Monday, April 6th, 2020


Going Antiviral

"Every time a new virus appears we scramble for a new treatment. Our usual antiviral approach is, as researchers say, 'one bug, one drug'; often, it's no drug. David Ho has spent forty years fighting the aids epidemic, which has killed thirty million people and still kills nearly a million a year; he has seen three coronaviruses ambush us in the past two decades. Like many scientists, he's tired of being behind the ball. He'd like to see a penicillin for viruses—one pill, or, anyway, a mere handful—that will eliminate whatever ails us. He and his colleagues aim to have these next-generation drugs ready in time for the next pathogen. 'We have to be proactive,' he told me. 'We must not be in a position of playing catch-up ever again.'" We may not have sports or other competitions. But we're watching the race of our lives. The New Yorker's Matthew Hutson: The Quest for a Pandemic Pill.


The Apple of My I

"Some people say you have to live in New York for ten years to be a New Yorker. Shit, it took me ten seconds. I once saw Lou Reed play Dirty Boulevard during a rehearsal in Letterman's studio. When I say New York, I know what the hell I'm talking about." From Me: A Letter to the City I Love.


Unarmed on the Front Lines

"Everyone basically agreed we should dedicate one person to covid intubations during the day and another at night, and I started thinking: I'm 33 years old. I don't have any kids at home. I don't live with older relatives. About an hour after the meeting, I emailed my supervisor. 'I'm happy to do this. It should be me.'" Cory Deburghgraeve, on performing one of the pandemic's most dangerous jobs: "You're basically right next to the nuclear reactor."

+ "In 2015, Turang worked in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, but says that experience was less stressful than what her colleagues are enduring now in the United States." This Is What Happens When the Federal Government Abandons You.

+ NPR: "Some facilities stated that they turned to non-traditional sources of medical equipment and supplies ... such as online retailers, home supply stores, paint stores, autobody supply shops, and beauty salons."

+ I'm sorry to report that the story gets worse from here. "Many health systems are making direct cuts to their payrolls, eliminating or shrinking performance bonuses and prorating paychecks to mirror reduced workload until operations stabilize." And from ProPublica: Overwhelmed Hospitals Face a New Crisis: Private Equity-Backed Staffing Firms Are Cutting Their Doctors' Hours and Pay. (A pandemic hitting the American health system is like a person jumping to escape from a burning building and landing in quicksand.)


Small Change

"'We are experiencing a high volume of calls at this time' ... It may take a month or more for the largest government bailout in history to show much effect. Federally-backed emergency small business loans will become available through banks, but demand is likely to cause delay, like those calls to the unemployment office." 60 Minutes with a report on how the financial side of this crisis is smashing small businesses, and how hard it is to even get through to support organizations. But wait. It's also a report on the amazing things some small businesses and their customers are doing to make it through. (These days, we'll take small victories.)


What the Foxtrot?

In the continuing saga of the dismissed aircraft carrier captain who is now at home with Covid-19, the "Acting" Navy secretary just blasted him as 'too naive or too stupid' in speech to his sailors. You can listen to the remarks yourself, because, as it turns out, even people criticizing other leaders for being naive about leaks can have their speeches leaked. This story pains me. Because of the federal government's lack of foresight and its current management failures, our military's best and brightest are largely sidelined during America's fight of a generation. Meanwhile, they have to sit on their hands and watch this PR disaster turn into a full on Charlie Foxtrot. This is what happens when the chain of command begins with a guy who is off the chain. Perhaps no one puts a more accurate spin on the situation than the sailor, who about a minute into recording of the speech, can be heard yelling, "What the F--k?"


Badgered Into It

"The mayors said it was going to be impossible for their local clerks to safely and effectively administer the election amid the pandemic. But their pleas went nowhere. Federal lawsuits looking to delay the election failed and the Republican-controlled state legislature refused to make any changes to the election date or existing election laws." Wisconsin's Election Amid Coronavirus Sparks Anger. Americans are being told to shelter in place while Wisconsinites are being told to gather at polling places on Tuesday? We live in an insane asylum.


Dr. Demento

"Standing at the microphone, Fauci opened his mouth — but before he could speak, the answer came out of Trump's instead." WaPo: Trump blocks Fauci from answering question about drug Trump is touting. As he has done in the past when it comes to promoting hydroxychloroquine, Trump asked, "What do we have to lose?" The president of the American Medical Association has an answer: "A life."

+ Who you gonna trust on matters of health? Experts, or Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Oz, and White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, who explained he would let Fauci "speak for himself," but added, "I would have two words for you: Second opinion." (Editor's note: Generally, a patient seeks a second opinion from, well, a medical doctor. Navarro is a doctor of social science.)

+ Meanwhile, former world officials call on US to ease Iran sanctions to fight Covid-19. (All told, this is 24 second opinions on this topic.)


No One is Immune

"You don't have to be a science denier to end up seduced by bad information. A pandemic makes us all excellent targets for misinformation. No one has natural immunity to this coronavirus, leaving us all threatened and looking for information to make sense of the world. Unfortunately, the pace of scientific discovery doesn't match the speed of our information ecosystems." Charlie Warzel in the NYT: What We Pretend to Know About the Coronavirus Could Kill Us.

+ At least 20 UK phone towers vandalized over false 5G coronavirus claims.


Feel Good Monday

John Krasinski is back with a new episode of Some Good News, this time with some help from Hamilton cast members.

+ Apple has sourced over 20 million protective masks, now building and shipping face shields. (I'm proud to be living in the United States of Apple!)

+ "Zanusso — who also survived the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 — has now recovered well." This 104-year-old Italian woman just kicked coronavirus' ass.

+ Enjoy some Freeride Skiing at Home.

+ This innovative LA breakfast pop-up serves sandwiches lowered down in a bucket. (Which helps, because we're all at the end of our rope.)


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. The first 10 chapters are here. Read it and spread the word. New chapters coming this week.

+ If you're all caught up, Draft Some New Readers. I may have implied to Damon that this newsletter was really popular!