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Preparing for an uncertain future

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs on Feb. 13,

Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs on Feb. 13, 2019 in Garden City. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Bernie's last stand?

A factor that hurt Bernie Sanders during Tuesday night’s elections: the shift away from time-consuming caucuses, which favor committed activists, toward higher-turnout primaries. 

New York State Democratic Party chair and Democratic National Committee at-large member Jay Jacobs was one of the people who had urged the shift. Jacobs told The Point on Wednesday that he focused on the change since 2008, when Barack Obama was winning low-turnout caucus states over Hillary Clinton and nabbing delegates that represented fewer actual voters. 

Read the full story here.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Not backing down

At a joint meeting last month of the Selden and Centereach civic associations with State Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan and Assemb. Doug Smith, two issues were among the primary subjects of conversation: bail reform and vaccination.

At the meeting, which took place before the novel coronavirus had spread to New York, both Flanagan and Smith affirmed their support of the religious exemption on vaccines, which was ended last year. Flanagan focused on the importance of the separation of church and state, and of parental rights. 

And Flanagan told The Point Wednesday that his position hasn't changed, even in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Flanagan said undoing the ban on religious exemptions for vaccines was a priority for him, noting that as of now, there is no vaccine yet for the coronavirus.

“I support repeal [of the ban] and I would vote for it readily,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan’s take comes as anti-vaccination activists continue to show up at legislators’ offices and events with the backdrop of an election year — when state Republicans think they will have a shot at taking back the State Senate majority because President Donald Trump will be at the top of the ticket.

Flanagan also noted that he doesn’t control the State Senate’s agenda. He added that there’s one legislative topic that has a bigger spotlight and is taking more attention this session: bail reform.

But of course none of that accounts for the continued impact of the coronavirus. That seems to be bigger than anything on the legislative agenda right now — and, eventually, could end up playing a role in the vaccination debate.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

The new bootleggers

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Final Point

6 degrees of Gershon

Dr. Robyn Gershon, a clinical professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Global Public Health, has lent her expertise on coronavirus to outlets like The New York Times, New York magazine, CNN, and City & State. Given the virus threat she’s much in demand as a specialist in emergency preparedness. She also happens to be the aunt of 1st Congressional District hopeful Perry Gershon. 

Elected leaders are scrambling to contain the virus’ outbreak and even candidates like Gershon are boning up. The East Hampton Democrat, whose parents are also medical professionals, says he spoke to his aunt about the coronavirus impact recently and she underscored the “need to test people.” 

Dr. Gershon told The Point that more testing is important because it “gives us much more information” about who’s infected, how fast the disease is spreading, and what groups are at risk. 

Other concerns include the need for hospitals to be well-stocked with gloves, masks and ventilators, which can be a supply chain issue. Caring for patients on ventilators also means significant staffing levels. 

She advises citizens to be “prudent and not panic,” make contingency plans for school closures, and be conscious of handwashing and not touching mouths, noses, and eyes. 

As for politicians? Be calm, and present the facts. (Her nephew, she notes, is very calm.)

In CD1, the candidates are talking about coronavirus, too, and taking some shots about what the other side is missing. But so far, there has been less of a divide than in the national sphere, which has featured canceled presidential candidate rallies and Democrats slamming President Donald Trump’s research cuts and overly optimistic statements. Trump, for his part, continues tweeting praise of his own performance, like a Wednesday missive slamming “Vanity Fair Magazine, which will soon be out of business,” for an article about the coronavirus response. 

Trump disagrees. “Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano