Rise and Shine: May 12, 2020

Good Tuesday morning, CivMixers.

Did you know that it’s National Hospital Week? The American Hospital Association has some suggestions about how we can observe this “week of thanks” for the health care institutions and professionals that have been working to combat the Covid-19 crisis.

Today is “Tune in Tuesday,” which involves dancing videos…in case you were looking for an excuse to bust a move, film and post it…you know, like you usually do.

It’s also National Nursing Home Week, or, as the American Health Care Association, which established this day in in 1967, prefers, “National Skilled Nursing Care Week.” The purpose of this week is to “recognize the essential role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for America’s frail, elderly, and disabled.”

Of course, nursing homes have been in the news quite a bit lately, but not in a good way.

Today is shaping up to be nice enough from a weather standpoint, particularly compared to yesterday’s yuck. It will be partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 50s, according to The Weather Channel. It will remain windy, with gusts up to 25 mph.

In the headlines…

President Trump ordered his staff to wear face masks in light of the coronavirus making its way into the White House, taking action to protect himself from the respiratory contagion despite pushing for the rest of the country to get back to work.

Trump, who was not wearing a mask, addressed a Rose Garden audience filled with mask-wearing administration officials, some appearing publicly with face coverings for the first time during the outbreak, after two aides tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.

“Obviously in my case, I’m very far away from everyone,” Trump said. “But if you look at all of those people over there, every one of them from what I can see, these are White House staffers; they’re White House representatives; they’re White House executives, and everybody has a mask on. Just about everybody I’ve seen today wore a mask.”

Trump declared his administration had “prevailed” on testing. He cited the increase in testing resources, which have allowed the U.S. to conduct more than 9 million tests to date.

In his second major trip outside the White House since March, Trump will visit a medical equipment distributor in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday to highlight federal efforts to ramp up coronavirus testing and the production of critical supplies needed to combat the outbreak.

Though Vice President Mike Pence and others who have come into contact with the infected White House aides have refused to self-quarantine, three top public health officials have chosen to remain isolated for a period of time, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

Fauci, the infectious disease expert who led the White House coronavirus effort, is expected to tell the U.S. Senate during a hearing today that Americans face “needless suffering and death” if the country reopens too soon.

“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country,” Fauci wrote in an email to NYT reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg. “This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”

It will be Fauci’s first appearance before Congress since Trump declared a national emergency in March, and a chance for him to address lawmakers and the public without the president by his side.

The committee chairman, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, announced Sunday he wouldn’t return to Washington from Tennessee for the hearing as he isolates himself for two weeks because one of his staffers tested positive.

The much-feared “second wave” of infection in the U.S. may not wait until fall, many scientists say, and instead may become a storm of wavelets breaking unpredictably across the country.

Millions of people in Wuhan will be tested for the novel coronavirus within the coming days, after a new cluster of cases emerged despite a strict 76-day lockdown that was intended to eliminate the virus from the central Chinese city.

A new study published yesterday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics paints the most detailed picture yet of American children who were treated in intensive care units as the pandemic was taking hold.

In another study in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers found that an app that allows people to check off symptoms they are experiencing was remarkably effective in predicting coronavirus infections among the 2.5 million people who were using it between March 24 and April 21.

The White House coronavirus response coordinator, in an email to senior colleagues, said the way the administration initially distributed supplies of the promising new drug remdesivir shouldn’t happen again.

Trump has not ruled out sending additional money to states. But he has gone after Democratic governors, accusing them of mismanaging their finances, and charged that the party’s members in Congress “want help — bailouts — and, you know, bailouts are very tough. And they happen to be Democrat states.”

Congress is looking to help struggling local newspapers, TV and radio stations qualify for federal coronavirus aid. The coming coronavirus legislation expected to be introduced in the House as soon as this week will include a provision to expand newspapers’ and broadcasters’ eligibility for forgivable small business loans.

Fragile health care systems, large numbers of people with pre-existing conditions and the collapse of tribal economies have prompted Native American leaders to warn that serious havoc may be ahead, especially if closed casinos prevent tribes from battling to recover on their own.

Twitter announced it will start alerting users when a tweet makes disputed or misleading claims about the coronavirus.

Elon Musk said Tesla Inc. is resuming production of cars at its lone U.S. assembly factory in California in defiance of local authorities in what is quickly becoming one of the highest-profile showdowns between business and government about reopening after weeks of sheltering-in-place.

Years before the Covid-19 pandemic, the billionaire Bill Gates tried to warn global leaders of the threat from new infectious diseases. Few listened. “I feel terrible,” he says now.

As the pandemic has gripped New York, it has caused shortages of the grocery staples that have become essential for coping with home confinement.

New York City’s death toll from coronavirus reached shocking new heights at the start of the week, rising to more than 20,000 fatalities, according to the Health Department. During the 24 hours ending Sunday at 6 p.m., 125 New Yorkers lost their lives, bringing the death toll to 20,056.

New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus may be thousands of fatalities worse than the tally kept by the city and state, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York City will remain largely shut down at least into June, but could begin to ease some restrictions next month if progress in combating the coronavirus pandemic continues, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding: “We’re clearly not ready yet.”

As parts of upstate prepare to reopen on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said new infections had fallen to the same rate as March 19, the day he said the state “went into the abyss.”

A trio of upstate regions – the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley – have met the criteria to reopen, Cuomo said, noting that construction, manufacturing, wholesalers and retailers offering curbside pickup will be among the first to get going as the economy starts to reawaken.

…Other areas of the state, including the Capital Region, have not met all of the requirements, though the North Country and central New York are close.

Newly formed regional “control rooms” will be granted oversight and authority to give businesses the go-ahead to open; they can also impose their own safety requirements. They will have the authority to slow or shut down reopening plans.

As part of an easing of some coronavirus-pandemic restrictions, drive-in theaters can open starting May 15.

Also allowed: low-risk business and recreational activities including landscaping and gardening work and outdoor sports such as tennis.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that he’s confident that Erie County will meet reopening criteria by June 1.

Cuomo, in a nod to his late father, the former Gov. Mario Cuomo, has been slipping quotes from his father’s favorite fictitious wordsmith into his daily coronavirus briefings in recent weeks, mostly delivering the on-the-nose one-liners with a straight face.

Nearly 100 bills have been submitted in the state Legislature in response to the coronavirus pandemic. While some have passed, dozens of others have languished at the committee level as state lawmakers attempt to reach a consensus on the issues.

A joint legislative hearing will be held tomorrow to discuss the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on small businesses and the agriculture industry. It is the first sign of collective action since both Houses met to vote on the budget at the end of March.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the Legislature will likely not reconvene in earnest until it’s known if the next federal stimulus package includes direct aid to New York State.

More than 25,000 New York small businesses were approved for forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans last week, driving the number of businesses statewide that have received the federal coronavirus relief to more than 271,000.

The state Health Department ordered counties to ramp up coronavirus testing in nursing homes — and sent them over 1,600 damaged test kits.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat and chair of the Codes Committee, wants all New York nursing homes to submit an annual emergency pandemic response plan to the state, citing COVID-19’s devastating effect on the state’s elderly population.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has installed blue markings spaced 6 feet apart on a pair of subway platforms in Manhattan to encourage social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Former LG Bob Duffy and the LIA’s Kevin Law penned an op-ed about the importance of 5G to the post-pandemic economic recovery of New York.

The Mount Sinai nurse who sounded the alarm about an inadequate supply of PPE by posting a photo of her colleagues wearing trash bags for gowns was called a “piece of s–t” and told to “shut the f–k up” by a top rep in her own union, emails show.

At least 340 resident physicians in New York City have confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases, according to a new report that cites a lack of adequate testing and safety equipment among young doctors.

A pair of former Wall Street traders who have created a ride-hailing app for yellow cabs are teaming up with Councilman Ritchie Torres with an idea to not only slash the debts that drivers owe for their city-issued medallions, but also reset the value of the medallions themselves.

Underemployed drivers deliver free groceries in NYC to people who can’t afford them as “economic desperation” due to coronavirus grows.

NYC officials are concerned about how the rare Kawasaki-like inflammatory disease potentially linked to coronavirus that’s been sickening kids will impact the reopening of public schools in September.

Albany County health department staff will undergo a special contact tracing training program this week that was established by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to help New York build “an army” of tracers.

Chris Churchill: “We know many businesses will not survive, and there’s a real threat that we could be left with the Amazons and the Costcos, the Olive Gardens and the Chipotles, but not family-owned restaurants and businesses.”

Capital Region colleges and K-12 schools are well-represented on a 20-member advisory committee appointed by Cuomo to help New York officials and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “reimagine education” in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

Unions representing nurses, teaching assistants, and other support staff at Niskayuna Central School District have rejected a proposal to freeze all salaries for the coming year to help the district weather potential mid-year state-aid cuts associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The City of Albany cut around 50 crossing guards Friday, the first possible move as it faces an estimated $18 million revenue shortfall this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An LC-130 “Skibird” assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing will conduct a 12-city regional flyover today to salute medical professionals, first responders, and essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have finalized a plan that may allow the 2020 season to start on Fourth of July weekend.

The plan will be presented to the MLB Players Association today at a meeting that will will set the stage for what both parties expect to be a contentious negotiation.

Tina Fey shed tears after announcing that more than $115 million was raised toward supporting New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19 during a virtual telethon. “Thank you, thank you,” said a tearful Fey, the host of the Rise Up New York! event last night.

In (mostly) non-virus news…

Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee raised more than $60 million in April, a substantial haul that may help soothe Democrats’ worries about the former vice president’s ability to compete financially with Trump and the Republicans despite their vast cash advantage.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is set to pass rules today allowing delegates to cast their vote for the party’s nominee by mail, allowing for the possibility of a remote or limited in-person convention this summer.

American Jews were targets of more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than any other year over the past four decades, a surge marked by deadly attacks on a California synagogue, a Jewish grocery store in New Jersey and a rabbi’s New York home, the Anti-Defamation League reported.

Georgia’s attorney general appointed a black district attorney from the Atlanta area to take over the case of a white father and son charged with killing a black man, making her the third outside prosecutor in a slaying that’s prompted a national outcry over suspicions that race played a role in delaying arrests.

A lawyer famous for getting George Zimmerman acquitted in the 2012 death of teenager Trayvon Martin says the fatal shooting of a different teen in the same Florida city last week doesn’t appear justified.

A top NYC Department of Education official orchestrated the dilution of a probe into Orthodox Jewish schools for political gain and should resign, yeshiva reform advocates said.

A 17-year-old was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a 15-month-old in Stillwater.

Princeton University has announced its first black valedictorian in its 274-year history.

This happened.

RIP, Jerry Stiller, who found stardom alongside his wife, Anne Meara, in the ‘50s before winning a new generation of ‘90s fans as George Costanza’s explosively unhinged father on “Seinfeld.”

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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