Happy Monday, all! Given the headlines we’ve seen today, it is going to be another interesting week – 2020, in a class all its own.
There should be a break in the weather this week. It will be very nice to be able to have the air conditioning off for more than a day or so. I mean, it is still hot, but not so hot as to preclude sleeping with the windows open and forgoing forced cold air for a while.
A lot is going on, so other than that, I think it would be wise to get right to it.
1) In the continuing drama surrounding the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis Dejoy finally agreed to appear at a hearing held by the House Oversight Committee, given the mounting bipartisan concerns over changes he has undertaken.
The hearing will be Monday, Aug. 24, at 10 a.m.
DeJoy is an ally of President Donald Trump and also a significant GOP donor. He began his current job this past May, and quickly embarked on an effort to realign the agency’s organizational structure, which has led to mounting concerns about significant delays in deliveries – just as the country is gearing up for one of the most unusual, and largely mail-in, presidential elections in history.
Last year along, the USPS saw a loss of $9 billion. DeJoy’s proposals to cut costs, coupled with the president’s increasing public statements about concerns about mail-in ballot fraud, have made Democrats suspicious. Republicans, many of whom represent rural communities that are very dependent on the USPS, are concerned that delivery changes will anger their constituents.
According to Rep. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, if the service issues that have plagued people lately continue, the USPS will be irreparably damaged. DeJoy has cut the agency’s overtime budget, and also is planning on pulling high-speed sorters – both moves that are contributing to slower service.
According to local USPS branches, the effects of this are already being seen. Mail is piling up and equipment is being removed from various branches.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this weekend that she will call members back to session at the end of the week to vote on a bill that will delay any changes that might affect the service of the USPS until after the fall elections.
2) There has been a drastic increase in shootings across the country this summer, and this past weekend only continued that alarming trend – particularly in Chicago and New York City.
Close to 30 people were shot in Chicago, and three died – including an 18-year-old male. Four boys under the age of eighteen were injured. There are no suspects in the cases of the underaged boys who were shot – all were separate incidents.
In New York City, more than 40 people were shot over a 48-hour period. A total of 43 people suffered gunshot wounds between Friday and Saturday alone. This led to the total amount of 70 people reported as being injured over just the past week, and a total of 55 incidents.
In 20 major cities across the U.S., homicides rose by 37 percent from May to June of this year. Leading that disturbing count were Chicago, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia in incidents that have been blamed on a variety of factors, from the end of the COVID-19 shutdowns to historic unemployment and mass protests.
Even with the rise in shootings, however, we are nowhere near the record-breaking numbers of the 1990s.
Though none came close to Chicago and the Alphabet city this weekend, Philly saw five shootings on Saturday night. Six people were shot only in New Haven, CT also on Saturday evening. One of those died. Four people in the late overnight Saturday were shot in Detroit. In Rochester, five people were also shot on Saturday.
3) Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that gyms in New York will be allowed to begin re-opening on Aug. 24, but there are plenty of caveats and restrictions.
Gyms will be limited to 33 percent of their capacities. Masks will have to be worn by everyone at all times. All patrons will have to not only sign in but give contact tracing information in case anyone tests positive.
There will be social distancing of six feet required at all times, and all attendees must undergo health screenings. Gym staff must disinfect and clean all equipment and supplies after every single use. Fitness classes must be reservation only, and they also must be limited to 33 percent capacity.
There can not be shared water fountains at gyms, though bottle filling stations are OK. There will be no communal showers. All gyms have to install Merv-13 air filters, and if their system can’t handle a filter of that rating, they must improve their facility’s ventilation through other means.
Either before opening or within two weeks of their re-opening, all gyms have to be inspected by their local health department. If local officials choose, they can delay re-openings until Sept. 2. It will also be up to the local health authorities if individual gyms are allowed to hold indoor or aquatic fitness classes.
Cuomo said gyms are among the last businesses to re-open because of their high-risk of spreading the virus, and encouraged all participants to strictly follow the protocols the state has laid out.
4) The City of Albany has not been immune to the increased violence being seen across the nation. Albany Police are investigating a stabbing that occurred yesterday evening around 5 p.m. A 16-year-old male was stabbed in the leg in the area of Clinton and Lexington Avenues.
If you have any information on this incident, please contact the APD.
5) If you donate $25 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area, you will receive a shirt that says “This Shirt Feeds Kids” and the money will provide four meals to children in the area in need of food assistance. For $40, you get a sweatshirt that pays for six meals.
Since February of 2019, the merged Albany and Troy Boys & Girls Clubs have given more than 425,000 meals to area youths and their families in need of food assistance. After taking stock, they are working to provide an increased demand in the area.
In one year, they have gone from providing 5,000 meals over 11 locations to 24 locations providing 13,000 meals throughout the Capital District.
This Thursday, together with Death Wish Coffee, they will host their 2nd Annual Chip-In Fore Youth Golf Tournament to earn funds for its locations. Though sold out, you can still participate by donating or sponsoring a hole.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.