As the virus devastates tax revenues, states must follow balanced budget laws.
In February, Ohio posted a budget surplus of $ 200 million. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and two months later – as tax revenue plummeted and public health spending skyrocketed – the state faced a $ 777 million hole.
Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, ordered immediate cuts to close the gap. He did not have a choice. The pandemic, said DeWine, “does not excuse us from balancing our budget, which we are legally required to do.”
Ohio is hardly alone. Each state faces a version of the same problem, and all but one – Vermont – have balanced budget laws in place. And for the most part, the new exercise begins on July 1, which leaves them desperately in need with only a few weeks to develop a plan.
A coalition of five Democratic governors said on Monday that state and local governments need $ 1 trillion in federal aid or will be forced to decide between funding public health programs or firing teachers, police and other workers.
Washington Democrats supported these demands, but some Republicans – including President Trump – have suggested that democratically-controlled states seek a bailout for bad decisions made before the pandemic.
The problem is that the balanced budget laws have left states with few options. And the coronavirus adds to the pressure every day: home orders and frozen economic activity have cut government revenue and income taxes, and services that are largely unused, such as airports and public transportation. common, should always be maintained.
Georgia has asked all state agencies to cut spending by 14% by May 20. California has already borrowed $ 348 million, and Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday proposed drastic cuts to public schools and universities and health care as part of a revised budget.
The new California budget would cut spending by 9% overall, but like DeWine, Newsom said he had no choice.
“Our state is in an unprecedented emergency, facing massive job losses and shortages in record time,” he wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “This budget reflects this urgency. “
In Wisconsin, residents woke up in a state of confusion Thursday after the conservative majority in the state’s Supreme Court rallied to the Republican majority in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday evening, the cancellation of a statewide home order by Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat.
In Michigan, hundreds of protesters, many of them armed, went to the State Capitol in torrential rain. The state closed the building in advance and canceled the legislative session, rather than risking a repeat of a demonstration in April during which angry protesters carrying guns piled up inside.
In Pennsylvania, some Republican lawmakers have urged disregard for orders from the Democratic Governor to shut down non-essential businesses, and President Trump has traveled to Allentown for a politically charged visit to a medical supply center.
The response to the coronavirus in these three states, which determined the 2016 presidential election and could strongly influence that of November, becomes a confused and agitated mix of sanitation, protest and partisan politics – leaving residents to fend for themselves .
“My concern for this pandemic is not to have a unified plan, that we are all on the same page and to listen to science and the same rules,” said Jamie O’Brien, 40, owner of a hair salon in Madison, Wis. ., which remains closed due to a local home stay order.
Across Wisconsin, the court ruling left some residents in a festive mood, heading straight to one of the state’s many taverns to celebrate. Others were determined to stay at home, fearing that it would be too early to return to crowded restaurants and stores.
“You have the only group that looks like” Yay! “” Said Patty Schachtner, a Democratic senator from West Wisconsin. “And the other group is like,” Man, life has gotten complicated. “”
It was a troubling microcosm of a country increasingly unable to separate bitter political divisions from plans to fight a deadly disease. The Democratic governors of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, supported by public health experts, called for caution before reopening. State republican legislatures pushed in the opposite direction, citing economic necessity and personal freedom.
The White House is threatening to veto a $ 3 trillion rescue bill.
The White House has threatened to veto a $ 3 trillion pandemic relief bill that the Democrats planned to pass in the House on Friday, as Republicans urged members to reject a measure that, according to them, was a non-starter.
In a message to the House Thursday, White House officials called the legislation unbearable and said the Democrats who drafted it were “more concerned with meeting long-standing partisan and ideological wish lists than strengthening our nation’s ability to cope with public health and the economy. challenges we face. ”
One day when the count of two months Unemployed claims have reached 36.5 million, the statement hinted at what Republican leaders and White House officials have suggested in recent days: that they are not sure whether further economic assistance measures will be necessary, and that any such measure should focus on tax cuts and liability protections for businesses.
Republican House leaders urged their members to vote against the legislation, saying, “Neither this bill nor anything like it will ever become law.”
As they prepared to pass it through the House, the Democrats were making last-minute revisions to the bill, including a provision prohibiting non-profit organizations that had engaged in electoral activities, such as contributing to a political campaign, receiving loans. They also added text directing a study to examine the role of virus-related misinformation in the public response to the pandemic.
For three weeks, a small town in northern New Jersey monitored Constable Charles Roberts.
Everyone at Glen Ridge knew or had a story about Mr. Roberts. He was the officer they saw in the morning at Starbucks, the one who fixed their new car seats on the back seats, the one who remembered their children’s names from school, where his wife was teacher and where Mr. Roberts, 45, was a drug education program officer.
Since he collapsed at home in April, they have been praying for him and placing signs “#ROBSTRONG” on their doors, windows and lawns.
On Thursday, three days after his death from complications from the coronavirus, residents of Glen Ridge, about 20 miles west of New York, gave him one last honor.
Because no central gathering place was available due to state foreclosure orders, they left their homes by the hundreds and stood on their porches, front yards and sidewalks. They placed their hands on their hearts as the hearse carrying his body headed for the cemetery. Many wore blue and orange – the colors of the New York Mets, Mr. Roberts’ favorite baseball team – and greeted the hearse in passing, escorted by dozens of city police cars and motorbikes and neighboring villages.
“It is really like a poster of what a Norman Rockwell policeman looks like,” said Joseph Uliano, a colleague from the Glen Ridge Police Service, referring to the famous painting of a policeman talking with a small child in a soft drink store. . “If there was a 2020 version of this poster, it would be Rob sitting at this counter with this little boy. “
Coughing or sneezing may not be the only way people spread infectious pathogens like the coronavirus. Talking can also propel thousands of droplets so small that they can stay in the air for eight to 14 minutes, according to a new study.
The experimental conditions of the study should be replicated in more real circumstances, and the researchers still don’t know how much virus needs to be passed from one person to another to cause an infection. But his findings reinforce the need to wear masks and take other precautions to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday night that a coronavirus test used by the White House to screen staff and visitors may not be accurate.
In an unusual public notice, the agency said initial data suggested that the Abbott ID Now test, hailed as a rapid test to diagnose virus infection, could return false negatives in patients who are actually infected.
“This test can still be used and can correctly identify many positive cases in minutes,” said Dr. Tim Stenzel, director of the Bureau of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health at the F.D.A.
But the negative results should be confirmed by another high sensitivity test, he added.
The product, which has received emergency clearance from the F.D.A. at the end of March was enthusiastically promoted by President Trump – it was even used as an accessory at least at one press conference. Mr. Trump said the tests are “very accurate”.
The agency’s warning follows a study by N.Y.U. Langone Health who discovered that the test could miss infections up to 48% of the time.
The F.D.A. He also said he received 15 so-called “adverse event reports” on Abbott’s device, suggesting that some users were receiving false negatives. The agency said it continues to assess the test.
In a statement to investors Thursday night, Abbott defended the ID Now test, calling it reliable when used as intended. “The results of negative tests should be considered in the context of a patient’s recent exposures, history and the presence of clinical signs and symptoms consistent with Covid-19,” said the release.
If the negative results are inconsistent with the signs and symptoms, said Abbott, patients should have another test.
Caldwell said officials in Honolulu are also planning to reopen the restaurants on June 5, which were limited to delivery and delivery.
“We are very careful here,” said Caldwell.
Retail and repair stores, real estate services, car dealerships, florists, mobile pet groomers and golf courses may reopen on Friday but must follow social distancing rules. Retail store occupancy will be limited.
Caldwell said he would also seek state approval to reopen the beaches of Oahu after Kauai Island was authorized to do so on Wednesday. “We ask that you stay at least six feet from the next person who may be lying in the sun,” he said. “
The weekly number of new requests has been decreasing since the end of March, but this hopeful flicker barely stands out in an otherwise grim economic landscape.
And despite attempts by states to deal with the claims barrage, many workers are extremely frustrated, either by their inability to submit claims or by late payments.
In places where the jerky reopening process has started, workers who have been called back to work often face reduced hours and reduced pay checks as well as an increased risk of infection. However, refusal to return – whether due to health problems or the need to care for children during school closings – is likely to end any unemployment benefit.
“This is a very difficult choice for those working in the service sector and those at the bottom of the salary range,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief economist in the United States at High Frequency Economics. “Are you coming home and risking getting sick, or don’t you have money? “
As job losses increase, two ideologically opposed legislators have come to the same conclusion: it is time for the federal government to cover workers’ wages.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Progressive Democrat from Washington, and Senator Josh Hawley, Conservative Republican from Missouri, argue to their party leaders that guaranteed income programs should be part of the federal relief effort.
Neurologists from New York, Michigan, New Jersey and other parts of the country have reported a spate of cases in which otherwise healthy young adults have had strokes. Many are now convinced that the unexplained episodes are yet another insidious manifestation of Covid-19.
Although strokes can be rare, they can have catastrophic consequences, including cognitive impairment, physical disabilities and even death.
“We see a surprising number of young people who have had a minor cough or who don’t remember the viral symptoms at all, and they isolate themselves at home as they are supposed to – and they have a stroke, “said Dr. Adam Dmytriw, a radiologist at the University of Toronto, who is one of the authors of an article describing a series of patients having suffered a stroke linked to Covid-19.
For some of these patients, a stroke was the first symptom of a viral infection. They pushed back the ER because they didn’t want to be exposed to the virus.
“If you don’t get help, you risk being permanently disabled and needing long-term care,” said Dr. Johanna Fifi, neurologist at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. “It’s not going to go away on its own. “
A Texas court of appeal ruled against the state’s attorney general on Thursday and allowed voters who feared the virus to vote by mail instead of going to the polls.
The issues are the rules for voting by mail and whether healthy voters who fear getting the virus during polls are eligible to vote as voters with disabilities. The Texas Democratic Party, the voting groups and others who have sued the state say they are. But Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton said the electoral code “does not allow an otherwise healthy person to vote by mail simply because going to the polls poses public health risks.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court to order officials in five counties to stop encouraging voters to ask to vote by mail if they are afraid of getting the virus.
In the latest ruling released on Thursday, the state’s fourteenth court of appeal confirmed a lower court order issued last month. In this order, a judge concluded that voting in person during the pandemic was likely to harm the health of an elector and that “any elector without established immunity meets the simple definition of disability” and had the right to send his ballot by mail.
“Lives were in danger and I believe lives were lost,” said Dr. Rick Bright, who was removed from office as director of the Department of Health’s Advanced Biomedical Research and Development Agency and Social Services, told a subcommittee of the House. “The window closes to deal with this pandemic.”
Throughout nearly four hours of testimony, Dr. Bright told lawmakers on a House health subcommittee that the epidemic would “get worse and continue” if the United States did not quickly develop a national screening strategy and predicted vaccine shortages if the administration did not develop a plan distribution now.
After holding back for almost a month, President Trump and his Secretary of Health, Alex M. Azar II, responded to Dr. Bright, intensifying the confrontation. Mr. Trump dismissed Dr. Bright as “disgruntled employeeWhile Mr. Azar insisted that those responsible follow up on the scientist’s ideas.
“Everything he complained about has been accomplished,” Azar told reporters as he and Mr. Trump prepared to board the presidential helicopter to depart for Allentown, Pennsylvania. “What he talked about was done. “
“It’s like someone who was in a choir trying to say he was a soloist at the time,” said Azar, adding, “His allegations don’t hold water. They don’t hold water. “
Dr. Bright’s testimony was the first time that a federal scientist – or any other federal official – appeared before Congress and openly accused the administration of endangering the lives of Americans by upsetting his response to the coronavirus. He said Americans would face “the darkest winter in modern history” if the administration moved quickly, as people became “agitated” to leave their homes.
New York changes: five counties will open and Broadway’s “Frozen” will close.
In New York, a central area of five counties has met the criteria to start reopening some businesses this weekend, said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Another 157 deaths were reported; the fourth day in a row, the number was less than 200.
State officials are investigating 110 cases of life-threatening pediatric inflammatory syndrome that appears to be linked to the virus and has so far been linked to the deaths of three children. Cases have been reported in other states, including California, Louisiana and Mississippi.
“Frozen” had been the weakest of the three Disney musicals that had aired on Broadway – the others were “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” – but the decision to close it came sooner than expected. This decision recalls that the pandemic is likely to change the theatrical landscape, forcing producers to reassess the financial viability of planned projects because of the expected challenges that attract audiences and investors.
Leaders of the nation’s largest teachers union and parent volunteer association have pushed back Trump’s efforts to reopen schools, saying that only one official could reassure them that he was careful to ” welcoming millions of students again.
“I’m waiting for Dr. Fauci,” Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said on Thursday when calling journalists. “I do not expect a politician; I’m waiting for an infectious disease professional to say to me, “Now we can do it, under these circumstances.” “”
Ms. Eskelsen García joined the educators and members of the National P.T.A. a day after Mr. Trump berated Dr. Fauci for expressing his caution regarding the reopening of schools. Dr. Fauci told a Senate panel on Tuesday that a vaccine against the virus would certainly not be ready in time for the new school year. “We had better be careful, if we are not riders, thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” he said.
Dr. Fauci’s testimony angered Mr. Trump, who believes that reopening schools is essential to the economy’s recovery and his re-election campaign. “I totally disagree with him on schools,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business on Thursday.
School leaders are preparing for severe budget cuts as they plan to make significant new spending on additional staff and protective equipment to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
When is it safe to return to the gym?
After a period of forced inactivity, many are wondering if it is wise to return to shared exercise bikes, weights and treadmills. Public sports facilities tend to be breeding grounds for germs. But there are things you can do to reduce the risk of infection if you want to exercise.
Follow our correspondents worldwide.
A powerful typhoon hit the Philippines, making it more difficult to fight viruses. The UN has confirmed the first cases in overcrowded refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh. And Yemen is also ravaged by the pandemic.
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