5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: April 16

Welcome to Thursday evening, CivMixers! It seems like this week has been a particularly long one.

I have to say though, my wife had to go into work today to do some things that couldn’t be done remotely. (Don’t worry, it’s healthcare, she’s essential – no guidelines being broken). And yeah, I am ready for things to return to normal. Even my daughter was calmer today, I swear.

The novel coronavirus is continuing its global domination, now confirmed in 185 countries, with over two million confirmed cases. It has thus far killed at a minimum of 140,000 people. Over 500,000 are thought to have recovered from it. 

Here in the United States, we top the list of both confirmed cases and confirmed deaths from COVID-19. At last count, our cases had climbed to over 635,000, and the number of deaths stands are more than 33,000.

In some non-COVID news, there was a prison escape in Wisconsin, with two inmates breaking out of the Columbia Correctional Institution today. They’re believed to be on the run. The Portage, WI police and the sheriff’s office in Columbia County have put out an alert on the two escaped convicts and think they are headed south toward the Madison area.

The two are 37-year-old James Robert Newman, convicted for a firearms charge and kidnapping, and Thomas E. Deering, who is 46 and in jail for burglary, kidnapping, and sexual assault. The Department of Corrections in Wisconsin says the two are dangerous and that residents should stay inside and lock their homes – and report any information to the police.

Around here, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake students have put together a video thanking their teachers, expressing their gratitude for all they have done during the pandemic thus far and telling them how much they are missed.

1) Some states that have not been hit as hard by the virus as New York are hoping toreopen as early as May 1, declining to extend their shutdowns past April 30. On the heels of President Trump’s claim that that the virus has peaked, both Idaho and North Dakota told business to expect to un-shutter at the beginning of the month.

This will be contingent on those companies and the states meeting minimum criteria to protect from a second wave, as well as understanding that it will be a slow process, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. During a press conference yesterday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little said the re-opening will be an evolution based on how things go as the effort gets underway.

Idaho has been in lockdown since March 25, while Horth Dakota has not had a stay-in-place order. Thus far, neither state has seen a severe COVID-19 outbreak.

2) The New Jersey Attorney General is investigating the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in Andover. The facility was the site of a grim discovery: 17 dead bodies. This came to light after police investigated a call seeking a delivery of 25 body bags.

These were among 68 deaths that have been reported at the facility since Jan. 1. Two of the deceased were nurses, the Sussex County Department of Health said. Out of the 68 deaths, 33 were confirmed to be caused by COVID-19.

Approximately 100 residents are positive for COVID-19, and 40 of the staff have been confirmed to be positive as well. Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed grave sadness about the situation, and also expressed anger that the nursing home created an unauthorized morgue, which he said showed a lack of compassion and respect for both the victims and their families.

3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended New York’s statewide shut down to May 15. He declined to speculate on what will come next, saying it depends entirely on what the data shows at that time. Cuomo would very much like to move forward with a re-opening plan in coordination with other Northeastern governors, but said he won’t do so until he’s convinced it’s safe to move foward.

COVID-19 deaths in New York were down to 606 today, with a total of 12,192 overall. Today’s death toll was at the lowest rate for the past 10 days. For a second day, the three-day average of hospital admissions for COVID-19 also went down. It decreased by 2 percent, with the number of patients who had to be intubated down again as well. Since yesterday, I.C.U. Patients with COVID-19 also decreased by 134.

Despite this good news, Cuomo reiterated that as of tomorrow, covering your face in public will be required when you can’t practice safe social distancing and public health guidelines.

In other news across the state, Saturday Night Live actor and co-host of the classic “Weekend Update,” Michael Che is paying a month of rent for all 160 residents who live in the public housing building in Manhattan where his grandmother lived. She passed away after being confirmed to have COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis is also affecting child-custody issues within the state. Due to the stay-at-home order, custody arrangements are hard to follow, with most child exchanges usually taking place in a neutral public place. Hearings that are being filed due to not met requirements for child exchanges are also not being heard, as the courts are all but shut down.

The M.T.A. is asking for steep federal aid, with a request of an additional $3.9 billion initiated after the $3.8 billion they received last month.

4) In Schenectady, owner of a beloved favorite, the Bellevue Cafe died yesterday due to complications of COVID-19. His friend for 60 years, John Marcella, confirmed the passing of 74-year-old Spiro Mikropoulos in an emotional announcement. Mikropoulos was admitted to Ellis three weeks ago, and Bellevue Cafe has been closed ever since.

The Bellevue Cafe was opened in 1987 by Mikropoulos, who still owned and operated it with the help of his children. He was a kind and giving soul, according to Marcella, who recalled how he often would give free fruit to his breakfast customers. He recalled receiving a call from Mikropoulos to check on him since he knew Marcella had underlying breathing issues. Two days later, Mikropoulos was admitted to the hospital.

Schenectady County has reported 12 deaths so far from COVID-19, with all the victims over the age of 70.

5) In the Glens Falls area, Cool Insuring Arena is still planning for its big season in October, when the Adirondack Thunder is scheduled to again take the ice.

Though they are shut down and endured a loss when the current ECHL season ended early, the team is staying hopeful and optimistic.

They are being helped by many of the programs enacted to help small businesses endure the COVID-19 crisis. They are able to take loans due to to the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which, unfortunately, ran out of money as of last night. It remains to be seen whether the White House and congressional leaders can negotiate a deal to re-stock the coffers. Stay tuned.

Have a good night all, and happy Friday tomorrow!!

“You just keep moving forward and doing what you do and hope that it resonates with people. And if it doesn’t, you just keep moving on until you find a project that does.”

-Octavia Spencer

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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