Good morning, CivMixers, it’s Maundy Thursday, also known as as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, and the Thursday of Mysteries in various traditions.
And yes, I had to look that one up.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and it occurs every year on the Thursday before Easter, which is this coming Sunday. Maundy refers to the foot-washing Jesus provided to the apostles prior to the Last Supper. Christians around the world – especially Catholics – mark the day with a special mass and prayers.
The word “Maundy” itself comes from an Anglo-French word derived from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment.”
It’s going to be rainy and windy today, according to The Weather Channel, with the possibility of higher gusts in the afternoon. Temperatures will be in the mid-50s.
Perhaps the biggest news of the past 24 hours is this: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has ended his presidential bid, making former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in a general election campaign that will be waged against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a call with his campaign staff, Sanders acknowledged that his is some 300 delegates behind Biden and called the path toward clinching the Democratic nomination “virtually impossible.”
“So while we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” Sanders said. “And so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign.”
Biden and his allies are hoping to quickly bring the party’s divided factions together after spending much of the past two weeks quietly negotiating with Sanders’s team to find common ground on the senator’s policy priorities as he mulled an exit.
Sanders said he hopes Biden moves in a “more progressive direction” and vowed to do everything he could to defeat Trump in his first interview since dropping out of the presidential race.
Trump and his Republican allies are launching an aggressive strategy to fight what many of the administration’s own health officials view as one of the most effective ways to make voting safer amid the deadly spread of COVID-19: the expanded use of mail-in ballots.
Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator, outlined her plan for how the federal government should be confronting the coronavirus in a New York Times op-ed.
New York reported its highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single day, announcing that another 779 people had died.
That brought the virus death toll to 6,268 in the state, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted was more than twice as many people as the state had lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
But the number of hospitalizations had fallen in recent days, Cuomo said, suggesting that social distancing measures were working to flatten the steep curve of the virus’s spread – at least for now. The rates depend not only on the number of new arrivals but also on hospital admission standards.
Another 1,000 New Yorkers died in the five boroughs from the coronavirus in the 36-hour period between Tuesday morning and Wednesday night, new city health data shows. The Big Apple’s death toll now stands at 4,260.
Black and Hispanic people in New York City are about twice as likely to die of the virus as white people are, according to preliminary data released by the de Blasio administration.
New Jersey also had a record number of deaths in the past day: Gov. Philip D. Murphy said that 275 people had died there, up from 232 on Tuesday. More people have died in New York and New Jersey — a total of 7,772 — than in the rest of the United States combined.
New research indicates that the coronavirus began to circulate in the New York area by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, and that travelers brought in the virus mainly from Europe, not Asia.
Cuomo said that the coronavirus outbreak could “stabilize” within weeks if the state maintains strict social distancing policies, even as he announced the highest daily death count yet and said life for New Yorkers will never be the same. “I think if we’re smart, we achieve a new normal,” he said.
It might not be until fall 2021 that Americans “can be completely safe” from COVID-19, Bill Gates said in a PBS Newshour interview. That’s because it will take more than a year before a vaccine can be developed and deployed.
Novavax, a Maryland-based biotech company, said it would begin human trials in Australia in mid-May for its vaccine candidate. Novavax is one of more than two dozen companies that have announced promising vaccine programs that are speeding through the early stages of testing unlike ever before.
After reviewing a variety of research reports, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the number of studies, of varying quality of evidence, simply do not offer a clear forecast of what will happen to the spread of the coronavirus in the summer.
The federal government’s stockpile of desperately needed personal protective equipment is almost completely depleted as the coronavirus outbreak continues to intensify in the United States.
Trump called on Congress to slash the salary of the top-paid federal employee, Jeff Lyash, who earned $8.1 million last year as president of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The Trump administration’s demand for $250 billion in new small businesses funding provoked a high-stakes standoff as congressional Democrats rejected the no-strings-attached request and made an expensive counter-offer.
…As of late yesterday, Senate Republicans and Democrats planned to bring competing measures to the floor today, virtually ensuring that neither measure would pass.
Speed is of the essence if a federal relief program for small businesses is going to be effective in combating the damage wrought by the coronavirus lockdowns. Yet, days into the program, many Main Street businesses are still waiting for the cash infusion necessary to stay alive.
Demand for food assistance is rising at an extraordinary rate, just as the nation’s food banks are being struck by shortages of both donated food and volunteer workers.
As of yesterday, more than 90,000 retired and active health care workers had signed up online to volunteer at the epicenter of the pandemic, including 25,000 from outside New York, the governor’s office said. Putting them to work has been difficult. New York City hospitals have thus far only deployed 908 volunteers.
As the coronavirus preys on the most vulnerable, it is taking root in New York’s sprawling network of group homes for people with special needs.
Italy is advancing plans to gradually lift restrictions to contain the coronavirus as Europe’s exit from stringent lockdown measures takes shape.
Pope Francis likened the coronavirus pandemic to recent fires and floods as one of “nature’s responses” to the world’s ambivalence to climate change.
A group of associations that represent members of the health insurance industry penned a letter to a pair of congressional lawmakers from California noting that health insurance companies are not built to withstand pandemics such as the current coronavirus outbreak.
A group of frontline healthcare workers are suing the Chinese government, claiming that it mishandled the coronavirus outbreak and is now hoarding badly-needed personal protective equipment and selling it for profit.
The TU’s Chris Churchill writes about how the poor are disproportionately suffering COVID-19 deaths and are likely to feel economic consequences most acutely.
In a first, small step toward reopening the country, the Trump administration issued new guidelines to make it easier for essential workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to get back to work if they do not have symptoms of the coronavirus.
Another 5.25 million workers are expected to have filed unemployment claims last week. Together with the claims filed in the past two weeks, the total could now surpass 15 million. But that’s still probably millions shy of the number of workers who may have already lost their jobs as the economy abruptly shut down.
This morning’s unemployment report will be for the week ending Saturday, April 4. While the official numbers for the states will be announced today, there are press reports based on statements from government officials that allow for projections.
Millions more are filing for unemployment benefits every week. The consumer spending that carries the economy is at a standstill. Small businesses are scrambling for loans to stay afloat. And somehow the stock market has been going up.
Thousands of New Yorkers have taken to social media to express their frustration and anxiety over their inability to get unemployment claims processed as they are held up by a phone call. Many are calling for the state agency to waive its phone-call requirement for claims to be processed.
Consumer confidence in the economy dropped at a record rate in New York as the coronavirus pandemic roiled public sentiment in New York City and the Capital Region, the latest Siena College Research Institute survey found.
Zoom is scrambling to deal with privacy and security issues that keep popping up, and announced that it had formed a council of chief information security officers from other companies to share ideas on best practices.
A number of elite athletes are now on the front lines in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
Some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks — including One World Trade Center and Madison Square Garden — will glow blue today as part of a nationwide effort to thank workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection have filed lawsuits against three businesses accusing them of price gouging on items like face masks and hand sanitizer amid the coronavirus pandemic.
More than half of the inmates in New York City’s jails had been quarantined amid the coronavirus outbreak as of yesterday, correction officials said, and 287 inmates, 441 staff members and 75 health care workers had been infected with the virus.
Since the coronavirus pandemic engulfed New York City, it has taken a staggering toll on the MTA, the agency that runs the subway, buses and commuter rails and is charged with shuttling workers — like doctors, nurses and emergency responders — who are essential to keeping the city functioning.
More than 30 members of the United Federation of Teachers — including retired staff — have been reported by family members to have died from coronavirus, a union source said.
With bodies coming in at a record pace due to the spread of COVID-19, funeral directors throughout the five boroughs told The NY Post they can’t keep up.
Cuomo rejected the idea that “non-essential” businesses would be up and running by June 7, in keeping with plans announced earlier in the day by the Broadway League.
All New Yorkers will be allowed to cast absentee ballots in the June 23 primary elections due to the coronavirus crisis.
Rockland County has the highest per capita rate of infection in the state, and among the highest in the nation. The source of the problem lies in small pockets of the county that are home to a large number of Orthodox Jewish residents, some of whom, according to authorities, have refused to adhere to social distancing requirements.
Union workers at General Electric Co.’s steam turbine and generator plant in Schenectady held a noon rally outside GE’s main gate to urge the company to allow them to make medical ventilator machines as part of the company’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has begun laying off and furloughing employees and will temporarily close a dozen of its health centers, citing a strain on resources posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stuyvesant Plaza will purchase $10,000 in gift cards from its restaurants and donate them to local healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guilderland shopping center announced.
A new test site for COVID-19 is poised to open today in the North Country. Glens Falls Hospital and Warren County Public Health Services said the drive-up test site will be located at the Warren County Municipal Center off Route 9 in Queensbury for those who have a doctor’s order and appointment.
Costco is the latest grocery chain to offer special access to healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The update comes in addition to special hours it has allocated for people 60 and over, who public health officials have said are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Colonie’s Asian Supermarket, an ethnic grocery store on Central Avenue, is handing out masks and gloves to all its customers. And they are wiping down their shopping carts with Lysol or a similar cleaner after each use.
A Capital Region that’s been helping kids for years is making major changes this year due to the pandemic. The Double H Ranch won’t be welcoming campers this summer – a first for the organization.
Don’t expect a COVID-19 quarantine baby boom. In fact, the pandemic might discourage more people from having children.
A new study finds that among a generally healthy but sedentary group of adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s, working out lowers levels of depression, hostility and other negative feelings.
The image of America’s most famous doctor, Anthony Facui, is being used on a bobblehead statue sold to raise funds to buy protective masks for health care workers, and so far more than $100,000 has come in.
Brodsky’s wife, Paige, told Gannett Albany that the politician had begun displaying coronavirus-like symptoms, likely worsened by an underlying heart condition. He was tested Friday for the infectious disease but had not yet received results.
Linda Tripp, the former White House and Pentagon employee whose secret audiotapes of Monica Lewinsky led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998, died yesterday at the age of 70. Joseph Murtha, a former lawyer for Tripp, confirmed the death. No other details were given.
Chynna, the hip-hop artist who first turned heads on the modeling runway and then with her talent as a rapper, died yesterday in her native Philadelphia, her manager said. She was 25. The cause of death was not immediately known.
In non-virus news…
William Lewis, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal and chief executive of its parent company, Dow Jones, said that he would leave the roles he had held since 2014.
Trump said he’ll examine a request for a pardon from Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage, the star of the hugely popular Netflix series “Tiger King.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenger Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CBNC anchor, has raised $1 million in her bid to topple the lefty superstar in the June 23 Democratic primary, her campaign said.
The state Energy Planning Board, which had been carrying out mandates of an earlier 2015 energy plan, approved an update to meet the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which was signed into law last summer.
The body of an 8-year-old grandson of former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend of Maryland who went missing with his mother in a canoe last week was recovered in the Chesapeake Bay yesterday, two days after his mother’s body was found, authorities said.
Photo credit: George Fazio.