5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: June 4, 2020

Hello, all! Welcome to Thursday. One day left in this week, but as I said at the beginning of quarantine, guess what – this week has been an incredibly long year.

I am seeing something I like in social media a lot, which is that for all those who are wishing for 2020 to be “canceled” or “deleted,” remember – hindsight is 2020. Hopefully, that will be true, and that this will be society’s collective hindsight.

Okay. It’s hot, and my child has been incredibly clingy today. After yesterday’s discussion of going to the “dad store” to get a dad and return one of her moms (thank you, Disney Jr., if you are wondering what I am talking about, you can see my rant here), today’s toddler question du jour led down a path of talking about loss and how to deal with it.

All of this is a long way to say, let’s jump right in, shall we?

1) Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announced today that he has ordered that the statue of General Robert E. Lee that has stood in Richmond’s capital since 1890 be taken down.

This comes in the wake of demonstrations that have been taking place not only nationwide (seriously, all 50 states for the first time in history), but worldwide in response to the killing of George Floyd, 46, by a Minneapolis police officer.

According to Northam, the Department of General services needs to remove the statue from its pedestal and take it down as quickly as they can. Acknowledging that the statue has been there for over a century, he noted that this decision is likely to draw ire from those who admire the General for all that he did for the South, and for America as a whole both before and after the Civil War.

In Northam’s opinion, however, the past is trumped by the present, and the statue is no longer appropriate. As Richmond is preparing to begin Phase Two of its re-opening plans from the COVID-19, the city’s mayor, Levar Stoney, supports and applauds this decision.

According to Stoney, two pandemics are gripping the country: COVID-19, and racism. COVID has been affecting the country for six months, and racism for four CENTURIES – that’s 400 years.

Protestors in Richmond gathered around the statue that was defaced this week with different equality sayings. The demonstrators took a knee and held raised fists to denounce what the statue represents. According to Mayor Stoney, a 39-year-old black man whose father was a janitor and his grandmother a maid, this marks a new chapter for both his city and the state of Virginia as a whole.

As for the historical myth of “benevolent, kindly General Lee who didn’t like slavery, but couldn’t fight against his Virginian brethren,” please read this.

2) Two weeks ago, The Lancet, a medical journal published a study on treating COVID-19 with the drug hydroxychloroquine (an immunosuppressant drug) that found it not only isn’t useful in helping people get better, but might actually put them at a higher risk of death.

Today, that study was retracted, not due to new evidence, but rather because there were issues with the data initially used in the research. The authors of the study worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, and partnered with Surgisphere Corp., a health care analytics company. After publication, however, some critics questioned the data and analysis that Surgisphere Corp. employed.

The authors launched an independent review to duplicate the findings, but Surgisphere would not give them complete access to the data. Since they could not work with all the data, the authors pulled the study, saying they could not confirm the “veracity of the primary data sources.”

Surgisphere released a statement in its own defense.

The study was incredibly large, with data collected from six continents, 96,000 patients and 671 hospitals. Within this study, the findings were that the drug did not seem to benefit the patients. In some cases, there was a correlation with an increased risk that patients may die in hospitals. According to outside experts, the number of patients itself was questionable for data purposes.

However, the major issues were whether or not the drug was even available in all places that it was claimed to have been used, and there was no data in the database to account for any of it.

3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo today urged any New Yorker who has attended a protest in solidarity with the movement against police brutality to get tested for COVID-19.

Thousands of people have participated in rallies across the state since the initial protest of Floyd’s death. It is estimated that statewide 30,000 people have attended demonstrations, with 20,000 in New York City alone. Since the state – and the city in particular – have been the epicenter of the virus for the country, Cuomo says protestors should exercise an abundance of caution and get tested ASAP.

Here in the Capital District, officials say the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 now is at 1 percent, down from about 12 percent six weeks ago. In NYC, six weeks ago was at around 26 percent positive and now is at about 2 percent.

There is also a lot of assistance available for businesses that have been looted or otherwise damaged during the rioting that have followed many of the peaceful rallies. Insurers have been instructed to rush claims for those businesses and provide free dispute mediation. They also have been asked to accept photos for proof in claims of loss so that there is not a need to wait on police reports.

If any owner is having issues with their insurers on any of these aspects, state officials urge them to contact the Department of Financial Services.

4) Today, the emergency room in Ellis Hospital of Schenectady became the nation’s first ER ever to be named a Certified Autism Center (CAC). Paul Milton, CEO of Ellis Hospitals, said that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that 1 in 45 adults and 1 in 54 children across the nation are somewhere on the spectrum of autism.

According to Milton, this certification means that the hospital and its staff have had the training to give those on the scale within the area the best treatment in all instances.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarara, whose son is autistic, is happy to see an ER with the designation in the area, and predicts the program will draw autistic patients from all over the state.

5) A memorial was held today for Floyd in Minneapolis, attended by hundreds of mourners, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and the mother of Eric Garner. This brought a tenuous peace over the protests and rallies happening across the country right now, but they are by no means going away.

Right now, in downtown Schenectady, there is a march for the Let Me Go movement. Before the March, there was a moment of silence for Floyd, and then the march moved forward with the goal of calling for changes to the criminal justice system.

This march was organized by 10 people who feel there need to be significant reforms to end not only police brutality but mass incarceration. Stating at Nott Terrace and State Street, it will conclude at the Schenectady County Jail.

Across the country, it is clear that the charges against the officers in the George Floyd case are not the end of the movement. Many across the country are woke to the current injustices, inequality, and abuses of power. There has been a promise that the demonstrations will continue until there is a substantial change.

Okay, CivMixers. As always in this time of unrest – Stay safe, stay strong, stay steady. Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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