Friday, March 13th, 2020


The Latest Generation

You should have had more advance warning. The concerns you're hearing shouted from the rooftops now have been preached by the experts and scientists for a long time. The canary in the coal mine has been dead for weeks, but letting all the miners know about that demise was perceived as bad messaging, especially in an election year. To understand some of the many things that went wrong, from funding cuts, to insane priorities, to a general attack on the institutions that protect us, here's an informative Terry Gross interview with Politico reporter Dan Diamond on Fresh Air. "My understanding is Azar did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that's partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear - the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential reelection this fall."

+ All politics is local. That phrase rarely applies to international crises, but this week it did, as our governors, mayors, and principals had to create policies in a national vacuum. NYT: The President as Bystander. "It fell to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government's most famous scientist, to say publicly what the president would not."

+ Actually, being a bystander would have been an improvement. The president was a naysayer. And not just early on. This was three days ago: "We're prepared, and we're doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away." WaPo: The 19 Times Trump Downplayed Covid19.

+ Of course, state TV helped: "If you are over the mass hysteria, if you're over politicizing and weaponizing of the coronavirus, you are not alone." How Fox News misled viewers about the coronavirus. And it continues right up until today. "It's actually the safest time to fly." That was Ainsley Earhardt on Fox and Friends ... this morning.

+ I'm not sharing this news to demean or degrade Trump supporters. I'm sharing it to protect them. There are stark differences in how Democrats and Republicans view the threat of coronavirus.

+ The warnings are coming so late that they don't have time to get through. Example: Disneyland Opens to Crowds On Last Day Before Coronavirus Closure.

+ Americans finally started taking this seriously on Wednesday night. But not because of the disastrous presidential address. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Why suspending the NBA season was a glorious act of patriotism.

+ The biggest message that Trump could send Americans is to self-quarantine. He can still keep watching TV and tweeting like the rest of us. He's had repeated contact with those who have tested positive. But taking the step of following the experts' guidelines, he could wake people up to the risks. NY Mag: Why Isn't Trump in Quarantine?


Test of Time

The messaging errors can be reversed quickly. The problem is that the managerial errors can't. Sick People Across the U.S. Say They Are Being Denied the Coronavirus Test.

+ They're off the Grand Princess, but passengers say they still haven't been tested for the coronavirus.

+ As Americans speak of long waits, Senegal is testing people and getting results within 4 hours.

+ A Senegalese innovation lab is helping the UK develop a 10-minute coronavirus test kit.

+ An interview with the NYT's resident expert on these matters, Donald McNeil, on how testing would look in a prepared country.

+ Time: What We Can Learn From Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong About Handling Coronavirus.

+ A sign of the times. Jack Ma to donate 500,000 test kits and 1 million masks to the US.


Weekend Whats

What to Playlist: We all have our quarantine coping mechanisms. Mine was coming up with multi-hour playlist of songs that have to do with being alone, not touching others, and communicating from a distance. Listen along to Quarantine Spirit on Spotify or Apple Music.

+ What to HBO: A few notables on HBO this weekend. First, mini-series The Plot Against America (based on the Philip Roth novel) debuts. Second, Westworld is back. And third, the family-friendly, feel good movie Yesterday will add some cheer while you're sheltering in place.

+ What to Cook: Need a hobby while you're at home? The French Chef with Julia Child is now on Amazon Prime. (In times of stress, more butter.)s

+ What to Watch: And, to keep you busy, the The 100 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now.


Emergency Lands

"This act will free up federal funding for the states to use in response to the crisis, enabling them to tap into $42.6 billion that could be applied to tests, medical facilities, and other supplies." Trump has declared a national emergency. Here's what that means. (It's mostly about funding.) During the press conference where journalists and politicians all stood shoulder to shoulder, the president shook everyone's hands vigorously. Oh, well, we can always social distance later. When asked about the delayed testing, Trump answered: "No I don't take responsibility at all." (The WTF Stops Here ... you need to say that out loud with all the words for it to really work...) For what it's worth, that wasn't the saddest part of the press conference.

+ A few other things that still need tweaking. The Trump Administration will move ahead with its plan to kick people off of food stamps despite the coronavirus outbreak. The administration is blocking states from using Medicaid to respond to coronavirus crisis. And Trump still isn't backing off proposed cuts to CDC budget.

+ Katie Porter Wins CDC Promise To Pay For Coronavirus Testing.


The Globe Microbe

"Tens of millions of students on three continents faced weeks without classes, security forces went on standby to guard against large gatherings of people, and bars, restaurants and offices closed Friday. New cases and deaths leaped in Europe, and the virus edged ever closer to the world's power centers, with positive tests for the Canadian prime minister's wife, a top aide to Iran's supreme leader, Miami's mayor, a Brazilian official who met with President Donald Trump, and an Australian Cabinet minister who met with the U.S. attorney general and Trump's daughter, Ivanka." AP: Brave new world: Wartime tactics against coronavirus foe.

+ "I'm reporting on coronavirus spreading in Iran, including audio of a desperate doctor who says his hospital is losing 20 or 30 patients a day. 'It's a disaster. It's worse than the war.' A few days after the recording he also died."

+ Rising numbers, canceled elections and events, states of emergencies, and more. Here's the latest from BBC, CNN, and WaPo.

+ NYT: How the World's Largest Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Growing.


From a Distance

"Shutting city schools would likely lead to a broader shutdown of the city, and the decision would be more far-reaching in New York than in any other major American city." NYT: Coronavirus in N.Y.C.: Pressure to Close School System, Nation's Largest. (These are difficult decisions. To me, this is the key. If you can afford to keep your kids home, do so. The fewer people gathered, the less chance of transmission for everyone.)

+ "If you're confused about what to do right now, you're not alone—even these experts occasionally disagreed on the answers to my questions. Where there were discrepancies, I've included all the different answers as fully as possible." The Atlantic: The Dos and Don'ts of Social Distancing. (With everyone sheltering at home, we need a moratorium on social media posts that make it look like your family is happy and getting along.)

+ For a look at how your town might soon feel, ask someone from Seattle. The New Yorker: A Week at the Epicenter of America's Coronavirus Crisis.


Hey Now, You’re a Rockstar

"He failed as a politician. He couldn't sell his business idea to a vodka company. And he mortgaged his house for $50,000 to launch a business everyone said would flop." The 50-year-old founder of Rockstar just got a $3 billion check from PepsiCo.


The Market Feels Better

After an up and down, the stock market showed some signs of life at by the closing bell. CNBC: Stocks post biggest rally since 2008, clawing back some of their coronavirus collapse.


Oscar Wild

"As the adult streaming juggernaut moves into original SFW content, could it follow in the model of Netflix and HBO to become a real awards contender?" Esquire: The Entirely-Possible Path to P-rnhub Actually Winning An Oscar. (Why not. They've already won the people's choice awards...)


Feel Good Friday

Amid the thousand reports of government malfeasance, there will be millions of small acts of communal kindness, beauty, and sacrifice. Here's just one. "I walked over and found an elderly woman and her husband. She cracked her window open a bit more, and explained to me nearly in tears that they are afraid to go in the store..."

+ Need a song to wash your hands to? How about joining Gloria Gaynor as she washes her hands to I Will Survive. (The internet can be great!)

+ Deserted Italian street rings out with song as people lean out of windows to sing together during lockdown. (My daughter sings in the house nonstop. This might help me convince her to do it out the window...)

+ South Korea reports more recoveries than coronavirus cases for the first time.

+ Kevin Love donates $100,000 to help Cleveland Cavaliers arena workers impacted by coronavirus.

+ Here's a GoogleDoc with all the online education companies making some or all of their services available for free.

+ Dallas cafe hires foster kids who have aged out of system.

+ Stacks of portraits were abandoned when a photo company closed. A man brought them home and reunited families with their photos.