Good morning, CivMixers. We made it to Friday, which looks a lot like Monday and also Wednesday…but they say when you’re working from home you have to stick to a schedule in order to maintain a sense of normalcy.
So, TGIF. I guess.
I’ve been hearing about a lot of virtual workouts and coffee dates and lunches and (particularly pertinent today) happy hours. If you’ve been doing this sort of thing, I’m interested in how it has been working out for you.
It looks like we’re going to have another nice spring day, with temperatures nearing 60 degrees and clouds in the morning giving way to sun in the afternoon, according to The Weather Channel.
Also, it’s Viagra Day – the day back in 1998 that the FDA officially approved that iconic little blue pill as a treatment for male impotence. Did you know that Viagra was originally synthesized and studied to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (a form of cardiovascular disease)?
But its alternate use has been wildly successful. In the first year alone after the FDA gave it the green light, the $8-$10 pills yielded about a billion dollars in sales.
Yup. I’m just going to leave that right there.
In the news…
In the United States, at least 85,000 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, including more than 1,200 deaths — more cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen, according to data gathered by The New York Times.
New Orleans is likely to become the nation’s new coronavirus epicenter — and experts say Mardi Gras celebrations that attracted millions to the city may be partly to blame.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever and dry cough, according to a report from the World Health Organization.
House leaders were scrambling to bring back enough legislators to form a quorum to pass a $2 trillion economic rescue package after a Republican lawmaker suggested he might object to holding the vote using a procedure that avoids putting members on the record.
…Many lawmakers had planned to stay away from the Capitol because of the risks of traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.
The House will first attempt today to pass the legislation by a voice vote, which doesn’t require all members to be present. But if the House doesn’t have 216 members, one lawmaker could object to a quorum not being present. A lawmaker could also request to have a roll-call vote, where names are recorded.
Three House Democrats, including a former 2020 hopeful and a member of “The Squad,” have self-quarantined after developing symptoms of coronavirus.
Here are some questions and answers about the stimulus package and who gets what.
The number of Americans filing unemployment claims across the country could be much higher than the record 3.28 million the feds reported.
The number of people filing unemployment claims has nearly quintupled in New York as businesses shutter across the state and country in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Labor Department said late yesterday that New York’s initial unemployment insurance claims filed last week, the first week impacted by the outbreak, rose over the past year by 520 percent. Overall, more than 80,500 claims were filed last week.
…Typically, the department handles about 10,000 calls a day. Ironically, the labor department, which is filling the financial void for laid off workers, is adding 65 people to its call center to handle the unprecedented number of unemployment inquiries.
Though thousands of people have filed for benefits, a number of New Yorkers are having trouble navigating the website and phone lines to apply for unemployment.
The state Department of Labor has a new filing system based on the first letter of your last name. People with a last name that begins with A-F should file for benefits on Mondays. G-N will file on Tuesday. O-Z on Wednesday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a message for the thousands of New Yorkers who are now unemployed: You are not alone. “This has nothing to do with you, it’s the circumstance that we are in and we must correct it,” he said. “There is a strength in the fact that it’s all of us.”
The governor said he working on producing a test that will identify coronavirus antibodies in a healthy person who has self-recovered so that they can not only be cleared for work, but so their plasma of antibodies can be used to treat a sick person and build an immunity to the virus in them.
“We closed everything down. That was our public health strategy,” said Cuomo during an Albany press briefing. “If you re-thought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say ‘Quarantine everyone.'”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that early estimates of unemployment data shows at least half a million New Yorkers have or will lose their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced state and local officials to shutter businesses and schools across the state.
Fifty more people have died in the city over the past three weeks as a result of COVID-19 than the city’s entire homicide total for 2019. A makeshift morgue is being set up at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital to manage the wave of bodies – a measure used in the past for mass casualty events like 9/11.
The White House had been preparing to reveal this week a joint venture between GM and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off due to the $1 billion pricetag.
President Trump accused some U.S. governors of asking for emergency medical equipment they don’t need, as state and local leaders sound alarms about dangerous shortages.
…Anecdotal accounts from health-care providers at hospitals in New York City describe a shortage of supplies amid a surge of coronavirus patients.
Addressing reports that New York hospitals were running out of personal protective equipment, Cuomo assured that hospitals had enough in stock for the immediate need, but not beyond.
Hospitals across the country are considering whether to enact universal “do-not-resuscitate” orders for coronavirus patients as the mounting pandemic threatens to overwhelm the health care system.
Thousands of medical workers working long shifts on the front lines in hospitals to treat sick patients and stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic are New York’s real-life heroes.
Kious Kelly, a 48-year-old assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West, may have been the first New York City nurse to die from the virus. His angry co-workers blame a lack of protective gear for his death.
Hundreds of fourth-year students at universities in Boston and New York could start caring for patients months ahead of schedule.
Trump will hear recommendations from the White House coronavirus task force this weekend on plans to “open the country up” as the economy continues to strain under the pandemic.
The president said he plans to label different areas of the country as at a “high risk, medium risk or low risk” to the spread of the coronavirus, as part of new federal guidelines to help states decide whether to relax or enhance their quarantine and social distancing measures.
Health experts advise giving current business closures and social distancing a month to slow the pandemic, buying time to roll out mass testing and equip doctors with protective equipment.
A New York hospital system has begun treating two patients instead of one on some ventilators, a desperate measure that could help alleviate a shortage of the critical breathing machines and help hospitals around the country respond to the surge of coronavirus patients expected in the coming weeks.
Canada has told the Trump administration that a proposal to put troops at the U.S.-Canada border amid the pandemic is entirely unnecessary and would damage relations between the two allies.
Cuomo floated the idea of a flexible fiscal plan that would allow his administration to adjust the state budget throughout the year based on the amount of revenue the state is actually bringing in.
…It remains unclear when lawmakers will return to Albany ahead of the approaching April 1 deadline and how they will sort out the logistics of discussing policy proposals and the budget bill and vote on the measures.
“You’re going to see education cuts across this state,” Cuomo said. “New York State is basically bankrupt.”
Thousands of students living in NYC homeless shelters and doubled up in overcrowded apartments have not received web-enabled devices for online learning.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins doesn’t love the idea of giving the governor unilateral power to cut the budget. “We are a coequal branch of government,” adding that she would “never be in favor of giving (Cuomo) wide latitude without the involvement of the Legislature” in most of the decisions.
New York’s environmental lobby and dozens of local elected leaders are urging Cuomo and legislators to allocate $1 billion for water infrastructure improvements in the 2020-21 state budget, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is demanding that a trio of companies stop selling pricey air purifiers that they claim prevent coronavirus, her office announced.
James called on both the federal and state governments across the country to ensure women’s access to safe, legal abortions are not jeopardized as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.
New York City’s remaining subway riders took to Twitter to report packed trains two days into the MTA’s coronavirus-fueled service reductions.
NYPD intelligence and counterterrorism chief John Miller has been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms, according to police sources.
A dedicated NYPD worker has died from coronavirus complications — the first in the Finest’s ranks, Commissioner Dermot Shea announced last night.
A Manhattan woman is suing New York Sports Club for charging members monthly fees despite widespread gym closures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus hit the FDNY’s sick rolls yesterday, with 170 of its members testing positive for the illness, officials said.
A group New York law students want to be allowed to practice law without sitting for the bar exam if the July test is cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Local officials are nearing a decision on whether to shut down construction sites in New York City to stop the spread of coronavirus.
New York Oncology Hematology this week announced it will temporarily vacate its Albany Medical Center office and treatment space so the hospital can use it to care for COVID-19 patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down all branches of the Albany Public Library until further notice.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep Saratoga County business shuttered, the city of Saratoga Springs could face a $16 million shortfall in revenue to its 2020 budget.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin told the county’s largest union he won’t pay them more while working during the coronavirus pandemic – while union leadership says it wants its members to receive relief for shifts they’re working and financial appreciation for their efforts.
The nice spring weather would have made for a perfect opening day at Jumpin’ Jacks, a Capital Region ritual each spring. But that has been delayed due to the coronavirus.
Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has tested positive for COVID-19.
Amtrak is suspending all service to Vermont at the request of Gov. Phil Scott, who said the decision was part of an effort to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Price Chopper/Market 32 is joining a growing number of grocery stores in putting up Plexiglas barriers at the checkout counter in an attempt to protect its workers.
Here’s some advice on how to protect yourself and your family when you get items delivered from Amazon or elsewhere.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have left Vancouver Island in Canada and are living in LA, where they’re holed up in a secluded compound and haven’t ventured out amid the coronavirus pandemic.
R&B singer R. Kelly cited the novel coronavirus in asking a federal judge to free him from a federal jail in Chicago as he awaits trial on child pornography and other charges, a court filing by his lawyers saying scant precautions to stem the spread of the virus behind bars put Kelly’s life at risk.
In non-virus news…
The FBI won’t give up on “finding out what happened” to former agent Robert Levinson, who the U.S. government believes died in the custody of the Iranians, according to an email FBI Director Chris Wray sent to the FBI workforce.
American Airlines mechanics and maintenance workers ratified a new, five-year contract by votes of more than 90 percent. The deal — struck as an agreement-in-principle in January, before the coronavirus crisis — give employees signing bonuses ranging from $3,000 to $6,000, and immediate wage hikes of 4 percent to 18 percent.
The big-name backers of specialized high school admissions testing in NYC claimed their pilot tutoring program for Latino and African American students was a success.
he State University of New York’s Board of Trustees signed off on giving SUNY Stony Brook’s new president a $695,000 salary. Dr. Maurie McInnis, currently vice president and provost at the University of Texas at Austin, will start July 1. Her predecessor earned $729,453.
Companies have until April 8 to submit bids to build the eight-tenths of a mile section from Monroe Street south to Main Street opposite the Rensselaer County Jail in Troy.
The Rensselaer County jury deciding the quadruple-murder trial of James White is deadlocked as it heads into a fourth day of deliberations, raising the possibility of a mistrial.
RIP Fred “Curly” Neal, whose dribbling wizardry made him one of the most well-known members of the beloved Harlem Globetrotters traveling basketball team, died yesterday at his home near Houston. He was 77. The team announced the death but gave no other details.
Photo credit: George Fazio.