Trump And Southern Governors Team Up To Kill Republican Voters

The New York Times is out with another set of jaw-dropping cell phone data. This time, the analysis addresses, on a county by county basis, when various areas reduced their average travel below two miles a day. When I saw the map, it immediately looked to me like the map for the 2016 presidential election results. Because the areas where people still had not curtailed travel by March 26 were primarily in the South, I grabbed that section of the map and pulled a similar cut from a map of the 2016 voting results.

There really isn’t much that needs to be added to this, other than to point out that Southern Republican governors, by delaying statewide stay home orders, allowed control to devolve to the county and city level. The small pockets of blue you see in the 2016 election results overlay almost perfectly on the pockets which shut down despite the lack of action by Republican governors. My little island of blue, Alachua County, stands out nicely in north central Florida. Note also how isolated the Birmingham area is in Alabama. This map makes it not at all surprising that Birmingham elected a progressive mayor in 2017.

The correlation is not complete, as I’m a bit stumped by St. John’s county appearing to have shut down travel around the same time as Alachua County. I don’t think they ever did a county shut down, and in fact they didn’t even close their beaches until March 29, after a viral photo showed massive numbers of people on the beach on the St. Johns side of the line at Duval County on March 28.

What the Times map shows, though, is that we have a massive social experiment underway. In the South, red counties have been much slower about curtailing travel (and presumably social contact) than blue counties. According to Marcy’s constantly updated list, Florida, Georgia, Mississipi and Texas have statewide shut down or stay home orders going into effect today or tomorrow. I do hope that the cell phone tracking data collection continues, so that we can see if there even is compliance in these deep red areas. Considering Trump’s early rhetoric and the blather from Fox News, it would not surprise me in the least if compliance is much slower and spottier in these areas.

It almost goes without saying that the longer these areas continue social mixing, the longer the rest of us who are already isolating will have to wait before there can be a consideration of a general easing of restrictions. And, of course, we can sadly expect the death toll to stay high longer in those areas continuing to travel. The end result of this is that Trump’s failure to move quickly on a national stay home order, coupled with red state Republican governors parroting that rhetoric, means that in the South, counties that vote predominantly Republican could see deaths stretching out much farther into the summer than in counties and cities controlled by Democrats who enacted social distancing much earlier.

Update: I am too angry to address this any further than to give this link and a couple of paragraphs:

Hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday, he quietly signed a second order to override restrictions put in place by local governments to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The second order states that new state guidelines that take effect Friday morning “shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19.” In other words, local governments cannot place any limitations that would be more strict than the statewide guidelines.

Locally, it means Hillsborough County cannot mandate churches close their doors, a rule that drew national attention and the ire of the local Republican Party after Tampa megachurch The River of Tampa Bay held two Sunday services, leading to the arrest of pastor Rodney Howard Browne.

Seriously though, fuck Ron DeSantis very thoroughly.

139 replies
  1. PieIsDamnGood says:

    You may be giving the blue oasis more credit than they deserve, I expect a population density map would show a similar pattern as well.

    Not trying to dispute that southern governors have done a poor job, very stark comparison with Ohio and nearby states.

  2. observiter says:

    I’m wondering if the hard-hit areas within these southern red States are predominantly African-American and these folks are being left to die.

    • Duke says:

      Just as the healthcare frontline is trying to save lives these diehard church goers are determined to end their own with gathering together share the hot breath of what they think is the Holy Spirit.

      If they want their very own rapture, it is quite possible many will achieve their goal.

    • Rayne says:

      That may be part of the gamble, especially in states like Georgia where the GOP has only a tenuous grasp based on cheating.

      But the obituaries across the south are going to have a lot of white faces, too. For grins(sick ones) yesterday I poked around in Sebring, Florida’s March 2020 obits. Out of ~42 deaths documented, a substantive majority were white people.

      Can’t tell cause of death unless explicitly spelled out and most don’t — even those that imply cancer could be COVID-19 deaths if the person was hospitalized because of cancer but ended up with a nosocomial infection. We’re simply going to have raw totals to compare — average deaths over the last decade versus this past month.

      • bt says:

        Leaving race aside, the fact that this disease is more deadly for old people means that it’s going to remove relatively more Republicans.

        Not often mentioned, CV19 is a more deadly to men. So again, with the gender gap, relatively more Republicans will be removed.

        If you are looking at a Red State, I would expect those effects would be at work in all parts of the state.

        • CCM says:

          People are not making calculations, they are depending on faith. They are skeptical of doctors and scientists. They believe all events are controlled by God and that Jesus is the great doctor. With faith and hope all is possible. Metastatic cancer on life support? Just have faith. Climate change? No human has a say in the climate, just God. Everything happens for a reason, God is testing your faith, the virus won’t kill you if you do not waiver.

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          Never get into a car that has a “God is my co-pilot” bumper sticker. Don’t ask me how I know this.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s right up there with the rule that says Don’t Buy Goods from a Company that Uses the Bible as a Quality Control Manual.

      • BobCon says:

        I suspect you’re right that the numbers will be so bad people aren’t going to be comforted one way or the other by the numerical breakdown by race.

        I think a lot of people (not saying this about you or Observiter, I mean politicians and pundits) are making guesses as to the impact of this while failing to really think about the scale and length of time.

        If I had my way, every single influential person would be forced to sit and listen as a good communicator walked them through what, specifically it means for so many people to be infected, die, lose a loved one, lose a job, or live in the middle of this.

        And then puzzle out what happens in different scenarios with different outcomes, rather than see everything on a single track.

        You can tell that even a lot of reporters covering this every day can’t do this by themselves — Jonathan Martin of the NY Times White House beat is clearly one of them.

    • orionATL says:

      where i sit, this appears a demogogic appeal to the machismo of male trump loyalists: “what’s with all this whining about keeping a safe distance? who’s afraid of a damned virus – if it even exists?”.

  3. Mooser says:

    I don’t think Republicans can conceive of a public health crisis which doesn’t disproportionately kill Democrats, or at least minorities. They be genuinely surprised if that turns out not to be the case.

    • Jim White says:

      Well, just from the exposure in densely populated areas, there likely will still be much higher overall death tolls in urban (usually Democratic) areas. But the lingering of sickness and death in the red areas is what I’m talking about here.

      • MattyG says:

        It will depend on the infection and mortailty rates by density then. If as it seems access to adequate medical treatment is a significant component that pushes the latter, less populated districts with less access to care may suffer worse – even if their infection rates are lower. And if local GOP governements have responded as poorly as it seems they have, actual infection rates may be similar to denser urban areas.

    • eyesoars says:

      Or they’ll retcon the facts so that it did disproportionately kill poors, Dems, and disloyal Reps.

  4. fikshun says:

    … and with the religious exemptions being given in states like Texas, it will disproportionately kill Evangelical Christians. It’s hard to see this and not think about David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, though what is happening now will certainly be on a much greater scale.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s all God’s plan. But I wish she would share some of it with non-evangelicals.

      Unlike the vice president, the co-pilot has a job to do, which includes stuff like keeping track of emergency landing areas, for when the engines start to sputter.

  5. e.a.f. says:

    Observatory. Regarding your comments. That is what I have been wondering is the trump administration going to leave people of colour to die. When I first read about areas which were not well populated and as I understood it the government wasn’t that worried about them I thought there might be Indigenous reservation towns which were predominantly populated by people of colour

  6. P J Evans says:

    The top map is missing a lot of important information – like how far you have to go to get to a grocery store. Having lived in one of those for several years, it makes a difference when the nearest market is at least ten miles from where you live. (In my case, the ten miles was in the next county; to get to one in the same county was farther.)

    ETA: that county is reporting five more cases this week. The much larger city in the next county has 23 more plus another death.

    • Jim White says:

      Note that it’s the daily average. If you are doing a good job of limiting the number of trips to get food and supplies, the average still goes down if there’s only one or two trips a week and there are several zero days.

      • P J Evans says:

        Generally, when you’re having to go that far, you’re not going to do it any more often than you have to, because it’s time-consuming. It’s also basically impossible to order online, because rural area.

    • Vicks says:

      I agree, the more rural a community the slower the spread and fewer people to spread the virus too, but remember in China they quickly discovered most of the spread was among family members
      My question is, If you have to drive 20+ minutes to the grocery store. How far do you have to drive to a hospital that is set up to take care of a critical care patient? How many other communities will be competing for those beds? How about the ventilators or health care workers?
      What makes these idiots think that they won’t run into the same shortages but on their own scale?
      10 critical patients and 4 beds in a 100 mile radius creates its particular style of crisis.
      As for the politics these areas do tend to be the territory of righteous republicans. (IHMO lower cost of living creates an out of touch bubble that sets the unfortunate standards for the rest of the party)
      The exemption for religious services shows just how unwilling some people are to take responsibility for their actions.
      God helps those who help themselves and all that..

  7. Badger Robert says:

    Have the given up on containment, as leadership, and they are just going to let the virus run its course and try to call it God’s will? I think they want the worst part of the crisis to occur immediately.

    • Krisy Gosney says:

      Every time I’ve hired an highly overt religious person to do a project, I have been ripped off by them. I question whether they put much weight into what they do to others. Also, I wonder how much of insisting to gather for service is motivated by ‘owning the libs.’

      • P J Evans says:

        there’s also “You can’t tell me what to do!” – it’s childish, but that’s what a lot of conservatives seem to be.

        • Tom Marney says:

          P J, I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s basically what this entire crisis is all about. Fate presented the Trump administration and the Republican Party with the opportunity to be heroes at the very type of thing that Democrats are supposed to be better at, and at a most politically advantageous time. Yet, they turned away. Not just Trump, but the entire party. There is no acceptable explanation for that.

        • P J Evans says:

          It goes back decades – but Trmp has nothing else to offer. Even his “billionaire businessman” front is fake.

  8. Mosswings says:

    Indeed there will be higher and lingering death rates in the states who have delayed movement restrictions. And it will kill whites as well as blacks. It will kill those less access to health services, and those with diseases of the impoverished. A good deal will be older whites. A good deal more will be POCs. I wouldn’t classify this as a conspiracy, but more the result of malign neglect. It won’t be pretty. But it’s just the same old social experiment…

  9. Badger Robert says:

    The income effect is going to inescapable. For instance, Vail Resorts furloughed its entire work force.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    The novelle corona virus is doing damage the Vietnam War never did. It has invaded the US, and its shutting down cities. And it is an indiscriminant killer, as if someone was carpet bombing the US cities. People have been watching doomsday shows for decades. Lets see how living it measures up to cinema.

  11. greengiant says:

    It’s not just the stay home “orders” It is the bi-partisan refusal to shut down non essential businesses or enforce social distance needs.
    Social media is full of workers who are fired if they wear a mask, are fired if the complain about lack of PPE, are stuck with a choice of being fired with no chance of getting normal unemployment, ( read red state tactics at refusing unemployment to those “fired” coming real soon now), or getting sick on the job and risking infecting family. Or policies requiring a Covid-19 test when no one can get one until maybe if you are hospitalized.
    The best order I have seen is California’s explicit list of essential businesses. Which takes care of workers at malevolent businesses.

  12. Rugger9 says:

    Two items:

    Let’s also remember that the GOP governors will not report their COVID-19 cases or deaths if they can get away with it. Otherwise they’d be held accountable (maybe).

    OT: it seems the Navy Secretary cashiered CAPT Crozier, CO of CVN-71 because of the leaked letter covering his COVID-19 concerns. While the Navy is getting hammered for this decision, note that good order and discipline generally requires such dirty laundry go through channels first and only then will it go out. It’s not clear whether that opportunity to fix things within the service happened here, but bypassing the chain will get one removed. CAPT Crozier will doubtless ask for a court martial to restore his reputation and maybe find out who the rat was. His fears are well founded, as I recall during my days on the Chuckboat (we engineers had other names for CVN-70) we had a round of food poisoning that went through the crew like wildfire. Because she’s a nuclear powered ship, not every officer can fill in below decks so I’m sure it’s port-and-starboard watches at best which is pretty unsustainable. We see if they need to summon some of us back in.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That was always the most likely outcome. Were the Navy reluctant, Trump would have demanded it. The good captain would have known that. At best, he knew he was giving up his chance to make admiral.

      But he seems to have spoken for every ship captain in the Navy. The US is not at war, these sailors should not die needlessly. A Dutch submarine recently returned to its home port, for example, because of cases of Covid-19 on board, for the very reasons Crozier pointed out. It’s a global problem, and one more test that Trump and his government are failing.

      • Rugger9 says:

        He might have been speaking for the other captains, and I agree with the sentiments. This job is one that normally is followed by a flag rank unless one screws it up. This counts.

        Air-Dales are generally optimistic about their abilities so this was remarkable in more than one way. We engineers did not care much for them, and chasing the wind is a pain in the arse and we’d still get blamed (like when Enterprise ran onto a shoal in SF Bay) for bad things.

        One can tell an aviator by the sunglasses (straight frames), flight jackets and the way they fly with their hands while their bragging about stuff, but you can’t tell them anything.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’ve seen it suggested that he tried going through channels and got no usable response.

    • Frank Probst says:

      I’ve heard different things about chain-of-command here. Some people are saying that he clearly went outside of it. Others are saying that he technically stayed within the chain-of-command, but he sent the letter to enough people that he knew it would be leaked. I’m assuming this means that there was some sort of office that was technically one rung up on the chain of command, and he sent the letter to everyone in the office rather than just the people who needed to know.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Accountability at certain levels is a military, in particular a Navy tradition. So, this may shake out all the way to Seventh Fleet if that what Esper needs to save his ass for failing to fully staff and provide for the deployment schedule.

        Also, USN vessels have had interdiction patrols in the Caribbean and off Central America for decades, always with a USCG officer on board to prevent violation of Posse Comitatus (we’d be considered a deputies in a way but he’d be the one with the badge). This was small boy duty (i.e. destroyers and frigates), not for cruisers or carriers.

        Now given that this is already being done, is there any other reason that the WH went overboard in their announcement of a crackdown than the fact that the political advisers saw a need to distract from Jared’s bungling? I can’t think of any.

  13. Rugger9 says:

    More OT, it seems Candace Owens (recently regaled with her own words by Rep. Ted Lieu in must-see TV) has gotten over her seething about that and is looking to run for something.

  14. Jim L. says:

    I wonder if not allowing gps to show your location would remove it from the study? I live in one of the reddest of the red states and allowing your phone to show location is not at all popular here. Not much change around here.

  15. Peterr says:

    Seriously though, fuck Ron DeSantis very thoroughly.

    Theologically speaking, I think you’ve diagnosed the situation rather clearly, and this fits rather well with the story of the sheep and the goats. “. . . when you do it to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you do it unto me.” DeSantis makes the scribes and pharisees of whom Jesus was speaking look like altar boys.

    After proclaiming for weeks that local officials best know how to handle things in their areas, to deny them the authority to do just that if they believe stronger measures are needed is beyond disgusting.

  16. Paul says:

    A lot of the Southern demographics are a result of food deserts. People have to travel more than the 2 miles being tracked and detailed to get food/gas/etc. I live in the populated area of Upstate South Carolina, inside the Spartanburg city limits, but am still over 3 miles to the nearest grocery store. Perhaps the lack of urban density in many parts of the South will have a positive impact on the final case tallies.

    • Peterr says:

      On the negative side of that ledger, the relative lack of density also carries with it a relative lack of medical services. In many rural areas, local hospitals have been closed as “not profitable” and so traveling for medical care becomes much more difficult. Also, those that have hospitals know that they can be overrun by even a slight burst of COVID-19.

      Finally, I see more than a little “we’re safe here” attitude among rural folks, encouraged by idiots like MO Gov Mike Parson as well as Gov DeSantis in Florida, among others. Small towns can be very communal — think of coffee at the local diner in the morning, or shooting the breeze at the feed store in the afternoon. If you combine this kind of communal gathering with the “we’re safe here” attitude, that’s a recipe for an outbreak. A virus does not care.

      • Pajaro says:

        Religion is a very strong impulse, and for most reinforced from a very early age. Despite all the danger it will be very hard to change this behavior. Friend of mine here is Catholic, as are many here, and he seemed very concerned that Sunday Mass was canceled. Other day I mentioned to him how many virus clusters have been tracked to religious gatherings.

  17. Pajaro says:

    I don’t think Trump and his people are concerned about voters. I believe he will refuse to step down if there is an election or will claim some sort of emergency power and cancel elections or election results, perhaps based on continuing COVID19 epidemic. He keeps alluding to a third term. Who will stop him, the Supreme Court, the Senate?
    Stay at home orders will likely be short-lived in R governed states, issued in bursts as the virus ramps up again. Over the year the infection graphic will look like a rollercoaster ride, perhaps with dampening waves, but still alarming frequencies. Absent any sampling for asymptomatic cases, we have no idea how large the infected population is.

    • P J Evans says:

      remember, he thinks he can do anything, because he can’t understand the Constitution – he may never have actually read it. Legal authorities say that his term ends at noon on Jan 20 next year, period, and if the Secret Service and the US Marshals have to drag him out in zipties, they will.

      • Pajaro says:

        I am not so sure, remember there is a Corps out there that does the President’s bidding, seemingly without thought or conscious: Dept. of Homeland Security. Who would have thought that immigrant children would be separated from their parents and forced into concentration camps. Yet it goes on today. One of the UN definitions of genocide. Another example is Trump’s abuse of classification authority to hide evidence of his many crimes, nobody is policing that. That he’ll be clapped in irons (oh, much to hope for…) the minute he leaves office must weigh on him.

        • Rugger9 says:

          The caging continues in violation of a couple of court orders in San Diego, remember early on when DJT was howling about a so-called Mexican judge even though he’s still American?

      • dude says:

        I also am not so sure. I do not see why the Secret Service or US Marshals would behave any differently than the bailiff to Congress or Capitol Police did when Republicans stormed the SCIF for a pizza party. I would be interested to know if the Supreme Court can order law enforcement to perform a direct action like “Bailiff, remove the defendant.” This talk of being a “war time” President is of a piece.

        • dude says:

          Can the Commander-in-Chief order the troops to protect the White House because it is a national emergency? If he does it on January 19 after the election, is he still protected on January 21st? This President and his party are all about ruling, not governing. They are all about “who’s gonna stop me?”.

        • Pajaro says:

          Per this article:
          “On February 1, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper signed orders directing NORTHCOM to execute nationwide pandemic plans. Secretly, he signed Warning Orders (the WARNORD as it’s called) alerting NORTHCOM and a host of east coast units to “prepare to deploy” in support of potential extraordinary missions.”

          So, in secret these units have been told to expect an assignment or begin to execute the plan.

          Mr. Arkin goes on to explain the several plans for military deployment to protect the government in event of pandemic (we have now) and civil disorder.
          (Mods, I welcome edits, especially quotes).

  18. Areader2019 says:

    Another bit of disturbing data on Florida:

    shows data from digital thermometers. There is a frightening amount of people with elevated temperatures in FL, many probably waiting for test results. This is a leading indicator how bad it will get.

    • P J Evans says:

      I have a friend in NYS who thinks she’s recovering from a relatively mild case – fever, cough, loss of senses of taste and smell. Smell just came back, and she says there seems to be a biology project in her kitchen somewhere.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      The thermometer thing is a bit misleading as they don’t give the number of thermometers when you zoom in to counties or whatever

  19. Duke says:

    Just off the phone with my snobird parental units in Phoenix. They tell me that they can get drive up testing for covid there. Don’t have to have any symptoms. Hope this not a reality as here in Michigan 42yo father finally received a test after multiple visits to the Doctors for breathing issues. They still sent him home for isolation. His wife and kids were refused testing. So back home for the four of them. Families are going to disappear.

    Meanwhile, my folks still think they are leaving Phoenix for a long drive back to Chicago by May one. My mother’s head is in the sand while father’s head is still planted firmly in his composting humanity.

    They are single issue Catholic voters who believe whatever bullshit someone assigns to Gawd. They are the old couple who believe whatever snake oil salesmen tell them as long as the salesmen is intuitive enough to tell’em he goes to church.

    A sales person, who is not a man, gets no where.

    The world is burning and they are more upset about Costco’s hours changing than the pain and suffering happening on a massive scale.

  20. Jenny says:

    Thank you Jim.

    Andisheh Nouraee on Twitter: 8:49 PM · Apr 1, 2020
    A stunning admission of deadly ignorance from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who says he only just learned that asymptomatic people can transmit #Covid19. “[I]ndividuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours.”

    Stacy Abrams would have been a better choice for GA.

  21. Eastman says:

    I agree with you here in spirit, and it’s an interesting observation, but the data you show here aren’t particularly convincing to me. I don’t see much more than an angry, self righteous observation of a pattern. It’s easy to spot a pattern where you expect to see one. To be fair, my opinion doesn’t matter much, and I think you’re probably on the right track about what you’re observing, but this article and the comments associated with it feel gross to me.

    Beyond that, my concern is that weakly supported partisan arguments can undermine more strongly supported arguments. I’m not sure how many “convincible” people read this, but the strength of this argument and confirmation bias it relies on isn’t any better than what I read on Fox news. Sounds a lot to me like “socialist AOC supporters are exhibiting xxx objectionable behavior. Let’s get angry about it!”

    I bet the travel distance margins are pretty similar between these counties, and if you could see the variance in the average it would be clear that many people in “red” counties are behaving responsibly, and many people in “blue” counties are not. My own cell phone data shows me traveling close to 30 miles several times/week because of work requirements.

    Anyhow, I like your work and the site in general, but this pressed some buttons I wasn’t expecting.

      • Eastman says:

        I’m not meaning to troll, and I’m sorry my post came across that way to you. I think we basically agree and I thought I had a useful perspective to offer.

        One of the things I respect you most for is the rigorous journalism that I’m used to reading.

        With that said, I’m backing out and apologizing.

        • Jim White says:

          The post was written in a complete rage.

          No, it didn’t have the level of analysis I normally use. There’s a good Twitter thread from Marcy yesterday going into the details of the maps and discussing some of the underlying phenomena. I still am struck though, by how the West managed to shut down even though there are parts where options for food shopping are even much farther apart than the segregated food deserts in the South. So there is something there.

          And note that in the post I did say I want the analysis to continue, because another of the prejudices I bring into this look is that I think compliance will be horrible in the South due to the influence of Trump and the Southern governors. Of course, if the analysis continues over time, we will have the chance to sort more of those details folks are concerned about.

          In the meantime, we must still face the stark reality that the actions of Trump and his fans in Southern statehouses are directly putting lives in more danger than they would be under stronger regulations for distancing. I just can’t get past that, because the death toll is likely to be unprecedented.

          The survivors can sort the details later.

        • Eastman says:

          Hey Jim,

          I get that. In retrospect I should have recognized the anger behind the post and saved my comment for later.

          I’m fortunate to live in a state with a relatively proactive Republican governor, but there was a period of time when we were still “open for business” while it was clear we should not be. I was also furious.

          I grew up in a rural “red” county, where my mother still works as as a nurse. Because of that I’m sensitive to narratives that paint citizens of Republican voting areas with a broad brush. A lot of what I reacted negatively to was actually the comment section of this article.

          Thanks for taking the time to respond. I agree there is probably something interesting here, and I’m glad the analysis is continuing.

          I’m sorry for having responded to your post with my critical hat on when a simple “I hear you, hang in there” would have been more appropriate.

        • Jim White says:

          No problem. We are all under tremendous stress and our ability to cope ebbs and flows. Thanks for being a part of this great group trying to find our way forward.

      • Kevin Cole says:

        You might at least respond to Eastman’s post with a thoughtful rebuttal rather than using the “T” word. I found his perspective useful.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there “Kevin”. You tried awfully hard to bait Jim White into an argument with Eastman (yes, I bounced the other attempt). What is your abiding interest in that?

          Speaking of abiding, you previously appeared as “Lebowski”. Why are you now sock puppeting as Kevin Cole? Don’t pull this shit. Especially not now.

        • Zadius says:

          And…bmaz has arrived. Not surprising to see the resident jackass who can’t take any criticism show up and insult people. People should be able to have an honest disagreement here without it being derailed dealing with the petty narcissistic injuries to your ego.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If you don’t like the bartender, drink at another bar. Among the many drinks he serves and barrels he taps, bmaz monitors site misuse. One of them is to use more than one name: everybody who drinks here uses the same one. Cheers.

    • orionATL says:

      eastman –

      not all analysis need be numerical. if you live in the south as i do you cannot possibly mistake the air of machismo and in-your-face derring-do from republican officials and loyalists when it comes to heeding warnings about the epidemic.

      • Eastman says:

        That’s a good point. The first resource I turn to is numbers, but you’re right that other methods of analysis are more meaningful in many cases. Analysis of language and history and culture are super critical to all of our world views. Deep down, do I wish numbers were applied to those things too? Somewhat sheepishly yes, but many people don’t think the same way I do, and that is a very good thing!

        • orionATL says:


          thanks. i am a numbers-inclined person too. i have no problem with your initial comment at all. i think folks should be able to express their different ideas, possible solutions, and criticisms. emptywheel usually provides that.

          my comment was based on my observations of endless actions and comments by georgia, s. carolina, alabama, mississippi, texas, tennesses politicians who i am certain are mostly too upper-middle-class to ever contemplate doing what they give free-rain and egg-on their combination of mindlessly loyal and hypermasculine core of supporters to engage in. to me, this “fck social distancing” rap song is pure machismo braggadaccio 🙃.

          republican political leaders are practicing widespread political demagogurey identical to that which trump (no working class guy either) displayed during the nazi demonstation in charlottesvile, va. – the wink of acceptance and approval.

  22. Worried says:

    Another OT;
    I can’t remember a time where the President of the USA, or his family, lobbied strongly for an increase in oil prices.
    It’s all about the DOW, all proclamations are designed to help the DOW and to promote reelection. Good DOW = Trump for 4 more years, apparently.
    Another OT;
    I heard that we should now wear masks, non-N95. Went to Amazon to order. Very happy not to see “temporarily out of stock”. After placing order I received a message that provided estimated delivery date: May 21, 2020.
    Every morning I wake up thinking Wow, what a dream!

    • P J Evans says:

      I ordered three bandanas from a relatively-local surplus store and got them in the same week. You might try that kind of thing. (Mask-making materials are in short supply, also. Unless you want to get stuff in yardage.)

      • FLwolverine says:

        There is plenty of yardage for making cloth masks at places like JoAnn Fabrics (all the little quilt stores seem to be shut down), but the real shortage is 1/4” elastic. Apparently health care workers prefer elastic rather than cloth ties on their masks, but I think those who will accept homemade masks (and that’s not everyone) May find themselves with tie-on masks sooner rather than later.

        • Pajaro says:

          Elastic band, exactly. When I dug out that still unopened package of N95 dust masks (3M) the masks were fine but the plastic bands were brittle. I dug through mom’s sewing stuff boxed about 15 years ago, found a nice supply, still springy. Staples worked to add them to the masks. Another thing that would work is the nylon wrapped bungy cord for tent poles 1/8 in. diameter sold at camping supply places.

        • P J Evans says:

          For the home-made ones, I’ve seen elastic hair-ties recommended – they come in sizes, and the ones for thick/heavy hair should do fairly well. They’re mostly covered, and a bit stronger than the soft 1/8-inch round elastic that would be the fabric-store option. (JoAnn’s is out of a lot of stuff now. And was last weekend.) For ties, if you can’t get twill tape, try shoe laces. For home use, you can leave the ends on, but for others, I’d recommend cutting those off and tying a simple overhand knot.

    • Duke says:

      High thread-count sheets can be repurposed as material for the masks. I have several large hepa filter upright vacuum bags that I put in between the fold of the fabric.

      • P J Evans says:

        Percale sheets are good for this. You’d want 300-count, I think; they’re a good compromise between cost and softness.

  23. Duke says:

    The stooge Governor of FLA is guaranteeing super spreaders can still gather and test their faith in hate.

    Right now, I think they could revise the range of potential fatalities on the upper end.

    Sports maybe on hiatus and Vegas needs something to bet on. Wonder if a few Of the Senate majority have put their money on an over or under.

    • FLwolverine says:

      I’ll keep an eye out to see if the two large community churches near me begin holding services again. The RC church won’t start services until the diocesan bishop or higher says it’s ok. Likewise the Episcopals.

  24. rg says:

    If churches are exempt, just wait till the universal church of college football beckons the faithful this fall.

    • Duke says:

      Sure there will be football?

      Talk about fantasy football.
      What will America do on Sundays?

      They could add a rule which penalizes lack of a face mask by borrowing from NHL and put the player in a Penalty box respirator for 10 days. Second violation is a nylon bag.

  25. greengiant says:

    The traffic maps show who is leaving home. But they are not going to the grocery store. They are going to their jobs. The question to ask is how many jobs and schools did the states shut down? Looks like most Mississippi schools closed March 16th. In our memories from 4 weeks ago when just stay home started social media was abuzz showing the all highways green traffic maps and commute times that were 75 percent shorter and confusing out of state immigrants deciding where to live. Now we get pictures of empty freeways similar to the pictures taken in China.
    Local and national business interests in virus denial seem to pull the strings in the US. In Washington and Oregon any construction is essential. Gatherings are restricted but jobs are all right as long as a 6 ft distance is maintained with a nod and a wink to non existent PPE. Don’t want to think about how the red states are handling this.

  26. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    A good friend of mine is an MD in Louisiana, on the front lines. He told me that there is a lot of evidence that the spread of the virus in China and the US pre dated January/February of this year. He also said that he has prescribed all of the drugs mentioned in public and none of them have done much good.

    • Pajaro says:

      I read somewhere, can’t find link, that there were early mysterious cases and deaths in Northern Italy about the same time, before January 2020. As it was new, unknown, deaths were likely labeled something else. These deaths continued through February and were above the ‘normal’ average death rate for these towns (sorry for no link saw it just a day or two ago, Twitter I believe). They would have doubled the COVID19 mortality, if attributed.

    • Rayne says:

      That’s a serious claim. Seems like there would have been a spike in “influeza-like illnesses” in some locations and yet the CDC’s weekly report didn’t show any.

      • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

        I agree it is a serious claim. I trust my friend. I didn’t press him on many details, but he based what he told me in part on first hand knowledge/experience. Our communications are short, as he’s kind of busy right now. Something to look at more carefully later when we don’t need masks.

      • vvv says:

        ht tps://

        • Rayne says:

          Need both death record data and likely postmortem samples to confirm. Otherwise just speculation.

          Though genomics analysis now might indicate whether this was necessary at all — the strain wouldn’t trace back to known origins.

      • greengiant says:

        Link to March 26th article regarding the 2019 deaths in Italy with some varied comments.
        It is bad faith to take speculation and then suggest that herd immunity is the solution of choice. About 1.5 percent of all the people on the Diamond Princess are still in hospital over 5 weeks later. 59 out the eventual 700 some odd who eventually tested positive. That we know about. Someday the antibody tests will tell. Meanwhile self selected RNA tests were run on about 9000 in Iceland, and they are doing about 300 a day in Seattle. Getting R below 1, way below 1 continues to be the way to stop a pandemic.

      • vvv says:

        See also,
        ht tps://

  27. CD54 says:

    The right-wing creeps are drunk on success.

    I don’t know whether they are being fatalistic or are just buzzed drunk.

    It’s like they don’t even believe pendulums swing both ways (Science, right).

    Is it an orgasmic rush toward procreation, or is it a naive assumption of invincibility?

    Viewpoints differ.

  28. Zinsky says:

    Thinning the herd. I don’t think it is necessarily political as Darwinian. Nature exacts a high toll on stupidity and members of a species who possess poor risk assessment skills.

      • BobCon says:

        There are a lot of bad applications of Darwin out there. The academic right’s denial of the virus has been driven by a screwed up understanding of evolution, and I hate seeing examples of the misuse of evolution in other spheres too.

      • eyesoars says:

        But they’ll lose maybe 10%, and those can be blamed on all the ‘Dem’ hospitals in the urban areas that didn’t save them — out of spite — because they aren’t in rural (R) areas.

        • Rayne says:

          ~squinting at your logic~

          Sure, sure, those mean Democrat hospitals in New York operating at multiple times over capacity should have done something for those folks in Oklahoma.

    • Rex Wahl says:

      I think the ascendancy of the Republican brand over the last few decades demonstrates there is no selective value in how you vote, at least over a short time span. Natural selection works over long time spans, tune in next 3-4 generations to see.

  29. Max404 says:

    On narcissism, delusion and stupidity …

    The Enduring Delusion of a Chastened Trump:

    It’s hard to imagine any person less well suited to a long, multi-front campaign like this than a man incapable of comprehending the idea of “two weeks from now.” But in some sense, the idea of a “new” Trump isn’t wrong. He is new every morning, awakening into the same sour dream; the future and the past are both gaudy, gilded blanks. When Trump speculated, weeks into the pandemic, that the virus might “vanish like a miracle”—or when he boosts some unproven gimmick cure, or when he attempts to strong-arm a rampaging pandemic into an end-date with his signature hardball deal-smithing, or when he accuses governors seeking respirators in anticipation of a coming surge of political calculation or corruption—he is revealing the only plan he has ever really had, which comes from the only person he trusts, which is that tomorrow might somehow just be different. People are dying behind this faith today, but it goes without saying that none of their names will be etched into eternity. He can really only remember one name, and eternity is just some other time.

    • BobCon says:

      Dave Roth is tremendous.

      It is astonishing that Jim Spanfeller hasn’t been jettisoned yet. The “stick to sports” edict that led to Deadspin collapsing and losing writers like Roth has cost the company uncountable dollars.

  30. Charlie says:

    Not been around for ages as mum became terminal.
    As far as protection of face goes, made a face guard with acetate sheet with ribbon stapled to top edge and tied at the back. Also read about vacuum cleaner bags working well as a face mask lining because stop even the minuscule Covid-19.
    Here in UK, the country has fallen silent with strict stay at home/wash hands scenario in place. Also self isolation for those most at risk – elderly, heart problems, diabetes, overweight and auto-immune issues. Judging from images of his rallies, it looks like a lot of his base fit.

  31. Vicks says:

    About this money the Tump organization is giving away….
    My “guy” at my local bank branch has always been good at staying in touch over the years, and he has been sending sometimes twice daily updates (to his business clients) on the status of the payroll loan program.
    He sent out several emails stating what was needed to qualify and the numbers and information to get together so everyone would be ready to go on Friday
    From early on it was clear that due to poor wording there were questions he couldn’t answer until the banks received clarification from the treasury.

    Yesterday afternoon, he sent out this.
    (I am assuming the content was company approved, but he has been so helpful I am not leaving it to chance)

    Good Afternoon All,

    I have an important announcement to share with you:

    Our team has been working 24/7 to be as ready as we could be. We – like many other financial institutions – are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury. As a result, we most likely will not be able to start accepting applications on Friday, April 3, as we had hoped.

    Once we receive complete guidelines, we will be able to finish the work and launch the application. We hope to have the guidance we need from the government soon.

    You will also receive an email this evening.

    How we’ll alert you when it’s ready
    We will announce when we can start accepting applications in several ways:

    • We will send an email
    • We will tweet at @xxxxxx and @Xxxx
    • We will update

    Please do not visit a XXXX branch or call us. Our branch and phone teams don’t have additional information. The best way for you to stay informed is to keep checking

    We are still encouraging you to be prepared with the following information so you have what you need when we open our website for applications:

    • A Xxxxx Business Online user ID and password – you will need this to apply
    • The date you started your business
    • Detailed information to calculate the average monthly payroll costs
    • Your annual revenue
    • Your business mailing address

    Kind Regards,

  32. Frank Probst says:

    Whelp, we’ve come to another Friday. Do we have widespread community screening available yet? No? Okay, just checking in again. I don’t even remember how many weeks ago Mike Pence said we’d be able to run a million tests in five days. Or maybe it was five tests in a million days.

    • BobCon says:

      What’s becoming worse than the lack of tests is the complete failure to have a credible nationwide plan for testing on that magical day when there are enough tests.

      There is nothing beyond haphazard, location by location, uncoordinated and inconsistent plans. Economic and political reporting still does not lead with the basic fact that nothing goes back on line until Trump can deliver a credible plan, and all of his chatter is lies until then.

    • Pajaro says:

      100%. Yep, months and still in reaction mode. Not even a thought about get-out-ahead-of-it-mode from our leader betters. Planning, what planning? We have an emergency here (stocks are crashing) and nobody could have predicted it!

      • P J Evans says:

        ISTR it’s 243 days – retrograde. (Rotates in the opposite direction from the rest of us.)

  33. Rajan Varadarajan says:

    Why is that no one has shown the obvious headline “52 f**ing senators are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans”

  34. Badger Robert says:

    They were not very concerned, until it became clear that the morbidly obese, and those past 60 years of age, would experience the highest rates of mortality. TV watchers, people who never exercise outside, will experience the worst outcomes.

    • Rayne says:

      IMO we need to be careful about sorting/labeling folks who fit into demographics which have been harder hit in other countries. There’s one area of research I don’t think has yet received adequate investment — the role of gut biome in immune responses. Not every culture has a single gut biome but there tends to be a cultural diet which encourages some gut flora over others. The U.S. has a crappy diet without much natural prebiotic and probiotic content, making a larger group of people susceptible if this crappy diet is responsible for poor immune response. The same corporation-influenced crappy diet may also be responsible for the explosion of diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic disorders (thinking of that jackass Donald Rumsfeld and Searle-Nutrasweet here).

      I’ve been thinking about this after reading two studies, the first of which looked through the body for the highest concentration of ACE2 receptors which is what the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to attack cells. Researchers found the highest concentration in the lungs, which one could intuit from the way COVID-19 progresses through humans. The next highest concentration is in the ileum — the small intestine. There have been cases of gastrointestinal distress reported in COVID-19 cases; what we haven’t seen yet whether this percentage is the same across different countries.

      We also haven’t done enough research yet on how gut biome changes with age, likely reflecting diet. Are younger people less likely to suffer the worst of COVID-19, depending on where they live and their diet, because they retain some percentage of the biome they had at birth?

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve seen stories indicating that white vs whole-wheat influences the gut biome, too. (I’m a whole-wheat person.)

      • Frank Probst says:

        Rightly or wrongly, most of the people who do this sort of research are going to be considered “nonessential personnel”. The number of people who have been sent home from Baylor College of Medicine (where I used to work) has been stunning to me. This is a project where you can just get samples from the nearest hospital, run them through the sequencer, and analyze them at home. But you’d still have to get it through the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and even with an expedited review, I think you’d have trouble showing that this type of research would have an impact on clinical care decisions. It would take a lot perseverance to get this approved and run through the sequencer.

      • Frank Probst says:

        (This is not how I would handle it. I’m just saying that I think that this is the way the system is going to work. I’d green light this in a heartbeat, but I think that a skeletonized IRB is going to be under a lot of institutional pressure to deny anything that gets sent to them that doesn’t involve an obvious treatment.)

  35. Andy says:

    Red State behavior appears to be natural selection at work. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

  36. dakine01 says:

    The 1st case in Kentucky was in my home county & actually developed a small cluster of about a dozen cases including the first death in Kentucky. The nexus of this little cluster was the infected person came back from travels & went to choir practice.

  37. orionATL says:

    the capstone for jim whites’ column:

    there’s a subtle undercurrent of blame going on between fda and cdc. cdc produced a questionable test and fda, under secretary azar, had changed its rules to favor corporate produced tests.

    fda’s new policy:

    fda’s policies on any drug testing are notoriously rigorous and time consuming, for good reason. for this epidemic, the question is why did it take so long for fda to see the light, and only for certain laboratories:

    “… The immediately in effect guidance issued today describes the circumstances where the FDA does not intend to object to the use of these tests for clinical testing while the laboratories are pursuing an EUA with the FDA. Importantly, this policy only applies to laboratories that are certified to perform high-complexity testing consistent with requirements under Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments…” (ed: academic hospitals?)

    the new policy:

    cdc’s bungling:

  38. James Scaminaci III says:

    I just want to add a little context to this travel. I live in the western part of Pensacola. From my house to Walmart is about 2.2 miles, one-way. Another Walmart is about 3 miles away, one-way. To the nearest Publix, a little over 5 miles, one-way. I practice physical distancing, wear a mask, and only go out for essentials. But, my mileage would count against me.

    • Jim White says:

      As I pointed out earlier, though, minimizing the number of those trips will keep your average down if they are pooling miles for a week or so and then dividing by the number of days. It should be possible for most people to keep it down to no more than one or two shopping trips a week.

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