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Washington Report: April 17, 2020 … “31 Days of Pain”
17 Apr 2020

Washington Report: April 17, 2020 … “31 Days of Pain”

31 Days Of Pain … PPP Refill? … Trump To Local Governments:  Figure It Out … How To Accelerate Unrest … Regardless Of What You’ve Heard. It’s Not the Flu. … Generation V For Virus … Dems Improbable Win In WI … Barack Obama Endorses Biden … and other news of the week.
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners
P.S. 200 Days Till Election Day (Nov 3, 2020)

The past month’s tolls: More than 30,000 dead Americans, at least 671,000 coronavirus cases reported and 22 million people have lost their jobs.

Why it matters: The return to normal after the coronavirus lockdown is going to be slow and painful. (Axios)


PPP Refill?

Politico “There has been some movement on a deal to refill the PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM, the main federal vehicle for loans to small businesses walloped by the coronavirus crisis. SOME INITIAL ITEMS IN THE MIX … Nothing is final! Republicans are now aiming for more than $251 billion. Dems are moving toward getting money for community banks … The deal is almost certain to include a refresh of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), another disaster loan program. The deal looks like it will have $75 billion for hospitals. … REPUBLICANS are holding firm against any money for state and local governments in this package. But this could be revisited.”

Trump To Local Governments:  Figure It Out

“You’re going to call your own shots,”
– Trump told governors on their Thursday conference call, according to a recording obtained by WaPo.
WaPo “The vague guidelines unveiled Thursday evening by President Trump for how governors can reopen local economies do not include any implementation dates, but they do say states should first have a “robust testing system in place for at-risk health care workers.” Yet there remains no national testing strategy for the coronavirus, only a patchwork of programs being administered with limited guidance. Trump put the onus on local governments to figure it out. “

Listen To Trump or Experts? Move Quickly or Slowly?

(H/T JR For analogy) Based on what President Trump said… he won’t hold them back if they want to reopen their states for business. ⚡ Protests by people who want to get back to work have broken out in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, per USA Today. Demonstrators drove thousands of vehicles — many draped with protest signs — to Michigan’s state Capitol, … loudly protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order,” the Detroit Free Press reports from Lansing. The state of play: If Trump starts urging parts of the country to get back to work, his supporters in those states will want to follow his lead.

What’s next: Multiply what’s happening now by several times, and we could see major clashes across the country between cautious governors and angry, impatient constituents. This will likely be exacerbated as red states, including Texas, start coming back online.

How To Accelerate Unrest

Axios “Today President Trump began fueling reopening protests in some blue states, Tweeting: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN! … LIBERATE MINNESOTA! … LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Why it matters: Governors have in place strong public health restrictions and are likely to want to continue to hold the line for some time to come. NOTE: This was a position Trump publicly supported as recently as yesterday.

Ingredients For Mayhem

  • Deepening economic desperation: 22 million have filed for jobless benefits, with a second wave of layoffs already underway. More help appears to be coming for small businesses, but Congress is still haggling.
  • Conservative TV and talk radio influencers encouraging protests: “People instinctively know now that however bad this is, it isn’t as bad as they all told us,” Rush Limbaugh told listeners yesterday.
  • Early signs of big conservative donor money getting behind the protests: In Michigan, one protest was planned by the political adviser to the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, WashPost reports.
  • Police departments are stressed: Hundreds of police officers have been quarantined for coronavirus exposure, with some dying. Multiple departments nationwide have reported issues getting PPE.
Pew “New polling from Pew Research Center suggests public support is strongly on the side of social distancing.
  • 66% of Americans are concerned state governments will lift restrictions too quickly.
  • 73% say the worst is yet to come from the outbreak.

The bottom line: It surely can’t be helping individuals and businesses to have the yo-yo effect created by federal and state officials openly arguing about timelines that involve life and death.”


CEO’s Resist Fast ReOpening

Axios There’s pent-up demand for haircuts and other services, but many Americans say they’ll stay home until they feel it’s safe, even though President Trump and some red-state governors are antsy to reopen.”

“If people don’t have confidence that it’s safe to go out and go to your job or go to a store, they’re just not going to go regardless of what the government says,” Josh Bolten, CEO of the Business Roundtable, which represents CEOs of America’s biggest corporations, told CNBC. One stark warning: “If we don’t get this right, the public health and economic costs could become even more daunting,” Suzanne Clark, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO, wrote in a USA Today op-ed.

Virus Testing Plateau

Nationwide testing capacity steadily increased for weeks, but has appeared to hit a wall around 145,000 tests a day. Several factors are holding it back:
  • Supply shortages.
  • Poor coordination: Some labs have excess testing capacity, but aren’t being sent more samples.
  • Rules: Many states have limited testing to the sickest patients.”

Regardless Of What You’ve Heard, It’s Not Like The Flu. Not Like Car Crashes. Not Like …

Deep Dive …The New Atlantis (A Journal of Technology and Society)  “How deadly is Covid-19 compared to seasonal flu, past pandemics, or car crashes? To offer context, we have produced two charts showing coronavirus deaths along with deaths (per capita) from other common causes in the past to which the disease has recently been compared. One chart shows deaths for the United States, the other for New York, the state hardest hit.

Note that the data sets begin at different points in the year (as marked on the left). Also note that the figures shown here are for new deaths each week, not for cumulative deaths.

The Deaths in Context

(New Atlantis continued …) Even with the limits of the available data, some reasonable conclusions about how Covid-19 compares to other causes of death — and about what these comparisons often miss:

  • Different time scales: We are still early in this pandemic. It has only been a few weeks since the first reported U.S. deaths. Comparing these deaths to, say, an entire year of deaths from car crashes or influenza is not meaningful.
  • A spike: Perhaps the most noticeable feature of both graphs is the Covid-19 spike — the rapid growth in deaths since the pandemic began. Car crashes, by contrast, show little variation week to week. And even compared to past flu seasons or pandemics, the rate of increase in Covid-19 deaths is markedly faster.
  • A leading cause of death in the United States: Several weeks ago, coronavirus deaths were few in comparison with other causes. But last week, reported U.S. Covid-19 deaths were just shy of the normal rate from heart disease, usually the leading cause of death.
  • More than all typical deaths in New York: Strikingly, in the state of New York, the number of people who died with coronavirus last week was more than any other cause of death — in fact, more than twice the average number who die in a week from all causes combined. In the worst week of the 2017-18 flu season, New York saw 218 deaths from flu and pneumonia and 2,098 total from all causes. Last week, the state saw 4,694 reported Covid-19 deaths alone. These figures must put to rest the “dying with but not of” line of skepticism. The idea that this many people would have died anyway even without Covid-19 is simply not credible.

Perhaps a better way to state the danger posed by the coronavirus is just that we cannot easily compare it to any precedent in recent history. Nor do we need to dispute projections about future deaths to recognize what has happened already. Amid the statistical noise is a powerful signal. The question is whether we choose to see it.

Coming:  At-Home College Admissions Tests

AP “A digital, at-home version of the SAT is being prepared in case schools remain closed into the fall, the College Board said as it announced the cancellation of June testing. The home version would rely on “remote proctoring,” which could include using the computer’s camera and microphone to monitor movement or talking. The rival ACT will launch an at-home option in late fall or early winter.”

Generation V For Virus

Axios “The pandemic may be a defining experience for Generation Z (basically 23 and younger) that shapes its outlook for decades to come. “COVID-19 is going to be the 9/11 of the Gen Z generation,” said Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics. [The] founder of the polling organization College Reaction, told Axios: “It’s how this generation will experience the notion of “profound trauma shared by the community.”
  • Some will lose grandparents, parents, siblings and friends.
  • Some may shake hands less or be more aware of coming within six feet of strangers.
  • Sex aside, kissing’s a riskier act in a respiratory pandemic.
  • Young people’s lives could become even more embedded with technology because school has shifted online and there’s more remote work.
  • Rites of passage are on hold. Graduations are cancelled. So are proms, team sports, weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceañeras, college visits, spring breaks, summer vacations and sleepovers.
  • Isolation, fear and uncertainty could exacerbate mental health concerns.”

College Students

Three in four college students who secured internships or post-graduate work (822 surveyed, margin of error: ± 3.4%) have seen those plans thrown into flux by the coronavirus pandemic, from a College Reaction poll. Half of those whose plans have been upended say they’ve been canceled. The other half say they’ve been delayed or made remote. Why it matters: The summers between college years are key for the new generation of workers to gain valuable experience and contribute to the economy — and many use the summers to earn money to pay tuition. Missing out could send scores of young people deeper into debt or set them back when they graduate and enter the workforce.
  • 77% of students say distance learning is worse or much worse than in-person classes.
  • 90% say they are concerned about the economy and the job market.
  • 51% say they are experiencing mental health distress

New Right Wing Target: Bill Gates

NYT’s “In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates warned that the greatest risk to humanity was not nuclear war but an infectious virus … That speech has resurfaced in recent weeks with 25 million new views on YouTube — but not in the way that Mr. Gates probably intended. Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world’s richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system. …

“In posts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of Covid-19, as a profiteer from a virus vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population. … Misinformation about Mr. Gates is now the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods tracked by Zignal Labs.”

Which Masks To Wear?

NYT “Face masks have become an emblem in the fight against the coronavirus, with officials in the United States and elsewhere recommending — and in some cases requiring — that people wear them to help slow the spread of the deadly outbreak. CLICK HERE to read about …  the types of masks you might encounter, how they work, what to consider when making your own and the level of protection they could provide.

The Virus Transformed How Americans Spend Their $$

NYT “In a matter of weeks, pillars of American industry essentially ground to a halt. Airplanes, restaurants and arenas were suddenly empty. In many states, businesses deemed nonessential — including luxury goods retailers and golf courses — were ordered closed. “This is the sharpest decline in consumer spending that we have ever seen.”.  For Chart Nerds: Click Here.

Democrats Improbable Victory In Wisconsin

The Atlantic “The conditions for last week’s election in Wisconsin were stunning. After weeks of Democratic leaders (ultimately unsuccessfully) trying to postpone the election, after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, leaving Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee, after in-person voting concluded on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 outbreak and with drastically scaled-back polling sites, Democrats got a similarly stunning political win.

The far more consequential race was the judicial election, and Judge Jill Karofsky’s defeat of Trump-endorsed, incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly [by nearly 11 points] gave Democrats an important victory—delayed by nearly a week as a deluge of absentee ballots was counted—in what was essentially a trial run for the November election in the closely divided swing state.
In the days leading up to last Tuesday’s vote, Democrats had done all they could to call off in-person balloting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, either by switching to an all-mail election or by postponing the vote until June. The Republican Legislature rebuffed them at every turn, insisting that the election go on as scheduled, even if it meant voters would have to risk their health—and violate a statewide stay-at-home directive—to cast a ballot at the few polling places that had enough workers to staff them. (In Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, just five out of 180 polling places were open.) When Democratic Governor Tony Evers issued a last-minute executive order to postpone the election, Republicans persuaded both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to block him.”
Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, called the result a “clarion call” to the Republican Party and the White House. “Wisconsin sends a message: This will not be the election you think it will be,” Mr. Steele said. “The danger is greater for Republicans because of what they tried to do with the Wisconsin campaign — to force the vote. To put an arm of protection around their candidate for Supreme Court — and then to have that wiped out handily by the Democrats.”

“Wisconsin is now in play in a big way,” he said.

Campaign 2020

Back Together Again

BGov “President Obama has said he’ll work his tail off for the Democratic nominee, and started [last Tuesday] with a video endorsement of his former vice president, Joe Biden. Obama aides pointed to his 2018 political activity as a playbook for what’s to come. For the midterms, he held regular fundraisers for each of the party committees, and held rallies for House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates in 11 states. Watch for: Obama will let the Biden campaign determine how he can be of most value.”

Job (Dis)Approval

Gallup “Trump’s job approval rating dropped six percentage points, to 43%. The six-point decline is the sharpest drop Gallup has recorded for the Trump presidency so far. Congress, meanwhile, may be enjoying a rally of its own. Currently, 30% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, up from 22% in early March.


‘Coronavirus Could Complicate Trump’s Path To Re-election”‘ Politico “Trump’s campaign is concerned about losing support in several key swing states, particularly Florida and Wisconsin, according to five current and former campaign staffers who spoke to The Associated Press … There are also growing worries about Arizona and Pennsylvania. There is no better example of the altered map confronting Trump than Michigan.”

Measuring The Drapes

WaPo ‘Biden says he’s already choosing a presidential transition team.” … “Discussions are underway about the prospect of elevating some White House offices to Cabinet-level positions, Biden said. Among those that will be under consideration for the Cabinet: The Office of Science and Technology Policy; the global health security pandemic office; and a separate climate change operation that ‘goes beyond the EPA,’ he said. … “Pre-election cabinet announcements would be highly [unusual]. But the possibility reflects a campaign trying to project competence and preparedness, qualities it hopes will contrast with Trump.”

Anything Happen While I Was Gone?

Axios “U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir returned today from the International Space Station to a drastically changed world after more than half a year in space. Meir’s 205 days in space included the first three all-women spacewalks with crewmate Christina Koch, who returned in February. Meir landed, along with NASA colleague Andrew Morgan and Russian Oleg Skripochka, in the steppes of Kazakhstan, in a Soyuz landing capsule under a striped orange-and-white parachute, AP reports. The space crew, heading for quarantine, smiled as they talked to medical experts wearing masks.”

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