Good morning. It’s Thursday, which is one day away from Friday.
A few things worth noting.
Today is Ascension, the 40th day of Easter, which commemorates Jesus’s ascension into heaven as described in the New Testament of the Bible. According to the Bible, after his resurrection on Easter, Jesus met with his disciples multiple times over the 40-day period and instructed them on how to continue to carry out his teachings. On the last day, he took them to the Mount of Olives where they watched as he ascended into heaven.
It’s also National American Red Cross Founder’s Day, which marks the anniversary of the humanitarian organization founded by Clara Barton in 1881.
And one more: It’s National Waitstaff Day.
Now this might not be a widely-observed holiday, but it’s certainly something to think about as the hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. A lot of servers (also known as waiters and waitresses) are out of work right now, and it’s unclear exactly what sort of jobs they might be able to return to once the the reopening is complete.
Oh, and also, check out today’s Google Doodle. It highlights one of the most central instruments to Zimbabwe’s traditional music scene – the mbira, often referred to as a “thumb piano” in the West.
I cannot cast any aspirations whatsoever at Mother Nature these days. She’s been absolutely killing it with the weather. We’re in for another fabulous one, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.
In the headlines…
More than 100,000 coronavirus cases were reported to the World Health Organization in the previous 24 hours, “the most in a single day since the outbreak began,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Global coronavirus cases surpassed 5 million yesterday, with Latin America overtaking the United States and Europe in the past week to report the largest portion of new daily cases globally.
The CDC recently issued updated guidance saying that coronavirus “does not spread easily” from touching surfaces or objects.
Slow reaction to the coronavirus pandemic may have cost as many as 54,000 American lives, according to estimates released by Columbia University researchers.
Dutch authorities believe a mink may have infected a human with Covid-19, and are instituting mandatory testing at all mink farms in the Netherlands.
Some scientists looking for ways to prevent a return to exponential growth in coronavirus infections after lockdowns are lifted are zeroing in on a new approach: focus on avoiding superspreading events.
U.S. unemployment claims are expected to approach 40 million, and counting as new numbers are released this morning.
Trump reportedly expressed opposition to extending the $600-a-week increase in unemployment benefits approved in the CARES Act, which comes on top of benefits already provided by states, during a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans.
A recent household survey from the Census Bureau suggests that the pain is widespread: Almost 50 percent of adults said they or a member of their household had lost employment income since mid-March. Nearly 40 percent expected the loss to continue over the next four weeks.
Apple and Google released technology to help governments track the spread of Covid-19 through apps that notify users if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ford Motor Co. stopped assembly lines at key factories in Chicago (for the second day in a row) and Michigan yesterday, the latest sign of the risks to companies and their employees as they attempt to resume work during the Covid-19 outbreak.
While most businesses are struggling during the coronavirus outbreak, Target has adapted and flourished. The big box store reported that its same-day services, which include Shipt deliveries and in-store pickups, grew by 278% during the first quarter of 2020, which ended May 2.
For those who had been watching local newspapers struggle in the era of digitization, a round of recent layoff and furlough announcements At BuzzFeed, Vice and Quartz were sobering: Even the media business’s most savvy, innovative and glamorous players are hurting.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he understands why the Tokyo Olympics would need to be canceled if the Games cannot be held in the summer of 2021.
At least three people were shot at a shopping center in suburban Phoenix last night, police said, in one of the first shootings at a public space in the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The National Federation of State High School Associations has put out a 16-page document entitled “Guidance for State Associations to Consider in Re-opening High School Athletics and Other Activities,” outlining protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond its hard-hitting rhetoric against China over its handling of the coronavirus, the White House issued a broad-scale attack on Beijing’s predatory economic policies, military buildup, disinformation campaigns and human rights violations.
President Donald Trump threatened to hold up federal funds for two election battleground states that are trying to make it easier and safer to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. He backed away from that threat but stuck with his unsupported claim that widespread voting by mail promotes “a lot of illegality.”
Trump falsely claimed that Michigan and Nevada were engaged in voter fraud and had acted illegally while threatening to withhold federal funds to those states if they proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, will reportedly be released from the federal prison in Otisville today as part of a government effort to thin out prison populations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A day after President Trump said she has “mental problems,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened the commander-in-chief to a child with “doggy doo on his shoes.”
The White House says the president and first lady will participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
Strong concern about a second wave of coronavirus infections is reinforcing widespread opposition among Americans to reopening public places, a new poll finds, even as many state leaders step up efforts to return to life before the pandemic.
The Federalist’s New York correspondent David Marcus calls in a NY Post cover story for all of New York City to reopen right now, and if it doesn’t, he says, business owners should take matters into their own hands and flout lockdown orders.
In a medical research project nearly unrivaled in its ambition and scope, volunteers worldwide are rolling up their sleeves to receive experimental vaccines against the coronavirus — only months after the virus was identified.
Moncef Slaoui, a former pharmaceutical executive, is now overseeing the U.S. initiative to development coronavirus treatments and vaccines. His financial interests and corporate roles have come under scrutiny.
William Haseltine, a groundbreaking researcher of cancer, HIV/AIDS and human genome projects, said governments should not count on a successful vaccine against COVID-19 being developed anytime soon when deciding whether to ease restrictions imposed to curb the pandemic.
When you finally return to work after the lockdown, coronavirus might not be the only illness you need to worry about contracting at the office.
Some people who have survived the coronavirus describe being shunned by relatives and friends, rather than being celebrated.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said coronavirus numbers are “headed in the right direction” but data shows most new cases are coming from low income and communities of color.
Cuomo asked local governments across the state to intensify their testing and anti-spread efforts in hard-hit minority communities.
New York is being “very aggressive” in helping nursing homes test their staffs twice a week to curtail the coronavirus at those facilities, officials said, while Cuomo emphasized the state faces a critical moment as it slowly reopens its economy.
Cuomo announced that religious ceremonies can resume starting Thursday, though limited to 10 or fewer worshippers. Services can resume today, as long as participants stay apart and wear masks. Drive-in services also are permitted.
The governor brushed off calls for the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the massive number of deaths in the state’s nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic – claiming he was only following guidelines from the Trump administration and CDC.
“Anyone who wants to ask ‘why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes?’ It’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance. So they should ask President Trump,” Cuomo said.
The city is ramping up coronavirus testing and staffing at Big Apple nursing homes as part of a new plan to fight the deadly bug in hard-hit elderly communities, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Two weeks after wondering aloud why the “old model” of teachers and students in physical classrooms still exists, Cuomo said today that in-person learning is a vital part of education.
Nearly 300,000 people have applied for food stamps in the past 10 weeks in New York. In D.C., Democrats and Republicans are at odds over what to do about the rise in hunger across the U.S.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany took on Chris Cuomo, saying that while he “mocked” Trump for taking hydroxychloroquine the CNN anchor took a less-safe version of the drug himself.
A task force lead by top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa is examining the spike in domestic violence cases during the pandemic and how the state should address it.
Aggrieved New Yorkers in lockdown can soon divorce and start suing one another again, court officials announced.
The operator of New York City’s subway and bus systems has hired a consultant to examine how major transit systems around the world are handling service resumptions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Straphangers are slowly returning to the subways and buses, a sign that New Yorkers are taking small steps towards a new normal during the coronavirus pandemic.
…While subway ridership is now around 600,000 trips per day, it’s not ticking up quite as fast as bus trips, which are approaching 700,000.
The number of transit workers killed by the coronavirus stands at 123, the agency revealed.
Police say they discovered another Brooklyn yeshiva operating illegally amid the coronavirus shutdown.
De Blasio raised alarms about an unexpected new hurdle to re-opening schools: plummeting rates of childhood vaccinations as anxious parents have kept their children home — and away from doctors’ offices.
For the vast majority of students, remote learning is a poor substitute for being in the classroom, but for some who struggled to pay attention in class, or for self-motivated high-achievers, it’s working out very well.
Hospital executives and doctors, wary about what comes next as New York City looks to ease out of its near lockdown, are asking whether the current drop in cases in the lull before a new wave of cases or a less chaotic slog. At hospitals, staff members are preparing for both possibilities.
New York City employees could be working from home for the long-term under a new cost-saving plan now being formulated in City Council. The proposal is aimed at ending city leases on office spaces by requiring that some employees set up home offices on a more permanent basis.
Complaints have been pouring in from affluent parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn about people failing to wear face masks, more so than in other areas, even though these neighborhoods have lower rates of infection and death than many lower-income sections of the city.
Fifty-two NYU medical students who accepted the school’s offer to forego their final months of classes and start working at city hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients got a day off to attend their virtual graduation.
Testing for coveted gifted programs that start in kindergarten has become a high-stakes hurdle for thousands of New York City children. Now 61 students face another challenge: The tests that they took earlier this year got lost as a result of the pandemic.
A Cohoes wedding photographer and his business partner, a videographer, had their video selected as a finalist in Cuomo’s statewide contest seeking a public service announcement that will be used to encourage New Yorkers to wear masks. (More on that here).
Construction workers – and an increased number of retail clerks – were the clearest signs yesterday that the reopening of the Capital Region economy was under way.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is seeking to effectively extend the May 31 property tax deadline for those economically impacted by the coronavirus shutdown to July 15.
The Troy school district’s 23 reading teachers are cut from its proposed $113.65 million budget for the 2020-21 school year that the Board of Education voted last night to put on the June 9 ballot.
The nearly $62,000 the City of Saratoga Springs spent to house the homeless at the Holiday Inn during the pandemic, which the city hoped would be federally reimbursed, will not be refunded.
Free of state regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone casino, along with two others in Central New York, is tentatively set to open June 10, which is weeks before other state-regulated facilities may re-start their operations.
Among the last professional sports to air a live event before the COVID-19 shutdown, bowling will be among the first to reappear on TV.
The NCAA Division I Council voted to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1 as a growing number of college leaders expressed confidence that fall sports will be possible in some form despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
Some summer camps are going virtual, which is not a viable option for many families.
In non-virus news…
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Congress from receiving grand-jury materials from Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, likely extending the issue past November’s election.
…The court’s order, concerning a request by the House Judiciary Committee for grand jury materials that the Justice Department had blacked out from the report provided to Congress, could mean that the full report would not be made available before the 2020 election.
NASA’s chief of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, is departing the space agency after just six months in the role. In a farewell note to colleagues, which was obtained by reporters, Loverro said he was resigning over a “mistake” he had made earlier this year.
An unnamed National Football League player contends in a lawsuit filed against United Airlines that he was sexually assaulted by a female passenger on a redeye flight in February from Los Angeles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport.
The license for one of the breached dams that caused massive flooding in Michigan was revoked in 2018 by federal regulators, who cited the dam owner’s failure to address safety issues.
The city’s top law enforcement union has endorsed controversial conservative Democratic Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. for an open congressional seat in the south Bronx.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got into a heated virtual debate with her chief Democratic primary opponent, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, this week — and the exchanges got very personal.
The Rensselaer County’s Sheriff’s Office renewed its contract for a controversial program that allows the jail to hold immigrants for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
National Grid is once again going to the town of Bethlehem seeking approval of a new $15 million electrical substation that would be built on land the utility owns near an elementary school and Bethlehem Central High School.
Chrissy Teigen wants to make it clear she had no part in Alison Roman’s “temporary leave” from the New York Times and called on the paper to bring her back.
Photo credit: George Fazio.