5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 19, 2020

Wow. This day isn’t even close to over and there is So. Much. News.

Also, it’s very hot. I know some of you enjoy that. But I am decidedly not a hot weather person. I am a get up 4 a.m. to work out and beat the heat sort of person. So, to all of you who I see running out there and sweating your faces off, I salute you. Kudos.

Now go home and drink some water.

Here are today’s 5 Things, and believe me when I say it could have been 10 today, but I kept to tradition in the interest of time. Because really, who wants to be stuck inside reading their computer (or phone, or other handheld device) when the sun is shining and the skies are clear?

No one. That’s who.

1) President Donald Trump’s big rally in Tulsa, OK will go on as planned tomorrow, and attendees will not be required to wear masks or stay six feet apart from one another in an effort to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, as per a ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The court decided that the two local residents who filed the lawsuit that tried to make the thousands of people expected at the rally adhere to basic public health precautions couldn’t establish standing – basically, that they had a clear legal right to the relief they sought.

The mayor of Tulsa, G.T. Bynum, declared a civil emergency and set a curfew for the area around the BOK Center where the rally is scheduled to be held. But the president tweeted today that he had spoken to the mayor, and the curfew had been lifted.

These developments come one day after the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 450 new infections, a one-day record for the state. Local and national health expert have warned the rally has all the makings of a superspreader event, in which one person infects many others.

2) Today was Juneteenth, and thousands of people across New York City (and elsewhere in the state and nation) marked the day by participating in protests – the 23rd straight day of protests spared by the death in police custody of George Floyd and held to express opposition to systemic racism and police brutality.

3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s final daily press briefing – a practice that started back at the beginning of the pandemic three months ago – took place today. It was a bit of an emotional affair. The governor chose to appear solo, without the entourage of staffers who had been joining him throughout the crisis.

Cuomo said he had given members of his staff their first day off in 111 days, adding: “I can handle this last daily COVID briefing alone. After 111 days of hell, they all deserve a break.”

There was also no Power Point presentation, which had become something of a signature for the governor during these briefings, though truth be told, he has long been a fan of a good Power Point.

Cuomo announced that New York City will be entering Phase II next week, and while he voiced concern about the rising number of infections occurring elsewhere in the nation, he also expressed pride in the work his administration – and New Yorkers as a whole – had done to bend the infection curve.

Over the past three months we have done the impossible,” Cuomo said. “We are controlling the virus better than any state in the country, any nation in the globe. I am so incredibly proud of what we all did together and as a community. We reopened the economy and we saved lives – because it was never a choice between one or the other. It was always right to do both.”

Meanwhile, for the sake of contrast, consider this: California has reported the biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases since the pandemic started.

4) Trump supporters in Glens Falls have filed a lawsuit challenging a local law that requires a permit for rallies and marches with 25 or more peopl, insisting that the regulation is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit claims, among other things, that the city has “unconstitutionally abridged” the filers’ rights to assemble.

The ordinance requires anyone seeking a demonstration permit to file an application with the city’s clerk and bans the obstruction of emergency vehicles and sidewalks and prohibits demonstrations at Centennial Circle and the Civil War monument.

Senior Judge Lawrence E. Kahn signed an emergency temporary restraining order, halting enforcement of the local law until a decision can be made.

The lawsuit, filed by American Patriots Express, or APEX, names city Mayor Dan Hall, Glens Falls Police Chief Anthony Lydon and City Clerk Robert Curtis as defendants. It was filed Tuesday in U.S. Northern District Court in Albany.

The group is being represented by Thomas Marcelle and Adam Giangreco from the Marcelle & Giangreco law firm in Albany.

5) The maker of Eskimo Pies will change the 99-year-old brand name of the ice cream treat, the company said, becoming the latest organization to overhaul the marketing of a product with a racially tinged moniker in recent weeks.

For those who aren’t of a certain age, the Eskimo Pie, is a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar on a stick that is manufactured by Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, which insists it has actually been considering this name change for some time. Also gone will be the iconic little boy dressed in a fur-trimmed coat with a hood who has long been used in marketing this sweet treat.

“We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is derogatory,” the company’s head of marketing said in a statement. “This move is part of a larger review to ensure our company and brands reflect our people values.”

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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