space for about 600 cars on a 100-acre field. Southampton officials have said that expectations were for 2,000 attendees, but an estimated 3,000 showed up. Town officials have blamed the organizers for not enforcing social distancing rules when a dance pit broke out in front of the stage.

“We had police there, but had we known the organizer wasn’t going to aggressively enforce mask-wearing and social distancing, we would likely have had four times the number of law enforcement that was actually present,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman previously told the Press.

Asked about the latest from the governor, Schneiderman said the town also summonsed the concert’s organizer for violations and Southampton officials have already been checking with the state before approving permits for large gatherings, which are few and far between now that summer is over.

“Thank god no one contracted COVID from the concert,” he added.

-With Dana Chiueh

Related Story: NY Probes Social Distancing Violations at Hamptons Drive-In Concert

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Miller Place Inn Fined After ‘Super-spreader’ Sweet 16 Sickens 37 With COVID-19

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Suffolk County officials fined the Miller Place Inn for allegedly violating social distancing orders meant to curb the spread of coronavirus after 37 people who attended an over-capacity sweet 16 there were diagnosed with COVID-19.

County Department of Health Services investigators found that the 37 cases were among 81 people who attended the party at the venue on Sept. 25 despite the fact that gatherings are limited to 50 due to the pandemic, officials said.

“This was a super-spreader event,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told reporters Tuesday during a news conference. “This cluster should serve as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of violating COVID-19 codes.”

Suffolk’s efforts to contain the outbreak comes as parts of the Five Towns are in Nassau are included in New York State’s Cluster Action Initiative aimed at tamping down virus hot spots with above-average infection rates.

Suffolk fined the catering hall $10,000 on Saturday for allegedly violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders prohibiting gatherings of larger than 50 people or 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is less. It also fined the venue $2,000 for violating the county’s sanitary code.

The county contacted the hosts of the event to obtain a copy of the guest list, which was provided voluntarily, officials said. The department quarantined the entire guest list, which included 49 students and 32 adults, and entered the contact information into the county’s contact tracing system. Of the 37 positive cases investigators identified, 29 were people who attended the party, seven were household contacts, and one was a close contact of an attendee. 

To date health officials have identified 334 contacts, 151 who were non-school affiliated and 183 who were school affiliated. Of those, 270 contact are under quarantine and 11 cases are in active isolation. Some have already completed their quarantine.

Eight schools have reported positive cases in connection to the party and 35 schools have at least one student who has been affected by the event, while one school has had as many as 74 students impacted. 

None of the cases resulted in hospitalizations or death and the outbreak appears to have been contained.

“There is no community spread at this time,” Bellone added.

Representatives for the Miller Place Inn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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3 States Added To NY COVID-19 Travel Advisory List

Passengers on a train from Florida stop and register with officials at Penn Station during an effort to screen out-of-state travellers and enforce the state's 14-day coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Three states have been added to the list of places from where travelers to New York State are required to self-quarantine for 14 days to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia have been added to the list, which includes areas with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. No states were removed from the list this week.

“As we go into the fall, and the numbers nationwide are going up, we must work to keep our numbers down,’ Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

The list now includes 37 states, plus Guam and Puerto Rico. New York City has set up checkpoints at bridges and tunnels to ensure travelers from other states fill out the required contact tracing paperwork or face fines.

The full, updated travel advisory list is as follows:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

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