April 25th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Can one mask make a difference? Plus, more on the Cloroxymoron, and is Kim Jong Six Feet Un?

With a population of over eight million residents, New York City is America’s most densely packed city. It sits in a state of over 20 million people who have suffered more than 282,000 Covid-19 cases and 16,000 deaths during the pandemic. The state has 214 hospitals and a health sector that employs well over a million people. With numbers like these, can a single N95 mask possibly make a difference? It turns out the answer is yes. Dennis Ruhnke, a retired farmer from Kansas had five masks in storage, and he sent one to Governor Cuomo’s office, along with a hand-written letter: “I am a retired farmer hunkered down in N.E. Kansas with my wife who has but one lung and occasional problems with her remaining lung. We are in our 70s now and frankly I am afraid for her … Enclosed find a solitary N-95 mask left over from my farming days. It has never been used … If you could, could you please give this mask to a nurse or a doctor in your city.” Cuomo read the letter and held up the mask during his daily press briefing: “You want to talk about a snapshot of humanity. You have five masks, what do you do? Do you keep all five? Do you hide the five masks, do you keep them for yourself or others? No, you send one mask. You send one mask to New York for a doctor or nurse. How beautiful is that? How selfless is that? How giving is that? It’s that love, that courage, that generosity of spirit that makes this country so beautiful. And it’s that generosity for me makes up for all the ugliness that you see. Take one mask, I’ll keep four.”

+ U2: One. One love / One blood / One life You got to do what you should / One life / With each other / Sisters and my brothers / One life / But we’re not the same / We get to carry each other, carry each other.


Second Thoughts

There’s been some talk of giving people who have recovered from the virus, “immunity passports,” to give them more freedom to re-enter social settings. The WHO is warning against such a strategy: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

+ “As Oxley, an interventional neurologist, began the procedure to remove the clot, he observed something he had never seen before. On the monitors, the brain typically shows up as a tangle of black squiggles — ‘like a can of spaghetti,’ he said — that provide a map of blood vessels. A clot shows up as a blank spot. As he used a needlelike device to pull out the clot, he saw new clots forming in real-time around it. ‘This is crazy,’ he remembers telling his boss.” WaPo: Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes.



What has the administration been doing in the midst of a pandemic? Working to clean up yet another mess created by the boss. The crazy talk about UV light and disinfectants led to warnings from everyone from the CDC to the makers of Lysol, and could dramatically alter the future of the daily White House falsehood fests. NYT: Trump’s Suggestion That Disinfectants Could Be Used to Treat Coronavirus Prompts Aggressive Pushback. Some White House “officials said it was one of the worst days in one of the worst weeks of his presidency.” (I’m guessing there are some kids in cages who’d take issue with that analysis. Every day is the worst day. Even today: Stephen Miller indicates immigration pause will be long term.)

+ Where did the president get his latest crazy idea? Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus ‘cure’ wrote to Trump this week. (It matters because these are the snake-oil hawking crackpots he’s listening to instead of actual experts.)

+ When it comes to spreading potentially deadly misinformation, the president is not working alone. He has plenty of accomplices in the media. I touched (or, more like, punched) on this yesterday? E.R. 404: “Someone needs to get this TV doctor off the air, stat, before Doogie Howitzer gets anyone else killed.”

+ At least there was one positive to come out of Lysolgate. I was so scared by the resulting health warnings, I switched to edibles.


Faultered States

“Why, in the techno-futurist worldview, is disaster always near? Surely it’s relevant that the industry is built atop an earthquake zone. But there may also be something about making money in a heartbeat that predisposes you to imagine it disappearing in one.
It could be that if you spend all day thinking of ways to break a system, you realize how easily everything can be broken.” Nellie Bowles in the NYT: I Used to Make Fun of Silicon Valley Preppers. Then I Became One.

+ A photo essay also from the NYT: The Great American Divide: The coronavirus crisis has underscored our enduring inequalities in race, wealth and health. (I’m guessing that people on the wrong side of that divide have little need for it to be further underscored.)


Cruising for a Bruising

“As they stood shoulder-to-shoulder and crowded around pool chairs, the captain led the ship in a special salute to health-care workers of the world, an onboard version of the nightly applause adopted by some cities to honor medical professionals battling the novel coronavirus. Five days later and thousands of miles away in the Atlantic, a group of British passengers aboard another ship, Coral Princess, likewise gathered elbow-to-elbow to cheer the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. The celebratory mood did not last long.” WaPo with an article and short documentary on the cruise industry and the pandemic at sea.


Six Feet Un?

One of the world’s more perplexing mysteries is the current health of Donald Trump’s favorite pen pal. Reuters: “China has dispatched a team to North Korea including medical experts to advise on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to three people familiar with the situation.” (Even the meaning of that sentence is sort of a mystery.)


The Show Must Go On(line)

If you were wondering where your kids disappeared to, here’s your answer: Fortnite hosted a psychedelic Travis Scott concert and 12.3M people watched. And from Vox: This weekend’s coolest concert is happening in Fortnite. Other brands take note: Adapting to the situation is a powerful way to deal with the situation.


Lone Calculation

Boston Globe: They chose to live alone. But in the grip of coronavirus, what started as freedom has sometimes turned to isolation. (People who live alone are devastated by isolation. People who live with their families are dying to be alone.)


Feel Good Saturday

Stephen Wilkes’s photographs of essential workers in his hometown of Westport, Connecticut, document a different kind of frontline. “Without Them, I Don’t Know What We’d Do.”

+ Appreciation caravans honor California’s essential farmworkers.

+ Rice ATMs Dispense Free Food to Out-of-Work Vietnamese.

+ Microsoft Word now flags double spaces as errors, ending the great space debate.


Something Something Something Murder

The most excellent Damon Lindelof (Creator of Lost, Watchmen, and The Leftovers) has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. The first 14 chapters are here.

+ A new chapter is coming tomorrow. In the meantime, some bonus content: Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before Lying Down? According to experts: “Turning in circles before lying down is an act of self-preservation in that the dog may innately know that he needs to position himself in a certain way to ward off an attack in the wild. Turning around 360 degrees also provides an opportunity to take one last look for potential predators before bedtime.” (Here’s a counter-argument from a layperson: You just washed your white duvet cover. Your dog just played in the mud. And now he’s gonna f-ck your sh-t up.)

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