One more day left in the workweek, CivMixers!! It was another nice day weatherwise, and I hope all of you got out to enjoy it.

Personally, I had a bad health day today, my chest is tighter again, shortness of breath is back – increased inhaler use, headaches, and exhaustion. Other than that though, it’s all good!!

Seriously, this is the strangest virus I have ever had. I don’t feel like I should feel sick, but I do. I have moments where I think this isn’t so bad. Then it is. Ah, the joys of the novel coronavirus, which, of course, is the main focus of our “5 things” today.

1) In one of the strangest news stories I have seen recently, a Los Angeles engineer attempted to crash his train into the naval hospital ship sent to L.A. to help COVID-19 patients in California.

The USNS Mercy has been treating patients while sitting in the Port of Los Angeles since this past Monday. The engineer, Eduardo Moreno, 44, stated that he doesn’t believe the ship is there to help the overtaxed health care system and that there is something much more nefarious going on, according to the L.A. US Attorney’s office.

Moreno’s train belonged to the Pacific Harbor Line, which services the Port of Los Angeles. He apparently felt this was his one chance to expose what he feels is a deep conspiracy to cover up the true purpose of the ship’s presence. He told this immediately to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer who arrested him after witnessing the attempt.

According to the CHP officer, the train was going at a very high speed, and upon reaching the end of the tracks crashed through the concrete barrier there, and kept going as is crashed into both a chain-link fence and a steel barrier. It then proceeded to slide through one parking lot into and through a gravel lot and finally came to a stop after hitting yet another chain-link fence.

No one was injured, according to the unidentified CHP officer. After the train stopped, Moreno attempted to make a run for it, but the officer apprehended him. What exactly Moreno thinks is the true purpose of the USNS Mercy’s presence has not yet been revealed by the U.S. Attorney’s office, though they did confirm that the locomotive was equipped with video surveillance that shows Moreno driving with a lit flare in his hand.

Moreno faces a count of train wrecking, which is a federal charge that carries a possible 20 years behind bars as its maximum penalty.

2) As if they don’t have enough going on in the frontline fight against COVID-19, medical professionals are concerned about the potential for malpractice suits.

With the influx of cases, hospitals are triaging and caring for patients in new ways, and many of the medical professionals are practicing outside of their specialties. With their futures and licenses in mind, the American Medical Association and their state chapters are lobbying governors and legislators for legal protections for medical decisions made in overcrowded and urgent emergency rooms.

As hospitals are increasingly overtaxed due to an influx of virus patients, there’s a concern regarding decisions made in the deployment of medical equipment or even simple mistakes that might happen as people cover jobs outside their normal duties. With everyone focused on preventing overwhelming deaths from COVID-19, there is no time for doctors to worry about specialties.

Michigan, New Jersey, and New York governors have already ordered certain standards to help protect them by increasing the threshold for negligence and standard care deviation claims. There has been legislation proposed in the U.S. Senate to protect doctors practicing outside their designated specialty and for any who use medical devices that have been modified, as well as protecting doctors who are practicing in makeshift or temporary hospitals.

Doctors are also warning that in this crisis, with the increased need for hospital space, overwhelmed medical facilities and exhausted and dwindling staff, they are also not able to be as careful or thorough with non-COVID-19 related issues.

3) In a new projection, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has moved up when he and top officials believe the New York apex of COVID-19 cases could occur. For over a week now, the governor has been projecting a 21-day schedule for the apex, but he is now suggesting it could hit within anywhere from 7 to 30 days.

Cuomo cautioned that his estimates are largely based on the effect of the social-distancing measures that have been in place since early March.

As of earlier today, the total number of cases in New York rose to 92,381, including people who have most likely recovered fully. Over 13,380 people are hospitalized, and over 7,000 have been released from hospitals after receiving treatments for COVID-19. Cuomo is still unsure of the number of beds that may be needed for hospitalized COVID patients, anywhere from 70,000 to 110,000 are the possible estimates.

For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, new admissions to the hospital decreased today across the state.

4) In other state news, the pay that was suspended for all state employees until a budget deal was reached has been issued by the state comptroller’s office.

Cuomo said yesterday that he had a conceptual budget agreement with legislative leaders, but a number of key elements – most notably dealing with Medicaid and education funding – remained unclear. Another sticking point was whether to roll back part of the bail reforms enacted in last year’s budget. Changes include a list of new offenses that will qualify someone for cash bail

There was also a final agreement on a $3 billion environmental bond act (though borrowing won’t occur if the bond market is weak), legalizing e-transportation (bikes, scooters etc.) and requiring that a prevailing wage be paid for most publicly funded construction projects statewide.

5) The ongoing pandemic has resulted in a significant blood shortage, and American Red Cross is calling for anyone who is healthy to donate. Though thousands of blood drives across the country have been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, Life Church in Albany is holding a drive on Wednesday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone who is healthy and eligible for donating is encouraged to come, but the reserves of A- B- and O-Negative are very much needed. If you can donate, please make an appointment with the Red Cross.

That is all for tonight folks. Keep safe, and take care of each other.

The simple act of caring is heroic.

-Edward Albert

Photo credit: George Fazio.