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New York's daily death toll falls under 100; gatherings allowed
May 24. 2020
Customers wearing protective masks stand on line outside a Nathan's Famous Inc. restaurant on the Coney Island boardwalk in the Brooklyn borough of New York on May 22, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Jeenah Moon.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Ian Fisher · NATIONAL, HEALTH
New deaths in New York from covid-19 dropped below 100 for the first time since just after the state went under lockdown, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday, calling it "a sign that we are making real progress."
The state had 84 new fatalities.
"What we're doing is working," Cuomo said, almost three months after the state's first coronavirus case was diagnosed on March 1.
At the start of Memorial Day weekend, the governor spoke largely of progress. Friday night he issued an unexpected order allowing groups of up to 10 people to gather anywhere in the state, as long as they maintained social distancing guidelines.
Cuomo said that Long Island, hard hit by the virus, could begin reopening as early as next week, as could the seven-county mid-Hudson region. He gave no projection for New York City, which is the final area of the state without an indicated opening date. The city remains under official lockdown until at least May 28.
The state's daily death toll had been stuck in the 100s for 12 days, and the drop below 100 was first time since March 24. Cuomo announced New York would go "on pause" on March 20, effectively shutting down the entire state.
"Eighty-four is still a tragedy, no doubt, but the fact that it's down as low as it is really is overall good news," Cuomo told reporters in Albany.
The peak of the crisis hit at 799 deaths in one day in mid-April. The official death count was 23,195 on Friday.
New York reported 1,772 new virus cases on Saturday, for a state total of 359,926. Cuomo said that total and new hospitalizations continued to drop, as did admissions to intensive care.
Cuomo didn't explain in detail his decision to allow gatherings of up to 10 people anywhere in the state, New York City included. He said he wasn't aware of a lawsuit filed Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union objecting to the governor's earlier order that allowed gatherings up to that size only for religious services and Memorial Day commemorations.
"It depends on how people act," Cuomo said. "You can have a safe gathering of 10 people. You can also have a wholly unsafe gathering of 10 people."
After two months of lockdowns, regional leaders face a major test this Memorial Day weekend, as crowds flock to beaches and parks and gather for holiday celebrations. New York City's beaches remained closed.
Rain probably deterred many from traveling to Long Island or New Jersey on Saturday, an influx that local officials have feared. Sunday's weather forecast looks less wet, and temperatures will warm somewhat by Monday.
Thailand plans fruit festival in eight Chinese cities
May 23. 2020
By THE NATION
A Thailand Fruit Golden Months Festival will be organised in eight cities in China as local governments have started easing lockdown measures.
Department of International Trade Promotion director-general Somdet Susomboon said on Saturday (May 23) that the festival will promote Thai fruits.
“The campaign aims to increase the export of durian, mangosteen, longan, coconut, mango, rose apple, pomelo and banana,” he said. “China will host the festival from May to July in Shanghai, Qingdao, Nanning, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Xiamen and Kunming.
“The festival will be hosted in both offline and online channels. For offline activities, sales booths will be set up at leading department stores in each city such as Hisense Plaza, Leader, Ole, Yuehui Plaza, Carrefour, Lotus and Parkson,” added Somdet. “As for online activities, the department and the local authority will jointly host the online business matching from May onwards to invite Chinese retailers to order Thai fruits online to sell in their stores as well as hold promotional campaigns with Chinese mobile applications such as Geso and Hema to increase sales.
“The department will also promote Thai fruits in other markets, such as Singapore, Myanmar and Laos in a similar manner once the local governments ease lockdown measures,” he added.
Covid plus lack of democracy ‘spells disaster’ for Thailand
May 22. 2020
By The Nation
Serious financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 crisis threatens to fuel further political conflict and instability in Thailand, an expert said today (May 22).
Speaking on the anniversary of the 2014 coup, Assist Prof Anusorn Tamajai, president of Associate for Democratic Constitution, said there had been no concrete evidence of reforms in the country over the past six years.
The 2014 coup-makers led by then-Army chief Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed to implement changes that would halt corruption and heal the political divide.
Prof Anusorn, who is also a pro-democracy campaigner, said the government should use the current crisis to reform the nation and restore harmony as the 2017 Constitution has no clear context or mechanism to shape Thailand into a developed democratic country.
He said the Constitution is meant to be an institution that brings harmony, fraternity and peace to society.
The Covid-19 crisis had laid bare the huge social gap that exists in Thailand, he added. The lockdown has revealed deep problems with household debts, lack of savings and social insecurity, which the semi-democratic system spawned by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) had done nothing to solve.
Weaknesses in the economy were being gradually revealed by the Finance Ministry, said Prof Anusorn, while the loss of 8-10 million jobs in the virus crisis was creating more risks.
After the state of emergency was lifted, the government would likely face political pressure from both the coalition parties and the opposition as there would not be enough budget to solve all the problems.
The government should give more weight to the decisions made in Parliament since the House of Representatives was elected by the people to represent their interests, he said.
Tension between coalition parties over a rumoured upcoming Cabinet reshuffle during the crisis could see ministers grab big chunks of the national budget, meaning the government must be on guard against corruption.
Anusorn said that despite strong management of the virus crisis thanks to public cooperation and the well-planned public health structure, economic hardship could drive society into another phase of instability.
The spirit of generosity in the “society of service” created by the public and the private sectors would not be enough to cope with massive level of unemployment, he said, adding the government must instead institute a welfare state.
To solve the crisis, all sides – government and opposition, progressives and conservatives, authoritarian and pro-democracy – must put the people’s suffering first and stop using their hardship as a tool to gain political power, said Anusorn.
The stability Thailand needs cannot be delivered by government, but only by full cooperation across the political spectrum, so that the emergency decree is used to curb the contagion rather than basic rights.
The government also needs to study the consequences of lockdown measures in other countries to find a compromise with citizens, he added, and employ people who are knowledgeable, capable, honest and diligent to govern.
Governance should also be more open to opinions from opposition voices on resolving the economic crisis, while authorities should not seek to centralise power via a coup or other means as this would add a political crisis to the list of national difficulties and lead to national catastrophe.
Anusorn also urged the government to launch reforms guided by the participatory and democratic spirit of the 1997 “People’s Constitution”.
The election law in the 2017 Constitution of 2017 must be amended so that the National Assembly can formulate a Constitution for national reformation and a Constitution Drafting Assembly can be established, he said.
Then the House of Representatives should be dissolved and a new election held so that the Constitution Drafting Assembly can write a new charter and put it to a public a referendum in the same period, so as to save on national budget.
The new Constitution would represent the mutual interest of all citizens, enabling Thailand to develop into a democratic developed nation where quality of life and the rule of law could grow strong, he said.
Sunday, March 24, 2020