Rise and Shine: April 16, 2020

Happy Emancipation Day, CivMixers!

Oh, you don’t know what that is? Well, don’t feel bad. Neither did I. Probably very few people outside of Washington, D.C., which is the only place this day is celebrated, as far as I can tell, are actually in the know. So here’s the deal:

“Emancipation Day marks April 16, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act.

The Act freed over 3,000 slaves in the District of Columbia eight months before President Lincoln issued his broader Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act means the District has the distinction of being the only part of the United States to have compensated slave owners for freeing enslaved persons they held.

It has been an official public holiday in the District since 2005.”

For the rest of us, it’s just Thursday. Oh, actually, no, it’s also National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day, which is basically…you know…every day, these days.

After a brief return to winter last night that I think would be better for us all to forget as quickly as possible, today’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-40s, according to The Weather Channel.

As President Trump pushes to reopen the economy, most of the country is not conducting nearly enough testing to track the path and penetration of the coronavirus in a way that would allow Americans to safely return to work, public health officials and political leaders say.

The president proclaimed that new guidelines will be announced today for several states, which have been hit hardest by the onset of the novel virus COVID-19. He suggested that some of the restrictions in various areas will be relaxed, including dates those changes will happen.

Nine states, including Vermont, Montana, West Virginia and Nebraska, have less than 1,000 COVID-19 cases and less than 30 new cases per day, said Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Though the new guidelines will look at states “as individuals,” Birx warned that those itching to hold “that dinner party for 20,” should still hold off.

Trump previously said he would “authorize” governors to reopen their states, even though he has no power to do so and governors don’t need his permission.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there will be a phased reopening of New York until a vaccine is available. Reopening will be based on public safety and the infection rate, he said, and officials will take into account the ability of employees to social distance in the workplace and the urgency of the situation.

Cuomo has hired high-powered consultants to develop a science-based plan for the safe economic reopening of the region that can thwart expected pressure from Trump.

New York could lose $9.7 billion in tax revenue by mid-2021 as well as 475,000 jobs due to the coronavirus shutdowns, according to a report unveiled yesterday by the city’s Independent Budget Office.

Protesters have taken to the streets in several states to urge governors to reopen businesses and relax rules that health officials have said are necessary to save lives.

When Smithfield Foods closed its massive South Dakota pork processing plant on Sunday following an outbreak of COVID-19 illness, the company’s CEO warned of the impact this and other recent plant closings might have on the nation’s food supply chain. At least 10 meat processing plants, including three over the border in Canada, have closed because of the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 2,025,000 people, according to official counts. As of this morning, at least 131,000 people have died, and the virus has been detected in at least 177 countries.

Intermittent periods of physical distancing may have to continue into 2022 in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new research finds.

The New York State Nurses Association plans to file three lawsuits on Monday over a lack of personal protective equipment and what it considers dangerous guidance issued by the state department of health during the coronavirus pandemic — the first legal action of its kind since the outbreak began.

Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday set in motion a plan for Germany to begin lifting social and economic restrictions in place because of the coronavirus, even as she warned that the road ahead would look less like a return to normal than a way to live with a pandemic that has overturned ordinary life.

President Moon Jae-in’s governing party in South Korea won a landslide in parliamentary elections yesterday, as he leveraged his surging popularity over his country’s largely successful battle against the coronavirus to increase his political sway.​

Singapore reported its highest daily increase of coronavirus cases yesterday as infections engulfed more dormitories housing low-wage foreign workers.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a senior White House adviser, has positioned herself as one of the leaders of the administration’s economic relief efforts and one of its most vocal advocates of social distancing. But she and her family flouted the rules and traveled to NJ for the first night of Passover.

President Trump said he has the power to declare that both chambers of Congress are in recess so that he can make appointments and curtail Democratic opposition that has delayed judicial and other confirmations.

The White House is installing Trump campaign veteran Michael Caputo, a Western New York GOP operative, in the health department’s top communications position.

Coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci offered advice to people considering an in-person date after meeting someone virtually, whether that be through Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Zoom or any other dating app.

Government relief checks began arriving in Americans’ bank accounts as the economic damage to the U.S. from the coronavirus piled up yesterday and sluggish sales at reopened stores in Europe and China made it clear that business won’t necessarily bounce right back when the crisis eases.

Retail sales plunged 8.7 percent in March, offering a grim snapshot of the coronavirus outbreak’s effect on consumer spending, as businesses shuttered from coast to coast and wary shoppers restricted their spending.

California will be the first state to send money to undocumented immigrants who did not qualify for assistance under the $2.2 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package passed last month.

A new federal program to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic is running out of money and falling short in the industries and states most battered by the crisis, risking waves of bankruptcies and millions of additional unemployed workers.

The rollout of what the president referred to last week as his “Opening Our Country Council” was as confusing as the process of getting there.

US intelligence and national security officials say the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory rather than a market, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter who caution it is premature to draw any conclusions.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates slammed Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization, calling the decision “dangerous.”

The U.S. Navy is looking into whether it can reinstate Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was removed from command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt after he pleaded for more help fighting a novel coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, Defense Department officials said.

The coronavirus pandemic has unraveled air travel in the United States and turned some of the world’s busiest airports into giant voids.

Cuomo said he would order people statewide to don facial coverings while in public if they were unable to stay six feet away from others.

“Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order, all customers will be required to wear a face covering while traveling with us during this pandemic, effective Friday April 17,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said in a statement. “Wearing masks and other face coverings in public will help stop the spread and ultimately save lives.”

Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Manhattan state Sen. Brian Kavanagh penned a letter to New York’s congressional delegation calling on the federal government to provide $100 billion in stimulus money for residential rental assistance, with 10 percent of the funds going to New York.

In an order issued yesterday, the NYPD told its cops to keep an eye out for stores and restaurants where the workers aren’t following Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new coronavirus face mask rules.

The decision was announced as Cuomo said that another 752 people died from coronavirus, a slight decrease from the previous day and further evidence that New York has reached a plateau in its outbreak.

Hospitalizations – both the net change and the three-day average – as well as admissions to the intensive care unit and intubations across New York are down, and the state plans to send send ventilators to Michigan (100) and Maryland (50) – another sign it is getting a handle on the virus outbreak.

New York City’s Health Department said it is now reporting “probable” Covid-19 deaths of individuals who have not been tested for the coronavirus but are presumed to be positive. The 4,059 probable cases pushed the death toll in New York City to nearly 11,000 victims.

The president questioned these new numbers, suggesting New York City is padding its virus death toll.

Police reportedly discovered 17 corpses stuffed inside a small morgue at one of New Jersey’s largest nursing homes.

COVID-19 hospital patient totals on Long Island have reached a plateau, and statistics show that social distancing is driving fewer increases in hospitalizations and intubations, a Newsday analysis shows.

Convicted Long Island lawmaker Dean Skelos will be released from prison into home custody following his positive coronavirus test, federal prosecutors revealed.

The once politically powerful Rockville Centre Republican, 72, tested positive for the virus at the Otisville federal prison in Orange County. he has reportedly been symptom-free since April 8, but kept in quarantine.

Long Island home sales plummeted in March as the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult or impossible to close deals at the end of the month, a new report shows.

New York City is launching a $170 million new initiative to tackle food insecurity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours after offering her endorsement to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, former White House contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren committed herself fully to the ticket and said she would be his running mate – if he asks.

The SAT and the ACT, standardized tests that serve as a gateway to college for millions of applicants each year, announced that they would develop digital versions for students to take at home in the fall if the coronavirus pandemic continues to require social distancing.

SUNY and CUNY Colleges are helping to produce more than 2,400 face shields a day, to provide needed personal protective equipment for New York State’s frontline health workers through the use of 3D printing.

Goldman Sachs organized a $318 million bond sale scheduled to close yesterday that will help the SUNY Poly nonprofit known as NY CREATES pay off the majority of its $344 million in construction loans made by various banks, mainly M&T Bank and KeyBank, over the years.

“The Joker” star Joaquin Phoenix is calling on Cuomo to release more prisoners in New York state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

An Albany police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, authorities said. Because of his assignment in an office building on Washington Avenue Extension, the officer has had “limited to no contact” with other APD employees, and no contact with members of the public.

CDTA today will join transit agencies across the country to honor transportation workers for their great work to provide essential services to keep communities connected.

Catholic Charities and the Regional Food Bank will host a mass food distribution event in the city of Albany on today. The event, expected to feed hundreds, will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Pastoral Center, 40 North Main Ave., Albany. There will be two distribution lines: one for walk-ins and another for drive-through pickup.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares says his financial crimes unit will be taking special note of reports involving wage theft, employee misclassifications, and consumer scams during this current crisis.

The College of Saint Rose will rely on furloughs and temporary pay cuts for administrators and non-unionized staff earning $50,000 or more to address a budget deficit widened by the coronavirus epidemic.

The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York is providing a free help-line for the poor to help navigate legal issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The planned June filming of the HBO series “The Gilded Age” has been scratched due to the coronavirus pandemic with plans for new dates expected to be set in the coming months, said residents whose properties were expected to be featured in the television series.

Speaking with his brother, the governor, on “Cuomo Prime Time,” CNN anchor Chris Cuomo explained that his wife, Cristina, has now tested positive for coronavirus, too. The Cuomos have been married since 2001 and have three children together.

SNL “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che offered to pay one month’s rent to all 160 residents of a NYCHA apartment building where his grandmother lived before she succumbed to COVID-19 earlier this month.

Citing a drop in advertising sales stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, The Daily Star, an Oneonta-based newspaper is going from six- to five-day publication in its printed and online editions starting Monday. The change is likely to be permanent.

The U.K.’s communications regulator is investigating broadcaster ITV Plc after one of its top hosts suggested there may be truth to a conspiracy theory linking the next generation of wireless technology to the spread of coronavirus.

here are the celebrities pushing the 5G conspiracy theory to their social media followers.

In non-virus news…

Baseball Hall of Famer Roy Halladay had high-levels of amphetamines in his system and was doing extreme acrobatics when he lost control of his small plane and nosedived into Tampa Bay in 2017, killing him, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report issued yesterday.

De Blasio and his wife, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, reported that they lost a whopping $13,656 last year on a nearly 120-year-old row house they own at 384 11th St. in upscale Park Slope, according to tax filings they made public yesterday.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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