Monday, June 22 update

NYS update: Cuomo is no longer with us, yet his disembodied voice continues to be heard — on radio, MSNBC, etc. And just like that, Northeastia is back as a concept, as the governor is publicly musing about the possibility of stranger danger and seeing if the rest of the Tri-State area would like to get on board with 14-day quarantines for travelers coming from the nether states.

(Much as I would like to bash Florida, a widely reported story about Florida’s governor requiring ICUs to report only patients needing “intensive care,” which sparked guffaws all over the Internet today, is not as dumb as it sounds. It actually reminds me of the recent battles faced here at home by local leaders dealing with COVID hospitalization numbers and nursing home patients — although in this case it’s about a governor trying to weigh accurate ICU numbers from hospitals and not local leaders forced to report bogus hospitalization numbers by the governor’s office.)

Onondaga County update: Today, after a week’s hiatus, a county briefing was held, although it’s understood they will be less and less frequent. The CE has now taken to Twitter to deliver daily updates and I would imagine that with the community spread solidly stabilized, and with no more daily Cuomo briefings to clean up after, there isn’t a lot of material from day to day. However, when asked at today’s session if he thought it would be harder to get information from the state because Cuomo’s daily televised court has ceased, McMahon thought we might be hearing a lot more from the governor now that reporters wouldn’t be around — just not in his corporeal Albany form.

There was a tick upward to 12 community spread cases on Friday (the daily average is more like 5-7), but I’d bet that had to do with cases uncovered at the confusingly named Champlain Valley apple packing plant in Oswego, where some of the workers are from Onondaga. By today this had ticked down again to the “new normal.” Warehoused nursing home patients are slowly leaving the hospitals. ICU cases are in the single digits.

McMahon was there supposedly to take questions about reopening — Phase 4 will probably start this Friday — but he started in on Congress’ delay in voting on local recovery measures, and this was the first time I heard him mention NYSAC to a “lay” audience.

The only things left to talk about are mostly City of Syracuse matters such as the shootings on the Near West side over the weekend, a depressing situation all around because after doing so well for the past few months, it feels like things are edging out of control. There never should have been a birthday party of hundreds of people on a street corner in the first place (social distancing). We know why the cops didn’t move to break it up – and gang members figured that out too. Do we just have a power vacuum in the city now?

Unlike the county response to COVID, it feels like city government is struggling to stay on top of events, not all of which are of their own making. The CE has an easier job than the mayor; he isn’t required to police the sheriff’s office and can just shrug speculatively when asked about social distancing enforcement. But we still have a situation where people are justifiably raw about cop behavior, cops are not wanting to charge into a really unwisely gathered group of people and possibly start a riot, and criminals are taking advantage. Where is the outside breath of air or shaft of light in this seemingly hermetically sealed system? Somebody on the (relative) outside of this system who has room to maneuver needs to take charge.

At least we know now what is largely causing the national pyrotechnics plague — fireworks dumping. There are many reasons to dislike Pennsylvania, but the probability that most of the illegal fireworks in New York are coming over that border, is top of my list right now. (Do we have to include Pennsylvania in Northeastia?)

Fireworks are awesome, and in principle, one could enjoy a delightful fireworks display any day of the year. In practice, however, the American Pyrotechnics Association reports that nearly 80 percent of display firework revenue is associated with July Fourth celebrations, which are widespread across the United States. This year, many of those celebrations have been canceled, and many other firework-intensive events like pro sports have also been impacted by the pandemic. This creates the potential for diversion of fireworks from the professional display market to the consumer market, complete with the possibility of bargain-basement prices. Combine increased availability of fireworks with pandemic-induced boredom and you have the recipe for unusually lively summer nights.

Of course, conspiracy theories abound. (Milk, fireworks… wonder what future inventory dumpings we are not thinking of… and what their bizarre effects will be?)