Biden on a Staggering Statistic

From Joe Biden and his team:

Today, we learned that another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total number of new unemployment claims since this crisis began to more than 40 million. This is just the latest evidence of D—- T—-’s utter failure to do what a president should and must do: lead in a crisis. He ignored the warnings, refused to prepare the country, and wasn’t honest with the American people about what was needed — and we are all living with the horrific results. Now, nearly a quarter of the American workforce has filed for unemployment — a figure so staggering that it would have seemed unthinkable not long ago.

Though the coronavirus is to blame for planting the seeds of this damage, we know that D—- T—-’s persistent failure to act is responsible for the tragic and unprecedented scale of the crisis. T—- was warned for months about the urgency of the situation, but sat on his hands — undermining public health experts and spinning false promises to the American people to prop up his political standing at the expense of public safety.

Germany, by contrast, had its first reported case of coronavirus almost a week after the United States, but has suffered only a tiny fraction of the unemployment we’ve faced thanks to a swift and effective public health response. Millions more Americans would be employed today — and our lives would have a far greater semblance of normalcy — had T—- responded with similar resolve. A devastating study released last week found that 36,000 people could have been saved had [the Toddler] taken action even one week earlier. Instead, more than 100,000 Americans have been lost forever, and the day-to-day lives and future dreams of 40 million people and their families have been thrown off course.

Even now, T—- refuses to focus on getting help to those who need it most. The largest single recipient of relief funds intended for small businesses was a hotel executive and major T—- donor who claimed more than $58 million in taxpayer bailout money. A private jet company founded by a T—- donor received another $27 million. And a cell phone location-tracking company that has been hired by the T—- campaign to target voters obtained nearly $3 million.

Meanwhile, actual small businesses and mom-and-pop entrepreneurs — the lifeblood of local economies — are being turned away in droves. As if that weren’t enough, T—- has also used the cover of this crisis to brazenly fire five inspectors general, the public watchdogs whose job it is to guard against corruption — including the official responsible for providing oversight of pandemic relief funds.

The corruption is obvious — the incompetence even more so. Two months after Congress passed the CARES Act to speed relief to the American people, not one dollar allocated for the Main Street Lending Program — a $600 billion fund designed to help small and medium-sized businesses across America — has been disbursed. Not one dollar, as businesses keep laying workers off and struggle through some of the most brutal months in modern history. Wall Street has gotten the help it needs; Main Street is still waiting. There is no excuse for this Administration’s lack of urgency or care given all that the American people are enduring right now.

I oversaw implementation of the nearly $800 billion Recovery Act — with less than 0.2 percent waste, fraud, and abuse. That response didn’t happen by magic. It took sustained focus and constant pressure and personal engagement at the highest levels to make sure we were implementing the program efficiently and effectively on behalf of the American people. We need that type of response right now — albeit on a dramatically larger scale.

D—- T—- should be laser-focused on getting relief out as fast as possible to the people who actually need it — with no favoritism and no fraud. That he continues to occupy himself with self-pitying tweets and dangerous conspiracy theories in the face of an ongoing, world-historic crisis killing thousands of Americans each day and putting millions more out of work is beyond comprehension. I pray that the President thinks of them.

Unquote.

Don’t bother praying. God helps those who help themselves in November.

Tomorrow’s Front Page

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Quote:

Numbers alone cannot possibly measure the impact of the coronavirus on America… As the country nears a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths attributed to the virus, the New York Times scoured obituaries and death notices of the victims. The 1,000 people here reflect just one percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.

Patricia Dowd, 57, San Jose, Calif., auditor in Silicon Valley.
Marion Krueger, 83, Kirkland, Wash., great-grandmother with an easy laugh.
Jermaine Farrow, 77, Lee County, Fla., wife with little time to enjoy a new marriage….

From Joe Biden:

36,000 Americans could be alive today if President T—– had acted sooner.

The hard truth is D—– T—– ignored the warnings of health experts and intelligence agencies, downplayed the threat COVID-19 posed, and failed to take the action needed to combat the outbreak. It’s one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in our history.

We all need to vote for every Democrat in November and damage that other party for decades to come.

Nobody Knows

I’ve been avoiding predictions about the world to come. It’s all speculation. Mark Lilla of Columbia University agrees:

The public square is thick today with augurs and prophets claiming to foresee the post-Covid world to come. I, myself, who find sundown something of a surprise every evening, have been pursued by foreign journalists asking what the pandemic will mean for the American presidential election, populism, the prospects of socialism, race relations, economic growth, higher education, New York City politics and more. And they seem awfully put out when I say I have no idea. You know your lines, just say them.

I understand their position. With daily life frozen, there are fewer newsworthy events to be reported on and debated. Yet columns must be written, and the 24/7 cable news machine must be fed. Only so much time can be spent on the day’s (hair-raising) news conferences or laying blame for decisions made in the past or sentimental stories on how people are coping. So journalists’ attention turns toward the future.

But the post-Covid future doesn’t exist. It will exist only after we have made it. Religious prophecy is rational, on the assumption that the future is in the gods’ hands, not ours. Believers can be confident that what the gods say through the oracles’ mouth or inscribe in offal will come to pass, independent of our actions. But if we don’t believe in such deities, we have no reason to ask what will happen to us. We should ask only what we want to happen, and how to make it happen, given the constraints of the moment.

Apart from the actual biology of the coronavirus — which we are only beginning to understand — nothing is predestined. How many people fall ill with it depends on how they behave, how we test them, how we treat them and how lucky we are in developing a vaccine. The result of those decisions will then limit the choices about reopening that employers, mayors, university presidents and sports club owners are facing. Their decisions will then feed back into our own decisions, including whom we choose for president this November. And the results of that election will have the largest impact on what the next four years will hold.

The pandemic has brought home just how great a responsibility we bear toward the future, and also how inadequate our knowledge is for making wise decisions and anticipating consequences. Perhaps that is why our prophets and augurs can’t keep up with the demand for foresight. At some level, people must be thinking that the more they learn about what is predetermined, the more control they will have. This is an illusion. Human beings want to feel that they are on a power walk into the future, when in fact we are always just tapping our canes on the pavement in the fog.

A dose of humility would do us good in the present moment. It might also help reconcile us to the radical uncertainty in which we are always living. Let us retire our prophets and augurs. And let us stop asking health specialists and public officials for confident projections they are in no position to make — and stop being disappointed when the ones we force out of them turn out to be wrong. (A shift from daily to weekly news conferences and reports would be a small step toward sobriety.)

It is bad enough living with a president who refuses to recognize reality. We worsen the situation by focusing our attention on litigating the past and demanding certainty about the future. We must accept what we are, in any case, condemned to do in life: tap and step, tap and step, tap and step….

A Few Words from Albert Camus

From The Plague (thanks to L. for sharing):

In fact, like our fellow citizens. Rieux [the main character, a doctor] was caught off guard. and we should understand his hesitations in the light of this fact; and similarly understand how he was torn between conflicting fears and confidence. When a war breaks out, people say, “It’s too stupid; it can’t last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.

In this respect our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences. A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions. Our townsfolk were not more to blame than others; they forgot to be modest, that was all, and thought that everything still was possible for them; which presupposed that pestilences were impossible. They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague. which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free as long as there are pestilences.

Unquote.

Humanists do take precautions, however. It’s knuckleheads who don’t.

A Few Brief and Blunt Answers

Christiane Amanpour is a journalist at CNN. Donald McNeil Jr. is a science writer for The New York Times. She asks him questions about the virus. He gives informed yet blunt answers.

Three minutes on how our federal government screwed this up.

Less than three minutes on our testing shortfall (Warning: our president says words during the first thirty seconds, so be careful).

Even less on the difference between medicine and public health (Mr. McNeil doesn’t discuss how the president and his minions sabotaged our preparedness by cutting budgets and firing qualified people; it would have been good to hear McNeil speak bluntly about that).

Update:

The Times issued a statement saying Mr. McNeil “went too far in expressing his personal views”. His editors discussed the issue with him and reminded him that “his job is to report the facts and not to offer his own opinions”. There are some things corporate journalists are not supposed to say in public, even though they say such things in private and what they say is true. 

One Way To Return To Work and School

Three professors think there is a good way for people to start going back to work and school. Their suggestion is partly based on how long people who get the virus usually become contagious, which is three days on average.

First, the population would be divided into two groups — like our cars were divided into two groups by odd and even license plates when OPEC made trouble in the 1970s and it was very hard to buy gas.

Grouping could be done using the first letter of everyone’s last name, such as A to L and M to Z. Doing the groups that way would give the members of a family the same schedule (of course, there would have to be flexibility to handle special cases).

Each group would then go to work or school on a schedule of four days on, ten days off. Group A to L would start work on a Monday, work four days, then take off ten days. Group M to Z would go to work or school the following Monday, work four days and then take off.

The result would be that people would be at work or school 40% of the time: four days instead of the usual ten every two-weeks (of course, there would have to be flexibility again, one reason being that somebody has to mind the store or the police station on Fridays and weekends).

Working or being educated would still be possible during our ten days “off” at home. The totally unemployed would be working part-time. The point is that we’d be taking a step toward a more normal existence for most people.

When I read the professors’ article, I wondered why they chose a four-day schedule if people are usually contagious after three days. Aside from how four days fits nicely into the fourteen days of two weeks, they believe that getting sick would be unlikely even if people were in close contact and someone became contagious at the beginning of the four days. They did some math:

Models we created at the Weizmann Institute in Israel predict that this two-week cycle can reduce the virus’s reproduction number — the average number of people infected by each infected person — below one. So a 10-4 cycle could suppress the epidemic while allowing sustainable economic activity.

More from the article:

Even if someone is infected, and without symptoms, he or she would be in contact with people outside their household for only four days every two weeks, not 10 days, as with a normal schedule. This strategy packs another punch: It reduces the density of people at work and school, thus curtailing the transmission of the virus.

The cyclic strategy is easy to explain and to enforce. It is equitable in terms of who gets to go back to work. It applies at any scale: a school, a firm, a town, a state. A region that uses the cyclic strategy is protected: Infections coming from the outside cannot spread widely if the reproduction number is less than one. It is also compatible with all other countermeasures being developed.

Workers can, and should still, use masks and distancing while at work. This proposal is not predicated, however, on large-scale testing, which is not yet available everywhere in the United States and may never be available in large parts of the world. It can be started as soon as a steady decline of cases indicates that lockdown has been effective.

The cyclic strategy should be part of a comprehensive exit strategy, including self-quarantine by those with symptoms, contact tracing and isolation, and protection of risk groups. The cyclic strategy can be tested in limited regions for specific trial periods, even a month. If infections rates grow, it can be adjusted to fewer work days. Conversely, if things are going well, additional work days can be added. In certain scenarios, only four or five lockdown days in each two-week cycle could still prevent resurgence.

The coronavirus epidemic is a formidable foe, but it is not unbeatable. By scheduling our activities intelligently, in a way that accounts for the virus’s intrinsic dynamics, we can defeat it more rapidly, and accelerate a full return to work, school and other activities.