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Doctors at John Muir Medical Center near San Francisco, California, say they’ve seen more deaths by suicide in the last month than deaths from coronavirus, according to a local ABC affiliate — suicides they say are the direct result of the state’s shelter-in-place order.

“Personally I think it’s time,” Dr. Mike deBoisblanc, the emergency department head at Jon Muir, told ABC News Bay Area. “I think, originally, [the shelter-in-place order] was put in place to flatten the curve and to make sure hospitals have the resources to take care of COVID patients.We have the current resources to do that and our other community health is suffering.”

He went on to say that the hospital has seen a “year’s worth of suicide attempts” over the course of the last month, as businesses fail, jobs are lost, people become isolated, and access to mental health services is made more difficult by the California lockdown.

“We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” he said. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”

Other hospital officials at John Muir say suicide attempts, made over the past month, were also more likely to end in death, not recovery.

“What I have seen recently, I have never seen before,”one trauma nurse added. “I have never seen so much intentional injury.”

“They intend to die,” she added. “Sometimes, people will make what we call a ‘gesture.’ It’s a cry for help. We’re just seeing something a little different than that right now. It’s upsetting.””

The hospital itself said in a statement that it is largely supportive of the state’s lockdown, which ends on May 31. And, it says, the shelter-in-place order has saved many lives from coronavirus and prevented state hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. But, officials point out, there are downsides and costs to such policies.

The executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, Tom Tamura, does say that individuals prone to suicide attempts during the lockdown have been very receptive to mental health resources — perhaps more so than patients that typically contact the hotline in times of crisis.

“Generally speaking the vast majority of people say they feel better after they call and get the resources they need,” Tamura told the Daily Mail. “With help comes hope. I think that there are people and organizations out there that you can contact that can get you the information you need and resources you need to get you through this tough time.”

“I think people have found themselves disconnected from the normal supportive networks that they have, churches and schools and book clubs, you name it,” Tamura added, getting to the root of the problem. “And that, coupled with the closure of some counseling services, people were maybe in a little bit of shock. They were trying to weather the storm a bit but as that isolation has grown people have come to realize this isn’t a sprint it is marathon.”

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: California Doctors Saw ‘A Year’s Worth Of Suicides’ Last Month Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Former Vice President and presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate soon, and competition for the slot is heating up, particularly among female former contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is still in the running, according to behind-the-scenes reports, and she’s made major shifts in her policy agenda since concluding her presidential campaign. Last week, she officially abandoned her support for a socialist, “Medicare for All” health care plan — something she and Biden had tangled over in early Democratic debates.

Speaking to the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, Warren said she is now more inclined to revising the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” than overhauling the American health care system into a fully single-payer operation, according to Politico.

“I think right now people want to see improvements in our health care system, and that means strengthening the Affordable Care Act,” she told students in a virtual lecture.

That’s a major pivot for the Massachusetts senator, who once made “Medicare for All” a hallmark of her presidential platform — a hallmark so important to her that she accused Biden of “running in the wrong presidential primary” when he refused to admit a “Medicare for All”-style overhaul was necessary to fix the ailing American healthcare system.

In a later interview, Warren said she “wasn’t sure” where Biden was “going” when he asked her whether Medicare for All would require an across-the-board tax hike, including on middle class families.

Biden, for his part, is a strong defender of Obamacare, something he considers to be a major Obama administration achievement. When confronting Warren over his and former President Obama’s health care policy, he called her approach to replacing Obamacare, “angry,” “elitist,” “condescending” per Politico.

Now, Warren is trying to smooth over the divide, likely because Biden is about to select a running mate, and she’s still technically available.

“Warren’s policy-centered, team-player pitch is counting on Biden caring more about Jan. 20 than Nov. 3, when he makes his vice presidential pick,” the outlet reported Thursday. “In other words, that the current crisis has elevated governing concerns above political ones — and that the times call for someone with her policy chops and, yes, plans.”

She’s also issued a number of policy outlines, including a full coronavirus response document, and she’s said to be working closely with Biden’s own policy teams on his presidential platform.

She is up against stiff competition, however. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is also angling for the job, as is Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who proudly announced, earlier this week, that she’d begun preliminary conversations with Biden over the Veep slot. Georgia’s Democratic minority leader Stacey Abrams and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are also said to still be in the running.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: Elizabeth Warren Reverses On Medicare For All As Veep Race Heats Up

Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has signed on to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, leaving many of his supporters without a leader and his operation struggling to figure out what’s next, progressives are “in despair” and in political trouble, per a Politico report Monday.

Sanders promised that the Democratic “Establishment” would not stand in the way of a progressive — even socialist — agenda, but “not only did the ‘establishment’ stop Sanders,” Politico says, “it stamped out the candidacies of a string of left-wing insurgents, leaving the progressive movement reeling and in a state of despair.”

“Three highly-touted liberal House candidates — Jessica Cisneros in Texas, Robert Emmons in Illinois, and Morgan Harper in Ohio — lost their primary races against more moderate members of Congress,” the outlet continues. “The movement has also had limited influence on the proposals House Democrats have put forward to address the coronavirus, with leadership rejecting its most ambitious ideas.”

The most visible progressive leigislators — the “squad” — are notably vulnerable. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is facing a primary challenge from a more “moderate” Democrat with ties to her constituents in the Bronx, who are notoriously concerned that Ocasio-Cortez has spent the last two years raising her national profile rather than addressing local concerns. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is under heavy scrutiny for a series of potential campaign finance and personnel issues.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) is facing a primary challenge from Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, who narrowly lost to Tlaib in 2018. Jones was appointed to represent Michigan’s 13th district after former Rep. John Conyers resigned in 2017, but faced questions of whether she could serve in Congress and lead Detroit at the same time, making her run for the seat in 2018 controversial. She faced a 6-way primary that included Tlaib, and lost the seat to Tlaib by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Jones declared her intent to run against Tlaib back in late April, triggering progressive panic.

Elsewhere, progressive Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) is likely to lose to Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), the more “moderate” option, and the one “progressive” win — Marie Newman, who defeated Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois — is being credited to mainstream Democrat groups, not Democratic socialists.

Worse still is Sanders’ former operation, according to a different report from Politico. Sanders staffers are now in separate camps, operating a handful of different PACs, and rarely communicating or sharing information. Organizing networks are “on the verge of falling apart.” Sanders’ PAC from 2016, “Our Revolution,” has been all but winless.

There are “no networks” or master lists of progressive volunteers or donors to help upstart campaigns; the Senator’s lists have all been migrated over to the Biden campaign, leaving progressives empty handed.

Sanders has been quiet since endorsing Biden several weeks ago, though some of his supporters, including Ocasio-Cortez are now on Biden policy teams. Sanders, instead, has been laying low. Over the weekend, he told media that his supporters will back Biden but that he intends to do legwork on the issue — and there seems to be plenty to do.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: ‘Squad’ Doomed? Progressives Face String Of Losses, Supporters in ‘Disarray’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) doesn’t just intend to face off with Republicans on the floor of Congress. Her affiliated super PAC, the House Majority PAC, is looking to launch an all-out assault on President Donald Trump in the fall, according to Politico.

House Majority PAC has allocated a whopping $18 million in “broadcast, cable and radio ads and is spread across 20 markets,” concentrating its influence in New York and Los Angeles markets, which encompass large swaths of both New York state and California — two areas where Democrats are running into a surprising amount of trouble, particularly in House races.

“House Majority PAC is committed to ensuring we have the resources we need to protect and expand the Democratic majority across the map, from rural areas to America’s largest cities,” the group’s executive director told Politico.

“The largest buys include $3.1 million in the New York City market, where Democrats will need to defend Reps. Antonio Delgado and Max Rose,” Politico added, “and $3.25 million in the Los Angeles market, which covers seats held by Democratic Reps. Harley Rouda, Gil Cisneros, and Katie Porter, and the seat vacated by former Rep. Katie Hill that will be filled this week in a hotly contested special election.”

Overall, the House Majority PAC is expected to spend more than $50 million in the runup to the November elections. And by starting early, Pelosi and the HMP circumvent the risks associated with waiting until former Vice President Joe Biden launches his own campaign.

The spend provides some insight into Pelosi’s strategy and Democrats’ chances of keeping the House. So far, the Democrats say they’re aiming to control both the House and Senate, though the latter is a long shot. Whether Pelosi remains Speaker hinges largely on Biden, who will lead the ticket, and whomever he chooses for his own running mate.

Right now, Biden is running ahead in most major polls nationally, but that lead has started to shrink in recent weeks, as Biden has faded from headlines. Last week, Biden’s national average lead declined from seven points to just three points — within the margin of error in most major polls — potentially because of problematic headlines, investigating whether Biden sexually assaulted a former staffer named Tara Reade, who worked in his offices in the mid-1990s.

The concern among Democrats seems to be whether Biden can maintain his lead when the 2020 presidential campaign begins in earnest. At this point, President Donald Trump is dominating the media landscape and Biden, forced to “social distance” because of the coronavirus, can only hold livestream events and Zoom fundraisers — no in-person appearances. That means most of the fluctuation in support happens on Trump’s end, with Biden reaping the rewards.

When Biden surfaces for the debates, the landscape changes, particularly with debates.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: Pelosi-Affiliated PAC Goes All In On 2020, Will Spend $18 Million On Anti-Trump Ads

House Democrats, lead by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are “forging ahead” with plans for a fourth coronavirus relief package, even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will not entertain any spending bills until they can be sure the multi-trillion handouts won’t topple the precarious American economy.

The CARES Act 4, as it’s being called, definitely seems as if it will run afoul of McConnell’s requirements.

Politico reports that Democrats have decided to “go it alone” on the package, drafting the measure without Republican input and without Republican consent, even though House Democrats have yet to officially return from April recess. Pelosi and House majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have called time on Democrats’ return, they say, over fears that the mostly elderly caucus would be at risk for contracting and spreading the coronavirus.

While they’re working from home, though, key Democratic legislators are to compile “wish lists” and submit them to Pelosi who, Politico says, will compile them into a final document to be presented with Congress finally reconvenes.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her chairmen to submit their drafts for ‘CARES 2’ before the close of business yesterday, with the goal of releasing a sweeping proposal by Friday that could be ready for a floor vote as soon as next week,” the outlet noted.

And Pelosi doesn’t want small asks: “‘Think big,’ Pelosi instructed lawmakers on a Democratic caucus call.’”

McConnell is poised to refuse to bring a massive spending bill to the floor, but Pelosi seems to believe that, if Democrats compile a “policy wishlist,” they can use the bloated draft to negotiate down to a suitable bill. For her part, she’s reportedly including items from her March “CARES Act 3” proposal, which sidelined that relief bill for days as Senate Republicans and Democrats, who’d previously agreed on a relief package, argued over Pelosi’s minutae.

Included there, and potentially in the CARES 4 bill, was a bailout of the United States Post Office, and major handouts to state and local governments. The latter, at least, is expected to be a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in the next round of negotiations, particularly as states like Illinois seek bailouts for financial troubles that long predate coronavirus lockdowns.

McConnell has already said he’d favor allowing states to declare bankruptcy before he’d allow taxpayer money, designed to help states and municipalities handle coronavirus-specific issues, to go to pay off unfunded pension liabilities and budget shortfalls.

Republicans, meanwhile, told Politico that any new relief package must include liability restrictions — something Democrats say they won’t support — and a payroll tax cut, which neither party wanted included in previous relief packages. The White House has been the main proponent of the payroll tax cut, which they say would help businesses, shut down by coronavirus lockdowns, make a quicker return to profitability.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: ‘Think Big’: Pelosi Demands Coronavirus Relief Wish Lists From Dems, Will Forge Ahead On Bill Without Republican Input

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson attacked Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization operating an “overflow” hospital for coronavirus patients who do not need intensive care, calling the group “bigoted” because it believes in the traditional definition of marriage, and demanding that the group be booted from New York City now that the coronavirus pandemic seems to be slowing.

Samaritan’s Purse set up a field hospital in Central Park last month, pledging to assist New York hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. The 60-bed assistance center, The Daily Wire reported at the time, was designed to provide care to those individuals who did not need ventilators or to spend time in respiratory ICUs.

LGBT activists and progressive New Yorkers immediately raised an alarm and demanded to know whether Samaritan’s Purse, which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, would turn away openly gay patients. NYC blog Gothamist worried that there were “growing fears that some New Yorkers could face discrimination and substandard care from the religious organization.”

The furor became so aggressive that NYC mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to keep an eye on Samaritan’s Purse, and even made the organization sign an agreement assuring the city that no LGBT individuals would be turned away.

It does not appear that Samaritan’s Purse turned away any patient requesting treatment, but Johnson demanded the “discriminatory” organization be banished from NYC as soon as possible, regardless.

“It is time for Samaritan’s Purse to leave NYC. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn’t in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed,” Johnson tweeted Saturday.

“Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community,” he said. “I’m aware that our battle against COVID-19 is still ongoing, and that our health care system—and the amazing workers who have been the heroes of this unprecedented time in our history—still needs support.”

Samaritan’s Purse healthcare workers, though, he seems to indicate, are a notable exception to the title of “hero.”

“The @NYCCouncil is committed to supporting those workers and protecting our city’s public health. But as a city that values diversity and compassion for all, we can’t continue allowing a group with their track record to remain here when we’re past the point they’re needed,” Johnson whined.

He then called on Mount Sinai health system — the health system that saw the vast majority of coronavirus patients — to end its contract with Samaritan’s Purse, citing leader Franklin Graham’s position on social issues.

“Mount Sinai must sever its relationship with Samaritan’s Purse. Its leader calls the LGBTQ community ‘detestable’ and ‘immoral.’ He says being gay is ‘an affront to God,’ and refers to gay Christians as ‘the enemy,” Johnson wrote without citation.

He then railed against an agreement Samaritan’s Purse makes healthcare providers sign, attesting that they abide by Christian values: “Samaritan’s Purse requires its volunteers to agree to a written affirmation ‘that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.’ Hate has no place in our beautiful city.”

It took only moments for Johnson to meet with a wave of criticism on social media, including from fellow leftists, who accused the City Council speaker of being ungrateful and of stoking the fires of division.

“I’m 100% usually behind @NYCSpeakerCoJo but this statement is most ungracious thing I have ever heard him utter. Appreciate sentiment behind it but didn’t the group specifically agree to treat everyone equally as a pretense of operating here? Do we have proof they forsook this?” one vocal critic said. “Because if they stuck to their promise and put the work in & treated every single person with the same care it seems to me to be a lesson to seize on to try to educate and change that group. Scorning them in the wake of their service only serves to deepen moral dividing lines.”

Regardless of how Johnson feels, Samaritan’s Purse says it will wrap up its mission in New York City in two weeks.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: NYC City Council Speaker Demands ‘Bigoted’ Christian Relief Organization Samaritan’s Purse Leave City

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he would be canceling — or, at least, limiting — his daily coronavirus briefings after a week of brutal clashes with mainstream reporters, a dustup with CNN, and an incident that saw members of the media wrongly portray a question, asked by Trump himself, as a suggestion that Americans should inject themselves with bleach or other disinfectants.

In a tweet Saturday night, Trump lashed out at members of the media who, he claims, have rendered the daily briefings pointless with their confrontational attitudes.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” Trump complained on Twitter. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!”

Friday was Trump’s shortest presser of the coronavirus pandemic — a mere 25-minute briefing with no question and answer period. The president clearly cut the briefing short after finding himself under a deluge of criticism for allegedly suggesting that Americans inject themselves with bleach or other chemical disinfectants to fight the virus — a “suggestion” that was either a question about complex UV and disinfectant treatments on which the president had been counseled, or a “sarcastic” remark to a reporter, as the president later claimed.

Either way, the suggestion, which went viral, caused a media frenzy, with outlets reporting on an increase of calls to poison control (which was, apparently, unrelated, and part of a long-term trend completely unrelated to the president) and issuing dire warnings against drinking Clorox.

The incident clearly troubled Trump, who called time on the press conferences after, Axios says, consulting with “three or four” White House officials who pressed Trump to either shorten or end the briefings altogether.

“They’ve told him he’s overexposed and these appearances are part of the reason polls aren’t looking good for him right now against Joe Biden,” the outlet reported Saturday. “Another source close to the deliberations said there simply isn’t enough new material to justify Trump appearing before the press every day.”

“Seniors are scared,” a source told Axios, referring to senior White House advisors. “And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”

Instead, reporters will likely receive a short briefing from experts — perhaps daily, or perhaps several times per week — and Trump’s appearances will be sporadic and unannounced, and limited to announcing victories. It’s also possible that the briefings could tighten up, instead of being “freewheeling,” as CNN describes them, lasting for minutes rather than for hours.

No final decision has been made, White House sources cautioned Axios, and Trump likes the briefings — he’s often spoken about how he’s now getting “Bachelor-like” ratings on Twitter and elsewhere — but Axios does say that the White House was considering ending the daily briefings even before Thursday’s incident as a way of demonstrating to the country that things are getting back to normal, that life in the White House is “slowing down,” and that a daily medical and technological briefing are no longer necessary.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: Trump Ends Daily Coronavirus Briefings After Media Clashes: ‘Not Worth The Time And Effort’

Some Democrat voters are “concerned” that former Vice President Joe Biden is “too white,” according to a Pew research study released this week, but not minority Democrat voters.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that “the only Democratic voters significantly bothered by Joe Biden’s race and gender are white liberals with graduate degrees” and that “nearly half of [those voters] said they were bothered that their party’s nominee was not a minority.”

“A majority of liberal Democrats reported being bothered by Biden’s whiteness, as did 58 percent of Democrats with a postgraduate education. Among Democrats with a high school education or less, 76 percent said they didn’t care about Biden’s race or gender, the highest result among any of the demographics measured,” the WFB said.

Oddly enough, the Democrats least concerned about Biden’s race were Democrats who identified as an ethnic minority. “Nearly 60 percent of respondents said Biden’s age and race do not bother them. Among black voters, 72 percent said they weren’t bothered by Biden’s race and gender, while 70 percent of Hispanic voters said the same.”

Joe Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee, though the field wasn’t as diverse as it has been in years past — and he’s also the first white male nominee for Democrats in at least three presidential cycles. Although there were people of color competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, by the end of the race, the field was largely homogenous. In addition to Biden, front-runners included former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), both of whom are white, but at least female.

Of those who believe Joe Biden is simply too mainstream to earn the Democratic nomination, though, most weren’t supportive of a nominee of color. Sen. Elizabeth Warren led the field for college-educated white Democrats.

The Pew study does have good news for Biden — he’s locking up Democratic voters nicely, and more quickly than anticipated. Although some Democrats are expressing reservations about their nominee, most are committed to voting for him — even those who might have cast a ballot for Biden’s arch-nemesis, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). That’s likely to Sanders’ credit; thanks to a campaign by former President Barack Obama, Sanders is on board with the Biden campaign and will serve as a policy advisor, even if Biden never takes his suggestions.

There are some concerns, though. Biden seems to be picking up older voters, according to The New York Times, possibly an effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Older individuals are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and seem to be gravitating to a presidential candidate who can provide greater health care coverage and who stresses the importance of both Medicare and social security.

But Biden is losing ground with younger voters who are more deeply affected by coronavirus-related lockdowns, rather than the disease. He’s also losing ground in some battleground states; where he led by seven points or more before, he’s now dropped into the margin of error with President Donald Trump, leaving the Democrat vulnerable in some of the most important 2020 states.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: Some Democrat Voters Are Concerned That Joe Biden Is Just Too White

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) finally gave in to inevitability Wednesday and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president in a dramatic video posted to social media.

Warren was the last remaining holdout of the major players competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) endorsed Biden shortly after dropping out of the race, ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who dropped out of the race just last week, endorsed Biden on Monday.

Warren, who dropped out last month, may have been waiting for a deal to endorse Biden — a deal that never came. Former President Barack Obama, who reportedly backed Warren early on even against his own Veep, negotiated with Sanders, not Warren, to provide progressive policy consulting on Biden’s presidential campaign, likely leaving Warren with little choice but to join the chorus of endorsements without any payback.

Warren’s endorsement came in the form of an extended video presentation, prepared for social media — a largely black and white retrospective of Joe Biden’s career.

“In this moment of crisis, it’s more important than ever that the next president restores Americans’ faith in good, effective government—and I’ve seen Joe Biden help our nation rebuild. Today, I’m proud to endorse @JoeBiden as President of the United States,” Warren wrote.

The video was followed closely by a fundraising plea: “Now it’s up to all of us to help make @JoeBiden the next president. Let’s get to work. Go to http://JoeBiden.com right now, and chip in your $5, make some calls, send some texts—because we are all in this together.”

“Empathy matters. And, in this moment of crisis, it’s more important than ever that the next president restores Americans’ faith in good, effective governmen,” Warren says in the video. “Joe Biden has spent nearly his entire life in public service. He knows that a government run with integrity, competence, and heart will save lives and save livelihoods. And we can’t afford to let Donald Trump continue to endanger the lives and livelihoods of every American.”

Biden thanked Warren for her endorsement in his own Twitter post.

“We are in a battle for the soul of this nation and I’m proud to have the fiercest of fighters, Senator @ewarren, on my side,” he wrote. “With her help, we’re going to beat Donald Trump and create a government that works for everyone — not just the wealthy and well-connected. Let’s do this.”

Warren was once considered a front-runner for Biden’s vice president slot but has since been pressed off the list of contenders by governors and other lawmakers actively involved in the coronavirus response and, it seems, by Democratic contenders who performed markedly better than the Massachusetts Senator in the primaries.

Warren never made it past a fourth place finish in most contests and found herself in a swiftly declining campaign in mid-November, after failing to make a coherent argument as to how she planned to pay for massive expansions of the federal government, including a Medicare-for-All healthcare plan.

Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee and will go on to face President Donald Trump in November.

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: Elizabeth Warren Finally Endorses Joe Biden For President, Weeks After Dropping Out

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that New York will be “producing and distributing its own hand sanitizer free of charge amid reports of price gouging of the product on the market as the coronavirus outbreak spreads globally and across the U.S.,” according to The Hill.

Americans are racing to stock up on supplies like toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer, clearing store shelves and forcing some retailers to institute purchasing quotas. In New York, where there is an active coronavirus outbreak — 142 confirmed cases, including 17 in Manhattan — the state government says its concerned both with availability of sanitizer and the possibility that retailers and second hand sellers might try to “price gouge” desperate residents.

As a way of ensuring a steady supply of sanitizer is available to New Yorkers, Cuomo announced that the New York-manufactured product will be distributed by the gallon to anyone who wants it, though it will be shipped directly to government agencies, schools, prisons, the metropolitan public transit authority, and other state and city agencies first before it becomes available to the public.

“We’re introducing NYS clean hand sanitizer, made conveniently by the state of New York,” Cuomo announced at a press conference Monday. “This is a superior product to products now on the market.”

The New York sanitizer also has a “very nice floral bouquet,” per the governor. It contains 75% alcohol, 15% more than is required for the sanitizer to work effectively.

Cuomo clearly meant the announcement as a shot across the bow of major retailers operating within the state of New York: “To Purell, and Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay, if you continue the price gouging, we will introduce our product, which is superior to your product,” Cuomo added. “And you don’t even have the floral bouquet, so stop price gouging.”

Amazon, responding to those concerns, halted non-affiliated sales of coronavirus-related products on its website, and is allowing only major retailers and Amazon-approved sellers (not second-hand sellers) while monitoring the price of face masks, hand sanitizer, and other items in short supply across the site. The company said in a statement made late Sunday that around 2,500 sellers are now banned over price gouging.

Internet auction site eBay also says its “taking significant measures to block or quickly remove items” that make “false health claims,” though it says it cannot enforce local laws and regulations.

Purell makes a wholesale product and is not responsible for second-hand sellers’ exploitative tactics. GOJO, Purell’s parent company, does not do direct sales and, instead, refers even commercial consumers to local distributors.

New York’s hand sanitizer, while free, does come at a price. According to The Verge, the state can afford to give away the hand sanitizer at below market value because it utilizes prison labor.

“NYS Clean” sanitizer “will be made by inmates at correctional facilities,” per Cuomo’s office.

“The hand sanitizer will be made by Corcraft, the part of the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision that manufactures products from license plates to pillows,” the Verge added. “The average wage at these facilities was about $0.65 / hour in 2015–2016.”

Author: Emily Zanotti

Source: Daily Wire: New York State Will Offer Residents Free ‘NYS Clean’ Hand Sanitizer Made With Prison Labor

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