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Covid cases rise in Franklin Square, Elmont

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There seem to be signs that the coronavirus pandemic is worsening throughout Franklin Square and Elmont — from the long lines outside urgent care centers to the constant school closures.

As of Nov. 20, Elmont had a total of 1,696 Covid cases since the pandemic began in March, an increase of 4 percent from the week before, and Franklin Square had a total of 1,102 cases, an increase of 6.8 percent from the week prior, according to statistics from the Nassau County Health Department.

Nassau County, meanwhile, had a 3.3 percent positivity rate, as of Nov. 21, data from the State Department of Health shows, and Long Island had a 3.2 percent seven-day average positivity rate. Statewide, the infection rate was 2.9 percent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Nov. 23.

“That can change in an instant,” he said at a news conference on Monday, adding, “If we’re not careful, we can go back” to the high rates the state saw in March, when hospital systems were overwhelmed with Covid patients.

Urgent care centers are already seeing long lines for Covid tests, with some waiting outside of these medical centers for several hours. Karen Mollish, of Franklin Square, for example, said she had to wait up to two hours “outside in the cold” for a test. And Renee Nicole Scarlata said she had to go to an urgent care center last weekend for a non-Covid issue and waited for almost two hours outside of a CityMD because she did not have an appointment. CityMD offers rapid tests, a regular Covid test that takes three to five days to get results and an antibody test.

“It was really frustrating,” Scarlata said in response to a Herald social media inquiry. “I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have to have a negative test weekly for some jobs.”

But with positive cases rising, schools in Elmont and Franklin Square have had to close and quarantine classes in recent weeks.

At the elementary school level, students at the Stewart Manor school and the Dutch Broadway School were quarantined last week, after someone at the Stewart Manor School started experiencing “hallmark Covid-19 symptoms” and two staff members at the Dutch Broadway School were considered to be close contacts of people with the virus, Superintendent Kenneth Rosner announced on Nov. 15.

Four days later, another Dutch Broadway class also had to quarantine, Rosner said, because “an individual” at the school was considered to be a close contact of someone who had tested positive for Covid-19. No student or staff member has tested positive for the virus in any of these cases, however, Rosner noted.

And at the high school level, Sewanhaka High School was closed on Nov. 17 and 18, after two staff members there tested positive for the virus, and was closed again on Nov. 23, to give district officials time to thoroughly clean and disinfect the building, after a student tested positive for the coronavirus.

Additionally, H. Frank Carey High School will remain closed until Nov. 30, after two students tested positive for the virus and “were present at many non-school activities taking place beyond our control,” according to Superintendent James Grossane. As a result, he said, the number of students who were in contact with these infected individuals at H. Frank Carey is “too large to keep school open.”

Students and staff members will work remotely during these closures, Grossane said, and students participating in the district’s Career and Technical Education classes will attend their classes remotely while Sewanhaka was closed. H. Frank Carey students in the program will also attend the classes remotely during the school’s closure.

In the meantime, Grossane said, the buildings would be deep cleaned and Nassau County Health Department officials will continue to conduct contact tracing and reach out to anyone who needs to quarantine.

“While students have done an exemplary job in school maintaining social distance and wearing their masks,” Grossane wrote to parents on Nov. 20, “please be sure to reinforce with your children good hygiene habits, mask wearing and maintaining social distance while not in school.”