Opinion | The Coronavirus and America’s Humiliation – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

“We Americans enter the July 4 weekend of 2020 humiliated as almost never before. We had one collective project this year and that was to crush Covid-19, and we failed.

On Wednesday, we had about 50,000 new positive tests, a record. Other nations are beating the disease while our infection lines shoot upward as sharply as they did in March.

This failure will lead to other failures. A third of Americans show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, according to the Census Bureau. Suspected drug overdose deaths surged by 42 percent in May. Small businesses, colleges and community hubs will close.

At least Americans are not in denial about the nation’s turmoil of the last three months. According to a Pew survey, 71 percent of Americans are angry about the state of the country right now and 66 percent are fearful. Only 17 percent are proud.

Americans are reacting in two positive ways. We’re seeing incredible shifts in attitudes toward race. Roughly 60 percent of Americans now believe that African-Americans face a great deal or a lot of discrimination. People have been waiting for a white backlash since the riots, or since the statues started toppling. There isn’t much if any evidence of a backlash. There’s evidence of a fore-lash.

Second, Americans have decided to get rid of Donald Trump. His mishandling of Covid-19 hurt him among seniors. His racist catcalls in a time of racial reckoning have damaged him among all groups.

I’ll be delighted when Trump goes, but it’s worth pointing out that it wasn’t only because of Donald Trump that Americans never really locked down, and then started moving around again in late April.

It wasn’t Trump who went out to bars in Tempe, Austin and Los Angeles in June. It wasn’t Trump who put on hospital gowns and told the American people you could suspend the lockdown if your cause was just. Once you told people they could suspend the lockdown for one thing, they were going to suspend it for others.

Our fixation on the awfulness of Donald Trump has distracted us from the larger problems and rendered us strangely passive in the face of them. Sure, this was a Republican failure, but it was also a collective failure, and it follows a few decades of collective failures.”

Opinion | Refusing to Wear a Mask Is Like Driving Drunk – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“As the coronavirus rages out of control across much of the United States, Americans are acting curiously helpless.

If we had been this passive in 1776, we would still be part of Britain. Yet even as we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, we don’t seem willing to assert independence from a virus that in four months has killed more Americans than the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars did over 70 years.

Here’s the simplest of steps we could take: Wear a face mask.

In the United States, mask-wearing lags, particularly among men, compared with some other countries. A poll finds that many American men regard the wearing of face masks as “a sign of weakness,” and President Trump’s refusal to wear them has suggested that he perceives that masks are for wimps.

Trump may now be switching gears, for he told Fox Business on Wednesday that he’s “all for masks” and would wear one if he were “in a tight situation with people.” He shouldn’t waste time: He should tweet a photo of himself in a mask and call on supporters to wear masks as well. Refusing to cover one’s face is reckless, selfish behavior that imperils the economy and can kill or endanger innocent people.”

Did Floyd Protests Lead to a Virus Surge? Here’s What We Know – The New York Times

Last night Paul McGuire and I taught morris jigs on zoom to the New Haven Morris and Sword Team, for the last time till we resume in September. However, in September, I will argue that we can meet and practice outside. I am now playing tennis regularly outdoors, and as the article below suggests, outdoors is much safer than indoors, may 18.7 times safer.

“. . . .   Outdoor transmission is more rare.

Conditions at the demonstrations may not have been conducive for transmission, mainly because the protests occurred outdoors, epidemiologists said.

The virus spreads far more easily indoors than outdoors, and close contact indoors is believed to be the main driver of transmission, epidemiologists say. One study based on a review of 110 cases in Japan found that the odds of transmission were 18.7 times higher in closed environments — everything from fitness studios to tents — than in open-air environments. Another study involving a review of thousands of cases in China found only a single instance of outdoor transmission.

In Minnesota, where Mr. Floyd was killed, cases among young adults climbed substantially over June. But officials said that gatherings in re-opened bars were partly to blame.”

Opinion | America Didn’t Give Up on Covid-19. Republicans Did. – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

“Earlier this year much of America went through hell as the nation struggled to deal with Covid-19. More than 120,000 Americans have now died; more than 20 million have lost their jobs.

But it’s looking as if all those sacrifices were in vain. We never really got the coronavirus under control, and now infections, while they have fallen to a quite low level in the New York area, the pandemic’s original epicenter, are surging in much of the rest of the country.

And the bad news isn’t just a result of more testing. In new hot spots like Arizona — where testing capacity is being overwhelmed — and Houston the fraction of tests coming up positive is soaring, which shows that the disease is spreading rapidly.

It didn’t have to be this way. The European Union, a hugely diverse area with a larger population than the U.S., has been far more successful at limiting the spread of Covid-19 than we have. What went wrong?

The immediate answer is that many U.S. states ignored warnings from health experts and rushed to reopen their economies, and far too many people failed to follow basic precautions like wearing face masks and avoiding large groups. But why was there so much foolishness?

Well, I keep seeing statements to the effect that Americans were too impatient to stay the course, too unwilling to act responsibly. But this is deeply misleading, because it avoids confronting the essence of the problem. Americans didn’t fail the Covid-19 test; Republicans did.”

Opinion | Trump Is Feeding America’s Coronavirus Nightmare – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“President Trump says the coronavirus is “fading away” and pats himself on the back for “a great job on CoronaVirus” that saved “millions of U.S. lives.”

“It’s going away,” Trump said Tuesday at a packed megachurch in Phoenix where few people wore masks.

That’s what delusion sounds like. We need a Churchill to lead our nation against a deadly challenge; instead, we have a president who helps an enemy virus infiltrate our churches and homes. Churchill and Roosevelt worked to deceive the enemy; Trump is trying to deceive us.

For a reality check, look at this map by my colleague Nathaniel Lash showing how much of America is trending in the wrong direction.”

David Lindsay:  This dark op-ed reminds me that I read a piece about an actor discussing the teaching dialects. He said he had a favorite off color joke about giving someone a good Irish accent, only I don’t remember it well, something like, just say the following words quickly, and sort of run them together.
Weave,     beaf,      hooked.

 

Health Officials Had to Face a Pandemic. Then Came the Death Threats. – By Julie Bosman – The New York Times

“Leaders of local and state health departments have been subject to harassment, personal insults and death threats in recent weeks, a response from a vocal and angry minority of the public who say that mask requirements and restrictions on businesses have gone too far.

One top health official, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, issued a statement on Monday condemning attacks on public health directors and disclosing that she faced repeated threats to her safety.

“The death threats started last month, during a Covid-19 Facebook Live public briefing when someone very casually suggested that I should be shot,” Dr. Ferrer said in a statement. “I didn’t immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues.”

“It is deeply worrisome,” she added, “to imagine that our hardworking infectious disease physicians, nurses, epidemiologists and environmental health specialists or any of our other team members would have to face this level of hatred.”

Across the country, many public health officials entered the coronavirus pandemic with bare-bones staffs and strained budgets, leaving them ill-prepared to handle a mounting crisis. Before the pandemic, they had focused on illness prevention, contact tracing for communicable diseases, vaccinations and campaigns against smoking and vaping.

Now some of them, suddenly facing the public with regular television briefings about efforts to fight the coronavirus, are choosing to leave their positions entirely.

Lori Tremmel Freeman, the chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said last week that dozens of top health officials have resigned or been fired since the pandemic began. At least four state health directors have resigned from their posts; Dr. Amy Acton, the state health director of Ohio, stepped down this month after enduring anti-Semitic attacks and demonstrations by armed protesters on her front lawn.”

Opinion | Is Trump Trying to Spread Covid-19? – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

When the full record of the coronavirus in America is written, historians may argue that President Trump’s biggest mistake was not what he failed to do in early 2020, when the right strategy for combating the virus was widely debated, unproven and hard. No, they will point to what Trump failed to do in June 2020, when the right strategy was clear, proven and relatively easy.

No doubt, this virus is inscrutable. It pops up, it disappears, it reappears, some people are symptomatic, some asymptomatic, some seem to have natural immunities to it that we don’t understand, and once it infects people it hits in radically different ways: It comes in the equivalents of decaf, regular and double macchiato — and you never know if you’re going to get the mild or the extra-strength version.

But there is so much that we do know now that could make this post-lockdown phase so much less dangerous and so much more economically viable than it is.

We know that countries where everyone wears a mask outside the home sharply reduce the spread and that people who practice strict social distancing infect fewer people and are infected less often. And we know that people who avoid “superspreading” events — large, prolonged social gatherings, religious services and crammed nightclubs and workplaces, where one highly contagious person can quickly spew the virus to many others — are less likely to get infected.

An ‘Avalanche of Evictions’ Could Be Bearing Down on America’s Renters – By Sarah Mervosh – The New York Times

 

“EUCLID, Ohio — The United States, already wrestling with an economic collapse not seen in a generation, is facing a wave of evictions as government relief payments and legal protections run out for millions of out-of-work Americans who have little financial cushion and few choices when looking for new housing.

The hardest hit are tenants who had low incomes and little savings even before the pandemic, and whose housing costs ate up more of their paychecks. They were also more likely to work in industries where job losses have been particularly severe.

Temporary government assistance has helped, as have government orders that put evictions on hold in many cities. But evictions will soon be allowed in about half of the states, according to Emily A. Benfer, a housing expert and associate professor at Columbia Law School who is tracking eviction policies.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Commen:
I’m worried today about the people described in this NYT article this morning, renters who will get evicted without many more months of extended Federal help to laid off workers. Is it too late to use the European trick, and have them all get paid by their former employers, funded by the government? If so, isn’t it time for a big call to extend unemployment support and rent subsidies for people who are not able to work? Do we really want millions of new homeless, during a pandemic?
David blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Opinion | The Coronavirus and a World Without Meat – By Jonathan Safran Foer – The New York Times

By 

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of “Eating Animals” and “We Are the Weather.”

Credit…Jun Cen

“Is any panic more primitive than the one prompted by the thought of empty grocery store shelves? Is any relief more primitive than the one provided by comfort food?

Most everyone has been doing more cooking these days, more documenting of the cooking, and more thinking about food in general. The combination of meat shortages and President Trump’s decision to order slaughterhouses open despite the protestations of endangered workers has inspired many Americans to consider just how essential meat is.

Is it more essential than the lives of the working poor who labor to produce it? It seems so. An astonishing six out of 10 counties that the White House itself identified as coronavirus hot spots are home to the very slaughterhouses the president ordered open.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., the Smithfield pork plant, which produces some 5 percent of the country’s pork, is one of the largest hot spots in the nation. A Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, had 730 cases of the coronavirus — nearly 60 percent of its employees. At another Tyson plant, in Waterloo, Iowa, there were 1,031 reported cases among about 2,800 workers.

Sick workers mean plant shutdowns, which has led to a backlog of animals. Some farmers are injecting pregnant sows to cause abortions. Others are forced to euthanize their animals, often by gassing or shooting them. It’s gotten bad enough that Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has asked the Trump administration to provide mental health resources to hog farmers.

Despite this grisly reality — and the widely reported effects of the factory-farm industry on America’s lands, communities, animals and human health long before this pandemic hit — only around half of Americans say they are trying to reduce their meat consumption. Meat is embedded in our culture and personal histories in ways that matter too much, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the ballpark hot dog. Meat comes with uniquely wonderful smells and tastes, with satisfactions that can almost feel like home itself. And what, if not the feeling of home, is essential?

And yet, an increasing number of people sense the inevitability of impending change.

Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming.  . . . “

Opinion | Bill Gates Is the Right Tycoon for a Coronavirus Age – By Timothy Egan – The New York Times

“. . . Beyond the $300 million that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given to blunt the spread of the virus, Gates has made himself a spokesman for science. It needs one. While President Trump spouts life-threatening nonsense, Gates calmly explains how a spike protein of coronavirus fits into the urgent hunt for a vaccine.

In 2018, he took the stage in Beijing with a jar of human poop. This, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo, was his way of stressing that about 500,000 young children die every year from diseases linked to poor sanitation — a problem his foundation has tackled.”