Links 5/14/2020

Snakes have friends too National Geographic

World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Dumps $3 Billion in Fossil Fuels Bloomberg

Current and ex-employees allege Google drastically rolled back diversity and inclusion programs NBC. Look out, algos.

Can We Save Facebook? Current Affairs

‘Our Food System Is Very Much Modeled on Plantation Economics’ FAIR


The science:

The airborne lifetime of small speech droplets and their potential importance in SARS-CoV-2 transmission PNAS (nvl). The abstract:

Speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission. Highly sensitive laser light scattering observations have revealed that loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second. In a closed, stagnant air environment, they disappear from the window of view with time constants in the range of 8 to 14 min, which corresponds to droplet nuclei of ca. 4 μm diameter, or 12- to 21-μm droplets prior to dehydration. These observations confirm that there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments.

Making a mask’s ability to protect others all the more salient.

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats (letter) New England Journal of Medicine

A patient’s return to hospital COVID-19 unit underscores uncertainty to come Los Angeles Times

* * *

Herd immmunity:

Estimating the burden of SARS-CoV-2 in France Science. From the abstract: “France has been heavily affected by the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic and went into lockdown on the 17 March 2020…. The lockdown reduced the reproductive number from 2.90 to 0.67 (77% reduction). By 11 May 2020, when interventions are scheduled to be eased, we project 2.8 million (range: 1.8–4.7) people, or 4.4% (range: 2.8–7.2) of the population, will have been infected. Population immunity appears insufficient to avoid a second wave if all control measures are released at the end of the lockdown.”

Without A Vaccine, Herd Immunity Won’t Save Us FiveThirtyEight

Singapore Rejects Herd Immunity as Strategy to Tackle Virus Bloomberg

* * *


Where U.S. coronavirus cases are on the rise Reuters. Handy map:

The two big reasons why California is struggling to control coronavirus Los Angeles Times. About those beaches:

There has been a steep rise in coronavirus cases reported in Orange County following the large crowds on the beaches on April 25-26.

In the week of April 20-26, there were 438 cases in Orange County. The week after that, 669 cases were reported, and the week after that, 759 cases. Further investigation is needed to determine whether the beaches were a source of spread for an outbreak or if the increase could be explained simply by other factors, such as increased testing.

“But you know, just us looking at it, there was a big jump in Orange County that was temporally consistent with possible transmission from that crowd event,” [Dr. George Rutherford, a former epidemic intelligence service officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] said.

Doubtful that there’s transmission splashing along the waterline or in the water. But there are gatherings around beach blankets where items like drinks and towels are shared, as well as lines at food carts, lines at parking lots, tailgating, afterparties, and, of course, demonstrators. No doubt much depends on the actual physical configuration of the beach. But doesn’t the precautionary principle apply here?

Northern Va. deaths are nearly double elsewhere in state as region sees disproportionate toll WaPo. The southern terminus of the Acela Corridor…

Nursing Homes Are Hot Spots in the Crisis. But Don’t Try Suing Them. NYT. Good job, Andy.

US report indicates broad risk of COVID-19 at wildfire camps AP

Coronavirus Ravaged a Choir. But Isolation Helped Contain It. NYT

* * *


‘People’s vaccine’ for coronavirus must be free, leaders urge and Why vaccine ‘nationalism’ could slow coronavirus fight FT

Colleagues paint a mixed picture of ousted vaccine chief Politico

* * *


Accuracy of rapid coronavirus test called into question by NYU study Politico

Poll: Majority of Americans say coronavirus testing responsibility falls on federal government Politico

* * *


States Ramp Up Contact Tracing Amid Reopening WebMD

* * *

Materiel shortages:

Despite Early Warnings, U.S. Took Months To Expand Swab Production For COVID-19 Test NPR. “Turns out a ‘test’ is not a single device. COVID-19 testing involves several steps, each one requiring different supplies, and there are shortages of different supplies at different times in different places.” Assume a test…

* * *

Corporate response:

Exclusive: U.S. airlines tell crews not to force passengers to wear masks Reuters. Anyone who boards who boards must weat a mask. Inside the plane, the rules are more lenient. Madness. You thought seatback wars and crying babies were bad?

* * *

Political response:

How the COVID-19 Bailout Gave Wall Street a No-Lose Casino Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. “To save people, we had to save the economy in which they operate, which meant saving the high-risk investments of Wall Streeters, as much as they might suck.” It also means, at all costs, preserving the wage relation completely unaltered (except for the worse, of course).

HEROES Act Delivers a Win to Health Insurance Industry The Intercept. I’m uncertain which is more cynical: HEROES or CARES.

Cities, States Tapping $500 Billion Fed Fund Face Penalty Bloomberg

Republican voters give Trump and GOP governors cover to reopen Politico

Inside Trump’s coronavirus meltdown FT

Pandemics Go Hand in Hand with Conspiracy Theories The New Yorker

* * *

Exit strategy:

AP Exclusive: CDC guidance more restrictive than White House Associated Press

Coronavirus May Never Go Away: WHO Barron’s. “‘This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away,’ [Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director] told a virtual press conference in Geneva. ‘HIV has not gone away — but we have come to terms with the virus.'”

* * *

Remedies and ameliorations:

This ‘travel jumpsuit’ was designed for flying in a pandemic Fast Company

How UV ‘Roomba’ Robots Could Accelerate The Opening Of Mass Transit Systems Forbes

‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens. National Geographic


US Navy warship transits Taiwan Strait as PLA starts live-fire drills South China Morning Post

US-China trade deal on the brink? Sinocism

How to Manage a Chinese Factory China Law Blog. “A bad economy directly translates to factory problems. Conversely, it also translates to buying opportunities as Chinese factories all of a sudden become willing to negotiate a lot more on prices and payment terms.”

How Hong Kong Did It The Atlantic


India’s packed trains ready to roll again despite rising COVID-19 cases Channel News Asia

The Simple, and Simplistic, Messaging of Modi’s Lectures Is a Big Hit With His Audience The Wire

New Cold War

The United States Should Not Align With Russia Against China Foreign Policy


Hidden Over 2 Years: Dem Cyber-Firm’s Sworn Testimony It Had No Proof of Russian Hack of DNC Aaron Maté, RealClearInvestigations

Memo Names Obama Officials Who May Have Seen Flynn Reports Bloomberg. Taibbi comments: “I’ve always thought that lurking under Russiagate was a broader, scarier story about the systematic overuse of surveillance practices. We’re getting closer to that.”


Jared Kushner Walks Back Alarming Comments On Election Postponement HuffPo

These Young Socialists Think They Have Courage. They Don’t. Mitchell Abidor, NYT. “Taking a principled stand is courageous only when those taking it put themselves at risk. Placing others at risk requires no courage at all.” How true, and how true it is that liberal Democrats are moral exemplars, fully entitled to shame others.

NeverTrump becomes NeverRepublican WaPo

Republican flips House seat in California special election The Hill.

Progressives score victory in Nebraska congressional primary, setting up rematch with Republicans FOX

Argument analysis: In a close case, concerns about chaos from “faithless electors” SCOTUSblog

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Here’s Who Just Voted to Let the FBI Seize Your Online Search History Without a Warrant Gizmoda. Goddammit, Bernie.

Failed State

Coronavirus will win. America needs to make a plan for failure. The Week. We bought time with the lockdowns, and squandered it. My personal view: Not to over-react, but in my view everybody who’s considering emigrating — internally or internationally — should accelerate preparations, in case the quarantine walls within and around the United States get too high too fast.

Businesses Chafing Under Covid-19 Lockdowns Turn to Armed Defiance New York Times (Re Silc). “In at least a half dozen cases around the state in recent days, frustrated small-business owners have turned to heavily armed, militia-style protesters like Mr. Archibald’s group to serve as reopening security squads.”

Thunderbirds to fly over Los Angeles Friday as part of U.S. tour saluting frontline workers ABC. Maybe they could airdrop some PPE while they’re at it?

New Information: Guaido Was the ‘Commander in Chief’ of the Failed Mercenary Operation Against Venezuela Venezuelanalysis

Guaidó’s Contract on Venezuela’s President Mirrors Trump Administration Bounty Consortium News

Revealed: Secretive British unit planning for ‘reconstruction’ of Venezuela The Canary

Imperial Collapse Watch

Springtime for Empire The Baffler. “[I]nsight into the peculiar world of the American foreign policy establishment.”

Guillotine Watch

As US House returns to Washington, Democrats signal readiness to grant companies immunity for worker deaths WSWS

“Money Is as Much Mine as It Is Yours” for Sidwell Friends The Intercept

Luxury stores open in Paris that’s empty of tourists as France eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions South China Morning Post

Class Warfare

Tesla HR to employees: ‘Choose not to work, it may impact your unemployment benefits’ CNBC

Ohio reconsiders policy of kicking workers off unemployment, after hackers release code to overwhelm state system

A Pa. company switched from sewing football jerseys to face masks. Workers walked off, saying the plan was unsafe Patriot-News

Gig Workers Say Most Restaurants Have Banned Them From Using Their Bathrooms Vice

Nonprofit Workers Turn to Unions During Pandemic Uncertainty Bloomberg Law

They’re Working In Healthcare During A Pandemic. They Don’t Get Health Insurance. Buzzfeed

Don’t Blame Econ 101 for the Plight of Essential Workers Annie Lowry, The Atlantic. Opinion-haver and sentence-maker concludes: “We made these essential jobs bad jobs. The burden is on us to make them good ones.” No, it isn’t, Lady Bountiful.

Coping with ‘Death Awareness’ in the COVID-19 Era Scientific American. “Terror management theory.” Ashes in my garden or scattered over the ocean…

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Linden S.

      This is the NASA Scientist I follow for updates for “hottest year” projections: Twitter post link. The NASA dataset gives 70% chance of 2020 being hottest year. 2016’s main boost was in these early winter months when El Nino was temporarily increasing global temperatures. This year there is no El Nino but temps are staying high and will likely stay higher than 2016 through rest of year.

  1. Tinky

    The more I read and digest information about COVID-19, the more confidently I arrive at the conclusion that viral load is of supreme importance. My understanding of the science at this point is that every effort should be made to avoid contexts in which there is a possibility or probability of being exposed to high viral loads, but that low loads are unlikely to cause infections. So, when I read studies such as this one:

    The airborne lifetime of small speech droplets and their potential importance in SARS-CoV-2 transmission

    I find the broad implication to be potentially misleading.

    Walking past some one who is speaking (and infected) may expose one to a very small viral load, and should be of little concern. Even someone who is exercising and exhaling powerfully will pose little risk. However, sitting in a small room in which someone is speaking, and remaining there for a relatively long period of time, would of course be a different matter.

    1. pebird

      Clearly a single small viral load should be much less dangerous than a large exposure.

      What is the impact is of repeated exposures to small viral loads over what time period? I don’t think we know the answer.

      Also, one has no idea what viral load exists in a “low risk” situation. If we get accustomed to tolerating low risk exposures, I don’t believe we don’t know the cumulative effect.

      1. Janie

        Anecdote in re cumulative effect of low dose exposure. When I worked in a medical reference lab, employees were asked to give blood samples to be run as a test of new instruments or reagents. People in accounting or purchasing who were rarely in the testing areas sometimes had antibodies to rare antigens, like mycoplasma or legionella, to which they had no known exposure.

      1. Geof

        The article talks about a minimum infectious dose. I intuitively assume that this is not quite accurate: that in fact we are dealing with a probability distribution. In theory, I would think that even a single virus could infect, but in practice it never will because it has an infinitesimally small chance of getting through the body’s defenses.

        How many d100s (100-sided) dice do you have to roll before you roll a 1? Think of the viral load determining the number of dice rolled, and the individual’s immune system, genetic susceptibility, and so forth as the number of sides on each die (maybe it’s more like a d100,000 or a d1,000,000). I lack any relevant expertise, but that’s roughly how I imagine it works. The “big loads bad” conclusion is the same.

        1. campbeln

          I, too, am ignorant of such things, but mechanically… one virus could do the trick just like one grunt could take down a pillbox. Now… 1000 grunts have a much higher likelihood of achieving that, but never underestimate one lucky RPG/virus.

    2. Carolinian

      I think you are right and that’s why the Chinese said the most likely way of getting the disease is from a family member. This poses a dilemma for the older and more vulnerable if it isolates them from their children and grandchildren.

      And if this is true it also means that PPE effectiveness depends on the environment in which it is used with medical personnel who are in constant contact with the infected needing the most efficient protection.

    3. xkeyscored

      “This direct visualization demonstrates how normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces.”

      1. MLTPB

        1. Is it speculated that they ‘are eminently capable,’ or demonstrated to be eminently capable?

        2. The previous sentence is not clear to me – ‘In a closed, stagnant air environment, they disappear from the window of view with time constants in the range of 8 to 14 min, which corresponds to droplet nuclei of ca. 4 μm diameter, or 12- to 21-μm droplets prior to dehydration.’

        What are time constants here? How do they correspond to size?

          1. hunkerdown

            Isn’t a time constant usually 1-(1/e) so 63.2% of whatever will have happened and all the cool calculus tricks I’ve forgotten can be used easily?

            1. xkeyscored

              You’re right! I wondered why the graph didn’t correspond to what I thought.

        1. Bsoder

          demonstrated to be eminently capable – yes. It helps to remember that people are in fact getting infected. It is virtual load X time exposed to it.

    4. timbers

      Work meetings – in packed rooms and someone would close the doors reducing air circulation. As the minutes flew by like hours (Addison DeWitt in All About Eve) the oxygen level would decline as carbon dioxide rose and my eyes would grow heavy. Sometimes these suffocating meets world drone on well past an hour. Pure hell to me.

    5. CuriosityConcern

      I first saw mention of viral load on this blog in the way early days by commenter(and one time guest poster) Ignacio. I became a true believer on the spot.

    6. Gary

      Tiny, if all things were equal, this is probably true. However, everyone’s immune response to this novel virus is not the same. Your own immune response varies from day to day.

  2. Mikel

    Re:”HIV has not gone away — but we have come to terms with the virus.’”

    If HIV were airborne, would “we” have come to terms with it? No telling what kind of monsters “we” would have revealed ourselves to be in that situation.

    Even with treatments now, the medical bills will eventually kill you (unless you are rich).

    1. The Rev Kev

      If Coronavirus spread was limited to unprotected sex and shared drug use, then I suppose we would come to terms with it. But by aerosol spread, human touch and touching inanimate objects? Not so much.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      We “came to terms” with HIV after millions of deaths and extreme protests that finally put enough pressure on governments and biotech to get a treatment for sick people. It took about 30 years before we got a once a day pill and prophylaxis. I’ll never forget the faces of those friends who died from AIDS. What a completely malicious and tone deaf thing to say.

      1. Gary

        True, Bugs. We didn’t get HIV out of the blood supply until it infected a wealthy and connected person.

      2. rl

        Indeed. “No tears for queers” cannot but ring in the memory. It’s something that has come to mind often, in recent months, while observing the mutual exchanges of vitriol (and death wishes) between “pro-” and “anti-lockdown” halves of the national peanut gallery.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Now we have a moving, touching meme: Coronavirus as “Boomer Remover.” Or “Boomer Doomer.” All depends on who is the ox with the horns, and who is getting gored.

          1. rl

            I am thankful not to have encountered that meme in the wild, though I do seem to live under a bit of a digital rock. But if you aren’t being facetious … my point was that I find it very difficult to participate in the spectator sport of political-social-whatever sadism, which prevails even among our “beautiful souls” on the Left, when I remember all too well how alone and indeed betrayed (and by what?) I felt having that slogan lobbed at me for the first time, those years ago.

            Frankly, I can’t even muster contempt (“moving, touching”) for the fact that “all depends on who … .” Yes, of course; as it has always done. I confess to just being tired of that fact, and moreover of the rotely cynical response to it.

            Is it so difficult to just not behave like beasts, and worse than beasts? Humility is just a decision.

            Of course, I do know the answer. Just reflecting.

            1. mpalomar

              Many years ago I thought it might be useful to copyright baby doomer. Doomers, oops I mean boomers, caught a bad break in the generation naming foolishness that seemed to begin with them, most likely invented by their parents who caught the break and wound up as the


              . Oh and you may be giving beasts a bad name, in my experience their behaviour never comports as badly as bad human behavior.

              1. rl

                I find it most helpful to distinguish between animals and beasts, rather than between humans and animals. :)

                “How could the confrontation between man and the different forms of animal life be anything other than a test in which he himself is at stake and on trial? His humanity, for the biblical story [of Adam in Eden], is defined simultaneously through his relation to God, in whose image he was created, and through his relation to the other things that live on the earth, with whom he is constantly interacting. Man alone can fall into bestiality, when he tries desperately to efface or to forget, in himself or in the other, the image of God. A whole host of authors have seen in animals the figures or symbols of the different possibilities of human existence. [But] We have our own bestiary, which the grotesque illustrations of Granville for La Fontaine’s Fables depict as comical or terrifying.” (Jean-Louis Chrétien, The Ark of Speech)

                (An excellent book all around, by the way.)

    3. Bsoder

      No the feds have a program for poor and rich alike, to qualify you must test positive. Programs pays for rx and doctors and tests other treatments. I wish they extended it to PReP.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    Someone is thinking straight:

    We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from the complete disruption of the economic status quo. We have known for some time that the 21st century obsession with growth creates extreme inequality and environmental degradation, but we haven’t yet found a way to create a path to something different.

    This is a time to ask important questions – what is important to us when our very lives are under threat? What have we found that actually, we can live without? Where have we found meaning, and connection? What do we realise we have taken for granted and what can live without? What do we need our economy to deliver so that we can all live meaningful and fulfilling lives?

    The Great Pause

    1. Fireship

      This sort of magical thinking is not applicable to America. 400 years of hustling culture will not be overturned at this stage. Perhaps Italy or France with thousands of years of culture are amenable to la belle vie. There is no rabbit that can be pulled out of a hat to magically rescue America from its death urge. It’s baked into the cake.

      Commenting on the un-ironic appearance of an “Arbeit Macht Frei” poster at a recent open-the-economy-back-up protest, Morris Berman made the following comment:

      It’s even possible the carrier of the sign didn’t know where the Nazi slogan came from. Of *course* Americans are monumentally stupid; the data on that are themselves monumental. And of course Americans are degenerates: they wipe their noses on store clerks’ shirts, shoot McDonald’s personnel, carry signs saying “Sacrifice the Weak,” and so on. The % of the population that can be put in the category of Human Garbage is dramatically high.

      What the virus has done is torn the cover off the country, exposing what it always was: racist, violent, hustling, exploitative, and spiritually empty. This is just America on steroids. And don’t tell me that the progs have a different value-system. They don’t; they are just a bit more sophisticated in hiding it. They sat back while we murdered 3 million Vietnamese peasants, for example. (The % of Americans that actually protested that war was in fact minuscule; they just got more media coverage.) And on and on.

      Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

      1. Shonde

        Curiosity question: Whatever happened to the commentator “Made in Mexico”? I enjoyed those comments made. I often wondered if “Made in Mexico” was Morris Berman.

        1. Jeff W

          “Whatever happened to the commentator ‘Made in Mexico’?”

          A less-than-definitive answer can be found in this comment from 2014.

  4. Wukchumni

    Coronavirus will win. America needs to make a plan for failure. The Week. We bought time with the lockdowns, and squandered it. My personal view: Not to over-react, but in my view everybody who’s considering emigrating — internally or internationally — should accelerate preparations, in case the quarantine walls within and around the United States get too high too fast.
    The only way to stop America from infecting itself repeatedly is to stop gasoline sales or greatly restrict them via rationing. (in WW2 drivers were allowed 3 gallons a week)

    As far as emigrating internally, it takes time to ingratiate oneself into a rural community away from the rush of the big city, and ideally you’d want to have pulled it off a decade ago, not tomorrow.

    I’d kind of expect the plethora of ex-short term vacation rentals here to be quite the magnet for those living amidst millions, I wonder how many sell sight-unseen aside from photos on the internet?

    International escape routes?

    You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere by Bob Dylan

    I have this feeling my family history is repeating itself, grandpa was a man of means when the goose steppers sauntered in Prague w/o knocking in 1939, and soon his money was gone-appropriated, and later under the Soviets, his property went away-also stolen, a 1-2 financial punch.

    p.s. Our $2400 ‘Economic Impact Payment’ check arrived yesterday, about 6 weeks after the program was announced.

    Sadly, about par for our course, a double bogey. We pre-spent the moolah on buying back stock, er food stocks that is.

    1. MT_Bill

      This can be mitigated by family/social connections. The question is how many want to re-integrate into rural society. Seemed like there were plenty of telework jobs in Gibson’s Peripheral :)

      If I thought Appalachia was a better bet for my family, I could roll back there like I never left.

      You can take the boy out of the trailer, but you never take the trailer out of the boy.

    2. oliverks

      I am emigrating in July from the US. This isn’t in response to COVID, we had planned the move prior to COVID19 even becoming a news item.

      I will tell you planning the logistics for a move with COVID19 really complicates things. It would be much easier to do the move without the virus on the loose. You have packers, and airline flights, and just meeting with people, selling stuff off, … the list goes on and on.

      On top of that, our new host country hasn’t published detailed quarantine instructions upon arrival, other than saying they are coming.

      We were going to move to a city center, now I am wondering if I should live out of town.

      1. EMtz

        I left 4 years ago, before Trump. I am grateful that I made that decision. The US became unrecognizable to me decades ago. The country I live in now is relatively poor. Half the population lives under the poverty line. But there is such solidarity. And the government is not engaged in 24/7 lies.

        Best wishes oliverks.

    3. wilroncanada

      You have written that you spent pat of your childhood in Canada–Alberta, Saskatchewan? Do you have dual citizenship?

      1. Wukchumni

        My mom is a lapsed Canadian from Calgary-adjacent who became a Yank in the late 50’s, and I could get dual citizenship I suppose, just never got around to it.

        I’ve visited BC/Ab many times, with a few trips to Toronto.

  5. David J.

    I’m uncertain which is more cynical: HEROES or CARES.

    I think they sincerely mean it when they come up with these silly acronyms. Besides, in this case it was pretty hard to make BUPKIS work.

    1. allan

      How about `Rehire America’?

      Cory Gardner joins Josh Hawley’s massive coronavirus jobs bill [Politico]

      Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is joining Sen. Josh Hawley’s effort to federally subsidize business’s payrolls during the coronavirus pandemic, the latest sign that some Senate Republicans are eager to present a competing vision to House Democrats.

      Hawley (R-Mo.) has been selling his proposal to Senate Republicans for weeks, and Gardner’s support is significant. The Colorado Republican has the toughest path to reelection of any GOP senator, and his work with Hawley on his “Rehire America” plan shows that not everyone in the Republican conference is content pressing pause on the next bill. …

      They also see an opportunity to get the upper hand on jobs and the economy after the Democratic House proposal omitted a plan from progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) that would guarantee workers’ salaries for three months.

      “We should put forward a proposal that is focused on jobs in contrast to what House Democrats are doing. They could have done something like this. They had an opportunity to put forward a jobs proposal and they didn’t,” Hawley said of Democrats’ bill, which will receive a vote on Friday. “It is unbelievable that you would propose $3 trillion in federal spending and you wouldn’t have a focus on workers.” …

      Well played, Madame Speaker, well played.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Remember, Pelosi and those people are old and rich and immune to what is happening outside the Imperial Bubble. They do not give a sh!t about ordinary people. Yet the system atop which they perch just rolls on and on, and the conditioning of us mopes is such that we waste time howling at the avatars of OtherParty types instead of doing what some of our forbears did, organizing and demanding and getting more favorable policies.

        Will be interesting to see if any of the “progressives” ™ who have made noises about voting against Pelosi’s latest sh!t sandwich “next time you’ll get consideration” bill actually do so. Only way to win against the Blob is to withhold consent.

  6. zagonostra

    >They’re Working In Healthcare During A Pandemic. They Don’t Get Health Insurance.

    More than 800,000 healthcare workers and almost 1.1 million of their children live in poverty across the US, according to a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers found that roughly 18.5 million people are employed in the US health industry. And nearly 10% of them — 1.7 million — earn so little that they get healthcare through Medicaid. Another 1.4 million have no health insurance at all.

    And adjunct professors can’t pay for education for their children, and construction workers can’t afford housing and rent, and farm workers can’t afford food, and the list goes on…welcome to hypercapitalism.

      1. Duck1

        Well, they were just bending the curve in the old days to make sure that there was no mixing with the hoi polloi in the waiting room. Being in service was fine, capitalism needs a lot of servants,

  7. Ignacio

    RE: Doubtful that there’s transmission splashing along the waterline or in the water. But there are gatherings around beach blankets where items like drinks and towels are shared, as well as lines at food carts, lines at parking lots, tailgating, afterparties, and, of course, demonstrators. No doubt much depends on the actual physical configuration of the beach. But doesn’t the precautionary principle apply here?

    Precisely what I was thinking while reading the citation before. Could demonstrators in OC be assimilated with, for instance, demonstrators in a wealthy Burrough in Madrid protesting lock-down extension?
    This spells that not everybody has assimilated social distancing. Some Darwinian selection on behaviour in its track here.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes – its not the ‘gathering’ that is important, its the chokepoint where the virus can spread. It might be the queue for food/coffee, the toilets, the bar on the steps down to the beach that everyone touches.

      There is a lot of contraversy here over the police stopping people going up to popular hike spots. People argue correctly that the risks out in the open air of a walk or hike or picnic are very minimal. The problem is that almost inevitably there is some sort of point – usually around popular carparks – where everything gets congested at certain times. The problem is compounded by everyone seemingly deciding to go to the same beauty spots at the same time on the same day. This is the problem.

      1. Off The Street

        Beach Blanket Bingo, now with social distancing.
        Gidget, Moon Doggie, Don Rickles, Jan, even Dean and many others would not conceive of today’s world from that comparatively idyllic time.

      2. Zarate

        There comes a time when personal responsibility must have some utility. I’m high risk, I exercised in my local park daily until it became too crowded at the pinch points at which point I changed to a far bigger and less attractive park where I feel comfortable.
        By the by yesterday I went to look at a job in central London. I took the tube in, it was empty. I walked back through central London and it’s deserted, Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Shaftsbury Avenue, nobody.

        If people want to believe it’s a conspiracy and can’t be reasoned with, let them, the sooner they leave the gene pool the safer everyone else will be.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > its the chokepoint where the virus can spread

        I was looking for a word; “chokepoint” was that word (and not node, or hub).

        > the toilets

        I forgot those! Spreading aerosols, if they’re flush type and nobody closes the lid.

    2. scarn

      I live in Huntington Beach, site of both the OC protests and the largest beach gatherings. On the referenced weekend I bicycled up the main road that parallels our beautiful beaches. Our beaches are wide, flat, sandy and open, with plenty of space for spreading out even in the busiest of tourist season. What I saw were people on the beach itself keeping distance from each other in small groups. However, at the street crossings people would bunch up, practically touching, waiting for street lights to change. They were also closely queuing for food at the shops. Since the governor closed our beaches, I haven’t seen crowds like that again. Just angry surfers protesting with pictures of our governor as Hitler.

      1. Wukchumni

        Gavin don’t surf and we think we should
        Gavin don’t surf and you know that it ain’t no good
        Gavin don’t surf, got no hang ten drama
        Gavin’s going to be a pandemic star

        Everybody wants to roam the world
        Must be something we get from birth
        One truth is we always yearn
        Virus will make them learn
        We’ve been told to keep the strangers out
        We don’t like them starting to hang around
        We don’t like them all over town
        Across the beach we are going to force em’ out.

        The reign of the super powers must be over
        So many armies can’t free the earth
        Soon the rock will roll over
        Africa just had a tryst with Ebola
        It’s a one a way street in a one horse town
        One way people starting to hang around
        You can laugh, put them down
        These infected people going to bring us down

        Gavin don’t surf he’ll never learn
        Gavin don’t surf though its lots of fun
        Gavin don’t surf, don’t think that we should
        Gavin don’t surf we really think we should
        Gavin don’t surf

    3. Cuibono

      is there one well documented outdoor superspreader event for covid ?
      Not saying it cant happen. Surely the war bond parade in Philly 1918 was a good one

  8. Mikel

    Re: Coronavirus Will Win :”The original purpose of the orders to shelter in place was not to eliminate the virus entirely, but to buy time. Time to slow the rate of infection so our health-care system would not be overwhelmed. Time to expand our health-care system’s capacity to handle future surges of cases, and to retool manufacturing toward necessary medical supplies. Time to ramp up a testing and contact-tracing infrastructure that would enable us to rapidly contain future outbreaks without having to shut down much of the economy once again. That time was largely wasted.”

    Good summary of the epic fail.
    All I see are people refusing to see the epic fail of the global economic system, but running around like idiots claiming it’s “openining up” these global failures that will save “us.”

    They got nothing except propaganda amd threats that oeiole must die to keep this unrepentant BS going.

  9. Toshiro_Mifune

    Hidden Over 2 Years: Dem Cyber-Firm’s Sworn Testimony It Had No Proof of Russian Hack of DNC

    I’m sure there will be no repercussions at all for this.
    It was clear, at least to some, from the outset that the allegations about Russian hacking were specious at best when Crowdstrike made the claim in what was really hours after the leak was revealed. I remember reading the allegation and thinking that they couldn’t possibly know that it was Russians given the amount of time they had to investigate. All the server logs that had to be gone through, all the FWSM/router logs, then requesting all the logs of various machines connecting in and the logs of the machines connecting to those machines, etc etc, because were we really supposed to believe the Russians were going to come straight into the Exchange server from some IP that resolved back to ?
    It was stupid from the beginning. Not a single questioning voice any where in the mainstream media that the claims were the same.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I had a profoundly embarrassing bout of “hope springs eternal” when mueller, that paragon of virtue, was appointed “special” counsel in the Russiagate “investigation.” I thought that surely he would, at least, have to do a cursory examination of crowdstrike’s claims. Alas, he already knew what I did not–it was a question he couldn’t and wouldn’t ask.

      Meanwhile, back on capitalist earth, crowdstrike has not suffered the “creative destruction” that is reputed to be capitalism’s way of dealing with bullshit businesses:

      Jim Cramer is never at a lack for words during the Lightning Round segment of Mad Money. Here is what Cramer had to say to one caller Wednesday evening about CrowdStrike Holdings Inc. (CRWD) : “This is the best cybersecurity stock for our work at home economy.”

      The best.

    2. Liberal Mole

      Exactly. Plus it was classic redirection, don’t look at what’s in the emails, look at who we want you to think is the perpetrator. And what was in the emails was only going to enrage the true left. Foreign governments already knew the DNC and Clinton was a corrupt organization you could buy, no big deal.

  10. Mikel

    Re: “The Week” Coronavirus: “To7 restore people’s confidence in the safety of the health-care system, we’re going to have to largely take coronavirus patients out of it. COVID-19 sufferers are already strongly discouraged from going to hospitals; those who can’t recover at home may need to be routed to sanatoria specifically dedicated to such patients, leaving most hospitals exclusively for non-coronavirus patients.”

    Sounds like a good idea, but do you know what this becomes in a morally bankrupt society with concern about nothing but profit: death camps.

  11. BobW

    Coming to terms with the coronavirus – does that mean not breathing or touching anything?

    1. Synoia

      Yes. However the dead do not work hard, are not very productive, and do not have money that can be exploited.

      They make poor marks.

  12. vlade

    Enforcing masks (at least for all public enclosed spaces) is the fastest way to “herd immunity”, at the lowest cost direct or indirect (economic).

    The “masks are not equvalent to social distancing” is true – masks are way better. Social distancing doesn’t stop infecting surfaces. Social distancing makes public transport close to impossible. No-one knows what is really the right distance for social distancing.

    The only problem masks have is with regards to restaurants and bars, but I have seen solution to at least bars (zipper across the mask).

    And yes, people will fiddle with their masks – but that’s a behaviour that can be unlearned (I’m now very grateful to my high school teacher who tyranically insisted we sit with our hands beyond our backs at all times when not writing, so now I can control what my hands unconciously do much better).

    1. Clive

      Enforcing masks […]

      Assume legislation. How is it proposed to “enforce masks”? Enforcement requires an activity (or non-activity) to be made an offence, committing of that offence then becomes criminality, the criminality (or prevention thereof) becomes something that can be enforced.

      This is impossible to legislate on. For a start, we’re not actually talking now about masks. A mask, if defined, would have to be a particular product or device manufactured to an agreed specification. So law enforcement could look at someone and see if they were wearing the said product or device and pronounce it was being worn or, if someone wasn’t wearing one, they’d be in contravention of the statutory provision and told the must produce the approved mask (which they would have to carry at all times) and wear it. That, you could define in law and then, subject to the usual police time and resources constraints, enforce.

      However, we’re conflating a mask (which you could define the existence of in legislation by reference to a standardised product) with, now “face coverings”. You would need, in order to create an offence of (for the sake of illustration) Failure to Cover Ones Face have to specify in a legally-intelligible way what constituted “covering your face”. The legal definition would need to be clear and unambiguous enough to both inform members of the public about how they should satisfy the “covering of your face” and also law enforcement who could tell people they weren’t “covering their face” and that they needed to do so.

      There are no legal definitions of “cover” in the context of “cover your face”. What is actually required is “covering of your mouth and nose”. But “cover” is a vague term. Cover as in “rend unable to be seen” or “fit closely to the orifice”? And cover with what? You could use a broad definition of “fabric”. But the fabric needs to be woven to a particular thread-count. And “cover” with “fabric” isn’t the same as “affix”. There’s no point in “covering your face” (or, since we have to be pedantic, this is the law we’re constructing here, so it can’t be vague or wishy-washy, “cover your mouth and nose”) if the “cover” flaps around willy-nilly.

      On and on and on it would go.

      Then you’d have to have exemptions. People with cognitive impairments. Those below the age of criminal responsibility. People with disabilities (including myself — without my corneal medical devices, I am legally blind; anything that alters an incredibly delicate balance between my tear production, tear viscosity and muscle and skin tensions, and a mask does this for me, causes me extreme discomfort and will make them to fall out — aside from the inconvenience while replacements are made, each being custom manufactured, there’s the cost and at £250 each, I’m buggered if I’m going to risk that happening so I want an exemption for when I can’t tolerate a mask any longer). Extenuating circumstances (“I had a nose bleed and this was my only mask I had on me”). Again, on and on and on it would have to go.

      Then you’d have to define the places where masks, sorry, “face covering” was mandated. “An enclosed space” is the usual text in English law, but then you’d just re-open the can of worms that is defining this. Is a bus shelter on the pavement “an enclosed space”? A canopy?

      For a glimpse into how fraught an apparently simple-sounding concept of “just make it mandatory” (to wear “a mask”) would become when it had to be extrapolated into legislation, look at banning mobile phones while driving. Everything — every single applicable term — has to be defined. And certainly in English law, the legislation could borrow a great deal from existing legal definitions (“a motor vehicle”, “the highway” and so on). None of this exists where “masks” are concerned. And how well is the ban on using a mobile phone both adhered to and enforced? Not very has to be the depressing but equally well honest answer.

      And each and every sentence in the legal drafting of the legislation would be tested in the courts by someone. I can’t speak for other countries definitively, but bloody mindedness is a national pastime here in the UK. That’s before you get to the political motivations which would erupt, goaded by an endless army of libertarians and fellow pot-stirrers. I won’t even get started on how any theoretical legislation would immediately be challenged on the basis of proportionality, all the easier to do as the evidence base for face covering isn’t that strong and there’s some other evidence to suggest against it being applied in every situation.

      I’m really not sure when the penny will drop that successful public health initiatives are not amenable to and not compatible with authoritarianism.

      Perhaps if we created a police state, like China, where people do exactly what they’re told and don’t cause a big fuss, the government could simply say “it is mandatory to weak a mask” and there’d be no-one who dared to quibble lest they fancy a month’s holiday in the labour camp. Not, I have to say, a road I much fancy going down.

      Far more compatible with our societies rule of law base and our tolerances for differing opinions is public health messaging through social discourse. In this, you make your views and opinions on a matter of public health known and invite others to listen to your arguments and maybe adopt your suggestion or suggestions. They may listen politely and agree with you, thereby being convinced. From that, you can go away happy, and move onto convincing others. Or maybe not so politely and tell you where to stick your notions. From that you can say that’s okay, I understand your objections, thank you for listening — and then work out how you might be able to overcome their objections the next time.

      Cajole, nag and hector and you’ll get nowhere. Legislate in the absence of public buy-in and you’ll create a movement to defy your heavy-handed intrusion into people’s live plus every incentive to fight the (as it would be seen) draconian over-reach.

      Throw politics into all this — as has been done — and you can forget about any possibility of rational, reasoned public discussions and societal change. It’s way too late now to, having unwisely politicised every aspect of COVID-19, to try to do that.

      1. a different chris

        Wow, Clive, I respectfully think you went over the deep end, there.

        Pornography, “Know it when I see it” standard will work well enough for masking.

        You can’t have a genteel “public health messaging through social discourse.” discussion about why Joe should stop punching people in the face. Even if he punches oh so lightly.

        He just needs to stop.

        1. Clive

          Afraid not, you’re talking about enforcements, compulsion and mandatory behaviours or actions here. That means the law. That means legislation, police officers, judges, fines and even depriving people of their liberty. I-think’ery doesn’t even come close to cutting it.

          Here in the UK, the police don’t even have the powers to enforce the 2 metre social distancing. That really is an “I know it when I see it”. The reason they can’t is because compliance, or otherwise, is situation-sensitive and fact-sensitive. The UK government has wide-ranging powers under the COVID-19 emergency legislation. That they can’t even bestow on the police and the courts the ability to ensure social distancing tells you (along with my explanation above) how hard this is if you’re talking about making it mandatory.

          I’m afraid the only way to achieve this public health measure is consultation, dialogue and promoting understanding of what it is you’re seeking to do and why you’re seeking to do it. Plus accepting the possibility you might not have good enough arguments to support that in the eyes of the public. The stark thought that some people are simply unwilling to take “no” for an answer and want to somehow (if it indeed is possible, which it isn’t) stack the deck back in their favour by fair means or foul (and not much caring if it is “foul”) speaks volumes as to how low our societies have sunk, even amongst those who’d like to think of themselves as progressives.

          1. CanChemist

            Great exposition of the difficulties in practice.

            I suspect we’ll remain at ‘recommendations’ that will rely on local populations enforcing it by social penalties but not legal ones.

          2. vlade

            Enforcing social distancing is hard, because as you say, it’s very context sensitive.

            Masks are, for most of the time, much easier.

            Of course, if people are sent contradictory messages by the authorities on the masks, as they are/were in the US and the UK, then of course it’s going to be harder to put in anything.

            But again, all good civil laws that create significant changes are done together with a large public information campaign. Because, as I wrote below, _any_ laws require public cooperation – but that doesn’t make an argument “so we can’t enact anything that doesn’t have full public cooperation” valid. What it does require is leadership, which is sorely lacking both in the US and the UK (and a number of other countries, but these two are most visible).

          3. Synoia

            Perhaps our wonderful leaders could provide examples, by wearing masks with air tight seals around the mouth and nose….

          4. Marlin

            Here in Germany mouth and nose covering regulations in shops and public transport were introduced at the beginning of May. Since then I have been in 3 different shops. The shops clearly believe the regulations can be enforced. People without cover are prevented from entering and so far I have seen 100% compliance with the regulation inside the shops despite in theory people could remove their cover in the larger shops without immediately being seen by the personell. Some people did wear masks before the regulations, but certainly not everybody.

            In the trains, there wasn’t 100% compliance, but I would estimate about 90%, and again by people, who 4 weeks ago probably wouldn’t have worn a mask.

      2. Karl Brandt

        Perhaps they could create a new British Standard and offer a Kitemark to approved safety masks? Any brand could choose to sell masks that meet the standard, and the government could pay companies to churn out basic masks locally, then offer them free to everyone in the UK, handing them out at stations, supermarkets, buses etc.

        Then they could use the motorcycle helmet law as a model.

        1. Clive

          No, if they did that (said that the mandatory requirement to wear a mask could only be satisfied by wearing the products which adhered to the approved specification standards) you’d make it impossible for people to — and this is the intention I think to increase the adoption of face-covering — comply by grabbing a scarf, bandana or pashmina or some other similar cloth or clothing as an alternative. You’d also make non-compliance easier to justify (“I can’t get an approved product specification mask”).

          The fact that so many proponents of this public health suggested-initiative (or, not so “suggested”, some of it is definitely sounding like more sticks than carrots) are getting confused and contradictory in what is being suggested, to whom and when say a great deal about how ill-considered some of it is. If it is something that the proponents of it want to being about, they’re doing everything possible to achieve the exact opposite effect.

          1. MLTPB

            I read that masks are now mandatory on Seoul Metro during rush hour.

            Also mandatory at Shanghai Disneyland recently.

            Sounds like they are not mandatory everywhere, but under certain situations. Is it so, in at least these 2 Asian countries – mostly voluntary, and mandatory in some specific cases?

            Are people more accepting of government mask orders in some countries than others?

            1. Clive

              Yes, absolutely they are. The government is merely cementing that which has already reached a critical mass of public support. And in some cultures, wearing a mask really isn’t anything to do with wearing a mask. Certainly in Japan, it conveys far more meaning as an indication of a temporary inability to adhere to (and an unstated request to be excused from) certain social norms.

              It allows the wearer to signal that they may not be able to operate as well as they normally would be expected to perform — an important factor in Japanese culture where “not letting the team down” is a significant social and workplace consensus action. Wearing a black armband fulfilled the same functions in western societies for a bereaved person, certainly up until the Edwardian era where cultural norms changed and death become increasingly tidied up, moved into special places and situations (church services and burial ceremonies) but became discouraged from intruding into the “more important” business of everyday life (which often included, increasingly, the workplace).

              1. Bugs Bunny

                Masks are now mandatory until further notice on the Paris Metro and other public transport. It was in an emergency law passed by the National Assembly. Last night the TF1 TV news showed some mask-wearing white cops on the platform arguing with a maskless dark-skinned person. I really don’t think they gave a second thought as to what that image projected. France sometimes… :(

              2. caucus99percenter

                Perceptive observation that, in the case of Japan, matches up well with, say, Japan’s use of special symbols you can put on your car to indicate to others that the driver is a beginner or a senior citizen.

              1. Clive

                Yes, that narrow definition is much easier to legislate for (and to also do the prerequisite justification of) and then enforce. I suspect, though, it’s “face covering” rather than “weak a mask” because otherwise “mask” would need defining and in the defining of it, you’d open the door for challenges about what constituted “a mask”.

                It’s when you try to broaden out “mandatory mask wearing” beyond some well-defined limits it gets much harder (and I’d argue impossible without a socially cohesive approach to enlist support from the general public).

                1. Rtah100

                  Clive, I think you are overegging the pudding here.

                  1)Plenty of things in UK law are not well defined. Tax law makes a great distinction between trades, professions and businesses and not one of them is defined anywhere except by the wise-men-and-elephant of case law!

                  2) keep 2m distance requires two parties to adhere. Wearing a mask just requires one person so it is reasonable to impose the burden

                  3) Plenty of UK laws have exemptions. Laws on seatbelts, helmets etc exempt the medically unfit and the religious (Sikhs).

                  4) I don’t think a technical standard for the weave is that important. If you need a definition, nothing you can light through (rather than translucency) would do, to rule out people taking the piss with gauze and cheesecloth and fishnet tights. Police need a reason to intervene with flagrant non compliance, not bad seamstress work.

                  5) cover the lower half of the face including the nose and touching the skin at the edges at all times outside your house.

                  I would rather wear a mask and have freedom of movement and association than not wear a mask and remain isolating.

                2. Tom Bradford

                  I agree with the overegging. Yes, you are going to get bogged down with definitions if you’re going to try to legislate for ‘mask wearing’, but not taking reasonable precautions to prevent yourself spreading or potentially spreading an infection to others is an act that that interferes with the comfort and common rights of another person or the general public, and is thus a public nuisance.

                  There’s obviously a grey area along the lines of recognising pornography, but going onto a crowded tube unmasked and sneezing in all directions without taking some precautions would in my view justify a public nuisance prosecution, and could also be considered a tort justifying a civil action.

                  Statements from on high that not wearing reasonable protection in public could be considered a public nuisance would, I’ve no doubt, impress magistrates faced with a case in the grey area.

      3. xkeyscored

        “successful public health initiatives are not amenable to and not compatible with authoritarianism,” but in the very next paragraph you seem to say a police state like China could do it. Is a police state not authoritarian?

        And if people “tell you where to stick your notions,” you can consider how “to overcome their objections the next time.” Meanwhile, might not you, and others, fall victim to their behaviour, which may not change even when they hear your new attempts at convincing them to wear a mask?

        1. Clive

          Yes, you and others might. That may be a convincing argument, with some people. But it might not be a sufficiently convincing argument for everyone and even more likely, it’s not going to be a convincing argument for the number of people you need to convince to get to a critical mass where it becomes a social norm.

          If it isn’t a convincing argument that convinces enough people, you have three choices:

          1) You can shout at them (or admonish them, or berate them, or similar) and see if that works
          2) You can attempt to legislate (see above for how difficult and counter-productive it is to do that)
          3) You can quit your whining, moralising and poor-little-me victimhood, get back in the saddle and keep trying until you manage to convince the people you need to convince why you’re right and they’re wrong. Hint from the wise here on this one: it helps, when trying to do that, if you’re not a jerk or a pompous arse with an overly-large sense of entitlement

          1. xkeyscored

            I’m still not sure if you consider China authoritarian or not. You seem to say yes, they could use fear of labour camps to enforce public health measures, but authoritarianism is incompatible with “successful public health initiatives.”
            Would their measures be unsuccessful despite universal compliance (“there’d be no-one who dared to quibble”)? Or is a police state with labour camps not what you mean by authoritarian?

      4. vlade

        The “enforcing” does not have to be legal, although there are countries in the world which have, sucessfully, managed to do so.

        Yes, I get your point that for it to survive sucessfully for longer, it has to be cultural. But that’s true of every law. No law which public ignores en masse is enforceable, except (and even then not necessarily, depends on the will to use violence which may backfire) in a total authoritarian state. Your argument simplified would mean we can’t enact anything that’s not already done anyways (in which case why do so?).

        Smoking has been sucessfully banned in public places even in countries with strong tobacco lobby, large number of smokers and a culture of social smoke. It was often controversial, but in general, it got done by edict, not by disaffected non-smokers.

        As on the legislation – I’ll give you a piece of legislation I’m sure you know well, which has been a massive intrusion into lives and dumbly implemented, yet no-one does anything much against it – KYC/AML.

        If you’d make the operators of spaces legally responsible for any infections that can be traced to their spaces (and while it may not be possible to trade the _orginall_ infection, it’s easy to tracer the secondary clusters in workspaces, theatres and what have you) unless they had recognised precaution, I’m pretty sure most of them would mandate masks. Yes, people would grumble. But if you can get into supermarket only if you have a mask or elsewhere their security will take you out (no need for cops), most people will start doing it – or they go to supermarkets that have less restrictive policies, at least until they get their first cluster.

        The mobile phones is a red herring, as the problem there is similar with speeding – you can “safely” (as in w/o being worried about being caught) speed for 90% of your driving time or more. The phone check can done (and enforced) even less. If the law cannot be checked and thus enforced, it’s not worth anything.

        1. Clive

          “Just get the shop staff to do the enforcement” is a Deus ex machina notion. Civil actors when a service provided to the public is being performed have no innate force to prohibit this- or that- behaviour. Enforcement would require the shop staff to summon a law enforcement officer if the customer refused to comply, then everything I stated about lawfulness would automatically apply.

          Certainly in the UK jurisdiction (I suspect the same is broadly true elsewhere) any refusal to perform a service for a member of the public needs to be objectively justified and that justification is subject to a balancing exercise. Absent legislation, competing claims for evidence bases for and against compulsory mask wearing would need to be weighed. Store owners are not exactly going to be rushing to take on the enormous legal costs and risks to do that. “Encouragement” is about as far as that is likely to go.

          Eventually, as with the “gay cake” case, this might wend its way through the courts. Here was an interesting case because eventually, so the UK Supreme Court decided, the owner of the small store could get to pick and choose what services they performed (or didn’t perform) to whom, and why. But that case was influenced by the fact that the customers were deliberately trying to make a point to the religiously-minded owners and it was a narrow ground to win on. Taking a position to refuse to serve a customer when the customer cited more genuine or unavoidable reasons for not complying with an instruction issued by store staff is much harder to win on.

          I repeat, public health policy is not amenable to lawfare, no matter how that lawfare is dressed up. You need convincing arguments, made with a hearty side order of empathy.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Assume legislation. How is it proposed to “enforce masks”? Enforcement requires an activity (or non-activity) to be made an offence, committing of that offence then becomes criminality, the criminality (or prevention thereof) becomes something that can be enforced.

        > This is impossible to legislate on.

        No it isn’t, because we already have:

        There are anti-mask laws in many U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

        New York State’s anti-mask law was enacted in 1845, to provide for public safety after disputes between landlords and tenants.

        Many anti-mask laws date back to the mid-20th century, when states and municipalities passed them to stop the violent activities of the Ku Klux Klan, whose members typically wore hoods of white linen to conceal their identities.

        In the 21st century those laws have been applied to political protesters such as those affiliated with the Occupy Movement or Anonymous – wearing Guy Fawkes masks.

        Yves cited to Birmingham’s mask ordinance here.

        We also have international standards for masks: ASTM; ISO.

        1. Clive

          This is where you’re caught in a legislative bind. Legislation that requires the ISO definition of a mask being warn to satisfy its provisions excludes the possibility of allowing the law to be satisfied by a much more flexible and open-to-interpretation demand for “a face covering”.

          You can create verifiable, enforceable legislation by narrowing it to demand a specific product to be warn. But as soon as you attempt to fix the problem that is created if the legislatively-demanded specified products aren’t available (and there are many situations where they might not be, from the genuine to the “dog ate my mask” deliberately vexatious) by allowing it to be fulfilled by such less-stringent stipulations for “face covering”, you run straight into the problems of how you define “face covering” — insurmountable problems because the term is far too vague to form any enforceable requirement on the public.

          I’m not sure how extant legislation which allows a law enforcement officer or service provider to require the removal of a face covering (again, for a very narrow range of prescribed reasons such as protecting public order and for the assistance of safety and security — such as motorcycle crash helmets needing to taken off in airports and at bank teller windows) helps with the much knottier problem of creating legislation which allows law enforcement or service providers to insist on the application of a face covering because the issue is in trying to draft the legislation in a way which defines how the face is to be covered with what. This will raise loopholes which mean the law is difficult to impossible to police, exactly like the concept of “social distancing” is.

          And none of this addresses the problem of the contested evidence and the proportionality issues that brings, nor how the necessary exemptions are to be defined and verified (suffice to say that I for one would not be happy, as a person with a disability, to have the opportunities for yet more microaggressions and lacks of understandings to be thrown my way in life) nor how, upon the bringing forward of any legislative underpinnings to “enforce” masks (or face coverings) you don’t simply make the whole thing a libertarian cause célèbre. Which will defeat the whole object.

          You can’t lawfare the way out of this mess. And that Alabama local ordinance would get struck down in an instant in a U.K. court and even less in the especially pernickety and precision-demanding CJEU. No consultation with special interest groups, no impact analysis, no allowance for mitigating circumstances, no clear definition of terms, no evidence of proportionality. Even in the anything-goes US legal system, I doubt it would survive a brush with a higher state or federal court. This is a more-likely-than-not reason why other state legislation is as weak as dishwater — no point at all putting warm words on the statute book if they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

          1. wilroncanada

            I very much appreciate your reasoned arguments, particularly when you seem to be subject to getting ganged up on. I’ve been trying to think of what the BC Medical health officer said when she was asked about making masks mandatory a few weeks ago. It went something like this:
            There are four steps which should be taken to control the explosion of the virus.
            1. Test widely to determine who has the illness.
            2. Isolate those who are positive, even mildly.
            3. Maintain social distance, which is Canada was determined to be 2 metres
            4. If you have failed to do, or have failed to even try numbers 1 to 3, wear a mask or other lower face covering in public places.
            I think now, at this late date, too many countries, including mine, have opted for step 4.
            There may have been supply reasons for some of the first three, but most of all, I suspect a combination of cost influence (too many MBAa) and sloth.

      6. JTMcPhee

        Harks back to a debate I had in law school — why do people “obey the law?” Fear of enforcement, or just because “it’s the right thing to do,” or some combination plus self-interest?

        There’s a 4-way stop intersection where I live, in a moderate residential development. Almost nobody stops for the stop signs, some flagrantly just blow past it. One day four years ago a cop parked there and was ticketing people for blowing through, otherwise no enforcement, A lot of pedestrian traffic that is coming back despite FL’s approach to lockdown and distancing, so far no injuries or fatalities I’m aware of but there have been collisions there, the broken glass and plastic shards are there in the middle and in the gutters.

        Not three blocks away is another intersection of two very busy roads, three and two lanes each way. The cops have put up a portable flashing sign that they move around to face one of the four incoming traffic flows — “Dangerous Intersection, Collision Risk” in an attempt to reduce the carnage at this particular place. Lots more broken glass and plastic bits, and often there are sirens a couple of times a times a day and larger chunks of bumpers, fenders and even whole tires and wheels.

        But the traffic rolls on, and in FL the presumption is that the yellow light means “step on the gas” and it is unwise in the extreme to start moving when your light turns green without waiting for the hot feet to clear the intersection and then looking both ways a couple of times while the antsy blow their horns at you for hesitating.

        Fear of enforcement, not so much. Not even “because it’s the right thing to do,” or even the kind of enlightened self interest in personal survival that’s iffy in a T-bone crash at 50 mph (speed limit is 45, accelerating to “beat the light” puts one well over that.

        And the arrogant people who claim their “right to infect you” cannot be infringed are not about to wear a face covering.

        I expect that despite my likely future of careful full-time sheltering n place, my wife and I at age 67 and 74 with health conditions are going to get to see how our immune systems respond to this virus. Bad way to die.

      7. Bsoder

        Clive, the effort you put into your comments and the beauty of it all. You are indeed exceptional. As to your remarks, thing is I was taught that the purpose of science in the end was to be practical. We all know what an instance of ‘wearing a mask’ is and what an instance of an ‘enclosed space’ is. The law that’s going to used is disturbing the peace – kinda of a catch-all for the cops. I was persuaded yesterday by your idea that in the end you simply can’t force people to do these things, and you are right. Maybe when enough people die, especially the kids @ 1 per 1000 people might get with the program. In the U.K. Here in the US nope, we have a civil war and it’s going to get much worse. The red states are going to deeply regret (again) getting into this war with the blue states. Many snow flakes are going to shoot back. Surprise.

    2. Carolinian

      I don’t think the government here can or should enforce masks but private business owners probably can. In my opinion the key to acceptance is convincing the public that wearing one will protect them and not just others. The whole notion that to be of any use a mask has to be 100 percent effective works against this.

      Of course one problem so far is that many people can’t find the masks to buy. The government should be cranking out simple disposable masks by the millions and then enclosing them in cellophane wrappers to ensure sterility and handing them out for free at store entrances or in public places..

      1. Tom

        Don’t spit on me, wear a mask.
        Everyone spits while talking….even you.
        Your pie hole is a spit factory.
        Reminding people that sharing their spit should be as taboo as randomly sharing other bodily fluids.
        Calling mask “spit guards” might help people understand what occurs.
        The ick factor is one of the strongest cultural enforcers there is.

        1. Rod

          Heard chanted many times by many hundreds during Occupy:

          Shame. Shame on You.

          Peer Pressure cannot be overlooked–but someone has to start and others have to join.

        2. xkeyscored

          The ick factor is one of the strongest cultural enforcers there is.

          Yes. I believe there’s quite a bit of research to back that up. Once a habit is seen and felt to be disgusting and repugnant, shame and fear of ostracism can do a lot more than argument and data.

          1. Clive

            Set against that, casting aspersions on someone’s hygiene or personal fastidiousness is a fast track to having them return the favour and refuse to listen to a single word you say. As the TV commercial used to put it “here’s something only your best friend would tell you about”. Of course, it wasn’t your best friend, it was a major cosmetics and bathing products brand pretending to be your best friend and you couldn’t get away with such a simplistic and patronising approach to today’s hyper-savvy message-fatigued consumers.

            1. xkeyscored

              Me yelling at a non-mask wearer they they’re disgusting might not work, as you say.

              But somehow encouraging the idea that they are might. Music videos of super-tough gun-nuts (real, not actors) with masks recoiling from someone without? Sex symbols like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran (or whoever are popular these days, I’m probably years behind the times) fleeing an otherwise equally famous and fashionable but non-masked star?

              I’m not saying it would work, let alone that it would work immediately. But if a general feeling of dirtiness can be encouraged, I suspect it’d accomplish a lot more than facts and figures. Data can be disputed, or just plain ignored. Protesting that “I’m not a nasty person” doesn’t make those who think you are any more accepting.

              But maybe we are too message-fatigued for the idea to have any effect other than ridicule.

        3. Janie

          Calling a mask a snot guard or a booger guard might be even more effective than spit guard. Plus, kids would get to giggle as they said rude words

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        The government should be cranking out simple disposable masks by the millions and then enclosing them in cellophane wrappers to ensure sterility and handing them out for free at store entrances or in public places..

        An excellent, simple idea.

        There other simple things the “government” could, should and would do if it truly believed that this crisis was as existential as it’s being presented. All covid treatment billed through and paid for by Medicare, income replacement by the feds as is being done in other countries, and concentration on reorganization of nursing homes where some 60% of the fatalities are occurring are examples.

        Instead we get trillions of dollars in obscure lending and “guarantees” for corporations with sketchy accounting and histories of reckless stock buybacks; a first-come-first-served death scramble among publicly traded companies and mom and pop pizza parlors for limited PPP loans / grants which the biggest always manage to win; abandoned social distancing demands for some politically connected businesses like airlines, while little guys who don’t comply get jailed or accused of murder; and promises of a few cash crumbs to those ordered off the job, which the system is operationally unable to deliver in a timely manner.

        It’s really not all that hard to reach the conclusion that there’s an agenda being served here, and “health” doesn’t have all that much to do with it.

        1. amfortas the hippie

          aye. and my darkest doomer fears are thereby made manifest
          the skeksis that rule the world want to cull the herd, and blame it on the virus occhams razor and all

          i continually marvel at the planned dysfunction
          the scale of it!
          latest example: the hateful moron paxton

          i went 3 places today looking for bandannas
          not masks, not high tech moon suits… squares of colored cloth(sharing with boys and wife and cousin causing logistical problems)
          finally came across a few while getting gas
          given that 9/10 folks i’ve seen in san antone today was wearing a mask of some kind it’s not surprising i guess
          the 3 i obtained say “made in china”

          1. ambrit

            I found a half dozen bandannas on the WalMart “Clearance Aisle” last month for a quarter each. Being amazed, I got them all. I see them as easy and cheap ‘backups’ for when I don’t have an N-95 available. One in the car, one by the front door, one in the Bug Out Bag, the rest in the “Emergency Supplies” closet. That same day, I later found several small cloth remnants on super sale in the same store’s fabric department. Raw material for DIY cloth masks. (Now if only I can master the forty year old Sears electric sewing machine! Phyllis laughs every time I set up the sewing machine. She knows that there will soon be a flood of invective aimed at an inanimate object.)

      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        “No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service”. It should be pretty easy to make this simple demand normative across the U.S. Except the right wing “news”media is working overtime to convince their devotees that masks are a vile Libtard infringement on their sacred rights as lily-skinned real Americans.

        I probably should not overestimate the impact of propaganda. It is often just a tool for people who want an excuse to do what they damned well please. Sometimes, when I see superior, smug, middle class conservatives voicing contempt for social distancing, sneering at masks, or abusing grocery store staffers* when asked to use them…. I wonder whether they stand to inherit property or money from very elderly relatives. If well groomed, visibly well to do individuals don’t look stupid, eventually you kind of need to assume that they aren’t.

        *(Happened last week to a friendly acquaintance who is management at the local Whole Foods)

        1. Clive

          “No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no smartphone switched on with full telemetry (WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS) plus tracker app installed and running, no service

          You see where you’re going with all this? You can’t enable one, without also enabling the other.

          Once you start throwing certain civil liberties out the window because you don’t like them “getting in the way of” “obvious things that would help”, you’re enabling someone else to apply the exact same logic for a whole raft of things you’re maybe not so keen on.

          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            Being required to refrain from breathing infection down upon friends and strangers who are within your orbit is not the same as requiring the installment of tracker apps on smartphones.The latter is a much greater infringement on freedom, with far more avenues for abuse. I.e. people can take masks off. They easily control when they stop wearing them, irrespective of rules or penalties. No entity can put one back on an individual’s face without him knowing about it.

            Our corrupt and self-indulgent leaders are more than happy to grab power and they never relinquish it without a fight. However, a time-limited demand that most people wear masks in public is not excessive when a deadly airborne virus is sweeping the globe. We are responsible for bringing our our governments to heel when it is needed and appropriate. The fact that we’re mostly too weak-minded, complacent, and lazy to do it doesn’t privilege allowing death and disabling disease to run riot today.

            I realize from reading above that you have a physical constraint that makes face masks difficult to use and even possibly unhealthy. The vast majority of adults do not face this type of constraint.

            1. Clive

              No, the principle is entirely the same. That is how laws work — a principle is established and then can be applied to other similar situations.

              The store is allowed to enforce mask wearing on the grounds of public health. You like that idea so you don’t object. The store is allowed to enforce smartphone-verification on entry on the grounds of public health. You don’t like that idea so you object. But your prior approval of mask mandating validated the grounds used, so where does that leave you? Relying on subjective appraisals about what you like and don’t like. Not the strongest of arguments.

        2. wilroncanada

          Have you not watched your President on television? Certainly no mask, but also no distance, no common sense, alliance with every con man and snake oil salesman

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > don’t think the government here can or should enforce masks but private business owners probably can

        Government can and should. Mask-wearing is a public health function.

        1. Clive

          It may well want to. That doesn’t mean it can draft any law in a way which doesn’t set itself up for being ruled unconstitutional (there’s a long, long history in the US of that sort of thing and other jurisdictions have similar safeguarding).

          Then again, it’s the US political system we’re talking about here, so maybe it isn’t quite so keen. Which makes the primacy of getting public health policy set by doing it the right way round of paramount importance: get public opinion on your side first, legislative back-up second. Trying to railroad contentious public health policy change through legislation alone merely courts opposition and follow-on problems of enforcement and adherence.

          And if campaigners are faced with both political opposition in Washington and drafting technical difficulty in coming up with a durable legislative framework, that makes ensuring you have a broad coalition of public opinion on side before anyone starts trying to lobby for anything more important, not less. To be seen to be indulging in any kind of foot-stomping at the merest hint of a sceptical public isn’t going to yield converts to the cause. Just the opposite, because they’ve two fronts they have to attack — the political will and the legislative difficulties. They only need to succeed on one to scupper the whole initiative.

    3. xkeyscored

      Enforcing masks (at least for all public enclosed spaces) is the fastest way to “herd immunity”

      How would that work? If masks slow the spread of this virus, wouldn’t herd immunity, assuming such a thing is possible, take longer to achieve?

      1. vlade

        That’s why I put herd immunity into “”.

        The point of herd immunity/vacciation is to slow the spread/kill the disease. Except they work by targeting the target (i.e. if you come into contact with an infected person, due to vaccination or gained immunity you fend off the virus).

        Masks target the infected ones, by significantly reducing viral load they can spread.

        But the result is in effect the same – way less spread.

      2. BlakeFelix

        I would think that herd immunity would be a function of Rt and the potentially vulnerable population, as people become immune (hopefully) Rt would go down. Masks would slow the decrease in the vulnerable population, but lower Rt so herd immunity would get Rt below 1 with a smaller percentage dead or immune. As long as people kept wearing their masks, anyway…

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        As any true Wisconsinite will tell you, Evers should have known that this was never gonna fly indefinitely.

      2. marym

        WaPo headline misspelled “Selfish crybabies enabled by lame duck judge to go to bars and spread contagious disease”

        Several Wisconsin counties enact stay-at-home orders following court ruling
        “…a number of Wisconsin municipalities and counties have already implemented their own orders, including Appleton and Racine and Dane, Milwaukee, and Rock counties.

        Those places largely adopted the entirety of the former state order, meaning bars and restaurants will remain closed, except for delivery and takeout, and nonessential businesses must stay closed with some exceptions, such as curbside service.”

  13. PlutoniumKun

    How to Manage a Chinese Factory China Law Blog. “A bad economy directly translates to factory problems. Conversely, it also translates to buying opportunities as Chinese factories all of a sudden become willing to negotiate a lot more on prices and payment terms.”

    About 15 years ago I met a very senior exec in a major Irish retail company at a social event – a company known for its extreme ruthlessness with suppliers. We were talking about China and he was quite proud of the fact that he went personally directly to Chinese factories to buy product and refused to have any middlemen involved (in contrast to nearly all his competitors). And he preferred to negotiate in his broken Mandarin than depend on translators. In fact, nearly everything he told me is exactly what that article recommends that busineses do.

    I’ve been convinced for years that many big, prestiguous companies have been taken for a ride by Chinese and Chinese based middlemen in so much of their purchasing, and the article seems to confirm it. China isn’t a wierd exotic mystery – Chinese business people like nearly everyone else appreciates the personal touch, the visit by the buyers boss, etc., and are very complemented by anyone making an attempt at mandarin (and westerners who speak mandarin have a huge advantage in private conversations). Its common sense really, but that doesn’t always apply to business.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The United States Should Not Align With Russia Against China”

    I read this article and seriously wondered if the author believed all this rubbish as he wrote it. But being an Atlantic Council hack he is probably not required too. When he says that “unpalatable concessions” are for Russia to have a sphere of influence on their borders and limiting nuclear missiles on those borders as well, does he believe that? Real crazy talk that. And saying that Putin cannot be trusted to keep agreements? Does that mean that Putin is agreement-incapable?

    His bright idea is to have the US face a two-front threat. He should really ask Berlin how well that works out in practice. Yeah, the US has partners but after having their finances collapse during the present pandemic, you can kiss goodbye to raising their defense budget to 2% and buying US weaponry left, right & center. Can you imagine what would it have been like if the Atlantic Council bad been formed in the 30s rather than 60s? They would have demanded that Roosevelt not ship any weapons or any other gear to Russia to fight Germany on the Eastern Front with and forget Lend Lease.

    Come to think of it, if the Atlantic Council is all about Russia!Russia!Russia!, is there a Pacific Council to promote China!China!China!

    1. Olga

      Yeah, just a buncha’ gibberish.
      But there is a deeper problem – not addressed (or even contemplated): why is the thinking in the US always reduced to ‘enemies’ and ‘threats’? Is there really no other way to exist on this Earth?
      Is it the particular strain of the US capitalism that requires the zero-sum-game view of the world, the western world superiority complex generally, or something twisted in the logic of the US creation? Or is it all three?
      Regardless of the answer, no peaceful movement forward is possible until the US learns how to spell “cooperation.” As in ‘we’re in it together.’

    2. ewmayer

      “I read this article and seriously wondered if the author believed all this rubbish as he wrote it. But being an Atlantic Council hack he is probably not required to” — ITYM “being an Atlantic Council hack he is probably required not to’, in the best Upton-Sinclairian tradition.

      Much like most academic econ departments requiring their students and faculty to “abandon all common sense, ye who enter here”.

  15. zagonostra

    >How the COVID-19 Bailout Gave Wall Street a No-Lose Casino Matt Taibbi,

    The $2.3 trillion CARES Act.. is a radical rethink of American capitalism. It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss.

    “The Fed is the market, and all the big players know it, while the real economy will stagger far behind..”

    Communism ended as a competing global political system with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union shortly thereafter in the early 1990’s. Capitalism fell with the 2008 bail-out of Wallstreet. What we have now is not capitalism, where the market impartially determines winner and losers. The quote by Nami Prins in Taibbi’s article that the “Fed is the Market” quietly captures the moment, not as forcefully as walls crumbling, but no less as indicative of the collapse of capitalism. It’s not a “radical rethink of American capitalism” but the death knell.

    1. Olga

      I think it is important to have the correct terminology. The USSR did not “collapse.” There simply was no such thing – no matter how many times someone repeats the phrase. It was merely dismantled from within. By specific actors. Most of the population wanted the USSR to go on… but some of the elite actors had different ideas.
      It seems true, though, that for it to continue reform was needed. And reform was difficult, mainly on account of vested interests (and apathy on the part of too many in the general population). Turns out – reform is scary (no matter what system).

    2. JTMcPhee

      Why is it a “Trumpian money wall?” I know, Taibbi has a fixation on trump, but it was not Trump who brought in the K Street jackals and let them write the legislation to suit themselves and their corporate clients. And Pelosi is right there whipping the Dems to vote for each of these muggings and her latest magnum opus lets lobbying firms making millions beget small business billions. Among other horse manure.

  16. actionmasten

    The slick, silky ‘travel suit’ reminds me of the one-piece jumpsuits popular in the 70s. e.g. The Fifth Season

    1. Quentin

      Glamor, glitz and sexual titillation wrapped in dollar signs are surely the most obvious pressing requisites of social and economic collapse: ‘One size fits all. We’re opening up while making a killing.’

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Where U.S. coronavirus cases are on the rise”

    So I was looking at the chart for cases in the US and I noticed that three States seemed to be doing a great job of tackling the Coronavirus – Hawaii, Alaska & Montana. Hawaii and Alaska have the advantage of isolated borders but why is Montana doing so well? Maybe Wyoming comes close to them in performance but Montana seems to be the outlier on the continental United States.

    1. The Historian

      As someone who has lived in Montana for over 40 years, I can tell you some things about Montana that might help you understand:

      1. Travel in Montana in the winter is a B*TCH! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stranded on the interstate because of whiteouts and sudden blizzards. And this continues way into the spring. The lack of travel in February and March was probably a factor. There isn’t much reason for anyone to be travelling in Montana in the winter and spring anyway. The heaviest travel times are in the summer and fall with tourism and farmers taking their produce to markets.
      2. There is only one real major airport in Montana – in Billings. Planes do fly into Butte, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Missoula but they are usually the regional jets and there aren’t that many of them. I’ve flown into Missoula several times and it is always a trick to plan my flights so I am not sitting in Salt Lake for hours waiting for a Montana flight. It is interesting to note that the one place that got hit the hardest with Covid was Bozeman and this was no doubt because of the skiiers that come into that airport in the winter.
      3. Most Montana towns are small so it is easy to trace Covid cases and isolate them.
      4. Montana was one of the earliest states to shut down its schools – they did it in early March. That extra week or two of shutdown also probably helped.
      5. Butte attracts a lot of tourists for its St. Patrick Day celebration – it’s probably the largest St Patrick’s Day celebration in the country outside of Boston, but this year Butte shut it down. That probably prevented Covid from making a foothold in Butte, whose population is very slanted towards older people.
      6. Montana has about 1 million people spread out over 147,000 square miles meaning that there is usually a lot of separation between towns.
      7. Montanans aren’t “huggers” and seem to maintain a larger social distance from each other than you see in other places. That was one of the hardest things to get used to when I moved to DC, where, at first, I felt like everyone was in my face. That helps also.

      Montanamaven could probably also add some things I’ve overlooked.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks for that reply Historian. I can see how Coronavirus would have only limited potential to spread there. Would you believe that I have distant family that live in Montana which made your description of even more interest to me? Whenever the wife and I see places in Montana on those TV real estate programs, we both think that that would be a great place to go live though not sure about the whiteouts and sudden blizzards. :)

        1. The Historian

          Montana is a wonderful state and has some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been to 48 other states. If you love the great outdoors, this state was make for you. But the reason I didn’t retire there was because of the winters – too long and too cold and WAY too much snow.

      2. MT_Bill

        It’s good to recognize that the eastern half of the state has had essentially zero cases. Conversations between neighbors in the rural parts of Montana are just as likely to occur from opposite sides of a pickup bed (6′) as they are at a kitchen table. I’m sure the gentle breeze of 15 to 20 miles an hour helps disperse those viral particles :-)

        Branding, which in rural areas is as big of a social event as weddings and funerals, is coming up soon and could be a vector of concern.

        1. Jack Parsons

          The rural trade in illegal drugs will drive repeated re-introduction of new strains into the hinterlands. After the snows melt, they will find some bodies of people who were off the grid.

  18. Stanley Dundee

    In non-corona news, veteran reporter, analyst, and editor David Hearst reports a secret US-Iran deal to install the new Iraqi prime minister:

    The nomination of Mustafa al-Kadhimi as Iraqi prime minister was the result of a horse trade between the US and Iran in which Tehran agreed to back the former intelligence chief in return for an unfreezing of some of its assets targeted by sanctions, senior Iraqi political sources have told Middle East Eye.

    Interesting implications for possible stand-down in US-Iran conflict.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Not if Pompeo has his way. His Twitter offerings the last few days are “War on China, Unbreakable Bonds With Israel’s, Iran is The Worst Terrorist State.”

  19. QuarterBack

    On the question of the effectiveness of herd immunity, I recall reading an article at the end of April on the infection rate in Mecca being as high as 70%, I have also heard anecdotally from a friend of villages in Slovenia having similar positive infection rates. It seems to me that it would be beneficial to scientifically study geographic pockets of high infection rates to see if the herd immunity theory actually holds any relevance to COVID-19.

    The Mecca article is here

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      at this point there are 2 categories of congress person:

      NON-SHITTY: Katie Porter, Rashida Tlaib
      SUSPECT: everybody else


      1. Carla

        I would add: Pramilla Jayapal, lead sponsor in the U.S. House for both HR-1384 (Medicare for All) and HJR-48 (1. “the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only” — and 2.”money is not speech.”)

        Note: neither of us has come up with a non-shitty Senator.

    2. False Solace

      Oh please. Ten other Senators didn’t vote including such progressive luminaries as Joe Manchin. If you think for a second Bernie’s vote would have made a difference in the outcome you’re out of touch with reality. Votes don’t make it to the floor unless the outcome is already known.

      1. Carla

        @False Solace: I guess you didn’t read the article. Ten corporate-friendly Democrats (and not a single “progressive” Democrat voted “No” — Joe Manchin has never been called “progressive” by anyone except rightwing wackos). Here’s the list:

        “Democrats (10):

        Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE)
        Casey, Robert P., Jr. (D-PA)
        Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA)
        Hassan, Margaret Wood (D-NH)
        Jones, Doug (D-AL)
        Kaine, Tim (D-VA)
        Manchin, Joe, III (D-WV)
        Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)
        Warner, Mark R. (D-VA)
        Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI)

        Four members did not cast votes: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).”

        Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray are the traitors to their supporters — and actually to all Americans, even and perhaps especially to those who don’t know it.

        DAMMIT, Bernie!

    1. MillenialSocialist

      My little nephew is 8. He calls Pelosi “Nancy the Selfish Ice Cream Lady who doesn’t share”.

      Pretty sure he is more astute politically than the average American already.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: U.S. airlines tell crews not to force passengers to wear masks”

    I am not sure what those airlines are thinking. All you would need would be one or two incidents where passengers on an airliner suffered an outbreak of the Coronavirus due to an infected passenger and there would be mass cancellations as a result. Imagine if it was a superspreader aboard.

    1. Copeland

      >I am not sure what those airlines are thinking

      Maybe they’re thinking that if things go badly for them (financially badly that is, because that’s all that matters to them) they will ask for another federal bailout and they will get it?

  21. diptherio

    Following Galbriath’s contention that we need a wide-scale conversion to cooperative ownership in order to recover from the crisis, and to address the criticisms in the comments yesterday that he didn’t provide any way to get there, I’ll offer this, from the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland:

    Legal Strategies for Achieving Worker Control During Covid-19.

    Basically, they boil down to this: “The answer is not to seek a legal solution, but to use available legal protections to seek a solution through direct action.” Which is less than one would hope for, but about as much as we ever seem to have to work with.

    Strategy #1: Take open action and accept the consequences…
    Strategy #2: Keep it secret, make it hard to sell, find out when it’s for sale, and civil disobedience…
    Strategy #3: Organize, form your own co-op, then lease the business space or your labor…

  22. CanChemist

    Speaking of indoor transmission, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) has gone on record on airborne transmission:

    “ASHRAE’s statement on airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19

    Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.

    ASHRAE’s statement on operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems to reduce SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission

    Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.”

  23. Jason Boxman

    On bathrooms, at night a few weeks ago I saw a gentleman relieving himself by a dumpster behind a building. It’s only food delivery drivers out at night, as Davis Square is completely shutdown like most other places besides takeout only. I assumed inaccessible bathrooms was to blame. It must be worse for women, but all of the delivery drivers I’ve noticed in my walks are male so far.

    1. amfortas the hippie

      ja. prepandemic when i’d be here in chemo parking lot for 4-6 hours i could time getting lunch or an iced tea with lizard draining operations
      no longer,lol
      during lockdown, it was a jug
      now, it’s a gas station( proverbial sanitation in those places hasn’t improved)
      i eye the creek/woods adjacent to chemo parking lot
      being a country hippie and all… but it’s the big city
      there’s a truck stop in comfort,tx about 2/5 of way home that’s kept really clean
      and the valero’s are pretty good in this regard, depending on neighborhood
      will discreetly watering the grass(or alley) become more commonplace?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          weird, right?

          “and Anfortas rode forth in adventure, and his battle cry was ‘Amore!'”.

          San Antonio appeared surreally normal, today…as in not quite–or anything even near– normal, but “normal*”, and you can’t find the footnote.
          so you don’t know what it means.
          Failure to Grok.
          Ontological Confusion/Crises

          see that other thread for what all i’ve been up to…shit tea and biological warfare, in service of sustainable ag.
          (waves to NSA)

  24. amfortas the hippie

    re: fair article on big ag plantation system
    y’all know this a perennial whipping boy for me so i won’t repeat myself at length
    (in chemo parking lot on fone)
    he gives contact numbers for a handful of powerful evildoers
    when i was active in ag agitation i used to call and write demons like that almost weekly
    just to let the anger out(congress….in my case the texas lege… is where shit gets done)
    i recommend such activity
    call those guys
    cuss them out
    email them
    pester them
    if yer stuck at home, why not?
    the food system is and has been a travesty
    it needs radical change and major fumigation
    if not now, when?

  25. Rod

    I do not think this can be glossed over:

    Ohio reconsiders policy of kicking workers off unemployment, after hackers release code to overwhelm state system

    The anonymous hacker previously told Motherboard they created the script as a form of direct action in support of working people.

    and they fixed the hack but another is being primed.

    maybe a refile under Remediation and Amelioration??

  26. allan

    DOW 36,000 U3 36,000,000:

    Jeffrey Stein @JStein_WaPo
    WH adviser Kevin Hassett on the 3 million Americans filing for unemployment:
    “I think the fact that we came in under 3 million suggests that the turning on the economy is beginning
    and it’s beginning to show up with the data”
    10:19 AM · May 14, 2020

    Or, as was said in my distant youth to justify a pivot to deficit hawkery: Green shoots.

  27. Oregoncharles

    “Where U.S. coronavirus cases are on the rise” I managed to find Oregon (future tip: it would be a lot easier to read if it was a link to a larger version – some of us aren’t young any more); cases are going up, not a good sign, and Oregon is a lockdown state. Not that it’s actually enforced, but observance is quite good, at least here.

    OTOH, Oregon has relatively few cases and even fewer deaths, so “increase” could actually be random. Even more likely, it’s the result of more testing; they only just started doing it properly, with random sampling.

    1. marku52

      Our excess deaths are only +1%, so it is likely that the increase is only due to testing beginning to occur. (I’m in Medford, shut down is fairly well accepted here)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it would be a lot easier to read if it was a link to a larger version

      The larger version is at the Reuters link.. It takes a little while to load.

  28. Billy

    “The airborne lifetime of small speech droplets and their potential importance in SARS-CoV-2 transmission” Stay away from long winded people.

    Seriously, the virus threat is going to change commercial architecture to favor outdoor seating, thus boosting the preference to not live in cold winter climates, and in addition to that, HVAC, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, is going to be changed to suck air straight up from indoor spaces and exhaust it out the roof, with fresh conditioned air being sucked in from a clean space, thus making it more expensive because the coolness or heat will be lost, instead of recirculated =
    places like Phoenix and Las Vegas die in value.

    1. td

      Check out Heat Recovery Ventilators, in common use. Warmth and coolth can be largely recovered while expelling the evil air.

  29. Phil

    You know, it’s funny: the thing that irritates me most about this site is exactly what it spends so much time calling out everyone else for:

    “How true, and how true it is that liberal Democrats are moral exemplars, fully entitled to shame others.”

    I go back and forth. I leave because the unrelenting nihilism hurts. I come back because here is a good aggregator. But I wish I didn’t feel like Yves and Lambert want the democrats to get crushed so badly that they’ll take the other side in any fight, no matter who is on it.

    1. periol

      Are you one of the privileged few whom the Democratic Party actually represents? Hmm…

      There aren’t many people in your shoes. I wish to offer you my heartfelt congratulations.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the unrelenting nihilism

      I’m not sure you understand what nihilism means. (I’m going to assume that your comment doesn’t invoke the liberal Democrat trope that rejecting lesser evilism is a form of nihilism.) From Oxford’s Lexico:

      1. The rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.

      1.1 Philosophy Extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence.
      More example sentences
      1.2 historical The doctrine of an extreme Russian revolutionary party c.1900 which found nothing to approve of in the established social order.

      I don’t see how any serious NC reader could say that NC exemplifies #1 or #1.1. #1.2 is nearer the mark, but we certainly find some things (not nothing) to approve of in the existing social order: the Post Office and public libraries spring to me, as do whistleblowers.

      As for the Democrats, don’t shoot the messenger. We’re not the ones framing 2020 as a leadership crisis and running Joe Biden.

  30. adrena

    Looks hopeful.

    “Unique discovery in Erasmus MC: antibody against Corona – Erasmus Magazine”

    The scientists are currently looking for a pharmaceutical company to bring this potential solution to market.

  31. Jen

    Just lost a lot of respect for Elon musk. Disgusting. But then you Americans keep voting for crap like this. How’s Biden going to help exactly?

    1. Yves Smith

      We’re not fans of Biden. And yes, appalled at the gutlessness of the city. If they’d just sent cops to block the road in, I doubt workers would have defied that. But Newsom sided with Musk…..another Team Dem fail.

      1. periol

        Serious question here. I’m no fan of Newsom, but Musk and Space X are basically just a privatized arm of NASA and the military. I’m wondering if there may have been external pressures applied to California? Federal money? Just guessing, but I am surprised the state/county/city backed down…

      2. vlade

        I’m looking forward to the class action. I’m not sure whether it will be against Musk, California or both.

        But I’m pretty sure if there’s any reasonable outbreak at the factory, there will be one, as Musk is just too good a target to pass.

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