Anyone entering Manhattan federal court buildings will now be required to wear two masks or a KN95 or N95 mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order is part of the Southern District of New York’s new phased reopening plan.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently advised that the public double mask amid the spread of more contagious variants of the virus.
“You are required to wear either: (i) one disposable mask underneath a cloth
mask with the edges of the inner mask pushed against your face; or (ii) a properly-fitted, FDA-authorized KN95 (or N95) mask in all public areas of the courthouse (including hallways, public counters, elevators and courtrooms.),” the order states.
“You must also wear a mask in all shared space/common areas where more than one person is assigned to work unless an SDNY staff member has granted you permission to remove your mask. You must also wear masks any time you are interacting with any other person(s) regardless of social distancing.”
For months, the Manhattan courts have been operating mostly remotely amid the pandemic. Currently, SDNY is in its first phase of reopening, with some office staff back in the courts. The courthouses still remain closed to the public.
“As the first wave of the pandemic recedes, we need to reopen our doors to the public and move toward a restoration of the full range of services that courts provide,” SDNY Chief Judge Colleen McMahon wrote of the new plan. “We are committed to doing this in a way that provides maximum safety to those who work in our courthouses and those who visit them. We will be guided by the best possible scientific and medical advice. That is why we will reopen gradually, as conditions in the eight counties that make up the Southern
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Rep. Patrick McHenry Announces Retirement, Adding to Congressional Exodus
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., has declared that he will not seek re-election, becoming the latest in a growing list of lawmakers departing from Congress. McHenry, a close ally of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, stated that he believes “there is a season for everything,” signaling the end of his tenure in the House. Having served since 2005, McHenry is the 37th member of Congress to announce they won’t seek re-election in 2024.
In a statement, McHenry reflected on the significance of the House of Representatives in the American political landscape, calling it the “center of our American republic.” He acknowledged the concerns about the future of the institution due to multiple departures but expressed confidence that new leaders would emerge and guide the House through its next phase.
The departure of McHenry and others comes against the backdrop of political shifts and challenges within the Republican Party. The GOP has faced setbacks in recent elections, including fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Internal strife and disagreements, exemplified by the rebellion against McCarthy, have characterized the party’s dynamics. The GOP’s approval rating stands at 30%, with a disapproval rating of 66%, reflecting the challenges and divisions within the party.
As McHenry steps aside, questions loom over the fate of open seats in the upcoming election. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report identifies five open House seats as potential Democrat pickup opportunities, while none are listed for the GOP. The departures raise concerns about the party’s unity and ability to navigate the evolving political landscape.
With a total of 20 departing Democratic legislators and 10 Republicans, the changing composition of Congress adds complexity to the political dynamics leading up to the 2024 elections. As McHenry emphasizes a hopeful view of the House’s future, the evolving political landscape will determine the impact of these departures on the balance of power in Congress.
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