Rise and Shine: May 25, 2020

Happy Memorial Day, CivMixers. Summer is upon us.

And WOW, ironically, this is the first Memorial Day weekend I can recall when the weather was just…showstoppingly perfect, although it hasn’t been that way all across the state. Some places saw rain. I’m sorry for them, because upstate – at least where I’ve been – it has been glorious and amazing.

So, for the record, this day is not about beaches and picnics and cookouts and swimming pools etc. It’s a federal holiday held to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.

Now, as a result of the pandemic, “non-essential” gatherings of only 10 or less are allowed in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order allowing that late on Friday, and he did so in reaction to a lawsuit filed by the Civil Liberties Union, which said his previous move only to allow religious gatherings of that size didn’t go far enough.

Not everyone was thrilled by this move. NYC Council Health Committee Chair Make Levine, for example, called Cuomo’s order “shocking.”

We’re all being encouraged to keep socially distancing, wearing masks in public and practicing good hygiene. The aforementioned good weather has brought people out in droves, which makes that difficult.

Today we’re in for a mix of sun and clouds and highs near 80 degrees. The next two days – when most of us are back to work – we’ll see temperatures above 80 and a plethora of sun.

In the news…

As the death toll from coronavirus in Brazil continues to rise – and with the country’s largest and worst-hit city, Sao Paulo, yet to hit its peak — the U.S. government announced new restrictions on travelers entering the States from South America’s largest country.

With the economy wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. unemployment in April was the worst on record since World War II, at a rate of 14.7 percent. According to senior White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett, it’ll be even worse in May and June.

The hit to U.S. state and local finances from the coronavirus pandemic could be a drag on the nation’s economic recovery for years to come, if the past is any guide.

The pandemic has dried up many of the traditional opportunities that high school and college-age students rely on each summer. Junior workers seeking seasonal employment are striking out so much that the April unemployment rate for teens aged 16 to 19 hit 32 percent, marking a high not seen since at least 1948.

“(I)t could be, if they fix the numbers and fix the thing that they mischaracterized last time, that you will end up with a number north of 20 percent in May,” said White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett.

President Trump said that he is no longer on hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug he has been taking for several weeks as a treatment to ward off the coronavirus.

While the country neared six digits of death, the president who repeatedly criticized his predecessor for golfing during a crisis spent the weekend on the links for the first time since March. When he was not zipping around on a cart, he was tweeting.

The alliance of Renault and Nissan Motor Co. is set to disclose billions of dollars in cost cuts this week and Nissan is looking to slash capacity by an additional million vehicles, according to people familiar with the plans.

Even as American employers let tens of millions of workers go, some companies are choosing a different path. By instituting across-the-board salary reductions, especially at senior levels, they have avoided layoffs.

As the U.S. approaches the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus deaths, the New York Times filled the entire front page of Sunday’s paper with the death notices of victims from across the country.

The longer the White House and Senate Republicans keep a new coronavirus aid package on pause, the less money New York State is likely to get from a fund for states based on their share of the nation’s cases of infection, lawmakers acknowledged last week.

The New York Stock Exchange is set to reopen its trading floor tomorrow, more than eight weeks after it moved all operations to the digital sphere when the coronavirus pandemic sent New York and other parts of the U.S. into lockdown.

New coronavirus hospitalizations and the daily death toll have ticked up slightly, Cuomo said yesterday, troubling blips amid the disease’s overall decline.

New York is “decidedly in the reopening phase,” Cuomo said, as the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic gave sports leagues, campgrounds and veterinarian offices the green light to start up again, with modifications.

As regions start to slowly increase economic activity, the state is taking a day-by-day approach to monitoring the spread of COVID-19, declining to commit to any firm metrics to move through phases or reinstate restrictions if progress stops.

The Mid-Hudson Valley is on track to meet all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state’s regional phased reopening plan starting tomorrow, joining the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions.

Also set to re-open this coming week: Long Island.

It may take more than two weeks for regions to enter the next planned stages of reopening the economy, Cuomo said. “Phase II is more a judgment call” than Phase I, the governor explained.

Cuomo said teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the most part, New York’s professional teams are looking to their respective leagues for guidance or are planning to train elsewhere.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins say they plan to hold committee meetings tomorrow, and convene in session in the following days to vote on legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citing concerns about looming budget deficits due to COVID-19’s effect on the economy and the impact that may have on state programs, some state lawmakers are urging their colleagues to support tax hikes on high earners and the wealthy. Cuomo disagrees with this approach.

As restless New Yorkers filled Long Island beaches and parks yesterday, Cuomo visited Jones Beach State Park and encouraged them to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend but not forget social distancing rules designed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Cuomo’s office again deflected questions about a report from The Associated Press that the state sent more than 4,500 patients recovering from coronavirus to nursing homes by saying they followed guidance from federal agencies.

“New York followed the president’s agency’s guidance,” Cuomo said. “What New York did was to follow what the Republican administration said to do. Don’t criticize the state for following the presidents policies.”

As restaurants and other businesses have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, rats may become more aggressive as they hunt for new sources of food, the CDC warned.

With the Mid-Hudson and Long Island regions set to reopen this week, Cuomo announced new safety measures for public transit in those areas.

LIRR trains will run with extra cars to accommodate social distancing in time for the island’s anticipated reopening from the coronavirus this week.

A Long Island bar got into hot water over the weekend after apparently allowing dozens of customers inside the establishment to drink beverages in violation of the state’s coronavirus shutdown.

“From what I understand, the photos show people were in this space and they weren’t wearing masks. That’s stupid. Stupid for you, it’s stupid for your surrounding patrons, it’s stupid for the bar,” said secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa.

With vacations canceled and public pools and beaches likely closed or restricted this summer due to COVID-19, Long Islanders are creating their own vacation spots in their backyards, buying up pools and accessories in record numbers.

With Nassau County beaches closed to non-residents, a Long Beach man got himself into hot water for trying to scalp passes to outsiders on Craigslist, according to cops.

Health departments across the Capital Region and New York are working around the clock connecting with people who have tested positive for COVID-19, and tracking where a person has been and who they have been in contact with.

Curtis Sliwa hopped into the water off Coney Island yesterday, defying Mayor Bill de Blasio’s no-swimming order — and mocking hapless city Parks Department cops who watched him from shore as a crowd cheered him on.

New York City’s emergency $200 million housing fund meant to help renters stave off eviction should be extended to New Yorkers hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to advocates who support the measure.

New York City real-estate executive Elie Hirschfeld and his wife are donating their 130-piece New York-themed collection to the New-York Historical Society, saying it is time to share it with the city as a whole.

Youth baseball normally is going full throttle at this time of year, but COVID-19 has silenced the bats and balls. Under the state’s four-phase reopening plan, group recreational activities will be the last to open, with an earliest projected date of July 1.

Public pool complexes in Colonie and Bethlehem will likely not open at all this summer.

In partnership with businesses, government and philanthropic partners the United Way and Community Foundation provided hundreds and thousands of grants to nonprofits in the Capital Region to enable them to keep serving people during the pandemic.

Maria DeCotis, a comic whose popularity soared this month with her videos lip-syncing Cuomo’s ramblings about his daughters, knows how it feels to be mortified by a dad in the public eye.

Cuomo gave his brother’s competition a boost when he played a clip from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show during a coronavirus briefing, and asked host Rachel Maddow to judge some potential public service announcements.

Two major state fairs have been canceled in the U.S> due to the coronavirus pandemic, casting further doubt on the 2020 New York State Fair.

Is it time to stop the nightly appreciation clap for health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic? The advocate who started the practice thinks so.

Anna Wintour’s team at Vogue has been reaching out to ticket holders to the canceled Met Gala and urging guests to make donations rather than get refunds.

Some New Yorkers who are seasonal residents of Maine — people with cottages, etc. who don’t live there year-round — are reportedly changing to Maine license plates “to avoid public shaming.”

In non-virus news…

A Florida law requiring people with serious criminal convictions to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled, declaring that such a requirement would amount to a poll tax and discriminate against felons who cannot afford to pay.

The TU took a deep dive into the state’s troubled and backlogged Family Court system, and found it seriously lacking.

Gun violence continued to plague the Capital Region’s cities over the weekend, as there were at least three shooting incidents – one that resulted in a homicide in Schenectady, and another that led to two teenagers being injured in Albany.

Last Monday the Common Council delivered Mayor Kathy Sheehan the first veto override of a mayor in city history, voting 15-0 to reject her veto of a new ordinance placing stricter limits on blood plasma collection centers in the city.

When it came to convincing Amazon to bring investment and jobs to the Syracuse area, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon made one thing clear: We’re not New York City.

A Chinese-American advocacy group says that having NYC schools Chancellor Richard Carranza oversee instruction to fight Asian bias “is like having the KKK run training on anti-Black bigotry.”

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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