Rise and Shine: April 7, 2020

It’s Tuesday.

If it were appropriate to write on the walls, I would be adding a hashtag for every day of this “PAUSE,” which has now been extended by the governor through April 29. But I then would have to paint once this was all over, and if there’s anything I hate it’s painting. So here’s me adding a virtual line to the ongoing tally in my head…

Today is going to be even more challenging than yesterday when it comes to being outside and staying away from one another. We’re looking at mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s. THE MID-60s, I SAID, DID YOU HEAR ME???

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed yesterday, it seems like social distancing is working because the death toll and hospitalization rate due to COVID-19 is slowly coming down. But if we drop our vigilance too soon and start cavorting around together in the spring sunshine, we’ll undo all the good work we’ve done.

And he means business, too, because he raised the fine for violating orders to stay away from one another from $500 to $1,000.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a spare $1,000 I’m interested in parting with at the moment. So, I’ll be keeping my distance, thanks very much.

Financial markets and the White House latched on to new figures suggesting that New York’s coronavirus cases may have plateaued for now.

…The estimate from state officials was heavily qualified, however. If daily patient admissions remain steady, the level of deaths and intensive-care demands will require hospitals in the metropolitan area to operate at what state officials called an unsustainable pace.

Ninety-five percent of New Yorkers are quarantining themselves or social distancing as the state endures the highest number of COVID-19 cases across the country, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll.

As new data suggests the number of New York’s coronavirus cases is beginning to flatten, Cuomo said the state may not need nearly as many hospital beds as it had expected to make it past the apex of the pandemic.

Others say the worst is still a little further off. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he fears “May could be worse than April,” and his health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, has predicted the peak will come in late April or early May.

New Yorkers have called 311 with nearly 4,300 complaints of people not social-distancing — but the NYPD has issued fewer than two dozen summonses and made just three arrests, city data shows.

After 9/11, the state, New York City and 57 counties created an emergency activation plan called the NYS Mass Fatality Management Resource Guide. It’s designed to supplement each county’s emergency planning operation.

Cuomo, over the past month, had pleaded for the federal government to provide life-saving ventilators as he warned of a dire shortage. A nursing home operator in Niskayuna, whose facility has dozens of unused ventilators, said he tried to be part of the solution. But it’s been difficult for him to lend the ventilators to New York’s state government.

The vast interior of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan will be turned into an emergency hospital as part of the fight against the pandemic.

A Columbia University surgeon has described in a heart-wrenching letter how he and other doctors are now being forced to choose which non-coronavirus patients, including infants, deserve medical procedures.

Nearly two-thirds of New York’s nurses – 64 percent — said they have inadequate protective personal equipment and 72 percent said they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, according to a survey conducted by the New York State Nurses’ Association.

Bronx Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, a nurse, has started working 12 hour shifts at Montifore Medical Center in the Bronx, answering the governor’s call for retired health care workers to go back to work to fight the virus.

New York City officials are starting to lay contingency plans if deaths from the coronavirus outbreak begin to overwhelm the capacity of morgues: temporarily burying the dead on public land.

De Blasio blasted claims that the city could temporarily bury coronavirus victims in New York City parks as “totally false,” adding: “There will never, ever be anything like quote on quote mass graves or mass interment in New York City — ever.”

The mayor insisted that even during the coronavirus pandemic he opts to exercise in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park — 12 miles from Gracie Mansion — in order to remain an effective leader.

City officials confirmed that more than 700 spots have been set aside for afflicted homeless people at five undisclosed locations throughout the city, but didn’t say where. (A source says they are being housed at hotels).

Hundreds of Hasidic Jews once again defied social distancing orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, taking over a Brooklyn street to hold a funeral for a local rabbi.

President Donald Trump made yet another series of false and misleading claims at his coronavirus briefing yesterday, during which he repeatedly criticized reporters and frequently departed from his prepared text.

A new effort by the Trump administration to create a hybrid system of distribution for ventilators and PPE— divided between the federal government, local officials and private health care companies — has led to new confusion, bordering on disarray, and charges of confiscation.

Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade advisor, starkly warned administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death.

A heated argument broke out in the White House Situation Room over the weekend between Dr. Anthony Fauci and another member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, with the exchange getting so intense that Vice President Mike Pence and others were left trying to calm down the country’s trade czar.

Trump and Joe Biden spoke yesterday shortly after Trump questioned why the former vice president didn’t accept his offer to discuss the coronavirus outbreak. Trump confirmed the conversation and said it had been “really wonderful” and “warm.”

One of the nation’s top public health officials, Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control, suggested that because Americans are taking social distancing recommendations “to heart,” the death toll from the novel coronavirus will be “much, much, much lower” than models have projected.

How will we know when it’s time to re-open the nation and jump-start the economy? Experts offer four benchmarks that can serve as a guide for cities and states, eliminating some of the guesswork.

Former Pataki administration official Dave Catalfamo writes: “Instead of trying to paper over all the debt and loss of economic activity by printing more and more money, pass a federal law that stops time for four months – essentially act as if those months don’t exist.”

A crew member aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has tested positive for novel coronavirus and is currently in isolation aboard the ship that is currently docked in New York City, according to a U.S. Navy statement.

…this report came just as the ship was preparing to start taking COVID-19 cases, at Cuomo’s request.

Regents exams scheduled for June will be canceled, state Education Chancellor Betty Rosa announced, but answers about what that means for students and schools aren’t expected until state officials release guidance today.

New York City schools are suspending all usage of the popular video-conferencing application Zoom due to security concerns.

China has reported zero new COVID-19 deaths for the first time since January, despite struggles with ongoing outbreaks including in Wuhan where dozens of residential blocks have been locked down just one day before travel restrictions were set to be lifted.

Federal law enforcement is warning of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans as the coronavirus crisis continues to grow.

Airlines are drastically cutting service to and from the New York City area as the feds urge travelers to avoid the nation’s largest coronavirus hotspot.

Major supermarket chains are beginning to report their first coronavirus-related employee deaths, leading to store closures and increasing anxiety among grocery workers as the pandemic intensifies across the country.

U.S. health officials are now urging Americans to limit the amount of times they visit the grocery store or pharmacy as the country braces for a ‘peak death week’ amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Friday, a virtual graduation was held over video chat for nearly half the 2020 class at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. They were two months ahead of schedule. That moment will be repeated in some form at other medical schools in the coming days.

Much of Japan will enter a state of emergency today, as the country struggles to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, months after the first domestic cases were reported.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in hospital after his coronavirus symptoms “worsened”, Downing Street has said. A spokesman said he was moved on the advice of his medical team and was receiving “excellent care,” and is not on a ventilator.

Wisconsin voters will face a choice between protecting their health and exercising their civic duty today after state Republican leaders, backed up by a conservative majority on the state’s Supreme Court, rebuffed the Democratic governor’s attempt to postpone in-person voting in their presidential primary and local elections.

Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed by Major League Baseball and the players’ association during a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic.

As sports fans struggle during the coronavirus pandemic to find TV programming to keep them entertained, networks will face the opposite dilemma once professional sports leagues resume.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was asked this past weekend whether the NFL season will start on time amid the coronavirus pandemic. His response, in a word: no.

In addition to going from four to 50 web servers, and with another 300 people hired to take calls – atop the 700 brought in earlier – the state is working with Google to develop a new website with a better interface for its unemployment insurance system, according to Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa.

Dozens of nurses in regions hit hardest by coronavirus have been staying in hotel rooms paid for by their union, but leaders of the Public Employees Federation (PEF) said they are seeking help from the state and the private sector to help continue the effort.

As four more deaths due to the novel coronavirus were recorded in the Capital Region, officials expressed hope that a new mobile testing site in Albany would help paint a clearer picture of how widespread the virus is and when cases in the area might peak.

Spectrum is raising the minimum wage it pays its field and customer operations workers that have had to be on the frontline of the COVID-19 outbreak through visits to hospitals and customer locations.

Colleges across the nation are scrambling to close deep budget holes and some have been pushed to the brink of collapse after the coronavirus outbreak triggered financial losses that could total more than $100 million at some institutions.

Airbnb said that it had raised $1 billion in new funding as it grapples with devastation from the coronavirus pandemic, and as some technology start-ups take extra measures to stockpile cash during the outbreak.

The youngest American adults are facing what is, for most of them, the first serious economic crisis of their working lives. By most measures, they are woefully unprepared.

Meet a few of the millions of people in New York — a day laborer, production assistant and catering business owner — who were part of the “gig economy” and have seen their freelance and events-based work dry up as a result of the pandemic.

When a tiger tests positive for the novel coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo, the immediate question is: What about other cats? (Answer: They’re probably OK).

Rockland County is shutting down all green space starting today, shuttering county-run parks as it gets harder to contain density and maintain proper social distancing amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus-stricken Chris Cuomo is doing “slightly better,” his wife said, as she detailed his all-natural treatment plan, which includes oxygenated herbs.

In non-virus news…

Australia’s highest court overturned the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell, 83, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.

The Trump administration will not adopt new federal limousine safety recommendations that were called for by the National Transportation Safety Board after it completed its preliminary investigation into the 2018 Schoharie limo crash that killed 20 people.

The body of the daughter of former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was located in about 25 feet of water and recovered, authorities said, and they will keep searching for her son, after the two went missing following a canoeing accident last week.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced that no criminal charges will be filed in connection to the death of a University at Buffalo student, which police investigated as a possible off-campus hazing incident.

Tiz the Law was named New York-bred Horse of the Year as well as top 2-year-old.

A supermoon rises in the sky this week, looking to be the biggest and brightest of the year.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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