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It’s time to have honest conversations about how much we can socially distance.

Don’t throw parties. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be stupid. But be honest with yourself and everyone you know about how much social distancing you personally are prepared to follow-through with.

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The LA Times is reporting that Los Angeles County has extended their shelter in place order through July. I’m expecting Cuomo and de Blasio to keep extending NYC’s every few weeks, so it’s effectively the same thing. And I think it’s time to talk to your friends and your loved ones and your roommates about how you’re going to see each other and stay safe.

I would love to be able to say “Yeah! We can do it! Shelter in place for the good of the community!” but clearly we can’t.

We’ve seen the videos of parties and the pictures of crowded parks and everybody isn’t built the same way. Instead of sneaking off and endangering people without their knowledge or consent, we all really need to be honest with the people in our lives about how much we’re prepared to distance.

The only advice I have is to build a circle that you trust and you all agree not to venture outside of that circle. It’s definitely hard in a place like NYC where most people have roommates so your circles expand exponentially, but it’s better to know what your roommates and friends are doing so you can protect yourself and your space accordingly. I know both of my roommates each want to see one person. If I also know that that person isn’t seeing anyone else, I feel safer. If I know that that person has open communication with their roommates who are also only seeing one person (and so on down the line) I feel like the damage is as minimal as possible. If the person you want to see does not have that agreement in place with the people they live with, then that is not a person I’m comfortable with you seeing. All the way down the chain — the link should break when you run into someone who doesn’t live with people who are on the same page.

One of my dear friends has two roommates where one is behaving and one isn’t. That’s not a friend I’m comfortable seeing because I don’t know what their roommate is bringing into the house from all their excursions. Another friend has a roommate who only sees one person, and that person only sees him back and lives alone. That’s a closed circle. I feel like I could safely see that friend.

Do y’all follow me? These are the kinds of conversations that will have to be had going forward so people don’t reach their breaking point of No Human Contact and end up at a house party with 50 other people breathing on each other. Think about your friends, who is responsible, who is living with others who are responsible, and figure out how you’re going to get through the summer as safely as possible. And then potentially the fall. And maybe winter! We are going to be dealing with this until there’s a vaccine because this is what the government would have to do for us to resume our daily lives without risking thousands of casualties:

South Korea and the US reported their first coronavirus case on the same day. The population of Seoul is 9.8 million people. It’s a densely packed city with an extensive subway system. Only two people have died from COVID-19. Two. In NYC — population 8.4 million — the death toll is over 5,000. That’s why you need to have these conversations about how you’re going to stay safe and still see your friends, about how you’re going to keep everyone in your home and community safe. I don’t have any science-based wisdom to impart here, but just from a common sense standpoint:

1) Pick a friend to hang out with who lives alone so you don’t have to worry about contamination from roommates.

2) Pick a friend in walking distance. All public transit is dangerous, and getting into an Uber somebody just got out of isn’t all that safe either.

3) Take a two week break. Hang out with those people you trust for a few days, and then everybody agree to isolate themselves for two weeks, which is a few days longer than the incubation period of the virus.

4) When you leave, wear your mask at all times so you don’t potentially spread the virus to strangers. Stay six feet away from everybody you meet. Wash your hands.

Don’t throw parties. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be stupid. But be honest with yourself and everyone you know about how much social distancing you personally are prepared to follow-through with.

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Health

There are more new coronavirus cases in TX and FL than Italy at its peak.

Capitalism is COVID-19’s best friend.

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Back in March, every other coronavirus story started with Italy.

Look at all the cases in Italy.

Look at all the deaths in Italy.

Italy is the center of the pandemic.

Italy is in dire straights.

Italy waited too long to lockdown their residents and now they’re paying the price. 

At its peak, COVID-19 infected over 6,000 people a day in Italy.

italy

So I hope the newspapers and media outlets are churning out endless headlines about Florida and Texas now.

florida

texas

Here in New York, we saw over 10,000 new cases a day back in April because we were unprepared. The government ignored the writing on the wall for a few weeks longer than they should have, and when they finally read it, the response was too weak. The numbers skyrocketed because we didn’t learn our lesson from Italy, and NYC was depicted as the most dangerous place in the US all over cable news. Friends and family from across the country asked me about bodies piling up and outdoor hospitals.

But we got it under control. We’re under 400 new cases a day. NYC has a <1% infection rate. I don’t know how long these numbers will last now that the city is opening up again, but everyone on the subway is wearing a mask, restaurants are taking social distancing seriously with their outdoor seating arrangements, and testing is free and widely available.

If you live in Texas or Florida (or anywhere really), you have to be upset at your government for not learning from New York the way we didn’t learn from Italy. In Italy, the peak was March 20th. In New York, the peak was April 14th. We had less than a month for the situation to settle in. The rest of the country has had three and a half since Italy, and two and a half since New York.

There is no excuse. None of this had to happen and the onlyreason the caseloads in Florida and Texas almost four months after we knew exactly what would happen are now higher than the peak caseload was in Italy is money. The federal government doesn’t want to give it to you to keep you safe and local government wants you to go out and generate it to keep the most abusive segments of the population happy.

Capitalism is COVID-19’s best friend.

 

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US hits record for new coronavirus infections.

When we decided to flatten the curve, someone should have specified horizontally or vertically, because we’re going straight up at this point.

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Across the United States, 38,115 new infections were reported by state health departments on Wednesday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 34,203 set on April 25. Texas, Florida and California led the way, with all three states reporting more than 5,000 new cases apiece.

Three states — California, Florida and Oklahoma — reported record highs in new single-day coronavirus cases, while hospitalizations hit a new peak in Arizona, where intensive care units have quickly filled.

(cont. Washington Post)

** Quick note about the Washington Post. Most of their articles are behind a paywall but they’ve made COVID-19 information free. If you want to keep up with developments, you can subscribe to their coronavirus newsletter.

Not much to add here, but I want to drop two graphs, because words are cute, but everybody can tell UP from DOWN on a picture.

corona

I showed this graph to a Pandemic Denier (imagine believing that concern over a whole virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people is just the result of shock journalism and fake news!) and his immediate response was “The US has way more people than any of those countries…”

I don’t have the bandwidth to explain how “cases per million” is not the actual number of cases, but the cases in relation to population because I don’t get paid to teach anybody 6th grade math. So I just hit him with this graph.

coronavirus eu

The population of the European Union is 446 million.
The population of the United States is 328 million.

Of course the next argument from all of them is “but the US is doing WAY more tests than every one else.”

Fine. Let’s just say we are leading the world in coronavirus testing because I’m tired. There’s a pandemic going on and we’re having a week of 90 degree weather in NYC. I’m too irritable to go back and forth with anyone.

Are we doing seven times as much testing as the European Union? If you’re a person truly believes the US is really at the forefront of testing (when there are people around the country who only have one testing site that’s only open to essential workers and only available if you have insurance), do you really think we’re doing seven times as much testing, because we definitely have seven times as many new infections daily.

And you know what? Fine. Believe that too. I accidentally bought the wrong kind of cheese today for my chicken parm and I couldn’t find the leave in conditioner I like for my twistout so, like I said, I’m too irritable to go back and forth with anyone.

The number of tests we’re doing relative to anyone else wouldn’t account for an upward swing here and a steady pace elsewhere.

Let’s say the EU does 10 tests today with 1 positive result. Tomorrow, the EU does 10 tests again, with 1 positive result. That’s flat. The curve is flat. They don’t have more infections one day than the day before.

Let’s say the US does 70 tests today (seven times as many as the EU, because these people believe we’re at the forefront of testing…) with 7 positive results. Tomorrow, the US does 70 tests again, but with 9 positive results. That’s an upward curve because we have more infections one day than the day before.

It’s as simple as that. Up is up. Down is down. Some numbers are bigger than other numbers. The US trajectory is skyrocketing and it’s even more embarrassing when you compare it to the European Union. When we decided to flatten the curve, someone should have specified horizontally or vertically, because we’re going straight up at this point.

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Health

Federal government to halt funds for COVID-19 testing.

We have a President who thinks the numbers make him look bad so he wants less people to get tested.

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Congratulations everyone! We beat coronavirus! At least, that’s what I would assume since the federal government will no longer offer support and funding for coronavirus testing sites after June 30th.

Half the country is experiencing spikes in COVID-19 infections after reopening earlier than any scientist would recommend. We’re not on the precipice of a second wave because we never hit a valley after the first wave. If you don’t live in NYC/the Northeast, Seattle, or California, your area saw a steep increase in coronavirus infections followed by a slower increase, but that’s it. There was no downward trend in the United States at all, and the only reason the US graphs show any semblance of a decrease is because half of the initial infections were in NYC and NYC did a better-than-average job of flattening the curve, so our results brought brought down the rest of the country.

Now we have a President (and his braindead supporters in every comment section all over the internet) saying we should be doing less testing because more tests equal more infections.

So, great news for potential teenage moms everywhere: if we sell fewer pregnancy tests, there will be fewer babies!

As we’ve seen the past four years, nobody in government will stand up to the idiocy of this barely sentient sack of pepperoni juice, so now areas of the country will see even less testing when they desperately need more.

The federal government will stop providing money and support for 13 sites across five states which were originally set up in the first months of the pandemic to speed up testing at the local level.

Local officials and public health experts expressed a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror at the decision to let federal support lapse.

Texas will be particularly hard hit by the decision. The federal government gives much-needed testing kits and laboratory access to seven testing sites around Texas. But in the state, which is seeing new peaks in cases, people still face long lines for testing that continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand.

(cont. TPM)

I was talking about “social bubbles” on Facebook with some of my friends earlier this morning, and I hadn’t realized how parts of the country are in such different places with regard to testing. She lives in Northern Michigan. I live in NYC. My social bubble probably has about 10 people in it, because both of my roommates have partners and we have a few other people we hang out with. I feel safe with that, because testing is so readily available here. It’s free, the lines are short (if there’s any line at all), and the NYC website encourages everyone to get tested, and to get re-tested if you think you might have been exposed:

corona

And there are testing sites everywhere. Everybody is in walking or biking distance to a site (and the subway is empty and clean, which means the train is perfectly safe), so we get tested a few days before hanging out or a few days after a protest, and it’s peace of mind to go along with our usual social distancing protocol.

That’s a far cry from the situation in Michigan.

corona2

There should be a federal program for widespread, free, and fast coronavirus testing. We should all be able to drive up to a window, have someone collect a sample, and get a text later that day that says positive or negative. When someone has a positive test result, we should be able to trace the origin of that infection, and we should be able to isolate that person away from the public. We should have access to all of this without insurance.

Instead, we have a President who thinks the numbers make him look bad so he wants less people to get tested.

Wear your masks. Wash your hands. We have a long road ahead of us.

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