Good morning, CivMixers. Welcome to Friday, which also happens to be National Arbor Day – a moment to celebrate trees, and plant them, too.
Learn more about joining #TeamTree (yes, it’s true) here.
Also, for my fellow children of the ’80s, there’s this. You’re welcome.
And Ramadan, the monthlong daytime fast observed by millions of Muslims worldwide, began midnight Thursday.
Today, we’re looking at…rain. Yeah, more rain. There’s going to be quite a bit of that in the coming week, too, it appears. Temperatures will be in the high 50s, according to The Weather Channel, and thins might clear up a bit by the afternoon, though it will still be cloudy.
Tomorrow is shaping up to be lovey, with sun and temperatures in the 60s. Please, folks, keep those social distancing guidelines in mind when you head outside.
In the news…
Donning face coverings and voting in alphabetical sets to cut the risk of infection, House members voted 388-5 to approve a roughly $480 billion package to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing, the latest attempt by lawmakers to blunt the devastating impact of the pandemic.
The measure passed the U.S. Senate earlier this week and will now go to President Donald Trump, who has expressed support for the legislation and indicated that he will sign it.
Once signed into law, the legislation will bring the government’s emergency response to an unprecedented total of more than $2.5 trillion across four bills. And there’s more to come.
The bulk of the latest bill is dedicated to replenishing funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, a critical new program that provides small businesses with forgivable loans to cover payroll costs. The PPP quickly ran out of the $350 billion lawmakers allocated to it in the last $2.3 trillion stimulus package.
With public scrutiny of the coronavirus rescue intensifying, the Treasury Department asked publicly traded companies to repay loans they received from a federal program intended to aid small businesses.
The Democratic-led House also voted to establish a new panel with broad authority to oversee the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Even as the House passed the compromise legislation, the lawmakers stared down a new battle over more funding for cash-strapped state governments. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats will do “everything we can to get state and local in phase four” of the stimulus funding.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said states should file for bankruptcy, but there is broad agreement that Washington will have to bail out local governments suffering economic pain from the coronavirus.
Nearly a month after Washington rushed through an emergency package to aid jobless Americans, millions of laid-off workers have still not been able to apply for those benefits — let alone receive them — because of overwhelmed state unemployment systems.
The second wave of coronavirus stimulus payments will start hitting bank accounts in the next week, but retirees, veterans and pensioners expecting paper checks may have to wait up to 20 weeks for the cash.
For the fifth week in a row, millions of American workers applied for unemployment benefits, seeking financial relief as businesses remained closed during the coronavirus pandemic. First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18.
Despite major delays in the processing of unemployment claims and disbursement of aid to jobless New Yorkers, the governor said the state has gotten more aid to more of its residents than others across the country. “We have done far more far faster than, I think, any other state in the country,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
At a White House briefing, the president promoted unproven treatments and asked Dr. Deborah Birx if she had heard of the success of sunlight as a tool against viruses. Her reply, basically: No.
But Bill Bryan, who leads the science and technology directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, presented an “emerging result” from departmental research that suggested UV light, heat and humidity are detrimental to COVID-19.
Trump also mused about whether disinfectants could be used to treat the virus in humans, asking whether there is “a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”
Members of the medical community immediately pushed back against the president’s comments.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, tweeted: “UV light? Injecting disinfectant? Here’s an idea, Mr. President: more tests. Now. And protective equipment for actual medical professionals.”
As his administration grapples with reopening the economy and responding to the coronavirus crisis, the president is spending time alone, watching a lot of TV and worrying about his re-election and how the news media is portraying him. He’s tested weekly – as is Vice President Mike Pence – for the virus.
Few Americans regularly look to or trust what Trump says about the pandemic, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
A key House subcommittee chairwoman said she plans to hold hearings into the departure of Rick Bright, who said he was removed as the head of an agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine after he pressed for rigorous vetting of unproven drugs embraced by Trump to combat the virus.
Preliminary results from New York’s first coronavirus antibody study show nearly 14 percent tested positive, meaning they had the virus at some point and recovered, Cuomo said. That equates to 2.7 million infections statewide – more than 10 times the state’s confirmed cases.
The results appear to conform with research from Northeastern University that indicated that the coronavirus was circulating by early February in the New York area and other major cities.
Less than a third of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Northwell Health hospitals on Long Island and New York City had a fever upon triage, even though fever is viewed as a key indicator of the disease, a study released by Northwell Health researchers found.
A new study of thousands of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the New York City area, the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, has found that nearly all of them had at least one major chronic health condition, and most — 88 percent — had at least two.
In what’s described as the largest study of its kind, New York researchers have submitted to the state health department preliminary results of their work looking at hydroxychloroquine, the drug Trump has touted as a “game changer” in the fight against coronavirus. But the state won’t release it yet.
Cuomo announced the state Department of Health is partnering with Attorney General Letitia James to investigate nursing homes who violate Executive Orders requiring these facilities to communicate COVID-19 test results and deaths to residents’ families.
New York’s nursing homes weren’t allowed to challenge a controversial order to admit patients with the coronavirus, Cuomo said, even though it’s been blamed for spreading the deadly disease among residents.
“Mother Nature brought a virus,” Cuomo said. “And the virus attacks…old people. Nothing went wrong. Nobody’s to blame for the creation of the situation, but they have to deal with the situation.”
The first coronavirus patients admitted to a Queens nursing home under a controversial state mandate arrived along with some grim accessories — a supply of body bags.
Forty-six residents have died of COVID-19 at the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook, the largest publicly reported death toll at a Long Island nursing facility, where the executive director described the disease as “the most wicked terrorist you could ever face.”
At a Brooklyn nursing home where at least 50 people have died who were suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, a top administrator says his center had to go it alone for weeks during the outbreak, with little support from the state or other authorities.
Construction on the temporary hospitals at SUNY Old Westbury and Stony Brook University is scheduled for completion within the next two days, yet after more than $250 million in federal money was set aside to build them, they will lie empty — at least for now.
Starting next week, hospitals in New York will have the chance to pick back up on their elective surgeries after Cuomo gave permission to area hospitals who are not seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients.
The New York State Nurses Association is working to launch a program that would redeploy nurses from upstate hospitals to the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis in New York City.
New York City’s pantries for low-income residents and meal-delivery services for shut-ins are dependent, now more than ever, on drivers who keep the food moving.
The coronavirus pandemic is threatening billions of dollars earmarked for New York City’s airports and other major infrastructure projects. Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority, said without federal assistance the agency may significantly scale back its 10-year, $37 billion spending plans.
As more New Yorkers choose to cremate loved ones who have died from the virus, they hit a roadblock in receiving financial help from a city program designed to aid families who couldn’t otherwise afford a funeral.
Three deaths at hotels where people with COVID-19 were discharged from the hospital to recover exposed holes in the way the city monitors isolated patients and underscored the difficulty in containing the outbreak: how to keep people who have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus from passing it on.
The state Legislature has made tentative plans to return to session within the next two weeks, hoping to consider additional coronavirus-related legislation. That would also likely coincide with the state’s first deadline for potential budget cuts.
Asian shares are lower today after an early rally on Wall Street suddenly vanished, the latest example of how fragile the hopes underpinning the stock market’s monthlong recovery are.
U.S. grocers are struggling to secure meat, looking for new suppliers and selling different cuts, as the coronavirus pandemic cuts into domestic production and raises fears of shortages.
General Motors has notified some skilled trades and management employees that they need to return to work next week to help prepare for a restart in production. The UAW says it’s too soon for workers to go back safely.
Grocery stores have felt the pressure of stepping up conveniences such as curbside pickup and grocery delivery in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, but Trader Joe’s recently spent some time on an episode of its podcast explaining exactly why they haven’t moved in that direction despite calls to do so.
Amtrak, which was on track to break even this year for the first time in its history, instead saw ridership and revenues plunge as the coronavirus forced travelers to stay home.
It is gearing up to be a Summer of Wait and See for would-be travelers. With the timing of reopening the economy uncertain and a wariness about safety top of mind, it is hard to know when or where to go.
Westchester County Airport, north of New York City, is closing temporarily, using the time to complete long-planned construction.
Some people who have had to board commercial flights in recent weeks have taken elaborate precautions to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Syracuse University will provide students with at least $4.9 million in emergency financial aid grants as part of a $9.9 million federal stimulus package the university received due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The SUNY system is launching a massive eSports tournament to help raise money for emergency relief efforts to benefit students.
Anticipating a multi-million dollar shortfall to the city’s 2020 budget, Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan asked her fellow commissioners to offer suggestions for budget cuts.
In anticipation of a difficult budget filled with uncertainties, County Executive Dan McCoy is asking the county legislature to push back the due date for the county’s 2021 budget submission from Oct. 10 to Nov. 10.
An Albany-based nonprofit that provides legal services to those challenging government called out the town of Colonie in a news release for allegedly breaking public meetings laws.
The City of Rochester’s school district is in crisis after its superintendent suddenly got hired away to work in a Hudson Valley district.
The state lit up the Corning Tower in Albany to remind locals that they are “New York Tough.”
Sentencing for one of the main defendants in the NXIVM case has been postponed. Clare Bronfman, whose money funded much of the alleged cult’s expenses, including its legal fight, will be sentenced on June 25.
Despite limitations in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL went forward with its 85th annual player selection meeting, or, as we like to call it, the first round of the NFL draft.
Donald Reed Herring, the oldest brother of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, died this week from COVID-19. He was 86. She confirmed his death in a series of tweets.
Actor Matt Damon and his family are locked down in a seaside Irish village due to the pandemic.