☕ Cover: Adam and God, Social Distancing Edition
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: A man saved a woman’s life with CPR at the grocery store then described the strange feeling after when he still needed to buy milk.
📰 TOP STORY
The Summer Spike: New coronavirus cases in the U.S. soared to their highest level in two months according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University published Wednesday. Infections are now back to where they were at the peak of the outbreak. More specifically, as noted by the Associated Press, the U.S. reported 34,700 new cases of the virus on Tuesday. “There have been only two previous days that the U.S. has reported more cases: April 9 and April 24, when a record 36,400 cases were logged.” Early on, states like New York and New Jersey were hot spots, but the virus has shifted south and west. Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, and Texas set single-day records on Tuesday prompting state leaders like Gov. Greg Abbott to urge Texans to stay home. Here are reactions from various viewpoints about the uptick in infections:
On the Right: It’s worth starting with Vice President Mike Pence’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week in which he says, “The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different.” Pence says what’s “lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6% of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus.” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow echoed those comments Monday on CNBC when he stated, “There is no second wave coming. We’ve got the testing procedures, we’ve got the diagnostics, we’ve got the personal protective equipment]. And so I think really it’s a pretty good situation.” Lastly, Clay Travis notes in OutKick that the media is ignoring a really important statistic. According to Travis, on Sunday, “coronavirus deaths declined by 90% in this country from the high set on April 21st. That’s an incredibly positive story about our national battle with the virus. Yet, shockingly, it has received almost no media attention.” What this means is that on April 21st 2,693 people died of the coronavirus. [Sunday] 267 died. Travis believes the media isn’t covering this milestone “because they’ve recognized fear porn drives engagement, even if it isn’t reflecting reality. Scaring people to death works. Emotion is the coin of the social media realm and logical analysis of facts is disfavored if it doesn’t elicit the same firestorm of social media pandemonium. Put simply, the mainstream media doesn’t exist to inform any longer, it exists to emote.”
On the Left: The New York Times Editorial Board points to Vice President Mike Pence’s op-ed and Larry Kudlow’s comments on TV as direct opposition to what scientists are saying about the pandemic. “On Tuesday Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told a House panel that the country has yet to clear the first wave of the pandemic and that a second wave of outbreaks is possible.” The NYT Editorial Board also responded to President Trump’s comments at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he asked U.S. officials to slow down testing. They wrote, “If the U.S. reduces testing, case counts will decrease, but death counts will undoubtedly increase.” They continued, arguing that “The president and his most loyal supporters keep acting as though if they ignore the seriousness of the coronavirus, it will cease to exist.” The Washington Post also pointed out on Wednesday that a “New York Times-Siena College poll shows that just 38 percent approve of [Trump’s] handling of the coronavirus outbreak, while 58 percent disapprove — some of his worst numbers to date.” The President’s response to the virus is now also having international effects Thomas Colson and Adam Bienkov write for Business Insider. “A major new survey of citizens in EU countries shows that almost 60% of respondents said their view of the US had worsened during the pandemic.” Colson and Bienkov say that “European perceptions of the US have worsened far more than their opinion of China, where the government has been heavily criticized for hiding the extent of the outbreak when it began.” Not only that, but now “the EU is set to impose a travel ban on Americans coming to the continent due to the rapid spread of cases in the US.”
Flag This: If there is one thing we know for sure about the coronavirus, it’s that no one—including experts—know enough about it yet. On March 8, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci told 60 Minutes, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” Then on June 5, 2020, Fauci said he has “no doubt” that Americans who aren’t wearing face masks, especially in large crowds, are increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. (There are claims that his first comment was taken out of context, which you can read further here.) On January 14, 2020 the World Health Organization tweeted that “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” In an April 2, 2020 report the World Health Organization wrote, “COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from symptomatic people to others who are in close contact through respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons.” By pointing out these contradictory claims, we aren’t trying to undermine the scientific community, we’re simply observing that it still seems like we don’t know enough about the virus. This lack of knowledge is what leads to two vantage points of the recent uptick in infections. Because we don’t know enough, one group of people questions protocols that led to the ruination of businesses, mass lay-offs, and lost time in schools for our younger generations. This group questions why we sacrificed these things and more for what may end up being the “flu times two”. Keep in mind, over the course of 2017-2018, 80,000 people died from the seasonal flu alone, per the New York Times. The second group hears this argument, but still thinks it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. They are more willing to isolate, wear-masks, and social distance. At the end of the day, anyone from either one of these camps who claims to know which side is right with 100% conviction is probably fooling themselves. We simply don’t know enough about the virus yet so we can’t let our lack of understanding be another partisan wedge that tears us apart.
🦅 US NEWS
Precaution or Payback? Tri-State Implements Quarantine Rules
“Travelers arriving to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut from regions with spiking COVID-19 infections rates will be subject to a 14-day quarantine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday,” Noah Higgins-Dunn and Jasmine Kim report for CNBC. As of Wednesday, these states include “Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah, and Texas, he said.” The Fine Print: “People who don’t voluntarily quarantine for 14 days will be subject to fines and a mandatory quarantine. He said the fines will be $2,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second and up to $10,000 if they cause harm.”
- Flag This: It’s hard to tell whether this move is motivated by precaution or payback. “In late March, as New York quickly became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mandated through an executive order that travelers arriving in Florida from the New York tri-state area self-isolate for 14 days. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a similar executive order in late March mandating a 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving from the New York tri-state area.”
Federal Appeals Court Orders Flynn Judge to Dismiss Charges
“A federal appeals court handed a major victory to Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ordering a lower court judge to dismiss the felony false-statement charge Flynn pleaded guilty to during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO. What Happened: “The majority opinion, penned by Trump appointee Neomi Rao, said allowing the case to continue would intrude on the executive branch’s prerogatives to control criminal prosecutions.”
- Flag This: “The ruling Tuesday may not be the last word on the issue. Any active judge on the D.C. Circuit — including dissenting Judge Robert Wilkins — could call for a vote to bring the matter before the full court en banc. The court’s active bench is currently made up of seven Democratic appointees and five Republican ones. But the victory, no matter how temporary, was greeted with celebration — not just by Trump, who called the ruling ‘great!’ but his Justice Department too.”
🌎 WORLD NEWS
“Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was indicted on a range of war crimes charges, including nearly 100 murders, a special prosecutor in The Hague announced Wednesday, just three days before the leader was due at the White House for a special summit with Serbia,” WaPo’s Michael Birnbaum reports in Brussels. “The announcement of the 10-count indictment threw the summit into disarray.”
- Flag This: “The special prosecutor’s office, which is investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs connected to Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war of independence, said Thaci and others had perpetrated ‘murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.’ … Thaci was expected to visit the White House along with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday.” Later on, Ric Grenell announced Thaci canceled his trip.
Scarce Medical Oxygen Worldwide Leaves Many Gasping for Life
“Guinea’s best hope for coronavirus patients lies inside a neglected yellow shed on the grounds of its main hospital: an oxygen plant that has never been turned on,” Lori Hinnant, Carley Petesch, and Boubacar Diallo report in Conakry, Guinea. “The plant was part of a hospital renovation funded by international donors responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa a few years ago.” Here’s the thing, “the foreign technicians and supplies needed to complete the job can’t get in under Guinea’s coronavirus lockdowns — even though dozens of Chinese technicians came in on a charter flight last month to work at the country’s coveted mines. Unlike many of Guinea’s public hospitals, the mines have a steady supply of oxygen.”
- Flag This: “As the coronavirus spreads, soaring demand for oxygen is bringing out a stark global truth: Even the right to breathe depends on money. In much of the world, oxygen is expensive and hard to get — a basic marker of inequality both between and within countries.”
🗞️ BIZ, SPORTS, & TECH
Bayer Reaches $10.5b Settlement Over Weedkiller Roundup
Bayer reached a roughly $10.5b deal to settle tens of thousands of suits with US plaintiffs who claimed the company’s product, Roundup causes cancer. The protracted legal battle has been weighing on Bayer’s stock for two years after it acquired Monsanto in 2018, which was the original inventor of the herbicide.Keep reading.
CrossFit Founder Sells Gym Business
Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, is selling his gym business to a technology executive weeks after Mr. Glassman said he was retiring as CEO amid backlash over his inflammatory remarks about the killing of George Floyd. Keep reading.
More U.S. companies join Facebook ad boycott bandwagon
A handful of U.S. companies pulled advertising from Facebook Inc. in support of a campaign that called out the social media giant for not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms. Keep reading.
📢 PRESENTED BY GRILLAHOLICS
🗳️ FLAG POLLS
President Trump said that people who burn the American Flag should be sentenced to jail for at least one year at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Do you agree? Click here to vote.
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