Happy Wednesday, CivMixers!

Today was the beginning of the phased re-opening of the Capital District. As we fully enter Phase I, many local retailers are excited that they can welcome back business in any form – even if only through curbside pickup and delivery.

Get ready to see more construction sites picking back up as well. In this initial phase, non-essential construction can get back underway, provided, of course, that everyone involved is still following all updated rules and regulations for social distancing and other public health protocols.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also gave the go-ahead for some kinds of religious ceremonies to resume, either via drive-in or parking lot services. A maximum of 10 people can attend as long as social distancing guidelines are followed and masks are worn.

“If people are smart, and if people are responsible…if individuals are responsible, you will see infection rates slow. It is amazing how effective a mask is.”
-Governor Andrew Cuomo

Clifton Park plans to hold an online meeting of its advisory council on re-opening to offer the public insight into local plans and also a chance to offer input and ask questions. If you are interested in checking it out, you can get more information here.

As I’m writing this, only three New York that have not hit all seven benchmarks to re-open according to the monitoring dashboard. They are the Mid-Hudson Region at 5/7, the Long Island Region 4/7, and the New York City Region, also 4/7.

All three regions are missing the appropriate amount of tracers, though they are all marked as expected to meet this benchmark soon.

Let’s get down to the other news, shall we?

1) Michigan is facing historic, unprecedented flooding even as it continues to reel from being one of the states hit hardest from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In central MI, thousands of people were displaced from their homes after having to evacuate after the Tittabawassee River rose rapidly and caused two dams to fail. Both the Edenville and Sanford Dams failed. Both dams were located 140 miles to the north of Detroit. 

By the time the water stops rising, parts of the state’s Midland County could be under as much as 9 feet of river water. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stated that dam failure or no, the flooding is expected to be “historic.”

This has been confirmed by the National Weather Service, which warned that the flooding is “extremely dangerous,” and was expected to continue throughout the day.

After touring the flooded area by air, Whitmer said the damage was devastating and noted how she anbd her constituents are faced with not one, but two major crises.

“I feel like I’ve said this a lot over the last 10 weeks, but this is an event, unlike anything we’ve seen before. We’ve got to continue to work together, to observe best practices to help one another, and to wear our masks and continue to try to social distance at this moment.”
-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

According to Whitmer, 79 out of 83 counties in her state have at least one positive case of COVID-19. As for the flooding, countless personnel has been working tirelessly to help get people to safety. President Donald Trump acknowledged the flooding and confirmed his administration is keeping an eye on the situation.

According to some reports, the dams failed because the Tittabawassee River took in many inches of rain earlier this week and swelled past capacity. Midland County and Midland city is preparing for the worst and hoping it won’t be as bad as it could be.

2) After being in the spotlight for its COVID-19 outbreak and making news for its commander’s frustrated letter to high-ranking military officials, the USS Theodore Roosevelt is going to be returning to sea later this week.

According to Navy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, the USS Roosevelt is “medically ready” for this development, even though many sailors tested positive for COVID after they returned to the Roosevelt.

The aircraft carrier has a 4,900 member crew, and over 1,000 tested positive for the virus after the brunt of the outbreak began in America. Approximately 4,000 members of that crew were transferred from the ship to Guam. The Navy has slowly been returning personnel in phases after they have been isolated in quarantine, all to get the ship back to sea.

Six hundred of its sailors are still in isolated quarantine, but the Navy has said that due to the in-port exercises they have been doing and the amount of healthy crew that they do have, the Roosevelt is ready to sail. This is all after 14 more of the crew tested positive this past weekend, causing them to be retested.

Rear Adm. Gillingham stated that they do not think the 14 are contagious. The Navy is also ordering strict social distancing from passageways and stairs that are only going one-way and extending meal times so smaller groups can go in the mess at a time.

There is an inquiry underway due to the fallout of the firing of the USS Roosevelt’s commander Captain Brett Crozier and the resignation that followed by the then acting Naval Secretary Thomas Modly. This is an expanded inquiry, as the original inquiry report came in a few days ago – and included the recommendation that Capt. Crozier be reinstated.

3) A substantial favorite festival of many New York residents, even a pandemic cannot stop Taste of Syracuse.

Sponsored by the Summit Federal Credit Union, the festival is going to be held June 5-6 over livestream and on the festival’s Facebook page.

The organizers have been working hard to make this happen. People will be able to get recipe cards from the festival’s website and be able to try their hands at making their favorite Taste of Syracuse dishes.

Anyone who makes a dish, posts a pic and tags The Summit Federal Credit Union AND Tops Friendly Markets will be entered to win a $50 gift card to either Tops or an unspecified restaurant.

Getting into the spirit, certain food vendors, a local distillery and wine vendors and restaurants will be offering special “Taste Takeout Special” menus from June 5 until June 12. A list of those participating will be on the festival website.

There will be live-streamed performances, interviews, and many of the other staples of the popular two-day festival. Organizers are hopeful it will be back in 2021.

4) CapCom Federal Credit Union is granting a financial gift to St. Peter’s Health Partners towards Personal Protective Equipment. They are donating $15,000 to the Northeast Health Foundation that will allow them to purchase over 10,000 masks for their frontline health care workers.

This is after a donation last month consisting of masks. The funds being donated would typically be put towards CapCom’s annual spring luncheon.

>5) Last night a little after 11 p.m., the Schenectady Police Department responded to Victory Avenue for a report of shots fired.

Upon arrival, officers found a woman, 28, who had been shot in the leg. They also found a man, 48, shot in the neck nearby. The man, now identified as Fred Gentry, died at Ellis Hospital. The woman has not yet been identified but is in stable condition at Ellis.If you have any information on this incident, please call the SPD at (518) 788-6566.

To leave you on a happy note, the Malta Drive-in theater is re-opening this weekend. They are having their opening night Friday, May 22. Until further notice, they will be operating at 50% capacity, and they have issued a guideline of rules and regulations to follow during this period of enhanced social distancing. Malta is following the Jericho Drive-in in Glenmont, which re-opened under revised operating procedures last weekend.

Photo credit: George Fazio.