Good Wednesday morning, CivMixers.
It’s the middle of week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff to summer, and while summer is certainly going to look a lot different this year as a result of the ongoing pandemic, we have some things to look forward to.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday said there could be Memorial Day ceremonies this weekend of 10 or fewer people, explaining: “This is important to many, many families all across this state. It’s important to the veterans that they be recognized, and I think we can do that, and I think we can do it safely.”
Because yes, while Memorial Day weekend – for many people – is about the beach or lake and cookouts and picnics and parties, it’s officially for honoring and mourning the military personnel who had died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Speaking of kickoffs, Happy un-PAUSE Day, Capital Region! Phase I businesses can open their doors today.
Today also would be, according to Google, the 61st birthday of native Hawaiian `ukulele player, singer-songwriter, and activist Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole, who is perhaps best known for touching the world with his beloved rendition of “Over the Rainbow” and forever changing the face of Hawaiian music.
The man also known as the “Voice of Hawaii” died at the age of 38 in 1997. Google is honoring him today to mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
It should be another glorious day today, with highs in the mid-70s and sunny skies. Get out there and get some Vitamin D.
In the headlines…
The CDC has posted 60 pages of detailed guidelines on how to reopen the U.S. from coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders on the agency’s website. The guidance was a slightly shorter version of a 68-page document shelved by the White House last week after concerns it was too specific.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said that the U.S. is ready to begin to reopen but warned that the country needs to prepare for the months ahead by investing in rapid testing and contact tracing.
The CDC now says that Covid-19 mainly spreads from person-to-person contact, and not so easily in other ways – including touching infected surfaces.
However, group fitness classes can be a hotbed for the spread of coronavirus, the CDC has warned in a new report.
The nation’s top two economic policy leaders offered contrasting visions about the economic outlook, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin favoring a wait-and-see approach to more federal aid and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggesting more would be needed.
Mnuchin warned of potential long-term damage to the U.S. economy the longer states are shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. “There is risk of permanent damage,” he told the Senate Banking Committee.
“I think the jobs numbers will be worse before they get better,” Mnuchin said, adding that the overall economy, too, was likely to weaken in the near term before starting to recover towards the end of the year.
“What Congress has done to date has been remarkably timely and forceful,” Powell said. “But we need to step back and ask, ’Is it enough?”
U.S. states rolled back more restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus as confirmed cases in America topped 1.5 million and tensions heightened in some places over government responses to the pandemic.
Efforts are underway in states across the nation to combat conspiracy theories, hoaxes and bogus treatment claims that have erupted during the pandemic.
Some of the biggest U.S. retailers are ending the extra pay they gave to front-line workers as coronavirus-related costs pile up and the ranks of jobless Americans surge, tipping the labor market in employers’ favor.
The Trump administration indefinitely extended an executive order allowing border agents to block most migrants from entering the country over coronavirus fears.
States are expected to ask the federal government to repay them at least an estimated $45 billion spent fighting the coronavirus, with the president likely to decide whether their costs will be covered in full.
State governments would receive a combined $500 billion in federal aid to provide direct relief from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic under legislation that’s gaining bipartisan ground in Congress.
President Trump defended his decision to take antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus — charging that a study which found it to be potentially lethal was a “phony investigation.”
Trump was reminded by a reporter that the FDA has said hydroxychloroquine should not be used outside of a hospital setting or research studies. He interjected: “No. That’s not what I was told. No.”
The FDA yesterday said hydroxychloroquine is “ultimately” a choice between patients and their health-care providers, appearing to soften its earlier advisory against taking the anti-malaria drug outside of a hospital.
Trump bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “a sick woman” with “mental health problems” after she urged him to think twice about taking hydroxychloroquine since he’s obese and could suffer serious side effects from the unproven coronavirus drug.
Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of a malaria drug that he now says he takes daily — and the resulting uproar in the news media — appears to be interfering with legitimate scientific research into whether the medicine might work to prevent coronavirus infection or treat the disease in its early stages.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the coronavirus pandemic threatens Africa’s progress and could push millions into extreme poverty.
Fifty days of strict lockdowns followed by 30 days where measures are eased could be an effective strategy for reducing Covid-19 deaths while ensuring some level of economic protection, scientists claim.
A new study claims that daily, worldwide carbon dioxide emissions were reduced 17 percent during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in April.
Pier 1 Imports wants to close all of its 541 stores, including the four on Long Island, after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed its plans to find a buyer, the home decor retailer said.
With the future of small businesses in urban communities at risk, former NBA great Magic Johnson has stepped in to offer assistance, collaborating with MBE Capital Partners to offer $100 million in loans to minority- and women-owned companies hurt by stay-at-home orders due to Covid-19.
NYU is planning to hold in-person classes for the fall semester, according to an email sent by Provost Katherine Fleming on May 19.
American women had babies at record-low rates last year and pushed U.S. births down to their smallest total in 35 years, according to federal figures released today.
The border between the U.S. and Canada has been closed to nonessential travel since March 21 due to concerns about coronavirus, and after an announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it will remain that way by mutual agreement until at least June 21, and possibly longer.
A federal appeals court ruled that New York must host its Democratic presidential primary on June 23. The state Board of Elections does not plan to appeal this decision.
Commissioner Douglas Kellner said there will be no appeal “so we can focus all of our attention on the daunting tasks of managing the primary election in a way that minimizes the risks to the public and to election workers.”
Registered voters in New York are beginning to receive absentee ballots for the June 23 primary.
Cuomo said that the state’s coronavirus outbreak has slowed to levels not seen since the beginning of the pandemic as the number of fatalities, rate of new infections and the daily number of hospitalizations related to Covid-19 continue to fall.
The governor said that the state has now confirmed 137 cases of a mystery illness in children connected to COVID-19. Cuomo said he believes the state’s discovery is just the “tip of the iceberg” for the illness dubbed Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or PMIS.
Common Cause New York, a nonpartisan organization that lobbies for good government, is calling on state legislators to give up half their salaries “for doing half their job” since they approved a budget in April amid the coronavirus pandemic — and then largely shut down their session.
“Why should New Yorkers pay lawmakers $110,000 — in the middle of a budget deficit — to do only half their jobs?” said Susan Lerner, executive director of New York’s 68,000-member Common Cause. “Voters elect our representatives to legislate for six months out of the year and handle constituent services, not one or the other.
The New York State AFL-CIO is urging the Workers Compensation Board to provide health care coverage and wage replacement benefits to workers who were exposed to the coronavirus while on the job.
New York City’s latest statistics for its daily coronavirus indicators are “a reminder of how much we have to stick to the plan,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said as hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care units spiked.
The MTA is considering limiting capacity on LIRR trains, implementing a reservation system and using technology to take passengers’ temperatures to help restore confidence in the nation’s largest commuter rail system, which has seen its ridership plummet during the pandemic, officials said.
The MTA is rolling out a new weapon in its battle to keep the city’s buses and trains clean during the COVID-19 pandemic — coronavirus-killing ultraviolet lamps.
The state-run agency itself has said it expects ridership to be at a mere 50 to 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels at the end of the year. Many of those opting out could instead start crowding the roads — or CitiBike docks.
The MTA will “be better” for going through the “experience” of the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo said, citing cleaner trains and efforts to get the homeless out of the subway system.
State cops said they were powerless to investigate an Orange County yeshiva that may have been violating state coronavirus restrictions because of a loophole in the regulations.
The recent dispersal of students from a Brooklyn yeshiva was the latest of several episodes that have ignited tensions between the authorities and Hasidic Jews since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Manhattan steakhouse has redesigned its restaurant for a post-coronavirus world — setting up Plexiglass table dividers between tables to keep germs from fellow diners contained.
Albany Medical Center is one of 16 hospitals statewide that will participate in a two-week pilot program designed to see whether New York hospitals can safely resume visitations amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Hospitals in Nassau County can resume performing elective surgeries, Cuomo said, as the Long Island region makes what he suggested are great strides to beat back the coronavirus and move toward reopening.
Long Island may be closer to reopening now that the state has changed some of the metrics used in determining when to ease restrictions from the coronavirus lockdown.
After a warm weekend, the Hudson Valley now meets fewer metrics needed to be allowed to start reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was expected to sign legislation limiting access to Nickerson Beach, joining several Long Island leaders who have drawn a legal line in the sand to keep nonresidents away from local beaches while New York City beaches are closed.
New York City residents should be allowed on Long Island’s beaches, de Blasio said after being ripped as “irresponsible” by Curran for closing the Big Apple’s own shores amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some unscrupulous tenants in the tony Hamptons are using the state’s non-eviction order to squat in style, local landlords and real-estate brokers claim.
Fire Island, a popular summer getaway for New York City residents, has been a rare coronavirus-free haven. Now business owners and officials are trying to determine how to best accommodate an influx of seasonal visitors without exposing the community to infection.
De Blasio called on the state to authorize line-of-duty benefits — like those paid to the families of firefighters and police killed on the job — for the families of city workers who have died from the coronavirus.
A city councilman sharply called out Correction Department Commissioner Cynthia Brann for her public absence during the coronavirus crisis — as the city jails agency finally revealed that over 1,100 inmates had been tested for COVID-19.
Correction officers in New York City live in fear of bringing the virus home to families. They say the city has not protected them.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the NYC health commissioner who had been out of the spotlight for several days, re-emerged and said she’s on the team. But one of her agency’s key functions in managing the pandemic has been handed to another city department.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced plans to reopen to the public in mid-August or “perhaps a few weeks later,” according to a statement released yesterday.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in homeless shelters across the Capital Region remain low, but many people are avoiding congregate settings amid fears they could contract the virus.
Following several weeks of back-and-forth with state officials, Rensselaer County Steve McLaughlin said that privately owned RV parks in the county would be allowed to open later in the week, probably by tomorrow, regardless of state recommendations.
After furloughs fell short of desired savings, the city of Saratoga Springs finance commissioner is retooling her budget gap plan to include short-term borrowing.
After much debate over the past few months, the Board of Education voted to adopt a budget for the upcoming academic year that calls for a 2.15 percent in school taxes and some layoffs.
A proposed $28.56 million budget for the upcoming 2020-21 school year will go to voters next month for final approval after the city of Watervliet Board of Education unanimously adopted it last night.
Even with the minor-league baseball season in serious jeopardy of being canceled, new Tri-City ValleyCats manager Wladimir Sutil tries to look at the bright side.
Turning Stone Resort and Casino outlined their reopening plan, which is set to start on June 10. The “Safer Together” plan adopts the best practices from gaming and hospitality venues throughout the world and incorporates input from regional partners, including neighboring municipalities.
Steely Dan’s June 30 show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is being rescheduled for July 1, 2021, Live Nation announced.
The 93rd Oscars aren’t until February, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is considering postponing the big night.
The Belmont Stakes will be run before the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for the first time and take place at a shorter distance.
…It will lead off the Triple Crown on June 20 in New York with no fans in attendance and at a distance of 1 1/8 miles instead of the 1 1/2-mile “test of the champion” that has been the race’s trademark for nearly a century.
Cuomo continued to root for sports to come back to New York during the coronavirus pandemic — so long as the numbers add up.
A March 26 conversation between MLB and the union in which MLB portrays the union as acknowledging that a new negotiation was needed regarding how players would be paid this season could serve as an email version of a smoking gun.
In non-virus news…
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined an interview request for the State Department inspector general’s inquiry into whether the Trump administration acted illegally in declaring an “emergency” to bypass a congressional freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Johnson & Johnson is discontinuing North American sales of its talc-based baby powder, a product that once defined the company’s wholesome image and that it has defended for decades even as it faced thousands of lawsuits filed by patients who say it caused cancer.
In what she dubbed a “deathbed confession,” the woman behind the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling revealed her 1995 decision to switch sides and work with abortion foes was “all an act” for money.
Former NBC host Matt Lauer published a rebuttal to Ronan Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill,” which includes a rape allegation against Lauer, calling Farrow “too good to be true.”
NY-15, with Yankee Stadium at its heart, is home to some of the country’s poorest and most diverse people, an Obama oasis bordering AOC’s neighborhood—and yet it is on the verge of electing a Trump-loving Democrat – former state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., currently a NYC Council member, for its open seat in the House.
Nine sex abuse lawsuits were filed in New York against three Boy Scout local councils, signaling an escalation of efforts to pressure councils nationwide to pay a big share of an eventual settlement in the Scouts’ bankruptcy proceedings.
The Department of Defense has, for now, held off on plans to send up to 12 truckloads of toxic firefighting foam to the Norlite aggregate plant for incineration. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was pushing to make sure the DOD holds off for at least the next six-to-eight months.
Even after releasing not one, but two apologies following her feud with fellow lifestyle pro Chrissy Teigen, Alison Roman’s popular food column for The New York Times has been temporarily shelved.
RIP Leonard Levitt, a journalist and author whose investigative and gossipy revelations of wrongdoing by the New York City police made him a must-read as the self-anointed conscience of Police Headquarters, who died on Monday due to complications from lung cancer at his home in Stamford, Conn. at the age of 79.
Photo credit: George Fazio.