Monday, June 1 update

Former USA update: Trump has lost his freaking mind. The end seems near. That is all.

NYS update: Buffalo gets to enter Phase 2 already tomorrow (such progress?) and New York City itself will soon get its chance to start anew. But much of Cuomo’s briefing was taken up with the current situation wracking the country and state. Rochester… did not have a good weekend. I know I need to learn more about the specifics of the 1960s riots and actions that took place there, but the wound seems to have never healed.

Let Mario speak, for old times’ sake.

Meanwhile, all of this crisis is helping obscure what would otherwise be pretty major stories, such as the problems that nursing homes are having fulfilling yet another unfunded state mandate to test all workers twice a week, and the Post-Standard discovering what I’ve suspected since the beginning — the “Regional Control Rooms” actually control nothing. (Why complain so much about not getting press access to a group that doesn’t get access to anything either?)

Onondaga County update: Righteous people are on the move, revolution is in the streets, the world is turning upside down — but Ryan McMahon would also like you, and “Top Men” in Albany, to know that Central New York’s 7-day testing average is still almost twice the number that is required, and no fucks and no quarter to COVID are being given. OK, not in so many words but, even though test numbers are down for obvious reasons, the data still looks good in the county. New virus cases today were only 25 more, which is quite good, and “real” hospitalization numbers are in the low 30s. Average number of tests completed per 7 days: about 1,400. Dr. Gupta’s mental state, after watching all of that hard work potentially go down the drain among unmasked screaming crowds: not reported.

As for the nursing home “parked” patients, the asymptomatics who are still testing positive for COVID, McMahon hinted that the solution they are working on might involve converting small regional hospitals into quasi-nursing-home wings that the state would agree to not treat as hospital numbers.

However, much of the day’s briefing (the first since Friday) was taken up with serious discussion of the protests that happened over the weekend, where the city and county both ordered a curfew on Sunday night — a curfew which was quickly lifted this afternoon. The quick lifting was an appropriate measure and another example of the “virtuous spiral” that I have so often seen at work in Onondaga County all spring, thank goodness. If it is indeed a tool, it is a risky one and you use it only for as long as you need it, and no more. If local authorities, police and protesters (and by extension us, the wavering public) are in a focused, purposeful debate about what the “new normal” is to be, if the protesters give by going home peacefully before too ungodly an hour, then they also must give way a little.

I was really struck by the denouement of the weekend on Sunday night downtown (which I watched courtesy of Channel 9’s social media on the scene). An intense and predictable debate between the older protesters and the younger, both of whom had excellent points to make about how to hold their ground gained that day. The eloquent and meaningful communication with the whole body, a language evolved through decades of civil rights protest in America. Police moving backward to give space, shifting like nervous but perhaps comprehending elephants.

It ended well.

The day before, however, on Saturday, some punk-ass cop decided to push a veteran Post-Standard photographer; peaceful marchers got as far west as Solvay before turning back; hoodlums looted downtown (and also there was a minor smash-and-grab at the Fairmount Target, which had earlier been protected by cops but was set upon by who-knows-who minutes after they left); and a couple of Camillus residents on Facebook clutched their pearls and tried to remember where their gun storage keys were at. Fortunately, these “citizens” (as my dad might have called them mockingly) were pretty well censured online by other residents.

The only other news locally over the weekend is that churches are still caught in limbo over what sort of attendance will be allowed. Holy Family in Fairmount has started parking lot services. This means that all Fairmount Hills residents are now Catholics whether they like it or not, as the pastor promised his parishioners a sound system so clear “that my mother in Fulton could hear me.” (Holy Family has much to celebrate, however, as one of their pastors managed to beat a very severe case of COVID.)

For the first time in two and a half months, I drove through downtown Syracuse to get to my office (they’re repatriating us gradually) and since I hadn’t heard anything about the promised morning protests, I assumed there might be some for the evening rush hour. I didn’t see anyone around Erie Boulevard or Clinton Square. I did notice that things had changed since I was gone. There were a couple panhandlers in places where they ordinarily wouldn’t be, hinting that these people were newcomers in town. There were a few people uninvolved with any protests who were just sitting around aimlessly, as people without jobs will do. Again, on well-traveled streets I never would see them before. You can really feel the economic disaster that has happened.