The Atlantic Daily: Social Distancing Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

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Social distancing isn’t going away anytime soon. No one knows how long self-isolation measures will remain in place, but public-health experts say it could be several months, or even longer, until large gatherings are safe to resume as normal.

“Degrees of normalcy will likely be won back in the meantime,” our staff writer Joe Pinsker writes. “Come summer, Americans might get restaurants but no music festivals, offices but no crowded beaches, bars with spaced-out seating.”

The spring may not bring such small delights. Instead, this may be remembered as the season many of us spent rooted in our homes, fearful and bored, being forced to reckon with the smallness of our own lives. (That in itself being a place of relative privilege.)

Or it could be one when we learned to love the little things, like the sound of the rain—and to lean on such coziness for comfort amid grief. “What has sustained me during the challenging times,” Isabel Gillies writes, are noticing the small parts of my life that I love.”

Some useful perspective for navigating this peculiar and difficult season:

Denis Lovrovic / AFP / Getty

Today’s coronavirus update, in three sentences:

The U.S. government passed its relief package. Boris Johnson caught it. Trouble is brewing in the southern United States.

What to read if … you just want practical advice:

One question, answered: How is the pandemic affecting the 2020 elections in the U.S.?

Many states have postponed their primary elections, and while we can’t yet see as far as November, we do know that in-person voting, with its crowds and shared surfaces, is an ideal environment for transmission of the coronavirus. A legal scholar proposes a solution for Election Day: “Congress should swiftly pass a law that mandates the option of early voting by mail in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

Meanwhile, the campaign process is changing, too: While in-person campaign events don’t make or break presidential races, they’re pretty important for local and state candidates. Those candidates are facing a whole bunch of unique campaign challenges, Adam Harris reports—including child-care and work responsibilities (many of them aren’t running for office full-time) and a lack of funding for advertising.

This weekend’s Atlantic-approved self-quarantine activity:

Throw a virtual PowerPoint party. We promise it’ll be more fun than you’ve ever had with slides. These eighth graders will teach you how.

What to read if … you’d like to read about something—anything—other than the coronavirus:

The true tale of the mobster who bought his kid a minor-league hockey team

We are continuing our coverage of the coronavirus. View all of our stories related to the outbreak here. Let us know if you have specific questions about the virus—or if you have a personal experience you’d like to share with us. In particular, we’d like to hear about how the pandemic has affected your family life—whether that’s child care, partner relationships, or any other family dynamic.

This email was written by Caroline Mimbs Nyce, with help from Isabel Fattal, and edited by Shan Wang. Questions, suggestions, typos? Reply directly to this newsletter or write to anytime.

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The Ticket: Risking Exposure in Congress

Grace Meng represents New York in Congress. Her Queens district is at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, as hospitals there face an “apocalyptic” situation. She flew to and from Washington yesterday to pass the $2 trillion stimulus package.

After landing back home, she spoke with staff writer Isaac Dovere about fighting against the coronavirus, having to risk exposure going to Washington for the vote, and how President Donald Trump and other Republicans using the phrase “Chinese virus” has affected the people she represents.

The full interview can be heard on the latest episode of The Ticket: Politics From The Atlantic:

Subscribe to The Ticket: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher (How to Listen)

Selections from Representative Meng’s interview with Isaac Dovere:

People have heard about the situation at Elmhurst Hospital. What’s going on? I think that for the people who have seen some of the news coverage, they may understand some of it, but not like what you’re saying.

Today was a really difficult day emotionally for me because literally as we were passing this legislation on the House floor, I got some calls from doctors and nurses who were at Elmhurst.

I had someone start to break down and cry on the phone with me. And it was just really heartbreaking because, he was saying, “We’re scared every single day … We know we’re going to die.”

The president and others have used the term Chinese virus in referring to the coronavirus. What do you make of that?

My first experience with this term was when Kevin McCarthy [the House minority leader] tweeted about it and I tweeted back at him. But more important to me was not the tweet, it was when I approached him on the House floor and I said, “Look, I just want to talk about my tweet. We’re colleagues, I don’t want to just tweet at you.” And he just was not in the mood to listen to me.

I mean, at best he was too busy, but, he just kept trying to walk away. And this was when we were doing elbow bumps and I didn’t feel like I could grab him. [laughs] So it was kind of awkward.

You represent a very diverse district. You yourself are of Chinese descent. There has been some question about how use of the term Chinese virus by the president and by others has maybe threatened an uptick of racism toward Asian people. Have you seen that?

I have heard a lot of stories. My constituents, the ones that I’ve heard from, are really terrified. They are having conversations with me about: “What do our hate-crime laws look like?” “What do we need to fix?” “Should I buy a gun?”

And what’s heartbreaking is that these people, whether they are new in this country or second- and third-generation, they don’t feel like America can protect them.

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Pelosi Blasts Trump’s Coronavirus Response: ‘His Denial at the Beginning Was Deadly’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning, said that President Donald Trump’s “denial at the beginning” with respect to coronavirus was “deadly.”

Pelosi told Jake Tapper, “The president, his denial at the beginning, was deadly. His delaying of getting equipment to where it continued — his continued delay in getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly. Now the best thing to do would be to prevent more loss of life rather than open things up, because we just don’t know. We have to have testing, testing, testing.”

Tapper noted how Trump had previously “downplayed the risks” for weeks before directly asking the Speaker, “Are you saying his downplaying ultimately cost American lives?”

Pelosi responded, “Yes, I am.”

You can watch above, via CNN.

Cuomo Says Trump Did NOT Talk To Him About Quarantining NY, Doesn’t ‘Know How That Could Be Legally Enforceable’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that he didn’t speak with President Donald Trump about any potential quarantine of New York, despite the president telling reporters that there is a possibility that some time today the administration could impose such a quarantine and restrict travel to and from the state.

A reporter asked Cuomo about the remarks from the president about the quarantine, and Trump saying he talked to Cuomo about it. The governor said he talked to Trump about other things, including the hospital ship headed to New York City, but not “about any quarantine.”

“Have you had any indication that that’s a possibility for New York or parts of Connecticut,” the reporter asked in follow-up.

“No, I haven’t had those conversations. I don’t even know what that means,” said Cuomo.

A few minutes later another reporter followed-up, asking: “The president said he’s looking at some sort of enforceable quarantine for new York, New Jersey, parts of the tri-state area. Is that a sound policy from your perspective? Or would you advise against that?”

“I don’t even know what that means,” the governor said again. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable. And from a medical point view of, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing.”

“But I can tell you, I don’t even like the sound of it,” he added. “Not even understanding what it is, I don’t like the sound of it.”

Watch the clip above, via CNN.

BREAKING: Trump Says New York and New Jersey Could Be ‘Quarantined’ TODAY for Coronavirus

President Donald Trump floated the possibility of “quarantining” New York and “parts of” New Jersey and Connecticut as early as later in the day Saturday.

Trump spoke to reporters on his way to Marine One Saturday as he departed The White House en route to Norfolk, Virginia, and blurted out some fairly big potential news, if true.

Reporter: Should anyone who lives in a state that has a governor that you’re not getting along with well be concerned at all?

President Trump: Most of the governors are very appreciative, like I said I just spoke with Andrew Cuomo, I just spoke with Ron DeSantis, we’re thinking about certain things, some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot. New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I’m thinking about that right now, we might not have to do it but there’s a possibility that sometime today we’ll do a quarantine, short-term two weeks on New York, probably New Jersey, certain parts, and Connecticut.

Reporter: Restricting travel from those places?

President Trump: Restrict travel. Because they’re having problems done in Florida, a lot of New Yorkers going down, we don’t want that.

Trump didn’t say how such a quarantine would be enforced.

Update: Trump has since added a tweet to his impromptu South Lawn announcement that he might quarantine the most densely-populated region in the country, saying he’ll decide on the measure “shortly.”

Watch the clip above via ABC News.


Was Fox’s Jeanine Pirro Drunk on Saturday Night? Twitter Seems to Think So: ‘Boxed Wine is a Hell of a Drug’

Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro drew a lot of attention from media observers who thought there was something off about her when she hosted her show on Saturday night.

The former judge first raised eyebrows among Fox viewers when she was 15 minutes late for her show, which was chalked up to “technical difficulties.”

When Pirro showed up, her appearance was slightly unkempt while hosting the rest of her program.

It isn’t clear what (if anything) was going on with Pirro that night, but as clips of her show made the rounds on Twitter, there were a lot of people who became convinced that she was intoxicated. As of this writing, Pirro’s name is a trending topic, along with the hashtag “DrunkJeanine.”