David Kurtz

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David Kurtz is TPM's executive editor and Washington Bureau chief. He oversees the news operations of TPM.
The Enormity Of The Challenge
TPM Reader EO is coming to grips with the challenges ahead for government at all levels:

Long-time reader/subscriber, first time writing in. I work in the leadership of a local government unit that has a pretty significant number of COVID-19 cases, but isn’t one of the biggest national hotspots. We have been progressively locking the area down since last week, with changes the last few days that basically shut the doors on all public life.

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Canary In Coal Mine?

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Phoebe Putney Health System’s flagship hospital in Albany, a city anchoring southwest Georgia, has exploded with possible COVID-19 patients in the last five days. The hospital now houses 65 patients who’ve either been diagnosed with the disease or are waiting for tests to confirm the diagnosis. That’s just the inpatients; 115 more with less severe symptoms are at home, waiting for test results. The hospital released the numbers along with a plea to speed up testing.
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In It For The Long Haul

As folks struggle to get their heads around how long the fight to “flatten the curve” might have to last to be truly effective, Josh Kovensky has a new story out framing up how to think about an essential paradox of the fight against COVID-19.

All else being equal, a successful mitigation strategy will tend to require sustaining extreme measures for longer than if we simply endure a short, fast, and brutal blitz of cases that overwhelm the health care system. As Josh puts it, it’s the difference between a tsunami and an extended high tide. Understanding that dynamic helps to begin to come to grips with how long the current disruptions may have to last.

That said, some expert readers responded to the story noting some other advantages to slowing COVID-19 down. They make some good points.

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We’ve updated our breaking overnight news to indicate where in Washington state the ER doc who tested positive is located: It’s Kirkland, the epicenter of the state’s outbreak.


Important new developments in a story we’ve been working since Friday: two emergency room doctors on opposite coasts are in critical condition in what could be the first U.S. cases of occupational transmission of COVID-19. Josh Kovensky has been on the story day and night. Here’s his report.

‘Daily Existential Dread’

TPM Reader OM offers the perspective of being immuno-compromised and living with the threat of COVID-19:

COVID-19 has hit at a very strange time for me.  …

I had a liver transplant on Jan. 22. 

One hell of a time to become immuno-compromised.

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So Many Questions About COVID-19 Testing

I’ve been grappling all week with how to cover the COVID-19 testing debacle in a smart way. It has become the focal point of much of the public concern, and I suspect it’s what elected officials are hearing the most about because everyone wants to be tested. But people clamoring for tests and politicians responding to the clamor doesn’t necessarily align with what makes the most sense from a public health standpoint.

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About That ‘Tremendous Testing Set Up’

You saw Trump’s remarks yesterday where he falsely claimed that the United States has a “tremendous testing set up” for those entering the country. In contrast, we have had a number of accounts from readers arriving back in the United States in recent days who have been concerned that not only are they not being tested, but they’re not even being screened for symptoms or possible exposure on their trips.

Here’s an example from TPM Reader AG who emailed overnight with about her arrival in the United States from Italy earlier this week.

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Leadership And Half Measures

We’re starting to see herd behavior around social distancing measures, and it’s pretty powerful. The more people do it, the easier it for everyone to do it. But TPM Reader JA has a good point that it starts at the top*:

Kudos to TPM for keeping folks out of the office. I am thinking this morning about why leadership from on high is so important relative to COVID-19 and social distancing, and that’s because half measures aren’t good enough in themselves, and because for me half measures lead to quarter measures.

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Why Hasn’t Trump Declared A COVID Emergency?

Exclusive new reporting from TPM on how the Trump administration’s slow-footed response to COVID-19 is hampering the public health efforts in Washington state (and presumably other states, too). Instead of clearing the way for a more robust state-level response, President Trump is calling Washington’s governor a “snake.”

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