Hello, all. Thursday has almost come to a close, and Heather is under the weather with a bad toothache, so you’re stuck with me this evening.
I was over at the Albany Municipal Golf Course this afternoon with Henry (he’s a dog), and it was pretty crowded.
People were generally pretty good about the whole social distancing thing, though dogs, of course, pay no attention to that. They’re still happily sniffing butts and crotches and eating all manner of disgusting things, without a care in the world.
When I get really stressed, which is pretty much by fallback position these days, I try to take my cues from Henry. No, I’m not sniffing butts or crotches, because, well, social distancing. But I am trying to breathe and live in the moment and just be happy to be.
Sometimes it works. Not always.
In the news…
1) The House voted 388-5 in favor of the $484 billion spending package approved by the Senate earlier in the week. The package now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature, and lawmakers are already squabbling over the next round of stimulus funding.
The vote was historic, as many lawmakers wore masks on the House floor, some even speaking through face coverings as they delivered impassioned remarks.
The vote came just a few hours after the Labor Department announced that 4.4 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week. More than 26 million people have filed jobless claims since the novel coronavirus sent the economy into a massive tailspin from which the recovery remains far from clear.
Also today, New York officials acknowledged that the unemployment claims backlog is still a big problem, especially for those who are self-employed or independent contractors as well as others typically ineligible for regular unemployment benefits.
2) An estimated 13.9 percent of the New Yorkers have likely had COVID-19, according to preliminary results of coronavirus antibody testing released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today.
The state randomly administered antibody tests to 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities.
The largest concentration of positive tests originated from New York City at 21.2 percent, which makes sense, as the five boroughs were the epicenter of the outbreak for the entire nation. On Long Island, 16.7 percent tested were positive and in Westchester, where the state’s first major outbreak originated, (in New Rochelle, to be exact), 11.7 percent of the tests were positive.
The rest of the state clocked in with just 3.6 percent of positive test results, which explains why people are clamoring more loudly for a regional approach to re-opening the country the further away from NYC you get.
3) As deaths in nursing homes mount to more than 3,500, the Cuomo administration and the state attorney general’s office have launched a probe into the situation.
Nursing homes, Cuomo said, “get paid to take care of a resident and they have to do it in accordance with state rules,” adding: “And if they don’t, we will take appropriate action.”
Not surprisingly, Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio are at odds over whether it’s the job of the government to ensure that private nursing homes have all the PPE they need to sufficiently protect their residents.
Nursing homes, generally speaking, are regulated by the state but not RUN by the state.
4) Good news for all those locked down at home and not yet ready to murder their significant other: There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via sex.
An international group of scientists in the U.S. and China found no evidence of COVID-19 in the semen of 34 adult Chinese men who had, on average, tested positive for the deadly virus a month prior, according to the findings to be published tomorrow in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
5) Susan Novotny, owner of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland, says that Spectrum has broken its promise not to shut off internet service after her small business fell behind on paying its bill amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It turns out, if a Spectrum customer doesn’t indicate the reason for not paying their bill is virus-related, the company may in fact go ahead and shut them off.
Novotny sent a letter to the FCC earlier this month complaining that Spectrum had shut off her store’s internet service in violation of a pledge it made to the FCC not to do. Novotny maintains delay was due to the mandatory closure of the store under Cuomo’s shutdown executive order that runs through May 15.
A Spectrum spokeswoman didn’t have an immediate answer as to why this situation had occurred, and promised she would look into it. She did say, however, the following:
“Under our commitment to the Keep Americans Connected pledge, residential customers and small businesses who contact us and indicate they won’t be able to pay their bill because of COVID-19-related economic hardship, we wouldn’t disconnect them.”
Photo credit: George Fazio.