☕ Cover: Veterans listen and applaud as President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during the Rolling to Remember: Honoring Our Nations Veterans and POW-MIA event Friday, May 22, 2020, on the Blue Room Balcony of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Good Morning. Here’s what you need to know to start the day, along with perspective from both sides for calmer coffee conversations with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers. Plus, a bit of good news: We came across a program from the non-profit Crazy Good Turns which was founded by the former CEO and Chairman of The Home Depot. Long story short, they are rewarding everyday heroes with $50 Visa cards. No strings attached, just a way to pay it forward. Click here to nominate someone.
📰 TOP STORY
New York Nursing Homes: Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, whose leadership was initially praised by many during the early stages of the pandemic, is suddenly facing intense backlash due to a pair of new reports, and questionable on-air interviews with his brother. For starters, the first report argues that, had the Governor taken action just a week earlier, at least 17,000 lives could have been saved in the empire state. Not many cities in the US can be compared to New York in terms of size and density, but the comparison armchair experts point to is San Francisco’s ability to avoid New York-style results due to cooperation between state and city officials. As ProPublica points out, “California’s governor and San Francisco’s mayor worked together to act early in confronting the Covid threat. For Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, it was a different story, and 27,000 New Yorkers have died so far.” Additionally, Governor Cuomo is facing intensified criticism for his March 25 directive that mandated New York state’s nursing homes open their doors to recovering coronavirus patients to help free up hospital beds. According to an analysis by the AP, more than 4,300 recovering Covid-19 patients were relocated to New York’s highly vulnerable nursing homes under the controversial state directive, which was ultimately reversed on May 10. Many now believe this decision contributed to the more than 5,800 nursing and adult care facility deaths in New York—more than in any other state. Here’s how it’s playing.
On the Left: For his part, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tends to dismiss retrospective analysis as “Monday morning quarterbacking,” POLITICO reports. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also appear to be deflecting the blame. At his briefing in Manhattan Cuomo said, “It’s above my paygrade as the governor of one state. It’s not what I do; it’s not my responsibility.” For context, Cuomo will become the nation’s highest paid governor thanks to a pay raise approved by lawmakers as part of the new state budget. The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted in March to gradually increase the Democratic executive’s salary from the current $179,000 to $250,000 on Jan. 1, 2021. Another aspect of the Governor’s response has been his media appearances, especially those conducted with his brother and CNN personality, Chris Cuomo. Even left-leaning outlets are beginning to see them less as friendly-entertainment and more as “bad journalism” as Lydia O’Connor writes for the Huffington Post. “The problem isn’t their on-screen banter; it’s that one of CNN’s top anchors is throwing softball questions at the man governing the epicenter of the coronavirus, all while evidence increasingly shows that his response to the outbreak was insufficient, especially for New York’s most vulnerable age groups.” In summary, Cuomo’s nursing home decision, and subsequent response appears to be a chink in his armor even for Democratic and left-leaning outlets.
On the Right: Given the fact that the left isn’t particularly thrilled with Cuomo right now, conservatives and right-leaning voices are taking the chance to amplify their criticism. Brian Flood at Fox News echoes O’Connor’s sentiment from above questioning why CNN’s Chris Cuomo did not ask his brother to discuss the nursing home tragedy. Flood, much like O’Connor (except with more incendiary word-choice) condemns the Cuomo brothers for making jokes and using oversized cotton swab props in an effort to poke fun at the testing procedure for Covid-19. Mainstream media’s criticism (on both the right and left) spread to Twitter where keyboard warriors voiced their disapproval of CNN’s journalistic standards. Outside of the interview, Betsy McCaughey writes for the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board that, “It was predictable that nursing homes would become the riskiest place during a pandemic. Yet state and federal officials treated them as an afterthought.”
Flag This: According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “nursing-home residents make up less than 1% of the U.S. population, but in many states they account for half of all Covid-19 deaths. In some states it’s higher, such as Minnesota (81%), New Hampshire (77%) and Pennsylvania (71%).” So regardless of what you think about how Gov. Cuomo has handled the outbreak in his state, what’s important is understanding how to prepare nursing homes for the second wave. Betsy McCaughey from The WSJ, continues to say that, “the single most effective way to save lives would be to improve infection control in nursing homes and prepare to rush supplies of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment to these facilities. Overlooking nursing homes was the biggest lost opportunity in the battle against Covid-19.” As noted above, bickering between De Blasio and Cuomo already led to delayed reaction which may have cost thousands of lives. Let this be a lesson for the left and right as well, that instead of finger-pointing about past-mistakes, what’s important is focusing on future fixes. We stayed inside, we “flattened the curve.” Let’s hope that while this was happening our leaders were preparing for round-two by stocking up on supplies and figuring out how to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.
🦅 US NEWS
The Virus is Accelerating De-churching in America
The Covid-19 pandemic has hammered churches of all sizes and denominations across America, The Economist writes. Incomes have plunged and cash reserves are dwindling. “In many the majority of worshippers are old; if a vaccine is not developed soon, or is less effective in the elderly, many may be reluctant to go to church in the future.” Why it matters: there will be a significant reduction in the number of churches in America and accelerate the long-term decline in American religiosity. Only 45% of people attend church once or twice a month and only 20% attend every Sunday.
- Flag This: Catholic institutions may see the sharpest decline. “Successive clerical sex-abuse scandals have stopped many from going to mass or from going as regularly as they used [to].” This means their financial support has evaporated and many have been bankrupted by payouts to victims of abuse.
Want to know who won the presidential race on election night? Get ready to wait.
It’s a familiar election night routine: Polls close, and everyone wants to know who won — immediately. Jonathan Lai of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that feature of our democracy might be a relic of the past. What’s Happening: “A new Pennsylvania law that allows any voter to cast a ballot by mail, along with a surge in requests for mail-in ballots driven by fears of voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic, has set up a 2020 election in which everyone could be left waiting for days before results are known.” Why it matters: in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, delays could effectively leave the race for the White House in limbo for days.
- Flag This: If you think this is an exaggeration, don’t forget about the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses, which led to a three-day delay in vote reporting. In fact the Associated Press was never able to declare a winner. And while coronavirus had reached our shores, this debacle happened well before the gravity of the outbreak set in. Magnify the mess of Iowa by problems associated with the pandemic and you can see why states like Pennsylvania may truly hold up instant results on election night.
🌎 WORLD NEWS
China’s government plans to let mainland state-security agencies operate officially in Hong Kong, a senior Chinese official said last week, adding to concerns about the city’s diminishing autonomy as Beijing steps up its efforts to rein in the protest-torn city. Why it matters: Fears that Hong Kong citizens could be transferred to mainland China and prosecuted under Chinese law as part of a proposed extradition bill are what sparked the protests that drew millions to the city’s streets last year. Here’s how it’s playing:
- China Doesn’t Just Want to Control Hong Kong Lewis Lau Yiu-man, New York Times
- China is foisting an anti-sedition law on Hong Kong that will change it for ever Ilaria Maria Sala and Louisa Lim, The Guardian
- China’s clear message to the U.S. on Hong Kong: Beijing will not back down Dexter Roberts, LA Times
Brexit is back – and Covid has transformed negotiations
We will know in the next few weeks if Britain is to leave the European Union without a trade deal, James Forsyth writes for the Spectator. What’s Happening: Both sides are due to decide by the end of June whether the current deadline for negotiating an agreement should be extended beyond the end of December. As Forsyth notes, “The Covid pandemic, far from pausing the talks, has made it all the more urgent that an agreement is found quickly. The UK and the EU will spend next year reshaping their economies and it makes sense to do that knowing what their trading arrangements will be in the medium term.”
- Flag This: “The British want a free trade deal like Canada’s, so won’t sign up to follow EU rules. The central plank of [Britain’s] position is that the whole point of Brexit is to ‘take back control’. Impossible, replies the EU: Canada is thousands of miles away. The UK is too intertwined with the EU economy to be offered the same terms. If neither side budges, there will be no trade deal.” Keep reading.
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
From Mexico to Michigan: GM’s Supply Chain Woes
General Motors is struggling to ramp up production of it’s high-profit pickup trucks due to a shortage of parts from Mexico. Why it matters: The supply chain disruption means thousands of union members will be laid-off for at least another week while the company attempts to resume normal operations.
NHL players approve 24-team return to play format to resume 2019-20 season
The NHL Players’ Association voted to approve a 24-team, conference-based playoff format for a potential restart of the 2019-20 NHL season this summer. All this does is address the structure of the postseason if teams return to the ice. The NHLPA and NHL still need to figure out where the games will be played and how players will be tested for Covid-19. Under the proposed format, here are the teams that might be playing.
Netflix will start cancelling inactive members’ subscriptions
Netflix will start asking customers who haven’t used its platform in the past year if they want to keep their subscriptions. If a customer doesn’t respond, Netflix will automatically cancel the subscription. The move is extremely unusual among companies that charge an annual subscription, and shows a measure of confidence in Netflix’s value proposition for customers. Snip, Snip.
📢 PRESENTED BY VINCERO
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
Results From Last Week’s Flag Poll
Should undocumented immigrants receive coronavirus relief funding? 97% said No, 3% said Yes. Full results and comments.
This Week’s Flag Poll
Last week, President Trump said he would overrule any governor who disagreed with him that places of worship should be allowed to reopen in accordance with new CDC guidelines. Do you think congregations should be allowed to reopen? Click here to vote.
On This Day in 1897, The first copies of the classic vampire novel Dracula, by Irish writer Bram Stoker, appeared in London bookshops.
Neuroscience Says Doing This 1 Thing Makes You Just as Happy as Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars (Inc)
Our economy is built on Americans of all class levels buying things. What happens when the ability — and desire — to do so goes away? (BuzzFeed)
Life and Death in a Troubled Teen Boot Camp. A tragic accident exposes the dangers of an out-of-control billion-dollar industry (Rolling Stone)
Yesterday was Memorial Day: Why are veterans particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic? Answer here…