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The positive COVID-19 infection rate on Long Island continues trending in the right direction, dropping slightly for the fourth straight day as the region works to ramp up vaccination efforts.

The average seven-day infection rate on Long Island has fallen from 4.40 percent on Saturday, April 3 to 4.27 percent as the latest data released from Tuesday, April 6.

During that same timeframe, the statewide positivity rate dropped from nearly 3.6 percent to 3.48 percent, according to the state.

Suffolk was reporting 662 newly confirmed COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to 187,149 since last spring, while Nassau was reporting 553 new cases, as the cumulative total reached 171,738.

There were six new COVID-19 deaths in Suffolk as the number of fatalities hit 3,284, and five in Nassau as the total hit 3,074.

As of Wednesday, April 7, there were 796 (down five) COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Long Island, representing 0.03 percent of the region's population and leaving 35 percent of hospital beds still available. There were 646 patients in ICU, leaving 24 percent of beds available in Suffolk and Nassau.

The latest breakdown of the communities with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nassau, according to the most recent data provided by the county Department of Health on April 7:

  • Levittown: 5,035;
  • Hicksville: 4,124;
  • Hempstead: 3,951;
  • Freeport: 3,859;
  • East Meadow: 3,614;
  • Valley Stream: 3,610;
  • Elmont: 3,115;
  • Oceanside: 3,000;
  • Franklin Square: 2,976;
  • Long Beach: 2,958;
  • Glen Cove: 2,806;
  • Uniondale: 2,525;
  • Massapequa: 2,198;
  • Rockville Centre: 2,138;
  • Baldwin: 2,050;
  • Woodmere: 1,930;
  • Plainview: 1,896;
  • North Bellmore: 1,873;
  • North Massapequa: 1,863;
  • Wantagh: 1,845;
  • West Hempstead: 1,830;
  • Mineola: 1,792;
  • Merrick: 1,766;
  • Garden City: 1,741;
  • Lynbrook: 1,740;
  • East Massapequa: 1,672;
  • Massapequa Park: 1,667;
  • Seaford: 1,635;
  • Bethpage: 1,634.

The breakdown of cases reported in Suffolk County, according to the Department of Health:

  • Brookhaven: 53,323;
  • Islip: 45,990;
  • Babylon: 26,211;
  • Huntington: 21,373;
  • Smithtown: 13,304;
  • Southampton: 5,391;
  • Riverhead: 3,434;
  • Southold: 1,626;
  • East Hampton: 1,581;
  • Shelter Island: 54.

There were 221,674 COVID-19 tests administered in New York on Tuesday, April 6, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resulting in 7,213 newly confirmed infections for a 3.25 percent positive infection rate, down more than a full percentage point from the day before.

Seven more COVID-19 patients were discharged from New York hospitals, leaving 4,526 still being treated statewide. There are 950 in ICU and 593 intubated.

There were 59 new COVID-19-related deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

More than 34 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 21.7 percent are fully vaccinated. A total of 845,926 first doses have been administered to Long Island residents, while 479,710 have completed the process.

"The war against COVID is not yet won and I encourage all New Yorkers to continue practicing the guidelines we know stop COVID in its tracks: wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing," Cuomo said. "Our vaccine rates are a testament to what can be accomplished when we work together toward a common goal. 

"We must all fight against complacency and do our best to keep each other and ourselves safe," he added. "To be New York Tough means to be united and loving and in that same spirit, let's protect our neighbors and communities by following the health guidance."

Statewide, a total of 1,909,964 positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed out of more than 46.4 million tests that have been administered. There have been a total of 40,922 virus-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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25-under-25: Michael Porter Jr. can swing the Nuggets

Nikola Jokic alone makes the Denver Nuggets a fringe contender. But a healthy and productive Michael Porter Jr. could make them much more.

Two years ago, Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić won league MVP after averaging 26 points, 11 rebounds and 8+ assists on a 57/39/87 slash line. Last year he won the award again, putting up 27, 14 and 8 while somehow improving his shooting efficiency. His rebound and assist percentages were both career-highs. Both years he led the league in PER, Win Shares, Offensive Win Shares, Box Plus-Minus and VORP. That’s like Coppola following The Godfather with The Godfather II.

And yet, Denver lost two-thirds of their playoff games those years. Even Jokić can’t do it alone. Luckily for him and them, Jamal Murray is back. So too is Michael Porter Jr.

The last time the Nuggets’ Big 3 were together — 2020-21 — they scored 127.1 points per 100 possessions, over an 800-minute sample; that’s 1,569 possessions resulting in a net rating of +15.6. They may be the league’s most explosive trio. Murray returns from an ACL injury, once an athlete’s death knell but now a manageable setback. It’s Porter’s pain and promise on which Denver’s title hopes may hinge.

His 2021-22 season was cut short after nine games, a nerve issue in his back requiring season-ending lumbar spine surgery, the third operation on the 23-year-old’s back. Porter had the talent to be the top pick in his 2018 draft class, but concerns over his medicals dropped him to 14th. Four years later, he’s 34th in his draft class in minutes played, fewer than Marvin Bagley III, than Kevin Knox, than Svi Mykhailiuk. To call injuries Porter’s only bugaboo is true but fatally understated, like pointing out a bullet is only dangerous when fired from a gun. He missed nearly two years of action after the first two operations. To hear him now, he doesn’t want to miss another game, risks be damned.

How much will Michael Porter Jr. be able to play this year?

“I would prefer to play 82,” he told the Denver press on Media Day. “I don’t think the careful route with players is the way to go . . . you definitely want to be smart. That time comes from the recovery you do off the court. I don’t think skipping games is the way that you should save your body. You gotta respect the game. You should play when you can play and help the team win as many games as possible.”

Entering the first year of a five-year, $180 million deal, it’s understandable Porter may be feeling extra pressure to pick up where he left off. The Nuggets’ schedule may dovetail nicely with his passion to play and whatever load management arrangement he and the team have planned.

The first few months of the season, Denver has few back-to-backs. Starting in January, that begins to change: the first week of 2023 they face two back-to-backs, two more later that month and five more the rest of the year. Porter was, perhaps from the team’s perspective, distressingly frank when discussing what doctors have — or haven’t — told him about his long-term prognosis, telling reporters “I don’t really get my assurance from doctors” and that he’s “heard good things and bad things,” adding they’re “very, very confident with where I’m at” and he feels “like I’m in a good spot.” If he is, that’s terrific news for his team.

A comparison of Porter to premiere peers at his age finds him well-situated.

You may not need numbers to tell you what most already know: Porter can be Superman on the offensive end but gives Clark Kent vibes on the other. Perhaps that reputation is outdated. Coach Mike Malone expressed confidence that what Porter needs more than anything on defense is reps. “I think he understands the growth he needs to continue to make on that end of the floor,” Malone said. “He has pride. He doesn’t want to be a constant target.”

Statistics don’t always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, yet they generally at least point you in its direction. In Porter’s last full season, among all forwards who qualified for the  minutes-per-game leaderboard and had a steal rate of at least 1 percent and a block rate of at least 2.5 percent, he ranked second in Win Shares, trailing only the last non-Jokić MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Most of the names behind him are forwards of some defensive renown — Danny Green, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaden McDaniels, James Johnson. He’s not at the level most of them are, but if he’s not the steadiest defender, at least he’s a playmaker.

Porter’s played so little after four years that it’s hard to cite anything you can comfortably call a trend. One pattern that hopefully reverses: his shot profile has moved further from the basket and he’s taken more and more 3-pointers. That does make a certain amount of sense, given Porter made 44 percent of his shots from deep the two years he was healthy. But one thing to look for as he comes back from the injury is whether he continues to take fewer and fewer looks from in close, where he’s been exceptional early in his career. His rookie season, Porter took almost as many shots from 0-3 feet (34 percent) as beyond the arc (38 percent). A year later, the gap grew, 23 percent to 47 percent; in last year’s abbreviated sample, an even more pronounced 17 percent to 47 percent. He’s too good and too important to relegate himself like that.

One reason the Nuggets have come up short in the playoffs is because of how good Jokić is in the regular season. It’s mesmerizing watching him play, maybe even for teammates. But the more Denver can find other scoring streams, the less they’ll have to ask of their two-time MVP. If Porter’s back holds up and he returns to the path he was on two years ago, Jokić can worry less about games 1 through 82 and more about winning 16 afterward.

Next: Meet the 2022 NBA 25-under-25

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