Thursday, April 2nd, 2020


It’s All About the Base

Video conferencing can provide a social salve. Streaming content and distance learning have been pretty great for families. Delivery services have enabled us to stay home and still get what we need. But when we're talking about essential businesses, we have to move closer to the base of Maslow's pyramid. It's the food, dude. And the food starts in the dirt. Now is as good a moment as any for Americans to pull their heads out of that dirt and show a little appreciation—or at least a little less bigoted contempt—for those who toil in the soil. NYT: Farmworkers, Mostly Undocumented, Become ‘Essential' During Pandemic. "Ms. Silva, who has spent much of her life in the United States evading law enforcement, now carries a letter from her employer in her wallet, declaring that the Department of Homeland Security considers her 'critical to the food supply chain.'" (Here's a bulletin: Ms. Silva was essential before the pandemic too. So when we stick a fork in the fruits of her labor, let's also stick a fork in the political myth that she's some kind of threat to America.)


The Book of Job(s)

"The speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982. By shuttering businesses and forcing vast layoffs, the coronavirus outbreak has in two weeks wiped out more jobs than the worst months of the last recession." Two weeks. Ten million new claims for unemployment benefits. A Widening Toll on Jobs: ‘This Thing Is Going to Come for Us All.'

+ "What are the economic rules of this upside-down world, where opening the economy too soon produces mass death, but shutting it for too long produces mass suffering?" Derek Thompson: The Four Rules of Pandemic Economics.


Southern Exposure

"For decades,­ people in the 11 states that seceded during the Civil War -- America's poorest region -- have suffered from a scourge of obesity and hypertension, which intensify the danger of the coronavirus and the Covid-19 respiratory disease that it causes. Four of the five states with the highest diabetes rates are in the South. And eight didn't expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving thousands of families without access to routine care, even as financially troubled rural hospitals wither away. Those factors give the South a special vulnerability, as did the haphazard response from some governors as the disease began to course through the country." Bloomberg: The South, Sickest Part of a Sick America, Falls Prey to Virus.

+ "The virus's spread in Louisiana is among the fastest in the world. Beaches in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Carolinas all recently drew crowds of non–socially distant spring breakers. Reports of raucous partying in Southern cities such as Nashville, Tennessee, continued long after New York and the West Coast showed just how bad things could get. And churches remained stuffed with congregants, while some deeply conservative Southerners swatted away concerns about the pandemic, labeling it a liberal hoax meant to damage President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the severity of the pandemic." Slate: Is the South Ready for the Coronavirus?

+ WaPo: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who resisted strict coronavirus measures, says he just learned it transmits asymptomatically. (Kemp either needs a subscription to NextDraft or a new job.)


Shoring Up Jersey

"Day and night, ambulances crisscross the streets of Paterson, the eerie silence of a once-raucous city shredded by siren shrieks so pervasive it sounds as if the city is under attack. Which, in a sense, it is." 12 Fraught Hours With E.M.T.s in Paterson, NJ. (Amazing first responders, and amazing journalism.)

+ "Outside, there is a refrigerated morgue truck. Patients come in, some die, and that's where they go. Bodies are cremated because of infection risk. Families never get to see their loved one again. My colleague had to deliver a death notification by phone, something we are trained to never do." Slate: Two Doctors Log Their Days Inside NYC Emergency Rooms.

+ Pentagon confirms it's working to provide 100,000 body bags to FEMA.

+ Why are health care workers being canned for telling the truth?


The Kid Stays in the Picture

"Dozens of Trump administration officials have trooped to the White House podium over the last two months to brief the public on their effort to combat coronavirus, but one person who hasn't ... has emerged as perhaps the most pivotal figure in the national fight against the fast-growing pandemic." Politico: Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response. (Editor's note: Goodbye, everyone.) Seriously, the most knowledgeable and talented minds in America are ready to serve as point people for this disaster. They're still waiting by the phone while Jared gets on the job training...

+ Related: Authoritarian Populists Have Six Classic Moves. Trump's Response to COVID-19 Uses Five of Them.

+ Patriots do what federal government can't, deliver 1.2 million N95 masks from China. (And in this case, we mean the New England Patriots.)

+ "'China sent us some stuff, which was terrific. Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice,' Trump told reporters Monday." WaPo: Trump called Russia's coronavirus aid to U.S. ‘very nice.' Putin may use it as a propaganda coup. (What does it say about America that it's receiving medical supplies from a failed state? Here's what it doesn't say: "Great Again.")

+ The Nation: The Military Knew Years Ago That a Coronavirus Was Coming. (Their report was so prescient, it's scary.)


Thou Shalt Not Kill

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally shut his state down, "but said religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship are 'essential business' and are therefore exempt." Trust me, not paying attention during services on Zoom is just as gratifying as not paying attention in person. And there's an added benefit: No one gets killed (an outcome that god, very early on in the ten commandments, quite clearly frowns upon.)

+ "Do you understand that this is a gimmick? It's a test. I want to pass the test, so as for me and my house we're going to serve the Lord." Idaho pastor and state Rep. Tim Remington continues to hold in-person church services. (Tim, you failed the test.)

+ Hobby Lobby Keeps Disobeying State Stay-at-Home Orders.

+ "The papers - there were several local papers back in those days - are also filled with tales of locals refusing to stay home, to suspend business, to quit enterprises that risked their lives. Despite the edicts, business carried on in the mining camp." When Butte wouldn't shut down.


Keeping Out with The Kardashians

"Over the past two years, [she] has become a force in the world of criminal justice reform. She has successfully lobbied President Trump, spent time on the phone with governors and legislators, written letters in support of clemency petitions and paid legal bills for people trying to get out of prison." NYT: Inside Kim Kardashian's Prison-Reform Machine.


197,980 B.C. (Before Corona)

"When I finally arrive at the property in the early afternoon, she welcomes me to her wooded outpost wearing hand-stitched leathers. She heats her 900-square-foot log cabin by tending a wood-burning stove. For illumination she prefers the flicker of a tallow lamp, in much the same way that she favors water collected from the river to that which flows readily from her faucet." Outside: The Woman Who Lives 200,000 Years in the Past. (At this point, I'd settle for living in 2019...)


Feel Good Thursday

"Tavi, an engineer who grew up taking apart the family vacuum cleaner to see if he could put it back together, said he would sleep on it. But he didn't sleep. Instead, he made a pot of coffee and downloaded the more than 300-page manual for the LTD 1200, the type of ventilator state officials said they needed repaired." Can you fix ventilators? A fuel cell engineer figures it out.

+ James Patterson sets up fund to help indie booksellers.

+ Andrew and Chris Cuomo with the brotherly banter we need. For just the highlights, the Recount has TV's best new family drama: The Brothers Cuomo.

+ Need to get outside? Explore has all the webcams you need.


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. Next Chapter tomorrow. Past chapters here.

+ Meanwhile, the Lindelof story is getting some decent coverage, but this article got a little dark towards the end. "NextDraft is a site created by the late Dave Pell, which produces ten new stories everyday." (What can I say? Damon drove a hard bargain...)

+ This would be a good time to Draft Some New Readers.