National News

Friday, May 29, 2020

As new hot spots emerge, the pandemic may be entering another phase

The simplest way to track the progress of any outbreak is by seeing how many new cases and deaths are reported in a given area each day. And in the United States, falling numbers in some of the hardest-hit places have offered glimmers of hope. Totals for the country have been on a downward curve, and in former hot spots like New York and New Jersey, the counts appear to have peaked. But infections and deaths are rising in more than a dozen states, as they are in countries around the world, an ominous sign that the pandemic may be entering a new phase. Wisconsin saw its highest single-day increase in confirmed cases and deaths this week, two weeks after the state’s highest court overturned a stay-at-home order. Cases are also on the rise in Alabama, Arkansas, California and North Carolina, which on Thursday reported some of the state’s highest numbers of hospitalizations and reported deaths since the crisis began.
New York Times

First woman battalion chief in 171-year history of New Jersey fire department is sworn in

PHOTOS: Audra Carter has a simple message for any young woman or girl who asks her about becoming a firefighter: “Please. We need more.” The 48-year-old Hoboken native is providing a shining example for future female firefighters. She was promoted Thursday, becoming the first woman battalion chief in the 171-year history of the Hoboken Fire Department in a ceremony at City Hall. “I’m extremely proud,” Carter said. “It was the next step in my career. My goal from the first day being hired was to progress up the ladder and better myself and reach the top. It’s a proud moment.” Carter fills the void left by the retirement of Battalion Chief William Rozmester. She is an 18-year veteran of the department, serving the past nine years as a fire captain, officials said.

US Representative urges FEMA to protect firefighters’ jobs

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take action that would avoid potential layoffs of America’s experienced firefighters. Specifically, Rep. LaHood and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) called on FEMA to temporarily expand the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program to include firefighters already on payroll. Currently, the SAFER program has a requirement that funding be used only to hire new firefighters, according to a May 26 letter the lawmakers sent to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. “Public health concerns have forced cities across the country to shut down and, in turn, take drastic budgetary measures,” wrote Rep. LaHood and his colleague. “This threatens the immediate viability of fire stations. Fire stations are struggling to retain the experienced firefighters already on staff — the same men and women that go out day after day as first responders to some of our most vulnerable.”
Ripon Advance

Rioters set Minneapolis police precinct on fire as protests reignite over George Floyd’s death

VIDEO: Mayor Jacob Frey said he made the call to evacuate police officers from the 3rd Precinct before rioters set the building on fire Thursday night as protests continued to boil over in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd. Police said officers were able to safely evacuate as rioters breached the perimeter and started a fire that spread through the building. Shortly after, city officials warned protesters to move from the building after receiving reports that gas lines may have been cut. They urged people to move away from the building. In a tweet, Mayor Jacob Frey said the fire department is working to respond to the fires that have been set. However, he added, "We all need to work together to ensure the safety of our friends, family, and Minneapolis residents. And right now working together means clearing the area."
KMSP-TV FOX 9 Minneapolis

FDNY hosts sendoff for 1,600 caregivers, 500 ambulances that came to New York, New Jersey during pandemic

The FDNY on Thursday hosted a ceremonial sendoff to medical response teams that traveled to New York City to assist with the coronavirus pandemic. For 60 days, American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance crews, Network Providers and support staff from across the country have worked in New York as part of the urgent response to the COVID-19 crisis. More than 1,600 caregivers and 500 ambulances from AMR and other EMS companies were deployed to New York and New Jersey to help support efforts to transport and treat patients at the height of the pandemic. "We say good bye to 85 different units from across the country, some of which have been here 60 days away from their own families and have long trips home," EMS Operations Chief Lillian Bonsignore said. "We are eternally gratefully. They came to our service. They came to our city and helped the people who needed them the most. They fit right in to the FDNY and the city, and fit right in to all those who needed our help."
WABC-TV ABC 7 New York

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ohio paramedic files temporary restraining order over wage reductions

A temporary restraining order was filed against the city of Maumee to prevent Mayor Richard Carr from imposing a 5 percent pay decrease for all city employees to offset millions in financial loss because of the pandemic. A complaint was filed Friday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. The plaintiff, Dawn Sniadecki, is the former president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4536 and a paramedic employed by the city, but Andrew Mayle, Ms. Sniadecki’s attorney, said his client filed the complaint as a private taxpayer. In the complaint, Ms. Sniadecki and her attorney argue that per city law, emergency powers do not allow the mayor to order wage decreases. Additionally, the mayor ordered paramedics to take a wage decrease for 32 pay periods, while other personnel were ordered to take a wage reduction for 26 pay periods.
The Blade

Tennessee to halt sharing COVID-19 patient data

Tennessee will soon stop providing the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to first responders, after initially arguing that doing so would protect those on the front line. Gov. Bill Lee’s administration decided on the change this week, conceding that the data may have created a false sense of security to those responding to emergency calls. The data sharing will stop at the end of the month. The announcement follows an Associated Press review that found public officials in at least two-thirds of states are sharing the addresses of people who tested positive with first responders. A small handful of those states, including Tennessee at the time, also shared the patients’ names. Supporters argue that the information is vital to helping them take extra precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
ABC News

In pandemic, agencies using drones to drop medical supplies from sky

With a loud whir and a whoosh, a fixed-wing drone slingshots out of a medical warehouse, zips through hazy skies at 80 mph, pops open a belly hatch and drops a box of medical supplies. Slowed by a little parachute, the box drifts downward and lands with a plop, less than 8 minutes after launch. For North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Basil Yap, it is a eureka moment. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deadly consequences of fractured medical supply chains. Drones, said Yap, may be part of the solution. Proponents say they eliminate the need for delivery trucks and avoid human contact. For more than a year, North Carolina — where modern aviation was born, at Kitty Hawk — has been the site of tests of drone deliveries, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA usually requires that drones operate within sight of their operators, which limits the distance they can fly; for these flights, an exception has been made.
North State Journal

Coronavirus questions: 10 things we still urgently want to know about COVID-19 in the next 100 days

Doctors, scientists and epidemiologists have made strides in their research to learn what they can about SARS-CoV-2 and the illness it causes, COVID-19. Multiple vaccines are in different stages of development as institutions scrutinize the effectiveness of existing drugs to treat coronavirus patients in clinical trials. Social distancing restrictions and lockdown measures have flattened the curve in parts of the country, and states have begun reopening in phases. These are the top 10 questions we hope to have answers to in the next 100 days. But experts say that there's more to learn about the virus, and as the United States surpasses 100,000 deaths, many wonder if that learning curve is just too steep. Let’s take a moment to honor the lives of those we have lost, and begin to comprehend the wound they leave behind.
USA Today

New York City fire fund has enough assets to pay out 10.1 years of pension benefits, study finds

The New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, with an assets-to-liabilities ratio of 63 percent, has enough money on hand to pay beneficiaries for 10.1 years, according to a new ranking of public retirement funds from the Wirepoints website. The retirement system ranked 32nd on a list of 148 state and local retirement funds nationwide with at least $2 billion in assets, the website reported. The list, which includes pension systems in every state except Vermont, lists pension funds from fiscally weakest to strongest. The New York City Fire Department Pension Fund has plan assets of $13.27 billion and yearly payouts to beneficiaries of $1.31 billion. The numbers are based on 2018 data, the most recent year for available data, according to Wirepoints, a website that focuses on economic commentary and Illinois government research.
The Center Square

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