Rise and Shine: March 23, 2020

Good Monday morning, CivMixers.

As if things weren’t bad enough – you know, Monday, novel coronavirus, Monday – it’s going to snow today. SNOW. (And also rain, and temperatures in the high 30s, according to The Weather Channel).

The indignity of it all.

As of 8 p.m. last night, per an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York is officially on “pause,” which means all nonessential businesses in the state are closed, and all nonessential workers are ordered to stay home as part of the escalating and ongoing effort to combat the novel coronavirus.

Here’s a list of essential businesses.

The governor yesterday was quite clear that by “stay home” he does not mean go have a picnic in the park or hosting secret play dates. He was very firm with New Yorkers that they are not living up to his social distancing expectations.

Cuomo, at his daily coronavirus briefing yesterday, said he saw people gathered in large groups and playing recreational sports during a tour of public places in the city on Saturday. He ordered New York City – the epicenter of the state’s virus outbreak – to come up with a plan within 24 hours to curb social distancing in the give boroughs.

The flout the call to stay away from one another is “insensitive, it’s arrogant, it’s self-destructive, it’s disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now,” Cuomo said, adding: “This is not a joke and I am not kidding.”

Nearly a week after the city shut down restaurants and bars to help contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, the NYPD is still making arrests and doling out citations for defiant businesses.

Cuomo also announced the state is instructing hospitals to come up with plans to increase capacity by a minimum of 50 percent to prepare for a coming surge of coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Hospitals will also be required to halt all elective noncritical surgeries starting Wednesday.

The deadly coronavirus pandemic could persist into 2021, Cuomo said.

The governor has named strict rules for vulnerable populations “Matilda’s Law” after his mother, who is 88.

(Quite a number of people are very fond of Cuomo, thanks to his pandemic leadership skills).

The governor called on President Donald Trump to nationalize the effort to acquire medical supplies at a time when state leaders say they’ve been forced to compete with one another for the desperately needed equipment.

At least 400 people have died due the coronavirus in the United States, another grim milestone as the number of cases here topped 32,000.

…Almost half of those – 15,168 – are in New York. Cuomo believes that an estimated 40 percent to 80 percent of residents could get sick over the course of this pandemic.

NYC’s death toll from the coronavirus soared to 99 last night, up from 63 in the morning, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office. There were 10,764 confirmed cases of the virus in the Big Apple as of 6 p.m.

“When we say you can go out for some exercise, we’re not saying you can linger,” de Blasio said. “We’re not saying you can make a day of it. We’re saying go out, get a minimum amount of exercise and go back indoors.”

The governor wants to ban cars from some NYC streets in order to enforce social distancing.

The number of global coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 yesterday, with more than 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to John Hopkins University, which reported that China, Italy and the U.S. had the most people diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

A vote to advance the massive coronavirus stimulus bill failed last night in the U.S. Senate, as negotiations so far had yet to produce a deal on the more than trillion-dollar aid package. Republicans, who needed 60 votes to move forward on the bill, weren’t able to win over any Democrats to proceed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in quarantine after a doctor who treated her tested positive for coronavirus, her press office announced.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul became the first known U.S. Senator to test positive for coronavirus. (He’s asymptomatic and under quarantine).

Coronavirus-stricken Utah Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams was admitted to the hospital over the weekend when he began having difficulty breathing.

Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for the coronavirus in prison — and most likely contracted the disease at Rikers Island.

…Weinstein, 68, is being held in isolation at the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo.

After the governors of multiple states and other leaders made urgent pleas or masks and other protective equipment to help fight the swelling outbreak, President Trump listed a number of federal actions in a news conference in the evening.

Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, has begun to loosen its two-month lockdown on citizens as more countries issued new restrictions to contain the pandemic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country managed to stop the mass spread of coronavirus – and that the situation was “under control,” thanks to early and aggressive measures to keep more people from getting the disease.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said postponing the 2020 Summer Olympics is a possibility. This is the first time Abe has changed his staunch public position that the Olympics will start July 24 as scheduled.

Canada and Australia will not send athletes to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak, the Olympic committees for both countries said in separate statements.

The virus can be contained, and even stopped, but doing so takes intelligent, rapidly adaptive work by health officials, and near-total cooperation from the populace. Containment becomes realistic only when Americans realize that working together is the only way to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Nearly 70 drugs and experimental compounds may be effective in treating the coronavirus, a team of researchers reported last night.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for ethics probes into the pre-coronavirus inventory revenue by Sens. Richard Burr, Dianne Feinstein and other individuals, warning at the very least of an “appearance” of a conflict of interest.

Police departments are treading softly as they navigate the twin demands of the coronavirus pandemic: how and when to enforce the new safety regulations, and how to do their regular work in the midst of a national health emergency.

The NYPD now has 98 confirmed cases of coronavirus — and double the average number of cops calling out sick, officials said.

The feds will set up 1,000 beds for coronavirus patients in New York, the president announced. Cuomo’s office confirmed the beds would be established inside the Javits Center in Manhattan.

Here’s what to do if you, or someone in your family, develop symptoms or test positive for infection with the coronavirus.

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris plans to introduce a measure today that will offer 90 days of rent forgiveness to residential and commercial tenants if they lose work or are forced to close because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

With air travel in free fall as the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the country, thousands of workers have been laid off from their jobs at the major airports that serve New York City.

New York City’s 16,000 bodegas have stayed open to provide essential services after the rest of New York shut down to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Bodega and Small Business Association of New York.

The pandemic COVID-19 is spreading through New York City jails — as city officials report a total of 46 confirmed cases in the jail system with a dire warning of an exponential increase in the days to come.

State AG Tish James called for automatic absentee voting in the upcoming New York presidential primary on April 28. (The Cuomo administration is looking at this).

The Erie County Board of Elections released a special absentee ballot application almost two weeks ago listing “public health emergency (COVID-19)” as an option for voting absentee in the special election to fill the open seat in the 27th congressional district.

New York might move the presidential primary from April 28 to June due to the coronavirus. State Sen. James Skoufis introduced a bill that would move the nominating contest to June 23 – the date of primary elections for members of Congress as well as the state Assembly and Senate.

New York State’s long-feared surge of coronavirus cases has begun, thrusting the medical system toward a crisis point.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone detailed a week working from home due to the coronavirus.

Former state Sen. Ted O’Brien, of Rochester, tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will join a new public-private consortium to help fight the pandemic by providing computing resources.

Massachusetts is preparing to open hundreds of daycare sites for the children of those who are expected to keep working during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Capital District YMCA is offering school-age childcare for emergency personnel who can’t work from home.

The retailer Target apologized after coming under criticism for selling N95 masks, which are in acute demand by medical providers during the coronavirus pandemic, at some stores in Washington State.

There’s no indication that pets can get the novel coronavirus, but vets are taking precautions.

Tito’s announced that it would transform its distillery into a sanitizer production facility, filling a huge need as the country faces a shortage amid the pandemic.

During natural disasters, Anheuser-Busch will switch from producing beer to drinkable water. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, the brewery will distribute bottles of hand sanitizer in the U.S.

Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo, 79, said that he’s infected with the coronavirus.

The site, HowMuchToiletPaper.com, reports its average user has 500 percent more toilet paper than they need during quarantine.

In non-virus news…

Dolly Parton has responded to the death of her longtime friend, fellow country music legend and duet partner Kenny Rogers, 81.

The former director of the Lake George Watershed Coalition was convicted of second-degree grand larceny, scheming to defraud and false filing charges, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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