Rise and Shine: July 7. 2020

Good morning, CivMixers, it’s Tuesday.

Today has been designated #BlackoutDay2020, a day when many Black Americans will seek to demonstrate their combined economic might by refusing to spend money. Those who have to buy something are being encouraged to do so only at Black-owned business.

This effort is being spearheaded by Texas-based social media personality and activist Calvin Martyr in response to the killing of unarmed Black individuals by white police officers. He has likened the initiative to the year-long Montgomery bus boycott of 1955.

A number of major companies have expressed solidarity and support with #BlackoutDay2020, but the point is to hit corporate America where it hurts – in its bottom line – and to raise awareness about the desire for change and an end fo systemic racism among elected officials and policy makers.

Black Americans spent more than $1 trillion on consumer goods in 2018 alone, according to Nielsen.

We’re looking at another hot day, with temperatures in the high 80s, a mix of sun and clouds and the possibility of a stray thunderstorm or shower.

In the headlines…

Hospitals rapidly approached capacity across the Sunbelt, and the Miami area closed restaurants and gyms again because of the surging coronavirus yesterday, as the U.S. emerged from a Fourth of July weekend of picnics, pool parties and beach outings that health officials fear could fuel the rapidly worsening outbreak.

In recent weeks, as coronavirus cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis.

The average age of new coronavirus patients has dropped by roughly 15 years compared with only a few months ago as the virus reignites in America’s Sun Belt, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Speaking on a livestream with the National Institutes of Health director on Monday, Fauci advanced a view of the pandemic that stands in stark contrast to the president’s, saying that the U.S. is now struggling to control outbreaks because it reopened too quickly without sufficiently lowering the number of cases.

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she has tested positive for coronavirus, as her city continues to struggle with a surge in gun violence.

Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency and authorized the activation of up to 1,000 National Guard troops after a weekend of violence in Atlanta left five people dead, including an 8-year-old girl.

The death of the Broadway actor Nick Cordero from Covid-19 has shaken people far beyond the theater world, in large part because he was just 41 and reportedly had no underlying health conditions.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that international students pursuing degrees in the U.S. will have to leave the country under the threat of deportation if their university switches to online-only classes.

A federal appeals court struck down President Trump’s policy that barred most migrants from seeking asylum in the United States if they had passed through another country, concluding that the government did “virtually nothing” to make sure that another country is “a safe option” for those fleeing persecution.

The U.S. is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps as tensions between the two countries continue to rise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

The Trump administration disclosed the names of many small businesses which received loans under a program intended to blunt the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic as Democrats demand more transparency from the Paycheck Protection Program.

The records show that the Trump administration funneled millions of dollars in coronavirus aid to companies with potential conflicts of interests, including some owned by Jared Kushner’s family and others housed in buildings operated by the president’s real estate company.

On the PPP list: Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, the law firm headed by antitrust litigator David Boies; Newsmax Media Inc., the media company run by Trump donor Christopher Ruddy; and an Indianapolis service provider to charities part-owned by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Also making the PPP cut: Kanye West’s clothing line. The sculptor Jeff Koons. Law firms and high-dollar hedge funds. The Girl Scouts. Political groups on both the left and right.

Nearly 5,000 businesses received individual loans between $5 million and $10 million, according to the data. The administration included ranges for the amounts, not specific figures.

Small-business owners who haven’t yet applied for forgivable loans designed to ease the economic pain of the Covid-19 pandemic now have another chance. Congress passed legislation extending the deadline for submitting applications for the federal PPPP, and Trump signed the bill on July 4.

Trump lashed out at the NASCAR Cup series’ only Black driver, Bubba Wallace, and ripped its ban on the Confederate battle flag.

A forthcoming book by Trump’s estranged niece describes him as a “toxic” bully who practices “cheating as a way of life,” values money above anything and belittles his own family members, according to a press release.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused Trump of exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic by playing down the problem and telling Americans they don’t have to wear a mask, and urged the president to mask up himself.

The inconsistent use of face masks by Long Island Rail Road passengers is raising safety concerns among some commuters and demands that the LIRR crack down on the requirement that riders wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says Americans are likely to be wearing masks for years.

Add two more videos to the growing bunch of shopper tirades about face masks.

As daily cases of COVID-19 have spiked in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee is directing businesses to require and enforce mask wearing by all patrons starting today.

Despite executive orders requiring residents in Texas and New Mexico to wear facial coverings in public, some local law enforcement leaders have publicly rebuked the order and said they won’t enforce it.

New York hospitals released more than 6,300 recovering coronavirus patients into nursing homes during the height of the pandemic under a controversial, now-scrapped policy, state officials said, but they argued it was not to blame for one of the nation’s highest nursing home death tolls.

The results of a state study show that between March 25 and May 8, 6,326 COVID-19 hospital patients were admitted into 310 nursing homes. In that period, 252 of those facilities already had confirmed or suspected positive patients, confirmed or suspected fatalities, or infected workers, before admission of someone with the coronavirus.

U.S. medical centers have reported 5,000-plus cases of patients likely catching the coronavirus once admitted for other conditions, adding to the strain of the pandemic itself.

New York City residents and workers returned to nail salons, tattoo parlors, basketball courts and dog runs yesterday as the city that was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic entered Phase 3, the next step in rebuilding an economy abruptly shut down nearly four months ago.

New York City, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, is mired in the worst economic calamity since the financial crisis of the 1970s, when it nearly went bankrupt. The picture has grown even grimmer after officials delayed indefinitely the reopening of indoor dining.

States and municipalities around the country are grappling with fiscal pain related to the virus, but in New York, the Democratic governor has pushed some of the state’s problems down the funding food chain.

Cuomo continued to tout New York’s phased reopening approach and said no decision has been made about reopening schools this fall.

“We want kids back in school for a number of reasons, but we’re not going to say children should go back to school until we know it’s safe,” Cuomo said.

The plan now emerging to reopen NYC schools in the fall could have an enormous impact because the local economy may not fully recover until working parents can send children back to classes.

Harvard University is facing a backlash on Twitter for keeping its annual tuition prices of $49,653 per year despite the Ivy League institution’s decision to continue with online coursework for the 2020-2021 academic year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump accused Democrats of wanting to keep schools closed “for political reasons, not for health reasons.”

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran signed an emergency order requiring all schools in the state to open their doors to students in August.

The governor said he is “personally unhappy” that the State Fair has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

A report from the MTA’s internal watchdog notes that overtime went up at most MTA agencies, and that this year’s drop in some areas is mostly due to improved weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the coronavirus pandemic, daily ridership on NYC buses has surpassed the subway for the first time in over half a century.

The Capital District Transportation Authority is planning to return most major routes to full service. The changes come as ridership during the week is at more than 30,000 per day.

New York City could see a jump in crime this summer driven by bail-overhaul laws, the release of incarcerated people from city jails amid the new coronavirus pandemic and rising antipolice sentiment, according to New York Police Department officials.

Sixty-four people were shot in a surge of shootings over the weekend in New York City, the police said. Ten of those shot lost their lives — a wave of summertime violence that has given renewed urgency to a gun violence crisis overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and by unrest over police racism and brutality.

The NY Post dedicated its front page to calling on NYC Mayor de Blasio to “do something” to stop the violence, recalling a similar wood 30 years ago that targeted de Blasio’s onetime boss, former Mayor David Dinkins.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton slammed city and state leaders for abandoning cops and helping create a “crime virus” to go along with the coronavirus in claiming innocent victims. “The city is a mess and it’s going to get a lot worse unfortunately,” he said.

A bill introduced by Bronx state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi would require police officers to obtain personal liability insurance to cover civil lawsuits filed against them for excessive force and other abuses as a way to deter misconduct.

Cuomo said he is “very concerned” with the spike of violence that has torn through the Big Apple, calling the loss of life “horrific” and adding: “The state police are working on it, they’re speaking to the NYPD.”

Police will beef up patrols on Fire Island in response to social media posts showing large crowds partying close together without masks during the holiday weekend, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Suffolk police took a driver into custody last night after his vehicle struck and injured two protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in Huntington, authorities said.

The operators of three Montauk restaurants were arrested by East Hampton town police during enforcement of COVID-19 safety rules, while images of large crowds partying on Fire Island without face coverings over the weekend sparked fury across social media.

Mookie Betts, Gerrit Cole and a pair of high-profile matchups are set for opening day as Major League Baseball begins its shortened 60-game season on July 23 in ballparks without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Baseball is running into the same problem as the rest of the United States: Its coronavirus testing is too slow and ineffective. At least two MLB teams canceled yesterday’s workouts because they’ve been waiting days for test results, while two more said they may postpone workouts.

The Independent Collegiate Baseball League, a summer league for amateur players, launched its season in spite of the coronavirus pandemic with a doubleheader between the Amsterdam Mohawks and Albany Dutch.

Barrington Stage Company and Berkshire Theatre Group have been given the go-ahead by Actors’ Equity Association, the union representing professional actors and stage managers, to produce live shows in Pittsfield, Mass., this summer with Equity members.

…They are the first theaters nationwide to receive such approval.

The “Mona Lisa” is back on display in Paris, but she’ll have much fewer admirers than usual for the foreseeable future. The Louvre Museum reopened yesterday after a four-month lockdown, albeit without anything resembling the massive crowds that it’s used to.

Closed since mid-March due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci) in Schenectady will re-open to visitors on July 16, but won’t be as hands-on as it used to be.

A crowd chanting, “Who do you protect, who do you serve?’ and “Whose streets? Our Streets,” held a peaceful rally outside Schenectady police headquarters last night after a video emerged earlier in the day showing a city police officer kneeling on a man’s neck.

Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud, 31, said he was confronted by city police investigating a report that his neighbor’s tires had been slashed. He said he blacked out after an officer put a knee on his neck and woke up in Ellis Hospital.

Police in Rochester were trying to determine who ripped a statue of abolitionist Frederick Douglass from its base on the anniversary of one of his most famous speeches, delivered in the upstate New York city in 1852.

Amid the ongoing financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Schenectady is staring at cuts to garbage collection, street sweeping, police, fire and other services “across the board” unless additional aid comes from D.C.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was in Schenectady to urge his Republican colleagues to quickly pass a bill that includes aid for local governments facing multi-million dollar revenue shortfalls due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Albany County Department of Health said it identified an individual infected with COVID-19 who was at the city’s Lincoln Park Pool on Saturday, July 4. The risk to others who were there at the time has been determined to be “extremely low.”

The operator of a personal care business in Warren County has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting 25 other people to self-quarantine over possible exposure.

Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police during a videotaped dispute with a Black man over her walking her dog without a leash in Manhattan’s Central Park, was charged with filing a false police report.

Filing a false report is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The charge is the latest fallout from an encounter that resonated across the country and provoked intense discussions about how Black people are harmed when sham reports to the police are made about them by white people.

Delaware will host a presidential primary today — the first time Joe Biden’s name will appear on the ballot as a viable Democratic nominee for president in his home state. In the two prior presidential primary elections Biden ran in, he dropped out before Delaware voters could vote for him as the nominee.

With a lead of 2,703 votes, Albany County District Attorney David Soares is expected to win the Democratic primary over challenger Matthew Toporowski.

The DEC has re-opened campground reservations. Campers can reserve spots at the DEC campgrounds from Friday, July 10 on.

The doomed Adirondack bear who shut down Lake Colden-area camping has been captured, and state officials say it will be killed because of its strong conditioning to human foods.

The DEC says: Beware the Giant hogweed.

The state Attorney General ordered a non-profit that’s collecting money using the Black Lives Matter mantle to stop soliciting donations in New York because it is not registered as a charitable organization locally.

Four employees of a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in Georgia are out of a job after crafting a noose from dough, wrapping it around the neck of one of them, and guffawing, all above a banner proclaiming, “Happy 4th of July.”

Instead of the street party he’s thrown every year in Los Angeles, Ringo Starr, who turns 80 today, will be taking his birthday celebration online.

Colin Kaepernick has signed a deal to produce an exclusive docuseries with Disney, ESPN announced.

RIP, Charlie Daniels.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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