And For What? #6

From TPM Reader TK

I just read the post from ME in CA.

I too am from CA. I could not agree more with the entirety of his comments.
I’m seeing and hearing a lot of comments from CA citizens blaming Newsom. Some want an immediate recall. They are foolish and idiotic.

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And For What? #5

From TPM Reader FW

I echo ME’s anger. We both are in our mid 60’s and work from home so that part of Covid hasn’t been a big deal. We started to draw back in mid February, when I started stocking up on stapes. Except for early voting in late February I haven’t been anywhere outside of our immediate neighborhood. I switched to grocery delivery. We get food delivered once or twice a week. Some enterprising neighbor has arranged for food trucks to copy by a few times a week (they normally get their business from bars). I haven’t had a draft beer since February and was sort of hoping that by now I would feel safe visiting a local brewery with a beer garden — but no. Probably 75% of the people I see walking the neighborhood wear masks and I could have predicted most of the 25% that don’t from behavior before the pandemic.

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And For What? #3

From TPM Reader ANON

I think it’s too extreme to call the new orders in California a return to a shutdown.

And I note that other news sources and pundits (e.g., Krugman) have given similar reports.

In areas that have kept to a slower schedule, nothing has changed at all, additional public outdoor attractions will reopen as scheduled on Monday. However, it is true that some business openings that were scheduled to open in the next two weeks will be postponed.

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And For What? #2

From TPM Reader SK

I find ME’s take on California a little narrow and politically self-serving.

The die was really cast in CA back on Memorial Day weekend. Every couple of weekends after the shutdown the girlfriend and I would go driving up the 101 thru Malibu towards Ventura, really just to see the ocean on a drive to get out of her Valley apartment. Not stopping outside of a gas pump, and not interacting with anyone. The first time we drove, late March I think, the whole area was deserted, with hardly any cars in either direction. But, ultimately, even before Memorial Day, we started seeing more and more cars stopped on the side of the road on that drive, people out, half-masked at best, trying to escape outdoors.

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And For What?

From TPM Reader ME reports in on California moving back to lockdown …

This 2nd California shutdown really pisses me off.

I live in Los Angeles and work for one of the big movie studios. I was one of the last employees to stop working on the lot in March, but since then I’ve been super locked-down working at home.

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The Achilles Heel of Testing

I’ve noted repeatedly in recent weeks that for all the calamities of our national COVID response, we are actually doing a lot of testing.

As you can see, we’re doing a lot of tests and the growth over time has been steady and sustained.

Over the last seven days the average number of daily tests was 681,374, with the highest daily number 845,777. That’s a lot of tests. And we stack up fairly well against other large countries in Europe in terms of per capita testing.

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Where Things Stand: GOP Keeps Losing, Conceding In-Person Rally Fights
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

Despite the Texas Republican Party’s most valiant efforts to hold its annual gathering in Houston this week, the state’s all-conservative Supreme Court on Monday blocked the GOP’s ongoing appeals to hold the gathering in-person.

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Can You Get Reinfected?

Here is a very concerning article just published by a practicing physician in Vox. He reports, admittedly on very limited clinical evidence and anecdotal reports from colleagues, that people appear able to get reinfected with COVID after fully clearing an initial infection. He also suggests that such reinfections may be more severe. He compares it to diseases like dengue fever where you get a worse case each time you get it.

We’ve seen a handful of reports like this over the last four or five months. I have generally dismissed them because in every case I had seen (mostly out of East Asia), more thorough analysis showed the reports to be mistaken.

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TX Primary A Test For November In State That Has Resisted Mail-In Balloting Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box
Not Just Die or Survive

Most of us know that with COVID and many other diseases there is seldom a clear binary division between ‘died’ and ‘went back to life as though nothing had ever happened’ post-recovery. One of the things that has increasingly driven my news interest and personal concern are the many studies showing how many people who survive critical or severe cases of COVID face permanent disability or organ damage or other lifelong diminutions of health and quality of life. There are also many people who have mild or moderate cases of COVID, now dubbed “long-haulers”, who get the disease but don’t clearly get better. Weeks or months later they’re still experiencing old symptoms or new symptoms or a changing parade of new and old. Doctors don’t seem clear whether these are attenuated recoveries or permanent damage. A limited but still non-trivial number of patients suffer various neurological symptoms or what could well be permanent brain damage.

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Where Things Stand: Fauci Knows Politics Have Contributed To Our Grand COVID Failure
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has played a vital role and has been a consistent, therapeutic presence in the U.S.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since the earliest days of the White House task force.

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Back to Herd Immunity Hocum

An Alabama Republican political leader (Senate President pro-tem) is back to pushing the “herd immunity” strategy as cases mount in his state.

There are a number of problems with this approach, not least of which is that having everyone get the disease as a way of combating the disease is a rather logically and conceptually confused approach. But more particularly we have the case of New York City.

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The Crumbling

We’ve been inundated with news today. I don’t mean just “us,” as in TPM, I mean the collective us. Everything from Supreme Court decisions, to mounting COVID destruction, various Trump-driven or inspired legal developments and the unfolding story of the 2020 election. I’ve been trying to absorb and make sense of it. Across the whole terrain we can see President Trump’s power ebbing and fracturing.

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ICE Expelling Students For Online Classes Will ‘Encourage Schools To Reopen,’ Cuccinelli Says Prime Badge
This Week in the Swamp: A weekly dive into the muck of the Trump administration.
Desperate and Absurd

It’s the 20th most important thing in the Geoff Berman testimony. Or maybe the 100th. But I was struck by this line from Barr after Berman refused to resign from his job as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. According to Berman, Bill Barr told him “that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.”

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Where Things Stand: Something Else On Our Radar
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

While we digest today’s SCOTUS rulings on President Trump’s financial records — you can find our first breakdowns here and here — there’s something else we’re monitoring this afternoon that might be of interest.

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Into the Storm #2

I’m publishing this letter from TPM Reader LS not because she and her family have encountered any great tragedies but because it illustrates the level of life disruption even for people who’ve been pretty lucky: reasonably comfortable financially, no job loss, no one seems to have gotten badly sick or died of COVID.

From LS (lightly edited for anonymity) …

So, I’m a teacher near Austin, TX. We had an over 800% increase in cases a few weeks ago. Now, we’re celebrating that we had an actual drop in case #s? I call BS. The free testing we had in our town a week or two ago is gone, and, here’s a note on my ARC website as I go to make an appointment for my annual visit:

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Into The Storm

From TPM Reader ES

I remembered a wistful email exchange we had on election night in 2016 – now we were going to see how resilient American institutions truly are or something to that effect. In retrospect our mistake was to only consider institutions like government and the press, and not the myriad of other small-i institutions that, taken all together, make up society.

I am very scared of what’s coming for 3 reasons:

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Where Things Stand: SCOTUS Decision On Trump Finances Coming Tomorrow
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

We’re already preparing for a busy Thursday morning. 

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Making Sense of the (Happy) Mystery of the Declining COVID Death Toll

One of the true mysteries of this stage of the COVID Crisis in the United States is why the death toll from the disease continues to fall, albeit slowly, even after months of plateaued cases and weeks of rapid case growth in most of the country. The White House has glommed on to this disjuncture in a highly dishonest and opportunistic way. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand what’s happening on its own terms.

It is helpful to distinguish between two issues.

The first is the range of potential reasons why fewer people may be dying of COVID or becoming severely ill even though more people are getting it – even taking into account more testing. I want to devote another post to making sense of potential reasons for this. They are a variety of factors including the age profile of people getting infected, an improved standard of care, perhaps even people becoming infected with less intensive exposure.

Again, we’ll come back to those in another post.

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Where Things Stand: An Endless Quest For Leakers
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

The pattern has become pretty predictable.

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On the Schools #1

From TPM Reader JS on the whether the schools should reopen in the Fall …

I’m a high school teacher. I teach math in a rural, Title I school. I have very conflicted feelings about the re-opening, but I can tell you there is a very vocal portion of my colleagues that feel like being sent back this fall is being treated like cannon fodder (check out /r/teachers for example). I disagree with that and I think between masking and the mounting evidence that children are weaker vectors, makes the situation more manageable. I’m also a parent I know that my kids need to do something soon or they are going to be damaged for life, not just due to lost learning (something in my household that isn’t as big of a problem) but due to the isolation.

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School Reopening and Magical Thinking

We’re now down to little more than two months before school starts in most of the country and a great many districts, if not necessarily most, are yet to announce definitive plans for how they are going to conduct school in the Fall semester. Indeed, the entire subject of school closures and openings is another example of a country trapped in magical thinking, yet another permutation of the “reopening” debate.

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Where Things Stand: Maybe He’s Sort Of Listening
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

As we flagged earlier this morning, attendees at President Trump’s upcoming rally in New Hampshire will be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks even though President Trump has thus far refused to wear one in public.

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Watch Out, New York

After being the center of the cataclysm, New York State and New York City have become a great COVID success story, showing what’s possible with an aware public, aggressive mitigation and robust testing. But we may be seeing the first hints that the national trends are catching up with this.

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Curbside Only, Folks

One of the many ancillary insights or interesting developments during the epidemic is the creative use of anonymized big data to learn to things about the outbreak. Mobility data tied to cell phone and mapping apps is one example. Not too long after the outbreak began they started surfacing some of their trove of mobility data for people and public officials making public health decisions. (If you haven’t seen it, check it out here.) Credit card use is another. JPMorgan Chase just released a report based on their own credit cards which suggests a strong correlation between “card present” restaurant purchases and new outbreaks.

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