5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: March 24

Tuesday has come and almost gone, and with came more COVID-19 updates from around the world. 

I know some other people out there are feeling like I am – a little caged up, restless and very bored. Please know if you are feeling that way, you are not alone. If you are feeling the temptation to break the social distancing guidelines and other public health protocols, I get it…we all are starting to go a little bonkers. But please remember that we are doing this for not only our own good, but even more so for the good of at-risk members of the population.

With so much going on today, many people are stressing the importance of not being careless and reckless with mandatory or precautionary protocols. Exhibit A: Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul. If you have been tested and are waiting for results, please stay in quarantine until you have been given the all-clear. 

Remember even if you have no symptoms you can spread the virus to others.

Let’s get to what happened in the news today.

1) There have been a lot of updates in the novel coronavirus today, so I’m just going to list the major updates for No. 1 instead of focusing on a single story.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States is likely to become the next global epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking from Geneva, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris expressed great concern over the still growing new cases within the US. Harris revealed that over the past day, 85 percent of new cases reported were in Europe and the USA.

Amid the growing number of cases, the WHO prediction and states still desperately calling for help and solid leadership from the federal government, President Donald Trump said he hopes the U.S. economy will be back up and running “normally” by Easter.

That’s April 12 – only about a month away.

Former Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, announced today that her husband has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. He is in a Virginia hospital, and has also been diagnosed with pneumonia and is on oxygen, but not on a ventilator. Sen. Klobuchar and her daughter have been in contact with him, but will not see him during this time.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker today announced new numbers in his state, with a total of 1,535 positive cases (250 new) and 16 deaths (4 new).

Overall, he stated that the stay-at-home order that has been in effect a week as of today appears to be helping to minimize the spread. Pritzker stated that without the order, Illionis hospitals would have been overwhelmed by the middle of next week, needing at least 2,500 more total beds and 800 more ICU beds.

With the stay-at-home order helping to stem the tide, he is confident that they will be able to survive the crisis by using triage centers and units, as well as increasing max bed availability. 

Finally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to all law enforcement agencies warning that there may be terrorist cells or agents looking to exploit the vulnerability of the country due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Though the memo confirms that there is no specific threat, certain extremist groups are reportedly seeking to fuel the hysteria by spreading misinformation. As the FBI stated yesterday, it is requested and recommended that all agencies be on the lookout and stay hyper-vigilant.

2) Los Angeles County today confirmed 4 more deaths of COVID-19 patients, including the first US death of someone under 18 caused by the novel coronavirus. As the death toll in the county rose to 11 with these deaths, Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Public Health Department had no details of the youth who passed away other than they were from Lancaster. Ferrer pleaded for the public to take this as a grim reminder that COVID-19 does not discriminate, and young people are also in danger from this virus.

Ferrer and other L.A. health officials revealed the latest numbers in their county of COVID-19 cases – with new cases of 128 bringing the total up to 662. Further stressing the point, they broke down the percentages of affected by age – 39 percent of their reported cases are in people who range in age from 41 to 65, with 42 percent ages 18 to 40. Eighteen percent of their cases, or approximately 119 people, are hospitalized in the county so far.

As for greater California, the total number of new cases stands at 2,494 with 50 total deaths.

With this quick uptick, Gov. Gavin Newsom has increased his prediction for hospital beds needed by 30,000 to a total predicted need of 50,000 hospital beds, up from 20,000 predicted last week. Newsom stated that he is in contact with the state’s hospitals (totaling 416 facilities) and believes if they increase their “surge plans” they can find 30,000 new beds within the existing system.

3) In his most pessimistic press update yet, Gov. Andrew Cuomo drastically moved up his expected timeline for a peak of the COVID-19 virus in New York.

Completely taking off any kind of kid gloves, Cuomo predicted that the state’s hospitals could be overrun with COVID-19 patients by mid- April. This means that the state’s already overtaxed and stressed the hospital system could see as many as 140,000 patients in the coming weeks. Initially, New York officials were predicting this peak to happen in May.

Speaking from Manhattan, where the Army Corps. of Engineers is quickly working to transform the expansive Javits Center convention center complex to an Army field hospital,  Cuomo outlined a very grim next few weeks for New York.

Along with the 140,000 predicted beds needed, of which there are only around 53,000 available now, Cuomo again stressed the dire situation in our lack of ventilators, with a predicted need of 30,000 and only roughly 5,000 available.

In New York City specifically, the cases of COVID-19 are doubling every three days. The positive cases of the virus continue to grow throughout the rest of the states as well.

Cuomo slammed Trump and other top officials, including FEMA, for sending 400 ventilators and then acting like they had solved the problem. He accused the federal government of stockpiling 20,000 ventilators and refusing to deploy them where they are desperately needed.

Shortly after Cuomo suggested that they could come here and choose who could die from lack of ventilators, Vice President Pence announced 4,000 more ventilators were being sent to New York.

Cuomo again urged people to strictly adhere to the social distancing and public health policies in place.

4) An 8 a.m. call to the Schenectady police this morning ended in an exchange of gunfire, and ultimately death. Police responded to the call of a man and woman arguing on Albany Street. It appeared that music volume was raised to try and disguise the fighting, and also reports of the male suspect – now identified as Michael Wallace – pointing a gun at the building’s superintendent were reported.

Upon response to the knocking on the door, police-reported that what appeared to be a gun was in the door when it opened, at which time they opened fire. A woman who fled the apartment was detained upon her exit. A SWAT team entered the apartment and transported Wallace to the hospital. Wallace is confirmed to be dead. Both officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave as is the department’s policy when they fire at a suspect.

The State Police are investigating the case, and this is a still-developing story.

5) After seeing a similar activity from Italy online, Scotia resident Kristyn Dayter introduced a Rainbow Hunt last Wednesday to inspire kids (and adults) who are getting frustrated from being in social distancing isolation. You first make rainbows and then hang them where they can be seen by people walking or driving, so they can take pictures of them and then post them, using #518RainbowHunt.

She saw that it was gaining popularity quickly, so she made the FaceBook group 518 Rainbow Hunt – Spreading Rainbows Worldwide. Between last Wednesday and today, the group grew from 500 people to over 55,000 and counting. If you are looking for a way to help brighten the isolation blues, and get kids out and moving, be sure to join the hunt!!

Until tomorrow, Civmixers!! Have a great night.

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

-A.A. Mine, Author/Poet

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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