Happy Tuesday, CivMixers.
We’re back to the gray and wet version of spring, with a 90 percent chance of precipitation and potential high wind gusts later in the day. Temperatures will be in the low 50s, according to The Weather Channel.
We’ve had a significant development on the coronavirus front, with President Donald Trump announcing late last night that he will sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the U.S. as the nation battles the health and economic effects of the pandemic.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump tweeted shortly after 10 p.m.
This president’s announcement signals his most wide-ranging attempt yet to seal off the country from the rest of the world. A formal order temporarily barring the provision of new green cards and work visas could come as early as the next few days.
This is sure to dominate the news this morning, as the president didn’t provide much in the way of details. For instance, it’s unclear HOW exactly he plans to suspend immigration, how long this could last or what effect this will have on the operation of U.S. border crossings and on those who already hold green cards.
This comes as a federal judge in California ordered ICE to actively and rapidly review the cases of all detained immigrants at increased risk of severe illness or death if they contract the coronavirus and determine whether they should be released.
The governors of several southern states – Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina – are moving to restart their economies, though not necessarily for business as usual, even as coronavirus hot spots are emerging elsewhere – including at a state prison in Ohio.
As America’s attention turns to reopening its economy, many businesses are deploying a range of tactics to attempt to shield their workforces from the coronavirus. For the most part, they are making it up as they go. With no single standard or clear-cut road map, safety procedures and implementation vary widely.
The NYT editorial board opines: “Weeks into the pandemic, it’s apparent that not nearly enough is being done to protect these front-line workers, even as their continued labor ensures that a semblance of normality endures for their fellow Americans.”
New York’s daily death toll from COVID-19 is continuing to drop, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, and now health officials are closely studying the outbreak’s trajectory to determine whether its decline will be quick or gradual. The hard-hit state recorded 478 deaths because of Covid-19 on Sunday, marking the fourth consecutive day of a decline in fatalities.
Cuomo will be visiting the White House today to talk about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump mentioned the visit during his daily coronavirus task force briefing yesterday, and Cuomo’s office confirmed the meet-up.
The governor and the president have carried on a hot-and-cold relationship throughout the pandemic, and Cuomo has emerged as one of the strongest voices on the crisis outside of the White House.
New York state has asked the federal government for a $4 billion no-interest loan to cover unemployment payments for people put out of work by the coronavirus pandemic as it and other states burn through funds set aside for jobless claims.
Cuomo doubled down on a statewide reopening plan, even as upstate lawmakers and advocacy groups have ramped up pressure to ease restrictions on a regional basis. A small group plans to protest outside the state Capitol in Albany today.
Trump lashed out at governors who have clamored for more widespread coronavirus testing, accusing them of playing politics or simply being ignorant of resources in their own states.
The federal government must share responsibility for expanded coronavirus testing, Cuomo said, pushing back on Trump’s stance that the burden lies primarily with the states.
The rollout of New York’s random antibody testing program was met with criticism by some who were taken aback by the apparent lack of notice and distancing at stores.
In lieu of a vaccine, which might not be widely available for at least a year, and mass testing, public health experts say tracking down sick people and those they might have exposed to the virus will be critical in allowing the public to work, shop and gather in groups again without sparking more outbreaks.
Governments across Europe and in the U.S. say they have driven down a key variable to levels that suggest that the lockdowns that plunged their economies into the deep freeze are succeeding in containing the spread of the deadly new coronavirus: The average number of other people each new carrier infects.
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut may be able to begin safely lifting coronavirus lockdowns as early as June, according to new projections.
Companies are suspending or terminating business agreements by relying on a common but rarely invoked escape hatch in the fine print of many commercial contracts, as the new coronavirus and government measures to slow its spread upend the economy. Known as “act of God” clauses, or “force majeure,” the provision has been cited in court cases across the U.S. and around the world.
The hotel industry has shed more than four million American jobs in the wake of COVID-19, and an industry analytics company, STR, reports more than 80 percent of rooms in the U.S. are currently empty. But a handful of hotels are nevertheless moving ahead with planned openings.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that lawmakers are in the final discussions regarding the language for an interim stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
While broad strokes of the agreement are largely set, negotiations continued over several details, including how to structure ramped-up testing for the virus in the U.S.
…The sticking point in the nearly $500 billion deal: Testing.
There is growing concern that a critical corner of the housing industry has been overlooked in the ongoing federal stimulus bailouts due to the pandemic, putting mortgage companies in a precarious position as millions of borrowers delay payments.
Homeowners who miss mortgage payments due to the coronavirus pandemic would get more time to catch up, under measures proposed by state and federal lawmakers representing Long Island.
The very features that make New York City attractive to businesses, workers and tourists — Broadway, the subway system, world-class restaurants and innumerable cultural institutions — were among the hardest-hit in the pandemic. And they will take the longest to come back – if they ever fully come back at all.
As the coronavirus pandemic has shut down New York, over 90 percent of the city’s subway ridership has disappeared — along with critical fare revenue — leaving behind escalating expenses and an uncertain timeline of when and how the city’s transit lifeline will recover.
Some of the data shows glimmers of hope in NYC. While hundreds of food banks were forced to close, the city’s volunteer pool vastly expanded. Air pollution is down. Applications to foster abandoned animals skyrocketed.
The price of the main U.S. oil benchmark fell more than $50 a barrel to end the day about $30 below zero, the first time oil prices have ever turned negative.
The historic low price reflects uncertainty about what buyers would even do with a barrel of crude in the near term. Refineries, storage facilities, pipelines and even ocean tankers have filled up rapidly since billions of people around the world began sheltering in place to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The U.S. is monitoring intelligence that suggests North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery. There are conflicting reports about the status of his health.
Virgin Australia announced in a statement that control of the company would me handed over to administrators at Deloitte as the company seeks to recover from reduced flights due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that permits for June events in New York City were canceled, including the Pride march and the Puerto Rican Day parade.
Cuomo plans to issue an executive order sending ballots to all registered voters in New York so they can vote by mail in the upcoming election on June 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The New York State Nurses Association filed three lawsuits against the state and two hospital systems, alleging that dangerous work guidelines and protective gear shortages exacerbated the spread of the novel coronavirus.
New York’s health commissioner defended a directive that requires nursing homes to readmit residents who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus, as Cuomo revealed he didn’t know the policy was in place.
Three Westchester residents — including a doctor — have filed a class action lawsuit against the World Health Organization, claiming the agency covered up the coronavirus pandemic.
New York’s largest hospital system, Northwell Health, announced it is giving 45,0000 of its “heroic” workers lump sum $2,500 bonuses and a paid week off for fighting the coronavirus epidemic, as Cuomo urged the feds to provide “hazard pay” to other front-line workers.
New York City’s public housing tenants will finally get a much-needed boost battling the coronavirus pandemic as state officials promised to deliver face masks, hand sanitizer and provide more testing.
As the coronavirus overwhelms the health care system, people with other illnesses are struggling to find treatment.
As the world retreats and the pandemic’s confirmed death toll in New York City alone charges past 10,000, funeral directors, cemetery workers and others who oversee a body’s final chapter are sprinting to keep up.
The volume of organ transplants across New York state has dropped precipitously with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, falling to 23 total organ transplants during April from an average of 220 transplants, according to an official for one of the state’s nonprofit transplant organizations.
Cuomo is issuing an executive order to delay the May 11 deadline for property tax payments to school districts in Nassau County.
A projected $2.9 million budget gap has Troy City School District officials looking at cutting as many as 25 jobs and programs as they strive to put together a balanced 2020-21 school year spending plan during the coronavirus pandemic, district and union officials said.
Expecting the Mechanicville School District will cut a dozen from its staff in 2020-21, the city school district’s superintendent said the board will not restore busing for 26 district students who attend private school.
A pair of fans in New York sued Major League Baseball, Commissioner Rob Manfred and the 30 teams, asking for their money back for tickets and for certification of class-action status.
Less than a month after canceling its spring season because of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City Ballet is back with a six-week slate of online programing.
National Public Radio, the purveyor of “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “Planet Money,” is cutting executives’ pay to combat the effects of the economic collapse brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Diving advertising revenues have forced newspapers in the Capital Region and across the country to make tough choices. As of Sunday, about 80 newspapers and magazines nationwide have laid off or furloughed staff, or reduced their printing operations because of the pandemic.
Supermodel, and founder of Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington Burns, has joined a new COVID-19 maternity task force headed by Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor and chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama read one of her beloved children’s books aloud yesterday, live streaming to hundreds of thousands of people stuck at home. The virtual story time was the first in a four-week series called “Mondays with Michelle Obama.”
NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan NY1 anchor has offered himself as a wedding officiant over Zoom to couples wanting to get hitched in lockdown
George Stephanopoulos had already irked Hamptons residents by going out in public after his wife contracted COVID-19 – but now the “GMA” anchor is battling the virus himself and is ignoring mandates to wear a mask in public.
In (mostly) non-virus news…
New fundraising numbers show the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his party are nearly $187 million behind the Republican National Committee and Trump, who has spent the last three years stockpiling his huge war chest.
Biden posted his biggest monthly haul of the campaign in March thanks to his sweeping primary victories, raising $46.7 million as donors consolidated around his candidacy after most of the other Democrats dropped out of the presidential race.
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg spent more than $1 billion on his failed presidential campaign, according to filings made yesterday.
Another former staffer for Bloomberg’s failed presidential bid has filed a lawsuit claiming that the campaign reneged on its promise to pay workers through November and took away their health insurance in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state juries must be unanimous to convict defendants in criminal trials, overturning the Louisiana second-degree murder conviction of Evangelisto Ramos that resulted in a life sentence when a jury found him guilty with a 10-2 vote.
The man accused of going on a gruesome machete rampage in December at a Hanukkah celebration in Rockland County that left one man dead is not mentally competent to stand trial for hate crime charges, a judge wrote in a ruling made public yesterday.
Global warming has increased harmful ground level ozone in the Capital Region, according to a study released today by the American Lung Association.
The Albany Common Council unanimously voted, 15-0, last night to place greater zoning restrictions on blood plasma centers in the city, overriding Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s veto.
Noach Dear, who served nearly two decades on the New York City Council as an outlier, advocating on behalf of the conservative agenda of his Orthodox Jewish constituents in Brooklyn while defending himself against accusations of conflicts of interest, died on Sunday in Brooklyn from complications of the coronavirus. He was 66.
Sirio Maccioni, the larger-than-life restaurateur behind New York City’s Le Cirque, died in his native Italy from natural causes, according to family members. He was 88 years old.
Photo credit: George Fazio.