You’ve likely seen reports of new flare-ups or surges or outbreaks of COVID around the world in countries that appeared to have been ‘doing well’ – Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, et al. These are real outbreaks and the countries are, unsurprisingly, reacting swiftly to stamp them out. But how these stories are received in the United States painfully illustrates our collective inability to grasp the sheer magnitude of our failure with COVID.
Let me give you one example.
Here is a graph that provides important perspective on the current outbreaks in the South and Southwest compared to the COVID outbreak in the New York City metropolitan region in March and April.
This graph shows daily fatality numbers in New York, Florida, Texas and Arizona on a per capita basis (fatalities per million residents) expressed as a seven day moving average. These are statewide numbers for New York. But it’s overwhelmingly the New York City metropolitan area. As you can see, that outbreak still totally dwarfs what is currently happening in any of the other three states. Arizona is substantially worse than Texas or Florida. But the state’s apparent peak is still only slightly more than a quarter of the daily death toll New York saw in early April.
One of the most pressing questions about the COVID epidemic is why some places are doing so much better than others. This applies both globally and within the United States. One example that gets raised a lot is why is New York State doing so relatively well while states in the South and Southwest are being hit so hard?
We need to start the conversation saying a) We don’t completely know and B) There are clearly multiple factors. But let me share some thoughts with you on one part of this debate.
While I still cringe that I see people in New York City not wearing masks, the truth is mask wearing is near universal in New York City. My sense is that aggressive mitigation efforts, both pressed by state authorities and embraced by the population, is the main reason why New York has at least to date avoided a second wave of infection. The last time New York’s case positivity rate went over 2% was June 2nd.
The Jacksonville GOP convention flop is a microcosm of the administration’s failed COVID response. Months ago Democratic leaders saw the writing on the wall – the impossibility of holding a mass, packed indoor event during a pandemic – and essentially cancelled the 2020 convention in favor of an online affair. The President and many others at his lead portrayed this and messaged it as an example of the Democratic girlyman-ism which makes it so critical to keep Trump and Republicans in power.
TPM Reader JV reminds us of this 2014 letter from the Department of Justice to the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department which touches on the issue of officer identification.
Officers wearing name plates while in uniform is a basic component of transparency and accountability. It is a near-universal requirement of sound policing practices and required under some state laws. Allowing officers to remain anonymous when they interact with the public contributes to mistrust and undermines accountability. The failure to wear name plates conveys a message to community members that, through anonymity, officers may seek to act with impunity. Further, the lack ofname plates makes it difficult or impossible for members of the public to identify officers if they engage in.misconduct, or for police departments to hold them accountable.
From an article in the Times we learn today that President Trump importuned his Ambassador to the United Kingdom to get the UK government to hold the British Open at his struggling Golf Resort in Turnberry, Scotland. It is hardly the worst act of corruption or criminality by this President or those who work for him over the last three and a half years. It is most notable for the sheer casual brazenness of the President’s corruption and the fact that we are only hearing about it two and a half years later. It wasn’t a secret. Numerous diplomatic staffers at the US Embassy knew about it. It was reported back to State Department. It was apparently part of an Inspector General’s review that has never been released.
I wanted to let you know that you can now use ApplePay for TPM memberships. Personally I find this very helpful whenever I try to sign up or subscribe to something on mobile because putting in a credit card number is just unwieldy on my iPhone. In any case, that’s now an option if you prefer it. As always, today is a great day to become a member if you haven’t already. Just click here.
Before we get to far into the day’s news I wanted to recommend to you this article about Portland. It’s by Robert Evans writing in Bellingcat, a publication/collaborative I’m most familiar with for their crowd-sourced forensics out of conflict zones on the periphery of the former Soviet Union. TPM Reader RK flagged the piece to our attention.
What makes the piece so good and worth your while is the density and lucidness of the reporting. Evans has been on scene reporting on the protests since the very beginning in May, seemingly every single day right in the protests themselves. The reporting is both vivid and dispassionate while also being clearly engaged. I’ve tried to touch on some of the broad dynamics of this story. Here you have it way down to the particulars, with a richness of detail that is both literary and deeply informative. You may or may not agree with Evans’ perspective. But like all good writing you’ll come away knowing much more regardless.
Here’s one amazing passage …
Fascinating update here from TPM Reader JW on the Portland situation and the structure of the city government itself …
This pertains to your “More from Portland #2“.
From TPM Reader AR on how Trump “decided to throw a hand grenade into my city so that he could do a test run on his reelection platform of looking tough by having federal riot police beat up my neighbors.”
I don’t have any searing insight into city government or high-level local politics as the previously published anonymous readers. Instead, I’d like to just briefly expand upon what reader NM wrote.
I’m a fairly progressive liberal. A Warren liberal, though, rather than a Bernie liberal. I work ten minutes from the Federal Courthouse. I live five minutes from the police union headquarters. If you live anywhere in inner Portland, you are effectively living “ten minutes” from everything. That’s just a byproduct of our intentionally dense city planning (stretching back decades). This proximity leads to a general awareness of most things that occurring here in any given moment.