March 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The protective equipment shortage, the Patriots QB shortage, and an exclusive story by Damon Lindelof.

We don’t have enough rubber gloves and masks for our medical workers in America. In part, that’s because of manufacturing delays in China, and in part it’s because of the lack of preparation that comes when experts and scientists are replaced with ideologues and sycophants. The shortage of protective equipment leaves our frontline warriors in the fight against this virus unarmed. When you consider what these people are facing during sleepless nights and risky days, just staying home doesn’t seem like much to ask of the rest of us. “One of the nation’s top cancer hospitals has informed its staff it has a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment, even as at least five employees and three patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19.” Buzzfeed: A Top Cancer Hospital Faces Mask Shortages.

+ “Most physicians have never seen this level of angst and anxiety in their careers.” Doctors Fear Bringing Coronavirus Home: ‘I Am Sort of a Pariah in My Family.’

+ There’s also a limited supply of ventilators. “Could manufacturers of these devices boost output? Yes, but not overnight.”

+ “The first priority will be identifying people most urgently in need of care, otherwise known as triage, a practice adopted from battlefield medicine, in which the wounded are quickly sorted. American doctors will soon face this grim and painful reality.” Ken Harbaugh in The Atlantic: After cancellation comes triage.

+ “While her work keeps her from sleep, she is passionate about where she finds herself every day. ‘This place is the beating heart of a novel infectious disease response. It’s what I always wanted a piece of as a scientist.'” Esquire: Inside the National Quarantine Center, There Is No Fear of Coronavirus. There Is Only Urgency.

+ For weeks, no one has done a better job of informing the public about the virus and the impending stress on hospitals than Andy Slavitt, the former US head of Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Until yesterday, his updates were only available via Twitter threads. With a little help from some friends, I connected Andy with Medium, and from now on, his Twitter updates will also be repurposed as articles with all the related graphs and data embedded. You can and should follow along here.


Show Me the Money

Actually, I say “show” me the money, even though I’ve been socially distancing from my portfolio for days. The headlines suggest the market plunge took a pause on Tuesday. On a more pressing financial issue, the administration is working on a stimulus plan that includes giving Americans cold, hard (and one hopes, thoroughly disinfected) cash.

+ The shutdown is necessary, but as Derek Thompson explains, “it will crush the economy, starting with the restaurant industry … The consequences of these widespread closures may be hard to grasp. Americans now spend more at restaurants than at grocery stores.” America’s Restaurants Will Need a Miracle.


Helter Shelter

While life continues in some American cities, such is not the case in my neck of the woods. “Six Bay Area counties announced ‘shelter in place’ orders for all residents on Monday — the strictest measure of its kind yet in the continental United States — directing everyone to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible for the next three weeks.” (Staying away from others has never sounded like much of a hinderance to me, but this is a trip. Reality turned on a dime.)

+ A coronavirus patient refused to quarantine, so deputies are surrounding his house to make him. (If the first few days locked in with my kids is any indication, deputies may need to surround my house too.)

+ Photos from the coronavirus era from inFocus and AP.

+ Checks are coming, French citizens face fines for leaving the house, and voting is taking place in two of three states where is was scheduled (which seems worrisome). Here’s the latest from NYT, WaPo, and BBC.



Being home is one thing. Getting your stuff while you’re there is another. Yesterday, I explained to our postman how his work gloves will and won’t protect him, what to do with them when he gets home, how to remove his rubber gloves safely, and how long the virus can last on packages, etc. He had none of the data he needed. I passed this along to some people in high places, but it’s a recipe for disaster. WaPo: Amazon’s warehouse workers sound alarms about coronavirus spread.

+ Amazon is hiring 100,000 new workers in the US to deal with the coronavirus boom. (“Amazon accounts for nearly 39% of all online deliveries.” They’re basically a nation state during this crisis.)

+ Reuters: Amazon stops receiving non-essential products from sellers amid coronavirus outbreak.

+ Bloomberg: Five warehouse workers in Europe have contracted Covid-19, while in the U.S. Amazon is struggling to hire enough people to meet an order spike.


Pande-mic Drop

“Infighting, turf wars and a president more concerned with the stock market and media coverage than policy have defined the Trump White House. They have also defined how it has handled a pandemic.” (Oh, and Jared…) NYT: Inside the Coronavirus Response: A Case Study in the White House Under Trump. Early on, Trump “told aides to consider each day as an episode in a television show.”

+ WaPo: On Fox News, suddenly a very different tune about the coronavirus. (They’re still lying, but differently.) Not scared enough this week. Try this on for size: “Trump, meanwhile, has long looked to Fox News and its personalities for guidance and approval, a dynamic that may have been pivotal this week after host Tucker Carlson reportedly visited with the president in person to urge him to take the coronavirus seriously.”

+ The main manifestation of the ineptitude has been the absence of tests. Here’s an interesting series of articles to help understand how we got here. The New Yorker: What Went Wrong with Coronavirus Testing in the U.S. WaPo: Flawed tests, red tape and resistance to using the millions of tests produced by the WHO. And from GQ: Inside the Race to Solve America’s Coronavirus Testing Crisis.


Judge Advocate General

McConnell “has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon.” NYT: McConnell Has a Request for Veteran Federal Judges: Please Quit.

+ It’s always been about the judges. And that’s even more true as the clock might be running out on the Trump era. NYT: A Conservative Agenda Unleashed on the Federal Courts. “The new judges have been selected for their rock-solid conservative credentials … All but eight had ties to the Federalist Society, a legal group with views once considered on ‘the fringe.'”

+ In other legal news, the Justice Dept. Moves to Drop Charges Against Russian Firms Filed by Mueller.


Patriot (Disappearing) Act

New England Patriots fans hunkering down were hoping for more than memories. But, alas, Tom Brady said he is leaving and that his “football journey will take place elsewhere.” (Bro, we’d all like to be “elsewhere” right now…)


Dressed to Kill

“I even made a plan for moments during the challenge that I didn’t want filmed: I would sing songs with expensive licensing fees so that Discovery couldn’t use the footage. The Beatles were famously pricey, right? If I got diarrhea, I’d sing ‘Hey Jude’ at the top of my lungs.” Everything on ‘Naked and Afraid’ Is Real—and I Lived It.


Feel Good Tuesday

Home schooling not your bag? Here are some tips from a teacher and info related to school closures. And my friends Robbi and Matthew are doing YouTube readings and lessons.

+ These Good Samaritans with a 3D printer are saving lives by making new respirator valves for free.

+ Canadians are care-mongering and neighborhoods are creating kindness committees.

+ Spaniards are playing quarantine bingo! (Beautiful.)


Something, Something, Something Murder

The most excellent Damon Lindelof has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. To be continued, daily…

Chapter One: I’ve Never Written A Short Story Before

“They’re going to kill us.”

George looked at her. She was smiling, but there was something about the way she said it.

“Nah,” George said, smiling back, “We’ll be fine.”

“I heard them whispering…” She leaned in, whispering herself, “I heard them say something something something murder.”

“They’re kids. They talk about murder all the time. It’s a whole thing.”

“A “thing” is TikTok, George… murder is not a thing.”

Elizabeth’s smile was gone now. Come to think of it, it hadn’t been there in the first place. Neither of them had really smiled since PH&W.

“Wait… are… You’re serious?”

“I heard them whispering… I heard them say murder and then the floorboard creaked and they stopped. Because they knew I was there in the hallway.”

“The floorboard… creaked? Like in the movies?”

“No one says that. No one says ‘like in the movies’ unless they’re in a fucking movie.”

“Well I said it and I’m in real life.”

“Are you?”


“There are four of them and two of us. We’re outnumbered.”

George shrugged. “But they’re smaller than we are. And dumber.”

“Alden’s not dumber.” She said. “And he’s the one who said murder.”

She looked at him. He looked back at her. Theirs was a romance forged in their shared unwillingness to blink.

“Maybe we should tell them where it is.”

He shook his head. He should have seen this was where things were headed.

“If we tell them where it is, they’ll use it.”

Both of them knew where it was. And both of them knew George was right. The kids would indeed use it.

“They’ll find it. We’re in this house for weeks… they won’t stop until they find it.”

“Well then maybe you should have kept your time machine at work, Elizabeth.”

Her brow furrowed. “Don’t call it that.”

“I’m sorry.”

He wasn’t.

But he would be. George would be very, very sorry indeed.

It was Day Two of the Self-Quarantine.

To be continued…

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