5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: March 16

We made it through the first day in the new America, shaped by the rapid and consistent spread of the novel coronavirus.

As discussed in this morning’s Rise and Shine, we all are trying to get used to the new normal and also trying to wrap our mind around what normal might look like when we emerge on the other side of this pandemic.

As we are all working through this, trying to keep up with the relentless pace of the new developments, we at CivMix are going to continue doing what do best: Try to keep you informed, entertained and maybe just a little less isolated as most of us hunker down at home for the long haul.

So, let’s get to toplines of what went on today.

1) Social distancing is going to be the buzzword for the foreseeable future. As states start to shut down, they are calling on the Trump administration to mobilize with a cohesive federal response to the quick spread of COVID-19 across America.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut jointly announced a “regional agreement” to shut all casinos, gyms, and cinemas as of 8 p.m this evening in an attempt to encourage state residents to stay home. Really. They mean it. Stay home.

The three states have also jointly announced that restaurants will close their doors, going to delivery or takeout offerings only. Both Maryland and Michigan have put similar restrictions in place in the hope of stemming the spread of COVID-19. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took an additional step by discouraging any non-essential and non-emergency travel from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the immediate future.

With a new total of over 4,000 people confirmed to have been infected by the coronavirus, there’s a growing fear that American hospitals will soon mirror their over-run and depleted Italian counterparts. President Trump declared a national emergency declaration Friday, but a number of state leaders – including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – don’t think this is sufficient, and are calling for the military to be mobilized to help combat this virus.

2)  At a press conference today, Trump extended the COVID-19 guideline recommendations over the next 15 days. These recommendations are to close schools, reduce travel to only essential and emergency trips, and no gatherings of more than 10 people to enforce social distancing.

Trump insisted that these efforts will help America to turn the corner of this pandemic. But, he also acknowledged it may be mid-summer before we see a true decline, and urged Americans to be patient, considerate and to follow the guidelines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed and stated that we are currently at a critical moment in the spread of COVID-19. The response at this point could very well shape how quickly we as a nation see a peak and start to come out the other side of this thing.

Public health officials warn that there will be a spike in cases as the US continues to increase testing across the country. Those on the frontlines and at the highest risk level will get tested first, with medical staff, first responders and those over 65 with respiratory issues at the front of the line.

The U.S. Supreme Court is also postponing arguments in response to the coronavirus crisis. This is the first time the court has done so since 1917 when it was shut down in response to the pandemic of Spanish flu that swept the nation. It also implmented truncated schedules due to Yellow Fever outbreaks in 1793 and 1798.

3) Though seen as a necessary step by most, restaurant and bar owners in the City that Never Sleeps likely wished that they were dreaming as Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all eating and drinking establishments in New York City shuttered as of tomorrow morning.

The life of a restauranteur in NYC is already anything but easy, but when your competition is a novel coronavirus, it becomes completely unsustainable.

Since takeout and delivery are still allowed, restaurants have a slim avenue to try and keep their heads above water until public gathering is feasible again, but bars are likely to suffer great financial losses. The concern for many managers and owners is that with layoffs of most hourly workers imminent, people will be unable to pay their rent or feed themselves and their families.

Some restaurants have already sent employees home with a bit of pay in their pockets and bags of produce in their arms.

On the eve of the usually lucrative St. Patrick’s Day holiday, the sting seems to be even worse. Many were hoping for one last push to help fill tills in the short term. But that’s not going to happen. COVID-19 has at this point succeeded where both terrorists and Mother Nature have so often failed – they have shut down one of the busiest, most thriving cities in the world.

4) A woman who attended mass on March 8 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Assumption in Latham has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese. The presiding pastor, Father Geoffrey Burke, has been placed into self-isolation, and anyone who was in attendance at that mass is also urged to self-isolate until March 22.

There was also someone in attendance at the 11 a.m. service on March 8 at the service held in the Baptist congregation The Welcome Chapel who has since tested positive. No further details were immediately available on this case, but please follow self-isolation protocols until March 22 if you attended that service.

Our Lady of Assumption has confirmed it will be undergoing mandatory cleaning that will follow the CDC protocols for such instances. Anyone who was at that mass should contact the state Department of Health at 518-447-4580, and it is asked that you let anyone who you know may have been at that service know about this information.

The Albany Diocese has canceled all masses, confirmations and other services. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger confirmed that weddings and funerals will still be held, but must abide by all government regulations, and attendance will be restricted to immediate family only.

This declaration comes as Albany County has confirmed 15 cases of COVID-19, including a confirmed case of a staff member at Albany Medical College by Albany Medical Center.

5) As the virus continues its onward progression, health care workers are at high risk to catch COVID-19 as they are working to fight it. As such, many doctor offices and other medical facilities are suspending normal practices. Many doctor offices that can have shut their offices to patients and are handling any issues they can online or over the phone – known as telemedicine.

Not only is this being done to help prevent the spread of the disease and to cut off the hysteria that could overrun general practices and primary care physician offices, but supplies are becoming a concern. As quantities of gloves, masks and general disinfectants and cleaners are being diverted where needed, many offices face a rapidly dwindling or completely depleted stock room. Doing what they can through telemedicine and referring any cases that need hands-on care to emergency rooms or urgent care is the best practice for most of these docs.

Emergency rooms and urgent cares are also concerned with being overrun in these stressful times. All local emergency care facilities are asking for you to call if possible before showing up for treatment. They can best determine if you should be coming in by doing quick intake over the phone, protecting you and our vital front line medical workers.

Keep your heads up CivMixers. Though it is bound to get worse before it gets better, there will be an end to it. Social distancing and shutdowns may seem intimidating now, but by sticking together and taking care of each other we will get through it.

As even the Google Doodle is saying – do these 5 things to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and get ready to binge – everything.

Photo credit: George Fazio.



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