5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 24, 2020

HUMP DAY! Does anyone else see a camel in their head every time they hear those words, or is that just me? Also, am I dating myself with that?

Things for me to stew on, I suppose.

Another week, another Wednesdaym CivMixers. We are rapidly coming up on the end of June, and for a year that has so far dragged, the latter part of this month has gone by quickly.

Yesterday was primary day in New York, but I am not the political expert here, so I will leave that analysis to Liz over on Rise and Shine.

Let’s jump in, shall we?

1) It has been a month of civil action and unrest across the state, nation and world since that fateful day that a now former police officer, Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of an unarmed and handcuffed African American man named George Floyd, killing him in the process.

Today, a Republican-sponsored police reform bill failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate in a vote of 55-45. Sixty votes are needed for bills to pass, leaving Republicans short by five on this particular effort.

As of today, Congress has still taken no concrete action to address the inequality of policing towards people of color.

Democrats in the Senate had been vocal leading up to today’s vote that the Republicans should not go forward with this effort, as they felt it was a fundamentally and irrevocably flawed proposal. Republicans, in turn, accused the Democrats of playing politics and blocking progress on much-needed reforms.

In particular, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York’ senior senator, called for a more robust and bipartisan bill. Top Democrats are now hopeful that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will agree to start those conversations, since the GOP’s own proposal has failed to pass muster.

Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, a former White House contender, in particular has been very vocal, urging Democrats to lead the charge on what many see as the next chapter in the civil rights movement. To do that, lawmakers must get on board with the fact that this is, in fact, a movement and not merely an isolated moment in history. Harris played a key role in writing the legislation the Democrats hope to get Republicans behind.

Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, wrote the GOP bill, and also happens to be the only African American Republican member of the Senate.

Both of the bills take on controversial issues such as the use of chokeholds and deadly force, as well as no-knock warrants, the use of body cameras for officers, and increased training requirements.

Republicans feel the Democrat-sponsored bill goes too far, while Democrats think Republican bill doesn’t go far enough.

A recent joint Reuters and Ispos poll found that the majority of Americans, including a majority of President Donald Trump’s Republican Party, support sweeping law enforcement reforms such as a ban on chokeholds and racial profiling after the latest death of an African American while in police custody.

2) COVID-19 cases across the nation continue to rise, with 34,700 new confirmed infections reported. This is the highest level in two months.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has confirmed that there are an alarming number of new outbreaks that seem to be caused by an uptick in community spread in many southern and western states.

Dr. Fauci and other leading experts have said that the next few weeks are going to be vital for stopping any further outbreaks. They urge us all to continue taking social distancing measures and to cover our faces in public.

Infections began rising substantially last week (as more states started reopening and eased restrictions on gathering) when they rose by 25 percent. Ten states have reported a rise in cases by more than half.

In Arizona, top health officials are concerned that the healthcare system will soon be overrun, as they are currently at 80 percent capacity. Texas has had so many people admitted to hospitals in the past 12 days that in Houston, the Texas Children’s Hospital has begun to take in adults suffering from COVID-19.

AZ and TX both were states that led the way in removing public health protocols earlier than recommended.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered face coverings in public to help stem a rise in their infection rate over the past week. Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah have all seen such a significant uptick in cases that their respective governors have said they may consider new and enhanced quarantine measures.

The European Union is believed to be batting around the idea of banning any citizen from the United States from entering the bloc until the virus is more under control within our borders.

Speaking of which, the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York jointly announced that they will order people who enter their states from the current hardest-hit states to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Right now, that means anyone coming into one of the above three states from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Washington or Utah will be told to isolate themselves to avoid potentially infection others. The idea was first floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and today, New Jersey’s Gov. Phil Murphy was vocal in his support.

“This is a smart thing to do. We have taken our people, the three of us from these three states, through hell and back, and the last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round.”
-Phil Murphy, NJ Governor

Since the novel coronavirus and its accompanying respiratory virus COVID-19 have hit our shores, the US has had over 120,000 confirmed deaths from the disease, and more than 2.3 million cases.

3) So, as mentioned above, CT, NY, and NJ have all joined together to enact a quarantine period of 14 days for anyone who is coming into their borders from states that have infections rates over 10 percent of the population (10 people infected for 100,000 people) per a seven-day average.

Though the aforementioned list of impacted states is accurate as of today, it is fluid and changes based on every-changing infection rates. The list will be updated daily.

All of the governors worked hard to flatten the COVID-19 curve, and none of them want to see that line go back up again.

According to Cuomo, any New York resident who returns home from a state on the list will be under the same quarantine order.

Cuomo took some heat for this new rule, as earlier in the pandemic he was vocal in his opposition to the news that Rhode Island officials were targeting cars with New York plates. Cuomo also had criticized President Trump when he said that perhaps he should bar anyone from leaving the New York City area.

But Cuomo insists this quarantine effort is not the same. He is not positioning officials at borders, for example, nor is he closing the state entirely to travelers.

However, if someone is found to violate the new rule, they can be ordered into a mandatory quarantine by a court. Fines can also be assessed anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.

4) The Capital Region is currently in an irregularly long dry patch, and as a result, many municipalities have put water usage restrictions into place. They are pleading with residents to comply before we are in a disastrous situation.

As of today, Ballston, Colonie, Glenville, Niskayuna, Rotterdam, and Stillwater all have active outdoor water restrictions.

Before this morning, the last measurable amount of rain within the 518 occurred on June 11. Since temperatures have been steadily climbing and have hit the 90s recently, lawns and gardens are dry – bone dry. Also, there was an increase in pool installations this year, which has led to higher water demand.

In Colonie, the Commission for Public Works, Jack Cunningham, has stated the restrictions are simply to help restore balance and keep level pressurization. According to Cunningham, Colonie is currently averaging usage at 24.5 million gallons per day when they usually are at around 17 million gallons per day at this time. The restriction in Colonie is for any outdoor usage to be between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.

The issues in Glenville are a bit more complicated, according to Public Works Commissioner Tom Coppola. They have issued a level two restriction, which means that the limits are mandatory and no longer voluntary. Coppola said that he has been in Public Works for around 14 years, and he has never seen it at this level before.

Part of the issue in Glenville is that with a water supply drawn from the Mohawk River, there are low water levels right now. It is exacerbated by a Lock 7 construction project that was delayed with COVID construction shutdowns. This has prevented movable dams from being installed that artificially control water levels.

The Canal Corporation is in charge of those dams and the construction project, but they couldn’t have foreseen the perfect storm happening in Glenville right now. A Canal Corporation spokesperson Shane Mahar stated they are working on temporary fixes already.

Adding to Glenville’s water woes, one of the town’s wells is out of commission temporarily – an issue caused because of those low water levels. The level of water in that particular pump got so low, a pump in it was cavitated and can not draw water.

If that isn’t enough, this morning, there was a pretty substantial water main break within a 12-inch main.

Glenville wants residents to know that it is vital to comply with water conservation. If the pressure drops too low, it could cause significant issues if there are any more main breaks or cause problems in situations where the fire department may need the water supply.

5) Yesterday in response to the recent rash of shootings within the City of Albany, Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced an increased law enforcement presence.

Since Thursday, there have been over ten injuries due to multiple shootings, including one that was fatal. Today, Albany had two shootings in a single hour.

In light of these recent incidents, Sheehan said the presence of law enforcement will be increased with assistance from both the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police.

Sheehan said Albany residents deserve better and that their safety has to be the number one concern in making these decisions. All incidents are still under investigation.

If you have any information about any of the shootings, or what is driving the upsurge of violence within Albany, please call 518-462-8039 to reach the Albany Detective Division.

That is all for today. Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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