A Note on TPM’s Finances and Business During the COVID Crisis

We’ve been hearing from many of you asking about TPM’s finances amidst this crisis and what’s happening with us as a company. Each time another publication shutters or announces layoffs, which has happened almost daily for the last two weeks, we hear it more. So here’s an update on our status. I will try to answer the question holistically because there are a lot of moving parts.

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German Officials Accuse US of COVID Mask Piracy

Here’s a wild story out of Germany, or maybe Bangkok. There’s enough uncertainty here that I wouldn’t take this story as necessarily accurate but rather as accusations that themselves capture the breakdown of trust and uncertainty gripping the world today.

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COVID Miscellany #1

Let me run through a number of small updates and links on the crisis.

*** We’ve discussed the IHME model out of Washington state which appears to be becoming the canonical model for governments and hospital systems for predicting the course of the epidemic. They are updating it most days by plugging in the latest new data and seeing how the model changes. From March 31st to April 1st the estimate for overall mortality nationwide rose 11,624 to a total of 93,765. Yesterday the number ticked down by a couple hundred. Today they say their next update will be tomorrow. We shouldn’t make too much of the absolute number. They are actually broad ranges of predicted possibilities. The point is that currently lack a lot of the data the models require to approach something like accuracy. As more nuggets of data – what actually happened – comes in the predicted outcomes can change rapidly.

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In Governor Cuomo’s press conference today he mentioned that the new facilities at the Javits Center (the big mega expo and conference center in midtown) is being transitioned to being another COVID hospital. Originally it was going to be a non-COVID facility to take stress off the hospitals. The Navy has also loosened the restrictions that had kept almost all patients off the USNS Comfort. What was most striking though is that Cuomo said that there just aren’t many non-COVID patients in the city. The plan was that these new facilities would take other acute needs off the existing hospital system’s hands. But there aren’t that many.

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Understanding Global Distribution Networks in The Hour of Chaos

Let me share with you three notes from TPM Reader SK. The exchange starts in response to TPM Reader BW and my post from last night. Some of the points SK makes about BW I don’t necessarily agree with, or at least points of emphasis. But I’m sharing these emails because SK is in the distributor business (though not for medical supplies) and has a wealth of knowledge about the nitty gritty of how these distribution channels work. That’s critical background to understanding any of this.

One point that is incredibly important to understand is the distinction between two very different kinds of players involved in these transactions.

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Where Things Stand: Then What Purpose Does A Federal Stockpile Serve, Jared?

Not to pile on Jared Kushner for a second day in a row … but what is he talking about?

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Fortunes for a Lifetime on Medical Grade Masks

I’ve been on something of a crash course since last night trying to make sense of how and why the federal government is relying – at least to a significant degree – on ordinary market forces to distribute medical supplies during this national crisis. I noted last night in this post and video how this is the plan in terms of how the White House task force is approaching this. These airlifts from abroad are mainly being used to ferry purchases by private distributors. In itself that is not a bad thing. Indeed, it addresses a critical need. So let’s understand that first.

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You Need To Look At This

TPM Reader BW flagged something to me from this evening’s White House press conference that strikes me as pretty remarkable. The US has established an airbridge of flights from abroad to bring in supplies of masks, gowns, all the supplies we’re hearing are in short supply. But in answer to a question from Weijia Jiang of CBS News, the Admiral in charge of this effort explained that those supplies mainly are not going to FEMA or the states. They’re going to private sector distributors. And that seems to be one of the big reasons why states are having to fight amongst themselves over them, bidding up the price along the way.

Here’s the video.

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Hopes Dashed After Trump Mega Fan Announces Mask Hoard

Remember Robert Hyde? He was the Connecticut contractor, congressional candidate and Trump mega-fan who somehow found his way into the Trump/Ukraine scandal. He was the guy updating Lev Parnas on the team he purportedly had surveilling US Ambassador Maria Yovanovich in Kyiv, Ukraine. Seems like a lifetime ago, right?

Well, he’s back. And he’s sitting on a stockpile of n95 masks. Or so he claims. This morning we saw this tweet in which Hyde announced he has ten million N95 and KN95 masks available for delivery, apparently through Finley Hyde & Associates, LLC the lobbying firm he established to provide access to Trump world power-brokers.

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New CBO Projections Are Bleak

The congressional budget office (CBO) put out a report today on the impacts of coronavirus to the economy and it is bleak. Perhaps the most jarring nugget is they think the country could have a 9% unemployment rate at the end of 2021.

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Stay Home
| News

The resistance some states have shown to implementing aggressive coronavirus responses has led public health experts to call for President Trump to issue nationwide stay-at-home guidance.

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Grim Numbers
| Muckraker

There’s still so much we don’t know. As health care systems in New York City and around the country start to buckle under the stress of COVID-19 patients, it’s not clear what the true death toll of the pandemic will be.



He's Back
| News

Anti-government extremist Ammon Bundy led a meeting last week where he agitated for Idahoans to physically defy the state’s stay-at-home order, which is meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Our Book Recommendations
| Cafe

Staying mentally grounded has become increasingly difficult as COVID-19 continues to dominate the news cycle and our lives. Finding things to help distract ourselves and to get out of our heads for a little bit are a must, whether it’s a new hobby or skill, talking to family and friends, TV shows, movies or a good book. While we at TPM join much of the world in practicing social distancing, we asked our staff to share what books they’re reading while they cope with isolation.

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Bail Out Students
| Cafe

The federal government is in the midst of rolling out a $2 trillion bailout package to try and mitigate the effects of the national coronavirus shutdown. Much of this money will go to major corporations, while working and middle-class Americans may see at most a few thousand dollars. Very little has been done to take care of gig workers, freelancers and consultants who have seen contracts cancelled, or drastically reduced, and customers evaporate. Perhaps it could have been better spent bailing out student debtors.

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