Tuesday ReadsPosted: May 26, 2020
Massachusetts, along with other states, is slowly reopening its economy. The numbers of deaths from and positive tests for Covid-19 have been dropping here in recent days, but it’s not at all clear that we are safe from a second wave of the virus. From The Boston Globe: With reopening comes the threat of a second wave of COVID-19, scientists warn.
It could start in a half-empty restaurant or a Sunday morning church service, with a stray cough or a joyful hymn. Public health experts warn that without a vaccine or a heavy dose of caution, Massachusetts could easily be hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections that rivals the first.
Such a wave could come in the fall or sooner, as restrictions ease and people return to traveling and spending time in crowded, closed-in spaces. And, experts say, if the state’s tools for tracking the virus’s spread are not up to snuff by then, a second wave could go undetected until it’s too late.
The state began reopening some stores and offices on Monday, the latest step in the long journey back to something resembling pre-pandemic life. But the road to normalcy may prove to be a two-way street.
Built into Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan is something epidemiologists caution is not just possible but perhaps even likely: a return to the severe lockdowns of April and most of May.
What experts say:
“The virus may be with us for a good part of the next year,” said Barry Bloom, a professor and former dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The public has to be prepared that there will be continuous monitoring of the numbers.”
Bloom said that reopening may not be a straight path toward a new normal. Rather, restrictions may ease in fits and starts — or even backtrack, with all or parts of the state periodically relapsing into total lockdown.
“If [the number of cases] gets to the point where they threaten again to be a giant peak and even overwhelm the hospitals,” he said, “the state and the cities are going to have to have some re-installation or re-imposition of constraints.”
From the very start of the coronavirus outbreak, those inside and outside of the scientific community have feared a second wave. History shows that several pandemics have returned with a vengeance after months of seeming calm. The Spanish flu of 1918 lasted two years. Its second peak was its deadliest.
Now, as Massachusetts reopens before it has fully left the first wave of infection behind, epidemiologists say fears of a second are well-founded.
“The chances are pretty high that we’re going to see the number of cases come back up” as the economy reopens, said Samuel Scarpino, a Northeastern University professor who specializes in infectious disease.
The question, Scarpino said, is just how much those case counts will rise.
Read more at the Globe.
Meanwhile, lots of Americans are acting as if there is no pandemic.
At a flashy club in Houston, dozens splashed around the pool and sipped on drinks on the patio. In rural North Carolina, thousands packed the stands shoulder to shoulder at Ace Speedway on its opening night, where face masks were the exception. And in Daytona Beach, Fla., even after an event called “Orlando Invades Daytona” was canceled, hundreds still danced in the street and on top of cars near the boardwalk.
“It looks like there are two people out the sunroof throwing money,” the seemingly perplexed pilot of a police helicopter said over his radio, flying over the wild scene near the beach to get a closer look. “They’re clearly throwing cash at the crowd.”
The raucous events across the country over the holiday weekend led some local officials to sound the alarm Monday, warning that consequences could be dire if such behavior continued unchecked.
Some, like Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D), vowed to crack down on businesses failing to enforce capacity restrictions. Turner chastised the clubbers who may end up exposing responsible people “who chose to do the right thing” by staying home. In Missouri, viral images of pool parties at waterfront bars and yacht clubs in the Lake of the Ozarks even led St. Louis County officials to issue a travel advisory, calling the scenes an “international example of bad judgment.”
One Ozarks pool party at Backwater Jack’s featured live music under the theme “Zero Ducks Given,” while photos at another yacht club showed dozens of people crammed together beneath a sign that said, “Please practice social distancing.” On Monday, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who is also a physician, urged employers to question workers about their recent travels, and recommended a 14-day quarantine for anyone who flouted social distancing.
“This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Page said in a statement announcing the travel advisory.
Not surprisingly, these “bad examples” happened in red states.
More from the WaPo: Memorial Day weekend parties and crowds spark warnings from public health officials.
Beaches, parks, restaurants and churches were open for recreational use in many states over the holiday weekend – with restrictions for social distancing that were not always followed.
As coronavirus cases in the United States crossed 1.6 million, people mobbed boardwalks and oceanfronts in Maryland, Georgia and Florida. Crowds were sometimes dense from Newport Beach, Calif., to the Tampa, Fla., area, where law enforcement started turning away beachgoers and closed full parking lots.
Flocks of people sans face coverings packed the beach at Indiana Dunes National Park. And “more than 100 partygoers packed into a swimming pool area at a club in Midtown Houston Saturday and flouted social distancing orders to maintain space or wear masks a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) eased restrictions on bars and restaurants,” our colleagues report.
Videos of a packed pool party in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri went viral online.
Read more and see photos at the link above.
Slightly different behavior at a Rhode Island beach.
Trump spent the long weekend playing golf and sending out vile tweets, and there has been some pushback in the media, as Dakinikat reported yesterday. Now the husband of a long-dead woman Trump tweeted about is fighting back and asking Twitter for some common decency.
Kara Swisher at The New York Times: Twitter Must Cleanse the Trump Stain.
“Please delete those tweets,” the widower begged in a letter last week to Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey. “My wife deserves better.”
Yes, Twitter, Lori Klausutis certainly does deserve better, nearly two decades after she died in a tragic accident that has morphed into a macabre and continuing nightmare for her husband, Timothy Klausutis.
The boogeyman plunging him and the family of his late wife into the very worst of memory holes is a conspiracy-theory-loving, twitchy-fingered and often shameless tweeter who also happens to be the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
“President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie,” wrote Mr. Klausutis, in a letter sent to Mr. Dorsey on Thursday that I obtained over the weekend.
“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain.” (You can read the letter in full here.)
Mr. Klausutis deserves an answer from Mr. Dorsey, who has the unenviable task of sorting out what is perhaps unsortable, which is to say, the ugly heart of Twitter’s most famous customer. While sources close to the company said executives had been trying to figure out what to do over the weekend, the company has at this writing been silent about this latest controversy involving Mr. Trump’s appalling and rule-breaking Twitter habit.
Trump tweeted about this conspiracy theory again this morning. You can go to his timeline to see the tweets if you’re interested.
It’s beginning to look like Trump is losing older voters because of his catastrophic failure to deal with the pandemic.
The Washington Post: Trump’s poor handling of the crisis may lose him the GOP’s most reliable voters.
One of the most durable political assets that Republicans have enjoyed throughout the 21st century is their edge among Americans 65 and older, who tend to turn out at the polls more reliably than any other group.
But with President Trump’s inept and erratic handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, he is rapidly losing support among the age group most vulnerable to its ravages — which is a big warning sign to Republicans as they look to the fall. Trump has also been showing slippage in support among the next-oldest cohort, those 55 and older.
The shift has been showing up in a string of recent polls, reportedly including those that have been conducted by Trump’s own campaign. One of the most striking is a survey of 44 battleground House districts done by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin during the second week of May.
In those districts, voters over 65 said they had supported Trump in 2016 by a 22-point margin — 58 percent to 36 percent.
But this year, those same respondents are practically evenly divided, with 47 percent saying they are planning to vote for the president and 43 percent expressing an intention to cast their ballots for former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. That is an enormous net swing of 18 percentage points.
“They’re in real trouble if they can’t count on a strong showing with seniors,” said Garin, who did the survey for a client he declined to name. “Trump is blowing what had become an important Republican advantage.”
Allen Lehner was a Republican until Donald Trump became his party’s nominee in 2016. The 74-year-old retiree says he couldn’t bring himself to vote for someone who lied, belittled others, walked out on his bills and mistreated women — but he also couldn’t bring himself to vote for Hillary Clinton. So he didn’t vote.
Trump has done nothing since to entice Lehner back.
Lehner, who now considers himself an independent, says he is frightened by the president’s lack of leadership and maturity amid the nation’s health and economic crisis. Several people in his gated community in Delray Beach, Fla., have gotten sick; at least one has died. He worries about his own health — he has an autoimmune disease — and also about his adult children, including a daughter who has gone back to work and a son whose pay has been cut.
He plans to vote for Joe Biden in November.
“Regardless of what they say about his senior moments, I think he would be good and take good care of the country,” said Lehner, who owned furniture and fireplace-supply stores in central Pennsylvania before retiring to Florida.
How did you spend your Memorial Day? What stories are you following today?