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Fitness Coalition, LI Law Firm Spearhead Lawsuit Against Cuomo

SYOSSET, NY —Two weeks after Michigan’s Supreme Court overturned the continued emergency executive orders of Gov. Whitmer, a coalition of business owners on Long Island are hoping their own lawsuit will achieve the same result in New York.

The New York Fitness Coalition, an advocacy group of gym owners who came together during the coronavirus pandemic, is leading the class-action lawsuit. A news conference to announce the lawsuit is being held Wednesday at the Sysosset office of The Mermigas Law Group, P.C.

Charlie Cassara founded the New York Fitness Coalition, which sued Gov. Cuomo in July, seeking an injunction of Cuomo’s orders in order for gyms to reopen. This lawsuit, Cassara, says is a broader effort to declare the extended emergency executive orders that Cuomo uses to mandate the COVID-19 business and school regulations as unconstitutional and illegal.

“This wasn’t his job,” Cassara told Patch. Once the original aims of the state of emergency were fulfilled in the early months of the pandemic, the unilateral executive authority of the governor’s emergency powers were no longer needed, or legal, he says.

Cassara owns a health club, SC Fitness, with two Long Island locations. He tells Patch that the regulations his industry has to operate under are “unsurvivable.”

“33 percent capacity is a joke, and then you add six feet, contact tracing—We can’t live under these orders.”

Representatives from other industries including restaurant owners, as well as teachers and parents concerned about the impact of the mandates on education, are also involved in the suit, Cassara says.

“Now regular citizens of New York can jump on board. Cuomo keeps saying he is going to give the authority back to the state [legislatures] and local executives, but every week there is a new excuse.”

A similar legal challenge was raised against Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf, which initially was won before being overturned in federal appeals court.

This article originally appeared on the Syosset Patch

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Health tech firm testing coronavirus treatments hit by ransomware attack

 A ransomware attack on a health tech firm has slowed some clinical trials, including some involving treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus.

The target was a Philadelphia company that sells software used in hundreds of clinical trials, according to the New York Times.

No patients were affected.

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The attack on eResearchTechnology (ERT) began two weeks ago when employees discovered they were locked out of their data by ransomware.

The companies hit were IQVIA, a contract research organization helping to manage AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine trial, and Bristol Myers Squibb, which is leading a consortium of companies to develop a quick test for the virus.

ERT has not said how many clinical trials were affected.

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The company was involved in three-quarters of trials that led to drug approvals by the Food and Drug Administration last year, according to its website.


On Friday, Drew Bustos, ERT’s vice president of marketing, confirmed that ransomware had seized its systems Sept. 20.

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As a precaution, Bustos said, the company took its systems offline that day and notified outside cybersecurity experts as well as the FBI.

The company said it was too early to say who was behind the attack.

A spokesman declined to say whether the company paid its extortionists.

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The incidents followed more than 1,000 ransomware attacks on U.S. cities, counties and hospitals over the past 18 months, according to the Times.

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Clinical Trials Hit by Ransomware Attack on Health Tech Firm

The incidents also follow more than a thousand ransomware attacks on American cities, counties and hospitals over the past 18 months. The attacks, once treated as a nuisance, have taken on greater urgency in recent weeks as American officials worry they may interfere, directly or indirectly, with the November election.

A ransomware attack in Germany resulted in the first known death from a cyberattack in recent weeks, after Russian hackers seized 30 servers at University Hospital Düsseldorf, crashing systems and forcing the hospital to turn away emergency patients. As a result, the German authorities said, a woman in a life-threatening condition was sent to a hospital 20 miles away in Wuppertal and died from treatment delays.

ERT’s clients at IQVIA and Bristol Myers Squibb said they had been able to limit problems because they had backed up their data, but the attack forced many clinical trial investigators to move to pen and paper.

In a statement, IQVIA said that the attack had “had limited impact on our clinical trials operations,” and added, “We are not aware of any confidential data or patient information, related to our clinical trial activities, that have been removed, compromised or stolen.”

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, two companies working on a coronavirus vaccine, said their coronavirus vaccine trials had not been affected.

“ERT is not a technology provider for or otherwise involved in Pfizer’s Phase 1/2/3 Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials,” Amy Rose, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, said.

Companies and research labs on the front lines of the pandemic have been repeat targets for foreign hackers over the past seven months, as countries around the world try to gauge one another’s responses and progress in addressing the virus. In May, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security warned that Chinese government spies were actively trying to steal American clinical research through cybertheft.

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