Thursday Reads: Staying Inside and Peeking Into Other People’s Homes

Wassily Kandinsky, My Dining Room

Good Morning!!

Have you found yourself trying to read the titles of books behind all those experts appearing on TV from their homes these days? I certainly have, and I’m not alone. Some people also like to examine famous people’s knick knacks and decorating choices while watching TV. I found several interesting articles about these voyeuristic pastimes.

The New York Times: What Do Famous People’s Bookshelves Reveal?

Bibliophiles do not approach bookshelves lightly. A stranger’s collection is to us a window to their soul. We peruse with judgment, sometimes admiration and occasionally repulsion (Ayn Rand?!). With celebrities now frequently speaking on television in front of their home libraries, a voyeuristic pleasure presents itself: Are they actually really like us?

The Times discovered that actress Cate Blanchett owns all 20 volumes of The Oxford English Dictionary; and Prince Charles owns a copy of Shattered, by Dick Francis, the famous mystery writer whose books feature horse racing as well as a biography of the painter Basil Taylor, who mostly painted horses. Read more examples and see photos at the link above.

Pierre Bonnard, Dining Room in the Country, 1913

Vogue: If You Can’t Stop Staring at TV Anchors’ Home Backgrounds, You’re Not Alone.

I’ve spent a lot of time the past month contemplating the home-design choices of network anchors, cable-show hosts, and the ubiquitous talking heads who join them on a fairly regular basis. As more interviews are held remotely and as the anchors themselves have moved into makeshift home studios, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with the backdrops each of these has chosen as they pronounce judgments on the waning days of the Democratic presidential primaries or the latest bizarre statements made by President Trump at his daily coronavirus briefings.

They range from the relaxed manner of John Heilemann, in a blazer and checked shirt sitting in front of his open-plan kitchen, to the full-suit-and-tie (well, at least from the waist up) look of Jon Meacham, backed by wall-to-wall bookshelves that fill the entire frame behind him. (And no, those books are not arranged by color.)

Ah, yes, bookshelves. Rows of carefully arranged books seem to be the go-to choice of most of the reporters and commentators who provide the bulk of the cable-news programming. Thus my curiosity about their reading habits. Peter Baker, a White House correspondent for the New York Times and a frequent guest on MSNBC, sits in front of a tall, narrow bookshelf containing an array of political tomes and presidential biographies, including what looked like one of his own, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. David Gura, another MSNBC correspondent, has a more haphazardly arranged bookshelf as his backdrop, with an eclectic reading taste that ranges from the *New Yorker *’s Jane Mayer (Dark Money) to novelist Colson Whitehead (The Nickel Boys). And Josh Barro, a business columnist for New York magazine, has been doing his frequent TV appearances lately framed by a row of travel books and a vintage poster from United Airlines (wishful thinking?).

Read the rest at Vogue.

Henri Matisse, The Piano Lesson

Town and Country: Billionaires on Video Chat Are Giving Us a Rare Peek Inside Their Homes. This article introduces a new Twitter feed: Room Rater. Check it out!

Two weeks ago Claude Taylor and Jessie Bahrey launched a Twitter account called Room Rater (@RateMySkypeRoom). In it, the boyfriend-girlfriend team comment on and score the background decor of broadcasters, pundits, and celebrities forced to do interviews from home during coronavirus physical-isolation orders.

In brief, pointed tweets, they weigh-in on art selection, bookshelves (content and arrangement), lamp placement, color palettes… you name it. Although neither has a background in interior design, their comments address some newly universal aesthetic questions: Will having a bookcase in the background make me look smarter? Is my wallpaper dorky? Am I force for good in the world during uncertain times?

Room Rater quickly accrued 100,000 followers and Taylor has appeared on Inside Edition and been interviewed by numerous websites. Subjects of their tweets have begun to tweet back, begging for higher scores.

Peter Baker of the New York Times added artwork to his walls after Room Rater pointed out an empty wall hook. They are still getting angry DMs about a 9/10 they gave Michelle Obama four days ago. “Come on. That’s a great score. We all need room to grow,” says Taylor.

Room Rater focuses mostly on TV pundits and politicians, but we asked them to take a look at a seemingly under-analyzed segment of home backgrounds—those of billionaires.

Check out the video backgrounds of Barry Diller, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Mike Bloomberg at the T and C link.

Grant Wood, The Sunshine on the corner

Financial Times: When bookshelves are more informative than the books.

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Our bookshelves have suddenly come under intense and unexpected scrutiny. The ad hoc backgrounds to our home office Skype and Zoom calls, the random arrangements of books accumulated and the knick-knacks in front of them have become public property. TV news is populated by hairy-nostrilled talking heads mediated sketchily across our screens. You just can’t help peering at those backgrounds. What do they say about their owners? The academics and scientists come out best. Shelves fully stacked have spiral-bound reports and papers stuffed sideways into every spare inch of space. There is no curation here, just accumulated knowledge, constantly updated, overwhelming the shelf space. These are texts as tools, not interior decoration. Historian Simon Schama caused a little flutter of recognition when he appeared against a backdrop of steeply stacked books and jumbled shelves. Even the comfy-looking armchair was requisitioned as storage….

And then there are the shelves themselves. The political class tend to have built-ins, the marker of a proper home office (rather than the Ikea Billy bookcase that does the job for so many). They range from the minimal modern (UK chancellor Rishi Sunak) to faux-Victorian dark wood (former US presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who also mostly displays political biographies). The zenith of shelving must be the Dieter Rams-designed white modular Vitsoe wall units. They pop up only rarely, but I noticed one behind Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers.

On to more serious stuff. The U.S. appears to be poised to kill record numbers of people by opening up states’ economies prematurely, while European countries take it slower.

Interior with a young woman cooking, Knud Erik Larsen

William Bredderman and Olivia Messer at The Daily Beast: Europe Watches With Horror as the U.S. Rushes to Reopen.

ROME—Some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe will start opening up their economies in the coming days after several long months of very tight pandemic lockdowns. But they are doing it in conjunction with scientific guidance that marries widespread testing and aggressive contract tracing—and no crowded beaches. And, under the understanding that if anything goes wrong, everybody goes back inside.

The Trump administration appears to be doing the exact opposite, pushing to kickstart stagnant economies before the pandemic has even reached its peak in some states, going for a “rip off the Band-Aid very quickly” approach, while here in Europe, countries are lifting it corner by corner, slowly, to make sure everything is fully healed.

The authors describe cautious reopening steps planned by Italy, France, and Spain. In contrast, in the U.S. some states are opening up willy-nilly.

In the United States, bowling alleys and pizza joints are full in a number of states, with people rubbing shoulders as if the global pandemic is a movie or someone else’s nightmare. The only European nation that even compares to the U.S. is Sweden, which didn’t officially lock down—though the Swedes mostly self distanced on their own accord— and which is now grappling with a higher infection rate than any of the other Nordic countries, according to statistics gathered by Worldometer.

European news outlets have featured mocking photos this week of people eating barbecue in Georgia and running along crowded beaches in Florida, but there are plenty of wistful Europeans here complaining that their countries are moving too slowly in returning to normal. The most vocal tend to be those who have been working from home just fine, but who desperately need their roots touched up and are sick of cooking….

Yet in Europe, life seems to mean more than the bottom line and even those in the tourism industry are worried about opening too soon, and what liabilities will come with mass tourism and international travel if it kicks off another wave and a return to the darkest circles of hell.

Ah yes, here in the U.S. it’s all about the bottom line, especially in the red states. Case in point: Georgia.

Interior by Katherine Nolin

The Atlantic: Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice. The state is about to find out how many people need to lose their lives to shore up the economy. As we’ve all heard, Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp ordered businesses in his state to open up this week.

Kemp’s order shocked people across the country. For weeks, Americans have watched the coronavirus sweep from city to city, overwhelming hospitals, traumatizing health-care workers, and leaving tens of thousands of bodies in makeshift morgues. Georgia has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and the state’s testing efforts have provided an incomplete look at how far the virus continues to spread. That testing capacity—which public-health leaders consider necessary for safely ending lockdowns—has lagged behind the nation’s for much of the past two months. Kemp’s move to reopen was condemned by scientists, high-ranking Republicans from his own state, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; it even drew a public rebuke from President Donald Trump, who had reportedly approved the measures before distancing himself from the governor amid the backlash.

By acting with particular haste in what he calls a crucial move to restore economic stability, Kemp has positioned Georgia at the center of a national fight over whether to stay the course with social distancing or try to return to some semblance of normalcy. But it’s easy to misunderstand which Americans stand on each side. Many Georgians have no delusions about the risks of reopening, even if they need to return to work for financial reasons. Among the dozen local leaders, business owners, and workers I spoke with for this article, all said they know some people who disagreed with the lockdown but were complying nonetheless. No one reported serious acrimony in their communities.

Instead, their stories depict a struggle between a state government and ordinary people. Georgia’s brash reopening puts much of the state’s working class in an impossible bind: risk death at work, or risk ruining yourself financially at home. In the grips of a pandemic, the approach is a morbid experiment in just how far states can push their people. Georgians are now the largely unwilling canaries in an invisible coal mine, sent to find out just how many individuals need to lose their job or their life for a state to work through a plague.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

Interior with black dog, William Robinson

At Slate, Jordan Weissmann writes that red states aren’t immune from being overwhelmed by the pandemic: Republicans Are Absolutely Deluded if They Think Only Blue States Need a Bailout.

With the coronavirus crisis threatening to choke state budgets and force massive, economically damaging spending cuts, Republicans have responded in their time-honored fashion, by telling New York and the rest of blue America to politely drop dead.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the tone last week when he said that any aid to state governments would amount to a “blue state bailout.” He suggested that instead of handing governors money, which would supposedly allow them to paper over years of financial mismanagement, Congress should just let states declare bankruptcy. On Tuesday, meanwhile, Donald Trump signaled that he might be willing to discuss aid with Democrats in Congress, but only if states bend the knee on immigration policy….

What’s a bit odd about all of this is that GOP leaders are acting as if they have an upper hand on this issue, because only Democratic strongholds like New York and Illinois are in trouble. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Red states are also fiscally screwed thanks to the coronavirus, and in many cases may be in worse shape than supposedly irresponsible blue states.

It’s unclear why, exactly, some Republicans appear convinced that only political entities that happen to be run by Democrats are about to experience a financial rout. Perhaps it’s because the biggest coronavirus hot spots have tended to be in places like New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. But economic activity has frozen all over the country as governors try to slow the pandemic, and even if Georgia or Texas attempt to “reopen” a bit early, that won’t save them from the shockwaves of a deep national recession. Some Republicans, like McConnell, have seemingly suggested that states like Illinois are in financial trouble now because of their long-standing public pension problems. Insofar as that makes any sense, it’s because some states with pension issues (Illinois, Pennsylvania) haven’t been able to build large rainy day funds or other reserves that would help tide them through this crisis. But that list of offenders also includes McConnell’s own home state of Kentucky, which has one of the worst-managed pensions in the country.
Follow the link the read the rest.
So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Wednesday Reads: Idiot Dumbshits

Did y’all see this?

Fucking hell!

To that, I give you Randy Rainbow:

Some tweets to linger on:

And a few Instagram post:

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Day 1196: Because rules are meant to be broken. Unless that applies to what you do in your slutty, slutty bedrooms, you Satan-rich Sodomites. #mikepence #quarantoons #magaisformorons #trumpvirus #thedailydon

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Why should Mike Pence wear a mask? There are no woman there.

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Humor is how I’m going to handle this shit. Do not open states back up, please.

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I initially made this toon right after breaking my finger and decided it needed a little TLC and some slight updating. But not to worry, President* Lumbering Garbage Barge has some bleach, rakes, and a Sharpie to keep us safe. #quarantoons #dumptrump #trumpvirus #magaisformorons #thedailydon

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Like so many before her, Dr. Birx was unable to avoid the Trump trap. Forever branded by her inability to stand up to him. • #drbirx #deborahbirx #drbirxscarf #trumptrap #trumpisajoke #covid19 #incredibleshrinkingwoman #covid #coronavirus #trumpvirus #everythingtrumptouchesdies #trumpisanidiot #trumppandemic #disinfectant #dontdrinkbleach #disinfectantdonnie #hhs #alexazar

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The images below are from Vintage Everyday blog, showing some bad Christian album covers of the 60s and 70s. I thought you would get a laugh out of them.

Here are a few other historical references, from the 80’s this time:

It was just another routine inter-island flight when an Aloha Airlines jet took off from Hilo, bound for Honolulu, on April 28, 1988.

Igor Kostin (1936–2015) was one of the five photographers in the world to take pictures of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster near Pripyat…

Before I go, I want to share this with you…today is my Ma’s birthday.

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Happy Birthday Ma! April 29th you would have been 72 years old… we miss you so much.

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Happy birthday Mama, I love you.

Now, back under the covers I hide, this is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Coronavirus Deaths Mount as Evidence of Trump’s Pandemic Cover-up Emerges

Good Morning!!

U.S. deaths from Covid-19 in the past few months will soon surpass our casualties from the Vietnam war. Now Trump has upped his prediction of the total death toll to 70,000.

Real Clear Politics: Reporter to Trump: If A President Loses More Americans To Coronavirus Than Vietnam War, Do They Deserve To Be Reelected?

QUESTION: If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam war does he deserve to be reelected?

TRUMP: So, yeah, we have lost a lot of people but if you look at what original projections were 2.2 million we are probably heading to 60,000, 70,000–it’s far too many. One person is too many for this and I think we made a lot of really good decisions. The big decision was closing the border or doing the band people coming in from China obviously other than American citizens which had to come in, can’t say you can’t come in, you can’t come back to your country. I think we have made a lot of good decisions. I think that Mike Pence and the task force have done a fantastic job. I think that everybody working on the ventilators you see what we have done there, have done unbelievable. The press doesn’t talk about ventilators anymore. They just don’t want to talk about them and that’s okay but they reason they don’t want to talk–that was the subject that nobody would get off of. They don’t want to talk about them.

We are in the same position on testing. We are lapping the world on testing and the world is coming to us as I said they are coming to us saying what are you doing, how do you do it and we are helping them. So, no, I think we have done a great job and one person I will say this, one person is too many. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

As you can see, Trump didn’t answer the question, but he did increase his prediction for total deaths. Of course we’ll probably pass 70,000 in a couple more weeks, and then he’ll make excuses for that.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: America Is About to Blow Past the 60,000 Coronavirus Deaths Trump Said Would Be a Win.

As for where we may be headed, Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert who’s been warning about pandemics for more than a decade, told CNN’s Peter Bergen that he thinks the ultimate tally in the United States over the next 18 months or so will be around 800,000. You’re thinking, “Ah, no way”? Go read his reasoning and see what you think then.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office released a report last week making a few predictions on the economy. CBO sees a real GDP of -39.6 percent in the second quarter of this year (April, May, and June). Then it forecasts a good rebound, 23.5 percent in Q3 and 10.5 percent in Q4, but that still leaves us at -5.6 percent for the year. At the worst of the Great Recession, in 2009, it was -2.5 percent. Unemployment will be above 15 percent into the fall and above 10 percent all of this year—and next.

We’re in deep trouble, and the idiot President of the United States is telling people to drink Lysol, and idiot politicians like Brian Kemp and other governors are trying to make sure that Osterholm becomes a prophet, and idiot protesters are out there acting like common-sense public safety is a conspiracy against liberty, and idiot reactionaries like the Dorr brothers of Iowa are financing these protests because, well, you know, the libs suck. These Dorrs have launched Facebook pages in at least five states that abcnews.com calls a “hotbed of misinformation.”

It’s idiocy top to bottom, but it’s more than that, and it’s important that we understand this and never lose sight of this. It’s ideology.

Tomasky writes that Trump’s non-stop lying is not an anomaly among Republicans.

With a few laudable exceptions, Republicans lie about virtually everything. They have to—to advance their goals, which are both insanely unpopular (more tax cuts for rich people!) and completely fantastical (those tax cuts will lift all boats), they have to try to create a reality that is the opposite of real reality and then spend billions getting people to believe it.

They’ve been doing it for decades. That’s why Trump isn’t some accident. It was inevitable that eventually they’d nominate and fawn over someone who lies every time he opens his mouth.

Trump, though, it’s gotten to a scale I never thought we’d see in the United States. Trumpism is an ideology in which the only thing that matters, the only thing that is true, is what the leader believes and says at any given moment. Which is surreal, of course, because virtually everything he says is untrue. But objective truth is a lib trap. And the vast majority of Republicans endorse this.

Read more at the The Daily Beast.

More stories are coming out about Trump ignoring or covering up the seriousness of the building pandemic.

The Washington Post: President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat.

U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.

For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.

But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

The advisories being relayed by U.S. spy agencies were part of a broader collection of worrisome signals that came during a period now regarded by many public health officials and other experts as a squandered opportunity to contain the outbreak.

Ryan Goodman and How Trump and His Team Covered Up the Coronavirus in Five Days.

…Over the last five days of February, President Trump and senior officials….engaged in a cover-up.

A look at this window of time gives insight into how several members of the president’s team were willing to manipulate Americans even when so many lives were at stake.

The recent reports that the president wanted to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top expert on viral respiratory diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, during this period helps put the pieces of the puzzle together….

In a conference call with reporters on the final Tuesday of the month, Dr. Messonnier spoke frankly. “We want to make sure the American public is prepared,” she said, then put it in personal terms by saying what she told her children that morning: “We as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives.”

At the time, senior officials knew the coronavirus was an extreme threat to Americans. Thanks to information streaming in from U.S. intelligence agencies for months, officials reportedly believed that a “cataclysmic” disease could infect 100 million Americans and discussed lockdown plans. The warnings were given to Mr. Trump in his daily brief by the intelligence community; in calls from Alex Azar, the secretary of health; and in memos from his economic adviser Peter Navarro.

The same day that Dr. Messonnier spoke, the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence raised the warning level inside the government to WATCHCON1, concluding that the coronavirus was imminently likely to develop into a full-blown pandemic.

But the White House did not want the American public to know.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Trump has dominated his so-called “coronavirus briefings” and given experts minimal time to speak. Now he is reportedly planning to silence them even further, according Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair: Trump In Talks to Sideline Fauci, Birx During Coronavirus Briefings.

With the coronavirus crisis still spinning out of control in the United States, Donald Trump appears to be training the White House’s focus away from public health and toward reigniting the economy. According to Axios, Trump is expected to sideline public health officials Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, shifting attention to business “success stories” and to governors and local leaders who heed the president’s calls to reopen their states. “[Fauci and Birx] will continue,” a White House official told the outlet, “but will take a back seat to the forward-looking, ‘what’s next’ message.”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany acknowledged Monday on Fox News that briefings later this week “may have a different look,” though declined to outline specific changes. Fauci and other public health experts have cautioned against attempting a premature return to normal, warning that social distancing guidelines cannot safely be lifted without increased testing that the Trump administration has so far failed to adequately provide. “You don’t make the timeline,” Fauci said late last month, as Trump first began floating plans to reopen the country. “The virus makes the timeline.” But the president, concerned the plunging economy and escalating unemployment due to the pandemic could stand in the way of his reelection, has insisted that the government has provided states with sufficient resources to combat the deadly virus and openly grown impatient with the social distancing measures that have only just begun to show promise in slowing its spread. “Remember,” Trump tweeted Saturday, “the Cure can’t be worse than the problem itself.”

Having wasted months downplaying the COVID threat, he has desperately grasped for a miracle cure that could make the problem go away without him needing to do any real work—first by promoting the unproven off-label use of an anti-malarial to treat the disease, then by ludicrously suggesting toxic cleaning products and/or “very powerful” light could be injected into the human body as a possible cure. Those bizarre remarks drew widespread mockery, condemnation, and disbelief, as well as warnings from supporters that his rambling performances at the daily coronavirus briefings are hurting him politically. “It’s not helping him,” one adviser said recently.

Evidence is also emerging that deaths from the coronavirus may be far more than the official totals.

The Washington Post: U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19.

In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year — occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported.

The excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They could include people who died because of the epidemic but not from the disease, such as those who were afraid to seek medical treatment for unrelated illnesses, as well as some number of deaths that are part of the ordinary variation in the death rate. The count is also affected by increases or decreases in other categories of deaths, such as suicides, homicides and motor vehicle accidents.

But in any pandemic, higher-than-normal mortality is a starting point for scientists seeking to understand the full impact of the disease.

The Yale analysis for the first time estimates excess deaths, both nationally and in each state, in those five weeks. Relying on data that the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released Friday, the analysis paints a picture of unusually high mortality that will come into sharper view as more data becomes available.

Keep on staying home as much as possible and take care of yourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We will get through this together Sky Dancers!


Monday Reads: Stay Your Ass Home! We are not Human Guinea Pigs for Businesses

Navajo Government, Citizens United Against COVID-19 | Voice of ...

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Are you getting cabin fever?  Need to get back to a job or business?  Do you feel your part of the country/world is ready to reopen?  Will your employer protect you?  Where are we in getting serious testing?  There are so many questions in this discussion and frankly I don’t like being a test subject with so many unknowns.

The big question to be answered has yet to be answered. “We Still Don’t Know How the Coronavirus is Killing Us” is a read from New York Magazine b

In an acute column published April 13, the New York Times’ Charlie Warzel listed 48 basic questions that remain unanswered about the coronavirus and what must be done to protect ourselves against it, from how deadly it is to how many people caught it and shrugged it off to how long immunity to the disease lasts after infection (if any time at all). “Despite the relentless, heroic work of doctors and scientists around the world,” he wrote, “there’s so much we don’t know.” The 48 questions he listed, he was careful to point out, did not represent a comprehensive list. And those are just the coronavirus’s “known unknowns.”

In the two weeks since, we’ve gotten some clarifying information on at least a handful of Warzel’s queries. In early trials, more patients taking the Trump-hyped hydroxychloroquinine died than those who didn’t, and the FDA has now issued a statement warning coronavirus patients and their doctors from using the drug. The World Health Organization got so worried about the much-touted antiviral remdesivir, which received a jolt of publicity (and stock appreciation) a few weeks ago on rumors of positive results, the organization leaked an unpublished, preliminary survey showing no benefit to COVID-19 patients. Globally, studies have consistently found exposure levels to the virus in most populations in the low single digits — meaning dozens of times more people have gotten the coronavirus than have been diagnosed with it, though still just a tiny fraction of the number needed to achieve herd immunity. In particular hot spots, the exposure has been significantly more widespread — one survey in New York City found that 21 percent of residents may have COVID-19 antibodies already, making the city not just the deadliest community in the deadliest country in a world during the deadliest pandemic since AIDS, but also the most infected (and, by corollary, the farthest along to herd immunity). A study in Chelsea, Massachusetts, found an even higher and therefore more encouraging figure: 32 percent of those tested were found to have antibodies, which would mean, at least in that area, the disease was only a fraction as severe as it might’ve seemed at first glance, and that the community as a whole could be as much as halfway along to herd immunity. In most of the rest of the country, the picture of exposure we now have is much more dire, with much more infection almost inevitably to come.

But there is one big question that didn’t even make it onto Warzel’s list that has only gotten more mysterious in the weeks since: How is COVID-19 actually killing us?

We are now almost six months into this pandemic, which began in November in Wuhan, with 50,000 Americans dead and 200,000 more around the world. If each of those deaths is a data point, together they represent a quite large body of evidence from which to form a clear picture of the pandemic threat. Early in the epidemic, the coronavirus was seen as a variant of a familiar family of disease, not a mysterious ailment, however infectious and concerning. But while uncertainties at the population level confuse and frustrate public-health officials, unsure when and in what form to shift gears out of lockdowns, the disease has proved just as mercurial at the clinical level, with doctors revising their understanding of COVID-19’s basic pattern and weaponry — indeed often revising that understanding in different directions at once. The clinical shape of the disease, long presumed to be a relatively predictable respiratory infection, is getting less clear by the week. Lately, it seems, by the day. As Carl Zimmer, probably the country’s most respected science journalist, asked virologists in a tweet last week, “is there any other virus out there that is this weird in terms of its range of symptoms?”

Swiss street artist pays tribute to unsung coronavirus heroes ...

We need an FDR with a major dose of federal crisis management of both the economy and public health.  What we have is a leader willing to throw us to the wolves so the economy might improve given there’s enough idiots in the country wiling to put their lives on the line for a game of bowling and a haircut. Because of my age, I am in the high risk category and I can work from my home and order a few things to come to my door.  So, I am privileged but I also live in a city hit hard by this pandemic and whose majority black citizens are dying in way outsized numbers in the state.  I have to agree with this too.   From the Washington Post: “‘For black folks, it’s like a setup: Are you trying to kill us?’ ” I think a lot of seniors wonder that too but these voices come from all ages in Georgia’s hard hit black communities. The heart breaking stories from the nation’s assisted living and rest homes is yet another story.

 

“To open up businesses where it’s impossible to practice social distancing — hair salons, nail salons, theaters — people are like, what? You want to put everybody in a closed room, and that’s supposed to be okay?” said Demetrius Young, a city commissioner in Albany, the center of the state’s epidemic. “For black folks, it’s like a setup: Are you trying to kill us?”

Without a widespread testing infrastructure and local health departments able to do meticulous contact tracing, Young said, his region will continue to suffer. Georgia ranks 40th in tests per resident, well behind states that have pledged to maintain their shelter-in-place orders, according to an analysis of Covid Tracking Project data. Some models say the state has not yet reached its peak number of daily deaths, suggesting the worst is still to come..

“We need to save lives,” Young said. “The way we feel is, this is another ‘Black Lives Matter’ moment.”

Glen Singfield, 67, owns two restaurants in Albany that have been shuttered for more than a month. He said he doesn’t plan to reopen them on Monday, when Kemp’s order for restarting the economy extends to restaurants.

He is not convinced the virus has been brought under control, especially in Southwest Georgia.

“We were hit hard, and our restraint needs to be harder. We have to make sure we’re way beyond the curve,” he said. He hasn’t had time to come up with a plan, such as how to screen customers, to make sure he can keep everyone, including his employees and family members who work in the restaurants, safe.

“My wife, my sons, my granddaughters are in there. My employees. These are folks we love. I can’t play with their lives. We’re a small town. When somebody dies here, everybody knows them.”

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I’m wondering how many folks will actually head out to those open restaurants, hair salons, bowling alleys, movie theatres, and massage related businesses.  I can understand getting out in the fresh air.  I walks my dog three times a day and I mask when I go to the corner stores to get wine or tp or other necessities of life like cat food and dog food. But, sheesh, I’m in no hurry to get into a bar.  I’m happy with the take out from the porch of the family owned old school restaurant across the street once a week.  No one’s stopping me from eating it in my back yard or even my front porch.  But, frankly, I’m not going to die for a hair cut or a back rub.

Las Vegas is a shocking example of parasitical capitalism.  The entire city seems unnecessary to me, but the entire city is based on entertaining bored tourists who will pay to do that sort’ve thing and probably is  inuring  serious economic damage.  New Orleans has bits and pieces of that flavor too but Las Vegas pretty much owns the market outside of the Disneyfied Florida.  This WAPO article indicates that the city has become ground zero for the country’s job crisis.  But, really, is gambling worth killing off all your health care workers?

As the bottom fell out of the American economy, few places were hit harder than Las Vegas, where a full one-third of the local economy is in the leisure and hospitality industry, more than in any other major metropolitan area in the country.Most of those jobs cannot be done from home.

Nearly 350,000 people in Nevada have filed for unemployment benefits since the crisis began, the highest number in the history of the state. Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas-based economic research firm, estimates the city’s current jobless rate to be about 25 percent — nearly double what it was during the Great Recession — and rising.

“From an analytical standpoint, this is unprecedented,” said Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with the firm. “We have no frame of reference for what we are seeing.”

As governors and mayors across the country wrestle with the question of when and how to reopen their economies, Las Vegas faces particular pressure because of its dependence on tourism and hospitality. Mayor Carolyn Goodman argued last week that casinos should reopen and allow people to get sick, but Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state was “clearly not ready to open.”

Before the crisis, Nevada’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the country. Then, practically overnight, the glittering Vegas strip shut down, throwing thousands of waiters, bartenders, hotel cleaners and casino workers out of work, often without severance or benefits, and leaving the most bustling and storied stretch of the state’s economy boarded up and empty.

“If you were to imagine a horror movie when all the people disappear, that’s what it looks like,” said Larry Scott, the chief operating officer of Three Square, Southern Nevada’s only food bank, describing the Vegas strip. “You can’t imagine that there is a circumstance that could possibly cause that. I couldn’t have.”

Here's Some Of The Most Truthful Graffiti Related To Coronavirus

The flip side is outline by this AP article: “A flood of business bankruptcies likely in coming months.”  I was relieved to her Dr Daughter got her “bailout” money.  While she has had to furlough some of her clinic workers, they’ve been able to keep the nurses and a lot of their staff for at least 3 more months.  Dr. Daughter was seriously worried about her 4 nurses.

The most vulnerable companies include the thousands of restaurants and retailers that shut down, many of them more than a month ago. Some restaurants have managed to bring in a bit of revenue by serving meals for takeout and delivery, but even they are struggling financially. Small and independent retailers, including those with online stores. are similarly at risk; clothing retailers have the added problem of winter inventory that they are unlikely to sell with spring here and summer approaching.

Independent oil companies whose revenue was slammed by the collapse in energy prices also are strapped, as are other companies that were already burdened with high debt levels before the virus struck.

Jennifer Bennett, who closed one of her San Francisco restaurants on Wednesday, was still waiting for the financial aid she sought from the federal, state and city governments. Even with the money, she doesn’t know if the revenue will cover the bills when she’s finally able to reopen Zazie — especially if she’s required to space tables six feet apart for social distancing.

“Our occupancy is going to be cut 60% to 65%,” Bennett says. “I fear bankruptcy is a possibility.”

Other small companies have similar anxieties, says Paul Singerman, a bankruptcy attorney with Berger Singerman in Miami.

“There is no reliable visibility into when business operations will be able to resume the pre-COVID normal,” Singerman says.

Even larger companies are in trouble, including already struggling retailers who had to shut their stores.

The jeans company True Religion filed for Chapter 11 earlier this month, saying extended closures of its stores in the pandemic have hurt its business. Recent reports say department store chains Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney, which has struggled for years with slumping sales, could soon file for bankruptcy protection.

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You have to wonder if the golden age of american consumerism might finally come around to the old idea of having money in the bank and a few less things that are seriously necessary.  But, who am I to judge others’ choices.  I’m just glad to see the AirBNB’s are suffering. Did I mention it’s nice and quiet here now and there’s a Bywater Coyote wandering the streets?  This is the one business that I really hope doesn’t survive all this.  Hotels and tourists belong in a nice little strip away from neighborhoods imho.  They may be retooling–see the link above– but can they survive?

In the immediate future, things look dire indeed. Across the world, Airbnb bookings have tanked. Data analysts at AirDNA say that bookings across Europe collapsed in March, dropping 80% compared to the previous week in the week beginning March 9, and another 10% on top of that in the week of March 16. In the U.S., where virus response lagged, the figures for falls in booking are uneven, but scarcely less dramatic. By the middle of March, bookings in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle had already dropped more than 50% compared to the week beginning January 5, with drops of over 35% in Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

To weather the crisis, Airbnb has reportedly canceled all marketing activities, put its founders’ salaries on hold and slashed those of top executives by half. It has halted all but essential hiring, may postpone going public and has not ruled out layoffs. “Airbnb is resilient and built to withstand tough times and we’re doing all we can to strengthen our community and our company,” the company said in a recent statement to Reuters.

 

Is it any surprise that states that surround me which are opening up somewhat willy nilly for bucks are the ones most likely to see upswings in infection?

 

However, demography is just as important. Places with older residents and more diabetes, heart disease and smoking have higher cfrs. Race and income also play a role. Counties with lots of poor or black people tend to have more health problems, less social distancing and fewer icu beds. Yet cfrs in such areas are even higher than you would expect from these factors alone.

Together, these variables leave a geographic footprint. If covid-19 does infect most Americans, the highest death rates will probably not be in coastal cities—whose density is offset by young, healthy, well-off populations and good hospitals—but rather in poor, rural parts of the South and Appalachia with high rates of heart disease and diabetes. Worryingly, the three states that announced plans this week to relax their lockdowns (Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina) are all in this region.

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My governor has been pretty direct about his decision making process and my mayor is not about to bullied into making a dangerous decision but I am down here in a spot surrounded by a lot of less thoughtful people and governments..

The WSJ has this headline:  “The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing Trump on a Covid-19 Plan. They are working around the clock to cull the world’s most promising research for what they describe as a virus-era Manhattan Project”  Sounds like some of us want to live.

A dozen of America’s top scientists and a collection of billionaires and industry titans say they have the answer to the coronavirus pandemic, and they found a backdoor to deliver their plan to the White House.

The eclectic group is led by a 33-year-old physician-turned-venture capitalist, Tom Cahill, who lives far from the public eye in a one-bedroom rental near Boston’s Fenway Park. He owns just one suit, but he has enough lofty connections to influence government decisions in the war against Covid-19.

These scientists and their backers describe their work as a lockdown-era Manhattan Project, a nod to the World War II group of scientists who helped develop the atomic bomb. This time around, the scientists are marshaling brains and money to distill unorthodox ideas gleaned from around the globe.

They call themselves Scientists to Stop Covid-19, and they include chemical biologists, an immunobiologist, a neurobiologist, a chronobiologist, an oncologist, a gastroenterologist, an epidemiologist and a nuclear scientist. Of the scientists at the center of the project, biologist Michael Rosbash, a 2017 Nobel Prize winner, said, “There’s no question that I’m the least qualified.”

This group, whose work hasn’t been previously reported, has acted as the go-between for pharmaceutical companies looking for a reputable link to Trump administration decision makers. They are working remotely as an ad hoc review board for the flood of research on the coronavirus, weeding out flawed studies before they reach policy makers.

The group has compiled a confidential 17-page report that calls for a number of unorthodox methods against the virus. One big idea is treating patients with powerful drugs previously used against Ebola, with far heftier dosages than have been tried in the past.

You may read the document at the link. WSJ has lifted their paywall to provide it to the public.

So, how out and about do you plan to be?  Do you trust your state government and local government?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 


Sunday Reads: #CovidToe

Have you heard of the latest sensation striking the nation?

Covid Toe!

Nah, I didn’t say camel toe …

Seriously, this virus keeps delivering new horrifying symptoms and statistics. We got so desensitized to disastrous news the last three plus years with tRump in office. Covid has increased the monstrosity of the news day with such dire warnings and updates.

Case in point:

Other tweets of interest:

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We knew it was never about a flag.

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MAGA has always been with us, President* Hair Crime’s version is just the latest model. #dumptrump #magaisformorons #trumpvirus #ImbleachedPresident #thedailydon

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Day 1193: That escalated quickly. #TrumpVirus #dumptrump #magaisformorons #ImbleachedPresident #thedailydon

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#weareallinthistogether 🤔 . . . #coronavirus #illustration #doodle #illustrator #instaart #drawing #cartoon #artwork #art #lockdown

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This is an open thread. Stay safe, stay home…