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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

COVID-19 Short Takes #3 for Progressive Charlestown readers

Weathering the viral storm in Southern Rhode Island
By Will Collette

Image result for donald trump PeepsIt will all be over by Easter, says our Dear Leader. 

Who cares what Tony Fauci or any other health nerd says. By April 12, everything will be back to normal. MAGA! 

So sit back and relax, and throw a few more Peeps® on the fire while watching Trump’s daily Dr. Demento show.

Here’s some local items that I thought might interest Progressive Charlestown readers.

We’re #2

Rhode Island lost its “most aggressive state” status for dealing with COVID-19 in WalletHub’s survey. We are now in second place. Our top ranking was lost to California which jumped 22 spots to take first.

In my opinion, that’s not bad news.

California ranking went up as its coronavirus cases went up. California Governor Gavin Newsome imposed aggressive containment measures (which seem to be having an effect). Gina Raimondo has also done a pretty good job at flattening the curve in Rhode Island. Because our numbers are nowhere near California’s, she has not felt the need to impose the aggressive measures we now see in California, New York and other states.

The Providence Journal reports that Rhode Island ranks 11th per capita in coronavirus cases.

Given the appalling behavior of the Trump Administration in this crisis, it’s all the more important for state governors and municipal governments to step up to try to fill the void.

I just wonder if Trump’s kind of leadership is what the 1906 Charlestown residents (most prominently Jim Mageau) really wanted. Care to respond?

Jobs: good news, bad news

CVS wants to hire 50,000 more workers to be able to keep its stores open to meet public health needs. They are hoping to pick up workers laid off from the hospitality industry. CLICK HERE for info on CVS jobs. Other essential retailers have been giving workers raises, “combat bonuses” and other incentives to stay on the job (examples: Stop & Shop, BJs).

Stop and Shop says it’s keeping nearing all essentials on the shelves. I’ve heard mixed reports on how successful they have been on keeping up with panic demand.

I hope we all remember how important a role these workers have played in helping us in this crisis – at their own personal risk. It sure makes worker demands for a $15 an hour minimum wage sound a very reasonable.

Our neighbors take steps

Several nearby coastal towns are taking measures to slow down the spread of the virus. As I reported in the last Short Takes, many of our summer people are returning early, presumably to escape the virus. 

After news reports of increased cases on Long Island after an influx of COVID refugees from New York City, Rhode Island towns including Westerly, Narragansett, Block Island, Newport and Middletown are calling on early summer arrivals to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Today (March 25), Charlestown issued its directive to out of state travelers and seasonal residents to self-quarantine for two weeks. 

Governor Raimondo says she is not yet at the point of closing Rhode Island’s borders but says she supports these town restrictions. She has, however, directed that all new arrivals coming in by air self-quarantine.

Also, Narragansett has decided to close town parks to further promote social distancing. Ruth Platner, de facto leader of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) has been actively pushing Charlestown residents to get out and use ours.

Congressional deal on COVID-19 relief is good news for the unemployed

As of this writing, there is a final deal in Congress to pass a $2 TRILLION relief package to address the effects of the pandemic. Democrats held out, demanding cuts to corporate welfare and increased benefits for the unemployed. And that is what they won in the final package.

Many workers, especially those in the “gig economy,” have been excluded from unemployment benefits. The new bill creates a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to cover those who are self-employed or contract workers. General UI benefits are expected to increase both in terms of cash and time.

As of this writing, the Senate has not taken its final vote needed before the bill can be sent to Trump to be signed – or vetoed. You never know from day to day what Trump is going to do.

RI tax filing pushed back to July 15 BUT state running out of cash

In my last COVID-19 Short Takes, I noted the federal income tax filing date has been pushed back to July 15, but Rhode Island was still holding to the usual deadline. That has changed. Now Rhode Island too has moved the filing deadline to July 15.

But the crash in state revenues has led to a cash crunch for the state. With a dramatic drop in sales tax revenue, no money coming in from the closed casinos and now a delay in state income tax payments, we’re running out of money. 

State Treasurer Seth Magaziner has been juggling accounts to make sure state checks don’t bounce while General Assembly leaders are working on authorizing more state borrowing.

Pollen is back

At a time when we're getting a bit paranoid about coughing, sneezing and wheezing, pollen is back. According to, we're looking at high readings tomorrow and Saturday from trees (maple, elm and juniper). As I write this, I can see trees on our land that are budding.

FBI says hate groups want to spread COVID-19 to Jews, police.

Image result for hate groups
Photo from the Anti-Defamation League
The FBI’s New York office has put out an alert that neo-Nazi hate groups have been encouraging members to try to spread COVID-19 to cops and to Jews. 

According to the alert, coronavirus-positive members are told to put their bodily fluids in spray bottles to use on police and to go to areas where Jews congregate (synagogues, markets, businesses, campaign offices) and spread the virus as much as they can.

Well, this could just be total bullshit, but it DID catch FBI attention.

There is one main Rhode Island hate group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and that’s the Patriot Front. Here’s a recent article about their activities in Rhode Island – CLICK HERE. When our local goose-steppers hold public events, their numbers are often supplemented by out of state yahoos. And maybe they'll give coronavirus to each other.

Speaking of hate

I noted in the last Short Takes that you should distain the Trump attempt to focus blame for the coronavirus pandemic on China and the Chinese. He’s now got other Republicans doing it. The result has been an uptick in hate incidents against Chinese people. Stop it! Just stop it.

The Census

Census-2020.jpgAs you finish your last crossword puzzle, here’s something to while away a little time while we count down to Easter: fill out your Census form.

Two weeks ago, every address was sent an official notice from the US Census Bureau encouraging you to file your legally mandated census return on-line. The deadline on the form was April 1, though I’m sure that deadline like so much else has slipped.

I did ours on-line. It only only a few minutes. CLICK HERE for the Census on-line.

The Census is a really big deal for Rhode Island. On the line is whether or not our population will be high enough so we can continue to have two seats in the US House of Representatives. We need to make sure every single man, woman and child, whether a citizen or not, legal or not, is counted.

An undercount will surely cost us a Congressional seat and that will also mean we lose a vote in the Electoral College where both Donald Trump and George W. Bush won election despite losing the popular vote. An undercount will also cost us dearly in federal funding.

The worst news of all

Image result for dead Peeps
Because this item is so deeply shocking, I decided to put it at the very end and to warn readers that this content may not be suitable for all.

Just Born, the manufacturer of Peeps®, has announced that it is shutting down production as of today, March 25. COVID-19.

I never realized Peeps can catch the virus.

According to the company’s news release there will be no further shipments of Peeps® to retailers for the Easter holiday.

So, add Peeps® to your Panic Buying list because they are about to become as rare as toilet paper.