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Pandemic playbook author: We knew pandemic was coming
Christiane speaks with Beth Cameron, former NSC senior director for global health security & biodefense, about why the White House pandemic playbook she oversaw wasn't used.
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edition.cnn.com
Attorney representing Epstein accusers details secret meetings with him
Attorney Brad Edwards represents dozens of women who accused late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein of varying degrees of sexual assault when they were underaged. He speaks with Anthony Mason to talk about his decadeslong psychological struggle against Epstein's estate, chronicled in his new book, "Relentless Pursuit: My Fight for the Victims of Jeffrey Epstein."
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cbsnews.com
Breast cancer survivor with coronavirus says goodbye to kids with walkie-talkie
A breast cancer survivor and mother of six from Washington state who contracted the coronavirus bid her loved ones a heartbreaking farewell by using a walkie-talkie that was propped up against her pillow, according to a report. “I told her I love her … she shouldn’t worry about the kids,” Elijah Ross-Rutter, 20, 42-year-old Sundee...
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nypost.com
Coronavirus kills New York neurosurgeon who separated conjoined twins
The coronavirus has killed a world-renowned New York City neurosurgeon who successfully separated conjoined 13-month-old twins in a rare operation.
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foxnews.com
Belgian girl, 12, dies after coronavirus diagnosis, becomes youngest known victim in country
A 12-year-old girl in Belgium died Monday after testing positive for coronavirus, becoming the youngest known fatality among the country’s more than 700 victims, authorities said.
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foxnews.com
'Essential' Child Care Workers Struggle To Balance Family Needs, Safety
Some states are urging childcare centers to stay open to keep essential workers on the job. But providers say they're not trained to keep everyone safe, and there's no social distancing toddlers.
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npr.org
Major cruise lines suspend sailings until mid-May, for now
Carnival, Holland America, Seabourn and others extend suspension of sailings that began March 13
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latimes.com
Fitbit launches $149 Charge 4 with GPS tracking
The Fitbit Charge 4 is the first in the company's lineup to come with GPS tracking and a feature called "Active Zone Minutes."       
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usatoday.com
Rangers mailbag: The likely Henrik Lundqvist outcome, alternate draft reality
You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Rangers. With the current goalie situation on the Rangers, what do you think will happen with Henrik Lundqvist? Do...
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nypost.com
This week in TikTok: Some wholesome family quarantine content
Hello from The Goods’ twice-weekly newsletter! For the next few Tuesdays, internet culture reporter Rebecca Jennings will be using this space to update you all on what’s been going on in the world of TikTok. Is there something you want to see more of? Less of? Different of? Email me at rebecca.jennings@vox.com, and subscribe to The Goods’ newsletter here. Here’s a quote that will probably stay with me until all of this ends and coronavirus becomes a weird, horrible shared memory: Avani Gregg, 17-year-old member of the LA-based TikToker collective Hype House, told Rolling Stone that since the pandemic, engagement on her social profiles has gone up about 25 percent. “People are just waiting for people to post,” she said. “They’re just staring at their phones all day and just waiting.” This has been one of the defining activities of quarantine, at least for me: staring at my phone and waiting for someone to show me something funny, or something pretty, or something that offers at least one moment of distraction. Not that this isn’t a defining activity of my life even when there isn’t the threat of a terrifying global disease, but that particular feeling is a big part of how I’ll remember this period of time. I suspect it’s the same for others. While Spotify streams are down, TikTok appears to have benefited from a nationwide boredom boom, according to some (unconfirmed) numbers. Even anecdotally, people on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds who never seemed to have any interest in it before are discovering TikTok (two of them have already gone viral, yes I am jealous), while others are now realizing they might be too into it. Cautioned Lena Yannella, Duke University class of 2022, in her school newspaper, “So you’ve regressed into a vegetative state watching TikTok in bed as you pretend not to hear your mother calling.” @tyga Bored af ♬ Bored In The House - curtisroach There is even a TikTok anthem for boredom, recorded by Detroit-based musician Curtis Roach via an Instagram video of himself rapping, “Bored in the house and I’m in the house bored” earlier this month that has since gone viral. Last week, after making a TikTok to the sound, the rapper Tyga turned it into a full-length song, which sort of bangs. At the very least, it’s topical in a way that doesn’t feel massively depressing. Here’s what else has been going on in the world of TikTok: TikTok in the news Multiple brands have now attempted to make viral coronavirus dances (including Vox!): Procter & Gamble hired Charli D’Amelio to promote its #DistanceDance, which reminds viewers to stay home, while Elf Cosmetics updated its “Eyes Lips Face” song to include lyrics “Y’all need to lather up” and “Don’t touch your face.” Really, though, any existing TikTok dance challenge will encourage people to stay home anyway. Those things take forever to learn! Here’s some totally not-coronavirus-related tea: There’s more drama in the Hype House. After 20-year-old founding member Daisy Keech moved out over a trademark dispute, she released a YouTube video this weekend explaining why she’s suing fellow founders Thomas Petrou and Chase Hudson. Thomas’s ex-girlfriend then filmed a TikTok with Daisy, on which Thomas commented, “Disgusting.” Also, Daisy is possibly dating Brody Jenner now. This, plus there’s rumors that Charli and Chase are broken up! I just spent an hour of my day researching this! I am a meanie skeptic, so I think that a certain viral TikTok “quarantine cutie” story is neither real nor cute. A lot of people disagree, so I’d be remiss if I deprived you of this theoretically very sweet “date” that two people in Bushwick went on while living across the street from one another, the primary goal of which seemed to be going viral on TikTok. Meme watch Families are making tons of quarantine TikToks together, and it’s adorable. It’s also largely thanks to the Blinding Lights challenge, a group dance to The Weeknd song of the same name that — crucially — takes about 30 seconds to learn, making it easy enough to teach reluctant parents. BuzzFeed has a roundup of the best videos, though the funniest by far is from longtime family creators the McFarlands, who finally hopped on the challenge after everyone begged them to. @the.mcfarlands You asked for it... Here it is #blindinglightschallenge #blindinglights #happyathome ♬ The Weeknd - Blinding Lights - gregdahl7 Celebrities, the thirstiest people on TikTok, are also bringing their kids into their TikTok content. Jessica Alba and her little ones promoted Honest Beauty skincare; J. Lo, A Rod, and company did the Something New challenge; and Mark Wahlberg’s poor child tried to teach him a TikTok dance. This week I’ve seen families do Tiger King cosplay, make jingles about walking around a suburban neighborhood, and a girl whose brother has turned her family dinners into elaborate performance art. But if you hate heartwarming things, there’s this extremely dark TikTok that one family made about what life will be like one year from now. One Last Thing It’s been a long time since I got sternly “spoken to” by a teacher, so this TikTok of a boy breathing loudly into his computer microphone during online school and then getting a “warning” for disrupting the class really hits the spot. Stay safe this week! @duckingaroundyt I had to mute my mic for the rest of class cus I couldn’t stop laughing ♬ The Box - Roddy Ricch
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vox.com
Please stop sending Joe Buck your ‘NSFW’ videos
That’s not what Joe Buck had in mind. The lead play-by-play man on Fox for football and baseball asked fans to send him videos from home and he would call the action from these moments to keep his voice sharp and his Twitter followers entertained during the coronavirus pandemic. And if Buck did call your...
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nypost.com
Joe Biden has yet another gaffe-filled media appearance
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden conducted a gaffe-filled interview on MSNBC Monday, kicking off his media appearance by referring to the epicenter of the coronavirus by the wrong name.
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nypost.com
John Krasinski reminisces about 'The Office' with Steve Carell in YouTube show debut
Good news, "The Office" fans: John Krasinski and Steve Carelll reunited (over video chat) to take a walk down Dunder Mifflin memory lane.        
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usatoday.com
Yankees players praise nurses caught in trenches of coronavirus pandemic
New York Yankees players on Sunday praised nurses working in the trenches of the coronavirus pandemic.
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foxnews.com
As World Leaders Go Into Coronavirus Isolation, How Would Quarantine Affect Trump's Presidency?
The pandemic has forced governments to consider how they would function with their top officials stuck at home.
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newsweek.com
28-year-old coronavirus patient on recovery, 'frustrating' effort to get tested
Amanda Bono, 28, contracted the novel coronavirus and is now warning people about the virus saying, “please do not take this lightly.”
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foxnews.com
Walmart to check temperatures of workers to prevent coronavirus spread
Walmart will check employees’ temperatures at the start of their shifts to prevent them from working with coronavirus, company executives said Tuesday. Walmart and Sam’s Club staffers who give a reading of at least 100 degrees will be sent home until they go three days without a fever, company officials said. Sick employees will still...
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nypost.com
Academy of Country Music announces star-studded new special
Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood are two of the many artists that will be featured on the Sunday special, “ACM Presents: Our Country,” packed full of conversations and songs from country music’s biggest stars. The Academy of Country Music had to postpone its awards show over the coronavirus pandemic, and will air the special in its place to give music fans something to look forward to as the virus forces events such as concerts and festivals to be called off.
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cbsnews.com
Students “looking for guidance on how to cope” with pandemic
Coronavirus school closures are forcing over 55 million students in the U.S. from Kindergarten through 12th grade to learn from home. The mass shut downs are disrupting teachers’ lesson plans and even pose a problem for students who may not have internet access. Julie Lythcott-Haims, CBS News contributor and author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over Parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” joins “CBS This Morning” to talk about how the virus precautions could leave some school-age kids behind.
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cbsnews.com
California Health Corps Formed by Newsom to Fight Outbreak
Tuesday: The state hopes to add scores of additional health care workers as hospitals fill. Also: Easy California history lessons.
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nytimes.com
Our environmental practices make pandemics like the coronavirus more likely
“When you cut down the forest where bats live, they don’t just go away,” explains Sonia Shah. “They come roost in the trees in your backyard.” | Universal Images Group via Getty The story we tell about pandemics casts us as victims of nature. It’s the other way around. President Trump likes to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” and in so doing he’s popularizing an image of the pandemic as a foreign invasion. He’s not the only one. Although we are (hopefully) not using a racist term to refer to this virus, many of us have unwittingly bought into a particular paradigm for understanding pandemics. Call it the paradigm of invasion: the idea that we’re being attacked by an onslaught of foreign pathogens that come from animals, and we’re just passive victims. But what if we, the humans, are the ones staging the onslaught? What if the real story of modern pandemics is not about how animals and their germs are invading our human realm but about how we’re invading theirs? That’s the argument of Sonia Shah, author of the 2017 book Pandemic. She says the paradigm of invasion — or “microbial xenophobia,” as she calls it — often fails to explain why a microbe that’s existed for ages suddenly turns into a pandemic-causing pathogen. After studying outbreaks ranging from cholera to West Nile virus to Ebola, she’s found that human activities play a huge, and hugely underrecognized, role. Our environmental and social policies — like cutting down forests or failing to address a housing crisis — make it much likelier that a previously harmless microbe will cause a devastating outbreak. Shah is not alone in advocating for a paradigm shift in how we understand pandemics. The One Health movement, an interdisciplinary way of thinking espoused by some global public health authorities, emphasizes the connections between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. It’s pushing for this change, too. I talked to Shah about how this approach can help us better understand the true origins of pandemics. A transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, follows. Sigal Samuel The reigning narrative in a lot of people’s minds is that “exotic” animals are to blame for the coronavirus crisis — that they’re dirty and infested with tons of pathogens that just can’t wait to kill us. What’s wrong with this narrative? Sonia Shah First of all, we all have lots of microbes inside of us. Humans give animals microbes that turn into pathogens all the time, so we are also the source of disease for other species. But we don’t talk about that. Species everywhere are full of microbes, but if they stay in the bodies in which they’ve evolved, they don’t cause disease. Ebola doesn’t cause disease in bats. Neither does coronavirus. They cause disease in our bodies because they’re new to us — they’re exploiting a new habitat. Sigal Samuel So why are they exploiting that new habitat, namely us humans? Sonia Shah It’s because we are building roads between wild animals and human bodies. We’re using up a lot of land — for our cities, our mines, our farms — and while doing that, we’re destroying wildlife habitat. That’s why 150 species are going extinct every day. And the species that are remaining have to squeeze into these tiny fragments of wildlife habitat that we leave for them. When you cut down the forest where bats live, they don’t just go away; they come roost in the trees in your backyard or farm. That means it’s easier to have casual contact with their excretions. If a little kid goes outside and plays near a tree where bats roost, they might pick up a piece of fruit that has some bat poop or bat saliva on it and put that in their mouth, and then you’ve created an opportunity for the microbes that live in the bat’s body to enter into a human body. We know that with Ebola, there was a single spillover event — the first case was a 2-year-old child in West Africa who was playing near a tree where bats live. These are accidents waiting to happen. Now we have this amazing flight network, so even if pathogens emerge in a place where there aren’t a lot of transmission opportunities, they can easily get to somewhere where there are. We’re also urbanizing in an ad hoc fashion, so we have a lot of places where people are being exposed to each other’s waste. There’s not a lot of infrastructure in many of the places that are rapidly urbanizing. All these factors combine to increase the risk that a microbe will spill over into human bodies and then start to spread. Sigal Samuel What strikes me is that when you talk about the origins of pandemics, you talk on this macro level — like our environmental and social policies — rather than on the micro level. What kind of explanatory power does this approach give you, in terms of explaining the origins of previous outbreaks? Sonia Shah We often look at an outbreak as a foreign problem — like Ebola and SARS and Zika are coming from outside and encroaching upon us. That’s the traditional narrative: the germ invading from outside. I call it microbial xenophobia. But these are things that are happening right here in the United States. So for example, West Nile virus is a virus of migratory birds from Africa. They’ve been landing in North America for hundreds of years, but we never had West Nile virus here until 1999. Well, why is that? It turns out that when you have a diversity of bird species in your domestic flock, you don’t get a lot of West Nile virus because birds like woodpeckers and rails are really bad carriers. So as long as you have a lot of those diverse bird species around, even if you have an introduction of West Nile virus from a migratory bird, you’re not going to get a lot of virus overall. But what happened over the last 20 years or so is that we lost a lot of that avian biodiversity. Woodpeckers and rails became rare in a lot of environments. Instead, we have a lot of birds like crows and robins, which are generalist species that can live in any kind of degraded environment, and they’re really good carriers of West Nile virus. So the fewer woodpeckers and rails you have around, and the more robins and crows you have around, the more West Nile virus you have around. And the more likely it becomes that a mosquito is going to bite an infected bird and then bite a human. “We’re going to lurch from disaster to disaster to disaster until we start to really change the fundamental relationship between us and nature” Sigal Samuel Since tick-borne diseases are a huge problem in the US, I’m curious: Is there a similar story to be told about Lyme disease? Sonia Shah Yes, it’s a very similar story with Lyme. When we had intact forests over the northeast, we had a diversity of woodland species that lived in those intact forests — like opossums and chipmunks — that helped control the tick population. But over the past 50 years or so, suburbs have expanded into the forest and broken it up into little patchwork quilts, so opossums and chipmunks have become [relatively] rare. Instead, we have a lot of white-footed mice and deer, and it turns out that white-footed mice don’t control tick populations well. A typical mouse destroys about 50 ticks a week, compared to a typical opossum that will destroy hundreds and hundreds of ticks a week just by grooming. So the fewer opossums you have around and the more white-footed mice you have around, the more ticks you have around. And the more likely it becomes that you’re going to have outbreaks of tick-borne disease like Lyme. Sigal Samuel I think that really helps make the case that our interaction with the environment — for example, deforestation — has major impacts on human health. Social policies can also affect the risk of an outbreak, right? Sonia Shah Right, so, when dengue broke out in South Florida in 2009, it was immediately considered an invasion from some foreign place. We coated the environment with insecticide and staged a military-style assault on these mosquitoes. But it turns out the mosquitoes that carry dengue have been in South Florida for a long time. That wasn’t new. What was new was the foreclosure crisis. It had shuttered all these houses. The epicenter of the dengue crisis was also the epicenter of the mortgage crisis. And of course in South Florida people have a lot of swimming pools. So with all these homes closed, these swimming pools were vacant. Lo and behold, it starts to rain and these empty pools fill up with water and it creates these little pockets around the garden that mosquitoes can breed in. And then we have this “unprecedented” outbreak of dengue. Nobody thought to address the housing crisis as a possible driver of the outbreak. Sigal Samuel It sounds like what you’re advocating for is a more holistic approach, a systems-thinking approach. How much of an outlier are you in that? Sonia Shah There’s a whole movement in global health called One Health. It’s the idea that human health is connected to the health of our animals — pets, livestock, wildlife — and our ecosystems and other societies. All these things are connected and we have to look at these broader drivers because that’s going to get to the root of the issue. Otherwise, we’re constantly just mopping up problems that are going to keep erupting again and again. Sigal Samuel It occurs to me that this also has implications for how we do science. Given that so many of our modern pathogens cross disciplinary boundaries, do we need more doctors working with veterinarians, more biomedical experts collaborating with social scientists, and so on? Sonia Shah Absolutely. We have siloed everyone and you can see how that’s impacted the way we responded to some of the zoonotic pathogens. With West Nile Virus, veterinarians at the Bronx Zoo noticed, “Oh, all these birds are getting sick with something.” But they didn’t tell the doctors, so the doctors just said, “Oh, all these people are getting sick with something! What’s happening?” We’ve blinded ourselves to the crossovers by making it so these groups don’t talk to each other. Part of the One Health idea is that we need to be multidisciplinary and bring all these experts together. Sigal Samuel The fact that the coronavirus likely came from a wild-animal market in China makes me wonder about factory farms in countries like the US. It’s not the same, but animals in these farms are also packed very close together. Should the coronavirus crisis prompt us to revise how we think about meat production here, too? Sonia Shah That’s absolutely part of it. When I was writing my book, I asked my sources what keeps them awake at night. They usually had two answers: highly drug-resistant forms of bacterial pathogens and virulent avian influenza. Both those things are driven by the crowding in factory farms. These are ticking time bombs, and they’re still going to be there when we’re done cleaning up the mess we’ve gotten ourselves in with this current virus. Sigal Samuel In your book, you write about paradigm shifts, and one line that jumped out at me was: “Modern biomedicine’s fundamental approach to solving complex problems is to reduce them to their smallest and simplest components.” Do you think this reductionist approach is failing us now? Sonia Shah The reductionist approach in biomedicine comes from a good place. Modern germ theory really made a big difference. Before we had germ theory, people thought cholera, malaria, and so on were caused by miasmas floating in the air or an imbalance of humors in your body. Germ theory helped us in a lot of ways, so it makes sense that that’s the paradigm. But we’ve lost the bigger picture, the connections between social and political health and environmental health. So what we’re seeing right now is an intense amount of reductionism. Moving forward, what we have to see is that pandemics, climate disasters, all of these are related to our huge footprint on the planet. We’ve been using up a lot of natural resources and now the bill is coming due. We’re going to lurch from disaster to disaster to disaster until we start to really change the fundamental relationship between us and nature. Sign up for the Future Perfect newsletter and we’ll send you a roundup of ideas and solutions for tackling the world’s biggest challenges — and how to get better at doing good. Future Perfect is funded in part by individual contributions, grants, and sponsorships. Learn more here.
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vox.com
Coronavirus leaves 3 of 4 Americans under orders to stay at home as more states impose restrictions
About three of every four Americans are now under orders to stay at home --or will be soon -- as more states have imposed restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus as the death toll grows nationwide.
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foxnews.com
Mike ‘The Situation’ says ‘the time for parties is over’ in coronavirus PSA
No gym, no tan, no laundry.
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nypost.com
CDC Offers Advice for Reducing Social Stigma Amid Coronavirus-Related Hate Crimes
The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in certain groups facing social stigma, discrimination and hate crimes.
1m
newsweek.com
Coronavirus Outbreak Is 'Most Challenging' of 4 Pandemics Mexico's Former Minister of Health Has Experienced
Two characteristics of the new coronavirus made it particularly challenging than other pandemics Julio Frenk, Mexico's former Minister of Health, said he experienced.
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newsweek.com
Macy's, Kohl's, Gap to furlough thousands of workers as pandemic worsens
Retail giants Macy's, Kohl's and Gap have announced widespread furloughs amid soaring reports of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The pandemic has sent the economy into free fall, with massive layoffs and small business closures happening across the country as a result of precautions to slow the disease's spread. Jill Schlesinger joins "CBS This Morning" to talk about this latest hit to workers and what it means for the future of the economy as the pandemic continues.
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cbsnews.com
It will be a devastating week for the US economy. There is no playbook -- and stimulus must come fast
The economy is cratering deeper than we have seen in our lifetimes. Layoffs are coming so quickly, the state unemployment offices can't keep up. Banks are flooded with calls about upcoming mortgage and loan payments. Downtowns are deserted, malls are closed, bars are empty, and airplanes are grounded.
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edition.cnn.com
Roger Federer shows off trick shots while on lockdown
Roger Federer is the latest athlete to take to social media to share his lockdown life.
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edition.cnn.com
Coronavirus closed the world's holy sites, see them this way
Viewers can still see and learn about the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and other significant sites in the Fox Nation series, "Holy Week," hosted by Fox News co-host Pete Hegseth.
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foxnews.com
Coronavirus in NY: Field hospitals to open in Central Park, Queens
A field hospital in Central Park and a temporary hospital at the Queens stadium that’s home to the U.S. Open are opening to fight against coronavirus.
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nypost.com
South Korea puts off school opening again, goes online
South Korea on Tuesday canceled the re-opening of schools next week as clusters of coronavirus infections flare and will launch online classes while delaying the annual college entrance exams.
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reuters.com
'Bachelor' alum Colton Underwood opens up about battling coronavirus, his new book 'The First Time'
Colton Underwood tested positive for COVID-19 just before releasing his memoir, "The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV."        
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usatoday.com
The coronavirus has pushed US-China relations to their worst point since Mao
China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump before a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka | Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images “The relationship is in free fall.” The Covid-19 pandemic is a grim reminder that the worst really can happen. Tail risk is real risk. Political leaders fumble, miscalculate, and bluster into avoidable disaster. And even as we try to deal with this catastrophe, the seeds of another are sprouting. The US-China relationship will define geopolitics in the 21st century. If we collapse into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism, the results could be hellish. And we are, right now, collapsing into rivalry, conflict, and politically opportunistic nationalism. The Trump administration and key congressional Republicans are calling Covid-19 “the Chinese virus” and trying to gin up tensions to distract from their domestic failures. Chinese government officials, beset by their own domestic problems, are claiming the US military brought the virus to China. The US-China relationship was in a bad way six months ago, but this is a new level of threat. Evan Osnos covers the US-China relationship for the New Yorker and is the author of the National Book Award winner Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. In this conversation on The Ezra Klein Show, we discuss the past, present, and future of the US-China relationship. What are the chances of armed conflict? What might deescalation look like? And we know what the US wants — what, in truth, does China want? Here’s a lightly edited transcript of part of our conversation, which we released this week on The Ezra Klein Show. Ezra Klein We’ll get to the US-China relationship, but let’s start with China itself. In January, you wrote that, “To a degree still difficult for outsiders to absorb, China is preparing to shape the 21st century, much as the US shaped the 20th. Its government is deciding which features of the global status quo to preserve and which to reject.” Tell me a bit more about that. Evan Osnos I think the giant hidden fact of our lives over the course of the last few years has been the degree to which China has been shifting the ground beneath our feet. There’s now been this general sudden awareness in the American population about how significantly China is starting to rewrite rules on things like privacy and surveillance and human rights and their perception of sovereignty. To take one example, China has now become in many ways the leader of surveillance technology that they use for purposes of governance. They introduced facial recognition on a very broad basis. China has been very aggressive in rolling that out and they don’t do it with an accompanying debate about civil liberties. They’re using it essentially the way that the United States put seatbelts into cars, with a full-throated commitment to that as a next-generation technology. And it’s not clear whether the American conversation about civil liberties that might accompany [such technologies] is going to become the global conversation or whether that’s just going to become kind of a minority conversation that we have just with our allies. Ezra Klein Ten, 15 years ago, the sense was still that China was creating a potential model for some developed countries but that the US still stood as a beacon of global political effectiveness. In the interim, we’ve been through the financial crisis and elected Donald Trump. Now, I think the broad global view of American democracy and American public state capacity is that it isn’t working very well. How does that change that dynamic of China being able to export and shape the global conversation? Evan Osnos In the broadest sense, it makes China’s case easier to make. In 1994, China’s economy was smaller than Italy’s and it has grown 24 times since then. It is now second only to the United States. And they can point to their model as they go around the world and point to, for instance, that they’ve reduced extreme poverty below 1 percent. In these kinds of basic metrics of how they perceive overall comprehensive national power, they have simply surpassed the United States. That’s their case. I would say if you were balancing this out on a spreadsheet, you’d say the United States has had tremendous losses in trust over the course of the last few years. China was coming from a very low base and they’ve gained some, but they are not yet at the point where other countries are simply kind of falling into the Chinese embrace. And that creates this tremendous sense of uncertainty and a kind of moral competition between these two systems. Ezra Klein Coronavirus enters into this in a very weird way. On the one hand, it is a tremendous failure of the Chinese political and government system. And on the other hand, their response to it is now being seen, certainly by some, as a model — especially as America and much of Western Europe struggles mightily to get this under control. How did China respond to the outbreak? Evan Osnos When the virus first emerged in December in Wuhan, the initial instinct of the local authorities was to be very wary of allowing that information out. There were some doctors like Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to raise some alarms first in the medical community, and others tried to raise alarms in the broader community. And these doctors were told not to talk about it. The virus continued to grow, and the best estimates are that about 7 million people from Wuhan left by the time the state shut down on January 23rd. That obviously contributed significantly to the overall growth of the virus. But before we talk about that, it’s worth pointing out that then they imposed this extraordinary set of conditions on Wuhan which have been really admired in a lot of the world because of its ability to significantly flatten the curve. After being overrun at the hospitals, they imposed not just regular lockdowns, but really specific levels of quarantine. That had the effect of being able to significantly bring down the numbers to the point now that Hubei, which is the area around Wuhan, has now been opened up. One of the things my friend Bill Bishop, a China analyst who writes the Sinocism newsletter, makes is, “Don’t listen to what the Chinese say on questions about the infection rate — look at what they do.” And they’ve done a couple of significant things that indicate that they really are confident about their progress. They’ve allowed Xi Jinping to schedule a trip to Wuhan, which is a big deal. And they have also started opening up larger parts of the country. They wouldn’t do that if they thought it was going to imperil their stability, ultimately their political stability. Ezra Klein Coronavirus is ultimately going to have a hugely negative impact on the Chinese economy. And, in response to declining growth, they are probably going to need to rely heavily on nationalism. In a context where America is led by this much-loathed president who is also attacking China constantly, the easiest way for that nationalist energy to be wielded is against America. That strikes me as a very dangerous context. Evan Osnos I think that’s exactly right. For years, people who think seriously about China’s political trajectory have said that the biggest risk in the US-China relationship is that there will come a time when China, because of something like an economic depression, would need to rally people around the flag in a particularly acute, brittle, aggressive way. This tool has been built into Chinese politics: When needed, you can direct your animus, your political energy, against a foreign opponent. And you’ve heard people at the very top of the foreign ministry-spokesman system in China saying the virus may have been brought to China by the US military. There’s obviously no evidence to support that claim, but that tendency is a serious risk — it moves us further down this spiral of deterioration. Ezra Klein One of the things I’ve been trying to do in some of these interviews is trying to understand the context around coronaviruses that the virus is colliding in with. So if I was talking to you before coronavirus erupted into the global catastrophe it now is and I asked you to describe the state of the US-China relationship, what would you have told me? Evan Osnos I would have said that it was at the worst point since the forging of the relationship in 1972. A senior White House official who has a little bit of room for objectivity on this issue said to me, “The relationship is in freefall.” That is an accurate description. That’s how it was before this latest period. We had these serious underlying tensions in the relationship around questions of human rights and China’s treatment of [Uighur] Muslims. But you also have the more specific, recent tensions around trade and China’s attempts to acquire American technology. On top of that, there’s the way Trump has been so much more overtly aggressive about the US-China relationship. On the Chinese side, you’ve had a much harsher authoritarian system take hold under siege in Beijing. Xi Jinping has been very effective at focusing on the threat from abroad as a way of trying to rally political support around him. One of the key points that he often has pointed to over the years is the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed. In the Chinese mind, the collapse of the Soviet Union was not the inevitable result of a flawed system — it was a great tragedy of the 20th century. And the reason why it collapsed in the official telling in China is that they allowed themselves to be corrupted by the West. They were not ideologically pure and not ideologically vigilant enough, and their population was ultimately peeled away by Western thinking. That was all in place before the virus arrived. You can listen to the full episode by subscribing to The Ezra Klein Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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vox.com
Trump Admin Forcing Asylum Seekers to Go to Court or Face Deportation Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
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newsweek.com
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foxnews.com
Lawsuit claims Zoom illegally shared user data with Facebook
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nypost.com
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cbsnews.com
President Trump insists on congratulations while America braces for the worst
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edition.cnn.com
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newsweek.com
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cbsnews.com
De Blasio: All NYC hospital beds could be full of coronavirus patients
Every hospital bed in New York City may be converted to treat COVID-19 infected patients, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday. “We project that potentially all of those beds, all 20,000, will have to be turned into intensive care beds to focus on COVID-19 patients who are really, really sick,” de Blasio said on NBC’s “Today”...
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nypost.com
How the coronavirus widens the gender pay gap
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edition.cnn.com
How to coronavirus-proof your home
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edition.cnn.com
We can do it: A wartime-style mobilization to beat coronavirus and mass unemployment
Corbis via Getty Images The US can’t wait for an end to the pandemic. A dangerous myth is taking hold in the United States that the country must decide between saving the economy at the expense of risking many additional Covid-19 deaths and a depression leading to double-digit unemployment. Trump says that the cure for the virus can’t be more costly than the virus itself. Others, like former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, caution that the US must stick with stringent public health measures, but simply can’t fix the economy “until we contain the virus.” But this is a false choice. The virus’s hit to the economy is real. But beyond the direct hit from the pandemic, the US is experiencing an economy-wide collapse in demand, as job losses lead to income losses which lead to reduced spending and further job losses. There is a climate of concern, and people who haven’t lost jobs and incomes worry that they may do so soon and restrain their spending. There is a pinch on state and local budgets that is causing cutbacks on front-line labor as there’s more, not less, work to do. And despite frantic moves from the Federal Reserve last week and a big stimulus bill from Congress, the steps taken thus far are too small and too timid — like a series of mattresses to cushion the fall when the US needs a trampoline to bounce everyone back to full employment. That’s not a job that can afford to wait until after the epidemiological crisis is solved any more than the Allies waited until after defeating Hitler to cure the Great Depression. The US needs to beat the virus in part through a massive, deliberate mobilization that puts people back to work. America needs a strategy for recovery, not just rescue Businesses across the country have been forced to either shut down or dramatically curtail their activities because of the virus. That inevitably leads to job losses and a declining stock market. But if you broaden your set of economic indicators — including currencies (where the dollar is getting stronger), commodities (where everything from oil to corn to metal has gotten cheaper), to bonds (where government interest rates have fallen), to inflation (where expectations are of slower price increases) — you see a second story, a crisis of falling demand. And though the measures taken by Congress and the Fed last week led to a clear improvement in the indicators, they weren’t nearly enough to address the crisis. Win McNamee/Getty Images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, surrounded by a bipartisan group of members of the House, signs the stimulus bill known as the CARES Act on March 27. The US needs to take the analogy of wartime mobilization that’s been used by many leaders much more seriously and deliver trillions more in tax cuts and spending increases to stimulate demand. Much of that spending should be aimed at mobilizing workers and industry to provide the goods and services the US needs to continue coping with a virus that, even if successfully contained, is not going to vanish soon. To cope with the twin crises of economics and public health, the US will need substantial investment in the production of personal protective equipment for health care workers, but may also need production of masks and gloves for the public. It will need a huge infusion of funds to state and local governments so they can continue to provide — even expand — needed services. It will need medical research in spades, and we’ll need income support to households and businesses as they struggle to adapt to a new world of doing things in less-efficient more socially distant ways. And to support it all, the US needs a creative and flexible Federal Reserve willing to adopt a wartime mentality to finance. Economic policy can’t fix everything, but it can fix a lot A few years ago Christina Romer, formerly the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, and her husband David co-wrote my favorite paper about macroeconomics. It’s called “The Most Dangerous Idea in Federal Reserve History: Monetary Policy Doesn’t Matter.” In the paper the Romers review three tragic episodes in American economic history — the early phases of the Great Depression, the Great Inflation of the 1970s, and the extended Great Recession that began in 2008 and left us with labor market weakness that lingered up until the moment when coronavirus hit. Christina Animashaun/Vox They show that in each of these episodes, policymakers convinced themselves that because of special unique attributes of the situation, there was nothing more that they could do on the demand side of the economy. In 1930, for example, as the Great Depression gathered, George Norris of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve spoke against the idea of extra stimulus. In his view, the real problem was the extraordinary stock market bubble of the 1920s. “The consequences of such an economic debauch,” he argued to other Fed officials, “are inevitable. We are now suffering them. Can they be corrected or removed by cheap money? We do not believe that they can.” In the 1970s, the problem was inflation rather than mass unemployment. And William Miller, then chair of the Federal Reserve, insisted that it wasn’t his problem to solve, telling Congress that “an effective program to reduce the rate of inflation had to extend beyond monetary policy” and instead focus on deregulatory and anti-union policy “designed to enhance competition and to correct structural problems.” And in the wake of the Great Recession, distinguished economists started coming up with fanciful explanations for why labor force growth was persistently slow, even at one point deciding that advances in video game quality rather than a weak job market were to blame. But in the first two instances, once policymakers — President Franklin Roosevelt in the case of the Great Depression, Fed Chair Paul Volcker in the case of inflation — actually accepted responsibility for solving the problem, they took action by abandoning the gold standard in the former case and with painful but relatively brief spikes in interest rates in the latter. The Great Recession never had such a decisive turning point, but exactly as the Romers predicted, over time growing demand just kept pushing the job numbers up steadily throughout both the Obama and Trump presidencies. So I was alarmed to see something Christina Romer told my colleague Ezra Klein: “I feel like we need a new term for the kind of unemployment we’re going to have,” says Christina Romer, the Berkeley economist who led President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers during the financial crisis. “It’s not cyclical unemployment. It’s quarantine unemployment. Businesses aren’t allowed to operate. People aren’t allowed to be out of their home. The idea that if you just give people money it’ll somehow prevent the unemployment rate from skyrocketing makes no sense. No amount of demand stimulus will get people to go to restaurants if they’re closed.” What Romer is saying is thatthe US needs humanitarian relief to help people who can’t work, rather than expecting stimulus to create jobs. But that’s a huge overstatement. She teaches at UC Berkeley in California, which is under some of the strictest lockdown orders in the country. Yet restaurants in Berkeley are not closed — many of them are offering food for pickup or delivery. The novelists Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon announced on Twitter a plan to buy 25 meals a week from local restaurants to give to nearby hospital workers — a nice gesture for the community. And one thing that makes it a nice gesture, of course, is that lots of people are constrained in the number of restaurant meals they can consume by their income. Do you run an East Bay restaurant? Once a week for as long as this lasts @michaelchabon and I will buy 25 meals from you and deliver them to the Highland Hospital ER staff. Cash for you, food for them! Win win! Email me at ayeletw@gmail.com. Spread the word.— Ayelet Waldman (@ayeletw) March 21, 2020 It’s also true that there are plenty of affluent people who eat out frequently who are going to be cutting back for non-financial reasons during this crisis. But it’s a big mistake to think that everyone is in that boat, or that the US has to simply give up on the idea of keeping people engaged in meaningful work. Signs of demand shortfall are everywhere Even in the midst of the current crisis, some companies are hiring. Instacart says they’re looking to add 300,000 staff as demand for grocery delivery picks up. Amazon says they’re going to hire 100,000 new people and Domino’s Pizza expects to add 10,000 more workers. A crisis for some is an opportunity for others. And in an appropriately stimulated economy, workers laid off from some sectors would gain new jobs in others. But something I’ve noticed in my Washington, DC, neighborhood is that even though supermarkets and hardware stores are still open, they are curtailing hours rather than expanding them. Prudent people are trying to shop at the least-crowded possible times in order to minimize human contact — typically at odd hours. The Whole Foods in my neighborhood is normally open from 7 am to 10 pm. The store has established special hours for people ages 60 and older, from 6 am to 7 am, and it is closing early at 9 pm. In a healthier economic environment, the store would be opening early and closing late — adding shifts to cover those times and adding workers to do extra cleaning and disinfecting. This might lead to price increases for some retail goods, partially offsetting retailers’ reduced costs for commodities and the fuel to get things shipped. Nobody likes to see high prices. But that’s what you’d expect to see from an appropriately stimulated economy — overall stable or slightly rising inflation as total spending levels stay steady even though the virus is disrupting exactly what people spend money on. Instead, aggregate spending is collapsing. Recode’sPeter Kafka reports that even as news consumption is soaring, the advertising market is shrinking. BuzzFeed News announced across-the-board salary cuts. This isn’t the virus forcing media companies to shut down or making it impossible to buy laptops. It’s the secondary and tertiary demand impacts that are creating a generalized economic crisis. How to fix the problem: Spend, mobilize, recalibrate Congress has declared victory and gone home, butit’s important for leaders in both parties to stay engaged. They need to keep monitoring the situation and continue passing new stimulative measures until there are clear indications that things have gone far enough on the demand side. That’s going to mean primarily pushing a lot more money out the door. Secondarily, the federal government needs to mobilize the country to address the virus — working with private industry, but also plenty of pushing cash out to state and local governments to do things. Last but by no means least, the Federal Reserve— the American government’s premiere demand-management agency — needs to commit to allowing a small spurt of inflation if that’s what it takes to ride this crisis out, and to extending maximum support to whatever the nation’s elected officials decide to spend money on. Chair Jay Powell’s announcements last week pointed in that direction, but everyone would benefit from a clear and consistent statement from the central bank that it supports fully and swiftlyreturning to full employment, even if it means a temporarily elevated pace of price increases. If people look back on the year 2020 and see that the big problem was 4 percent inflation, rather than mass unemployment or the widespread collapse of hospital systems, that’s a victory. Push out more money At the very beginning of the crisis, President Trump was said to be interested in a major payroll tax cut. Eventually he got talked out of that by Democrats who argued, correctly, that generous unemployment insurance benefits and flat cash transfers to households should be higher priorities. That was the right judgment, but with demand still not fully stabilized, it would make sense to go back and look at the payroll tax issue. Evan Vucci/AP President Trump hands a pen to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, after signing the coronavirus stimulus relief package, on March 27. The kind of companies that are still enjoying healthy sales — from giants like Target to the little hardware store across the street from my house — would be more likely to expand staff and rehire some newly unemployed workers if employer-side payroll taxes fell. Employers whose businesses have been hurt by the crisis but who aren’t forced into closure by it will, similarly, have an easier time avoiding layoffs if they get a tax break. Meanwhile, the millions of Americans who haven’t lost their jobs but are dealing with unusually difficult working conditions, complicated child care situations, and other problems could use a boost from a worker-side payroll tax cut. Depending on the market reaction to that, it could alsomake sense to do more rounds of cutting universal checks. Even while maintaining fairly severe social distancing, reasonable people might want to splurge on home exercise equipment, new toys and activities for kids, better equipment for your home office, or remote consultations with medical doctors or psychotherapists. Deliver the goods and services people need The political controversy du jour is Trump’s reluctance to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) and secure critically needed ventilators and personal protective equipment for front-line health care workers. He should do all that. But the government at all levels should also acknowledge that our wartime production needs are broader than the most critical supplies. The acute shortage of N95 respirators facing medical personnel treating Covid-19 patients obviously needs to be fixed first. But instead of managing the shortage by telling the public surgical masks aren’t useful, the US ought to make more masks and widen the circle of people who get them. The gap between our current situation—wherefront-line health personnel can’t get the basic equipment they need — and a realm where everyone is amply provisioned with masks and gloves for routine use is huge. Filling that gap will be a hard problem. But it’s the opposite of the problem of having too many workers with nothing left for them to do. The US needs to be looking at all appropriate tools to get newly unemployed people into manufacturing masks and gloves. That probably means some mix of DPA edicts, direct subsidies for production, and government guarantees that they will purchase any “excess” supplies if the crisis ends up ending sooner than expected. Scott Olson/Getty Images Hospitals across the country are accepting donations of Personal Protective Equipment and other supplies that are high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But beyond medical equipment, we are looking at a reasonably extended period of time in which people should be consuming more soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting sprays and wipes,and lotion. Especially once the US is able to move beyond the most severe lockdown measures, we’re going to need lots of household cleaning supplies. And that means we’ll need more personnel and industrial capacity to make them. Congress should also directly infuse state and local governments with the money they need to run things properly. Mass transit agencies are being crushed by falling ridership and have started curtailing service. Distancing best practice, however, is that transit agencies should run ample service even as commuter loads fall so that trains and buses can stay as uncrowded as possible, even while vehicles are disinfected frequently. This isn’t financially viable for local governments, but the federal government can make it viable, and in doing so support public health and employment at the same time. More broadly, the one saving grace of the coronavirus pandemic is that the pathogen is fairly easy to kill with soap and other normal cleaning supplies. High-touch surfaces in playgrounds, benches, and other public space could and perhaps should be routinely disinfected as part of a transitional strategy to getting things partially opened up again. The barrier to doing that is simply cost. But that’s just another way of saying the virus hasn’t eliminated our need for labor. There is plenty for workers to do instead of being unemployed, as long as people refuse to accept mass unemployment as inevitable. Rather than it being necessary to completely fix the health situation before the US can heal the economy, mobilizing idled workers should be part of how to get the health situation under control. Wartime central banking But to undergird it all, Americans need a cooperative central bank. The question of Federal Reserve action is intimately linked to the inevitable question of whether the country can really afford to engage in stimulus on this level. And the answer is yes. Since the 1951 Fed/Treasury Accord, the Fed has operated independently of the rest of the American government. But as Jessica Romero of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmondrecounts in his history of the accord, “during World War II and its aftermath the Federal Reserve did not enjoy such independence.” Instead, “at the request of the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve formally committed to maintaining a low interest-rate peg of 3/8 percent on short-term Treasury bills. The Fed also implicitly capped the rate on long-term Treasury bonds at 2.5 percent.” The point of this was to make sure it was affordable for the government to borrow the money it would need to fight and win the war. Current interest rates are less than half of where they were set as an emergency wartime finance measure, and the Fed has announced that it’s willing to engage in unlimited purchases of government bonds “to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.” What’s further needed from the Fed is a clearer statement of the goals of its activity. In the past generation, the central bank’s overwhelming focus has been on ensuring that inflation stays near-but-below a target of 2 percent. To support an adequate recovery, the Fed should state clearly that its goal is to help fiscal authorities fully eliminate any shortfall in demand. That means as long as the virus is with us, we should be willing to see inflation rise above 2 percent levels, as you would expect to see in an economy suffering from a supply-side problem. A lot of commercial transactions, even when they restart, will have to be conducted in slightly cumbersome ways with more emphasis on delivery, uncrowded spaces, and lots of disinfecting. That will mean a higher cost structure, higher prices, and lower economic output — real economic problems that stimulative policy can’t fix and that will ameliorate only as testing, treatment, and vaccination will improve. But it won’t have to mean mass unemployment or a chilling choice between overwhelmed hospitals and a depression. Depression is a choice The corners of the economic policy world I follow are spending a lot of time playing armchair epidemiologist and debating various theories about how deadly Covid-19 really is and how useful lockdown-type policies really are in combating it. Current estimates of the coronavirus fatality rate may be too high by orders of magnitude, write Profs. Eran Bendavid and Jay Bhattacharya from @StanfordMed https://t.co/5zIfFWK1Ko via @WSJ— David Andolfatto (@dandolfa) March 25, 2020 I reproduced by average-growth-in-last-week graph, but this time for COVID deaths instead of cases.Can you spot which places had lockdowns? Because tbh I cannot. pic.twitter.com/hnW5AKVbnD— Lyman Expand the House Stone, AKA 石來民 (@lymanstoneky) March 25, 2020 These are important questions, and in these uncertain times, I am also interested in them. Trump has become personally enthusiastic about the prospects of using hydroxychloroquine, perhaps in combination with azithromycin, as a pharmaceutical treatment for Covid-19. (The research so far on the effectiveness of such treatment is preliminary and mixed.) I hope some of that pans out, too, and it’s not unreasonable to try to maintain some optimism on the epidemiological side. But this also has an air of grasping at straws about it. Both the human mind and the political system rebel at the idea that the current bleak economic picture Americans are seeing is our only alternative to a world with increasing sickness from a new virus. We need to be clear-eyed, however: that false choice only exists because we aren’t thinking big enough about economic policy. Both the virus itself and the public health countermeasures that have been put into place to combat it are costly to the national economy. But the financial market indicators we can see before our eyes are a clear indication that these costs are being exacerbated by a second wave of problems — demand-side problems — that are actually larger in scale than the problems on the supply side. And unlike on the epidemiological side, the solutions to a demand crisis are actually very clear. Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images Workers set up a field hospital in front of Mount Sinai West Hospital inside Central Park in New York City on March 29. We are already poised to begin significant fiscal stimulus and that has helped. But to get to where we need to be, we need to do even more — put more cash into state and local government coffers, cut taxes on individuals and businesses, put money directly into the hands of the American people, and finance increased production of medical and household cleaning supplies. A program like that won’t eliminate the economic costs of coronavirus. Huge amounts of labor will be “wasted” on cleaning and re-cleaning surfaces, and manufacturing supplies that are swiftly used up and thrown away rather than building wealth. But it will avoid mass unemployment, cascading waves of bankruptcies, and the other miseries associated with a depression. And since the economic problems will be genuinely virus-related, they will go away whenever the medical situation improves — whether that’s because of improved testing, improved treatments, new findings that it’s not as deadly as we feared, or whatever else. The problem with the demand shock is that it is currently bigger in economic terms than the supply-side impacts of the virus itself. And — because it’s caused by policy failure rather than RNA strands replicating in our cells — there’s no guarantee it goes away, even if there is a totally effective vaccine a year from now. It’s time for economic policymakers to let the doctors, epidemiologists, and other public health officials do their jobs, and to start taking responsibility for doing their own work instead. The virus is a fact we have to deal with. The ongoing collapse in aggregate demand is a policy choice we can avoid.
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