Come What May

"I'm always driving, going back-and-forth between nursing homes, the hospital, and the morgue. All these roads should be empty if you ask me. But now I see people out running errands, rushing back into their lives, and it's like: 'Why? What reason could possibly be good enough?' Sometimes, I think about stopping and showing them one of the empty body bags I have in the trunk. 'You might end up here. Is that worth it for a haircut or a hamburger?'" The science is interesting. The politics is infuriating. But there's nothing quite as engaging as the simple, human stories of the pandemic. And no one is better at capturing those voices that WaPo's Eli Saslow. Listen to the voice of Michael Fowler, Dougherty County coroner, on the reopening of Georgia. "I don't believe in getting hysterical. It's doesn't do any good. This is a numbers-and-facts job. But we have numbers and facts that are screaming out by themselves."

+ "Researchers tracking smartphone data say they recently made a disturbing discovery: For the first time since states began implementing stay-at-home orders in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Americans are staying home less." I hit the road for a bit yesterday (I swear, it was essential), and the traffic was pretty typical for a Saturday.

+ WaPo: "After shutting down much of American life in March and keeping people home throughout April, governors are preparing to lift restrictions as the calendar turns to May — and cross their fingers that the novel coronavirus doesn't come roaring back." Will we be smelling May flowers or yelling, Mayday? May the force be with you.


Out on a Limbo

"We haven't vanquished it or even begun to fully understand it. We have endless questions — about percentages infected, about immunity, about the ability to test. Doctors are still struggling to document exactly what the virus is doing to our bodies when we get it. We may be past the peak of the first wave, but there may be more waves. They may be deadlier. Or perhaps not. We don't know." This isn't just a story for politicians and epidemiologists. It's a story for all of us. And it's a rare story where the most accurate answer to many of our most pressing questions is: "We don't know." Charlie Warzel in the NYT: We're Stuck in Coronavirus Limbo.


Modi Operandi

"Somehow, during his more recent years in Gujarat, Modi had managed to rebrand himself as a sunny, pro-business techno-­utopian, an abstemious leader with an intuitive grasp of 21st-century infrastructure and social media. An unnerving segment of the Indian and international elite seemed to buy this image. But the even more disturbing implication of Modi's election was that tens of millions of Indians had voted enthusiastically for his original brand: for the virulently Islamophobic, authoritarian rhetoric that his party spewed through lesser officials and, sub rosa, on vast WhatsApp lists. In Delhi, it was hard to come face to face with this vast swath of India. But to do so, I didn't have to go particularly far." Mohammad Ali in Wired with a riveting piece on how the world's largest democracy, has also become the world's largest experiment in social-media-fueled terror: The Rise of a Hindu Vigilante in the Age of WhatsApp and Modi.


Fisher Cuts Bait

"The community association is responsible for maintaining common areas on the 216-acre island full of pristine landscaping, swimming pools and tennis courts, and it directly employs people to do that work." How did the Fisher Island Community Association, residents of the most expensive zip code in America, score $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program? They voted not to accept the dough. But the question still stands.

+ NYT: The Tax-Break Bonanza Inside the Economic Rescue Package.


Newspaper Buoy

"The senators said that federal agencies should look to share 'essential information' about the pandemic 'through local advertisements,' which would inject some much-needed investment into media companies." Nearly three quarters of US senators call on Trump administration to help local news. Like so many other recent American stories, the pandemic is ultimately a battle over disseminating the truth.


Swab Culture

"Broadly, there are two types of tests, doing two very different things in two different ways." Kevin Slavin with a useful overview: A Non-Scientist's Primer on Testing for COVID-19. (I find this stuff less complicated to explain than how to test one's microphone ahead of Zoom sessions...)


The Bust Boom

"A state bankruptcy process would thus enable a Republican Party based in the poorer states to use its federal ascendancy to impose its priorities upon the budgets of the richer states." You've likely been hearing a debate over Mitch McConnell's recent comments about letting states go bankrupt. The Atlantic's David Frum with an excellent explainer about what's at stake. Why Mitch McConnell Wants States to Go Bankrupt.


Cadet Collector

"General Williams said in a telephone interview that returning seniors would be tested off-campus for the coronavirus. Those who test negative will then be sent to the school, where they will be monitored for 14 days before graduation. While the campus has enough dormitory rooms for the 1,000 seniors, General Williams said that he was still deciding whether seniors would share bedrooms on their return." NYT: Trump Speech to Bring 1,000 West Point Cadets Back to Campus. "He's the commander in chief, that's his call."


Feel Good Sunday

"'Leaving our loved ones is not an easy thing to do. But we are aiming to make the first citizens of our country really first in this moment." Team of UCSF Medical Workers Heads to Navajo Nation to Help Population Overwhelmed by Virus.

+ Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said he'd like Brad Pitt to play him on Saturday Night Live. Well, last night, that's exactly what happened.

+ This 1,000-Year-Old Mill Has Resumed Production Due to Demand for Flour. (It took a pandemic, but carbs are back.)

+ Sick of being stuck in the house? Travel the World with These Livestream Cameras.

+ Meet Buddy and Barley, the doggy duo delivering beer during lockdown. (This is the one time someone else will pick up after your dog...)


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 couple recent pieces by me: Shiny, Happy, People in Quarantine. And E.R. 404, or why going live costs lives.