Pence: Feds May Let Those Exposed to Virus Return to Work With Masks

Pence: Feds May Let Those Exposed to Virus Return to Work With Masks

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Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that the coronavirus task force, in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, would issue guidance this week about how people exposed to the virus could return to work by wearing a mask.

His statement comes as the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge in the U.S. On Sunday, the number of people infected with COVID-19 surpassed 30,000. Four hundred people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Pence did not provide any details about why the federal government was making such a move, especially in light of a nationwide shortage of masks, including in hospitals deluged with coronavirus patients.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Why Is Donald Trump as Scary as the Coronavirus? Because He Can’t Change.

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When I went to bed Thursday night, we had 11,000-something cases in the United States. Friday morning, the TV said there were 14,400 or so. I read Thursday night that “if the number of cases were to continue to double every three days, there would be about a hundred million cases in the United States by May.”

I am terrified in a way I’ve never been of anything in my life. One out of three Americans, if we don’t arrest this spread? That’s someone I know. That’s plenty of someones I know. Maybe me. The peak is 45 days away, they say, though that will vary from place to place. Doctors are reusing masks. We still don’t know where these millions of test kits are. This is going to be a nightmare like this country and the world have never seen.

So you’re damn right I’m terrified, and Donald Trump is a big part of the reason I’m terrified. I say this not with hatred, but just as observed fact. He is constitutionally incapable of rising to this occasion. He didn’t make this crisis, but he’s shown no signs that he’s able to handle this. 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Stomp Rockets May Be the Cure For My Family’s Cabin Fever

If you’ve never heard of Stomp Rockets, I’ll try to explain how they work and you’ll have to see if you can bear with me. First, you slide one of these tubular foam “rockets” down onto its launch tube. Then you jump on a big plastic air-filled bladder, launching the rocket into the air.

Still with me? Good, because that’s the whole of it, more or less. The more is that there are many different kinds of Stomp Rocket sets, including ones with wings that create special flight patterns, glow-in-the-dark and LED-illuminated rockets, dueling rockets you launch simultaneously, and so on.

But basically, it’s just jumping on an air bladder and launching rockets in the air —and it’s awesome. I have spent hours playing with these things with my kids, who are two and six, and who both love the rockets in their own way. My toddler loves watching the older family members launching and standing on my feet as she “helps” me launch rockets.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Senators Who Led Pro-Pharma Patent Reform Get Drugmaker Cash

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By Emmarie Huetteman, Kaiser Health News

Early last year, as lawmakers vowed to curb rising drug prices, Sen. Thom Tillis was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on intellectual property rights, a committee that had not met since 2007.

As the new gatekeeper for laws and oversight of the nation’s patent system, the North Carolina Republican signaled he was determined to make it easier for American businesses to benefit from it—a welcome message to the drugmakers who already leverage patents to block competitors and keep prices high.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Trump’s Plan for Federal Buildings: Make America Old Again

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Somewhere in the White House, a draft executive order entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” is circulating. Given a title replete with the bravado of this administration, the contents of the order would overturn over two centuries of precedent establishing the proper relationship of the federal government to public architecture.

In 1962 Daniel Moynihan, at the time an official in the Labor Department, wrote a report that has set the framework for government building ever since. Earlier there had been casual attention given to individual federal buildings, mainly the U.S. Capitol. But there had been little interest in establishing a federal policy. Moynihan’s “Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture,” more philosophy than directive, did so in 500 words. Under threat today, these guidelines established three basic points: architects, not the government, must determine designs for federal buildings; the development of an official style must be avoided; and architectural design must “embody the finest contemporary American Architecture.”

The new proposal, written by a private group which supports classical architecture, would require that all federal buildings costing more than $50 million be built in a uniform style. It reads “In the national capital region and for all Federal courthouses the classical architecture style shall be the preferred and default style.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Who Counts as American for Trump’s Coronavirus Cash?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Political leaders have been scrambling to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis by providing direct cash assistance to American families. Conservatives, who’d until now dismissed the idea of a Universal Basic Income as a dramatic expansion of the welfare state, have been forced to recognize that market solutions won’t suffice as a global pandemic K.O.’s the national and world economy.

 It’s a simple math problem: Almost overnight, many types of work effectively became a public health hazard, putting millions out of work with no real path to new income for the foreseeable future, even as the bills keep coming.

Yet the cruel irony of a cash-assistance program is that, for the populations that are excluded, it would have the complete opposite of its intended effect; they’ll get dragged down by a cratering economy with the added anchor of suddenly reduced spending power as compared to their peers. And the text of the bill Mitch McConnell unveiled this week makes clear at least one group whose members wouldn’t be getting any checks in the mail: “any nonresident alien individual.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

How Influencers Are Milking the Coronavirus for Clout—and Money

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

The novel coronavirus is a horrific pandemic that’s already killed thousands worldwide. And yes, in the U.S. it has yet to even peak—which makes the coming days and weeks a crucial time to stanch its growth. But couldn’t it also be… a branding opportunity? For some influencers, the answer appears to be an enthusiastic “Yes… and have you tried my detox program?

It will likely surprise no one that a community often criticized for pushing laxative tea and snapping photos in front of memorials has run afoul during the pandemic as well. And true to form, some influencers both established and aspiring have responded to the global pandemic by posing in gas masks, using the virus to sell their own products, and even, in one confounding case, licking an airplane toilet.

The shenanigans began almost immediately when news of the virus began to spread in January. As multiple outlets reported at the time, influencers began posting photos of themselves—in some cases, shirtless or in bathing suits—using the hashtag #coronavirus. While some of the posts gestured vaguely at public service, others seemed to simply be flooding an increasingly popular hashtag.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Ken Burns: The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Not History Repeating Itself

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As the outbreak of the novel coronavirus shutters small businesses across the country, the number of jobless claims has skyrocketed from 70,000 last week to 281,000 Friday, and could spike as high as 2.25 million by next Thursday, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs. The sudden economic downturn has sent legislators on all sides of the aisle scrambling for stimulus packages to offset the damage. The GOP offered a $1,200 tax rebate; Chuck Schumer discussed expansions to unemployment insurance, sick leave, and low-interest loans; Bernie Sanders proposed sending $2,000 to every American household for the duration of the crisis. One economist told CNN Business that job loss in April could surpass the worst month of the Great Recession, when 800,000 jobs disappeared in March of 2009, comparing it to a repeat of the Great Depression.

On Monday, PBS will air a new documentary titled East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story, from filmmakers Sarah Burns and David McMahon and executive producer Ken Burns. The film tells the story of East Lake Meadows, a housing complex located on the outskirts of Atlanta which fell into “criminally negligent” disrepair after the local and federal government neglected its low-income and overwhelmingly black residents—and the complicated legacy of trying to redress that damage. But it also tells a larger story about the history of public housing in the United States—a system which began as a way to help the white working poor ascend to the middle class as the country struggled against the kind of economic slump the country may find itself in again.

In advance of the release, Ken Burns, the documentarian behind The Civil War, Jazz, The Vietnam War, and Country Music, spoke to The Daily Beast about the parallels between that moment and now, and what we might take from East Lake Meadows in a moment when housing assistance may become more critical than ever.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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White House Pushes U.S. Officials to Criticize China For Coronavirus ‘Cover-Up’

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As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow at a rapid pace in the U.S., the White House is launching a communications plan across multiple federal agencies that focuses on accusing Beijing of orchestrating a “cover-up” and creating a global pandemic, according to two U.S. officials and a government cable obtained by The Daily Beast.

The cable, sent to State Department officials Friday, lays out in detail the circumstances on the ground in China, including data on coronavirus cases and deaths, the local business environment and transportation restrictions. But it also issues guidelines for how U.S. officials should answer questions on, or speak about, the coronavirus and the White House’s response in relation to China.

The talking points appear to have originated in the National Security Council. One section of the cable reads “NSC Top Lines: [People’s Republic of China] Propaganda and Disinformation on the Wuhan Virus Pandemic.” 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

G/O Media’s Dire Email to Staff: Coronavirus Will ‘Not Be Pretty’

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The head of the company that owns the former Gizmodo Media Group sites sent a dire email to staff on Saturday telling employees that the company will “experience some pain” due to the coronavirus-related economic downturn. 

G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller, who oversees digital media websites including The Root, Jezebel, Gizmodo, and Jalopnik among others, sent an email to staff on Saturday titled “Brace For Impact.”

Although he cautioned that it was slightly too early to tell what the direct financial consequences of the economic slowdown would be, he repeatedly suggested that employees should “expect that picture to not be pretty.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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