Good Monday morning, CivMixers. It’s April 20 – AKA 4/20.
If you happen to be hip to cannabis culture, or just a person of a certain age, you know what that means. If not, well…it reportedly all started in the early 1970s as an inside joke at a Northern California high school as a sort of code for teens to tell one another it was time – 4:20 p.m. – to get high. And that grew over the years into a counterculture movement that traditionally has marked this day with large-scale gatherings of one sort or another.
That, of course, is kind of difficult at the moment.
So, if people seem just a tad bit less productive than usual today – even by pandemic standards – you’ll know why.
Today, we’re looking at a mix of sun and clouds and temperatures in the low 50s, according to The Weather Channel. Enjoy it while you can, because the rest of the week looks pretty gray and wet.
It was a GLORIOUS Sunday, weather-wise, made all the more amazing by the fact that the day before was so downright crummy – cold, raining and even snowing some in the morning. The only problem with yesterday was that the warm sunshine drew people out in droves, DROVES, to parks and trails and lakes etc.
I get that everyone wants to escape the confines of their four walls. But people, listen, walking eight abreast on a trail or lounging on the grass while not wearing masks and not allowing enough room for others to pass you within a safe six-foot range IS NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING. Period. End of story.
Now, while we appear to have passed the plateau of this pandemic, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with the daily death toll falling steadily – but really, still too terribly high – we are NOT out of the woods yet.
“We showed that we can control the beast and when you close down, you can actually slow that infection rate, but it’s only halftime,” Cuomo said. “We still have to make sure we keep that beast under control.”
In NYC, they’re increasing the maximum fine for violating social distancing rules to $1,000. (This is NOT an excuse to leave NYC and come upstate to enjoy the scenery and ignore social distancing, folks).
Cuomo said yesterday that the state will roll out antibody testing this week to determine who has been infected with CVOID-19, conducting the “largest survey of any state population that has been done.”
The antibody tests will give the state its “first true snapshot” of how many people in the state have been infected with COVID-19, Cuomo said. Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, later tweeted that the state antibody testing will begin today and will sample 3,000 people. (It’s unclear who these people will be and how they will be selected).
Although the governor indicated tests would begin today, the Department of Health began antibody testing yesterday at Price Chopper grocery stores in Malta, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs.
The governor reiterated his call for the federal government to work with New York and other states on addressing the logistical and supply chain issues that hinder their ability to enhance testing capacity.
President Donald Trump announced that he will use the Defense Production Act to direct a company to increase production of badly-needed swabs for coronavirus testing.
Trump is “lying” when he says cities and states have sufficient access to coronavirus tests, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said during an MSNBC interview.
A lot of stock is being put on antibody testing in order to reopen the economy. But the tests, are problematic. To begin with, many are made in China without F.D.A. approval, and they are often inaccurate. Also some doctors are misusing them, and the rollout is nowhere close to the demand.
Amid efforts to expand coronavirus testing, laboratory operators and state health officials are navigating a thicket of supply shortages, widespread test backlogs, unexpected snafus and unreliable results, often with no referee – prolonging the national crisis.
The president played a clip of Cuomo praising the Trump administration during a briefing from the White House coronavirus task force.
Trump responded to questions about protests against coronavirus restrictions by saying he believes some governors have gone too far with the measures.
Americans are worried about lifting stay-at-home orders too quickly amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has dramatically upended life in a month marked by business shutdowns, job losses and illness, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
As part of a small movement that is cropping up in cities nationwide, a group in New York is planning to protest the extension of the state lockdown at the Capitol building Wednesday.
Protestors planning to gather today in Buffalo hope Cuomo might relax the order for areas where the coronavirus pandemic isn’t as severe, and they plan on doing it while maintaining social distancing.
In the wake of Cuomo declaring a state of emergency on March 7, the Department of Heath spent $686 million for medical supplies amid a fierce global competition to obtain them. The extraordinary expenditures greatly exceeded the state’s needs and came as the state faces a massive fiscal shortfall.
A bipartisan task force of nearly 100 U.S. lawmakers will work together in the coming weeks to try and restart the American economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s one glaring omission. Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah, is the only Republican out of 53 in the U.S. Senate who wasn’t asked to join.
The White House and Democrats in Congress said yesterday that they’re nearing a deal on more than $400 billion in new spending to help Americans weather the economic chaos wrought by the coronavirus outbreak.
…But omitted from the bill is any direct aid for states or cities that are struggling to cope with the pandemic, an issue that drew pointed remarks from de Blasio, who asked if the president was telling his former hometown to “drop dead.”
The mayor says the president should call on U.S. Senate Republicans to provide federal stimulus to New York City, comparing Trump’s neglect of the five boroughs to that of President Gerald Ford’s during the 1970s fiscal crisis.
Empire State schools could be staring down a nearly 50-percent cut in funding unless the federal government helps prop up New York’s coronavirus-hobbled economy, Cuomo said.
Cutting state aid funding in half for schools would devastate local districts, educators said, after the governor warned he may be forced to do so if the state doesn’t receive federal resources to offset losses due to the coronavirus.
A month after the Trump administration recommended that all elective medical care be put on hold nationwide because of the coronavirus, it issued guidance yesterday for how hospitals and doctors’ offices could start offering such care again as part of a phased reopening of the country.
The global health crisis is taking a nasty political turn with tensions worsening between governments locked down to keep the coronavirus at bay and people yearning to restart stalled economies and forestall fears of a depression.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil yesterday enthusiastically addressed demonstrators in Brasília who demanded an end to business shutdowns and quarantine guidelines imposed by governors around the country.
Shares trended lower in Asia today as oil prices fell back and Japan’s trade data for March was weaker than expected. Benchmarks rose in Shanghai but fell in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney.
Italy could lose one-sixth of its beloved bars and restaurants to the coronavirus crisis — with a staggering 50,000 predicted to have to close for good.
Criticized for refusing to lock down the country, Sweden’s top health official says herd immunity is inevitable and took credit for the slowing of coronavirus numbers.
Tokyo may have been lulled into complacency during the weeks when Japan contained the coronavirus while avoiding economically devastating lockdowns.
Coronavirus is dealing a gut punch to the illegal drug trade, paralyzing economies, closing borders and severing supply chains in China that traffickers rely on for the chemicals to make such profitable drugs as methamphetamine and fentanyl.
health care professionals fighting the coronavirus do not risk exposure to medical malpractice or other legal liability under New York state law – even if they make errors that lead to fatalities – unless they erred in a way that was grossly negligent, reckless, willful or criminal in nature.
Another study – though not yet peer reviewed – has indicated that the coronavirus does not die unless exposed to extremely high heat for a significant period of time, lessening the chances of a virus die-off over the summer.
The demographic breakdown of infections and deaths from the novel coronavirus in New York City mirrors patterns that have emerged around the nation and the world, epidemiologists say, with the elderly, men and some racial minorities among the disease’s most vulnerable victims.
Nearly one month after officials were quick to disprove rumors of a subway shutdown, a handful of New York City officials are now asking Cuomo to temporarily shutdown subways and buses for at least a week to allow for a deep cleaning and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the MTA, that request is a non-starter.
“The biggest challenge that would create would be for our front-line healthcare workers, first responders, essential workers,” de Blasio said during a press briefing. “We can’t have those people in a position where they can’t get to work.”
At least 68 MTA employees have died from coronavirus and thousands more have tested positive for the disease — but new data has transit officials cautiously hopeful that the worst of the pandemic is behind them.
NYC transit employees say they deserve the same preferential treatment as cops and doctors when it comes to shopping — including being allowed to skip lines and avoid product limits, given their “front-line” work.
On an average day, roughly 16 percent of New York City public school students have not been in touch with their schools, according to attendance data that gives an early glimpse into how schools are transitioning to remote learning.
The NYC Department of Education is putting the brakes on millions of dollars in contracts that critics call outrageous spending amid a dire cash crunch.
Coronavirus-related discrimination in New York City is on the rise, particularly against Asian-Americans, prompting the city to establish a new response team to handle the complaints.
Visitors to the western end of Fire Island are greeted by a large sign telling them to “Stop, turn around, go back.” In bold, red letters, the sign proclaims that the island’s residential areas are “closed to visitors” and that it has “No restrooms, no open business, no medical facility.”
The pandemic has been particularly devastating to America’s biggest cities, as the virus has found fertile ground in the density that is otherwise prized. And it comes as the country’s major urban centers were already losing their appeal for many Americans.
The coronavirus pandemic has walloped Long Island’s green-energy sector with the same impact it has other industries. Local green-energy companies say the broadside comes at a particularly delicate time.
Amazon is aggressively moving to capitalize on a newly captive market of millions of families unable or unwilling to shop normally. But resistance to the online retail giant is starting to build and coalesce.
Like companies all over the world, auction houses now find themselves in uncharted territory, trying to find a way to keep their businesses afloat even as the future of buying art looks as if it may be forever changed.
Bar and restaurant owners are removing currency that had been stapled or taped inside their businesses to donate to employees affected by the coronavirus shutdown.
Communities across the country are finding themselves in a bind as they try to pass urgent legislation to combat the coronavirus pandemic at the same time public meetings are impossible. Open-government advocates say many city councils, school boards and other governing bodies are failing at the task.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Albany County, but County Executive Dan McCoy said the hospitalization rate has decreased slightly.
A professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is predicting the Capital Region could see a peak number of coronavirus cases in mid-May or early June.
It’s food truck season in Albany.
Cuomo has ordered that marinas and many golf courses can reopen with safety restrictions after being closed to contain the COVID-19 virus.
Golfing in New York may be allowed, but with some restrictions applied.
Sen. Bernie Sanders put out a fundraising call using his campaign’s email list last night, imploring supporters to split a three-way donation between members of “the Squad” – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), all of whom endorsed his campaign for president which ended last week.
Gas is selling at drastically reduced prices in the U.S. as people continue to quarantine themselves indoors due to coronavirus. In a whopping 13 states, gas could be found for less than $1 per gallon as of late last week, according to data released by the travel and navigation app GasBuddy.
The vast ranks of newly unemployed are straining the capacities of food banks, soup kitchens and pop-up services across New York City.
Feed Albany, a new charity effort founded in response to the COVID-19 crisis that in its first month has given away more than 20,000 free meals to those in need, is formally organizing to be an ongoing effort run by leaders in the restaurant, business, nonprofit and government sectors.
Gov. Cuomo took a detour during his daily coronavirus update to regale New Yorkers with tales of meeting his daughter’s boyfriend and holding Sunday dinner in the time of a pandemic.
Cristina Cuomo, wife of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, said she is feeling better after being diagnosed with COVID-19 this week.
In non-virus news…
Sixteen people were dead after a shooting rampage in a rural part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, and a suspect was killed in a confrontation with police, Canadian law-enforcement officials said.
The Albany County Sheriff’s Office said a 12-year-old who was home alone at the time of a house fire Saturday night jumped out a second-story window to escape.
Mindy Wormuth, the former supervisor for the Town of Halfmoon, died this weekend at the age of 53. The cause of her death was not immediately revealed by officials. She had posted on her Facebook feed as recently as April 12.
Manhattan Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright may be barred from seeking re-election because she failed to include a cover sheet with her latest paperwork.
Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s family believes he was indeed infected with COVID-19, though a test that came back after his death was negative. Brodsky’s colleagues and collaborators said he probably would have been critical of several recent steps taken by the state Legislature since New York’s first confirmed coronavirus case on March 1.
Former acting LIRR president Raymond Kenny, a Lindenhurst resident whose childhood fascination with trains led to a railroading career that spanned a half-century, died Saturday from complications of COVID-19, his family said.
Nearly three weeks after his disappearance from his home in Montauk, authorities believe that they have found the body of famed wildlife photographer Peter Beard.
…His family confirmed that a body found in Camp Hero State Park in Montauk was that of Beard, who had dementia and had previously experienced at least one stroke.
Photo credit: George Fazio.