It’s Thursday, May 14, which is the last day of the “PAUSE.”
Tomorrow, the phased-in economic re-opening of four regions of the state – the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, Finger Lakes Region and North Country (added just yesterday) – have so far met the metrics laid out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to embark on the slow return to some semblance of normal.
I know a lot of people are excited about this, and I guess I am, too, to an extent. I know the remedy of near complete lockdown in an effort to contain the novel corona virus has been draconian, and in some counties, far worse than the virus death toll….so far.
But then you read stories like this, about the numbers of cases shooting up in other parts of the country where re-opening has already gotten underway, and you worry.
The governor has adopted a cautious approach to re-opening. Phase One is limited to construction, manufacturing, and curbside pickup for certain retail businesses, as well as agriculture, forestry and fishing. He also has instituted a series of regional control groups that will monitor the number of virus cases that crop up as this effort moves forward, and act accordingly.
Fingers crossed that this experiment works.
It was another chilly evening, and there’s a freeze warning in effect through 8 a.m. We’ll have partly cloudy skies today, with temperatures in the high 60s, according to The Weather Channel. This evening, we’re looking at rain that continues on through tomorrow.
In the news…
The House will vote tomorrow on a massive $3 trillion bill for further coronavirus relief, including a second round of $1,200 checks for individuals, hazard pay for essential workers, more funding for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing and aid for people struggling to afford rent or food.
The huge bill, known as the HEROES Act, outstrips the cost of Congress’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was the largest economic stimulus bill in U.S. history.
The Senate however, is not expected to consider another coronavirus relief bill until after the Memorial Day recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress needs to “pause” and grasp the debt amassed by recent legislation.
“We’re going to insist on doing narrowly targeted legislation, if and when we do legislate again and we may well,” McConnell said.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell delivered a stark warning that the U.S. was experiencing an economic hit “without modern precedent” that could permanently damage the economy if Congress and the White House did not provide sufficient financial support to prevent a wave of bankruptcies and prolonged joblessness.
President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been released from a federal prison due to coronavirus concerns and will continue serving his 7½ year sentence for tax and bank fraud from his Northern Virginia home, his attorney said.
The United Nations is calling for mental health care to be given to millions of people suffering psychological distress from fear, loneliness, economic upheaval and any abuse triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many as 6,000 children around the world could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months due to the impact of coronavirus on routine health services, the UN has warned.
The coronavirus pandemic hit the world at a time of plentiful harvests and ample food reserves. Yet a cascade of protectionist restrictions, transport disruptions and processing breakdowns has dislocated the global food supply and put the planet’s most vulnerable regions in particular peril.
Global stocks fell today in the wake of a selloff on Wall Street, after cautious comments from Fed Chair Powell added to concerns about the global economy.
A new study from researchers in the US and the UK have found that a crowdsourcing app that has users self-report COVID-19 symptoms could be useful for predicting future cases.
Nearly two-thirds of college students said they would go back to classes if their colleges reopened in the fall — even if there is no coronavirus vaccine or cure, according to a new Axios/College Reaction poll.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ coronavirus stay-at-home order yesterday, ruling that his administration overstepped its authority when it extended it for another month without consulting legislators.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has fired his health commissioner while the Nutmeg State grapples with reopening plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
FBI agents reportedly seized the cell phone of a North Carolina senator, Richard Burr, as part of a Justice Department investigation into the lawmaker’s eyebrow-raising stock trades at the start of the coronavirus crisis.
The U.S. is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change.
Weeks after Congress appropriated $11 billion to support state coronavirus testing efforts, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says $1.5 billion of those funds will flow to New York soon — twice the amount any other state will receive.
In a letter to members of the New York and New Jersey Congressional delegations, the Port Authority said it expects to lose $3 billion over the next 24 months due to the pandemic as it continues to operate airports and other facilities despite record-low usage.
The state Senate and Assembly heard from business owners, industry leaders and other experts yesterday during a joint hearing to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus on small businesses. It was the first in a series of several COVID-related public hearings that are being organized by the Legislature.
A lack of personal protective equipment and inflexible terms on federal loans are undermining small businesses as they try to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, entrepreneurs told state lawmakers.
Rep. Elise Stefanik said it is “imperative” for businesses in the North Country to reopen swiftly after Cuomo announced the region has met his metrics for ending the “PAUSE.”
The counties surrounding Albany and Syracuse are close to hitting all seven state benchmarks; New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley still have a hospitalization rate in excess of the state’s limit.
Despite mounting pressure to reopen a Long Island economy pummeled by the coronavirus crisis, the region may still be weeks away from seeing business closings lifted, members of a state advisory board said.
Meeting the reopening metrics is hard. Yesterday morning, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy was touting that there was only one requirement out of seven that the Capital Region had to fulfill in order to prove it can reopen the economy. But by the afternoon, the region had fallen back again on hospitalizations.
A new state directive requiring twice-a-week testing of nursing home and adult care employees for coronavirus has some in the industry wondering how they’ll pay for such a large undertaking and whether it’s possible in the first place.
Despite nearly 5,400 nursing home residents dead and calls growing for a probe of his policies that mandated the facilities take in coronavirus patients, Cuomo insisted that he and his officials “did everything we could” to protect the most vulnerable population. “As a society, you can’t save everyone, you’re gonna lose people, that’s life,” he said.
Cuomo quietly inserted a provision into the state budget that provided unusual legal protections for an influential industry that has been devastated by the crisis: nursing home operators. Families are finding out now that they are unable to sue.
Cuomo expressed uncertainty about a timeframe for schools to resume in New York, saying: “I don’t know where we’re going to be in August. You know, I’m trying to figure out June. I understand schools need a leave time and to plan.”
Judges will return to courthouses in 30 upstate counties next week, including Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties in the greater Capital Region on Monday.
Frontline workers in New York who underwent COVID-19 antibody testing tested positive at a lower rate than the state’s general population, Cuomo said.
A steady presence on the dais during Cuomo’s daily coronavirus media briefings, his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, 37, is having an extended breakout moment.
The New York Department of Labor has paid approximately $7.4 billion in unemployment claims in the first seven weeks of the Covid-19 crisis to 1.7 million residents out of work, DeRosa said.
A major New York City emergency food provider says it has been excluded from Cuomo’s coronavirus effort designed to support feeding programs while aiding farmers upstate.
The governor discussed his relationship with his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, while on Seth Meyers’ new Late Night.
Is Bella Cuomo, the 17-year-old daughter of Chris Cuomo, the “best” Cuomo? Decide for yourself.
The sentencing of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere next month in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn has been adjourned indefinitely.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said she is looking into reports that the NYPD is targeting minorities for aggressive enforcement of social distancing.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea got heated as he defended cops from accusations of racism in the wake of controversial social-distancing stops. “I will also not have my Police Department called a racist police department,” he said.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that he has never been tested for coronavirus, despite making regular visits to hospitals across the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police unions are livid and demanding New York City’s Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot resign or be fired after she reportedly gave an emphatic rejection when the NYPD sought more face masks for officers.
The New York police sergeants union described Barbot as a “bitch” in response to revelations that she told an NYPD official she didn’t give “two rats’ asses” about cops getting safety masks.
More than 80 New York City children have now been sickened with a baffling inflammatory condition potentially linked to the coronavirus, authorities said.
As concerns mount over children with a serious and potentially deadly inflammatory condition, a new study sheds light on the illness’s distinctive characteristics and provides the strongest evidence yet that the syndrome is linked to the coronavirus.
New bills passed in the New York City Council will cap delivery fees charged by services like Grubhub and prohibit other charges, a move lawmakers say will help struggling businesses as the city fights the coronavirus.
The MTA slammed a popular TikTok prankster who spilled a giant bin of wet cereal onto a moving subway for the entertainment his 3.3 million followers.
More than 8,700 MTA subway, bus and rail employees have returned to work after being quarantined or testing positive for the disease. The pandemic is believed to have killed 116 of their colleagues.
The NYC Department of Sanitation has launched a cooking show, “Feeding NYC,” on its YouTube channel, with the hope of helping everyday New Yorkers avoid wasting food.
The NYC lockdown has resulted in a lot less garbage production, which is stressing out the local rat population.
David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group announced that it would not reopen Momofuku Nishi, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and Momofuku CCDC, in Washington.
As warmer weather beckons people outside, more chances emerge for confrontations between mask believers and mask doubters.
Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford fears the city could again become addled by gangs, drugs and double-digit homicides if the department is forced to lay off about 40 cops because of a deepening fiscal crisis brought on by the coronavirus.
The police chief of Watervliet has been furloughed, the first of eight employees the city will take off the payroll as it seeks to close a $1.2 million to $2 million budget gap resulting from revenue declines due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Amid the prospect of a phased re-opening, and as refineries and overseas producers have cut back production, gas prices are inching back up both nationally and in the Capital Region.
A Kingston barber with a positive coronavirus diagnosis has been operating “illicitly” throughout “the last few weeks” of the NY on PAUSE directive, according to the Ulster County Health Commissioner.
Actor-comedian Maria DeCotis’s online video in which she lip-syncs to Cuomo’s bumbling speech about how fathers have to pretend to like their daughters’ boyfriends has been viewed more than 1 million times and drawn praise from a number of celebrities.
Matt Damon has broken his silence about riding out the coronavirus lockdown in a seaside town in Ireland, dishing to a Dublin radio station about his newest FaceTime buddy (Bono) and what he was carrying in a SuperValu bag (beach towels) when he was spotted by locals.
In non-virus news…
The federal judge overseeing the criminal case of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn appointed a hard-charging former prosecutor and judge to argue against the Justice Department in its effort to drop the case and investigate whether Flynn committed perjury.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s appointment of the former judge, John Gleeson, was an extraordinary move in a case with acute political overtones. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The National Security Agency received and approved requests on behalf of more than three dozen Obama administration officials, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, to “unmask” a U.S. citizen mentioned in classified foreign intelligence reports during the presidential transition, revealing the identity of Flynn.
Nearly eight years after he was last on the ballot, Barack Obama is emerging as a central figure in the 2020 presidential election.
A state Supreme Court justice ruled that New York’s Child Victims Act, which has given survivors of sexual abuse the ability to file decades-old complaints against their alleged offenders, is constitutional. The decision was a loss for the Rockville Centre Catholic Diocese on Long Island.
The state has recalled thousands of the new license plates that Cuomo insisted on rolling out on the grounds that they would work better with E-ZPass cameras — after discovering that they don’t work with E-ZPass at all.
A state Supreme Court justice has tossed out lawsuits filed by the Village of Floral Park and various civic groups trying to reverse state approvals for the new arena for the New York Islanders, eliminating all legal challenges to the $1.3 billion project at Belmont Park.
An off-duty NYPD cop gunned down his “best friend” after an argument on Long Island — blasting the man five times, including twice in the face, police and the victim’s family said.
The lawyer challenging Albany County District Attorney David Soares for the Democratic nomination this year is proposing an initiative often touted by his opponent – restorative justice.
A new law that took effect in Utah this week has lowered the punishment for polygamy in some cases, making it an infraction similar to a traffic summons instead of a felony punishable by a prison term.
Photo credit: George Fazio.