5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: March 11

Another week, another hump day. Today was a little gray, a little sun, a little chill. Overall, not a bad day to have in the middle of the workweek.

There are, of course, more cases of COVID-19 to report, and we’re officially in a pandemic, according to the WHO, which, if you weren’t aware, means there’s a “worldwide spread” of a new disease.

1) With 40 states now confirming the presence of Coronavirus and the number of cases rocketing past 1,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned today that things will get worse before they get better.

Testifying in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Fauci confirmed that COVID-19 will continue spreading as containment protocols have failed to prevent that from occurring. At this point, the only question is how much worse the situation will get. The answer lies in the ability of states – and the federal government – to prevent more contamination, be it community based or travel related.

Health officials are working on containing or at least slow the spread of COVID-19 while also dealing with rapidly growing number of confirmed cases. As the spread continues, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the stress on local health departments will continue to grow, as more people need care.

As of earlier today, Washington was reporting 273 cases, New York was at 212 at last count and California had 157. These three states remain the most affected in the outbreak.

2) Taking a break from COVID-19 updates, the case that helped to spawn the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements came to a head today in a Manhattan courtroom as convicted sexual predator and disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison by Judge James Burke.

That’s just short of the maximum sentence of 29 years for which Weinstein was eligble.

Burke stated that though this may have been Weinstein’s first (and so far only) conviction, it was by no means his first offense. The harsh punishment is being celebrated by prosecutors and survivors alike. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said he is pleased with the message he feels the sentence will send to other sexual offenders.

The defense had requested no more than five years due to Weinstein’s health issues. He was brought into the sentencing hearing in a wheelchair and also handcuffed. Weinstein has deteriorated significantly in the closing days of his trial. In a surprise move, the ex-mogul spoke on his behalf during the hearing, delivering a rambling and sometimes difficult to follow 20-minute speech.

Lead defense attorney Donna Rotunno reiterated her team’s belief that Weinstein was not given a fair trial. There are plans to appeal, which left many experts even more surprised at Weinstein’s musings, as anything in the court record could be used against him not only in this appeal but in the pending cases in California.

3) In his now daily Coronavirus media briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had another jump in numbers to report this morning. In just a day, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state has moved past the 200 mark to 212 – increasing by 39 since yesterday.

Cuomo has also confirmed that all SUNY and CUNY campuses will be switching to an online learning system for the rest of the semester, beginning March 19. Campuses will remain open for those who have nowhere else to go. The dining halls will also remain open, as will business offices – for now. Classes that have to be done in person such as labs are still being held, but this could change as the virus spreads.

Also: The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been cancelled. The Albany parade is still on.

4) If you were in the Glens Falls area this morning and thought the ground was shaking, you were not imaging things. A 3.1 magnitude earthquake is confirmed to have hit the area around 6:45 a.m.

The 3.1 magnitude quake took place about 3 miles below the earth’s surface and is considered relatively minor on the Richter scale. New York is not an earthquake hotspot, so this was a novel experience. There were multiple reports of shaking homes, dishes falling and dogs barking or acting out right before, during and after the quake.

There have been five earthquakes in the state since December 2019, mostly in the Adirondack area, which has multiple fault lines. Earthquakes that hit New York generally register right around the 3.2 area on the Richter scale, which is strong enough for people to take notice, but not to cause any significant structural damage.

5) As mentioned above, you can for the moment still make plans to attend the Albany St. Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday, March 14. At a press conference held this afternoon, Mayor Kathy Sheehan said that there were no confirmed or reported cases of COVID-19 in Albany County and so the parade permit still stands.

She was quick to point out, however, that the situation is being closely monitored and could change right up to the scheduled moment of step-off on Saturday. County Executive Daniel McCoy agreed and said people who might be at a high risk of infection are being advised to follow official protocols and avoid crowds.

Both Sheehan and McCoy said that while caution should be taken, they want people to feel safe to continue living and not let the fear keep them from enjoying all the region has to offer them during this time of the year. They pointed out that employing good hygiene will help as well as staying home if you are displaying symptoms of illness.

As of now, there are 25 people in quarantine in Albany County, 20 of them in a precautionary quarantine and five in mandatory quarantine.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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