MAY DAY! MAY DAY!
Good morning, CivMixers. We have crossed the line into a whole new month. It’s Friday, there are 15 more days remaining in the governor’s “PAUSE” order, and it’s May Day.
In medieval and modern Europe, May 1 (AKA May Day) was a day to celebrate of the return of spring. The observance probably originated in ancient agricultural rituals, and the Greeks and Romans held such festivals. It’s a day for dancing around the Maypole, should you happen to have one laying around.
It’s also International Workers Day, also known as Workers’ Day or Labour Day in some countries. It’s is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement.
This year, the day has been rebranded by some as “Essential Workers Day” to highlight the efforts of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are risking their lives by showing up to work every day to deliver and sell us our food, operate public transit, protect our streets, put out fires, and – perhaps most importantly – staff our ambulances and health care facilities.
It’s traditional to mark May Day with a general workers strike, and there’s one brewing this year that targets companies like Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Instacart and others where workers have been pushing for hazard pay (in some cases) and complaining about a like of safety measures taken to protect them against the virus.
Also planned for today: Rent strikes in some of the largest cities in the nation, including NYC.
If you’re planning on participating in some sort of outside action, (which is not terribly advisable, given the social distancing mandates that we’re still living under), you might want to bring an umbrella. We’re in for rain showers this May Day morning, and there’s a chance of thundershowers this afternoon. Temperatures will be in the low 60s, according to The Weather Channel.
The weekend is shaping up to be glorious, with a mix of sun and clouds and temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s. Please, please, please, when you go outside, remember the people around you and give them some space.
In the headlines…
Governors in several states — including Alabama, Maine, Tennessee and Texas — planned to allow stay-at-home orders to expire today, paving the way for certain businesses to reopen and ending an unparalleled month in which nine in 10 residents in the United States were told to stay at home to help stop the spread of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said it’s important to give governors “wiggle room” on reopening their states, but cautioned they shouldn’t “wiggle too much.”
There’s a chance that hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine could be available by early next year, Fauci said, even though the federal government has not approved a vaccine against the virus.
Many people are emerging from COVID-19 hospital care with serious and continuing problems, health professionals say. The disease has kept people in a hospital bed for weeks if not longer. That’s weeks of being sick, eating little and exercising even less, they say.
President Donald Trump will travel to Camp David today, marking his first time leaving the White House since late March.
Trump claimed he has seen evidence linking the coronavirus to a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan — but didn’t offer up any details.
U.S. intelligence agencies are debunking a conspiracy theory, saying they have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified.” But they are still examining a notion put forward by the president that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.
Trump has led no national mourning for the more than 63,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, emphasizing confidence about the future rather than dwelling on the present.
The Army’s top leaders defended their decision to bring 1,000 cadets back to the Military Academy at West Point for graduation on June 13, where Trump is slated to speak, saying that despite the coronovirus risk students would have had to return anyway to prepare for their next duty assignment.
The capitol physician told Republican aides he does not have enough coronavirus tests for all lawmakers as senators are scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. this coming Monday.
Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said that the Senate’s return to work next week would put support workers on Capitol Hill — many of them racial minorities — at undue risk of contracting COVID-19.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that state and local governments are seeking up to $1 trillion for coronavirus costs, a stunning benchmark for the next aid package that’s certain to run into opposition from Senate Republicans.
The president outlined a handful of new initiatives intended to aid and protect nursing homes as the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on older Americans.
A new state policy in New York orders nursing home workers who test positive for the COVID-19 virus to stay away from their jobs for 14 days — a longer period than under federal guidelines, according to a document sent to nursing homes.
Senate Democrats are pressing the Trump administration to use the Defense Production Act to increase the amount of coronavirus testing available and appoint new leadership and oversight for the National Strategic Stockpile.
The Labor Department said yesterday that 3.8 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the six-week total to 30 million. But researchers say that as the economy staggers under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of others have lost jobs but have yet to see benefits.
As unemployment soars across the country, tenants rights groups and community nonprofits have rallied around an audacious goal: to persuade the government to halt rent and mortgage payments — without back payments accruing — for as long as the economy is battered by the coronavirus. The rent is due today.
Organized efforts today in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Colorado, California, Washington state, and elsewhere point to the largest rent strike in decades.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to commit to any far-reaching rent nullification, and believes the 90-day eviction moratorium that the state passed on March 20 served as a sufficient answer to tenant concerns.
With tenants and housing rights advocates organizing across the country for state and local rent strikes, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for state and federal rent cancellations during the pandemic.
Experts say that for the first time since 1998, global poverty will increase, largely as a result of the pandemic. At least a half billion people could slip into destitution by the end of the year.
Amazon reported soaring quarterly sales as homebound customers flooded it with online shopping orders, capping a string of earnings reports from big tech companies that show how the coronavirus pandemic has fueled demand for their products and services.
Amazon announced that Whole Foods Markets across the country will provide free masks to all customers, who will be asked to wear them while shopping.
Apple reported a slight uptick in revenue for its latest quarter even as the coronavirus shut down factories and dented sales in China, as the tech giant’s growing services business offset declining iPhone sales.
After flight attendants and pilots criticized them for not doing more to protect employees, large airlines in the United States and around the world announced this week that they would require their crews and passengers to wear masks.
From schools already on the brink to the loftiest institutions, the pandemic is changing higher education in America with stunning speed.
Cuomo announced that the New York City subway would halt service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each night starting Wednesday, May 6, so that all trains could be disinfected.
…The nightly closures — the likes of which have never been imposed for an extended period of time on the system — will take effect in the early hours of May 6 and don’t yet have an established end date.
Some transit advocates fear the overnight closures will become permanent due to financial woes at the MTA brought on by the pandemic.
As part of its re-opening strategy, New York is aggressively pursuing contact tracing to contain COVID-19, partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Johns Hopkins University to employ as many as 17,000 people to track and mitigate the spread of the virus.
Cuomo said that the state needs at least 30 tracers for every 100,000 people to follow the path of those infected and determine whether their contacts should be isolated.
New York Conservatives are planning rallies in eight cities today to protest Cuomo’s shutdown policies aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott is engaged in a war of words with Cuomo, whom the Sunshine state Republican is accusing of budget mismanagement, thereby rendering New York ineligible for virus stimulus funds.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont unveiled a four-stage strategy that will allow parts of the state to start reopening beginning May 20 – as long as hospitalizations and infections continue to decline.
…May 20 openings include outdoor areas of restaurants and bars, outdoor museums and zoos, offices and retail outlets. Barber shops, hair salons and other personal care businesses were types of businesses specifically mentioned. Companies will be urged to keep employees working from home if possible.
New Jersey reported its highest one-day death toll – 460 – during the coronavirus pandemic so far, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.
Many suddenly unemployed workers in one of the nation’s wealthiest states – New Jersey – say they have been pushed to the edge of hunger, forced to ask for help for the first time in their lives.
After a month in which the number of traffic citations and arrests plummeted across the state, troopers have been instructed to resume “routine traffic enforcement” today.
Forty New York legislators signed a letter sent to Cuomo this week urging him and top state corrections officials to improve conditions in prisons and release more inmates whose poor health may put them at risk if they contract COVID-19.
The New York State Department of Corrections yesterday began freeing some inmates who are pregnant or have recently given birth.
A chaotic scene formed in Borough Park, Brooklyn yesterday afternoon as police officers tried to disperse a crowd of onlookers who gathered to watch a funeral procession for a Hasidic man.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise of making 50,000 coronavirus tests available per week has fallen short. Still, he marked a “very good day” as the number of cases and people in intensive care units went down.
New York politicians are seeking answers on how to handle the growing number of corpses left by the coronavirus pandemic, after dozens of bodies were discovered decomposing in rental trucks outside a Brooklyn funeral home.
De Balsio said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that dozens of bodies were being stored in unrefrigerated trucks outside a Brooklyn funeral home amid a surge in deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Navy’s hospital ship Comfort departed New York City after spending the last month supporting the region’s COVID-19 efforts, and treating far fewer patients than originally expected.
The makeshift, 68-bed tent field hospital set up in Central Park to help fight the coronavirus pandemic will close by the second week of May.
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza reportedly told city principals in a conference call earlier this week that there’s a “50-50″ shot that school buildings will open in September.
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner issued a statement criticizing Cuomo’s suggestion a day earlier that large venues, including the Saratoga Race Course, may not open this summer unless it is done as part of a statewide reopening that’s done in coordination with other states.
Albany County is starting to look at various ways it will have to change its operations as discussions grow about when and how it will re-open, County Executive Dan McCoy said, while cautioning that this won’t happened anytime soon.
Employees represented by New York’s largest public labor union rallied outside the offices of three Republican members of Congress in Glens Falls, Syracuse and on Long Island, calling for their support of more federal aid for state and local municipalities.
Detective Sgt. Randall French, the city of Troy police officer who for more than a month battled the effects of COVID-19, died yesterday.
In what he described as a “worse case scenario,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city could be forced to lay off upwards of three dozen police officers if it doesn’t get tens of millions of dollars in federal aid threatened by a political stalemate in Washington and the coronavirus pandemic.
The city of Cohoes wants to have new managers for the Cohoes Music Hall by Aug. 1 after it canceled the existing management contracts to save $200,000 as the city faces a budget crunch due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato blasted state Health Department officials as “out of their minds” for forcing New York nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients — and believes the death toll is higher than the announced tally.
For the first time ever, Little league international announced that they’re cancelling the little league World Series and all of their regional tournaments.
The Mets and Yankees issued ticket refund policies that accounted only for games that were scheduled to have been played through then, 16 dates each at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. And they pushed fans toward accepting credit for already-paid-for tickets, good for future purchases, but also offered refunds.
Republican Assemblyman Brian Miller, who represents parts of Ulster County, has been moved out of intensive care after being diagnosed with coronavirus in March.
Gov. Cuomo is on the cover of June’s Vanity Fair.
Long Island matchmaker Maureen Tara Nelson said she surveyed 100 of her 2,000 female clients and concluded that Gov. Cuomo and his younger brother, Chris Cuomo – an anchor on CNN – are two of the most eligible bachelors in the country.
“Now that you raise it, most wanted eligibility, my brother is married, I am not married, so I don’t think he would qualify as eligible, however, I am eligible,” Gov. Cuomo joked.
Cristina Cuomo defended herself against critics of her holistic treatments used to fight COVID-19, which included the use of Vitamin C drips and bleach baths.
NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan — who on April 20 tweeted an offer to officiate weddings — wed Department of Sanitation worker Julie Raskin and lawyer Matthew Haicken with the network’s staffers Roger Clark, Annika Pergament and Jamie Stelter playing virtual witnesses.
In non-virus news…
Planned Parenthood acting President Alexis McGill Johnson last night called for former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to directly address allegations of sexual assault brought against him by Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer.
Biden will publicly address an allegation of sexual assault for the first time in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today, after weeks of silence on the issue that had prompted frustration from Democrats and attacks from Republicans seeking to weaken him for a general election contest against Trump.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes sparked backlash from the left when he became the first prime-time host on the network to cover a former aide’s sexual assault allegations against Biden, with the hashtag “FireChrisHayes” trending on Twitter.
Trump voiced strong support for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, raising speculation that a pardon may be coming after Flynn’s lawyers disclosed internal FBI documents they claim show the FBI tried to “intentionally frame” him.
Longtime CNN host Anderson Cooper is a dad.
Photo credit: George Fazio.