April 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The people we call essential, the lab that could save America, Martyrdom and Dumber, and Weekend Whats.

We’ve spent a lot of time labeling certain workers as essential. But in many cases, those same workers have been treated like they’re expendable. BBC’s Jessica Lussenhop on Coronavirus at Smithfield pork plant: The untold story of America’s biggest outbreak. “Julia’s parents used up all their remaining vacation time to stay home. After work, they took off their shoes outside and headed straight into the shower. Julia bought them cloth headbands at Walmart to pull over their mouths and noses while on the line. For Julia, alerting the media was just the next logical step in trying to keep them all healthy, by creating public pressure to close the plant down and keep her parents home. Instead, it marked the beginning of nearly three anxiety-filled weeks during which her mother and father continued to report to a factory they knew could be contaminated, to jobs they could not afford to lose. They stood side-by-side less than a foot away from their colleagues on production lines, they passed in and out of crowded locker rooms, walkways and cafeterias. During that time, the number of confirmed cases among Smithfield employees slowly mounted, from 80 to 190 to 238.” And it kept climbing. And this is happening at other food processing plants as well. “The BBC spoke to half a dozen current and former Smithfield employees who say that while they were afraid to continue going to work, deciding between employment and their health has been an impossible choice.”

+ “I’m afraid. It’s not only about the line. When we finish our shift, or we come in to start, we all come in together through the same doors. If one of us gets sick, all of us get sick.” Mya Frazier in The Guardian: The food workers on the coronavirus front line.

+ AP: 4 Georgia poultry workers dead from coronavirus. (We’re all sharing recipes and Instragramming the fruits our new cooking skills, but when it comes to this group of workers, there are no fundraisers to feed them, there’s no cheering from the balconies…)


Be Test

“Eight days after the 200 volunteers started building the new testing lab, the Biohub was up and running. Since March 20, it’s been able to process 2,500 tests a day, at no cost. Quest Diagnostics, one of the biggest diagnostic labs in the country, was saying that if you sent them a test, it would take them a week to get back to you with an answer, along with their bill. In just one day more than it took Quest to process a single test, DeRisi built an entire lab that could process 2,500 of them. A day. For free. Any given test it could process inside of three hours. DeRisi was pretty sure his lab was bigger than any lab in the country that was faster than his, and faster than any lab that was bigger.” There are a lot of stories about re-opening America. But they’re really all one story. That story is testing. Michael Lewis: The Covid Test Lab That Could Save America.

+ Did I mention I put together this handy guide for the media when it comes to the testing story?

+ And some positive treatment news: “Chicago hospital treating severe Covid-19 patients with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir in a closely watched clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week.” (This the med I’ve been hearing about from docs I know. Not hydroxychloroquine…)


Weekend Whats

What to Book: “Sisyphus is the patron saint of the war on drugs.” That point is made in stark fashion in Toby Muse’s excellent new book that tracks cocaine from the harvest to the nose. I read a ton on this topic. This book is riveting, informative, personal, and great. Kilo: Inside the Deadliest Cocaine Cartels—from the Jungles to the Streets.

+ What to Hear: It’s not often that an album gets a ten from Pitchfork. So I’d say Fiona Apple’s, Fetch the Bolt Cutters is worth a listen.

+ What to Watch: The Rolling Stones are the latest artists to join the Lady Gaga curated One World: Together At Home concert. It will be streaming, pretty much everywhere, on Saturday.


Martyrdom and Dumber

“While protesters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and other states claim to speak for ordinary citizens, many are also supported by street-fighting rightwing groups like the Proud Boys, conservative armed militia groups, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups and other elements of the radical right.” The rightwing groups behind wave of protests against Covid-19 restrictions. You gotta fight, for your right, to perish…

+ These pictures show crowds protesting against coronavirus lockdowns at state capitols. And that Ohio protest photo looked like a zombie movie? Zombie movie directors think so, too.

+ How effin crazy are these crazy self-sabotaging m-effers? NYT: Bill Gates, at Odds With Trump on Virus, Becomes a Right-Wing Target. “Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world’s richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system.” (I blamed Gates for Word, PowerPoint, IE6, and Clippy, but when he started trying to save the world, I forgave him…)

+ And you’ll never guess who’s fanning the flames of insanity. Hint: It’s in All Caps.


Rearranging Dreck Chairs

“While it would have been tough to get everyone aboard the ships back to their home ports without infecting more people, Friedman says several of the plagued Carnival ships didn’t even begin their voyages until well after the company knew it was risky to do so.” Bloomberg goes deep on the Carnival Cruise story: Carnival Executives Knew They Had a Virus Problem, But Kept the Party Going. “Almost all the passengers interviewed for this story say they’d cruise with the company again. After all, Carnival offered many of them free vouchers for future trips. ‘The more you travel with them, the more goodies they give you … It’s like rats and cocaine.'” (That gives new meaning to cruise lines…)

+ The Chairman of Carnival Corporation is On Trump’s Back-To-Work Council. All Aboard!!!


Letters From the Front

“It’s tough after a long day of working at a hospital to leave and then … to see, you know, staff on the sidewalk, just like crying and hugging each other.” The NYT Mag with a pretty amazing photo journey through The Epicenter: A week inside New York’s public hospitals.

+ “What is interesting about this whole epidemic is that we are so similar. In the beginning it’s denial, like, ‘Everything is fine, what are you talking about?’ … Then, every time you thought someone was exaggerating, it all turned out to be true.” WaPo: An oral history of the coronavirus pandemic.

+ A two-minute doc: A day with an NYC paramedic in the COVID-19 fight.


Electoral College Loans

“During the first 10 days of the federal government’s small-business rescue program, the spigot was wide open in Nebraska. Firms there got enough money to cover about three-fourths of the state’s eligible payrolls. It was a different picture in New York and California, where companies received less than a quarter of their share.” Bloomberg: Small-Business Rescue Shows Not All States Are Created Equal. (Sometimes, it makes good financial sense to be in the red…)


Photo Finishes On Top

“It shows a demonstrator reciting protest poetry, while a crowd of fellow protesters illuminate him with the light from their phones.” World Press Photo 2020: Image from Sudan uprising wins.


Feel Good Friday

“A rather chunky, old-time screenwriter doing nunchucks — it makes people giggle.” This Guy Used Coronavirus Quarantine To Perfect Swinging His Nunchucks. (This could help me with perfecting my quarantine parenting skills…)

+ An Australian family recreates 15-hour holiday flight in living room.

+ The 99-year-old British war veteran who was walking laps of his garden to raise money for British health services has crossed the $22 million mark.

+ Michael che pays rent for everyone in building his grandmother lived in before she died of the coronavirus.

+ Man hosts socially distant driveway bingo with toilet paper prize.


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 13 chapters are here.

+ We’ll have more chapters next week. Meanwhile, with Passover in the rearview mirror, it’s time to focus on Sourdough.

Copied to Clipboard