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Top Federal Prosecutor For Long Island Promoted To DOJ’s DC Office

Richard Donoghue (DOJ photo)

The U.S. attorney for Long Island is moving to high-ranking post at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, giving Attorney General William Barr a chance to put a fresh stamp on another of the nation’s top prosecutors’ offices.

Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York since January 2018, will become principal associate deputy attorney general, reporting to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, a spokesman said.

Donoghue will work closely with the more than 90 U.S. attorneys around the country. He announced his departure to staff earlier Thursday. No successor was named.

The Eastern District includes the counties of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk.

Donoghue’s move follows the June 20 ouster of Geoffrey Berman as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, covering Manhattan and several other counties.

Barr tapped Jay Clayton, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, to replace Berman. Audrey Strauss is serving as acting U.S. attorney while Clayton awaits possible confirmation.

Donoghue’s stature appeared to rise in January when Rosen tapped him to oversee and vet tips related to Ukraine in the wake of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, according to a memo released to Congress. Trump was acquitted.

Barr has said the vetting process was a means to scrutinize tips by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are handling the campaign finance cases against two associates of Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.

The Justice Department could not immediately be reached for comment. Donoghue was unavailable to comment.

Since taking office, Donoghue has overseen several high-profile prosecutions.

These have included a bank fraud and trade secret theft case against China’s Huawei Technologies Co and the convictions of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and accused Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere.

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8 States Added to Cuomo’s Quarantine Order

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

People arriving in New York from an additional eight states must quarantine themselves for 14 days amid the coronavirus pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered on Tuesday.

The eight additional states are California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee, all of which are contending with growing caseloads, Cuomo said in a statement.

The order, first issued last week, was already in place for Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas.

All the affected states have “growing community spread,” Cuomo said in a statement, which the state’s Health Department has defined as 10 or more people testing positive per 100,000 residents.

The order applies both to visitors and New Yorkers returning home from one of the listed states. Those found breaching the quarantine order could face fines, Cuomo has said.

Related Story: Tri-State Governors Order Quarantine of Visitors From Coronavirus Hot Spot States

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Tri-State Governors Order Quarantine of Visitors From Coronavirus Hot Spot States

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Jonathan Allen and Peter Szekely

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday ordered travelers from eight other U.S. states to be quarantined for two weeks on arrival, as COVID-19 infections surged in regions spared the brunt of the initial outbreak.

The unprecedented travel restrictions came as Disney announced it would delay the reopening of its theme parks, and Nevada’s governor signed a directive requiring face coverings in casinos and all other public places from Friday.

“We must make face coverings a routine part of our daily lives,” Governor Steve Sisolak said in announcing the order, citing a four-week upward trend in new Nevada cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“It’s a medical necessity, a human obligation and it’s good business,” Sisolak, a Democrat, added. The directive expands a requirement already in place for business owners and their employees to members of the public at large.

Earlier in the day, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the tough new tri-state quarantine mandate was “the smart thing to do” after the United States as a whole recorded its second-greatest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since early March.

“We have taken our people, the three of us from these three states, through hell and back, and the last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round,” Murphy said of the three Northeastern governors, all Democrats.

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said that he did not believe the quarantine applied to President Donald Trump, who just returned from a visit to Arizona and was scheduled to be in New Jersey this weekend.

“The president of the United States is not a civilian. Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press, are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative,” Deere said.

Concern over rising case numbers in several states was reflected in some of America’s biggest entertainment and leisure companies as well.

The Walt Disney Co. said in a statement that it would delay a planned July 17 reopening of its theme parks and resort hotels as it waits for guidelines from the state of California.

MGM Resorts International announced that all guests to its properties throughout the United States would be required to wear masks, as was already the case for employees.

Nevada was the latest of about a dozen states, including California and Washington state, to adopt face-covering rules.

New York City was the early epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. More than 31,000 people have died of COVID-19 in New York state alone, roughly one-quarter of the U.S. total, according to a Reuters tally. New Jersey and Connecticut were also especially hard hit at the outset of the health crisis.

The 14-day quarantine applies to visitors from mostly Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, as well as tri-state residents returning from those areas. The quarantine states are determined by a formula based on the number of new cases.

Those caught defying the quarantine rule face $1,000 fines for a first offense and $5,000 for repeat offenses, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

STATES SET NEW ALL-TIME HIGHS

While the United States appeared to have tamped down the outbreak in May, prompting many states to lift sweeping stay-at-home orders and business closures, testing suggests the virus has moved into rural areas and other places where it was initially less prevalent.

The pandemic may also be resurgent in U.S. states that opened earlier than others in an effort to blunt the devastating economic impact of coronavirus restrictions as unemployment rates shot up.

On Wednesday, three states reported record increases in new cases – Florida, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Earlier in the week, seven states had record highs – Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming.

The nationwide surge of nearly 36,000 new cases on Tuesday marked the highest since a record 36,426 new U.S. infections recorded on April 24.

At least four states are averaging double-digit rates of positive tests for the virus. By contrast, New York has been reporting positive test rates of around 1%.

While some of the increased numbers of cases can be attributed to more testing, the percentage of positive results is also climbing.

The average number of tests has risen 7.6% over the last seven days, according to The COVID Tracking Project, while the average number of new cases rose 30%.

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Trump Administration Aims To End Dreamers Immigration Program In Six Months

FILE PHOTO: Activists and DACA recipients march up Broadway during the start of their 'Walk to Stay Home,' a five-day 250-mile walk from New York to Washington D.C., to demand that Congress pass a Clean Dream Act, in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Trump administration is determined to end the Dreamers program that protects immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children within the next six months, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security said on Sunday.

The Trump administration views the programs as unlawful and the U.S. Supreme Court – which last week ruled against the Trump administration’s plan to end it – did not disagree, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

“At no point in that decision did they say that the program was lawful. They simply didn’t like the rationale and the procedures that we used,” Wolf said.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Trump’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy put in place by former President Barack Obama, which protects roughly 649,000 immigrants from deportation.

The decision upheld lower court decisions that found that Trump’s 2017 move to rescind the program was unlawful but does not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program.

Trump on Saturday said his administration would resubmit plans to end the policy but gave no details.

Wolf told CBS’s “Face the Nation” the administration would keep renewing visas for the people covered by the popular program while seeking a way to permanently end it.

Asked if Trump had ruled out ending the program through an executive order, Wolf said the administration would continue to press Congress to find a solution.

But he said the president had also directed DHS to look at carefully at the Supreme Court ruling and the possibility of refiling its proposal with a different rationale.

“I’m not going to get ahead in front of the president. He’s going to make that decision at the right time, but the department will be ready to make that call,” he said.

Related Story: Supreme Court Verdict A Win For Patchogue Woman Who Sued To Block Trump Bid To Nix DACA

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Favourite Tiz the Law Draws Eighth Post for Belmont Stakes

Jun 17, 2020; Elmont, New York, USA; Belmont Stakes favorite Tiz the Law runs on the main track during a morning workout at Belmont Park. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

By Amy Tennery

The Belmont Stakes’s 6-5 favourite Tiz the Law will break from the eighth post on Saturday, at the start of American horse racing’s prized Triple Crown.

Traditionally the third leg of the thoroughbred racing series, the Belmont will be the first Triple Crown race after the COVID-19 outbreak forced the postponement of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes to Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, respectively.

The race will be held without fans, in accordance with health and safety regulations, and with the distance shortened from 1-1/2 miles to 1-1/8.

Tiz the Law, a New York-bred colt, won his debut race by more than four lengths at Saratoga in August and won the Curlin Florida Derby in March.

“It could have been worse. I was hoping to get five to seven, something like that, we’ll take eight,” trainer Barclay Tagg told reporters.

Tagg previously trained Funny Cide, who won the Derby and Preakness but was denied the Triple Crown at Belmont in 2003.

“He does everything the way we ask him too, he seems to be very happy and content,” said Tagg.

Dr Post, a Todd Pletcher-trained horse widely considered the biggest challenge to Tiz the Law, will be in the ninth post position, while Tap It To Win is also expected to contend at 6-1 and will take first post position.

Max Player, one of the less experienced colts at 15-1 with just three career starts, won the Withers Stakes in February, and will break from the third position.

“I think Barclay and I were going to fight over number 5, 6 and 7,” said trainer Linda Rice. “He got the outside, I got the inside, but my horse is a closer, so I think that will work.”

Related Story: Belmont Stakes To Run June 20 Without Spectators

Related Story: Belmont Stakes History Runs Deeper Than Triple Crown

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Summer May Slow Coronavirus But Is Unlikely To Stop It

A man carrying a surfboard walks toward the water with a child at Long Beach on the first day that New York beaches were opened ahead of the Memorial Day weekend following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Long Island, New York, U.S., May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Kate Kelland, Manas Mishra and Christine Soares

The arrival of warmer weather in the Northern Hemisphere raises the question of whether summer could slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Here is what science says.

While warmer weather typically ends the annual flu season in temperate zones, climate alone has not stopped the COVID-19 pandemic from sweeping any part of the globe. In fact, outbreaks in hot and sunny Brazil and Egypt are growing.

Still, recent data about how sunlight, humidity and outdoor breezes affect the virus gives some reason for optimism that summer could slow the spread.

IS THE NEW CORONAVIRUS ‘SEASONAL’?

The virus has not been around long enough to be certain.

Respiratory infections like flu and the common cold follow seasonal patterns in temperate regions. Environmental conditions including cold weather, low indoor humidity, and spending more time indoors can all hasten the spread of an epidemic.

Real-world evidence about the effect of weather on the new virus is mixed. One study of 221 Chinese cities found that temperature, humidity and daylight did not affect speed of spread.

Two other studies did find an effect, including a look at new infections in 47 countries that linked higher temperatures to slower transmission in places like the Philippines, Australia and Brazil.

“The Northern hemisphere may see a decline in new COVID-19 cases during summer and a resurgence during winter,” concluded the authors of another study of 117 countries, which found that each 1-degree of latitude increase in distance from the Equator was associated with a 2.6% increase in cases.

The head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, cautioned: “We cannot rely on an expectation that the season or the temperature will be the answer to (the disease’s spread).”

WHY DO RESPIRATORY DISEASES SPREAD DIFFERENTLY IN SUMMER AND WINTER?

“The reason why cold weather is presumed to cause spreading of coughs, colds and flu is that cold air causes irritation in the nasal passages and airways, which makes us more susceptible to viral infection,” said Simon Clarke, an expert in cellular microbiology at Britain’s University of Reading.

Winter weather tends to inspire people to spend more time indoors, although air conditioning may also bring people back inside in the summer.

In the lab, when temperatures and humidity rise, coronavirus particles on surfaces more quickly lose their ability to infect people – and they are inactivated especially fast when exposed to sunlight, U.S. government researchers found.

It is still a good idea for people to wash hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear a mask in summer, experts say. While virus particles coughed or exhaled by an infected person will disperse faster outdoors, one study found a gentle breeze could carry saliva droplets up to 6 m (19.69 feet).

WHAT ELSE ABOUT SUMMER COULD SLOW THE VIRUS?

Vitamin D: Researchers are investigating whether levels of immunity-regulating vitamin D in people’s blood affect how vulnerable they are to infection with the new coronavirus or how sick they become. The majority of vitamin D in the body comes from skin exposure to sunlight.

Pollen: A study in the Netherlands of all “flu-like” illness, including COVID-19, in recent years concludes that pollen concentrations are a better predictor than sunlight of respiratory disease trends. Clouds of pollen act as air filters, snagging virus particles, and pollen activates immune responses, even in people without overt allergies.

The study found that flu-like illness started to drop when pollen in the air reached 610 grains per cubic metre, a typical level from early spring to October in most middle latitudes.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Christine Soares in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney)

Related Story: As Virus Advances, Doctors Rethink Rush To Ventilate

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NY Legislature Repeals Police Discipline Secrecy Law

NYPD
An NYPD Police Car in Times Square. (Photo by William Hoiles).

New York lawmakers voted on Tuesday to repeal a decades-old law that shields police officers’ disciplinary records from the public.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that he will sign the bill into law this week amid nationwide protests against police brutality.

The bill is part of a package of police reform measures advanced by the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate in Albany this week as protests gripped the nation following the death of George Floyd, a black man, as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

On Monday, the legislature voted to ban the use by police of chokeholds. The practice had come under intense condemnation when an African-American man, Eric Garner, died after a white New York City police officer used a chokehold on him during a 2014 arrest.

Advocates for police accountability have long been pushing for the repeal of the contentious section of New York‘s Civil Rights Law, 50-a, that prevented disclosure to the public of disciplinary records of police officers.

“The legislation that will be passed over the coming days will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated,” New York Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

New York police unions have called the legislation an attack on police.

“The message has been sent very clearly to police officers by our elected officials: We don’t like you,” Richard Wells, president of the statewide union the Police Conference of New York, told reporters. “We don’t respect you. We will not support you. We want you to go away.”

He said the repeal of 50-a would enable criminal defense attorneys to cite old complaints against an officer in court to undermine the officer’s testimony.

The New York City Council was also considering a bill to criminalize the use of chokeholds, which has widespread support among lawmakers but is opposed in its current form by the mayor.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

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As Home Working Takes Root, Are Suburbs Poised For Post-Virus Revival?

Spring is typically peak residential real estate sale season on Long Island. (Getty Images)

By Ellen Wulfhorst

New Jersey realtor Peter Engelmann says he got his first COVID-19 “exodus call” in early March from a New Yorker who ended up buying a three-bedroom suburban house.

With New York City’s coronavirus lockdown confining many residents to tiny apartments for nearly three months, experts think post-pandemic life could see a wave of migration to roomier homes in the suburbs.

“They want open space, they want to be able to barbecue. They want to get out and stretch their legs and not be worried they’re going to be contaminated,” Engelmann told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

He has noticed a surge in interest in his sales patch, an area of rolling hills dotted with small towns about 40 miles (65 km) west of Manhattan.

“I’m on fire. This could possibly be my best year,” he said.

Ultimately, however, property analysts say a suburban renaissance depends on how many companies allow their staff to keep working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

“If employers a year out say it was an interesting experiment but we benefit from people being eyeball to eyeball because we want the collaboration, then I think you’re going to start to see this swing the other way,” said Jeffrey Otteau, a real estate analyst in the New York City area.

“But if employers decide to retain this flexibility over the longer term … we’re going to see continued urban flight and renewed economic growth in suburban places.”

‘GET OUT OF THE CITY’

A recent nationwide Harris poll showed almost 40% of urban dwellers would consider moving to less populated areas, and a slightly higher number said they had been browsing online for properties.

Two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey by Zillow, an online real estate site, said they would consider moving if they had the flexibility to work from home.

“Everyone seems to be talking about wanting to get out of the city,” said Debra Ross, another suburban New Jersey real estate agent.

“I don’t believe we’ve all seen this crazy surge yet, but I think everyone’s anticipating it will happen.”

Two-thirds of Americans have worked remotely since the coronavirus crisis peaked in March, according to a Gallup Panel poll, although other research has shown that only about a third of U.S. jobs could be done entirely from home.

New York state is the U.S. region hardest-hit by COVID-19, accounting for about 24,000 of the country’s nearly 104,000 deaths, mostly in and near New York City.

Most Americans now working from home have said they want to keep doing so, according to a survey conducted in April by staffing specialists Robert Half International.

Companies including Twitter have said already that some of their employees will be able to work from home indefinitely.

Facebook has said that within a decade as many as half of its more than 48,000 staff members would work remotely.

GREENER REGIONS

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, many New York City residents and companies relocated to suburban areas.

But the trend was reversed after the 2008 recession, when massive government funds were used to bolster Wall Street firms, bringing new jobs to the city.

For now, people who want to leave the city for greener regions are hampered by persistent lockdown restrictions, said Sylvia Ehrlich, head of The Intrepid New Yorker relocation consultancy.

U.S. home sales logged their biggest drop in nearly 10 years in April as the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the labor market and broader economy, plunging almost 18%.

“There’s a pent-up group of people from the city that are looking to buy outside the city and they can’t,” Ehrlich said.

“I’ve heard a lot of young couples say the city’s lost its spark.” she said. “If it doesn’t have that energy, that excitement, they’re saying ‘why am I paying this premium?'”

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Helen Popper, with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly.)

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A Pandemic Nurse’s Love Letter to NY

Traveling nurse Meghan Lindsey poses inside the lobby of NYU Winthrop Hospital, where she traveled to work during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mineola, New York, U.S., May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Shannon Stapleton and Clare Baldwin

The coronavirus pandemic has restricted almost everyone’s freedoms in America but for Meghan Lindsey it has done the opposite. This is the freest she has ever felt.

Traveling to New York City at age 33 to work as a COVID-19 nurse was the first time that Meghan, a married mother of two, had ever left southwest Missouri.

“It was my first time on a plane,” she said, describing how she came to work 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. “Flying into New York was the first time I’d ever seen the ocean.”

There are many stories about the lonely coronavirus deaths in the city’s hospitals and the traumatic work of the nurses who staff them.

Meghan’s story is about unexpected opportunities. It’s a story of how the pandemic gave a woman the chance to strike out into the world, confront danger and make a difference, and how her husband stayed home to care for their daughters. It’s a story about new beginnings.

“I always wanted to do something for my country,” said Meghan. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something meaningful.”

Meghan’s first nursing shifts in New York were a shock.

There are a lot of sick people in Missouri with chronic diseases like diabetes, where the progressions are slow and the declines are familiar.

COVID-19 patients are stunned by a virus that turns their lives upside down and in many cases ends them.

“One of my patients had her toes done up all nice and pretty and still had her jewelry on,” said Meghan.

Because they were coronavirus patients and visitors were banned, it was Meghan who would hold their hands as they died.

“Once you FaceTime and you meet their family and you hear them crying and sobbing, you know their cute little nicknames and you start to know them, it just gets to be really personal,” said Meghan. “You have a hard time separating yourself and not truly grieving for them as well.”

Despite all of the death, Meghan’s time in New York City’s COVID-19 wards was unexpectedly affirming. The pandemic gave Meghan something that her life in Missouri so far had not: a feeling of everything sliding into place.

When Meghan graduated from nursing school, it wasn’t like she imagined. It turned out to be just a job. She mourned.

“Now for once, it’s actually something important,” said Meghan. “This is the first time since I’ve become a nurse that it’s like, ‘yes, this is why.’ I can make a difference, and I can help, and I am strong enough for this.”

Her kids, she said, are proud. “They know that what I’m doing is hard and that I put my life in danger.”

Meghan is from a small town in Missouri. Most Sundays, she goes to church. Her mom was a manager at Walmart and her dad worked construction. Before he lost his job to the pandemic, her husband Aaron sold fire suppression systems to small businesses.

Meghan is the first in her family to finish college and has long held her family together. As thrilling as it was to be in New York, it was also hard.

Meghan often wondered if she should come home. Her husband Aaron told her no. He and the girls were fine, what she was doing mattered and he was proud of her. He sometimes called her superwoman.

“If he wasn’t such a good dad and there for my children, I could never do this,” said Meghan. He deserves credit too, she said, “but I guess you could say the limelight’s on me.”

Being a COVID-19 travel nurse isn’t glamorous. Meghan had to wear protective gear during her shifts and there was a lengthy decontamination process when she got home each night. She lived in a hotel room with another nurse and had to find a laundromat every few days to wash her scrubs.

But sometimes it did feel like a grand adventure. She saw the Statue of Liberty. She heard someone speaking Russian. She learned how to fold a slice of pizza.

Restaurants sometimes gave her and her friends free food “because we’re nurses,” she said with a bit of awe. She took selfie after selfie standing in the middle of empty New York City streets and no cabbies honked at her.

Her husband Aaron said he was sometimes a little jealous (it’s New York), occasionally worried (again, New York), but mostly he was just really proud.

“Meghan hasn’t been out there in the world,” he said. She nailed it.

Now, at the end of her contract, Meghan is unsure of what the future holds.

She is back in a small town in the Midwest. She no longer has a job and she is coming off the biggest high of her life. She sometimes asks herself, will I have the desire to go back to this life?

Something about New York stood out to her: people there had aspirations to make something of themselves.

(Reporting by Shannon Stapleton and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker)

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Cuomo Meets With Trump To Talk Infrastructure

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Doina Chiacu

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met President Donald Trump on Wednesday to press for investment in the nation’s roads, bridges and railways as U.S. states begin to reopen after the coronavirus outbreak left the economy in tatters.

Cuomo’s visit to Washington comes as his hard-hit state begins to see drops in rates of hospitalizations and deaths, while other states relax lockdowns and partygoers flout precautions aimed at curtailing the novel coronavirus.

Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases for the week ended Sunday as the death toll nears 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis. Florida reported a nearly 6% increase, while New York registered a double-digit decline.

Cuomo, a Democrat whose state has been the worst hit by the outbreak, arrived for the meeting at the White House wearing a blue surgical mask. Trump has declined to wear a mask in public even though his own health experts have recommended it.

Businesses across the country are opening doors after shuttering in mid-March as states and local governments took drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, almost bringing the country to a halt. The economy contracted at its steepest pace since the Great Recession in the first quarter and lost at least 21.4 million jobs in March and April.

With a focus on infrastructure as a way to revive the economy, Cuomo, a Democrat, will touch on a topic close to Trump. The Republican president has long embraced the idea of updating the country’s infrastructure.

Cuomo, who has sparred with Trump over the federal government’s pandemic response, wants to revive the economy by undertaking major transport and other projects. He told reporters on Tuesday he would discuss a federal role in investments to modernize the nation’s bridges, roads and rail systems.

“This is one of the things I want to talk to the president about. … You want to reopen the economy. Let’s do something creative, let’s do it fast, let’s put Americans back to work,” Cuomo said.

Trump has said he believed infrastructure spending could help the economy recover from the pandemic, embracing a massive $2 trillion plan at the end of March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month said that legislation was separate from coronavirus spending and would have to wait.

States have sought more help from the federal government to get through the crisis. Democrats who control the House of Representatives passed legislation on May 15 that would provide nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments, but the bill was rejected by Trump and the Senate’s Republican leaders.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Americans flocked to beaches and lakes in large groups even as U.S. health experts warned that reopening too quickly could trigger outbreaks of COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN on Wednesday the weekend scenes of unmasked revelers gathering in large groups were disturbing.

He said a second wave of infections was not inevitable if people adhered to recommendations to minimize exposure to the virus.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Andrea Ricci and Jonathan Oatis)

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