Rise and Shine: May 27, 2020

Good morning, it’s Wednesday.

The foreshortened week, as a result of the Memorial Day holiday weekend that just passed, coupled with the ongoing stay-at-home pandemic thing has got me all confused. It feels like a Tuesday. I actually WROTE that it was Tuesday, but it’s not. Wednesday. There you go. You’re welcome.

It’s also Nothing to Fear Day, a day when people are supposed to examine their fears and see if those fears are preventing them from living life to the fullest, (um, yes?), which seems particularly notable at the historic moment in which we find ourselves.

It on this date in 1941 that President FDR gave that infamous speech in which he said: “We must not be defeated by the fear of the very danger which we are preparing to resist. Our freedom has shown its ability to survive war, but our freedom would never survive surrender. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Actually, that line first appeared in FDR’s inaugural address in 1933. and six months later, the U.S. was drawn into WWII.

It’s a fitting time to mention FDR, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to be channeling the former president and his “New Deal,” a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted between 1933 and 1939 to provide relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression.

The governor, who is meeting with the president in D.C. today, is suggesting a new sort of New Deal in which infrastructure projects, which are sorely in need of being undertaken all across the country, are used to put Americans back to work and spur the economic recovery from the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re in for another scorcher of a day, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures getting up close to 90 degrees, according to The Weather Channel. But don’t get too used to this “summer before spring” situation, as the long-term forecast is showing we’ll be back in the 60s before you know it.

In the news today…

Congress will “probably” have to pass more legislation to mitigate the damage from the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Deadlocked over the next big coronavirus relief bill, Congress is shifting its attention to a more modest overhaul of small business aid in hopes of helping employers reopen shops and survive the pandemic.

For the first time, Twitter has flagged some of President Trump’s tweets with a fact-check warning, noting two in particular that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things.

…this came just hours after the social-media company denied a widower’s request to delete the president’s posts circulating conspiracy theories about his wife’s death.

Twitter did issue a public apology to the family of a woman whom Trump has repeatedly insinuated in tweets may have been murdered by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

The president accused Twitter of interfering with the 2020 election.

Trump and his White House are mocking presumptive Democratic 2020 rival Joe Biden for wearing a mask in public as conservative commentators brand the practice as elite liberal fear-mongering. Biden, in turn, called the president “a fool.”

“He’s supposed to lead by example,” Biden said. The former vice president also noted that nearly 100,000 Americans have been killed by the virus and suggested that as many as half of those deaths were avoidable but for Trump’s “lack of attention and ego.”

North Carolina is grappling with a steady surge in new coronavirus cases as Trump demands the state to accommodate a full-capacity Republican convention.

Senior military officials are set to brief Trump in the coming days on options for pulling all American troops out of Afghanistan, with one possible timeline for withdrawing forces before the presidential election.

International negotiations designed to address the sweeping global threat of climate change will quite likely be delayed by a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Justice Department notified three U.S. senators that it will not pursue insider trading charges against them after an investigation into stock transactions from the early days of the coronavirus pandemic did not find sufficient evidence they had broken the law.

Reopenings accelerated in the U.S. and across the world as falling numbers of coronavirus cases and slowing death rates in some regions fueled hopes that the worst of the pandemic was over.

Stocks surged yesterday on optimism about economies reopening and the potential development of a coronavirus vaccine, extending a rally that has pushed major U.S. indexes up more than 30 percent since late March.

Cuomo warned that the economy is not going to “just bounce back” – even as the state begins its phased reopening plan in some regions.

Boeing will this week announce about 2,500 voluntary layoffs in the first phase of broader cuts triggered by the coronavirus-driven collapse of global air travel, according to union officials.

Amtrak is preparing to cut up to 20 percent of its workforce in the next fiscal year as the national passenger railroad continues to suffer from a huge decline in ridership as the coronavirus pandemic brought most travel to a halt.

As Las Vegas opens up after weeks of being shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a very different place.

Cuomo rang the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange yesterday morning, as brokers returned to its iconic trading floor for the first time in two months following its longest closure ever.

…Cuomo wore a light-blue protective face mask for the brief ceremony, in line with the NYSE’s requirements for the handful of floor brokers allowed in the building. They’ll also have to follow social-distancing rules and have their temperatures checked before entering.

Critics note the governor signed legislation shielding hospital and nursing home executives from the threat of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus outbreak after the state Democratic Committee received big campaign contributions in 2018 from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), which advocated for the measure.

At least 20 states have swiftly taken action within the last two and a half months to limit the legal exposure of the politically powerful nursing home industry, which risks huge losses if families of coronavirus victims successfully sue facilities hit by the pandemic.

New York State’s skilled nursing facilities are set to receive more than $394 million in federal COVID-19 aid.

State legislators, back at work in Albany for the first time since April, plan to pass a bill to set aside a big chunk of New York’s federal aid to provide vouchers to help tenants who are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

….Dubbed the “Emergency Rent Relief Act,” the bill would earmark $100 million in federal funds for New Yorkers who meet income and rent qualifications.

Also making it through the committee process yesterday: An extension of the Child Victims Act look-back period, which was set to sunset this August, instead giving survivors of childhood sexual abuse until August 14, 2021 to file lawsuits against their abusers.

Lawmakers also considered a controversial bill authorizing New York City to borrow a maximum of $7 billion for up to 30 years owed to revenue losses from the pandemic. The governor, meanwhile, said “borrowing for operating expenses is fiscally questionable.”

The worst health crisis in a century has exploded across New York City, and it has inflicted the worst toll on the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough.

Cycling advocates say Mayor Bill de Blasio is missing a chance to turn New York City’s deserted streets into a bikers’ paradise as people seek alternative ways to travel and exercise during the coronavirus pandemic.

New York City could begin a phased reopening in the first or second week of June, de Blasio said, as it continued to ramp up testing capacity for the novel coronavirus and started developing plans for commuters to safely use public transportation.

…but the mayor kept tight-lipped on the details of what reopening will look like, to the frustration of both business owners and elected officials who aren’t sure he actually has a viable plan.

De Blasio signed into law several bills that could temporarily eat into the profits of food-ordering and delivery apps like Grubhub and UberEats.

Cleaner subways and nightly sweeps of the homeless from the system are the “silver linings” of the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo said.

Students at SUNY’s Stony Brook University applied for what they thought were paid positions with the state Health Department as coronavirus contact tracers — only to be told after the fact that the gigs are uncompensated.

Lenox Hill, like other hospitals around New York City, is coming up for air. As the numbers of new infections and hospitalizations continues to drop, hospitals are taking time to reflect and plan for a potential resurgence of the virus in the fall.

A Brooklyn man is suing a borough nursing home for allegedly giving his dad a fatal case of coronavirus.

Catholic churches in Brooklyn and Queens shuttered for months due to the coronavirus outbreak reopened yesterday with some changes — including social-distancing signage and mandatory masks.

The reopening of Broadway theaters should not come without as much consideration for actors’ safety as for that of audiences, Actors’ Equity Association made clear in a presentation by union officials and their public health safety consultant Dr. David Michaels.

A New York Times/Siena College Research Institute poll found that theatergoers who are hesitant to return worry that the people around them won’t follow the rules.

Long Island will officially start the first phase of reopening its economy today, Cuomo said, after a shutdown of nonessential businesses for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Remarks by Cuomo calling for more in-state power transmission lines as well as one from Canada reignited the ongoing debates about how to satisfy the growing need for clean energy – especially in the highly populated New York metropolitan area.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a cloud over residential solar energy development in New York State setting back the pace of development by six months to a year, according to a recent survey.

Experts are warning that millions of Americans who are working from home or are unemployed—cranking their air conditioners as the temperature rises on sunny days—will only strain transmission lines and transformers further.

There were no confirmed deaths from COVID-19 overnight in the Capital Region and the number of people who have recovered from the virus-caused disease continues to outpace new cases.

The town of Colonie has furloughed about 50 employees due to a $7 million budget shortfall due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Saratoga County asked its managers earlier this month to see if any employees would volunteer for unpaid time off. It’s unclear if any agreed to take this offer.

Virtual graduations are in store for most members of the Class of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a few colleges and high schools could enjoy the pomp and circumstance come August, if plans being developed by Times Union Center are carried out.

Front-line workers in the advanced nursing program at Russell Sage are questioning why their tuition was raised when fewer services and supports are being provided by the school.

Leaders in the local residential real estate market are optimistic for a rebound despite the nose-dive in sales and listings caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

More than two and a half months after shutting down because of the coronavirus outbreak, the National Hockey League became the largest North American professional sports league to announce definitive plans for a return.

Despite widespread closures and restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, the warm, sunny weather and good hiking conditions drew countless visitors to the Adirondacks over the long holiday weekend. (Not everyone was happy about that).

In non-virus news…

Minneapolis police clashed with protesters angry over the death of a black man in police custody, hours after four officers involved in the incident had been fired.

…The man, George Floyd, was seen on viral video being pinned down by a white Minneapolis police officer, yelling, “I can’t breathe” before he died.

The black man accosted by a white dog-walker in Central Park has posted an online rundown of what happened right before videotaping the now-infamous confrontation.

….the incident spurred state Sen. Brian Benjamin to introduce a bill that would add falsely reporting an incident to hate crime-eligible offenses. The list of eligible crimes currently ranges from murder to assault to criminal mischief, among others.

“The video out of Central Park is racism, plain and simple,” de Blasio tweeted, hours after the clip blew up online.

The woman involved, Amy Cooper, has given up her dog, publicly apologized and been fired from her job.

The University of Connecticut senior accused of killing two men and injuring another was looking for a young woman he knew as he carried out his murderous spree, according to the wife of one of his victims.

Federal prosecutors likened former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to a big city mayor on the payroll of a mob boss in their latest legal back-and forth with Mangano’s defense attorneys before the sentencing of the ex-politician and his wife, Linda.

A Brooklyn man accused of attacking a woman so viciously that he left her in a vegetative state had been charged in two prior assaults this year — but was twice freed without bail.

Federal prosecutors say a brazen pimp ran a prostitution ring from the Albany County jail, directing orders to his top associate to recruit women from nearby states under false promises of $1,000-a-night pay to sell their bodies.

Brunswick, Halfmoon, Malta and Saratoga Springs are among fastest growing New York communities with a population of at least 10,000, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The North Babylon School District’s computer network was infected by a ransomware virus, temporarily disabling its email system and bringing distance learning to a halt for more than 2,200 students, Superintendent Glen Eschbach told parents in a letter this week.

Jimmy Fallon has apologized for donning blackface in a resurfaced 2000 “Saturday Night Live” skit that had many calling to “cancel” him.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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