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The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine May 8, 2020

The Week makes sense of the news by curating the best of the U.S. and international media into a succinct, lively digest.

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United States
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48 Edities

in deze editie

2 min.
editor’s letter

By Memorial Day, says Vice President Mike Pence, “we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.” In the warmth of summer, he and other sunny optimists predict, the virus will vanish like magic. By fall, the economy will come roaring back in a “V-shaped” recovery, and the past two months will all seem like a bad dream. Wouldn’t it be lovely? When faced with a monumental crisis, optimism can be helpful—but magical thinking, not so much. It can lead to reckless behavior and disappointment. There is no reason to expect the virus to disappear in May or June or any time in 2020, says infectious-disease specialist Michael Osterholm, who’s been urging the world to prepare for a pandemic since 2005. “This first wave of illness,” he told CNN​.com this week,…

5 min.
easing restrictions in republican-run states

What happened Republican governors across the U.S. took the first steps to reopen numerous states this week—a move met by cheers from business leaders who say extended lockdowns will wreak economic devastation, and by warnings from public health officials that a new surge in infections will follow. The easing of restrictions came as the U.S. passed 1 million confirmed cases—a third of the world’s total—and 58,000 deaths, more than the U.S. suffered in more than a decade of the Vietnam War. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered the most expansive reopening, allowing barbershops, gyms, tattoo parlors, nail salons, restaurants, and theaters to open, with restrictions on the number of patrons. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ended stay-at-home orders and announced that retail stores, restaurants, theaters, and malls can open Friday, at 25…

3 min.
parties jostle over help for struggling states

What happened Democrats and Republicans set out radically different priorities on coronavirus relief this week, setting up a protracted fight over aid to cash-strapped states, jobless Americans, and beleaguered businesses. House Democrats called for $700 billion for states, as well as an increase in food stamp benefits and money to pay for mail-in and early voting in the 2020 election. Democrats are pushing for an even greater expansion of safety net programs; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a national guaranteed income was “worthy of attention.” By contrast, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that any state aid would have to be contingent on a federal law protecting businesses that reopened from a potential “avalanche of lawsuits,” calling it a “red line” for any legislation. States face a one-two punch of increased…

1 min.
it wasn’t all bad

On March 23, 43 employees clocked in at the Braskem petrochemical plant in Marcus Hook, Pa.—and didn’t clock out for the next 28 days. They worked and slept in the factory, pulling alternating 12-hour shifts to meet the soaring demand for polypropylene, a key ingredient in protective medical masks and gowns. The men all volunteered for the “live-in,” and by the end of the 28 days had produced tens of millions of pounds of the lifesaving material. “We were just happy to be able to help,” said shift supervisor Joe Boyce. A coffee connoisseur in San Francisco is handing out free cups of high-quality joe to neighbors and essential workers from his kitchen window. Tech employee Ben Ramirez had long dreamed of opening his own café, and when coffee shops shuttered…

3 min.
injecting lysol: trump’s scientific ignorance

President Trump “has often said he is exceptionally smart,” said Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times, citing his genetic connection to a supposedly “super-genius” uncle who’s a scientist. But his musings last week on alternative treatments for Covid-19 did not make Trump sound very smart; in fact, they created “near-universal public alarm.” At one of his painful-to-watch coronavirus briefings, an excited Trump hailed research showing the coronavirus’ vulnerability to sunlight and household disinfectant. To the visible discomfort of coronavirus adviser Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump wondered what would happen if “you brought the light inside the body…either through the skin or in some other way,” and if disinfectant could be used to clear Covid-riddled lungs “by injection inside, or almost a cleaning.” Of all the “head-snappingly stupid things” Trump has…

1 min.
good week/bad week

Good week for: Abstinence, with news that the incidence of STDs in New York City has plunged 80 percent since the start of the pandemic. “That’s what social distancing will do,” said Dr. Kris Bungay of the Gotham Medical Group. Making lemonade, with the launch of ThePub.ie, a “virtual pub” set up by the owners of an actual pub in Dublin so that the Irish can re-create their locals. “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean anti-social,” said co-founder Sebastien Conway. National sacrifice, after Belgians were asked to eat french fries twice a week to help shrink a 750,000-ton glut of potatoes caused by the pandemic’s impact on food exports. If Belgians comply, said agriculture minister Hilde Crevits, “we can avoid seeing excellent food, for which our farmers have worked so hard, being lost.” Bad…