The Beach is Back

I hate sand. When I'm dragged to the beach, I usually wear jeans and tennis shoes. On the big island, my feet were once burning so badly I had to seek relief by launching myself (with tears streaming down my reddened cheeks) onto a towel, between two suntanning honeymooners. Years ago, I spent the better part of fifty minutes telling my shrink that, since I am married to a Samoan and have two half-Samoan kids, I needed to develop tools to become more flexible on this issue. His response: "I can relate, I hate sand too." That didn't help much, so, yes I remain a bit biased on this issue. But the crowded scenes from my state's beaches last weekend—where California Man seemed to be seriously infringing on Florida Man's brand—were troubling. Governor Gavin Newsom, who I assume has a healthy relationship with sand, felt similarly. "This virus doesn't go home because it's a beautiful, sunny day around our coasts." (This is another way the virus and I are unalike.)

+ The beach crowds were troubling, but they're not hard to understand. If going to the beach is not OK, then why are some California beaches open and others closed? Why are states with rising case numbers moving to open up when places like San Francisco, where the curve has been flattened, extending shelter-in-place orders until at least the end of May? Why, when we see articles questioning whether schools, concerts, sports, and other gatherings will be back before 2021, is the President urging governors to seriously consider getting schools opened before summer break? These are discrete examples, but they point to a broader confusion. This virus doesn't go home because it's a beautiful, sunny day. It also doesn't go home because we can't come up with a coherent, universal strategy. (Our only point of national agreement seems to be that Lysol is better used on the outside of our bodies.)

+ One key indicator: The people who know the most are still voicing the strongest concerns. The Atlantic's Yascha Mounk has been all over this story: No Testing, No Treatment, No Herd Immunity, No Easy Way Out. We need to start preparing for a darker reality. (As a middle-aged, neurotic, hypochondriac, this could the one time I truly feel prepared...)

+ New model shows how deadly lifting Georgia's lockdown may be.

+ In some cases, Governors are telling people to come on out, and businesses are saying, "Yeah, maybe not." Georgia, Tennessee, And Alaska Want Restaurants To Reopen — McDonald's, Chick-Fil-A, And Dunkin' Are Saying Not So Fast.

+ Maybe history provides clues: San Francisco had the 1918 flu under control. And then it lifted the restrictions.

+ ProPublica interviewed experts and frontline officials from Italy, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. These are the 7 things we must do before we open up America. (One big thing some countries are doing that we're not: putting sick people into isolation instead of sending them home.)

+ AP: The US reopening is coming, but ‘normal' is still a ways off.

+ Speaking of normal, lest anyone think Florida Man is in danger of losing his rep: Pastor Rich Vera, who runs a church in Florida, says he believes that faith can stop the coronavirus. He also can't effectively heal people without placing his hands on them. (I wonder if he can help with my sand issue...)


The Coast Isn’t Clear

"Seattle's leaders moved fast to persuade people to stay home and follow the scientists' advice; New York's leaders, despite having a highly esteemed public-health department, moved more slowly, offered more muddied messages, and let politicians' voices dominate." The New Yorker: Seattle's Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York's Did Not. (And as you'll see in this article, these were not, and are not, easy decisions...)


You’ve Got LeBron, I’ve Got the Brains, Let’s Make Lots of Money

By now, all of us know small business owners and employees who were unable to score a PPP loan. And all of us have been perplexed by some of the small businesses who got them. Like the LA Lakers? ESPN: Lakers got money from loan program, returned it.

+ "Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin criticized big companies – including the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team — taking loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, and warned that others following suit will undergo a full audit." I share Mnuchin's outrage, but, well, wasn't it the federal government that came up with the rules for who could get the loans? This is a basketball story, but it reminds me of the time an NFL official threw a flag for, "Givin 'em the business."


Private Investigators

"This group, whose work hasn't been previously reported, has acted as the go-between for pharmaceutical companies looking for a reputable link to Trump administration decision makers. They are working remotely as an ad hoc review board for the flood of research on the coronavirus, weeding out flawed studies before they reach policy makers." The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19. "They are working to cull the world's most promising research on the pandemic, passing on their findings to policy makers and the White House."

+ There's no saying what happens to the information once it gets into the White House. WaPo: President's intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat.


Collateral Damage

"Breen's father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, said she had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on patients. 'She tried to do her job, and it killed her.'" A top emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital that treated many coronavirus patients died by suicide Sunday.

+ "What happens if you and daddy die?" WaPo on the toll the virus has taken on the children of health care workers.

+ Another indicator of what the pandemic has wrought: Sympathy Cards Are Selling Out.


Real Talk About Trash

"The stench is overpowering, but it's only one of many workplace hazards. As they pick through the jumble looking for discarded wood, cardboard, plastic tarps and anything else that can be recycled, they must be careful not to come too close to the bulldozers distributing the waste across an ever-rising plateau. Landslides are a constant danger." The NYT with one more example illustrating that, while we're all facing the same pandemic, we're not all facing the same challenge. Jakarta's Trash Mountain: ‘When People Are Desperate for Jobs, They Come Here.'


Smoke Screen

"'We all know that smoking is obviously bad for you, ' said Raymond Niaura, the interim chair of the Department of Epidemiology at New York University and an expert in tobacco dependence and treatment. 'It follows logically that smokers would be way worse off. I would think that too. But I've been surprised: That's not the story we're necessarily seeing.'" Vice: Why Are Smokers Being Hospitalized Less Often From Coronavirus? (Maybe others are less likely to want to stand within six feet of them?)


Juggalo Standards

"Quickly, internet commentators crowed that the band that once rapped 'I'm a circus ninja southwest voodoo wizard' was, as The Independent's headline put it, 'being more responsible about coronavirus than Trump.' It's just the latest example that the portrayals of the president as a clown only end up insulting actual clowns, who probably don't deserve the abuse. It's also a sign that Insane Clown Posse is among the few cultural leaders who know that the pandemic-era role they should play is, simply, to tend to the community they've built." The Atlantic: Insane Clown Posse Is Modeling Ideal Pandemic Leadership... (Whoop Whoop!)


Feel Good Tuesday

A reporter went on Good Morning America wearing no pants. He didn't realize we could all see. (Maybe his producers wanted him to be more relatable.)

+ There has been a ton of positive feedback about my wife Gina's cover playlist: Cloud Cover.

+ In Italy, 'Suspended Shopping' Helps Those Facing Economic Hardship. "Suspended shopping is an act of charity in which the donor doesn't show off and the recipient doesn't have to show gratitude."

+ They got married in the middle of the friendliest street in town — and the neighbors all came to help.

+ WaPo: Amid the pandemic, a family learns their neighbors are their long-lost relatives. (I've been trying to convince the people in my house that we're not relatives.)


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 15 chapters are here.

+ Damon's story is a lot about time travel. Can the same be said for Ferris Bueller's Day Off? "Life moves pretty fast, but there is absolutely no way Ferris, Sloane and Cameron make it back home by 6." (Thinking about that movie makes me want to get out of the house even more. Ferris Bueller's Day Off From Zoom Class just doesn't have the same ring to it...)