Editorial Roundup: New York

Plattsburg Press Republican. April 1, 2021.

Editorial: Be smart, patient a little longer

People may have their differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo these days, but they should at least be grateful he hasn’t removed the mandate requiring that masks be worn in public places.

The stories we’re all hearing about altercations over masks around the country are frightening and, frankly, utterly baffling. How can one human being act so dismissive and resentful of another’s desire – and, usually, right – to remain safe in the face of this deadly scourge?

Texas, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and Mississippi have removed their mask mandates, presumably favoring political expediency over scientific reality.

We should be grateful to live in a state that abides by the wisdom of scientific research.

Here, the law requires everyone over age 2 who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear one when in public if unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. A face covering is required at all times when riding public transportation, such as the subway, ferry, bus, taxis and car services.

Some people who have been fully vaccinated may feel that that releases them from the requirements of that law. Not so.

And almost as important as the law is the social obligation we should all feel toward one another. How would a person sharing a store aisle know the other person has had their shots? The person without the mask would naturally be imposing discomfort – if not disease – on anyone coming near.

And even the scientists have not yet said the shots are a guarantee you cannot pass the disease along to someone else. We know the chances are very good you won’t catch it, but we aren’t sure whether you can transfer it, even if showing no symptoms.

In some areas, people who resent the order to wear a mask have had shocking, violent, even fatal confrontations with workers in stores and other places who are trying to enforce the mask requirement.

People have been punched, stabbed or shot for telling shoppers they must wear a mask or not enter the establishment.

Therefore, some stores are not enforcing their rules beyond offering reminders to those who come in without a mask.

Some shoppers continue to refuse to accept that COVID-19 is a dreadful disease preying on the unmindful. They insist that the 500,000-plus Americans who have died are either a figment of an overreaching government’s imagination or an outright lie.

In any case, they so disdain a government trying to be protective of us all that they refuse to cooperate. In doing so, these people infuriate onlookers but don’t care.

As medical experts have said, those outliers are extending the crisis and the risk for the rest of us – imprisoning us in a state of terror that could be evaporating if we all just followed the rules a little longer.

Cases are on the rise again. Please don’t act as if we’ve won the war. Many battles have yet to be fought, and some of them aren’t getting much easier.

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Newsday. April 6, 2021.

Editorial: Recruiting an all-star cast

How’s this for an Opening Day pregame ceremony:

The players stand along the baselines. An enormous American flag drapes across the outfield. Mr. Met sits on the pitcher’s mound while a first responder who’s a season ticket-holder trots out, holding a T-shirt cannon decorated as an enormous syringe. In front of thousands of fans and many more watching on television, Mr. Met gets “vaccinated” against COVID-19, as players appearing on the jumbo screen encourage fans to do the same.

The New York Mets will hold their home opener Thursday, but unfortunately there are no such plans, so far.

As vaccination opened to all New Yorkers 16 and older Tuesday, and President Joe Biden announced that all adults nationwide will be eligible by April 19, a renewed and targeted effort to encourage vaccination must start. The best and fastest way to fill ballparks and hockey arenas, bring back concerts and Broadway shows and return to normal, is for most New Yorkers to take the vaccine as soon as possible.

Promoting that goal must be a team effort — from elected officials, actors, musicians and, yes, athletes. Their support could influence sports fans, concertgoers and others who need extra motivation to say “yes” to the vaccine.

The Mets and New York Islanders, among other teams, need to make a public push for their Long Island fans: “Let’s go, Pfizer.” Or, “It’s J & J for the win!”

To date, some Mets players have focused on “personal choice,” rather than promoting the shot. That reluctance isn’t helping the cause.

The Islanders also could step up their game. Coach Barry Trotz and general manager Lou Lamoriello have gotten the vaccine, and say they’ll encourage players to do so. But this is a team that has written jingles and hung banners advocating for a new building and a public referendum. It should do the same now.

More professional athletes and teams should follow the lead of Mets star Pete Alonso, who participated in a Major League Baseball pro-vaccine advertisement; former Yankees great Mariano Rivera, who said of the vaccine, “You shouldn’t be afraid”; and New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who with other team personnel was videoed getting the shot as part of a public service announcement.

If MLB can take a stand against Georgia’s new voting laws by moving its All-Star Game, every team and player can take a public position supporting COVID-19 vaccination. As incentive, MLB and the National Basketball Association offer looser protocols if 85% of team personnel take the vaccine.

These teams are welcoming back fans, who need to show proof of vaccination — or a negative test result — to see a game. The Mets, Islanders and Yankees are playing at vaccination sites. If they and other area pro teams want to play before sold-out crowds, vaccination is the answer.

It’s time to pull out every sports idiom. Play ball! Take the shot. And shout, “We Will, We Will, Vax You!”

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New York Daily News. April 7, 2021.

Editorial: Swelling budget books: Cuomo and the legislature gamble by taxing and spending at historically high levels

New York State lawmakers are passing a whopping $212 billion budget. Cross your fingers hard and hope the wealthy people taxed at tops-in-the-nation rates to foot the bill don’t head south, turning lots of the spending into unsustainable future obligations.

The budget, which imposes new rules on nursing homes, helps renters, ups school aid, creates a $2.1 billion fund for undocumented workers ineligible for federal COVID relief, and probably more, due to surface as watchdogs look in every nook and cranny, pays for it with new revenue streams from mobile sports betting — a tax on the poor — and $4.3 billion from higher income tax rates on millionaires and elevated corporate franchise taxes.

That hike is silly overkill, much more than needed to cover state expenses. Proponents argue the increases will support education aid costs in future years when federal aid runs dry. They say too that the roughly 50,000 millionaires impacted won’t feel much pain and won’t leave. The millionaires might not leave — economic evidence on tax flight is mixed — but it’s foolish to outright dare them not to for no great reason at a time when the state’s economic future is so tenuous.

But millionaires are only one piece of the puzzle.

Middle-income New Yorkers burdened by high taxes (which they can’t deduct against their federal liability) aren’t just departing in significant numbers for less onerous taxes when they head to Florida, Arizona, Tennessee or North Carolina. In those states, housing costs are drastically lower; child care and food and insurance are cheaper. A family of four in Austin will pay $20,000 less per year on average in not just taxes, but also housing expenses and costs for food and household necessities than they would if they lived in Albany.

Four out of every five dollars of New York’s income taxes are being paid by people earning more than $100,000 annually. We can’t afford for them to leave. Pray they stay.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. April 7, 2021.

Editorial: It’s time to talk about Gowanda Correctional Facility’s future

There is much about the closure of the Gowanda Correctional Facility that does not make sense.

That shouldn’t be surprising seeing New York state government is involved. Now that the last prisoners are out of the facility, though, now is the time to stop thinking about what New York state officials were thinking about when they chose to close the prison facility, but instead to focus on what comes next.

It’s a perceived feather in the cap of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to close prisons, and he will do so whenever possible. With that fact in mind, local officials had little chance of changing the state’s decision to close the Gowanda Correctional Facility. It was a fight that needed to be fought, but one that could not be won.

So, the effort must shift from sniping at the state to working with the state to find a new use for the building that adds to Gowanda’s tax base and brings jobs back to the village.

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Jamestown Post-Journal. April 6, 2021.

Editorial: County Vaccine Number Needs To Be Higher To Reach Herd Immunity

For the first few months they were available, COVID-19 vaccinations were the hottest ticket in Chautauqua County.

Clinics would be announced and fill up within minutes.

Is that trend reversing?

A clinic at Jamestown Community College announced late March 29 did not fill up quickly. In fact, almost 24 hours after the clinic was announced there were still hundreds of appointments still available. By Wednesday morning, the clinic was finally filled.

One would have thought the March 31 clinic would have filled even faster than previous clinics because the state has rapidly made more people eligible for the vaccine.

More than 37.5% of Chautauqua County adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That number will have to go much higher before Chautauqua County reaches herd immunity from COVID-19. It had been thought that Chautauqua County was struggling to get shots in people’s arms because there weren’t enough doses making their way to Chautauqua County.

We hope the story doesn’t become Chautauqua County is struggling to get shots in people’s arms because people don’t want the shots.

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