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Reading: Pence struggles to defend the indefensible and please his disastrous boss | Richard Wolffe | Opinion | The Guardian

From Pence struggles to defend the indefensible and please his disastrous boss | Richard Wolffe | Opinion | The Guardian

A little light rhetorical analysis:

The American people I believe deserve credit for the sacrifices they have made for the health of their family, and their neighbors, our doctors, nurses, first responders.”

This kind of piously indignant pabulum is not a new performance for the current vice-president but rather something he perfected as a talkshow radio host in Indiana in the late 1990s. Pence styled himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” which is just the kind of awshucks deception that is so vital to serving as a cardboard cutout behind Donald Trump’s shoulder.

In many ways, this was a three-way contest, between Harris, Pence and Trump. But only Pence cared about the Trump voice in his head. And that astonishingly loud, gasping voice constantly distracted Pence from the contest on stage.

It does not take much imagination to conjure up a world in which Pence is sworn into the presidency just before the people kick him out of office

For starters, Trump… could not shut his mouth on social media for the entire evening. This was of course a repeat performance of his debate with Joe Biden last week…/.

In truth, both candidates were equally matched debaters. Pence dodged everything about climate change. Harris dodged everything about packing the supreme court.

What was unequal was that Pence had to defend the indefensible: a disastrous and preventable death toll, a collapsing economy and a Covid-infected president.

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Reading: COVID-hit Trump back in hospital after drive to greet supporters | US & Canada | Al Jazeera

From COVID-hit Trump back in hospital after drive to greet supporters | US & Canada | Al Jazeera

Political theatre that shows trump still doesn’t get it.

Dr James Phillips, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, was among those criticising the drive-by, which he called “political theater”.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential drive-by has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Phillips wrote on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die.”

People with COVID-19 are generally required to quarantine for 14 days to avoid infecting others and the virus spreads more easily in indoor, confined environments.

“Beyond the ethical, clinical, epidemiological and health implications of this drive by, it shows a dire obsession with showing the public he’s still in control, creating a false sense of normalcy and trying to normalize a highly transmissible virus,” Dr Syra Madad, senior director of Special Pathogens at NYC Health + Hospitals, wrote on Twitter.

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Reading: White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership | Ars Technica

From White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership | Ars Technica

Ars details Thursday’s trump conceits in full, but I’m extracting just the health statements with the hope of spreading them far and wide.

But it was Redfield who worked the hardest to promote public health. Holding up his own face mask, he told the committee, “These are the most powerful public health tool we have.” He went on to repeat an earlier statement, that widespread use of masks for six to 12 weeks could bring the pandemic under control. “We have clear scientific evidence that they work,” he testified, saying they’re “more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” His reasoning was that all vaccines fail to elicit an immune response at a measurable rate, whereas all masks provide at least some degree of protection.

Redfield also injected a large dose of reality when the topic shifted to vaccines. The Trump administration has appropriately begun planning for the widespread distribution of a vaccine as soon as one passes safety and efficacy trials. But the fact that current planning calls for distribution to begin just before the November presidential election has raised concerns about whether the timing might be motivated by politics rather than safety. And there’s clearly going to be a substantial gap between initial distribution and widespread availability.

Redfield decided it was time for the public to hear about the size of that gap. He said initial availability would be in the area of November-December but would only go to high-priority populations like health care workers and the elderly. The majority of the American public would probably have to wait for the third quarter of 2021.

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Reading: The COVID Reopening Disasters

From The COVID Reopening Disasters

This is not just a matter of rehashing old news. The rise of Covid infections at universities, as narrated in Acade, tells us a lot about what we’ve been doing wrong all summer.

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Reading: Blame Pollyanna Presidents When Covid-19 Plans Fail – The Chronicle

From Blame Pollyanna Presidents When Covid-19 Plans Fail – The Chronicle

Look closely at how universities are handling the pandemic: as a marketing point. There is no plan.

As we see more and more outbreaks on campuses, university presidents and trustees will run for cover, and these kinds of rationalizations for what they did and did not do are going to come in a torrent. They’ll blame students first and foremost for breaking campus codes of conduct, and bring the hammer down on them. For example, here’s what Donde Plowman, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, said in mid-August: “We will hold you responsible, and it’s possible that you could be expelled from school, and I will not hesitate to do that if our students are irresponsible.”

But who is being irresponsible here? Many are going to blame the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as it hasn’t provided anything like real guidance to universities and colleges, let alone elementary and secondary schools, to manage risk. We’ve been abandoned by our political leaders as we head into a dangerous period of the pandemic with Covid-19 potentially colliding with seasonal influenza this fall. If we had a real national commitment to testing, many more colleges and universities would be able to test their students, staff, and faculty members with cheaper, faster antigen-based screening tests, and rely on federal support to help them tackle all the rest of what is needed now to keep us all safe.

Even so, if a college’s plan to manage the coronavirus hangs on the behavior of 18- to 22-year-olds, it isn’t much of a plan at all; it’s a house of cards ready to collapse at a moment’s notice. This isn’t to infantilize our students, but to say that a comprehensive response is more than a signature on a campus compact. In states with still-substantial epidemics, there is not much universities can do to prevent outbreaks. There is too much virus, too many people, and too many opportunities for transmission. Furthermore, without testing frequently, outbreaks in this setting will quickly grow out of control — epidemics follow a pattern of exponential growth, and containing them early is key. It’s hard to make the case that reopening for face-to-face instruction can be done in this situation.

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Reading: Preserving a way of life by taking care

From Preserving a way of life by taking care

The Guardian reports on lack of masks and social distancing as students return to campuses. Closing bars early, mandating masks, setting $500 fines. It’s not just students; it’s not just a matter of staying away from non-compliant businesses and situations; infection spills over into the community – especially as communities become complacent.

Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds, has ordered all bars shut down around the University of Iowa and Iowa State. In Story county, home to Iowa State, 74% of new cases over the past seven days were among people ages 19 to 24, Reynolds said on Thursday. In the same time period, 69% of new cases in Johnson county, the home of the University of Iowa, were in that age group.

“It is increasing the virus activity in the community, and its spilling over to other segments of the population,” Reynolds said.

The best word comes from George Handley, campus council chair at BYU:

BYU, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has its own rules requiring masks on campus. Requirements for indoor public spaces in town will help people stay healthy and businesses stay open, Handley said.

“This is actually about preserving our way of life, it’s not about destroying it contrary to what some people say,” Handley said.

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Reading: Transcript: ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview with President Trump | Fox News

From Transcript: ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview with President Trump | Fox News

Telling, all too telling.

WALLACE: No, I’m going to ask you a direct question about Joe Biden. Is Joe Biden senile?

TRUMP: I don’t want to say that. I’d say he’s not competent to be president. To be president, you have to be sharp and tough and so many other things. He doesn’t even come out of his basement. They think, “Oh this is a great campaign.” So he goes in, I’ll then make a speech, it’ll be a great speech, and some young guy, starts writing, “Vice President Biden said this, this, this, this.” He didn’t say it. Joe doesn’t know he’s alive, OK? He doesn’t know he’s alive. Do the American people want that, number one. Number two, I built the greatest economy ever built anywhere in the world; not only of this country, anywhere in the world. Until we got hit with the China virus. We got hit with the virus, shouldn’t have happened, and we had to close up, we saved millions of lives. Now we’ve opened it up, got to go back to school. We’re open. We’ve got to do things. We had the best job numbers we’ve ever had last month. We should have good ones coming up in two weeks. Look, I built the greatest economy in history, I’m now doing it again. You see the numbers; the numbers are through the roof. The Democrats are purposely keeping their schools closed, keeping their states closed. I called Michigan, I want to have a big rally in Michigan. Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Michigan? Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Minnesota? Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Nevada? We’re not allowed to have rallies.

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Reading: Inside Trump’s Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus – The New York Times

From Inside Trump’s Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus – The New York Times

Gobsmacked.

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Reading: Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

From Georgia’s Republican governor orders cities to stop requiring masks

Ars reports on Georgia Gov Kemp’s mandate that undercuts local mandates to wear masks:

Kemp also went on a tour of various cities to encourage mask wearing, but he has said, “we don’t need a government mandate to do the right thing.”

Kemp’s executive order attempts to void rules that “at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks,” the Associated Press wrote. Kemp has declined to impose a statewide mandate for Georgia,

A mandate that declares we don’t need a mandate, used to undercut a mandate to do The Right Thing. ‘Pataphysics thrives in the time of chaos.

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Reading: Cornish drinkers catch a different kind of buzz as pub installs electric fence at bar • The Register

From Cornish drinkers catch a different kind of buzz as pub installs electric fence at bar • The Register

A friend of ours was interested in a 6’ long cattle prod for social distancing.