Welcome to Friday and SPOOKTOBER, CivMixers. Yes, I love October and Halloween. It is my favorite time of year. I am kind of scared to see what will happen to it this year.
It is not something that we can honestly foresee, as if 2020 has taught us anything, we have to take the days as they come at us and not hang our hats on any plans or traditions.
I mean, no Macy’s Day Parade…’nough said.
Sorry for the past couple of days being touch and go. We were dealing with some connectivity and tech issues. It appears that they are fixed. Here’s a few highlights from what you missed:
Yesterday, the EPA finalized a the reversal of a 1995 rule in a move that could reclassify many “major” sources of pollution as minor, establishing less-stringent emissions standards for dangerous substances such as mercury, lead and arsenic.
Since the start of this year, almost 30 significant wildfires are being fought by more than 17,000 firefighters. Thus far, 30 people have been killed in the blazes. Since the beginning of 2020, in over 8,100 wildfires in the state, 4 million acres have been burned and upwards of 96.000 people have been displaced.
In New York yesterday, one man who ignored quarantine protocols after testing positive for COVID-19 has been identified as responsible for up to hundreds of exposures.
His name is being withheld. However, he is a member of the Bethel Baptist Church in Prospect and coaches football at the Northern Community Sports Complex in Holland Patent. Anyone who was at either place Sept. 14 – 23, please call (315) 798-5431.
And now, onto today and it’s 5 Things…
1) After months of downplaying the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. This revelation came hours after the announcement that his close aide, Hope Hicks, who is often near the president and traveled with him earlier this week, had tested positive.
First Lady Melania Trump also tested positive. The couple will be quarantined at the White House, according to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who said the president remains able to do the job and is working even now. He also relayed that he is sure Trump will recover quickly and thoroughly.
Trump is 74 and overweight, which means he has two high-risk factors for those who develop the coronavirus. As recently as yesterday, Trump was again stating that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and in the debate on Tuesday, he was mocking his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for wearing a mask.
When news of Trump’s illness broke, stocks on Wall Street fell a percent.
In a rash of testing, many other high profile politicians have tested negative, including Biden and his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Vice President Mike Pence; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Meadows.
Pence would be the one to take over for the president should he become too ill to complete his job duties, and Pelosi is third in the line of succession.
If Trump is completely incapacitated, the RNC would have to choose a replacement nominee, confusing an already heated election in which almost 2.8 million votes have already been cast.
Contact tracing is being done throughout the White House. Trump is being roundly criticized for going through with his Thursday night fundraiser in Bedminister, NJ, hours after Hicks announced she had tested positive. Supposedly, he was 30 feet away from all in attendance throughout the entire event.
Biden tweeted that Trump’s diagnosis should be a reminder that this virus can infect anyone, and will. The only sure way to protect yourself and the people around you is to socially distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands.
2) Federal Judge Lucy Koh has ordered the Trump Administration to keep counting the 2020 census past Monday and continue it through Oct. 31. This morning, Koh called the Trump administration’s plans to stop counting on Oct. 5, an “egregious violation” of her previously issued injunction.
Though Trump’s administration has challenged Koh’s ruling in court, the appeals court denied its request to stay the part of her injunction that extends counting through the end of the month. The order will remain in effect as the higher court considers the appeal.
Koh scheduled a court conference for Friday to consider drastic steps against the government, including contempt of court. Special Counsel to the Assistant AG at the DOJ August Flentje responded to this announcement with dismay, saying that they were engaging in contingency planning if the appeal from the Ninth Circuit Court came through in time to hold to the Oct. 5 date.
However, this argument was nullified earlier this week when the appeals court denied the administration’s request that the higher court immediately block Koh’s order.
3) Rochester has made headlines again today when Mayor Lovely Warren was indicted on fraud and campaign finance violations. Albert Jones, Jr, her campaign treasurer, and Rosalind Brooks-Harris, treasurer to her political action committee, were also charged.
Warren already faces calls for her resignation due to her handling of Daniel Prude’s death at the hands of the Rochester police. This indictment could well be career-ending for her. Halfway through her second term as the city’s first female mayor, Warren is also only the second Black individual to hold the post.
The state Board of Elections concluded that the Warren campaign had taken steps to evade limits on campaign donations. The indictment states that these steps were taken between Nov. 6, 2013 and Nov. 7, 2017.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley is going to be handling the case. Doorley said that as of now, Warren can remain in her position as mayor. There is an arraignment scheduled for Monday in the case.
Warren in the past suggested the case against her is a politically motivated “witch hunt,” which Doorley denied.
If convicted of the felony charges, Warren would be removed from office under state law. She could face 16 months to four years in prison, but would be unlikely to actually do time. Her pension could be forfeited if the matter is determined to be a crime related to her public office, and she also could lose her law license.
4) There are some more updates from area schools regarding openings and COVID. Officials at the Hudson Falls district let the public know that they will be closing temporarily due to a positive test for the virus.
Classes will continue remotely through next Wednesday, Oct. 7. The school will undergo a deep cleaning, those identified through contact tracing will be notified, and additional testing will occur.
Meanwhile, the Hadley-Luzerne school district has seen its sixth COVID case since re-opening, but will remain open for in-person learning, as the individual who tested positive has not been at the high school for several days.
In the East Greenbush Central School District there has been a third positive case, this time of a Howard L. Goff Middle School student. The Rensselaer County Department of Health alerted district officials yesterday. The student has not been in the school since the 21st of this month, so no further actions are needed at this point.
5) As we enter October, COVID is already shaping up to take a significant bite out of Halloween. The local hot-spot for haunted attractions has made adjustments to ensure they can open this year amid COVID restrictions.
The Field of Horrors in Troy is opening with adjusted events, and there will be a sneak peek this weekend.
Co-owner Stacey Mulinio confirmed that hayrides are one of the attractions that had to be cut due to the pandemic. A drive-thru element was considered, but they ultimately did not think it was a good idea due to potential liability and safety issues.
Apparently folks are very eager for a little good old fashioned fear, because Mulino said Field of Horrors has already outsold their past seven years of opening nights.
Masks are to be worn by actors and visitors at all times. If you would like more information, please check out the website.
Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.
Photo credit: George Fazio.