Saturday, March 28th, 2020


Punch Drunk Love

Reminder, NextDraft is going 7 days a week during the crisis.

"The great thickening of friendship and community that came in the days before the virus means that these losses are thicker too. Punch in the throat, punch in the throat, punch in the throat. The frantic schedule of online concerts and quarantinis starts to recede because the days are filled with the horror of what's been lost and what might be lost and also with taking your temperature" Dahlia Lithwick (my friend, how cool is that?) on How to Spend the Time. "Suddenly, you are thinking about your time in a different way. Filling the days is not the chief concern. Time is not an empty thing to load up, so much as a precious thing to be doled out ... We are dallying in the shallows as the grocery store employees and nurses and teachers and janitors and doctors and delivery people (hello Fed Ex guy, thank you) and the food preparers and elder care workers and first responders harness themselves, like oxen, to this thing that is all out of our control."

+ "So much is being lost with each passing day: money, freedom, time and, most important, lives. The world we inherit from our former selves -- in a few months, or as many as 18 months -- will feel different. It will be different, diminished by the absence of lost friends and places." Wright Thompson: A letter from the coronavirus quarantine: missing Serie A, pasta and friendship. "There are many isolated days left. Many scary days. At least two of my friends have it, one in New York and one in L.A. One friend is worried his daughter has it. Another friend's dad needs to start chemo, but the oncologists are worried about getting him safely into a hospital ... I think I'm going to try to channel my inner Gianni -- to be optimistic, to be brave and to find the beauty."

+ When this is over, we should have a ticker tape parade for health workers, first responders, and others standing tall in harm's way. In the meantime, in the words of Jeb Bush, "Please clap." That's what they're doing in NYC. (OK, a few New Yorkers have yet to fully embrace the spirit.) And, on smy side of the country, to let health workers know we're thinking of them, we howl at the moon. (This is a significant threat to my beagles' personal brand. I just hope none of my neighbors start going to the bathroom in the street.)


The Q Factor

"In some respects, the pandemic is an equalizer: It can afflict princes and paupers alike, and no one who hopes to stay healthy is exempt from the strictures of social distancing. But the American response to the virus is laying bare class divides that are often camouflaged — in access to health care, child care, education, living space, even internet bandwidth." The NYT on how social distancing highlights the great divide. "This is a white-collar quarantine. Average working people are bagging and delivering goods, driving trucks, working for local government."

+ Instacart workers say they're planning a nationwide strike.

+ "Dickson worked 17 days straight during Hurricane Sandy to keep police headquarters clean. He was working again during the coronavirus pandemic before he himself fell ill." Dennis Dickson Worked To Clean NYPD Headquarters Of The Coronavirus — Then He Died From It.


Hamburg Helper

"Outside of Merkel's forceful speech, Germany has more or less followed similar strategies to confront the spread of the virus as many other countries." Vox: The mystery of Germany's low coronavirus death rate. Germany has the fifth most coronavirus cases worldwide — but only a fraction of the deaths.

+ "Peer into any cafe in the capital, Stockholm, and groups of two or more people can be seen casually dining and enjoying cappuccinos. Playgrounds are full of running, screaming children. Restaurants, gyms, malls and ski slopes have thinned out but are still in use." In the Coronavirus Fight in Scandinavia, Sweden Stands Apart. (But are they standing far enough apart?

+ A worrisome sign about opening things up too early. China Shuts Down All Cinemas, Again.


Crime Seen?

"The decreases suggest that trying to contain COVID-19 is not a public safety threat in some big cities—at least for now." The Marshall Project: As Coronavirus Surges, Crime Declines in Some Cities. (If you're looking for early signs of social unrest, keep an eye on the hospitals, where triage decisions will turn some patients away.)

+ "More than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police." AP: 'Officers are scared out there': Coronavirus hits US police.


At Whit’s End

"Don't call the woman in Michigan." After that "presidential" comment about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (and reports that medical supply vendors had been told to shut off sales to her state), Trump declared a disaster in Michigan coronavirus outbreak. (This is newsworthy, but don't be distracted by predictable attacks on female CEOs, female governors, or bigoted terms to label the virus. Trump will try anything, even attacking a swing state, to distract you from the real story. But this time, the real story—the failure to prepare the US— is too big to ignore.)

+ WaPo: Trump seeks to ramp up production of medical equipment after harsh criticism of his slow response. (The virus has been here since January.) It took a while for Trump to address the med supply disaster. It took about five seconds for him to try to curb the new inspector general's autonomy. (Luckily, he makes it easy to follow the money, even from home.)

+ "Normally, a civil servant — the disbursing officer for the payment center — would sign federal checks." (Hah! Normally!) Donald Trump demands his own signature be on coronavirus stimulus checks to every American. (In other words, half won't arrive and half will bounce.)

+ Meanwhile, leaders at the Department of Veterans Affairs say they are ready to answer the call to assist HHS or FEMA. But the call has not come. (Neither has the tweet...)

+ Miss some of the old characters from political crimes past? Twitter just deleted a Rudy Giuliani Tweet pushing misinformation and attacking on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (It's really hard to post something offensive enough for Twitter to remove it. Trust me, I've tried.)


Ain’t No Rest for the Leery

"The two powers amplify discredited conspiracy theories and sow division as they look to undermine the United States." As Virus Spreads, China and Russia See Openings for Disinformation.

+ Of course, the calls are also coming from inside the house. WaPo: Coronavirus modelers factor in new public health risk: Accusations their work is a hoax.

+ An ER doctor who criticized Bellingham hospital's coronavirus protections has been fired. (Yeah, we wouldn't want it to slip out that our hospital workers aren't well prepared when it comes to personal protective equipment.)


Toileting In Obscurity

WaPo with some background on the object of our desire: Toilet Paper."But it was Seth Wheeler of Albany, N.Y., who, in 1871, became the first person to have the idea of perforating a roll of paper so that it could be conveniently torn off in sheets. In a flurry of subsequent patents, Wheeler also invented the cardboard tube at the center of the roll, and a holder for his new creation. In short, this Edison of wiping created all the elements of the product that adorns our bathrooms today." (How did Seth Wheeler end up not making as much money as a guy who invented a photo sharing app?)


Pulling Out of Production

"Malaysia's Karex Bhd makes one in every five condoms globally. It has not produced a single condom from its three Malaysian factories for more than a week due to a lockdown imposed by the government to halt the spread of the virus." Condom shortage looms after coronavirus lockdown shuts world's top producer. (With the world ending, who needs them? We want all the feels.) I suppose we could switch to rubber gloves; one benefit is that they can each be used five times...


Feel Good Saturday

BBC: From clapping to kindness, five reasons to be hopeful.

+ Abbott Launches 5-Minute Virus Test for Use Almost Anywhere.

+ All foreigners in Portugal with pending applications will be treated as permanent residents from Monday until at least July 1, authorities said on Saturday, to ensure migrants have access to public services during the coronavirus outbreak.

+ Bored and out of work, British sports commentators call action of everyday life.

+ With overrun hospitals facing an acute shortage of masks, people are pulling out their sewing machines to fill the void.

+ Kennels go empty after every animal gets adopted at Colorado shelter.


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. There are seven chapters so far. Catch up over the weekend.

+ Meanwhile, if you're a fan of Damon's amazing show Watchmen, you'll definitely like his follow up, Washmen. And when it comes to social distancing, Lube Man was ahead of his time.