Hello, and welcome to Thursday, CivMixers.
It’s the last day of April, which somehow seems like an accomplishment. It’s also International Jazz Day.
This day was established in 2011 by musician and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock to bring together communities worldwide to celebrate the humanity of the universal art form through workshops, discussions and an all-star global concert. Said concert this year was supposed to be hosted in Cape Town, South African, but, well, pandemic.
Instead, the festivities are moving online, with lots of virtual performances taking place all over the world, and will be hosted by Hancock himself.
It’s also National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. Interest in shelter pets has been sky high as a result of the pandemic, which is good, but what will happen when everyone goes back to work? Please factor that in before you formally adopt.
We’re in for showers and wind today, according to The Weather Channel, with temperatures flirting with 60 degrees and high gusts possible later in the day.
In the headlines…
President Donald Trump said the federal coronavirus social distancing guidelines — which expire today — will not be extended as states have dealt their own restrictions, even as the number of Americans who have died of coronavirus surpassed 60,000.
As some researchers say deaths could rise significantly in coming weeks, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has topped 1 million and the deaths toll has surpassed the total of US troop fatalities during the Vietnam War.
Putting a positive face on the latest grim numbers, Trump delivered his daily upbeat update and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, described the administration’s much-criticized response to the pandemic as “a great success story.”
The U.S. economy contracted for the first time in nearly six years between January and March, as the coronavirus crisis put the world in a choke hold.
“We are going to see economic data for the second quarter that is worse than any data we have seen for the economy,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said. “There are direct consequences of the disease and measures we are taking to protect ourselves from it.”
The economy could begin to bounce back significantly in the third quarter as businesses reopen, Powell added. While we won’t go back to pre-coronavirus levels for quite some time, the third quarter could provide some economic relief.
Some economists expect there were at least 4 million workers who filed for state unemployment benefits last week, signaling the job losses could be greater than expected, as states catch up on claims applications. (New numbers are due out at 8:30 a.m.)
More than half of the country will be partially reopened by the end of the week when many states’ stay-at-home orders are set to expire.
Trump will end his months-long confinement at the White House with a visit next week to the presidential battleground state of Arizona, he announced.
The president said he’s hoping to hold mass campaign rallies in the coming months with thousands of supporters, even though medical experts have said there is little hope of having a vaccine by then.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there’s virtually no chance that Saratoga Race Course can open to the public this summer.
“You can’t open an attraction that could bring people from across the state to that attraction and overwhelm a region,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think you can open unless we do it statewide.”
In the wake of his remarks, NYRA released a statement saying it is developing a plan to open the track in July without an audience, a move that has been done at some horse racing venues across the nation.
Fauci discussed the possibility of having to cancel the entire MLB season. But Yankees president Randy Levine isn’t giving up, saying he believes everybody with a stake in Major League Baseball getting its season started should cooperate with each other.
Many New York hospitals have been plunged into deficits and left to navigate a confusing and opaque federal aid system after their elective surgery businesses were shut down as thousands of people afflicted with COVID-19 flooded emergency rooms and intensive care units.
Capital Region hospitals say they’re perplexed as to why some regions of the state and not others are being allowed to resume elective procedures as hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to fall and bed capacity opens up.
Nurses from N.Y.U. Langone Health describe the toll the coronavirus is taking on their patients, and on themselves.
Counties across New York state are facing a “double whammy” with plummeting sales tax revenues and a possible 50 percent reduction in local aid from the state.
Cuomo lashed out again at congressional foes he said are questioning efforts to draft another federal stimulus bill to aid state and local government agencies.
State Attorney General Letitia James said cable and satellite TV providers should refund the approximately $20 in monthly fees that sports fans pay to see their teams, since there have been no games thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state Education Department will convene a statewide task force, made up of superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, school board members, and other stakeholders, to devise a guide for reopening schools after the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Across the country, dozens of elite private preparatory schools are facing a vexing decision: They qualified for federal funds for small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but administrators are considering whether the scrutiny of taking government assistance outweighs the benefits.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom intends to order the closure of all state beaches and parks starting Friday, because people were not social distancing at the shore.
Los Angeles became the first major city in the U.S. to offer free coronavirus tests to every resident — even ones not experiencing symptoms, officials announced.
An experimental drug for the coronavirus has a proven benefit, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie defended the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the coronavirus, insisting they were never used as “test subjects” but given the treatment only when medically appropriate.
Small but significant scientific advances against COVID-19 sent stocks bursting upward yesterday, all but ignoring sobering data that shows a U.S. economy in paralysis.
Stocks rose today, following a rally in U.S. markets on Federal Reserve assurances it will continue with its stimulus programs and on promising news on a coronavirus treatment.
With social distancing and virus testing policies in place for months in several countries, a few governments are now reporting remarkable milestones: Recording zero new domestically transmitted coronavirus cases, or no new cases at all.
New federal guidelines for mass transit agencies could recommend trying to keep riders six feet apart, reducing occupancy on buses and trains and nixing trash cans at stations as cities reopen from the coronavirus pandemic.
Entergy announced that Indian Point Unit 2, located in Buchanan, will shut down its reactor today, as scheduled, after more than 45 years. The final reactor, Unit 3, is scheduled to shut down by April 30, 2021.
Global greenhouse gas emissions are on track to plunge nearly 8 percent this year, the largest drop ever recorded, as worldwide lockdowns to fight the coronavirus have triggered an “unprecedented” decline in the use of fossil fuels, the International Energy Agency said in a new report.
New York State paid a Silicon Valley electrical engineer more than $69 million for a ventilators that never arrived.
The state Health Department allowed nurses and other staff who tested positive for the coronavirus to continue treating COVID-19 patients at a nursing home outside the town of Hornell.
Thanks to the lockdown, residents in the city that never sleeps are getting up later in the morning.
Until a few weeks ago, New Yorkers living through the coronavirus crisis seemed largely to be embracing the maxim of “together apart.” But as sirens blare on, no end in sight (even with a flattening curve), many have entered a more frustrating phase of pandemic living.
Dairy farmers in upstate New York who faced the wrenching task of dumping their milk earlier this month as the novel coronavirus spread are now confronting a grim future: months of low prices that could squeeze them out of business.
The number of publicly reported coronavirus cases in nursing homes has soared, with more than 1 in 6 facilities nationwide acknowledging infections among residents or staff. The rise is partially driven by new data released by states such as Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky and South Carolina.
Cuomo said that subway cars in New York City should be cleaned every day for essential workers who were still commuting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Americans are sending Cuomo surgical masks by the thousands, and the governor argues that the display proves broad national support for sending more federal coronavirus funding to New York.
Four deaf New Yorkers are suing Cuomo for not having a sign language interpreter at his daily coronavirus press briefings — a service provided by every other state and New York City, a new federal lawsuit charges.
Forty-three New York City hotel workers have lost their lives and 503 have been hospitalized in the coronavirus pandemic — a body blow to a workforce that is 90 percent unemployed, the workers’ union revealed.
Police were called to a Brooklyn neighborhood after a funeral home overwhelmed by the coronavirus resorted to storing dozens of bodies on ice in rented trucks, and a passerby complained about the smell, officials said.
Jewish community leaders in New York City wrote an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, expressing their “anger and disappointment” over the mayor’s stern warnings to “the Jewish community” following a large Hasidic funeral gathering in Brooklyn Tuesday.
…the episode underscored the challenges that officials have faced in addressing the flouting of social distancing rules in insular and close-knit Hasidic neighborhoods around the New York region.
New York City police will no longer issue warnings to people who violate social-distancing rules designed to fight the coronavirus.
The sister of top Manhattan ER doctor Lorna Breen — who committed suicide after working on the front lines of the coronavirus battle — said she believes contracting the illness “altered her brain.”
A number of New York City residents who fled the five boroughs due to the COVID-19 crisis now say they don’t plan to ever return.
The Big Apple’s tourism arm, NYC & Company, has furloughed more than half of its staff as the coronavirus shutdown slams its finances.
More than a dozen major car insurance carriers are moving to lower their rates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New Yorkers could see savings of 10 to 25 percent in their next bills, assuming the state bureaucracy and insurance companies can alter the bills in time.
Rep. Elise Stefanik and some state and local officials have sent a letter to Cuomo’s office, asking for clarity about whether camps will be opened this year.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is asking people to reconsider plans to attend a rally tomorrow to protest the state’s coronavirus quarantine orders. She’s also warning city residents to avoid the area around the state Capitol.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thwarted the town of Ballston Spa’s newly elected officials from fulfilling their most popular election promise – a year-long moratorium on large building projects.
Schenectady County officials are looking at setting up additional coronavirus community testing sites after opening several within the past week.
Ulster County will offer buyouts to employees in an effort to help close an anticipated multimillion-dollar budget shortfall that’s expected to result from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cayuga County Legislature voted to furlough 11 percent of its workforce. The county says furloughs will take effect starting Sunday, May 3rd, and last until “about July 31st.”
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said he is proposing the “temporary furlough” of 87 employees across all city departments, as well as the suspending the hiring of 46.5 unfilled positions that the city had previously budgeted for.
In (mostly) non-virus news…
Trump reportedly erupted during a phone call with his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, two days after he was presented with polling data from his campaign and the Republican National Committee that showed him trailing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in several crucial states.
Activists and women’s rights advocates have urged Biden to address a former aide’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. His lack of response has angered them.
The sentencing of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere is now firmly scheduled for June 23 — one way or another. And one way may be a virtual court appearance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sand Lake residents and town officials are opposing the expansion of activities at the Hoffay Mine off Route 150 because of its potential for causing noise and dust pollution in the surrounding neighborhoods. They also allege the new permit is an attempt by the owners to mitigate past violations.
A judge in Albany has tossed the second-degree murder indictment against Paul Barbaritano, whose temporary release from jail while he was charged with fatally stabbing a woman became a rallying cry for opponents of the state’s new bail reform law.
The NCAA Board of Governors announced it supports rule changes that would allow student-athletes to earn money through endorsements and other activities involving personal appearances and social media content.
Photo credit: George Fazio.