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Sound Bites: 19 mosquitoes in Suffolk County test positive for West Nile virus

LM Otero

Good morning!

Nineteen mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus, according to Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott. The update raises the total to 31 mosquitoes positive for the virus, along with one other that tested positive for Jamestown Canyon virus. Suffolk County reported 11 cases of West Nile virus in 2022, and eight in 2021.

Pigott recommends removing standing water, using bug repellent, wearing long sleeves and staying home after dusk to avoid transmission of the virus from an infected mosquito bite. 

Keep reading for a bite-sized look at what we’re hearing.

Connecticut distributed more than $8.8 million in special food assistance benefits to children under six years old on Sunday. According to the state Department of Social Service, the one-time benefit is expected to reach more than 57,300 children. Through the benefit, each child will receive almost $200, and the money was automatically distributed to existing EBT cards.

More than 200 government employees in Nassau and Suffolk counties made over $100,000 in overtime last year, according to the latest data. Many of these employees are members of law enforcement — in Suffolk County, 128 of the 131 overtime earners worked within the police or sheriff’s departments. County spokeswoman Nicole Russo said in a statement there’s an expectation that there will be reduction in overtime expenses at the sheriff’s department following the end to pandemic restrictions in jails. Tim Hoefer, president and CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy, blames budget mismanagement.

A Connecticut program originally meant to support citizens with low and moderate incomes through housing improvement initiatives has turned its attention to housing preservation. The pivot in plans comes as the plan, named the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program, was approved on Thursday. The program will offer assistance to Connecticut’s cities and towns with populations under 50,000.

Two nonprofit organizations on Long Island will receive $11.9 million to assist people experiencing homelessness. New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday that almost $8 million will go towards the creation of 33 living units in Medford. The other $4 million will fund another eight units of housing in Islip-Terrace.

Advocates for Bridgeport’s unhoused population are critical of a homelessness initiative launched eight months ago, saying that the program was little more than a “show.” Beyond the event that announced the initiative last December, advocates said that the initiative has done little to establish contact with local shelters.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn announced she would step down Monday in order to accept the position of Long Island deputy director for New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department. Hahn, who served the Three Village and Port Jefferson area in the fifth district, was term-limited in the upcoming election.

Sixteen schools within 13 different Long Island districts “need-improvement,” a ranking that was suspended during the pandemic. The return of the negative ratings are based on criteria such as absenteeism, test scores and high school graduation rates. The New York State Education Department dictates that the vast remainder of the region remains in good standing, spanning 624 schools in 111 districts.

Connecticut farmers say they’re feeling the effects of climate change. Farm managers notice not only the increasing heat and swings in temperatures, but also the bugs and diseases appearing that are novel to their crops. But, farmworkers say they’re resilient, despite smoke, floods and continued challenges with heat. Still, they are calling for federal funding to help them recover from stormwater earlier in the summer.

A temporary restraining order to New York’s dispensary licensing program was extended on Friday. The restraining order, which was extended until Aug. 25, was placed after four veterans sued the state, accusing improper prioritization of licensing social equity applicants who have prior drug convictions. The order does not impact dispensaries already permitted to open.

A judge ruled that an Old Saybrook police officer’s exit interview will be disclosed as public information. The interview contains critical judgment of the management of the Old Saybrook Police Department. The decision last Wednesday comes after Police Chief Michael Spera attempted for two years to prevent the disclosure of the interview due to its negative content against his character.

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Eda Uzunlar (she/her) is a reporter for WSHU.