Monthly Archives: April 2020

San José. Las autoridades de Costa Rica anunciaron este jueves que se ha logrado secuenciar el genoma del coronavirus SARS CoV 2, que causa el Covid-19, lo que favorecerá el estudio de su comportamiento en el país y brindará información útil para posibles tratamientos y vacunas.

El trabajo estuvo a cargo del estatal Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa), que por primera vez en la historia del país consigue secuenciar el genoma de un virus humano, explicó en una videoconferencia de prensa la directora del instituto, Lissette Navas.

Por su parte, el coordinador del Laboratorio de Genoma del Inciensa, Francisco Duarte, dijo que “esto nos da ventajas en cuanto a salud pública” y que “conocer la secuencia ayuda a saber si el virus presenta mutaciones o cambios en el tiempo”.

Esta información también puede ser útil para desarrollar vacunas contra el virus, para conocer la dinámica y la diversidad de la población viral, las rutas de transmisión en el país, y para robustecer las capacidades de análisis para la red nacional de laboratorios. Otras ventajas son que se puede mejorar la calidad de los diagnósticos en el país y realizar la vigilancia genómica viral sin depender del envío de muestras a otros países.

El procedimiento se realizó a partir de seis muestras de pacientes diagnosticados como positivos. Dos de los genomas obtenidos se acercan a los genomas obtenidos de muestras analizadas en Estados Unidos y los otros cuatro se ubican dentro de los conglomerados constituidos por cepas de virus encontradas en diferentes partes del mundo, indicó el Inciensa.

Los resultados fueron sometidos a la plataforma Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (Gisad), que es utilizada de manera global, para compartir este tipo de información, por lo que está disponible para la comunidad científica mundial.

Este es uno de los trabajos a nivel científico que está desarrollando Costa Rica para hacer frente a la pandemia del Covid-19. Otros trabajos son el del Instituto Clodormiro Picado de la estatal Universidad de Costa Rica, que busca crear un suero a base de plasma de pacientes recuperados para el tratamiento de pacientes graves; así como una investigación que desarrolla el Centro Nacional de Innovaciones Biotecnológicas (CENIBIOT) con el fin de elaborar pruebas propias para la detección del virus.

Los datos oficiales del Ministerio de Salud indican que en Costa Rica, desde la aparición del primer caso en el país el pasado 6 de marzo, se han confirmado 719 casos positivos, de los cuales 6 han fallecido y 338 ya han sido declarados como recuperados.

En la actualidad hay 16 personas hospitalizadas, de las cuales 9 están en unidades de cuidados intensivos.

Costa Rica no ha ordenado una cuarentena generalizada, pero sí ha cerrado parcial o totalmente diversas actividades económicas. Desde mediados de marzo Costa Rica cerró sus fronteras al ingreso de extranjeros, suspendió el curso lectivo y eventos masivos, y además mantiene cerradas las playas, los parques, los parques nacionales, los bares, las discotecas y los casinos. Está vigente una restricción para la circulación de vehículos por franjas horarias y por número de placa.

Los restaurantes, tiendas y otros negocios pequeños pueden operar a un 50% de su aforo y con estrictas medidas de salud, mientras que los supermercados y las farmacias están abiertos pero con reglas higiénicas y para evitar la aglomeración.

La curva de casos activos viene en descenso, por lo que el Gobierno ha comenzado a permitir, con limitaciones, algunas actividades que estaban prohibidas como los gimnasios, centros de entrenamiento deportivo y los salones de belleza.

Beaches among the first in the visitor economy to reopen

The most recent research briefing by Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing organization (DMO) reports that during the week of March 1 to April 11, hotel occupancy rates on the island plummeted from 77 percent to 5 percent.

In comparison, during the same period, hotel occupancy rates in the U.S. mainland dropped from 62 percent to 22 percent.

The data shows that the coronavirus crisis has hit the Puerto Rico tourism industry harder than its U.S. counterpart. The island’s general lockdown is much stricter than those in the U.S. mainland. For example, an employee at Vacasa, an international property-management company based in Portland, Ore.,  indicted that the company was accepting existing reservations for the West Coast in mid-April, although thousands of short-term rentals had been canceled. Residents of the City of Roses can walk around freely and parks are open.

Meanwhile, family members told your correspondent that they could go for a run on the streets of New York City and drive from Minneapolis, Minn. to nearby towns to buy comfort-food pies “to go.”

Still, Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics, noted that the coronavirus epidemic is hitting the U.S. economy hard. To date, nearly 30 million people have lost their jobs in the last three months (layoffs and furloughs). Hourly workers stateside have also seen their hours cut by an average 60 percent.

Tourism Economics is expecting a “U” shaped recovery that will take 12-18 months. Specifically, Sacks predicted that $400 billion in travel spending, both domestically and internationally, will be lost in 2020.

In terms of travel spending losses, Puerto Rico is among the worst markets in the U.S., comparing percentage changes year-over-year; the island is next to last before Rhode Island.

The worst markets that have seen travel spending plummet by more than 80 percent, year-over-year are: Arizona, California, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island.

This indicates that the Enchanted Island has a bigger hole to climb out of.

Beaches reopening with social distancing

As reported, while Puerto Rico is still grappling with easing its strict lockdown and curfew restrictions, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) has reopened its beaches.

The USVI, a sister U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, is also a major tourism destination.

On April 20, USVI Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. announced that their beaches have reopened, as have the beaches under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, with the exception of Cramer’s Park on St. Croix’s East End, which was vandalized and may reopen soon.

“We are allowing beach restaurants to reopen, but we are restricting the sale of alcohol,” Bryan said. “I want to remind the public that the requirements for social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings are still in effect and will be fully enforced. That means absolutely no congregations of more than 10 individuals.”

He warned that if the public did not adhere to the new regulations, the beaches would be closed again. “I want to be absolutely clear, no picnics, no parties, no DJs, no get-togethers, no camping, no kick-backs, no bonfires,” Bryan said.

In the U.S. mainland, California, Florida and Texas have reopened in some areas with social distancing rules in place. In these communities, beaches are open for a few hours a day, while some are “barring lounging on chairs and towels with coolers,” to prevent social gatherings, according to The Associated Press. In Florida, for example, beaches are limited to gatherings of no more than 10 people and spaced at least six feet apart.

 

As of Wednesday evening, Erie County has 3,315 positive cases of coronavirus

Are Coronavirus numbers in Erie County heading in the wrong direction?

At this time 254 Erie County residents have died from coronavirus.

The County set a new high in coronavirus-related hospitalizations on Monday with 258. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said “We should all be discouraged” that the numbers are headed in the wrong direction.

Do we have enough recent local numbers to say for sure we’re trending in the wrong direction?

“Typically you’d like to say there needs to be at least three points on a curve (to determine a trend),” said Dr. Bruce Troen from the Jacobs School of Medicine. “Right now, unfortunately, we are not heading in the right direction in Erie County.”

Poloncarz said hospital admissions exceeded discharges for the last three days of data.

“It does reflect that we have a persistent focus of infection,” Troen said. “I can’t say that any time soon that’s going to abate.”

So how do we move from this point to beginning to reopen Western New York? Troen said hospitalizations are only part of the answer.

“What we desperately need is more widespread testing on a trial basis so that we can understand with random testing who are the folks that are actually being affected,” Troen said. “Only then can we be able to make better decisions about how we can eventually start opening the community up.”

Troen said it will take a combination of both Coronavirus tests and antibody tests to get a clear picture of the population, but it will take time before we can say with certainty that those with antibodies have a decreased infection rate.

 

 

The City of Buffalo has currently a $35 million year-to-date budget deficit and could run out of money by next week, according to a report released Tuesday to the Buffalo Common Council and Mayor Brown.

City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams provided a year-to-date budget report for the city, which has been submitted to the Common Council and Mayor, revealing a reduction in general revenues and sales tax receipts that City Comptroller attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although, filings in March with the Buffalo Common Council and Mayor indicated a budget deficit of over $ 13 million dollars, which indicates, the deficit was a problem long before COVID 19.

“We are confronting a challenging time as a city. However the Department of Audit and Control continues to make it a priority to report and strengthen the City of Buffalo’s financial operations,”  said City Comptroller.

The report noted that as of April 22, year-to-date revenues were $341 million, while year-to-date expenses for the city were $376.4 million, a deficit of $35.4 million and could increase further.

The city’s Comptroller, further noted that the city’s cash funds are projected to land in the negative by the end of the month and that cash disbursements are trending lower than projected. However, the city and the Buffalo Board of Education are still expected to receive their state aid, which should result in a positive combined cash flow to the city through June.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that the State faces a $ 6 billion dollars budget deficit that could grow to $10 to $15 Billions dollars depending on COVID 19 and that local governments should expect reductions in state aid.  Likewise, Governor Andrew Cuomo, almost jokingly, said the state is so broke it barely has two nickels to rub together.

With nine weeks of revenues and expenses still remaining to be recorded in the 2020 fiscal year, Miller-Williams said her office and the Department of Audit and Control Personnel will continue to collaborate with their partners in government during the current fiscally challenging times.

The City of Buffalo is expected to have debt payments of $168,954,495.65 by 2030 to pay for City projects and operations from borrowed funds.

 

Popular Lifelong Learning Program Offers Free Online Content 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Senior Services’ Health and Wellness program has announced that the Spring 2020 semester of the University Express lifelong learning program will be taking place exclusively online.  The University Express program is a collaboration of the Erie County Department of Senior Services, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Excelsior Orthopaedics, and Wegmans. Classes are designed to stimulate the mind and provide opportunities to build social networks while reducing social isolation. No homework or tests, just exciting discussions alongside peers with similar interests!

“University Express is an exciting program that provides opportunities for learning and socializing for older adults, bringing topics they are interested in right to them,” said Erie County Commissioner of Senior Services David J. Shenk. “By taking the program online we can help to combat social isolation during these times, which is something we take very seriously. Even though we are apart right now, we can still learn together!”

Participants will be able to access online content and sign up to receive email updates through the University Express website and can join in to learn about and discuss local history, wellness, humanities, and more from a distance!  The University Express program will be adding new content to the website weekly starting April 27, 2020 and running through July 31, 2020.

The mission of the Erie County Department of Senior Services is to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity, and quality of life.

NEW YORK — New York State is seeing new COVID-19 daily hospitalizations below 1,000 for the first time since March.

As the numbers continue to drop, the state is beginning to move forward to reopen the economy beginning May 15th.

Tuesday while speaking in Syracuse, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board

“Today we are announcing an advisory board of statewide business leaders, academic leaders, civic leaders who are advising us on just this and they have been for weeks and I want to thank them very much” said Cuomo.

The list includes more than 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state.

On that list are eight representatives from Western New York. They include officials from:

  • Service Employees International Union
  • Buffalo State College
  • Delaware North
  • M&T Bank
  • Pegula Sports and Entertainment
  • Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Wegmans
  • Buffalo Urban League
  • Community Foundation

“I am honored to be able to serve as one of the representatives from this area” said Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie. “Because I am also serving on the county task force that is doing very similar type work.”

McDuffie said the board meets through video conferencing trying to answer some of the tough questions about the states economic recovery.

“We are looking at again, how do we protect the state, the people of New York State” said McDuffie.”How do we stop the spread of this devastating virus? And how do we begin to reopen and have economic recovery?”

M&T Bank Chair and CEO Rene Jones is also on the board.

“As a community-focused financial institution — the largest in Upstate New York — we have unique insights about how the pandemic is affecting local families, nonprofits and businesses, including their employees and customers,” Jones said. “I’ll be bringing those diverse insights and perspectives, from both inside and outside the bank, on the best ways to return to a new normal.”

You can view the full list of members on the reopening advisory board in the document below:

MEMBERS OF NEW YORK FORWARD RE-OPENING ADVISORY BOARD:
Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
 Quenia Abreu – President New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce
 Elizabeth Alexander – President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
 Vincent Alvare: President, NYC Central Labor Council
 Ajay Banga
 CEO, MasterCard
 Kathy Behrens President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs, National Basketball Association
 Bill Berkley
 Chair, NYU
 Albert Bourla
 CEO, Pfizer
 Elizabeth Bradley – President, Vassar College
 Kyle Bragg
 President, SEIU 32BJ
 Heather Briccetti
 President & CEO, The Business Council
 Tory Burch Executive Chair, Tory Burch LLC
 Gerrard P. Bushell – former President and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY)
 James Cahill
 President, NYS Building and Construction Trades
 Wellington Chen Executive Director of Chinatown Business Improvement District
 Mario Cilento
 President, NYS AFL-CIO
 Henry Cisneros
 Siebert, Brandford, Shank & Co.
 Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner – President, SUNY Buffalo State College
 Steven M. Cohen – Former Secretary to the Governor
 Stacey Cunningham – President, NYSE
 Vijay Dandapani
 President & CEO, Hotel Association of NYC
 Sonya Del Peral
 Nine Pin Ciderworks
 Mylan Denerstein Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
 Alicia Fernandez Dicks President/CEO, Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer
 James Dolan CEO, Madison Square Garden
 Stacey Duncan Executive Director, The Agency
 Leecia Eve – Vice President of State Government Affairs, Verizon
 Bill Ford
 CEO, General Atlantic LLC
 Jane Fraser
 President, Citigroup
 Adena Friedman President & CEO, Nasdaq
 Bea Grause
 President, Healthcare Association of New York State
 Jonathan Gray
 President & COO, Blackstone Group
 George Gresham
 President, 1199SEIU
 Horacio Gutierrez General Counsel, Spotify
 Sabrina HoSang Jordan – CEO, Caribbean Food Delights, Inc.
 Maria Imperial
 CEO, YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester
 Shirley Ann Jackson President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
 Dr. Amarilis Jacobo President, National Hispanic Dental Association
 Jeremy Jacobs Jr – Co-Chief Executive Officer, Delaware North
 Michele Johnson
 YWCAs of Elmira
 –
 President of YWCAs NYS
 René Jones
 Chair & CEO, M&T Bank
 
Michel Khalaf
President & CEO, MetLife
 Pat Kane
 Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association
 Gary LaBarbera
 President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
 Mary Beth Labate President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities
 Kevin Law
 President & CEO, Long Island Association, Inc.
 Jon Ledecky
 Co-Owner, NY Islanders
 Kewsong Lee Co-CEO, Carlyle Group
 Randy Levine – President, NY Yankees
 Mayra Linares-Garcia – VP of Public Affairs and Communications at Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages
 Melanie Littlejohn – Chair, Board of Directors, CenterState CEO
 Joanie Mahoney Chief Operating Officer, SUNY ESF
 Carl McCall – Former Chair, SUNY Board of Trustees; Former NYS Comptroller
 Brenda McDuffie – President & CEO at Buffalo Urban League
 Cheryl McKissack Daniel President & CEO, McKissack & McKissack
 Father Joseph McShane – President, Fordham University
 Elizabeth Moore General Counsel, Con Edison
 Wes Moore
 CEO, Robin Hood
 Marc Morial
 President & CEO, National Urban League
 William J. Mulrow
 Former Secretary to the Governor
 John McAvoy
 Chairman, President & CEO, Con Edison
 Danny Meyer
 CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
 Dr. Belinda S. Miles President, SUNY Westchester Community College
 Frankie Miranda
 President & CEO, Hispanic Federation
 Orinthia T. Montague – President, Tompkins Cortland Community College
 Candice Niu – Executive Director, China General Chamber of Commerce
Ana Oliveira –
President & CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation
 
 Kim Pegula
 President and CEO, Pegula Sports and Entertainment
 Elizabeth Peralta Executive Director, National Supermarket Association
 Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
 Charles Phillips – Chair, Infor
 Martha Pollack President, Cornell University
 Ted Potrikus – President & CEO, Retail Council of New York State
 Ken Raske
 President, Greater NY Hospital Association
 Scott Rechler
 CEO & Chairman, RXR Realty
 Andrew Rigie
 President, NYC Hospitality Alliance
 Linda Brown-Robinson
 President, Syracuse Onondaga NAACP
 Lisa Rosenblum
 Vice Chair, Altice
 Jane Rosenthal
 Co-Founder & CEO, Tribeca Enterprises
 Steven Rubenstein
 –
 Chairman, Association for a Better New York
 Bill Rudin
 –
 Rudin Management Company
 Kevin Ryan
 –
 Co-Founder, MongoDB
 Julie Samuels – President, Tech:NYC
 Rob Sands Chairman, Constellation Brands
 Theresa Sanders President of the Urban League of Long Island
 Jaime Saunders
 –
 CEO, United Way of Greater Rochester
 Diane Serratore – Executive Director, Help From People to People
 Carlo Scissura – President & CEO, NY Building Congress
 Leonard Schleifer
 –
 CEO, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
 Josh Silverman
 –
 CEO, Etsy
 Lisa Sorin President, Bronx Chamber of Commerce
 Rob Speyer
 –
 President & CEO, Tishman Speyer
 Ty Stone – President, Jefferson County Community College
 Ken Sunshine – President, Sunshine Sachs
 Steve Swartz
 –
 President & CEO, Hearst; Co- Chair, Partnership for NYC
 Chandrika Tandon
 –
 Chair, Tandon Capital Associates
 Elinor Tatum – Publisher and Editor in Chief, New York Amsterdam News
 Crickett Thomas-
O’Dell
 – Regional Director, Workforce Development Institute
 Bill Thompson
 –
 Chairman, CUNY
 Merryl Tisch
 –
 Chairman, SUNY
 Erin Tolefree – Executive Vice President, Baldwin Richardson Foods
 Elizabeth Velez
 –
 CEO Velez Organization & Chair, NY Building Congress
 Fanny Villarreal – Executive Director, YWCA Syracuse Onondaga County
 Dennis Walcott
 –
 Former NYC School Chancellor
 John Waldron
 –
 President and COO, Goldman Sachs
 Darren Walker
 –
 President, Ford Foundation
 Peter Ward
 –
 President, NY Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO
 Nicole Wegman Senior Vice President, Wegmans
 Anthony Welters – Executive Chairman, BlackIvy Group, LLC
 Jim Whelan
 –
 President, Real Estate Board of New York
 Jeff Wilpon COO, NY Mets
 Tren’ness Woods-Black
 –
 
Sylvia’s Restaurant
 
 Sheena Wright
 –
 President & CEO, United Way of New York City
 Kathy Wylde
 –
 President & CEO, Partnership for NYC
 Jo-Ann Yoo Executive Director, Asian American Federation
 Kristine M. Young President, Orange County Community College
 Lourdes Zapata – President & CEO at South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation

 

Rollout process would begin after May 3
Construction and various manufacturing sectors would be among the first to re-establish their operations

The task force devised by Gov. Wanda Vázquez to advise her administration on economic affairs throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic released a series of recommendations on how to reopen Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as a guidance of best practices for companies.

These standards, revealed over the weekend, propose a gradual restoration divided into three phases, with each of these encompassing select sectors of the island’s economy. Each phase would have two weeks between them to ensure that companies are taking the appropriate mitigation risks while safeguarding the population throughout the peak of infection.

“As more sectors continue to open, we can measure what has been the increase, if any, in contagion. Depending on how the increases have continued, that will dictate whether we can move to a subsequent phase or whether we have to regress,” said Emilio Colón Zavala, leader of the economic task force.

The process would begin after May 3, which is expected to be the last effective date of the government emergency measures that have kept Puerto Rico under lockdown since March 15.

“We are trying to balance the risk of increased contagion based on metrics that we can easily measure with the need to open up the economy after seven weeks,” Colón Zavala

Mirroring the health counterpart’s suggestions, the economic task force suggested prioritizing during Phase 1 manufacturing and its sub-sectors, such as biosciences and aerospace, as well as construction and all their respective supply chains. In an index compiled by the task force, construction, mining, and information were identified as the sectors with the lowest risk of contagion.

If the first phase goes down smoothly, Phase 2 would launch the reinstatement of financial activities and their supply chains. This includes professional and business services such as firms and offices currently not exempt from the executive order that mandates the quarantine.

According to the economic task force’s final draft, more than 300,000 people should be back at work by the end of Phase 2, provided that these businesses adopt guidelines to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Phase 3 would center on the vast majority of non-essential services, excluding educational services, which are deemed as posing the highest risk of contagion, followed by health and social services. The businesses that are not included in Phase 3 would thus reopen subsequently as the coronavirus threat is contained. These would be, for example, movie theaters, gyms, beauty salons, and others.

Despite these efforts, Colón Zavala affirmed that the economic plan does not intend to lift the curfew that has been in place since the first executive order was enacted, keeping residents indoors from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“[The curfew] would not be removed at first. Maybe a change could be made if the governor deems it fitting,” he said.

Guidelines for Businesses

Before they can open, businesses must submit documentation on social distancing measures to be enforced in the workplace and what other measures will be taken to diminish risk. To achieve these means, the economic task force announced re-activation guidelines for the private sector.

The 37-page document contains recommendations and descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards but is not in itself a regulation, nor does it create new legal obligations.

Among other principles, the re-activation plan contends that the company’s highest-ranking official based in Puerto Rico must ensure the mechanisms and protocols to maintain a list of the all the active workforce and their working schedule, that all employees are properly trained in the company’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy, that the company is following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other relevant entities, and to submit a COVID-19 Self-Certification Notification to the P.R. Department of Labor and the P.R. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The guidelines have not been released to the public at the time of this writing but, reportedly, are expected to be made available through the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym).

 

 

March 13, 2020, Washington, DC, United States: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media at a news conference to declare National Emergency on COVID-19 coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on March 13, 2020. (Credit Image: © Gripas Yuri/Abaca via ZUMA Press)

Traditional journalism is under siege, NBC News chief Andy Lack wrote this week: President Trump continues to “put the bully in bully pulpit,” and the coronavirus crisis has taken a toll.

“But we’re winning,” proclaimed the headline of Lack’s piece published on NBCNews.com, which argues that news organizations, because they are still able to tell citizens the truth of what’s going on in the country, are victorious.

I wish I could agree.

Even if you get past the objectionable notions of “winning” and “losing,” I very much doubt that history will judge mainstream journalism to have done a terrific job covering this president — including in this difficult moment.

On the contrary, the coverage, overall, has been deeply flawed.

Those flaws were on full display over the past few days, just as they have been every day since a real estate mogul/reality TV star grandly descended a goldtone escalator into the marble atrium of Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential campaign

For nearly five years, the story has been Trump. And, in all that time, the press is still — mostly — covering him on the terms he dictates.

We remain mesmerized, providing far too much attention to the daily circus he provides.

We normalize far too much, offering deference to the office he occupies and a benefit of the doubt that is a vestige of the dignified norms of presidencies past.

And day after day, we allow him to beat us up. And then we come back for more.

Front Row at the Trump Show,” is the name of ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl’s best-selling new book. The current president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Karl is well-respected, smart and experienced. But if there was ever a self-own, it’s right there in that title: president as vaudeville performer, journalist as rapt audience.

“Trump has been able to make it all about him, and the press — with some notable exceptions — too often allows him to turn the coverage into a carnival,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, former New York Times business reporter and columnist at Bloomberg Opinion.

“You can’t let the person you’re covering set the terms of the coverage, but that’s exactly what he has done.”

Every day — sometimes every hour — there’s some new craziness to distract us.

Here is Trump suggesting that ingesting disinfectants may cure the coronavirus. Here he is trashing reporters on Twitter who won Pulitzer Prizes by talking about revoking their Nobel Prizes — but misspelling it as “Noble.” Here he is claiming he will somehow punish reporters by not having his near-daily briefings — and then changing his mind, as a press aide quips that reporters should be kept on their toes.

Journalists are whipsawed. The public tunes out in disgust or regrettable credulity. And meanwhile, a nation has become inured to the fact that U.S. cases of coronavirus are about to pass 1 million, and that at least 56,000 Americans have died of covid-19.

And then we come back for more, writing headlines that somehow combine the words “Trump” and “strategy.” Or ponder in cable-news panels whether he’s turned the corner and started acting more presidential. Or downplay the sheer madness of the disinfectant idea with a news alert and related story politely stating that “some experts” call it dangerous.

Is this winning? Only in the sense that a verbally abused spouse is winning if she manages to get the kids off to school after another sleepless night.

Granted, there has been great journalism over the past five years. There have been outstanding investigations, trenchant analyses, important day-to-day coverage.

In recent weeks, both The Washington Post and the New York Times published investigative reports about the failures of the Trump administration to heed early warnings and act quickly enough to protect the nation against the virus’s ravages. Both news organizations also undertook deep analyses of his recent briefings, showing how Trump dominates the discussion, instead of the medical experts, presidential monologues chock full of bragging and misinformation and precious little empathy.

There has been plenty of other good work, too, providing valuable insight, such as Michael Kruse’s recent Politico article “Donald Trump’s Greatest Escape,” which looks back at the real estate developer’s near financial collapse in 1995. Kruse persuasively suggests that Trump is a political Houdini who has been training his whole life to survive today’s political challenges, no matter how much it may appear that he’s finally met his match.

And the best news organizations have become more blunt, when warranted, about calling out Trump’s lies, racism and failures of leadership.

But in the big picture and as a whole, we’ve never quite figured out how to cover Trump for the good of citizens. We’ve never really fully changed gears despite Trump’s constant, norm-busting behavior. Determined to do our jobs — dutifully covering the most powerful person in the world — we keep coming back for more:

Beat reporters file into the briefing room, sometimes to be publicly insulted and disparaged as “fake news” or “a terrible reporter.”

Television’s live coverage of briefings continues at many news organizations — allowing Trump to dominate the late-afternoon airwaves, day after day, with torrents of misinformation and narcissistic bragging.

As Fintan O’Toole recently summed it up in the Irish Times: “It is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore.”

He added, pointedly: “For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.”

Someday, we’ll get some perspective on how the press has contributed to this mess — just as we can now look back on the news coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War and clearly see the sins committed then by most of Big Journalism: the shameful lack of skepticism, the foolish granting of anonymity to deceptive and self-interested sources.

When we have that distance, what I suspect we’ll see is a candidate and a president who played the media like a puppet while deeply damaging the public’s trust in the press as a democratic institution. Someone who dazzled us with his show, while acting constantly in his own self-interest as we willingly — almost helplessly — magnified his message.

We’ll figure out what happened and why. And we’ll know what to call it. But it won’t be “winning.”

By: Margaret Sullivan

 

 

Dr. Ala Stanford administers a COVID-19 swab test on a person in the parking lot of Pinn Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Stanford and other doctors formed the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to offer testing and help address heath disparities in the African American community. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Buffalo, NY – COVID 19 testing will become more visible this week in communities of color neighborhoods in Buffalo.

The testing will roll out in two vans provided by United Healthcare and staff by Urban Family practice.

“If I get 15% of my people tested, I get a good feeling for what we’re dealing with around the whole area,”

Nurses and other health providers spent Monday afternoon outside the Urban Family Practice on Jefferson Avenue conducting blood tests on Medicaid patients to see if they’ve already had the new coronavirus and now have antibodies.

Staff will return Tuesday to conduct nasal swab testing that will show if patients currently have the virus; those who test positive would need to isolate themselves for two weeks.

The work is part of a growing effort to make more testing available across the region for those who have symptoms or believe they previously might have had Covid-19, the disease the new coronavirus can cause.

Urban Family Practice and local insurance providers in the region plan to park the mobile vans in various places across city ZIP codes where positive test results have been among the highest in the region. Churches, community centers and other health practices will serve as testing sites.

This will complement testing that became available late last week at the Leroy R. Coles Jr. Branch Library on East Delavan Avenue. The library sits in the 14215 ZIP code, which on Monday had the second-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Erie County, 232, one less than the number of cases in the Williamsville 14221 code.

“I think the numbers are going to continue to be bad as we expand our testing,” said the Rev. George Nicholas, convener of the African American Health Disparities Task Force and pastor at Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church. “The real issue is not just Covid-19. All it has done is expose the severity of the health disparities in this region.”

his Covid-19 mobile testing van is one of two that will be made available in coming weeks to roughly 30,000 people in the city’s communities of color. 

Nicholas praised Vazquez for leading calls for more testing since March 11, when the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.

Vazquez is president and CEO of G-Health Enterprises. He leads Urban Family Practice, which serves about 8,000 patients; founded the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, or GBUAHN, which also includes Jericho Road Community Health Center; and helps lead the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, or GBUACO.

GBAUCO-related health care practices, agencies and affiliated hospitals serve almost 30,000 patients.

Those interested in testing need to call a nurse triage line at: (716) 604-0504 or download a Covid-19 survey on the Urban Family Practice, GBUACO or GBUAHN apps available to download free online or by phone at the app store.

Kaleida Health and Quest Diagnostics can each provide nasal testing for up to 150 patients a day. Antibody testing takes longer but also has become much more accessible, Vazquez said.

Urban Family Practice last week started testing people at a tent in its Niagara Street headquarters parking lot. That will continue from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays.

The practice conducted 141 antibody tests, received 50 results as of Monday and three patients tested with antibodies.

Covid-19 swab testing was conducted on 197 people, 118 results were received and nine were positive.

Vazquez said the work he and other doctors with large Medicaid practices have done to confront Covid-19 can serve as a model for all of medicine in the future.

 

 

NEW PRO BONO INITIATIVE HELPS JOBLESS NEW YORKERS

SECURE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

New Yorkers who need help securing unemployment benefits through the appeal process will be matched with attorneys provided by the pro bono partnership launched by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) and the state court system. Hundreds of lawyers are preparing to assist clients beginning this week.

A new innovative website, www.nysba.org/legalhelp, provides resources for filing an unemployment claim and will match attorneys – free of charge – with those whose claims are unsuccessful.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are out of work due to the coronavirus, and we know that some of them will need help to obtain the unemployment benefits to which they are entitled,” said Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. “We are pleased to partner with NYSBA to offer this vital assistance and we thank all the generous lawyers who are giving of their time so selflessly.”

“Becoming unemployed is one of the most stress-inducing things that can happen in a person’s life, and we are dedicated to reducing that anxiety any way we can. This program will help ensure New Yorkers can access the benefits they need and deserve,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I’d like to personally thank the bar association, the court system and the hundreds of lawyers who have stepped up to help their neighbors during this difficult time.”

“This is an unprecedented moment for New York and the legal community alike,” said NYSBA President Henry M. (Hank) Greenberg. “It’s gratifying to see so many lawyers willing to put their expertise at the disposal of those who are suffering. We know that unemployment benefits are a lifeline for many families, and we welcome the opportunity to provide assistance.”

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, of counsel at Latham & Watkins and coordinator of the network, praised everyone involved for getting the pro bono network up and running in such a short period of time.

“Ensuring access to justice is paramount right now,” Lippman said. “This project will help unemployed New Yorkers get the benefits they need and are entitled to.”

The site provides guidance both on filing unemployment claims and how to find help if those claims are denied. Participants detail their Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims using an intake form, developed by Clio, a legal tech provider. Once complete, NYSBA will use Clio’s client intake software to match the participants with pro bono attorneys onboarded and made available through Paladin’s online portal of volunteers. To ensure efficiency and ease, pro bono attorneys will be given free access to Clio’s secure case management software to manage the appeal process.

“We’re honored to use our software to help NYSBA streamline access to justice for so many who need it,” said Jack Newton, CEO and co-founder of Clio.

“By creating one central place for New York attorneys to find, learn about, and sign up for COVID-related pro bono work, we’ll be able to connect more individuals in need with qualified attorneys, faster,” said Kristen Sonday, Paladin’s co-founder.

More than 26 million Americans – including over 1.4 million New Yorkers – have filed unemployment claims in recent weeks. More than 1,500 attorneys attended NYSBA’s recent training program, “Applying for Unemployment: Client Counseling Under the CARES Act.”

New York’s existing network of pro bono and public defense attorneys was strained prior to COVID-19. The state court system and NYSBA are taking this action to ensure that all New Yorkers can exercise their right to legal counsel at a time when the need for legal services will likely be higher than ever before, and fewer people will be able to afford representation.

While the pro bono network’s first task is handling unemployment benefits, it is quickly gearing up to also address a range of other issues – from evictions to domestic violence to job and housing discrimination.

Lawyers who are interested in joining this cause should go to https://nysba.org/covidvolunteer/to sign up. If you have specific questions about volunteering, please contact NYSBA via e-mail: covidvolunteer@nysba.org.

For more information regarding the partnership: https://nysba.org/ny-state-court-system-joins-with-new-york-state-bar-association-to-launch-pro-bono-network-to-respond-to-pandemic/

In addition, NYSBA has transformed its website and social media accounts into hubs of legal information regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more at: https://nysba.org/coronavirus.

About the New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

 

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