Tuesday, March 31st, 2020


Masking Reality

"You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask" ... "If it's not fitted right you're going to fumble with it" ... "Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks." Those are the directives we've been given by America's top health officials. But do they make sense? Other nations don't seem to agree. And it looks like that advice, that seemed so certain, is about to change. Politico: Mask mystery: Why are U.S. officials dismissive of protective covering? (Maybe it all makes perfect sense. We don't even have enough masks for our doctors and nurses. We don't have nearly enough for our warehouses and delivery gig workers. So how could officials possibly tell you to wear one? Wear Protection has been superseded by Where Protection?.)

+ It's Time to Make Your Own Face Mask. Here's how to do it. (I've just been using my old football helmet mask...)

+ And that six-foot rule? It was "predicated on a model of disease transmission developed in the 1930s." Short version: Longer would be better.


Shawshank Exemption

"Picture thousands of cruise ships jammed with guests but short on hand sanitizer, protective gear and medical care. Every week, a quarter of the passengers get off, replaced by new people with the potential to either infect or be infected with the coronavirus. There is a place like that in your community: the county jail." The Marshall Project: Why Jails Are So Important in the Fight Against Coronavirus?

+ "Today there are close to 200 confirmed cases when just 12 days ago we had our first. In that space of time we have moved mountains to protect our patients. This is not a generational public health crisis, rather it is a crisis of a magnitude no generation living today has ever seen." The Chief Physician of Rikers Island has an update.


Divided We Sprawl

"It is a striking turnabout for a system that has long been the great equalizer, a space where hourly workers jostled alongside financial executives. Now the subway has become more of a symbol of the city's inequality, amplifying the divide between those with the means to safely shelter at home and those who must continue braving public transit to preserve meager livelihoods." Even a virus can't shrink the great divide. NYT: They Can't Afford to Quarantine. So They Brave the Subway.

+ Nowhere is the divide more visible than on a chalk-marked parking lot in Las Vegas, a city where tens of thousands of hotel rooms sit empty, and the homeless are sleeping on concrete.

+ "Workers around the country are walking off the job to protest a lack of protective equipment, safety measures, even soap." Is Your Grocery Delivery Worth a Worker's Life?

+ Amazon Fires Worker Who Led Strike Over Virus.

+ Hospitals Tell Doctors They'll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear. (It's amazing that people who run organizations still think there are parts of this story that can be contained. This is not business as usual. And our heroes can say whatever the f-ck they want to say.)


The Autocrat Race

"The laws are taking swift hold across a broad range of political systems — in authoritarian states like Jordan, faltering democracies like Hungary, and traditional democracies like Britain. And there are few sunset provisions to ensure that the powers will be rescinded once the threat passes." For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power.

+ Belarusian leader bucks coronavirus 'psychosis,' plays hockey. "It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees!" (Bro, we're living on our couches. And that's better than dying, even if you've already binged The Tiger King.)


The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

"She is the Bay Area's Anthony Fauci, Santa Clara County's most "essential" employee, the one who banished us from Sharks hockey games, canceled her own daughter's high school prom — and eventually shut in 6 million Bay Area residents in six neighboring counties to slow the stampede of a deadly pandemic." Meet the doctor who ordered the Bay Area's coronavirus lockdown, the first in the U.S. (The people who led early will be viewed as heroes, the others, not so much.)

+ Speaking of which, here's Trump during a call with desperate governors. "I haven't heard about testing in weeks. We've tested more now than any nation in the world. We've got these great tests and we'll come out with another one tomorrow that's, you know, almost instantaneous testing. But I haven't heard anything about testing being a problem." (At least he lies to everyone equally.)

+ The Atlantic: Kushner Firm Built the Coronavirus Website Trump Promised. (This is a perfect Trump era story. Bad leadership, inside-dealing, nepotism, and a product that didn't work.)

+ Florida Megachurch Pastor Arrested After Defying Order Not To Hold Gatherings.

+ America, in one lede: "Three pastors are challenging the constitutionality of a stay-at-home order issued by Texas officials in the county that includes Houston, saying the mandate improperly tramples on individual freedoms by closing churches and failing to designate gun stores essential businesses."

+ OK, let's not pick on one religion. Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews in fight over virus rules. (It's right there in the Talmud: Get your ass back in your house.)

+ New Jersey Charged People Under Coronavirus Laws For Throwing Weddings, Parties — And Molotov Cocktails. (What, you thought Jersey would let you down?)

+ Alanis Morrissette, if you're a subscriber, THIS is irony. Crowds ignore social distancing rules to watch USNS Comfort.


Something Broke

Things shut down for a couple of weeks and businesses go under, people go broke, and this is the line for the food bank in Pittsburgh. Maybe the economy wasn't that great after all.

+ The Atlantic: We Need to Start Tossing Money Out of Helicopters. "Put in a more technical and accurate manner: fiscal-monetary coordination or even outright debt monetization. Put in a manner regular people might understand: Get the central bank to create money and Congress to spend it."

+ This is the perfect time to be starting up a business. If that business is toilet paper.

+ A barrel of oil is now cheaper than a pint of beer in Canada. (I'll stick with the beer, oil gives me gas.)


No Timeouts in Poor Governance

"The Trump administration rolled back ambitious Obama-era vehicle mileage standards Tuesday, raising the ceiling on damaging fossil fuel emissions for years to come and gutting one of the United States' biggest efforts against climate change."

+ GOP Plows Forward on Plans to Kill Obamacare, Pandemic Be Damned.

+ Judges Struck Down Three State Bans On Abortions During The Coronavirus Outbreak. And Alabama just became the first state without abortions because of coronavirus measures.


The Walk of Life

"The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, chronicled Professor Helmreich's experiences over four years — and many pairs of Rockports — walking virtually every city block, all 121,000, totaling 6,163 miles. Chatting with strangers, he unearthed a cornucopia of colorful city sidelights; he even once approached members of the street gang the Bloods outside a Bronx housing project and asked them where he could buy one of their red jackets." A virus victim, William Helmreich, Sociologist and a Walker in the City, Dies at 74. (My next walk in NYC is for Helmreich.)


Feel Good Tuesday

"Jackbox Games is an old school gaming studio that cut its teeth with the irreverent CD Rom title ‘You Don't Know Jack' back in 1995." Their current games are getting my family through quarantine. Forget Drinking. Get Your Game Night Buzz.

+ Wild Goats Roam Through an Empty Welsh Town.

+ SiriusXM's Premier Streaming service is free until May 15th. (Yes, Howard Stern for all.)

+ Eggers: Bookstores Can Be Saved.

+ Chinese and MIT researchers are sharing information to beat the virus.

+ Newspaper deliveryman brings groceries to his older customers on morning route, no extra charge.

+ College students are rebuilding their schools in Minecraft.


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. Past chapters here. Next chapter, featuring Kenny Loggins, coming tomorrow.

+ In the meantime, here's something to celebrate. People Behave More Cooperatively During Disasters.