5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: April 8

Happy Hump Day CivMixers! When I looked at the weather last night I thought today was going to be a return to doom and gloom, however, it ended up being a very nice afternoon. I am happy about that as again the child got outside to expend some energy. That is what we call #winning in this social distancing, isolation, quarantine, COVID-19 world.

It’s only the middle of the week, but already the news is piling up fast, so let’s get right to it tonight, shall we?

1) A day after President Donald Trump threatened to withhold funds from the World Health Organization (WHO) and heavily criticized the organization’s relationship with China, General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the WHO, responded by asking country leaders to please refrain from politicizing the novel coronavirus pandemic.

During a press conference held in Geneva today, the director didn’t specifically accuse any particular country or leader of politicizing of COVID-19, but it was pretty clear who he was talking about.

When asked about Trump, Ghebreyesus, who revealed that he has received multiple death threats over the past several months, said the main focus worldwide should be on saving lives, not scoring political points, which would only serve to worsen the situation at the end of the day.

Emphasizing that he doesn’t care about personal attacks or threats, Ghebreyesus pleaded with countries and their leaders to keep sight of the fact that the enemy right now is COVID-19, not the WHO. The virus has already killed over 80,000 people across the world, and close to 1.5 million around the globe have tested positive.

2) In Evergreen Park, IL, the family of a deceased Walmart employee named Wando Evans has filed a wrongful death suit against the chain. Evans, a 51-year-old overnight stock and maintenance representative, died from complications related to COVID-19 two days after he was sent home from work on March 23. Evans had worked at the location for 15 years.

The lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County yesterday contends that the retailer was negligent in adequately protecting its employees against the risks of COVID-19. According to the suit, filed by a relative of Evans, he had complained to management about coronavirus symptoms two weeks earlier but was ignored.

The suit contends that Walmart did not properly implement or enforce social distancing, did not properly clean or sanitize against the novel coronavirus and did not provide personal protective equipment to its employees. On March 29, another employee at the same store died of COVID-19 complications as well.

Tony Kalogerakos, the attorney for Evans’ family, stated that since Walmart is deemed a high-volume retailer by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was obligated to maintain a higher level of precautions and protections for customers and employees alike. At the very least, he said, the store should have provided adequate PPE and alert employees that one of their co-workers was showing symptoms.

Evans’ co-workers claim they were only made aware that he had COVID-19 symptoms after he died. The suit, Kalogerakos says, has been filed in part to prevent a similar situation from occurring to anyone else. Kalogerakos also said he will be requesting an investigation into the situation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Walmart is not commenting on the pending litigation, but did extend sympathies for the passing of two associates and highlighted new safety procedures that started on March 31. These include employee temperature checks, increasing the protocols for sanitation and bringing in an outside company to clean, sanitize and decontaminate any areas deemed “high-touch.” They also have put up temporary decals for social distancing and register sneeze guards throughout Walmarts across the country.

3) Though much celebrated and touted by the Trump administration, the arrival last week of the U.S. Naval Ship the Comfort (USNS Comfort) has done little to ease the burden on the hospitals in New York City, the nation’s COVID-19 epicenter. Due to the infamous bureaucratic “red-tape”, the ship did not begin accepting patients who were diagnosed with COVID until this past Monday, when it was green-lit by President Donald Trump to do so.

Up until then, the ship had a fraction of its 1,000 beds filled, with only 20 patients aboard by Thursday of last week. That is because along with promises, the ship arrived in New York harbor with a long list of restrictions on what patients could be treated onboard. At first, the restrictions were so intense that only healthy people could be brought on board – an effort to protect against a coronavirus outbreak.

As it turns out, COVID-19 got onto the ship anyway.

Yesterday, one day after Trump agreed to allow COVID-19 patients onto the Comfort, a crew member tested positive. The crew member’s name has not been released, but it was confirmed that they were in quarantine, and many other members of the crew were entering into isolation. A spokesperson for the Comfort assured the public that this would in no way hamper the ship’s mission.

Additional precautions have been taken aboard the ship, including completely isolating the treatment areas. Instead of remaining on the ship, all medical personnel will stay at a hotel in the city and be bussed back and forth to treat patients.

The ship will now be taking those COVID-19 patients in need of severe or urgent care from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a makeshift hospital in Manhattan being run by the New York branch of the Department of Defense. Now that the ship has been set up for COVID patients, there are 500 beds available, and 100 ICU beds that will be equipped with ventilators.

4) If you ate at the Loudon Road, Latham Burger King at any point on March 26 or from March 30 – April 2 from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is possible you were exposed to COVID-19. If you were there or used the drive-thru during those times, please go into precautionary quarantine for two weeks.

If you were there at those times and are displaying symptoms, please contact your personal health care provider. Even is you are showing no symptoms, the Albany County Department of Health is asking you to go into precautionary quarantine. The guidelines for the quarantine according to the Albany DOH are as follows:

– Remain separate from the family in their bedroom with a bathroom to themselves.

– If sharing a bathroom, it must be cleaned after every use.

– Individuals should not have face-to-face contact with family members closer than six feet for 14 days.

Albany County DOH staff will check on those in quarantine daily.

5) Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NYRA and the Saratoga Race Course announced today that they have delayed the opening of the Oklahoma Training Track.

The original opening was scheduled for April 15, and there is no firm re-established opening date. So far, this is not going to affect opening day on July 15 or the closing on September 7 – Labor Day.

Until tomorrow, all! Have a great night, and onto Thursday.

“Wednesday is a day to help others celebrate life. You and only you are accountable for what you extend and give to others. One smile not only increases your value but it gives joy to each person you meet.”

–  Byron Pulsifer

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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