Military preparing to deploy field hospitals
A former field organizer for Michael Bloomberg’s short-lived presidential campaign has filed a lawsuit against the former 2020 candidate’s campaign arguing that it had breached its contract with thousands of Bloomberg staffers by not keeping them employed through November.
The class-action lawsuit, filed Monday in the New York southern district court by former Miami field organizer Donna Wood, follows Bloomberg laying off huge swaths of his campaign operation last week. Bloomberg has previously promised to pay his team through November, even if he dropped out of the presidential election, which he did following a poor showing in the set of early March Super Tuesday states.
After he dropped out Bloomberg planned to form a political action committee, a super Pac, to support Democrats and help organize across the country. But late last week the former New York mayor changed his mind on that as well and instead transferred $18m to the Democratic National Committee and fired hundreds of field organizers.
Those staffers had been previously told they would be guaranteed employment through the November presidential election.
A request for comment has been sent to the Bloomberg campaign.
In the lawsuit, Outten & Golden LLP and Shavitz Group PA, Wood’s attorneys, argue that the Bloomberg campaign in “contravention of its promise of continued employment through November 2020 and in the face of a worldwide pandemic and likely global recession” fired the “vast majority of its field organizers and other campaign personnel.
Those employees were under the impression that Bloomberg, a billionaire worth over $60 billion, would be able to comfortably employ the operation for the rest of the year and they would be able to keep their health benefits and salaries. The employees had been promised health, vision, and dental benefits as part of their employment.
We’ll look at the markets for the first time today, and my colleague Edward Helmore has this update, which shows the markets continue to dip in the wake of a stalled stimulus package held up in Congress.
Despite the Federal Reserve’s announcement it will begin unlimited market support quantitative easing and other programs, the Dow Jones Industrials Average fell more than 400 points, or 2.15%, to 18,761.83 in early trading, with the broader S&P 500 index falling 2%.
The latest drops confirm that the Dow is having its worst month since 1931, the first year of the Great Depression.
Coupled with a political stand-off over a $1.8bn republican-sponsored stimulus package, markets continued their fall. At midday, the Dow was down 672 points, or 3.5%, at 18,527- a 35% drop on its record high in February.
And adding to Jessica’s background below, here’s a summary of key news lines from New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s press conference from my colleague Alexandra Villarreal:
- Cuomo has confirmed that coronavirus cases ballooned to more than 20,000 statewide. By far the highest total in the United States.
- Cuomo said he will issue an emergency order today that requires the state’s hospitals to up their capacity by at least 50%, though he will ask facilities to double their capacity if they can. He said New York needs 110,000 hospital beds, and even with a 50% increase, the state will still be short 35,000 beds. It was not clear how hospitals would achieve this.
- Of the 20,875 coronavirus cases in New York, 13% are requiring hospitalization, Cuomo said, adding that 24% of those need access to the ICU.
- New York can now test more than 16,000 people for coronavirus per day — more than any other state in the US. Beyond testing, Cuomo said the government will be dispatching “a significant amount” of medical supplies throughout the state to deal with concerns about shortages of medical equipment such as masks and gowns.
- Cuomo asked New York City yesterday for a plan to control and reduce density by regulating gatherings by young people and congestion in the city’s parks. “My density control measures weren’t enough, that was clear. You could look at a park in Brooklyn, Manhattan. It almost looked like any Saturday, any sunny Saturday, when I went,” Cuomo said.
- The governor also said he’s working on a plan to restart the economy. “It is unsustainable to run this state or run this country with the economy closed down,” he said.
Pivoting back to the earlier press conference by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, my colleague Jessica Glenza has a little more background on why the supply chain for respirator mask and other equipment has become such a critical issue:
Healthcare workers across the US treating coronavirus patients have been warning for days that they are running out of protective equipment, and pleading for more.
On Monday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the scramble to supply health workers with more equipment has lead to a state-against-state bidding war, and reiterating his call for the Trump administration to nationalize the production of medical equipment.
Before the pandemic hit, Cuomo said New York state paid $0.85 per respirator mask, but the cost was now $7. And that is why he wants the federal government involved.
“Order the production of masks and gowns and ventilators,” from private industry, Cuomo said. “Give them a deadline, don’t get into this mad bidding war… The president can do this.”
An internal New York Presbyterian Hospital memo, obtained by ABC News, outlined the need starkly. Normally, the hospital system uses 4,000 N95 respirator masks per day. Now, they are using 40,000, the memo says. The usage is expected to rise to 70,000.
President Trump has so far refused to invoke the Defense Production Act, a Korean-War era law that allows government to mandate private businesses to produce needed goods during a national emergency. So far, the administration has relied on voluntary efforts from private industry.
3M CEO Mike Roman has said the company was urgently ramping up production of N95 respirator masks, and that New York and Washington state would receive half a million masks immediately.