As You Head Out For the Holiday Weekend: July 2, 2020

A programming note for those of you who haven’t skipped town yet, or simply turned off your respective devices for a little unplugged staycation…

There will be no “Rise and Shine” tomorrow due to the holiday weekend. We’ll be back bright and early on Monday morning at our usually scheduled time.

Also, we’ll be knocking off a little early today. Hence the early afternoon roundup of headlines, which is technically more of a midday roundup, I guess. Here’s hoping you all have a glorious 4th. Safe, socially distanced and relaxing – or really exciting, if that’s more your speed).

Here are some stories of note since we last checked in around 4 o’clock this morning…

1) There’s some encouraging news on the unemployment front as the reopening process continues, despite the fact that coronavirus cases are spiking to new highs all over the country.

The U.S. Labor Department announced that non-farm payrolls soared by 4.8 million last month and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent. That’s better than expected, as economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been predicting a 2.9 million increase and a jobless rate of 12.4 percent.

President Donald Trump was very pleased, announcing that the economy is “roaring back” after the significant setback it experienced due to the COVID-19 crisis. He pointed specifically to a sharp drop in the unemployment for Blacks that fell from 16.8 percent to 15.4 percent, calling these numbers “historic.”

There’s just one minor problem: The numbers announced today do not account for some of the closures and reopening rollbacks currently underway in a number of states as a result of the virus’ resurgence. Experts are cautioning against getting overly optimistic and say the recovery process will likely be bumpy and take a long time.

2) Longtime Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested today on a six-count indictment charging her with grooming young girls for sex.

The charges stem from Maxwell’s role “in the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple minor girls by Jeffrey Epstein” as early as 1994, court papers say.

The arrest came nearly a year after Epstein was charged in a federal indictment with sexually exploiting and abusing dozens of underage girls at his mansion in Manhattan, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., and other locations.

Epstein, as you’ll recall, hanged himself in August in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, where he had been jailed pending trial on the federal sex-trafficking charges. Federal prosecutors said they would continue to investigate his associates, and clearly they have fulfilled that pledge.

Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, (since Geoffrey Berman’s recent firing by the president), called the case against Maxwell a “prequel” to the case that had been brought against Epstein.

Maxwell was arrested in Bradford, N.H. The authorities had been “discreetly keeping tabs” on her whereabouts and recently learned that she had moved to a very nice mansion in the Granite State.

3) If you happened to be on either of the following Allegiant Airlines from Florida to Albany International Airport on either June 25 or 26, you might want to contact your local health department. Warren County contact tracers are working to follow the trails of three people who were traveling those days while infected with coronavirus.

June 25 arrival – Allegiant Airlines flight 1505 (Punta Gorda, Fla., to Albany International)

June 26 arrival – Allegiant Airlines flight 754 (St Petersburg/Clearwater, Fla., to Albany International)

One person on the June 25 flight immediately felt sick after arriving home and self-quarantined. But the other two, members of the same household, did not feel ill and went to a grocery store and picked up food from a drive-thru restaurant after landing on June 26, though they were wearing masks at the time.

New York’s quarantine order, which requires people to self-quarantine for 14 days if they are from states where coronavirus cases are increasing, went into effect at 12:01 a.m., Friday – the same day the two infected people landed at the airport.

4) Here’s some good news as the weather heats up and the long holiday weekend gets underway: Three swimming pools in the City of Albany will open at noon on Friday, though they will have restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lincoln Park and Mater Cristi pools will be open daily from noon to 7 p.m., while Arbor Hill will be open noon to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday.

All three will have capacity limits, with 150 residents at Lincoln Park, 40 residents at Arbor Hill and 26 at Mater Cristi, to comply with state Department of Health COVID-19 guidelines.

5) I don’t know about you, but I’m sorta getting into the working from home thing, and apparently, I’m not alone.

According to a new survey by Morning Consult, 47 percent of those working remotely say that once it’s safe to return to work, their ideal arrangement would be to continue working from home one to four days a week.

Forty percent would work from home every day, and just 14 percent would return to the office every day.

Across organizations, work was most effective when employees were home one or two days a week, found research by Humu, a tech company run by Google’s former chief of human resources.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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