Happy Tuesday, CivMixers. It’s officially the 12th day of spring, and there are only 82 days left until summer, which seems like sort of a hopeful time.
It’s raining lightly as I write this, but that is forecast to end and we’ll be left with clouds and temperatures again hovering around 50 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.
We’re on the eve of the April 1 constitutional state budget deadline, and so far, there’s no spending plan deal in sight, though since the Capitol is virtually closed and the Legislature hasn’t been officially in session due to the coronavirus, it’s harder than usual to tell what’s going on.
Nearly half of New York’s 258,000 state workers could see their paychecks delayed this week because the Legislature has yet to pass a budget for the fiscal year beginning tomorrow.
As they battle this pandemic, New York hospitals face $400 million worth of Medicaid cuts, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to go through with over the protests of state lawmakers and health care officials.
Among the biggest secrets kept from legislators as a small crew of staffers cobbles the budget together: just how badly their local schools will get fiscally whacked by a shortfall in projected revenues that stands at, in its most favorable light, at about $10 billion.
The NYT editorial page calls on the governor and legislative leaders to “resist the temptation to slip complex policy measures into the budget, and approve a no-frills budget that shores up the core workings of government instead.”
Meanwhile, yet another state lawmaker has tested positive for COVID-19: Sen. Jim Seward, an Oneonta Republican, and ranking minority member on the Finance Committee. Seward, who is receiving cancer treatments, has had mild symptoms and will be discharged from the hospital shortly to recover at home.
…Seward’s wife, Cindy, also has the virus. He is the fifth legislator and the first senator to contract the virus, after four Assembly members also tested positive for the disease this month.
The governor announced that public and private hospitals from across the state have agreed to implement a new balanced approach to fighting the virus where hospitals that are beginning to reach or exceed capacity can transfer patients to other hospitals that are not as full.
Rensselaer and Columbia County officials expressed concern that downstate travelers to the area — and the potential reshuffling of patients from downstate to upstate hospitals — could overwhelm their local health systems as they brace for a surge of coronavirus cases.
Bracing the nation for a coronavirus death toll that could exceed 100,000 people, President Donald Trump extended restrictive social distancing guidelines through April, bowing to public health experts who presented him with even more dire projections for the expanding coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said he anticipates the U.S. will endure another coronavirus outbreak in the fall — but by then he said, the country will be better equipped to fight the illness.
The novel coronavirus is mutating, as viruses do, and eight strains are now making the rounds globally, medical experts say. The good news is that the mutations are not more lethal.
Roughly three out of four Americans are or will soon be under instructions to stay indoors, as states and localities try to curb the spread of the coronavirus before their hospitals are overwhelmed.
Virginia and Maryland both issued new statewide orders yesterday, and Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, directed his state’s residents to stay home until the end of April.
Harsh measures, including stay-at-home orders and restaurant closures, are contributing to rapid drops in the numbers of fevers — a signal symptom of most coronavirus infections — recorded in states across the country, according to intriguing new data produced by a medical technology firm.
Zoom, the videoconferencing app whose traffic has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, is under scrutiny by the office of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, for its data privacy and security practices.
President Trump insisted that America’s ability to test for the coronavirus is “very much on par” with other countries, criticizing a reporter who asked why the U.S. isn’t testing as many people per capita as South Korea.
Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, resigned from Congress yesterday evening ahead of starting at the White House as Trump’s next chief of staff, his office announced in a letter.
Brooklyn Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez has been diagnosed with coronavirus, just days after she shared a speaking lectern and microphone with dozens of House colleagues.
Factory activity in China unexpectedly expanded in March from a collapse the month before, but analysts caution that a durable near-term recovery is far from assured as the global coronavirus crisis knocks foreign demand and threatens a steep economic slump.
Gov. Cuomo was repeatedly questioned by his brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, about whether the governor was thinking about, had ever thought about or might ever think about running for president. Each time the governor had the same answer: “No.”
But with the man who is running (and leading the Democratic contest), former Vice President Joe Biden, functionally confined to campaigning from his Delaware home, Cuomo has become the politician of the moment, held up as the man in command with his state under siege.
An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers are worried about the coronavirus pandemic, but they trust Gov. Cuomo to lead the state through the emergency, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll released yesterday.
Gov. Cuomo made an urgent plea for health care workers to help his hard-hit state at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis as it marked a grim milestone with 235 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours. That puts the total number of New York deaths at 1,218 since the crisis began.
“Please come help us in New York now,” Cuomo said as the state’s death toll climbed by more than 250 people in a day to a total of over 1,200, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.
“If you wait to prepare for a storm to hit, it is too late,” the governor said. “You have to prepare before the storm hits. And in this case the storm is when you hit that high point, when you hit that apex. How do you know when you’re going to get there? You don’t.”
New York City is so short on morgue space for coronavirus victims that FEMA is hauling in trailers to store all the bodies.
With schools closed indefinitely as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New York, teachers and staff have been leading a grassroots effort to donate protective gear to front-line healthcare workers who are facing a critical shortage of masks, gloves and cleaning supplies due to the outbreak.
Under the rules of social distancing and pandemic precautions, political candidates are left to working the phones, setting up virtual town halls, sending Facebook messages and email blast and trying to figure out how to run a campaign when you can’t meet with voters in person.
The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York delivered over 19,000 pounds of food yesterday to the Times Union Center, where it will be divided for distribution to families under mandatory and precautionary quarantine due to coronavirus.
SEFCU said it will close all but two of its Capital Region branch lobbies during the novel coronavirus outbreak. All other branches will switch to drive-thru only for in-person banking.
The NCAA will permit spring sport athletes — including those at Siena College and the University at Albany — who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility.
There remains only 1 county out of 62 counties in New York state that has not reported a confirmed case of coronavirus: Seneca County.
Saratoga County’s director of human resources who came up with the 50 percent pandemic pay raise for essential employees is both a beneficiary of the plan as well as a judge of its worthiness.
In the nearly two weeks since the coronavirus seeped into New York City’s jail system, fears have grown of the potential of a public health catastrophe in the cellblocks where thousands are being held in close quarters.
Attorneys for jailed NXIVM leader Keith Raniere said they learned he is considered an inmate at “high risk” for serious illness from COVID-19. But now that’s not so clear.
Public defenders have filed a lawsuit to demand the immediate release of nearly 540 “medically vulnerable” prisoners from Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center to prevent them from falling victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
The overall crime rate in New York City plunged 22 percent for the week ending Sunday compared to the previous week despite a sharp rise in murders and burglaries, according to NYPD statistics released yesterday.
Subway use has plummeted in recent weeks, but in poorer areas of New York City, many people are still riding because they can’t afford to stay home and self quarantine.
New Yorkers were left spooked last night by a glaring Empire State Building light display intended to honor emergency workers fighting coronavirus.
Part of the Queens stadium complex that’s home to the U.S. Open will be transformed into a temporary hospital to aid in the fight against the coronavirus.
NYC will be teaming up with the state and the feds to rent Big Apple hotels and convert them into temporary hospitals to help ease burden on other facilities dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The City University of New York has named new leaders for three of its campuses. The university’s classes are closed, but the Board of Trustees voted to approve new chiefs for Queens College, Hostos Community College and The CUNY Graduate Center, officials announced.
The State Department has moved to extend waivers for U.S. and foreign companies doing business in Iran to assist that country with its civilian nuclear program.
The FBI has reportedly reached out to North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr about his sale of stocks before the coronavirus caused markets to plummet.
Macy’s and Gap said that they planned to furlough much of their work forces, a stark sign of how devastating the coronavirus will be for major retailers and their workers who sell clothing, accessories and other discretionary goods.
Signaling both growing anxiety and growing solidarity brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, workers in a variety of occupations across the country are protesting what they see as inadequate safety measures and insufficient pay for the risks they are confronting.
Amazon has fired the worker at its Staten Island warehouse who organized a walkout yesterday to demand greater protections from the company amid the coronavirus outbreak.
There will likely be major cuts to oil demand and production globally as the industry sees drops linked to the coronavirus and increased supply linked to international disputes, according to an analysis published early today.
Michael Powers, the president of the state’s Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, has tested positive for COVID-19, the union announced. Powers has been in self-quarantine at home for the last several days.
New York’s correctional officers union is begging Cuomo and the state prison system to outfit all prison and jail guards with personal protective equipment to help stifle the potential spread of coronavirus between inmates and employees working in close quarters.
Republican Albany County Legislators are calling for Cuomo to temporarily lift the state ban on single-use plastic bags due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Homemade masks are only minimally effective.
Dr. James T. Goodrich, a New York City pediatric neurosurgeon who once led a team of 40 doctors in an operation to separate two twins conjoined at the head, died of complications related to coronavirus.
A painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh was stolen in an overnight smash-and-grab raid on a museum that was closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, police and the museum said.
In this time of national emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak, the Internet Archive is stepping up to lift the spirits of readers across the U.S and beyond, one digitized page at a time.
Like Great Escape, Six Flags Darien Lake will be opening later than normal this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the popular theme park will instead open in mid-May, or as soon as possible after that.
Lizzo sent lunch to the ER staff at a number of hospitals, including a University of Minnesota affiliate in Minneapolis, where she first started her singing career.
Tenor Placido Domingo, 79, said he is resting at home and feels “fine” after catching the new coronavirus.
A Rochester doughnut ship is making sweet treats with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s face on them. (They’re a big hit).
In non-virus news…
New York State’s coal-burning era will end today, when Somerset Operating Co. officially retires its power plant on the shore of Lake Ontario in Niagara County. It means the share of the state’s power generation coming from coal will fall to zero.
A duck was found pierced by an arrow in Albany’s Washington Park last week. The Washington Park Conservancy said in an Instagram post that city authorities and the state Department of Environmental Conservation coordinated to capture the duck. He was sent to a veterinarian to get the arrow removed and is now recovering.
Republican City of Rensselaer Mayor Michael Stammel and the Democratic Common Council are in a political fight over which of two private companies should be the designated first responder for ambulance service to this Hudson River city’s 9,392 residents.
Josef Neumann, a 72-year-old rabbi who was repeatedly stabbed in the head during an anti-Semitic attack in December succumbed to his injuries and died over the weekend.
The quadruple-murder trial of James White in Rensselaer County Court will not be decided for at least another day. A juror sitting on the case felt ill and did not report to court yesterday, prompting County Judge Debra Young to send the panel home for the day.
Photo credit: George Fazio.