Fighting to breathe with my COVID compadre – Long Island Business News


I first met “Manuel” when they wheeled me up from the emergency room to the COVID ward at Huntington Hospital.

“Hola,” he said smiling, a raspy-voiced welcome to his third roommate in as many weeks.

I was in for a rough time. Tethered to an oxygen cannula and an IV tube that restricted my movements made for long days and dark, sleepless nights.

But Manuel (not his real name) had been here for nearly a month, with impacts of the virus complicated by his diabetes and asthma. By comparison, my COVID battle would be a walk in the park.

At 73, Manuel had lived a hard life and now the virus had made it almost unbearable.

In the 26 years since he emigrated to the U.S. from the Acapulco region of Mexico, Manuel had a variety of jobs, from working on East End farms to staffing the kitchens of restaurants and country clubs in tony Long Island neighborhoods. But over the past year his work dried up, as the pandemic and its state-mandated lock-downs shuttered most of the places he could earn a meager paycheck. “No trabajo,” he lamented.

Through the despair, Manuel remained remarkably upbeat. He spent many hours on the phone with family. His days were filled listening to Mexican radio and tradi-tional music from south of the border. At times, our hospital room was transformed into a Mariachi festival, and all that was missing were the giant sombreros.

While he has been living in America since 1994, Manuel doesn’t speak or understand a word of English. He tried attending a school to learn the language, but, pointing to his head, he said it just didn’t sink in.

Fortunately, several members of the COVID ward staff spoke fluent Spanish and were able to impart information vital to his care. I leaned on the Google translator to augment my rudimentary knowledge of the language so we could communicate, however haltingly.

At just over 5 feet tall, Manuel was diminutive in stature but certainly not in spirit. He spoke with pride about his three teenage grandkids and his nephew, a professional musician who had been performing for tourists at now largely empty Mexican resorts.

Manuel gushed about Mexico’s abundant agriculture industry and how the country produces avocados, coconut, five kinds of mangos, and much more, supplying food for restaurants and grocery stores in the U.S. and other places. He talked about improving relations between his former country and America, a long-standing friendship that had been tossed asunder over the past four years.

Manuel acknowledged the horrible “violencia” that the drug cartels have wrought in his beloved Acapulco and expressed high hopes for reforms promised by Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, elected two years ago.

After a nurse told Manuel that he would need an inhaler and special medicine for 30 days after his hospital stay, he asked her “Cuánto costará?” or “How much will that cost?” She had no answer.

Manuel has no health insurance and he worries about his mounting hospital bill. He asked me if the government pays for “cuidado de la salud para todos,” or “healthcare for all.” I answered that the richest country in the world should certainly do that, but it does not.

Latinos like Manuel have been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

Hospitalization rates for COVID are highest among Latinos, at more than three times the rate among whites, according to the Center for Disease Control.

In New York City, where Latinos make up 29.1 percent of the overall population, Hispanics/Latinos have a COVID case rate of 5,288 per 100,000, compared with 3,873 per 100,000 for African Americans and 3,726 per 100,000 for Caucasians, according to statistics from nyc.gov.

The cumulative COVID death rate for Hispanics in New York City is currently 293 per 100,000; nearly double the 152 per 100,000 death rate for Caucasians.

The economics aren’t much better. Hispanics make up 22 percent of the workforce for the hospitality industry, the business most adversely impacted by the pan-demic. As a group, Latinos had a 9.4 percent unemployment rate last month, about 50 percent higher than the 6.3 percent overall unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, I was elated the day the doctors told me I could bounce from the facility, longing to finally shower, shave and continue to recover at home. That same day, other doctors told Manuel it would likely be several more days before he could return to the Huntington Station apartment he shares with family and friends.

But nonetheless, he was happy for me. When the wheelchair came to bring me downstairs, we pounded fists and he smiled.

“Vaya, mi amigo,” I said, and headed for the door.

Veteran journalist David Winzelberg covers real estate and a range of other issues for LIBN.



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Truganini memorial at Bruny Island defaced with image of Captain Cook


It is an indication of the “underlying racism in this country” that a monument to famous Tasmanian Indigenous woman Truganini has been vandalised with an image of English explorer Captain James Cook, an Aboriginal community leader says.

The memorial to Truganini, a stone cairn with plaque and image, stands atop the popular lookout at The Neck, Bruny Island, in Tasmania’s south-east.

It is believed sometime over the last few days, spray paint and a stencil were used to apply an image of Captain Cook’s face to the stone column.

Rodney Dillon, a weetapoona elder, said he learned of the vandalism on Friday when visiting the island’s main town centre.

“An old bloke down at Adventure Bay gave me a cuddle … said he was really sorry for what happened and that it’s not the majority on Bruny that think like that,” Mr Dillon said.

The Truganini memorial on Bruny Island with the image of Captain Cook on the cairn.(Supplied)

Truganini, who was born on Bruny Island in 1812 and is often mistakenly cited as the last “full-blooded” Aboriginal Tasmanian, deserved better, he said.

“That old lady doesn’t deserve that,” Mr Dillon said.

“She travelled through very rough times.”

Mr Dillon said the man who told him of the vandalism was visibly upset.

“This old bloke said he was really sorry and looked down in disgust … the majority of people on Bruny would be very sad that happened on their watch.

“That is the position we are in, Aboriginal people in this country, it shows where we are really up to.”

The Neck at Bruny Island.
The Neck at Bruny Island is one of the most photographed locations in Tasmania.(Facebook: Discover Tasmania)

Images of the stencilled monument have been posted to Facebook by dismayed members of the public.

Thomas Bock portrait of Truganini
Truganini asked for her ashes to be scattered at sea. Instead, her skeleton was put on display in a museum.(Supplied: The British Museum)

The monument, erected by schoolchildren in 1967, is at the lookout platform popular with tourists who climb the long, wooden stairway to the top to take in the spectacular view of The Neck — an isthmus connecting north and south Bruny islands.

Mr Dillon said he was puzzled to think “people 200 years on still want to do that”.

“Years ago, you’d expect that to happen, but we’ve come a long way,” he said.

In a statement, Environment and Parks Minister Roger Jaensch said the vandalism was both “disappointing and unacceptable”.

There are strict penalties in place for damaging items of historical importance on reserved land, with a maximum penalty of $8,600.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service compliance team on 0488 184 847.

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Love Island star Laura Anderson claims age discrimination cost her job opportunities


A UK reality star has blasted the age discrimination she says has cost her jobs and led to online abuse.

Though just 31, Love Island’s Laura Anderson is trolled on social media for being “past it”.

Now the former air hostess is calling out the double standard that sees men celebrated no matter their age, The Sun reports.

“I get called a ‘wrinkly, washed-up has-been’ or they’ll say, ‘You don’t look a day over 50’, tell me I’m ‘past it’ or ask, ‘Why are you in a club? Go home, Grandma’,” Laura said.

“If I’m pictured with a guy, they’ll say I look like I could be his mum. There is this obsession with age and so much judgment over a woman’s appearance, which men simply don’t get.

“When a man is single at a certain age he’s ‘sought-after’ or ‘eligible’. If he has grey hair and lines, he’s seen as wise and distinguished. Men are said to get better with age but women are pressured to remain eternally youthful.”

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Laura, of Scotland, said she is dismayed by the assumption that her goal should be to “find a man” and settle down and that she must fear her biological clock is ticking.

“I get people saying I must be ‘desperate’ because of my age and not being married and that hurts. It’s the opposite of what I am. I’m independent and I’ve been quite lucky with men.

“I’ve had lovely relationships. I know my worth and I’m definitely not desperate. I’m pretty happy by myself, thanks very much, and yet people feel sorry for me.”

Laura said she gets comments on Instagram saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re single, you’re going to meet the man of your dreams someday’.”

“That can feel patronising,” she added.

She explained that she once felt “ashamed” of her appearance.

“We have this thing that finding your perfect man is the be-all and end-all. But I’d have hoped that was all changing by now. When the time comes, I can be the best mother I can be because I’ve been able to have all these life experiences. I’m chilled about it and I trust the process. There’s no need to rush.”

Laura had never given ageing a second thought until she joined the 2018 series of Love Island UK and found, at 29, she was the oldest in the show.

At times she felt out of place and was shocked when she left the Majorcan villa to discover there had been a public debate over whether she was in fact older than she claimed.

“I just hadn’t experienced ageism before. But on the island it became very apparent that I was the older girl,” she said.

“When I learned that my dad had to get my birth certificate to show I wasn’t lying about my age, it was horrible.

“After the show people would compare me with the other girls and they would definitely get jobs over me because they were younger.”

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‘TOO OLD’ FOR A JOB

Laura recalls a top fashion brand dropped her from its campaign because it said she was too old for its market.

“I was so excited to join some of the other Love Island girls to work with this brand, which I loved to wear,” she said.

“Unfortunately, it was explained to my agent that my age demographic didn’t tie in and that on this occasion – not that I’d ever get any younger – it couldn’t commit to us working together.

“I felt, for a second, ashamed of my appearance and my years on this planet.”

There is no question that Laura looks different to when she appeared on TV but she would rather not discuss the treatments she has had done for fear of “glamorising it”. However she does admit to regretting some of them.

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“I definitely feel pressure being in the public eye. There are so many treatments thrown at us for free that it can be tempting. I’ve made a few mistakes in the past,” Laura admitted.

“I’m trying really hard now to do things the safer and healthier way.

“All these things come with so many dangers. I had my boobs done and then reduced and now I’m left with these huge scars. If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t have bothered in the first place. For now, I am just trying to go back to basics with facials and skincare. I’m not going to be the same as I was when I was 20 and I am OK with that.”

Fashion brands H&M and Mango regularly work with older models and Laura wants to see more follow suit.

“I did see a campaign recently with a woman who had long, grey hair. I only noticed it because it doesn’t happen that often so it would be nice for it to be normalised,” she said.

“There has been a huge shift in advertising regarding body shapes and sizes and racial diversity, but ageism seems to be a bit slow with changes.”

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Laura is single since splitting from boyfriend Tom Brazier, 37, a fitness coach, last year.

She returned to Scotland and works as a newspaper columnist and is training to be a TV presenter.

“Tom was looking to settle down. I’m not very good at hurting people. I would prefer to be dumped than do the dumping. But I had to be honest and take control of my life and go with my gut.

“He’s a good guy and we’re still very much friends but I just knew it wasn’t right. He was upset and I genuinely did love him and want him to be happy. It was one of the most awful things I’ve done.

“Moving up to Scotland was quite a big decision for me but it’s been a good move so far.”

Laura has changed her mindset so that she now looks at getting older as a privilege.

She says: “I wish I could tell my younger self to enjoy the moment more and stop stressing.

“The whole journey is part of the fun and as I’m getting older, my outlook on life is becoming a little bit younger.

“I’m worrying less about what people think and I’m trusting myself a lot more. No one knows how to live your life better than you.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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Russia Is the World’s ‘Last Island of Freedom,’ Parliament Speaker Says


Russia is the world’s last bastion of freedom in the face of the U.S. labor movement’s decline and pressure on Russian media in the Baltics and Ukraine, the head of Russia’s lower house of parliament said Wednesday.

“Russia is the last island of freedom,” State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said during a legislative session, according to the state-run TASS news agency. “Do you see what’s happening in the United States of America? The country is dying, everything has been canceled out.” 

“Where is [the American] labor movement? Where is the socialist party? Where is the once-strong communist party? Nowhere, just like there’s no free media in Ukraine,” he added.

Volodin was referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent move to ban three pro-Russian television channels and Lithuania’s move to ban Russia’s state broadcaster for sowing “discord.” 

President Vladimir Putin, who presided over Russia during the state takeover of independent media in the early-to-mid 2000s, also criticized the Russian media bans during a video call with Duma party leaders earlier Wednesday.

Volodin’s assertion comes 24 hours after Communist Party lawmaker Valery Rashkin declared that the country’s current political climate to be “far worse” than the Soviet political repressions in 1937 known as the Great Terror.

Rashkin’s broadside, accusing the Kremlin of fabricating criminal cases against political opponents and urging supporters to attend street protests next week, drew an immediate rebuke from Volodin.

“You need to realize that accusing the country of terror as a State Duma deputy means you yourself are implicated,” the Open Media news website quoted the State Duma speaker as saying Tuesday.



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Nonprofit highlights of the week – Long Island Business News





Percussionist Napoleon Revels-Bey kept toes tapping throughout the evening with a lively mix of music and storytelling that celebrated Black history with the Alzheimer’s Association’s virtual Memory Café event on Feb. 4. Memory Cafés are specially designed for people with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive issues, and their caregivers, and often feature music, which can be therapeutic for people at all stages of the disease.


After recovering from COVID-19, Laura Skelly donated convalescent plasma at Long Island Community Hospital’s recent blood drive hosted by the Hagerman Fire Department. Convalescent plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies and helps treat patients with serious COVID-19 infections.


charity events Nonprofit On Our Island



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Tamil family to stay on Christmas Island after Federal Court upholds previous ruling over youngest child’s immigration status


Lawyers for the family are now calling on the Federal Government to immediately release the family from detention.

Priya and Nades Murugappan and their Australian-born daughters Kopika, 5, and Tharunicaa, 3, had been living in Biloela in central Queensland, but in 2018 immigration officials transferred them to a Melbourne detention centre.

They remain in detention on Christmas Island off Western Australia after a last-minute injunction on an attempt to deport them to Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Federal Court ruled Tharunicaa was denied “procedural fairness” in an assessment by the Federal Government and ordered the Commonwealth to pay legal costs of more than $200,000.

The Federal Government appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court, and on Tuesday the court ruled that Justice Mark Mochinsky’s original ruling stands.

A separate appeal brought by the family was also rejected.

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Australian Open 2021 wild scenes: Animals invade Melbourne Park, Phillip Island Open, tennis news, Madison Brengle beats Bianca Andreescu


Australia’s wildlife ambushed two stars mid-match as Melbourne Park looked more like a scene from a horror movie than a tennis venue.

Away from the bright lights of the Australian Open, Melbourne Park was hosting another tournament on its outside courts — although observers may have mistaken it for a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock film.

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The Phillip Island Trophy kicked off on the weekend and players who had already been knocked out of the year’s first grand slam were able to enter into the WTA 250 event.

Madison Brengle and Bianca Andreescu both suffered early exits from the major Down Under but were keen to get more matches in and played each other in the opening round of the lower-profile tournament.

Or at least, they tried to.

Australia’s adventurous wildlife didn’t exactly make it easy as seagulls and insects combined to cause havoc in the Victorian capital.

First up, the start of Andreescu and Brengle’s match was delayed because there was so much bird poo on the court that had to be cleaned up before play could get underway.

Eventually the American and Canadian got going while a horde of seagulls flocked overhead, occasionally interrupting proceedings when they dropped down to the ground and swooped across at eye level during the match.

Play was interrupted when one winged spectator popped down onto the court, reminding Brengle of Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds — a horror movie about ultra violent birds invading America.

“It’s like a Hitchcock … thing,” she said.

At one stage Brengle looked ready to use her racquet on a seagull rather than the ball, while on another occasion Andreescu was robbed of an ace because a seagull distracted her opponent as the ball was heading her way.

Not to be outdone, a stack of beetles also wanted in on the action.

The Tennis Podcast tweeted: “In addition to the seagull poo, the court is also being invaded by beetles. Because Australia.”

They certainly caught Brengle’s attention. “What is that one? It’s like a pill bug … but bigger!” she said.

New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg summed things up perfectly when he tweeted: “This Brengle-Andreescu match should be airing on Animal Planet. It’s been absurd.

“That match deserves to go viral.”

For the record, Andreescu won 7-6 4-6 6-3 and will play Zarina Diyas in the next round.

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Book the whole private island for exclusive ($88,000 a night)


It may be more A-list, but the new offering of exclusive island use at Kokomo Private Island, Fiji, can still be one for the wish-list with hopes of the South Pacific archipelago becoming a bubble nation with Australia.

Located in the Kadavu Islands, south of the Fijian mainland and surrounded by the Great Astrolabe Reef, the fourth largest on the planet and well known for its diving, fishing and snorkelling and stretches of white sand beach, the Kokomo buyout is available for up to 30 guests.

The island hire includes access to all 21 one to three bedroom villas, each with private pool, tropical walled garden, an ocean view and direct beach access, as well as the new three to six-bedroom luxury residences well-suited for multi-generational families.

In-villa dining, a nanny and personal butler are included, alongside one group bespoke experience such as a sunset sail or a village tour.

Allow time for therapies or yoga at Yaukuve Spa Sanctuary, Fiji’s largest, and a guided tour of the island’s more then 2 hectare farm growing local vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and exotic fruits as well as a vanilla plantation and 16 beehives.

Owned by Australian property developer Lang Walker and opened in 2017, Kokomo  has recently joined Regenerative Resorts, a group of independently owned properties focused on crowd-free, planet friendly travel practices.

Exclusive use of Kokomo Private Island costs $US65,000 ($A88,000) a night. For non-exclusive use, villas cost from $US1995 a night.

See www.kokomoislandfiji.comwww.fiji.travel



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LIBN, February 12, 2021 – Long Island Business News




Long Island Business News Digital Edition


digital edition



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NY to start vaccinating people with health problems Feb. 15 – Long Island Business News


New York’s governor announced the state will open up vaccine eligibility by Feb. 15 for people with certain health problems that put them at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday the state will come up with enough vaccine by reallocating remaining doses set aside for hospital workers. He said about three-fourths of hospital workers have received a first dose, and that hospitals will have one more week to get more staff vaccinated before the state will reallocate doses to local governments to use for people with comorbidities.

Cuomo pointed to data suggesting nearly all people who have died from COVID-19 had other serious health conditions.

“You do every group in the state when you do people with comorbidities,” he said Friday.

The governor’s announcement came weeks after he said on Jan. 12 that New York would accept new federal guidance to expand vaccine access to younger people with certain health problems, including those with weakened immune systems.

But weeks later, cancer patients and others with underlying health problems aren’t eligible for vaccination in New York unless they are age 65 or older, are in a nursing home or have certain jobs.

The governor’s announcement came a day after The Associated Press reported that at least 13 states have opened eligibility to some people under age 65 with certain health conditions.

The Democrat said again Friday that state officials were still working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to decide what types of conditions should push someone nearer to the top of the vaccine priority list.

States get to define at-risk conditions themselves, though the CDC has provided a list of conditions that have the “strongest and most consistent evidence” of increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Those include cancer, Type 2 diabetes, severe obesity, heart conditions, sickle cell disease, pregnancy and having a weakened immune system from a solid organ transplant.

“We’re working with the CDC to clarify some definitions,” Cuomo said. “But we’re basically going to follow the CDC guidance.”

Smoking is on that CDC list. Some states exclude it; New Jersey allows it.

It’s also unclear whether New York will include other kinds of medical conditions that have consisted but limited research on whether they put people at higher risk, including HIV, immune deficiencies, Type 1 diabetes, being overweight, liver disease and neurologic conditions.

Research into whether there is increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of asthma, hypertension or use of immunosuppressive medications has been inconclusive.

Public health experts have called for more clear federal guidance.



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