Sunday, May 10th, 2020


Do As I Say, Not as I Zoom

"Three members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, another stark reminder that not even one of the nation's most secure buildings is immune from the virus." This move, of course, makes sense. It also brings up a question: Shouldn't meatpackers be afforded the same opportunity? They're labeled essential, but is Fauci less essential?

+ "Will America's appetite for meat be sated without sickening armies of low-wage workers, and their communities, in new waves of infection?" Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat Plant. (It's Donald Trump's America, bet on the white meat.)


Sick Nurse

"'Are you better yet? Why aren't you better yet?' I don't know. I don't know anything. My brain keeps racing with unanswered questions. Are my lungs scarred? Is my heart damaged? Can I get sick again? Will I be hiking the Adirondacks this summer or lugging this oxygen tank from the den to the bathroom for the rest of my life? I hate this virus. It's been two months of uncertainty and I don't think I can take any more. Why are my legs burning? Why is my skin so hot? I need answers. I need help." In another remarkable as-told-to piece from WaPo's: Eli Saslow, Darlene Krawetz, a nurse for thirty years, explains what life becomes when covid-19 won't go away.


Divided Some Of Us Fall

"On the same day that Elon Musk, the famously eccentric CEO of the electric-car company Tesla, saw his net worth hit $36.6 billion, Maricela Betancourt, one of the many people who work in his factories, was agonizing over her family's bills." What Life Is Like for Millions of Americans Facing Financial Ruin Because of the Pandemic. "While she relied on a food bank to supplement family dinner and Daniel turned to gig work for extra -income, Musk publicly mused that he's considering selling all of his possessions because they 'just weigh you down.' Tesla's stock price rose so steeply this year (28%) that on May 1, Musk tweeted that it was too high." (For someone who's dating a singer, he sure is tonedeaf.)

+ Related: "Tesla sued local authorities in California on Saturday as the electric carmaker pushed to re-open its factory there and Chief Executive Elon Musk threatened to move Tesla's headquarters and future programs from the state to Texas or Nevada." (I'll chip in for a one way hyperloop ticket.)

+ The coronavirus economy is exposing how easy it is to fall from the middle class into poverty.

+ "The government reported that 20.5 million people lost their jobs in April. It marked a period of unfathomable pain across the country not seen since the Great Depression. Also on Friday, the stock market rallied." The Bailout Is Working — For the Rich.

+ A key indicator: As millions of Americans are going broke, Peloton can't make bikes as fast as people are buying them.


Trickle Down

"When it arrived in the unforgiving industrial towns of central Mexico, the sand-swept sprawl of northern Nigeria and the mazes of metal shanties in India's commercial capital, Mumbai, COVID-19 went by another name ... People called it a 'rich man's disease.' Pandemics throughout history have been associated with the underprivileged, but in many developing countries the coronavirus was a high-class import — carried in by travelers returning from business trips in China, studies in Europe, ski vacations in the Rockies. As infections initially concentrated in better neighborhoods, many poor and working-class people believed the disease wouldn't touch them, as if something terrible but rarefied." LA Times: How coronavirus — a ‘rich man's disease' — infected the poor.


Land of the Free Fall

"A country that turned out eight combat aircraft every hour at the peak of World War II could not even produce enough 75-cent masks or simple cotton nasal swabs for testing in this pandemic. A country that showed the world how to defeat polio now promotes quack remedies involving household disinfectants from the presidential podium. A country that rescued postwar Europe with the Marshall Plan didn't even bother to show up this week at the teleconference of global leaders pledging contributions for a coronavirus vaccine A country that sent George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower to crush the Nazis now fights a war against a viral killer with Jared Kushner, a feckless failed real estate speculator who holds power by virtue of his marriage to the president's daughter." Timothy Egan in the NYT: The World Is Taking Pity on Us.

+ WaPo: "Around the world, countries are winning the battle against the coronavirus and beginning a responsible return to work, school and leisure, confident that their governments have the deadly virus in check. But the United States plays the loser. Unwilling to do the hard work needed to beat the pandemic, we are quitting: forcing people back to work without protections people in other countries enjoy." The most powerful country in the world is failing."

+ Yet another inexplicable decision in a sea of chaos from WaPo: In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America. "We are the last major domestic mask company. My phones are ringing now, so I don't 'need government business. I'm just letting you know that I can help you preserve our infrastructure if things ever get really bad. I'm a patriot first, businessman second." (The bad decisions and management failures are adding up almost as fast as the lies.)


District Attorney Capped

"Olivia Pearson knows what it's like to be caught up in the criminal justice system in southern Georgia. In 2016, a local district attorney's office indicted Pearson, a Black grandmother and civil rights activist, on felony voter fraud charges and threatened her with years in prison after she helped a first-time voter who didn't know how to use an electronic voting machine." That district attorney is George E. Barnhill. If you've been paying close attention to the news, you might recognize the name. He Didn't File Charges in the Ahmaud Arbery Case. But He Spent Years Accusing a Black Grandma of Voter Fraud.


Bottom Leaders

"Past twenty-seven thousand feet, the pilot had gone beyond the theoretical limit for any kind of fish. (Their cells collapse at greater depths.) After thirty-five thousand feet, he began releasing a series of weights, to slow his descent. Nearly seven miles of water was pressing on the titanium sphere. If there were any imperfections, it could instantly implode." The New Yorker's Ben Taub: Thirty-six Thousand Fee Under the Sea: The explorers who set one of the last meaningful records on earth.


Getting the Picture

Like daily presidential intelligence reports, stories are often best told in pictures. That seems even more true during these bizarre times. Here's an time-capsule worthy collection of 29 Of The Most Powerful Photos Of The Week.


Feel Good Sunday

"More than 4,000 hospital staff -- including doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and facilities and food service teams -- at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst were surprised with a three-night complimentary vacation."

+ A 15-year-old is dropping off puzzles and handwritten notes at nursing homes to cheer up residents.

+ Anonymous donor pays rent for local record store.

+ Newsom signs executive order to send every registered Californian a mail-in ballot.

+ Rock band Portugal. The Man will send kids the books an Alaska school district banned. (Even a band with a grammatical error in its name cares more about literature than some Alaska educators.)


Let Kids Drink

SNL rings in another week in quarantine, and Mother's Day, with a new song for the kids: Let Kids Drink. "They'll be happier and funnier and they'll be asleep by six."