Hygiene Theater

Derek Thompson with a winning pan’ concept.

“Six months ago, I wrote that Americans had embraced a backwards view of the coronavirus. Too many people imagined the fight against COVID-19 as a land war to be waged with sudsy hand-to-hand combat against grimy surfaces. Meanwhile, the science suggested we should be focused on an aerial strategy. The virus spreads most efficiently through the air via the spittle spray that we emit when we exhale—especially when we cough, talk loudly, sing, or exercise. I called this conceptual error, and the bonanza of pointless power-scrubbing that it had inspired, ‘hygiene theater.'”

Note to the Briggs Y pool lifeguards. . . you can prob chill with the hygiene theater.

How Many Have Died?

Like everything else in the (dis)United States, the Covid-19 death toll has been politicized. Many conservatives claim the death totals have been exaggerated by liberals intent on weakening Trump, which recent events prove, he’s fully capable of doing himself.

One of the more conservative newspapers in the country has completed a comprehensive study of the worldwide death toll. Their conclusion:

“To better understand the pandemic’s global toll, the Journal compiled the most recent available data on deaths from all causes from countries with available records. These countries together account for roughly one-quarter of the world’s population but about three-quarters of all reported deaths from Covid-19 through late last year.

The tally found more than 821,000 additional deaths that aren’t accounted for in governments’ official Covid-19 death counts.”

Not the recorded death count of 2 million, 2.8 million. Because it’s the Wall Street Journal, I’m sure the death count deniers’ false claims will cease and we’ll see a corresponding rise in empathy for the deceased and their families.

Christianity Post Covid-19

Michael Luo of The New Yorker explains how COVID-19 has held a mirror to Christianity, just as the epidemics of the past did.

Luo contrasts the early Christians’ courageous and inspiring collective witness during pandemics with the contemporary Church’s Covid-19 response.

“For years, the church in America has been in retreat, in cultural influence and in numbers. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, in 2019, sixty-five per cent of Americans identified as Christians, down twelve per cent from the previous decade; meanwhile, the numbers of the religiously unaffiliated have grown to twenty-six per cent. The co-opting of white evangelicalism by Republican politics helps to explain the confrontational attitude of conservative Christians, but so does the fear of many believers that they are losing their place in a secularizing America. A pluralistic society needs to insure that people of faith, as well as those without any faith, have a role in the public square. But the defiance of the church during the pandemic has come with a cost. The pandemic in 2020 has held a mirror to Christianity, just as the epidemics of antiquity did, but today’s reflection carries the potential to repulse rather than attract. Once the vaccine is widely distributed next year, the church, along with the rest of society, will begin to move on. Yet the world will not be as it was. Churches will have to reckon not only with whether their congregants will return in person, but with how much their collective witness––the term Christians use to describe their ability to point to Jesus in their lives––may have been diminished.”

Monday Required Reading

1A. These are the best (and most surprising) places to get a draft in a bike race. Important research to know before your next race.

1B. How to keep the bike boom from fizzling out. In Pete Buttigieg we trust.  

“The need for the bike boom to roll on beyond the pandemic is about more than the love of cycling. . . . You’ll literally breathe easier when you start replacing more car trips with bicycles. We’re talking less carbon emissions, less traffic congestion, and a healthier population — the essential ingredients that make people happier and less stressed out. In the World Happiness Report 2020, countries with high bicycle use tend to be among the happiest overall, like the Netherlands (ranked sixth; daily bike use: 43 percent), Denmark (ranked second; daily bike use: 30 percent), and Finland (ranked first; daily bike use: 28 percent).”

2. What to wear to Christmas parties this year.

3. Perhaps he has written more hit songs than anyone else.

4. New data shows residents fleeing California in near record numbers. Substantive reporting from the Sac Bee. Good to know some local papers are still alive and kicking.

5A. COVID-19 and the Failure of Swedish Exceptionalism

“Whereas American exceptionalism is about America’s unique place in the world, Swedish exceptionalism is about being immune to any disasters that may happen in the rest of the world.” 

5B. Younger People Get Vaccines First in Indonesia’s Unusual Rollout.

“There are no good choices, there is only the least-bad choice.”

 

 

 

My Plan To Jump The ‘Rona Vaccine Line

What’s the most effective and humane way to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine given the limited supply? Apparently, the plan is to prioritize the “most vulnerable”. Therefore, beginning immediately, I am going to begin talking about my feelings in a much more genuine and authentic manner than ever before.

Uff da, The Dakotas Are Getting Hammered

Why is that? There are several clues in “Why North and South Dakota are suffering the worst Covid-19 epidemics in the US”.

“Unlike other states, South and North Dakota never fully closed down, with the Republican governors in each state resisting ever issuing a stay-at-home order. So most of each state remained open — allowing the virus to spread freely through bars, restaurants, parties, celebrations, rodeos, rallies, and other large gatherings. Among those potential spreading events was a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, in early August, which some experts now blame for a Covid-19 surge that followed in the region, particularly in the Upper Midwest.

Neither state has adopted a mask mandate, which research shows can help suppress the coronavirus. Based on some national data, both Dakotas have some of the lowest rates of mask-wearing in the US.

Bonny Specker, an epidemiologist at South Dakota State University, was blunt in her assessment of the situation in the Dakotas. “Federal and many state leaders have not implemented mandates or reinforced [public health agencies’] recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus,” she told me. ‘In South Dakota, the governor had the information needed to minimize the impact of this virus on the health of South Dakotans, but she ignored that information as well as national recommendations from the CDC.'”

It would be wrong to politicize a public health crisis of this magnitude by reiterating the “Republican Governors” point. So I won’t reiterate the “Republican Governors” point. 

Bruni on Trump

“It is time, at long last, to learn. To be smarter. To be safer. To be more responsible, to others as well as to ourselves. We cannot erase the mistakes made in America’s response to the coronavirus but we can vow not to continue making them. The way to treat President Trump’s diagnosis is as a turning point and a new start. This is when we woke up.”