Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TPM.
Annals of Reopening

The whole conversation about ‘reopening’ continues to presume growing public pressure to do so and to move faster than the country already is. But all the available evidence about public opinion suggests this isn’t the case. The smattering of public polls which have come out over the last month show the states with aggressive containment policies with sky high approval ratings for their governors and much lower ones for states that are moving quickly to end or loosen the lockdowns. Now a new poll from The Washington Post shows the pattern even more systematically and starkly.

Here’s the visual breakdown.

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Public Signaling and Public Health

President Trump has repeatedly conflated limiting air travel from China to avoiding “Chinatowns” in the United States. But recent articles note something perhaps counterintuitive about the experience of New York City. Both historic Chinatown in Lower Manhattan (see here) and at least one other Queens neighborhood (see here) with a high concentration of immigrants from Asia have among the lowest COVID19 infection rates. The reasons are intuitive: these communities were focused on COVID early and they’re part of a cultural space in which the experience of SARS in 2003 is very strong. Mask wearing among Asian-Americans and Asian immigrants started in New York City two or three weeks before the city locked down.

TPM Reader JGi thin draws what I think is the most important lesson we can draw …

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Critical Information

One of the signatures of the COVID19 crisis in the US is how little critical information came from the US government sources. The canonical source of death tolls in and out of the United States is a project at Johns Hopkins University. The canonical sources of testing and infection data is a volunteer project spearheaded by a data guy and a journalist at The Atlantic. Yet even in the Trump Era the CDC does continue to do some public health research and publish their findings. Here’s a write-up from Josh Kovensky on a new CDC report which looks at excess mortality data to find that more than 24,000 people in New York died between March 11th and May 2nd as a result of the epidemic.

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What They Do Not What They Say

You’ve likely heard that two White House staffers (one a military valet who attends the President and another the Vice President’s press secretary) have recently tested positive for COVID19. You’ve likely also seen the President’s continual denigration and dismissal of the importance and value of testing. (See one example below.) But one thing that is very obvious is that notwithstanding the President’s comments the White House is following a policy of aggressive and near constant testing, coupled with tracing and isolation for those who are infected.

This is exactly what you would want and expect. And populist criticism to the contrary, it should be even more aggressive at the White House since the health of people at the White House – especially the President – is critical to continuity of government.

Whatever the President says, the people running the White House complex are making it pretty clear what they think.

Bothsidesism Stalks The New York Times

In these dark days we daily see evidence of our dependence on great, robust news organizations like The New York Times that uncover myriads facts we do not and otherwise would not know. But the Times remains steadfastly wedded to the bothsidesist mentality that distorts almost all of its coverage that is any way tied to politics or public policy. If a question turns on these topics things that are clearly facts are relegated to questions of opinion. They must be attributed to political opponents or become the plaything of bad faith arguments and lies.

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The Search for the COVID19

We’ve discussed numerous times this question of, how deadly is COVID19? Or to put it more technically, what is the infection fatality rate (IFR) for the disease? What percentage of people who get infected die from it?

There are a host of technical factors and data we don’t yet have that go into answering this question. But I want to share with you something I just happened upon. If you look at the current New York State serology study and use an apples to apples comparison of the COVID19 death toll in New York City and New York state, it generates an IFR that is basically identical. For the state it’s .88% and for the city it’s .87%.

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Vigilance and Surveillance

There’s a flurry of reporting about how South Korea’s early success breaking the COVID19 epidemic in the country has now ‘dimmed’, as the The Wall Street Journal puts it, with a new potential outbreak. This stems from a new case in which one 29 year old man hit five different bars last weekend in one part of Seoul and exposed as many as 2,000 people. More than fifty new cases have now been identified tied to this one man.

But there’s a more optimistic way of looking at this new rash of cases.

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Doubling Down

TPM Reader DB reports in from the Shenandoah Valley …

So I was listening to your podcast tonight and I wanted to share some things I’ve been seeing. You have been talking about covid turning points, and I will get to that in a second, but I wanted to say I was also struck (dumb) by this warrior bullshit. Like, what the actual fuck? Here’s what the actual fuck: Trump instinctively knows that he does not have what it takes to deal with this crisis. He just doesn’t. We all see that. But he is a betting man, and he always doubles down.

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Your COVID19 Turning Points #10

After walking us through a series of COVID19 turning points over the course of the spring (out of work in the entertainment industry, MAGA protestors, college applications, Zoom school board meetings) in a rural/suburban area on the border of Los Angeles and Ventura counties in Southern California TPM Reader AH comes to this turning point this week …

And the reason why is my other May turning point. My graduating senior checked his friend’s Instagram (also a graduating senior) to see what college he picked on decision day. Instead he discovered that this friend’s dad, a PhD teacher/professor in management and planning, has been hospitalized with COVID since mid April and is in a medically induced coma with organ failure.

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A Catastrophe for the DOJ

From TPM Reader ANON

Your brief write-up is true as far as it goes, but doesn’t even scratch the surface of what a long-term catastrophe this will be for the Justice Department. I’ve been around federal law enforcement for virtually all of my career — as a federal prosecutor, defense lawyer, official at top levels of Main Justice, and judge — and I don’t think the Department has ever suffered a greater self-inflicted wound.

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