Rise and Shine; March 9, 2020

Good Monday morning, CivMixers. I hope you are all healthy and safe.

There is no getting around it. COVID-19 is here, and it’s going to be dominating the headlines for some time. So let’s get this out of the way now…

A Bronx man tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 13 and the statewide tally to 105, with the spread forcing the closure of classes at Columbia University and schools in a north suburban district, officials said.

The 58-year-old man contracted the virus while having lunch in Chile with someone who had it, according to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The patient later went to a Manhattan hospital but has been discharged and is “doing well” at home, the mayor said.

Eighty-two of state’s cases are in Westchester County, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, all of them connected in one way or another to a New Rochelle attorney who contracted the virus.

Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday, saying this would allow New York’s government to respond faster by lifting regulations.

Five people tested positive in Nassau County, two in Rockland County, two in Saratoga County, one in Suffolk County and one in Ulster County.

Hofstra University on Long Island cancelled this week’s classes when a student reported flu-like symptoms yesterday after attending a conference with a person who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Capital Region officials now must try to follow a possible path of infection here, after a CVS pharmacist at its Main Street location in Queensbury tested positive for the virus.

Cuomo slammed the CDC for not being better prepared to contain the new coronavirus and for the federal government not allowing private laboratories to process patient tests.

New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer echoed the governor’s call in a letter to the CDC and the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Cuomo isn’t ready to pull the brakes on public transit just yet, and he urged New Yorkers to remain calm in the face of the mounting coronavirus epidemic.

De Blasio called for New Yorkers who are sick in “any capacity” to stay off public transportation.

Amtrak suspended Acela nonstop service between New York and Washington through late May because of falling demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Rockland County Health Department warned residents that they “may have been exposed” to coronavirus if they attended events in Monsey where two virus-positive people worked.

State legislators are heading into budget negotiations unsure how the new coronavirus, COVID-19, will impact New York’s financial health over the next several months.

Cuomo said battling COVID-19 has been “all consuming for me,” leaving advocates for legal marijuana to wonder whether he will have time in the next three weeks to tour states where the drug is sold in stores – a step the governor announced last month.

Dr. Howard Zucker, the state Health commissioner, right now is the most important person in New York who most New Yorkers never heard of.

RPI cancelled all public events of 50 or more and is discouraging students from attending large off-campus gatherings to minimize exposure to the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus that emerged in China late last year.

Next weekend the RPI men’s hockey team will play in the ECAC quarter finals against Harvard, and for the first time, there will be no spectators.

Just over a dozen SUNY students who were studying abroad this semester are back in New York and are being housed at SUNY Brockport.

The coronavirus has left many New Yorkers wondering how prepared local health departments are to handle an outbreak, and a report compiling several emergency response measurements placed the state as the sixth-worst-prepared for a public health disaster.

At the national level, a Regal Princess cruise liner was approved to dock in Florida yesterday after two crew members were tested for possible coronavirus infection.

The U.S. has counted at least 539 cases across 34 states — Connecticut reported its first case and Washington announced another patient being treated for coronavirus had died yesterday — and the District of Columbia, and logged 22 deaths.

Federal public health officials signaled that the degree of community spread — new cases popping up with no known link to foreign travel — indicated that the virus was beyond so-called containment in some areas and that new, stricter measures should be considered.

Around 4 million coronavirus tests will be available by the end of next week, a White House expert said.

The State Department advised Americans against traveling on cruise ships, warning that they presented a higher risk of coronavirus infection and made U.S. citizens vulnerable to possible international travel restrictions, including quarantines.

American correctional facilities are on high alert for COVID-19 are increasing screenings, sanitizing cells, and urging lawyers to avoid in-person visits to limit the potential for the virus to spread among inmates.

Internationally…Asian markets opened sharply lower today as investors digested the relentless global spread of the coronavirus and turmoil in the oil markets.

Italy reported a huge jump in deaths from the coronavirus yesterday, a surge of more than 50 percent from the day before, as it ordered an unprecedented peacetime lockdown of its wealthiest region in a sweeping effort to fight the epidemic. The extraordinary measure restricted movement for a quarter of the country’s population.

Confusion reigned from Milan to Venice as residents and tourists tried to figure out when and how the new rules were coming into effect. Travelers rushed to train stations and crammed aboard standing-room-only trains, tucking their faces into scarves and sharing sanitizing gel.

The World Health Organization has urged people handling cash to soap up after as the coronavirus continues to spread to tens of thousands of people across the world.

One of the more difficult challenges in public health has been to teach people to wash their hands frequently and to stop touching the facial mucous membranes — the eyes, nose and mouth, all entry portals for the new coronavirus and many other germs.

OK. Let’s take a collective deep breath now, wash our hands and move on.

PSA alert: Daylight Savings Time is upon us. We have officially sprung forward, and it is now dark in the early morning again. (I mean, it has always been dark at the time I wake up, but I digress). It has been more than 24 hours now since we moved the clocks, so there’s no excuse for not being on time.

It’s National Barbie Day, which celebrates the day the iconic and ill-proportioned doll made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York back in 1959. FYI: Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, she was created by Ruth Handler.

Also worth noting: We marked International Women’s Day yesterday. (Yes, I juxtaposed those days on purpose; make of it what you will).

The rapper who used to be known as Lil’ Bow Wow but now just goes as Bow Wow because, well, he’s not so little anymore, is celebrating his 33rd birthday today. He had a little bit of a difficult weekend, so hopefully things are going more his way now.

It looks like you can leave your jacket at home today, as we’re going to have partly cloudy skies and temperatures flirting with 70 degrees. Yes, you read that right. Hallelujah. (Fingers crossed we won’t get one of those crazy upstate spring blizzards). I’m cool if we skip that this year, OK Mother Nature? Good.

In non-coronavirus news…

A manipulated video featuring former Vice President Joe Biden and spread by President Trump over the weekend has ratcheted up an online war that has put Twitter and Facebook in the middle of a debate over political speech.

Trump will skip the annual bipartisan St. Patrick’s Day luncheon hosted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill this week, White House officials said – the latest in a series of tit-for-tat snubs between the two most powerful leaders in the nation’s capital.

The end of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign last week has left her New York supporters saddened and searching for the next steps as the Democratic field narrows to two major candidates.

Three workers at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens were transporting hundreds of thousands in dollars in cash on Saturday night when they were accosted by two gunmen, the police said. The thieves made off with more than $200,000, aided in part by surgical masks they wore to conceal their identities. (This is sort of virus related, sorry).

An employee at Aqueduct says the weekend heist was an inside job, telling The NY Post that the robbers knew exactly where to be to pull off their $250k racetrack robbery.

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly blasted state bail reform, saying the state Legislature “shoved” the law “down the public’s throat.”

A battle is smoldering in the state Capitol over a bill banning menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco.

John Catsimatidis has settled on his next business venture — paper bags. The Gristedes billionaire is looking to build a factory in Central NY to produce them in response to the state’s new law phasing out plastic shopping bags, which went into effect last week.

NY-21 Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, found a disturbing note on the windshield of her car while shopping in her district this past weekend.

Meet the women of the state Capitol press corps.

Women make up about a third of the state Legislature this year, compared to about 20 percent two decades ago. Two women of color serve as the majority leaders in both chambers – a firtst. Kathy Hochul has been lieutenant governor since 2015, while a woman also holds the position of secretary to the governor.

State Police are investigating how a driver for the U.S. Postal Service crashed her mail truck into a tree in Columbia County.

The search for a man who went missing from Saratoga Springs Thursday has come to a tragic end. Authorities found the body of 79-year-old Michael McNaughton inside his vehicle Friday.

The NYPD Detective’s Endowment Association is calling for legislation that will require cell phone companies to disable stolen phones and place them on a list that will stop them from being reactivated.

Guardian Angels founder and WABC talk-radio shock jock Curtis Sliwa plans to run for mayor of NYC in 2021.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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