So today was Friday the 13th, and Sunday, as mentioned in “Rise and Shine” this morning, will bring Ides of March.

Even in the most normal of times, this juxtaposition would put many superstitious people very much on edge. These two days are widely considered some of the most unlucky times of the year.

Of course, these are not normal times. With everything going on in today’s world with the novel coronavirus, it may seem like an even worse omen than usual.

We made it through the week, somehow. Admittedly it was a long, rough trip.

COVID-19 has roared into the consciousness of so many of us in more ways than as just a soundbite on the news, or a general “what if” thought. With an officially declared national state of emergency in place, the federal government will hopefully start leading the charge instead of leaving things up to state and local governments.

It’s again difficult to distill everything going on into just five things. That’s probably going to be the case for quite a while. It’s also important to not obsess over every little headlines, as that may lead to unnecessary fear and anxiety. Try to stay informed and knowledgable, but also take a break and find some other things to focus on as well.

A brisk walk does a world of good, we’ve found. Try leaving your phone at home.

Onto our Friday night update:

1) As mentioned, President Donald Trump finally declared a national emergency today in the face of the rapidly growing coronavirus pandemic. This will free up funds to the tune of $50 billion to assist state and local governments in their efforts to combat the virus.

Trump also announced that Google and Walmart have been enlisted to help more Americans get tested for the virus.

The president also announced that by next week there should be approximately 500,000 tests available, with the hope that by April there will be 5 million tests available. Public health officials are urging that only people who are showing symptoms should be tested.

Trump declined to take responsibility for the lack of available tests to the American public so far. He stressed again that as a nation we will make it through this and come out stronger on the other side.

2) Shortly before Trump’s press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke, indicating that her Democrat-led chamber plans to push through a highly anticipated Coronavirus Aid Bill, of which the president is decidedly NOT a fan. Stressing the need to fully understand the scope of this outbreak, Pelosi highlighted that the bill would both provide free testing and paid two-week leave.

Trump pushed back, saying that Democrats had gone back on certain promises and there was no foreseeable agreement, though he did not go into any details. Without bipartisan support, the measure will likely die in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate.

The House bill included a pared-down version of language circulated earlier this week. Under the new version, the proposed sick leave benefit is downgraded from a permanent initiative to applying only in the case of a national emergency. There is no payroll tax cut, which is Trump’s biggest public demand and an idea that has been poorly received by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

If passed through both the House and the Senate, the earliest Trump would see this bill on his desk would be next week. Though currently out of session for the weekend, the Senate canceled a scheduled recess and will be back to work on Monday.

3) New York has 421 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of this afternoon, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Westchester County has 158 cases and New York City, 154. Cuomo made it clear that the jump in totals was due to the increased testing being done in the state, not due to an enhanced speed of community spread.

He also laid out some more of the comprehensive regulations being put into place to help ease the financial burden that will be sure to come as a result of this pandemic. There will be a temporary waiving of the current seven-day waiting period for unemployment, for example.

Also, the governor is mandating that no utilities can be shut off for lack of payment due to financial hardship caused by the novel coronavirus. In New York City, property managers and developers have pledged to cease evictions for 90 days as long as there is no imminent danger or legal issues in doing so.

Cuomo stressed that there are probably thousands of yet undetected COVID- 19 cases across the state, and stressed that the numbers will keep increasing as testing becomes more available.

4)  Albany County has confirmed 2 more cases of COVID-19, relating to the confirmed case in Guilderland earlier this week. Both of these new cases are household members of the initial Guilderland case, and one is a student at Farnsworth Middle School in the Guilderland School District.

The school district is following the protocols established by Cuomo and closing for 24 hours. Some other schools have announced closures as well.

There was also a positive case confirmed on the UAlbany campus yesterday. As of this afternoon, there are 34 people in quarantine within Albany County – 17 mandatory and 17 voluntary.

5) Please refer to the most recent list of event cancellations or postponements here for an update on what’s on (very little) and what’s not (quite a bit).

The desire to go out and continue living your life is understandable, but to comply with different protocols or in response to possible exposure, please be sure to check and ensure that whatever event you were planning to attend is still occurring.

Take care CivMixers. Have a happy and healthy weekend, and for your sanity be sure to turn off the news and get a little distance to protect yourself for the long game we are now in.

Be safe, be happy – and be sure to wash your hands. A lot.

Photo credit: George Fazio.