How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”

Katherine Eban in Vanity Fair.

In early April:

“. . . the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.

Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

On April 27, Trump stepped to a podium in the Rose Garden, flanked by members of his coronavirus task force and leaders of America’s big commercial testing laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, and finally announced a testing plan: It bore almost no resemblance to the one that had been forged in late March, and shifted the problem of diagnostic testing almost entirely to individual states.”

When “effective political strategizing” substitutes for human decency.

Tuesday’s Required Reading

1. What Anti-racist Teachers Do Differently.

“I have witnessed countless black students thrive in classrooms where teachers see them accurately and show that they are happy to have them there. In these classes, students choose to sit in the front of the class, take careful notes, shoot their hands up in discussions, and ask unexpected questions that cause the teacher and other classmates to stop and think. Given the chance, they email, text, and call the teachers who believe in them.”

2. The Tesla of masks. How ’bout it Captain?

3. Take this new and improved personality quiz. Isn’t there still a built-in complication–our inherently subjective sense of self?

4. Democratic ad makers think they’ve discovered Trump’s soft spot.

. . . unlike four years ago, they are no longer focusing on his character in isolation — rather they are pouring tens of millions of dollars into ads yoking his behavior to substantive policy issues surrounding the coronavirus, the economy and the civil unrest since the death of George Floyd.”

5. France bans Dutch bike TV ad for ‘creating climate of fear’ about cars’.

6. Corina Newsome: A birder who happens to be Black.

We’re Too Optimistic?

That’s AC Shilton’s sense in “Why You’re Probably Not So Great At Risk Assessment”.

Shilton closes this way:

“Our brains may sometimes be too optimistic. While that isn’t always bad (going through life thinking constantly about every bad thing that could happen isn’t healthy either), in a situation like this, your brain could expose you to unnecessary risk.”

AC Shilton’s bio* says she’s a two time Ironman finisher and a chicken farmer, so what’s not to like, but I think she gets this wrong. Most people’s challenge lies in the parenthetical note—constantly thinking about worse case scenarios.

Where’s that essay?

Coronavirus deserves attention and we should beat it back through proven mitigation strategies. But I’m not going to fool myself. I’m four months closer to dying than pre-pandemic. Could be skin cancer. Could be someone texting while driving who takes Blanca and me out this afternoon, could be heart disease, could be a tree during tomorrow’s run in Priest Point Park.

I use sunscreen, I wear a mask when inside or unable to maintain proper distance, I eat healthily and exercise regularly, I use seatbelts; but I’m not going to fool myself. I am going to die. The humble blog will be no more. Guessing whether ‘rona or one of the other myriad possibilities is gonna get me, it ain’t even close.

*Screen Shot 2020-07-02 at 10.23.36 AM.png

Dear Adam Silver

Do you really want to restart the National Basketball Association season in Orlando, FL with the 346 cases per 100,000 people in Orange County rising rapidly?Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 10.04.47 AM

Especially when you could push “restart” in Thurston County, Washington with only 78 cases per 100,000?Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 10.02.43 AM

I would be happy to work with your advance team who will find the Olympia, Tumwater, Black Hills, Capital, North Thurston, River Ridge, Timberline, South Puget Sound Community College, and Evergreen State University gyms to their liking. And I have no doubt the players will love the Motel 6 Tumwater mostly due to the outdoor pool and it’s proximity to McDonald’s, Subway, and Lemon Grass.

And then there’s the local golf courses which will be welcome respites from Florida’s brutal heat and humidity. Tumwater Valley is a fine test not to mention Capital City and  the underrated Delphi Golf Course.

Assuming a team is not scheduled to play, nighttime entertainment is no problem. The hotel provides free wi-fi.

Also, unlike Florida, Washington State’s politics are much more in line with the Association’s. The person posing as President even called our Governor a snake, so we have that going for us.

I challenge you to find a nicer place to be in July, August, and September.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday Assorted Links

1A. Coronavirus risks. Know them, avoid them.

“The reason to highlight these different outbreaks is to show you the commonality of outbreaks of COVID-19. All these infection events were indoors, with people closely-spaced, with lots of talking, singing, or yelling. The main sources for infection are home, workplace, public transport, social gatherings, and restaurants. This accounts for 90% of all transmission events. In contrast, outbreaks spread from shopping appear to be responsible for a small percentage of traced infections. (Ref)

Importantly, of the countries performing contact tracing properly, only a single outbreak has been reported from an outdoor environment (less than 0.3% of traced infections). (ref).”

Let’s all go outside. And stay there.

A scientist who writes clearly.

“Basically, as the work closures are loosened, and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments. How many people are here, how much airflow is there around me, and how long will I be in this environment. If you are in an open floorplan office, you really need to critically assess the risk (volume, people, and airflow). If you are in a job that requires face-to-face talking or even worse, yelling, you need to assess the risk. If you are sitting in a well ventilated space, with few people, the risk is low.”

1B. Why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners or cyclists.

“Fortunately, increasing your distance, decreasing the duration of your exposure, and improving the ventilation of the air around you can all lower your risk. And being outdoors generally helps you do all three.

‘The risks of virus transmissibility in the air outdoors is likely quite low in those contexts, although this risk hasn’t been definitively measured,’ Rasmussen said. ‘Outside, things like sunlight, wind, rain, ambient temperature, and humidity can affect virus infectivity and transmissibility, so while we can’t say there’s zero risk, it’s likely low unless you are engaging in activities as part of a large crowd (such as a protest). Solitary outdoor exercise is likely low-risk.'”

This, I think, is a key insight. And challenge:

“Psychologically, different people have different levels of tolerance for risk. For some people, any risk that can be minimized, should be, no matter how small. For others, the recommended 6-foot distance, with masks, and the known decay of both the amount and the infectiousness of the virus — that’s good enough.

‘The people who are 26-footers should know, though, that the 6-footers are not being foolhardy or endangering others unnecessarily,’ Kasten said.”

And likewise, “6-footers” should be as patient and kind as possible to those they perceive to be overly and unnecessarily cautious.

2A. Traffic is down, but 100mph speeds are seen on Beltway, police say.

2B. 18 year-old Canadian sees your 100mph and raises it. A lot!

“Schmidt said when he was first sent a photo of the radar gun showing 308 km/h he thought the officer was joking and had been down at an airport training his laser on planes taking off.

‘This is ridiculous. This is unbelievable. This is irresponsible and I certainly hope this person will not be any position to drive a vehicle for a very long time.'”

3. Spiky “coronavirus hairdo” makes comeback in Kenya.

My Republican Friends Are Right

They tell me life is filled with risks. People die all the time from lots of different things. So why shutdown the economy over a stinkin’ virus.

I didn’t realize their amazing insight until today when I hit the yard HARD. Trimmed trees and bushes. Mowed. Edged. Blowed. Don’t hate me because the place looks so good.

Some of the bushes are twice my height necessitating a ladder. When working on parts of the bushes, I don’t have sufficient space to spread the legs properly so I simply lean the ladder against the bush. “Friends” who sometimes call me Slip because of my propensity to fall while running on ice in the winter, know where this is going. At one point, a bush I was leaning too heavily against gave out and TIMBER! Somehow I survived the fall but not without scaring The Good Wife who came running from the house fretting who she’d get to trim the bushes next year.

A little rain and lasagna later, I was mowing the steep short hill in the backyard overlooking the Salish Sea. Surprise, surprise, I slipped, this time going down faster than a Porsche Taycan. Total yard sale. Somehow, like an elite cowboy, I held on to the mower keeping it from disappearing over the bluff. And even though no one was watching, I immediately bounced up like Marshawn Lynch after a hard tackle.

Fast forward four hours. I thought I was done with dinner, but The Gal Pal requested “one more egg”. Well, of course, but plugging the cord back into the skillet is hard ya’ll. Burned my middle finger. I’d show you a picture, but I respect you too much.

The plan from here is to watch a little t.v., read in the tub, and ever so slowly climb into bed to fight another day. On second thought, the tub requires two big steps, so maybe a shower.