Tuesday, April 7th, 2020


Oz Backwards

Come out, come out, wherever you are. Those are the words from The Wizard of Oz we're all anxiously awaiting to hear. It's true, there's no place like home. It's also true we want out. But we can't just click our heels three times to solve this problem. The NYT Upshot with a question we've all been asking: How Will We Know When It's Time to Reopen the Nation? Spoiler alert: Hospitals must exit crisis mode, testing must be widespread, states need to be able to monitor confirmed cases, and we need to see reduced cases for at least 14 days. (For some reason, I'm also reminded of this exchange between Dorothy and the Scarecrow: "How can you talk, if you haven't got a brain?" ... "I don't know. But, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?")

+ We have determined that in the past few days, you may have interacted with somebody who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. There is no need to panic. But for the sake of your family, friends, and neighbors, we are relying on your support. Derek Thompson on The Technology That Could Free America From Quarantine. "Contact tracing is working in South Korea and Singapore. But it raises privacy issues." (We gave up our privacy for a few likes. We'll definitely do it to save our lives.)


Cheese Stakes

Thanks to a pair of court decisions, it really is a worst case scenario for Wisconsin elections. The state Supreme Court has citizens lining up at a reduced number of polling places in the middle of a pandemic. And the US Supreme Court decided that that state can "nullify the votes of citizens who mailed in their ballots late—not because they forgot, but because they did not receive ballots until after Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic." Aside from fighting the virus, the biggest battle in America is about who gets to vote. It might seem self-evident that more voters is better for democracy. But maybe democracy is not everyone's goal...

+ The New Yorker: How the Coronavirus Pandemic Intensifies the Fight Over Voting Rights. (I've already ordered my hazmat suit for November. No chance I'm staying home...)


Racial (Hyper)tension

Race has been a theme underpinning almost every major American story, and Covid19 will be no exception. "Black Chicagoans account for half of all coronavirus cases in the city and more than 70% of deaths, despite making up 30% of the population. Other cities with large black populations, including Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans and New York, have become coronavirus hotspots." Coronavirus wreaks havoc in African American neighborhoods.

+ ProPublica: No, the coronavirus is not an 'equalizer.' Black people are being infected and dying at higher rates.

+ In Chicago, 70% of COVID-19 Deaths Are Black.

+ WaPo: Covid-19 is ravaging black communities. A Milwaukee neighborhood is figuring out how to fight back.

+ Why some people of color say they won't wear homemade masks: Quote of the day: "I want to stay alive but I also want to stay alive."


Drug Pusher

Politco: "President Donald Trump has upended the panel of federal watchdogs overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus law, tapping a replacement for the Pentagon official who was supposed to lead the effort."

+ Well, we know the president can multitask. He's managing to upend good policy and fire quality people while also making daily, hours-long house calls. James Hamblin: Why Does the President Keep Pushing a Malaria Drug? "Over the course of these two weeks, the president of the United States has become the world's most prominent peddler of medical misinformation." While there's some chance hydroxychloroquine can make a difference, from what I've read there's more promising signs with favipiravir. Boston Globe: Massachusetts to launch first US trial of Japanese coronavirus drug.

+ "Trump is genuinely afraid to lead. He can't bring himself to make robust use of the Defense Production Act, because the buck would stop with him. (To this day, he insists states should be acquiring their own ventilators.) When asked about delays in testing, he said, 'I don't take responsibility at all.' During Friday's news conference, he added the tests "we inherited were 'broken, were obsolete,' when this form of coronavirus didn't even exist under his predecessor." Jennifer Senior in the NYT: This Is What Happens When a Narcissist Runs a Crisis. (The perplexing question is, why do the cable networks continue to run his fact-free press conferences live?)

+ "Newsom is so confident, in fact, that he announced the state was donating 500 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile to deploy in states that need them more." Gavin Newsom is basically creating consortium of states to work together to procure and share PPE and other equipment. It's a great idea. We should call it: America.


Boris Fights, NY Plateaus, China Lies

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he's confident Boris Johnson will recover after being admitted to the ICU. "All of our thoughts and prayers are with the prime minister at this time, with Carrie, and with his whole family. And I'm confident he'll pull through because if there's one thing I know about this prime minister, he's a fighter." (We all hopes he recovers. But I hate the refrain that someone will live because they're a fighter. It implies that the people who are dying didn't fight hard enough.)

+ New York suffered the most deaths in a day, but there are signs of a plateau, China reported its first day without a corona death, and, surprise, a top White House official warned in January that a pandemic could imperil millions of Americans. Here's the latest from the NYT.

+ This and all stats from the Chinese government should be taken with a grain (or maybe a full pillar) of salt. From Vice: The Chinese Government Has Convinced Its Citizens That the U.S. Army Brought Coronavirus to Wuhan.


Suspend Belief

"Olga Matievskaya and her fellow intensive care nurses at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey were so desperate for gowns and masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus that they turned to the online fundraising site GoFundMe to raise money. The donations flowed in — more than $12,000 — and Matievskaya used some of them to buy about 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers and 150 jumpsuits. She and her colleagues at the hospital celebrated protecting themselves and their patients from the spread of the virus." Then the hospital suspended her.


Grasping at Awes

"Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on human behavior, told Maria Konnikova that the problem isn't just that the threat posed by covid-19 is hard to grasp—it's that public officials haven't done enough to explain the threat. 'There should be clear guidelines and clear instructions. We all ought to know whether we should open our Amazon packages outside the door or bring them in,' Kahneman said. 'It's not a decision individuals should consider making on the basis of what they know, because they don't know enough to make it." An interesting, short conversation with Daniel Kahneman about why we underestimated Covid-19.


Control Walt Delete

"It was busy, it was fun. I met up with various friends throughout the day, I shared time in the park with others. They had a number of the characters and cast members come out to the train steps for the final hour. Myself and one other person were the last ones to walk out of the gate and they closed the gate behind us." He Visited Disneyland Every Day for Eight Years—Then Coronavirus Happened. M-I-C (see you real soon!), K-E-Y (Why? I have no idea...)


Feel Good Tuesday

New Zealand isn't just flattening the curve. It's squashing it.

+ To Fight Coronavirus, U.K. Asked for Some Volunteers. It Got an Army. More than 750,000 people are pitching in to help older and more vulnerable Britons.

+ In Naples, Pandemic 'Solidarity Baskets' Help Feed The Homeless.

+ Springsteen is playing a home concert on SiriusXM (which is currently free) on Wednesday morning.

+ One of your fellow readers, I'll call him Burt (because his name is Burt), emailed me a photo of himself giving blood in his NextDraft shirt. It was an important reminder that it's never a bad time for branding. Oh, and that in addition to PPE, hospitals are desperate for blood. Give some.

+ Just Federer hitting a ball against a wall, because we're that desperate for sports content!

+ And if you missed John Krasinski a second episode of Some Good News, don't.


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.

+ Now that you're all caught up, it's serialized story improv time. Throw out any topic, idea or cultural reference that you'd like to see in an upcoming chapter. Past topics have included Hillary with an eye-patch, Travolta's time machine altered career, Kenny Loggins sans Messina, a man with an amazing beard, kids plotting a murder during quarantine, NextDoor-incited fist fights, and Days of Our Lives. My submissions have included: Mixing Pop Rocks and Soda, the "Let's Get Mikey" kid from Life Cereal Commercials, and the PSA: This is your brain on drugs. Just think of this like you're at a comedy club and you're yelling out topic for the stand up. (Only, you're the only one in the room because it's a pandemic, and, let's be honest, this is below Damon's pay grade.) Submit your ideas here and check back to see if it makes it into the story.

+ And if you missed it yesterday, please read my open letter to NYC, the city I love.