Good Friday morning, CivMixers. It’s Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary.
The archbishop of Paris says he wants to send a strong signal of hope to the faithful by holding a small Good Friday ceremony amid the rubble inside Notre Dame, and beaming it out to the world. (April 15 will mark the first anniversary of the devastating fire that ripped through the Gothic cathedral).
There’s a wind advisory in effect though 6 p.m. for the Capital Region, the Mohawk Valley, the Eastern Catskills the Helderbergs and the Berkshires, with the possibility of gusts of up to 30 miles per hour, so be on the alert. It’s going to be overcast with temperatures in the low 50s, according to The Weather Channel.
Some really interesting things happened on this day in history. For instance:
In 1790, President George Washington signed the first United States Patent Act.
In 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was incorporated.
In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey purchased the contract of Jackie Robinson from the Montreal Royals.
In 1912, the British liner RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, on its ill-fated maiden voyage.
In 1925, the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel “The Great Gatsby” was first published by Scribner’s of New York.
In 1957, the movie “12 Angry Men,’ starring Henry Fonda, premiered in Los Angeles.
In 1974, Golda Meir told party leaders she was resigning as prime minister of Israel.
In 1981, imprisoned IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands was declared the winner of a by-election to the British Parliament.
In 1992, comedian Sam Kinison is killed in a car crash outside Needles, Calif., at age 38.
In 1998, the Northern Ireland peace talks conclude as negotiators reach a landmark settlement to end 30 years of bitter rivalries and bloody attacks.
And as for today’s headlines…
Jobless rolls continued to swell due to the coronavirus shutdown, with 6.6 million Americans filing first-time unemployment claims last week, the Labor Department reported.
That brings the total claims over the past three weeks to more than 16 million. If you compare those claims to the 151 million people on payrolls in the last monthly employment report, that means the U.S. has lost 10 percent of the workforce in three weeks.
JPMorgan economists issued an even more dire forecast, now foreseeing a 40 percent decline in the nation’s gross domestic product for the second quarter and a surge in April’s unemployment rate to 20 percent with 25 million jobs lost.
“Twenty percent seems like a reasonable low end,” said economist Robert Frick at Navy Federal Credit Union. “But the caveat here is it’s not 20 percent for years, we’re not talking about the Great Depression here. Twenty percent for two or three months, then things’ll start coming down.”
The nation has not experienced this magnitude of layoffs and economic contraction since the Great Depression, many experts say, and recovery is unlikely to be swift. President Trump and Congress are racing to pass more relief money, but they failed to strike a deal on the details.
There is a growing agreement among many economists that the government’s efforts were too small and came too late in the fast-moving pandemic to prevent businesses from abandoning their workers.
Flooded by requests for help like never before, a federal disaster loan program that was supposed to deliver emergency relief to small businesses in just three days has run low on funding and nearly frozen up entirely.
The U.S. Senate has twisted itself into knots over President Donald Trump’s new coronavirus aid request, as Democrats refused to rubber stamp his proposal for $250 billion more to boost small businesses, demanding modifications along with an additional $250 billion for health care providers and states. Republicans wouldn’t go along.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNBC’s Jim Cramer it’s not clear when America could reopen for business, despite some optimism from the White House that it could happen next month.
The federal government’s $2.2 trillion economic relief package for the first time extended unemployment aid to cover those workers when they lose their jobs. Yet most states have yet to update their systems to process these applications.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 810,000 New Yorkers have applied for unemployment since March 9th.
…The state now has 1,000 people working at the Department of Labor process the onslaught of unemployment claims.
As the coronavirus crisis has escalated, workers as varied as grocery cashiers, customer-service representatives and flight attendants have clashed with the employers they accuse of failing to protect and properly value them.
Vice President Mike Pence’s office reversed course yesterday afternoon, after declining for days to allow the nation’s top health officials to appear on CNN and discuss the coronavirus pandemic, in what was an attempt to pressure the network into carrying the White House’s lengthy daily briefings in full.
First Lady Melania Trump is encouraging Americans to wear face masks, which is all the more striking because it contrasts with her husband’s mixed messages on the subject: “I don’t see it for myself,” Trump has said.
New York state reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for a third consecutive day with 799, raising the outbreak total above 7,000. But also, for the fifth day in a row, more people died from the virus in the hard-hit state than were admitted to hospitals for treatment.
The rate of newly diagnosed infections rose for the third day in a row on Wednesday, reflecting the increased availability of testing, state officials said. Nearly 160,000 people have tested positive for the virus. The number of cases in New York alone is now higher than in any single country.
But even as the flow of infected people into emergency rooms appeared to level out, more than 18,000 ailing patients — nearly equal to the capacity of Madison Square Garden — were still packed into New York’s hospital.
On Long Island: Nassau County had 20,140 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday. Suffolk had 17,403 confirmed cases.
Emergency medical service crews, overwhelmed with 911 calls as the number of coronavirus cases across Long Island continues to climb, are relying on a state-issued pandemic flow chart to determine which patients need to be transported to hospitals.
The federal government sent hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves and face shields to New York from the Strategic National Stockpile, but most of the shipments were based on outdated population data rather than the extent of a state’s outbreak, new information from the House Oversight Committee shows.
NYC has since the 19th century used Hart Island to bury New Yorkers with no known next of kin or whose family are unable to arrange a funeral. Prisoners who dig the graves are now burying about two dozen bodies a day, five days a week.
Gov. Cuomo told his CNN host brother, Chris, that he’s definitely not planning on running for president in 2020.
Also from Chris Cuomo to Gov. Cuomo: “I will buy you lunch for every time that you can show one piece that showed you were ‘too prepared’ for the pandemic, OK?”
NY Post commentator Kyle Smith is not a fan of the Cuomo brothers’ show.
The coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged New York has essentially erased much of the traffic in the country’s largest city, easing the congestion that has strangled the streets and has made it more perilous for pedestrians and a growing army of bicycle commuters.
The USNS Comfort and the Javits Center field hospital remain practically empty of COVID-19 patients as both Department of Defense-run facilities strictly manage intake while getting up to speed — to the frustration of medical staffers at swamped city emergency rooms.
Plans to turn the Cathedral of St. John the Divine into a vast coronavirus field hospital were abruptly shelved yesterday, with public health officials saying that a leveling off in virus-related hospitalizations in New York City had made them reassess the need for the project.
Columbia University is converting its upper Manhattan soccer stadium into a field hospital for the coronavirus pandemic.
The makeshift field hospital set up in Central Park for COVID-19 patients was at near capacity yesterday as The NY Post got an inside-look at the facility amid the coronavirus crisis.
The de Blasio administration’s lack of transparency over how its splitting up much-sought-after medical supplies and other assistance at Big Apple hospitals has incited the latest cry from Staten Island pols that they really do represent the “forgotten borough.”
Local hospitals ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic could get the shaft in funding under the recently approved $2 trillion federal COVID-19 emergency spending package, the New York Congressional delegation claims.
Albany Med is among the first hospitals in the country to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use an experimental convalescent plasma therapy treatment employed during the 1918 flu pandemic for patients critically ill with COVID-19.
US researchers have opened another safety test of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, this one using a skin-deep shot instead of the usual deeper jab.
The MTA has begun taking the temperatures of its frontline workers as the coronavirus continues to ravage the transit authority.
New York’s City Council will conduct its first-ever online hearings later this month as they try to keep the city’s massive $94 billion budget on schedule, officials said.
The courts have been closed, except for essential matters, but a recent letter from the chief administrative judge says there are plans starting Monday to open up remote access for non-essential cases that are pending.
The Rensselaer-based New York Independent System Operator released an analysis of virus outbreak-related impacts showing energy demand is down across the New York Control Area, with certain zones experiencing more dramatic drops in load than others.
Golf courses in New York are no longer deemed “essential” and had to close in accordance with the governor’s “PAUSE” order.
…other “essential” business changes can be found here.
When schools started closing across the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic, they scrambled to keep feeding millions of students from poor families who depend on free and reduced-price meals every day. Cities big and small quickly ran into problems, and some suspended feeding programs altogether.
Arrests in the Capital Region have plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic with one disturbing exception: a jump in domestic violence.
Debbie’s Kitchen, a Lark Street-area institution for sandwiches, soups and baked goods since 1985, minus a hiatus or two, is closing for good after business on Saturday.
Individual artists and creatives from across the four counties can apply for a one-time, $100 Visa gift card through the newly established Creative Impact Capital Region Artist Fund, a multi-partnered effort to help offset the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Lincoln Center canceled its summer programming, spiking the Mostly Mozart Festival, Midsummer Night Swing and Lincoln Center Out of Doors events because of the continuing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced the cancellation of its Boston Pops spring season. The Williamstown Theatre Festival also announced the cancelation of its summer stage performances.
Leaf blowing, a grating soundtrack of the season, faces new scrutiny in the suburbs as noise complaints from cooped-up neighbors rise amid the pandemic.
Americade, an annual motorcycle rally in Lake George, has not announced a postponement date for its 2020 version. The event is still slated to take place June 2 to 6, according to the official website.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other countries reached a tentative agreement yesterday to temporarily cut production.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care yesterday at the London hospital where he is being treated for the new coronavirus, as his government told Britons to prepare for several more weeks in lockdown.
A goat, perhaps taking social distancing to an extreme, needed a rescue after he found himself seemingly trapped on a ledge under a busy highway overpass near Marcy in Oneida County.
State Sen. James Seward, a COVID-19 patient, is no longer in intensive care at Albany Med.
Charlotte Figi, whose use of cannabidiol, or CBD, to treat her epilepsy helped popularize its medicinal use, died on Tuesday. She was 13. Her parents, Paige and Steven Figi, who said the cause was most likely complications related to Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary yesterday, weeks after it was revealed the 71-year-old royal tested positive for coronavirus.
UFC president Dana White said that UFC 249, scheduled for April 18, will not be happening. All other upcoming UFC events also have been postponed indefinitely.
“Tiger King,” the Netflix documentary series that briefly distracted weary viewers from the coronavirus pandemic and infuriated conservationists, is back.
In non-virus news…
Attorney General William Barr said that Trump was right to fire the inspector general who disclosed the whistle-blower complaint about the president’s dealings with Ukraine and that the president’s political enemies could face criminal prosecution.
The old Catskill game Farm, which is now an inn, is for sale again.
Photo credit: George Fazio.