Thursday, June 18 update

NYS update: Well, this is awkward. While New York State and most of the Northeast were modifying their behavior and laboring hard like little worker ants to flatten the curve and get ready for the dreaded “second wave” of COVID speculated for the fall, a good chunk of the rest of the USA went off to run and play like grasshoppers. Now the governor is contemplating declaring Fortress New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that he’s considering imposing a quarantine on travelers arriving to New York from states like Florida where coronavirus cases have spiked.  “I haven’t made a decision yet, but I have had experts advise me of that. It is a real concern,” Cuomo said when asked about whether he’d consider imposing some sort of quarantine measure or taking health precautions at airports where travel has increased.

This sort of quarantine probably wouldn’t really work, just like Florida’s quarantine against New Yorkers didn’t. But the ongoing national psychological estrangement is bleeding into a pseudo-physical one the longer the virus is at large on the continent.

I have extended family in states like Florida, Arizona and South Carolina where the virus is either growing exponentially more prevalent, or threatens to. Having heard from family in Arizona recently, I can tell that psychologically, they are now where we in New York were in March. More people are eager to wear masks and wary of allowing non-family into their homes. Don’t expect any “you were right, we should have listened” — any more than Chinese and Italians could have expected the same admission from us in the Northeast three months ago. We really aren’t one country. To most of us, vast swaths of the United States rest beyond the edges of our real psychological maps. What happens “over there” is make-believe.

As Cuomo winds down his daily homilies tomorrow (you bet I’m tuning in for this historic moment, or at least to see what the last slide says), I suppose we in upstate New York should reflect on how lucky we (sometimes) are to be chained to the Tri-State Area. And forced, along with the rest of fellow New Yorkers, to endure the admonitions of our Great White Father in Albany. Would we be more reckless with the virus if we weren’t? Maybe or maybe not. It’s never easy to tell if we are relatively reasonable people by our innate historical constitution, or if it’s learned or forced behavior. It has been a trip, and promises to be even more so. Cuomo, on WAMC today:

I have total authority and with that comes responsibility.

Ya know, most leaders would just concentrate on the “responsibility” part; as in, “It’s my responsibility what happens to the people of this state,” etc. Andrew just cuts right to the important stuff, which incidentally happens to have that other “responsibility” stuff tacked on. I guess when you have total authority, you can pick and choose what responsibility you want to take.

Steve McLaughlin, the Rensselaer County executive, watched the troubles unfold at Diamond Hill with a sense of impotent fury. The home was the county’s worst hot spot, its cases and deaths dwarfing those everywhere else. He’d had a simple reaction to Cuomo and Zucker’s March 25 order — “No way. Not ever.” — and had blocked the transfer of COVID-19 patients from hospitals to the county-run Van Rensselaer Manor unless they tested negative before being moved. But he couldn’t do that at Diamond Hill, a privately run home overseen by the state.

(You know things are bad when a red-meat rightie like McLaughlin seems like the most reasonable person in the room.)

Onondaga County update: The CE picked the wrong week to take a break from briefings, as another agricultural facility in the CNY region has flared up into a hotspot that has drawn the state’s attention.

Cuomo called the increase the “only caution sign” on spread of the virus in the entire state. But he also said the local tracing system worked well to track down the cause. Cuomo tied the jump to a cluster of new cases uncovered at Champlain Valley Specialties of NY Inc., an apple-packing facility in the town of Oswego. “That’s bad news, but it’s also good news,” Cuomo said of the cluster. “That’s the way this is supposed to work.”

At last report, the outbreak has been contained to 43 people after over 500 tests of workers and their families. (No word on if the workers are migrant labor.)

In Onondaga County itself, there haven’t been any significant changes in the daily statistics, still at around 5-9 cases of community spread daily. The number of active cases is down to a commendable 682. While I don’t closely follow the latest research, the theory that COVID is currently exploding in the hot states because of increased time spent indoors in air conditioning — more Southerners spending time indoors, more Northerners spending time outdoors — seems worth studying.

However, it’s also true that some people are getting sloppy:

Onondaga County health officials issued a warning today that a customer of TisMart Cigar Shop and Lounge in Brewerton has tested positive for Covid-19. The customer was not wearing a face mask while in the establishment on Saturday, June 13, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

(From 9:30 to 11:30 am? What is it, an opium den? Yeah, sorta.)

While I was away on vacation, another Amazon warehouse suddenly happened. This is going to be a warehouse where items purchased by Syracuse area residents will be staged and prepared for delivery. Curiously, the project will not be receiving any tax breaks.

The project site includes a floodplain associated with nearby Butternut Creek. Some of the parking lot will be built within the floodplain, according to information provided by the developer on the environmental assessment form. But the building itself will not be in the floodplain, and the base of the building will be more than 5 feet above the 100-year flood level, according to the document. The warehouse will have 920 parking spaces, more than 700 of which will be for delivery vans, according to the environmental form. The center also will get 15 tractor trailer deliveries per day.

In other news, the planned large “Black Lives Matter” street mural in Syracuse has had a design change:

The new plan is to have four words stretching in each direction at the intersection of Montgomery and East Washington streets: “Redemption” to the north, “justice” to the east, “freedom” to the west and “unity” to the south. In the center will be a painting of a clenched fist. The mural is scheduled to be painted amid daily protests, demonstrations and street clean-ups every day for more than two weeks…They wanted the street painting to be unique to Syracuse, instead of copying what other cities have done.

I am enthused, particularly at the last sentence.

Lastly, as a followup to my quick look at the Onondaga County GOP, this just in. I think this is a clear sign that, even if Trump is not yet gone, Trumpism is dying or dead in Central New York.

Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey said Thursday he won’t seek reelection when his term leading the local party expires in September. Dadey, of DeWitt, served as the county GOP leader for the past decade and rose to become vice chairman of the New York Republican Committee. He was one of President Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in New York. He was rewarded with a seat on Trump’s presidential transitional team and the Republican National Committee’s platform committee in 2016.

Like I said — the less said, the better.