Thursday, April 9th, 2020


The Buy and Bye

Across the globe we're all in something together; weathering a shared experience and deploying familiar tactics against an common enemy. But even against an identical threat, the things that divided us before, such as borders and national wealth, still play a role in which part of humanity gets what. Purchase power is everything. You either make the buy or you buy the farm. NYT: In Scramble for Coronavirus Supplies, Rich Countries Push Poor Aside. "Scientists in Africa and Latin America have been told by manufacturers that orders for vital testing kits cannot be filled for months, because the supply chain is in upheaval and almost everything they produce is going to America or Europe. All countries report steep price increases, from testing kits to masks." Dr. Catharina Boehme, the chief executive of Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics: "There is a war going on behind the scenes, and we're most worried about poorer countries losing out." That war has been going on behind the scenes since the beginning of time.


The Toll

"New rules and procedures, prompted by the pandemic, have prevented many families from holding memorial services. And, in some of the harder-hit towns and cities, funeral homes and morgues are now reaching capacity." Photos from InFocus: An Unimaginable Toll.


Giving Up Rent for Lent

"More than two-thirds of US Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and experts predict that people in service jobs, manufacturing, and construction will likely be hit hardest by the coming economic turmoil." 6.6 million people filed for unemployment this week (and those are just the ones who get through to officials, which has been notoriously difficult). That makes nearly 17 million claims in the past three weeks.

+ Will I Get A Check From The US Government, And How? Here's Everything You Need To Know.

+ "Many of the organizations that typically donate large volumes of food have themselves shut down. Restaurants, hotels and casinos have closed across the country. And grocery stores, which ordinarily share unsold inventory that is approaching its best-by date, have less to donate because their worried customers have been stripping so many shelves bare." While people are waiting for checks, cars are lining up for miles at some food banks, and nearly a third of Americans didn't pay rent this month.

+ Among those who can't pay their rent: WeWork.


Playing Keep Away

Anthony Fauci says our strategies are having a positive effect: "The real data are telling us that it is highly likely that we're having a definite positive effect by this mitigation things that we're doing — this physical separation — so I believe we are gonna see a downturn in that. And it looks more like the 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000. But having said that, we better be careful that we don't say, 'OK, we're doing so well we can pull back.' We still have to put our foot on the accelerator when it comes to the mitigation and the physical separation."

+ "Throughout these simple, seemingly innocuous encounters, the man had mild symptoms of what authorities now know to be the novel coronavirus, and health officials believe he may have been a so-called super-spreader who unwittingly transmitted the infection to as many as 16 people, resulting in three deaths." The Terrifying Story of an Unwitting Potential ‘Super-Spreader' in Chicago. (This is why people who see you without a mask at the grocery store want to punch you in the face, even though they can't because of social distancing.)

+ A Natural Coronavirus Experiment Is Playing Out In Kentucky And Tennessee.

+ Wired: The Asian Countries That Beat Covid-19 Have to Do It Again.

+ You know how all the experts are saying that the key to beating this thing and getting out of the house is testing? So, um, Federal Support Ends For Coronavirus Testing Sites As Pandemic Peak Nears.


Giving Humanity a Real Shot in the Arm

"The nurse and physician who saw me both said they had come out of retirement to help with this study." Ian Haydon in WaPo: I just got a shot of a coronavirus vaccine. I hope it works!

+ "If there is a way—a vaccine, therapy, or drug—to stop the coronavirus, it will be by blocking these proteins from hijacking, suppressing, and evading humans' cellular machinery. The coronavirus may sound small and simple with its mere 29 proteins, but that is also what makes it hard to fight. It has so few weak spots to exploit." The Atlantic: The Best Hopes for a Coronavirus Drug.

+ "We're all trying to do something which we have almost no precedents for, which is accelerating a vaccine in the middle of a pandemic." NYT: More Coronavirus Vaccines and Treatments Move Toward Human Trials.


The Loon and Sickpence

"Pence's office, which is responsible for booking the officials on networks during the pandemic, said it will only allow experts such as Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci to appear on CNN if the network televises the portion of the White House briefings that includes the vice president and other coronavirus task force members. CNN often only broadcasts President Donald Trump's question and answer session, which sometimes includes the health care officials, live on-air." CNN: Pence's office blocks public health officials from appearing on CNN. (Which is worse? That Pence's office is blocking health officials from spreading important information unless a media outlet shows the entire episode of Press Conference, or that CNN broadcasts Trump's QandA misinformation rallies live? I'm gonna call this a tie.)

+ "First, it was the media that was at fault. Then, Democratic governors came under fire. China, President Barack Obama and federal watchdogs have all had a turn in the crosshairs. And now it's the World Health Organization that's to blame." As pandemic deepens, Trump cycles through targets to blame. (He's also cycling through a few hundred pages of symptoms listed in the DSM. Showing it live costs lives.)


The Jig is Up

"Now, with much of the world under lockdown and looking to kill time, jigsaw puzzles have taken on new role: a tool to save humanity. Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, even referred to jigsaws as essential, and allowed people to leave the house to buy them." NYT: Here's How Those Hot Jigsaw Puzzles Are Made.


The Circle Jerk

"The event, which began on April 4, at 9 A.M. EST, initially had over 2,000 runners from around the globe taking part in a virtual-style competition that, depending on where you sit, is either an uplifting reminder of human resilience, or another reason to despair.
The 'backyard ultra' format was invented by Gary 'Lazarus Lake' Cantrell, the creator of the Barkley Marathons, and requires all participants to run a 4.1667-mile lap—no more, no less—every 60 minutes, and to keep doing so until only one runner remains." Outside: The Quarantine Backyard Ultra Is Perfectly Insane.

+ If you haven't watched The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young, you should. It will make you happy to be quarantining at home...


Feel Good Thursday

Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care.

+ A Georgia bar owner removed $3,714 worth of bills stapled to the walls to give to her unemployed staff. (That's what I call getting rid of a hangover.)

+ A YouTube gamer helped raise nearly $660,000 in 12 hours for Covid-19 relief. (Makes sense. With regular sports offline, e-sports are going gangbusters, as are my son's PS4 bills)

+ Tyler Perry pays senior-hour groceries at 44 Krogers in Atlanta, 29 Winn-Dixies in New Orleans.

+ New Zealand PM Assures Kids, Easter Bunny & Tooth Fairy Are Essential Workers. (They're just wearing really fun hazmat suits...)

+ At long last, a mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta. "Each user of the toilet is identified through their fingerprint and the distinctive features of their anoderm." (I'd know that ass anywhere.)


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 11 chapters are here.

+ Both my mom and my dad called to say they liked my Open Letter to NYC. (Compliments don't come easy in the Pell household.)

+ And, there's time to attempt to get your cultural reference into Damon's story. Submit your ideas here. (One of my ideas is making into tomorrow's chapter. So it can't be that hard!)