Where to get contraceptives after your employer (and the Supreme Court) refuses to give them to you

Well, it happened: The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that U.S. employers can refuse to provide their employees with insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act because of the employer’s religious or moral objection. This decision potentially deprives over 126,000 people of the option to get their birth control method of choice through their employer-provided health insurance coverage. If you’re one of the people affected by this decision, you’re probably wondering how you can avoid paying exorbitant out-of-pocket fees for your birth control method of choice, and/or how you’re going to renew your prescription without the aid of your doctor’s office.

Luckily there are many resources available for people who need birth control but have no health insurance or primary care doctor—and now, people who don’t share their employer’s objection to maintaining their bodily autonomy can take advantage of those resources too.

This roundup provides links to a few of the many, many contraceptive resources available online, as well as a brief breakdown of potential costs, any age limits in place for the service, and more. 

Even more contraceptive resources can be found on Free the Pill. Free the Pill is a campaign setting its sights on making the pill available over the counter in the United States. Until they accomplish that, they’re providing a wealth of information on where you can get your pill online.

Twenty-Eight Health

Age: Available to people 16+, depending on state law where they live.

Fees: This one has a one-time $20 consultation and prescription fee—which they’re waiving during COVID-19 if you put in a code provided on their website. Pill packs start at $16 a month without insurance, and you can get Plan B for $30 without insurance as well.

How it works: Fill out the health questionnaire, and a doctor will review it and write your prescription within 24 hours.

Auto refills? Yes. Prescriptions are valid for one year.

Free shipping? Yes.

What else? You can get up to 12 packs in one shipment with this company. You can also add Plan B to your first order. It’ll arrive within one to three business days and come straight to your door. You can also take advantage of their unlimited doctor follow-up messages if you have any questions. They offer many kinds of birth control, not just pills. They do accept insurance if you have it.

Nurx

Age: Available to people 13+ depending on state law where they live.

Fees: There’s a one-time consultation fee of $15, and pills start at $15 a month without insurance.

How it works: You just fill out a quick health questionnaire that is then reviewed by a doctor. They write a prescription, and your contraceptive method of choice is mailed to you. Medications come in a discreet, unmarked package straight to your door.

Auto refills? Yes. Prescriptions are valid for one year.

Free shipping? Yes.

What else: They provide Plan B and other methods of birth control as well. They do accept insurance if you have it.

The Pill Club

Age: Available to people 12+ depending on state law where they live.

Fees: There’s a one-time $15 consultation fee, and pill packs start at $7 a month without insurance.

How it works: This is another one that requires a health questionnaire, but no phone or video calls are required. The doctor writes your prescription, which is then sent directly to your door.

Auto refills? Yes. Prescriptions are valid for one year.

Free shipping? Yes.

What else? The best thing about The Pill Club is they also send you free goodies in your (discreet, unmarked) package every month, so you can try things like new candy, cute stickers, and a self-care product as well as getting the contraception you need. They do accept insurance if you have it.

Alpha Medical

Age: Available to people 13+, depending on state law where they live.

Fees: There’s a one-time consultation/prescription fee of $10. Prescriptions start at $15 a month for uninsured patients, but you’ll have to check on the specific price of the pill, patch, ring, etc. of your choice.

How it works: You fill out a health questionnaire and then message online with a doctor to find the right method for you, or they can prescribe you the product of your choice if you already know which brand works for your body. They write a prescription, and the contraceptive is mailed to you. It will arrive within one week.

Auto refills? Yes. Prescriptions are valid for one year.

Free shipping? Yes.

What else? They also provide things like at-home STI testing and endometriosis treatment. They do accept insurance if you have it.

There are at least 10 other resources outlined on Free the Pill, so if none of the ones above quite fit what you’re looking for, we recommend exploring the matrix on Free the Pill’s site.  

Go forth and maintain your right to do whatever the hell you want with your own body.

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A plasma injection could protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 … so why aren’t they getting it?

The use of “convalescent plasma”—blood plasma from people who have recovered from an infectious disease—has been a common treatment going back for decades. From ZIKA and flu, to Ebola and SARS, direct administrations of the antibodies contained in the blood of disease survivors has been trialed as a potential means of conferring at least some immunity on others. For some diseases it works remarkably well, for others the effect of plasma therapy is less potent, but the trials are an obvious step toward finding a means of fighting a disease when neither conventional treatment nor vaccines are available.

Widespread trials of convalescent plasma are currently underway with COVID-19 patients, and early results of those trials have been hopeful. The primary focus of these trials has been, understandably, on the hope that plasma therapy might provide a tool to help those seriously ill when other treatments had been unsuccessful. But there’s another potential use of the antibodies provided by survivors—a prophylactic use. These antibodies might provide a temporary immunity to COVID-19 for those who have not yet been infected. It wouldn’t be a vaccine, because the protective effect would likely fade in a matter of weeks, but it might provide a safety net for those on the front line of fighting the disease, and those most vulnerable, until a vaccine or better treatments are available. So … why isn’t this happening?

The University of California San Diego is about to launch a trial of exactly this ability to use plasma therapy as a means of transferring “temporary immunity.” The university is seeking donors who have tested positive for COVID-19, and have recovered from illness. Their plasma will be used in a trial targeted at reaching 487 participants, where the participants have a high risk factor ”such as age or an underlying condition” or are in a position, such as healthcare workers, where they’re are known to face probable exposure. 

The UCSD study is part of a series of studies coordinated through Johns Hopkins looking at plasma as both a treatment and a preventative. Those trials began back in April, and recruitment for the first prophylactic trial began in May. Early results have indicated that plasma appears to be safe for patients, and with over 7,000 patients enrolled in therapy trials, the outcomes there appear to indicate that plasma treatment is helpful, though far from a silver bullet.

There do not appear to be any published results from prophylactic trials at this point—which is not surprising. As with vaccines, trials of any prophylactic tend to be time-consuming affairs that are based more on statistics than direct evidence. It’s easy to see failure: If a large number of those enrolled catch the disease, then the trial is unsuccessful. But if participants in the trial don’t come down with COVID-19, or the disease affects only a few participants; is that because the prophylactic is successful, or because the patients weren’t exposed? The ethics of deliberately exposing participants are more than a little shady.

However, there’s a major limiting factor in the trials now underway—all of them appear to be dependent on plasma introduced though IV treatment. This means participants must undergo a transfer of plasma in a healthcare center, which can take at least several minutes, and the number of treatments that each volunteer donor can produce is limited. Even if the trials turn out to be staggeringly effective, it’s hard to imagine that this technique could be used to protect more than a few thousand front-line workers. It certainly doesn’t seem like a treatment that could be applied to millions in advance of an available vaccine.

But there is another way.

Rather than a IV-based treatment, the antibodies in plasma can be further refined and concentrated to the point where they can be administered through an ordinary injection. As the Los Angeles Times reports, a pair of researchers—Dr. Michael Oxman and Dr. John Zaia—submitted a proposal to the government to being a trial of exactly this approach. But their request went unfunded. While $27 million was given to develop a pair of IV-based forms of COVID-19, none was provided for an injectable approach. 

Oxman and Zaia made a second application for a clinical trial at UCSD, for an injection trial that would run side-by-side with the IV-based trial now underway. This trial would have used 5-millimeter vials of concentrated “immune globulin” (IG). This application was supported by other researchers, but it was also rejected.

The Times article collects a number of quotes showing the consternation of other medical experts, including Dr. Michael Joyner from the Mayo Clinic. “Beyond being a lost opportunity, this is a real head-scratcher,” said Joyner. “It seems obvious.”  Those quoted included Dr. Anthony Fauci, who calls the idea of injectable IG “is a very attractive concept.” However, Fauci does express concern that the efficacy of plasma treatments as a prophylactic treatment needs to be tested before an intramuscular shot is developed.

And that seems to be where things are stuck—no one wants to support the development of a shot until it’s clear that the IV-based plasma is effective. And prophylactic trials take months to demonstrate good result. That means that even the earliest of these trials are unlikely to produce definitive results before August or September. Even if the intramuscular shots were given the go-ahead at that point, developing the treatment, determining the proper dose, and setting up large scale production could mean that the shots were not available until near the end of the year.

Which puts these shots squarely up against another obstacle: Vaccine developers. Most of the same companies that might potentially ramp up to produce these shots in quantity, are already betting on development of a vaccine by early 2021. Putting resources toward development of something that is seen as a temporary patch seems like a distraction—or even competition—to the product they’re racing to market. Compounding that effect is the fact that “Operation Warp Speed” has already invested hundreds of millions to produce vaccines in advance of trials. They’re being produced right now. No money is available to produce the IG shots.

If effective, an IG shot could be made cheaply and administered by any nurse or assistant who can give an ordinary shot. If just 10% of those who have already recovered from COVID-19 in the United States could be persuaded to donate plasma, it would be enough for 13 million treatments. Those at potential risk, from doctors and nurses, to nursing home residents and workers, to teachers facing reopening schools, could all be protected in a matter of weeks. Only that solution is not being developed, and short of a deep-pocketed “angel” stepping in to make it happen, it’s unlikely that it will be developed.

But there is another really good reason why it should be—the vaccine bet is far from a sure thing. The first vaccines off the line may prove ineffective, or may turn out to have unacceptable risks. Finding a final solution to COVID-19 may require months of additional trials, and societies around the world could find themselves mired in social distancing and reduced activity for an extended period … That is, unless they have a fallback; a preventative measure that’s easily made, easily administered, and capable of keeping critical workers safe while the bugs are worked out of a long term solution.

Early testing with plasma has found it to be safe. We don’t yet know if prophylactic use will be effective. But IG shots are easily made, easily scaled up, and represent the best known hope for immunity short of an effective vaccine. If someone has a few million dollars to invest in humanity, it’s hard to think of a better place to put it at the moment.

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Zerlina Maxwell on confronting biases and an end to white politics

As the country grapples with ongoing protest and critical policy demands, MSNBC political analyst and SiriusXM host Zerlina Maxwell declares an end to white-centered politics in her new book. A timely read, The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide contends that American politics cannot continue to disregard blind spots around race and injustice.  

Maxwell points to a necessary realignment of the lens through which politics is produced and experienced, challenging Democratic candidates, the political strategists employed to assist them, and the media industry to do better. Directly confronting the often tried and failed tactic of “winning back” white voters, Maxwell argues that ending politics centered in whiteness is a difficult but necessary mandate in the current sociopolitical climate.

“[W]e’re basing all of our focus on this mythical white working class voter in Ohio or Michigan,” said Maxwell in an interview with Prism. “We just have to let those voters go; they’re not coming back.”

Maxwell suggests Democrats should be invested in electoral organizing and expanding an increasingly diversifying voter coalition rather than fixating on reclaiming the approximately 80,000 voters purported to have swung the 2016 election. “Four million people total that voted in 2012 did not [vote in 2016], and one million of those people were Black people,” said Maxwell.

Maxwell continued to explain that turnout strategy is a numbers game. “Math is not my strongest area, but I know that one million is a larger number than 77,000. And it seems to me that if you even make an attempt to get maybe 100,000 Black people to show up for you that didn’t last time, you [win] the electoral college.”

Both in her book and interview, Maxwell talked about the need for a reflective democracy and dealing directly with the conditions and inequities that keep people out of the process, such as widespread issues with voter suppression. Leaning into her experience as a staffer for two political campaigns and analyzing the changing dynamics in the political landscape post-2016, Maxwell focuses a lot on the demographic shift projected by 2045.

Replacing the term “majority-minority” with “non-white majority,” a language shift she attributed to her SiriusXM co-host Jess McIntosh, Maxwell grappled with how to build political discourse and strategy that is reflective of the emerging electorate and demographic shifts. For Maxwell, the media plays a role in deconstructing outdated narratives and strategies.

“There’s just a lack of imagination outside of [a particular] experience. So on the politics front it’s really just math…It feels to me like the obsession with that mythical voter is because the narratives and the conversations that we’re having are driven and framed by people who also happen to be mostly white men,” said Maxwell.

In The End of White Politics, Maxwell tackles the necessity for narrative shifts head-on. Maxwell emphasizes the strategic flaws in traditional decision-making about which voters are worthy of political investment. Like the myth of electability, those decisions are being made by people with vested interests in centering whiteness.

Over the course of her interview with Prism, Maxwell stressed that the fixation on voting blocs that have not supported the Democratic Party in several decades is overlooking the growth of the non-white voting block. Highlighting the increasing diversification of the American electorate, the Pew Research Center released a report in June finding “a more substantial change in the composition of the Democratic Party than in the GOP: Four in ten Democratic registered voters are now non-white (Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other non-white racial groups), compared with 17% of the GOP.”

Maxwell is clear that an end to white politics does not mean overlooking white voters. It means demanding that strategies and political dialogue catch up to the changing political moment.

Maxwell challenges those stuck in the mindset of white politics to think about how successful they’ve actually been at reclaiming voters who’ve been lost for decades. Many of these same voters were content with voting for a candidate who made inflammatory, degrading, and racist comments throughout his election. “[If] that rhetoric was not a deal breaker for them, what do you think you would have to say to try to attract those voters back? Or what kind of tolerance for Trump’s rhetoric would you have to invoke to get those voters feel comfortable?”

These questions hit hard in a moment when the current president is diving deeper into entrenched white supremacist talking points, just barely falling short of calling for outright race war.

According to Maxwell, the media also has a lot of work to do in terms of confronting biases and developing narratives. Decentering whiteness also includes developing a framework for political objectivity that does not lead to pushing aside experiences. More emphasis should be placed on expanding access to platforms and providing more opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities to have their voices heard and issues covered.  

“Objectivity is a goal,” said Maxwell. “And a lot of times that is actually sort of compressed to almost mean that only a certain type of person can be sober and objective.” Maxwell challenged the double standard around accountability head-on, giving the example of Black journalists being considered biased on issues involving racism of police brutality or not being allowed or encouraged to write on certain topics. People’s experiences and relationships to issues of injustice should not disqualify them from being seen as reliable narrators.  

“We all have to confront our own biases,” said Maxwell. “We all have them and we all grew up in this culture. It affects everything.”

Maxwell draws a line for those looking to replace the current majority leadership in the White House and Senate, explaining that they cannot rest on appealing to traditional politics of whiteness. Given the vitriol and racism coming from the current president and many leading members of his party, rejecting such politics is necessary to engage and nurture the very diverse coalition of voters making clear and direct demands for change.

Maxwell stresses that white identity is not and should not be considered the default in politics or any other sector of public life. “We just have to let it sink in a little bit, because that’s the new reality.”

 

Anoa Changa is Prism’s electoral justice staff reporter. Follow her on Twitter @thewaywithanoa.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet that centers the people, places and issues currently underreported by our national media. Through our original reporting, analysis, and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to build a full and accurate record of what’s happening in our democracy. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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San Francisco council member proposes CAREN ordinance, consequences for the Karens calling the cops

If a San Francisco lawmaker has his way, making racially motivated 911 calls will be against the law in that city. San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton has introduced an ordinance called the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act. Yes, it’s the CAREN Act. And it answers the problem of who calls the cops because they see a person with melanin in their vicinity and can’t deal with it.

“Racist 911 calls are unacceptable that’s why I’m introducing the CAREN Act at today’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting,” Walton tweeted Tuesday. “This is the CAREN we need.” He said that his ordinance is “part of a larger nationwide movement to address racial biases and implement consequences for weaponizing emergency resources with racist intentions.” In a supervisors meeting, Walton said “911 calls and emergency reports are not customer service lines for racist behavior, and using these for fraudulent reports based on the perceived threats of someone’s race takes away emergency resources from actual emergencies. […] Fraudulent emergency calls against people of color are a form of racial violence and should not be tolerated.”

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His measure would “make it illegal for people to contact law enforcement solely to discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.” It would also allow victims of these calls to sue for damages up to $1,000. A similar measure introduced in the California Assembly by Oakland Democrat Rob Banta would create both criminal and civil liability for people making false 911 calls based on bias against people in protected classes. Making false police reports is already punishable in California by as much as six months in jail, but “there are currently no consequences by law for people who make fraudulent emergency calls based on race,” Walton said. Similar measures are pending in New York and Oregon. The legislature in Washington State passed a similar law which took effect on June 11, 2020.

“Let it be known that this has always happened,” Walton says, talking about cases from Amy Cooper, who is facing a misdemeanor charge for calling 911 on Black birdwatcher Christopher Cooper, to all the “Karens” who’ve called cops on children selling water on street corners and families having picnics and Black kids swimming in public pools. “[W]ith smartphones and social media, we are seeing it recorded and subsequently broadcasted on the news,” he said. “But there are countless others that do not get news coverage or do not get reported.”

It’s long past time there be accountability, especially for the cops. There also have to be new policing systems in which armed cops don’t show up for every call and more appropriate responders are available for noncriminal calls. But there also has to be accountability for the people who make these false calls. The people who’ve made more murders by cops happen simply because they want to and can assert their privilege and act on their racist inclinations.    

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Trump demonstrates utter contempt for justice in commuting Roger Stone’s sentence

In case there was still someone in America who hadn’t noticed that Donald Trump has nothing but contempt for the idea that everyone is equal under the law, Trump underlined that scorn, then run over it with a big yellow highlighter, by commuting the sentence of Roger Stone. Stone was convicted on seven felony counts, and faced a sentence of 40 months in federal prison. What’s more, Stone’s conviction was directly due to actions he took as a campaign adviser to Trump.

Trump has never hesitated to demonstrate that he’s willing to pardon people that he knows personally. That includes racist sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was handed a pass on contempt of court; Republican fairy tale author Dinesh D’Souza, who was relieved of doing community service (horrors) after making illegal campaign contributions; conservative talk show host Conrad Black, whose convictions on mail fraud and obstruction of justice had been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court (he lost); junk bond king Michael Milken, convicted on a near infinite list of tax fraud, mail fraud, obstruction, and conspiracy; and Rudy Giuliani’s old pal Bernard Kerik, for the familiar mix of tax fraud, bank fraud, and obstruction. Trump has never made any effort to pretend that justice applies to people he knows. 

That Trump pardons people who commit fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction is only fitting — since Donald Trump has already paid a $2 million fine for fraudulent use of his charity, and a $25 million settlement over his fraudulent university. Trump has been sued at least five times for breach of contract, and hundreds of times for nonpayment. Fraud … is just what he does for a living.

So naturally Trump has waved his magic wand over pals of his who merely tried to steal from the nation, lied to investigators, and slip illegal cash to political friends. All of that fits within Trump’s definition of normal business.

But the Stone case … is special. Trump didn’t just give Stone a get out of jail free card, he put out a lengthy statement that was filled with Trump’s Twitter greatest hits—from “Russia hoax” to “Witch hunt!” to “no collusion.” Even for the most casual observer, the statement makes clear that Stone isn’t being given a pass because he didn’t commit what Trump calls “process-based crimes,” or even because Stone and Trump have known each other for decades. 

Roger Stone’s sentence was commuted directly and openly as a finger in the eye to those who even attempted to investigate Trump, which the statement calls “out-of-control Mueller prosecutors.” The statement makes it astoundingly clear that Trump regards lying to investigators and obstructing justice as just part of the game. After all, if Mueller hadn’t been trying to find something on Stone, Stone wouldn’t have needed to lie. And yes, it says that. 

Trump doesn’t stop with sneering at the “over zealous prosecutors.” He also takes a smack at the officers who arrested Stone, repeating an inflated version of that event that turns an ordinary arrest into a massive assault involving “dozens of FBI agents with automatic weapons and tactical equipment, armored vehicles, and an amphibious unit.” And Trump even makes a dig at the jury members—ignoring the fact that the jurors were not challenged by Stone’s own counsel. 

Throughout the statement, Trump repeats statements that did not hold up in court, or were simply rejected by the court, or are just outright lies.  Stone’s charges did not include contempt, but the statement from Trump is utterly dripping with contempt for the whole judicial process. Does someone not know that Trump and all his allies are above all that legal crap? They should certainly get it now.

Saturday, Jul 11, 2020 · 1:22:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Once again, the Senate seems to contain a single Republican, along with 52 cowed Trumpinistas.

Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 11, 2020

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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The pandemic still dominates everything

Several things are coming together this week:

  • the realization that Biden might win in a landslide
  • the realization that Trump is a failure on coronavirus policy
  • the realization that Trump is a failure on race relations
  • the realization that Trump is starting his last minute pardon binge

We’ll cover them all, but check out this “must read” from Sarah Longwell/Bulwark:

What Women Want

Here’s what women who voted for Trump in 2016 are saying about him now.

Many observers were doubly confused because they had expected Hillary Clinton, as the first major party female nominee, to be especially strong with women. And she wasn’t. Trump did poorly with African-American and Hispanic women, because he did poorly with all African-Americans and Hispanics. But he managed to actually win a narrow plurality among white women.

But that mystery has been easy to solve. Over the last three years I conducted dozens of focus groups with both college-educated and non-college-educated female Trump voters. And the answer given most commonly for why they voted for Donald Trump is “I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I voted against Hillary Clinton.”

In 2016, Democrats understood that Hillary Clinton was a deeply polarizing candidate. But even they didn’t grasp the full magnitude of it. Right-leaning and Republican female voters had spent more than a decade hating both Clintons, and they didn’t stop just because Hillary’s opponent was an unrepentant misogynist.

�People familiar with the sign-ups said the interest in the rally was significantly lower than for rallies that took place before the coronavirus paused campaigning.� https://t.co/wsEEIUbmQ5

— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) July 10, 2020

Postponed on account of whether [whether or not anyone was going to show].

WaPo:

CDC feels pressure from Trump as rift grows over coronavirus response

As the country enters a frightening phase of the pandemic with new daily cases surpassing 57,000 on Thursday, the CDC, the nation’s top public health agency, is coming under intense pressure from President Trump and his allies, who are downplaying the dangers in a bid to revive the economy ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. In a White House guided by the president’s instincts, rather than by evidence-based policy, the CDC finds itself forced constantly to backtrack or sidelined from pivotal decisions.

One of the biggest failures of the pandemic has come from the CDC. 

Data For Progress is out with a new poll this morning, and it provides an interesting comparison https://t.co/YL7ifZ4MeG Views of _____’s handling of coronavirus in March vs. today (approve/disapprove): Trump: 47/48% vs. 40/57% Biden: 43/39% vs. 49/37%

— Brandon (@Brand_Allen) July 10, 2020

And lest you think that’s a one-off:

Trump coronavirus approval even among Republicans is dropping

Benjamin Linas/Vox:

I’m an epidemiologist and a dad. Here’s why I think schools should reopen.

Six questions about the safety of kids, teachers, and families, answered.

I have a first-row seat to the coronavirus pandemic, both as a parent and as a professional. In both of those roles, I hear the same questions, repeated with mounting urgency: “Are our kids going to be safe?” “Are our teachers going to be safe?” “Will kids bring Covid-19 home to our family?” “Will opening schools lead to a second wave and lockdown?” “What are the risks of not reopening?”

I have spent time reviewing the data and seeking answers to the challenging questions we face. Having the knowledge to make your own assessment, however, need not be a position of professional privilege. With this short primer, I hope you can add your voice to the debate and advocate for yourself, your family, and your community. The good news is, we can hope to send kids back to school in the fall, but there is a lot of work to do.

You have to decrease community viral load for schools to open safely.

Recent antibody research found that about 20% of New Yorkers have had prior infections — a far cry from the 60% experts say would be needed to achieve herd immunity. https://t.co/u0mOtrObq8

— ABC News (@ABC) July 10, 2020

Fauci, otoh, says spiking states should consider shutting down. Listen to Fauci. Deaths lag. This is true, even though we’re better at treatment than we were and there are fewer nursing home outbreaks (it’s community spread now). pic.twitter.com/B9sz80X35c

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) July 11, 2020

Wear your masks. Over your nose, even.

CNN:

New WHO report says airborne coronavirus transmission ‘cannot be ruled out’ in outbreaks in some indoor settings

“Airborne transmission of the virus can occur in health care settings where specific medical procedures, called aerosol generating procedures, generate very small droplets called aerosols. Some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, for example, during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes,” the new WHO report said about the coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2

What does this change? Not much, really, but opening up bars and choirs is nuts. Wearing a face shield makes sense (it protects your eyes). And avoid indoor crowds. 

Roger Stone’s commutation is corrupt. Full stop. It’s worth remembering what he did, and why it was right and necessary to investigate the Trump campaign’s attempts to cooperate and/or collude with Russians and Russian assets to gain an advantage in the 2016 election. /1

— David French (@DavidAFrench) July 11, 2020

NY Times:

‘Big Mess’ Looms if Schools Don’t Get Billions to Reopen Safely

As President Trump and others push to get students back in the classroom this fall, educators say they need more support and clearer guidelines.

Bus monitors to screen students for symptoms in Marietta, Ga.: $640,000. Protective gear and classroom cleaning equipment for a small district in rural Michigan: $100,000. Disinfecting school buildings and hiring extra nurses and educators in San Diego: $90 million.

As the White House, the nation’s pediatricians and many worn-down, economically strapped parents push for school doors to swing open this fall, local education officials say they are being crushed by the costs of getting students and teachers back in classrooms safely.

President Trump threatened this week to cut off federal funding to districts that do not reopen, though he controls only a sliver of money for schools. But administrators say they are already struggling to cover the head-spinning logistical and financial challenges of retrofitting buildings, adding staff members and protective gear, and providing students with the academic and emotional support that many will need after a traumatic disruption to their lives.

It’s not just Roger Stone, sentence commuted:

This is really simple: Trump ordered Roger Stone to work with Wikileaks. Stone lied to Congress about it, Trump lied to Mueller about it, and Stone protected Trump’s lie by choosing prison over flipping. Now Trump has repaid him.

— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) July 11, 2020

WaPo

Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence is an unforgivable betrayal of his office

The United States is supposed to be a place in which laws apply equally to all. And while it never has — and never will — live up to that ideal in full, no modern president before Mr. Trump has so clearly renounced it. The president seems to be doing his best, within the confines of the U.S. constitutional system, to emulate the gangster leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man whose ruinous reign Mr. Trump has always admired. If the country needed any more evidence, Friday confirmed that the greatest threat to the Republic is the president himself.

Several Trump sources say it�s a ticking clock until Trump pardons Charlie Kushner.

— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) July 11, 2020

AJC:

Behind the WNBA fight that Kelly Loeffler sought

It is important to remember that the outrage over Loeffler’s letter was welcomed — and in large part generated — by her campaign as she faces a formidable challenge from Republican Doug Collins, a four-term congressman.

Powerful obituary in today�s AZ Republic. Regular people are starting to boil over pic.twitter.com/fNdL1bCDh2

— Bill Scheel (@billyscheel) July 9, 2020

Click to see entire obit. There’s more to read in it.

Zeynep Tufecki/Atlantic:

The Tragic Loss of Coronavirus Patients’ Final Words

It takes a special kind of inattention to human suffering to not notice how unfortunate it is that people have been left to face death alone.

Of all the wrongdoings of this pandemic, the one that haunts me most is how people are left to die alone. Health-care workers have been heroic throughout all this, but they do not replace the loved ones whom the dying need to be with, and speak with, even if only one last time.

A hallmark of COVID-19 has been the speed with which some patients have crashed, going from feeling only a little sick to being unable to breathe, sometimes in the space of a few hours. Such a crash often necessitates intubation, a process that then renders one incapable of speaking. Many people on ventilators are also heavily sedated and unconscious, to keep them from pulling out the invasive tubes going down their throat. Thus, sometimes with little warning, all communication is lost, and more often than not, a patient is without family or loved ones when this happens.

Today, these possible sources for change seem very distant. Cases are increasing and it is at least possible that deaths will surge again. Yet Trump remains focused on other issues and his demand for a return to normal seems grounded in the assumption that COVID isn’t serious

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) July 10, 2020

COVID is *not* WW2. But the comparison is illuminating. His early comments read like Chamberlain. His fights with govs are like haggling over whether Hawaii should buy defenses for Pearl Harbor. His economy position is like being worried that rationing will hurt civilian economy.

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) July 10, 2020

As you all know, this has been my thinking since March. Anticipate the virus, predict the politics. It’s not that hard unless you pretend the virus will just go away.

Unbelievable but you best believe it� I think that recurrent lockdowns are where a number of states are heading within a few weeks https://t.co/3xcX8UkWr9

— Abraar Karan (@AbraarKaran) July 11, 2020

Looking for Coronavirus Tracking sites? Try Worldometer, Covid tracking project, or 91divoc.com.

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Imagine Trump’s Twitter storm when he sees new ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural outside of Trump Tower

Eight days after President Donald Trump called a planned “Black Lives Matter” mural a “symbol of hate,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Rev. Al Sharpton grabbed a couple of paint rollers and went to work on Fifth Avenue anyway Thursday. The president called it “denigrating this luxury Avenue,” but de Blasio called painting the mural “liberating Fifth Avenue.” He said the mural is about giving credit to people who have long gone without recognition for building this country.  

“So when we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ there is no more American statement, there is no more patriotic statement because there is no America without Black America,” de Blasio said. “We are acknowledging the truth of ourselves as Americans by saying ‘Black Lives Matter.’ We are righting a wrong.”

�There is no America without Black America.� � @NYCMayor#BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/BSYh7XrLJS

— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) July 9, 2020

I would much rather the mayor redirect a larger portion of the city’s massive $6 billion police budget to education and social services Black and brown people could actually benefit from, but the mural is a nice gesture. It’s certainly delivering a much-needed reminder in this country that Black lives do in fact matter.

….horrible BLM chant, âÂ�Â�Pigs In A Blanket, Fry âÂ�Â�Em Like BaconâÂ�Â�. Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, wonâÂ�Â�t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New YorkâÂ�Â�s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020

Sharpton told MSNBC he remembers marching on Fifth Avenue after the death of Sean Bell, who was killed in 2006 when police fired 50 bullets at him. The activist marched then to bring awareness to the fact that “police abuse was going on.” “I think this gives permanence to that,” Sharpton said.

He has marched recently to call for justice in repeated incidences of similar police violence. The most publicized recent death is that of George Floyd, who was unarmed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Video of Floyd, who was suspected of forging a $20 bill, moved a nation to protest and multiple cities to approve Black Lives Matter murals on city streets.

Dominique Hazzard, a part of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Washington, D.C., told NPR it’s time for more than murals. “The paint on the street is a beautiful symbol. It’s very nice. But you need real actions for Black people here in D.C.,” she said last month in calling for the city to defund police. “We need to divest from that money and invest that money in things that actually keep people safe, like housing, health care, food, confliction resolution and services on our streets. That’s what we need to keep us safe. And if Black lives matter, those are the kinds of changes they’ll make.”

RELATED: ‘Denigrating this luxury Avenue’: Trump calls proposed Black Lives Matter sign ‘symbol of hate’

RELATED: D.C. Public Works painted a massive Black Lives Matter street mural near the White House

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NYT’s Nagourney writes Trump has a harder time defining Biden than Clinton. Now why could that be?

“Gosh,” The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, seems to ponder in his latest missive about the 2020 race for presdient, “it sure seems like Donald Trump is having a harder time making attacks against Joe Biden stick than with Hillary Clinton.” One just can’t imagine how that could possibly be. “By a combination of design and circumstance, Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has managed so far to deny Mr. Trump the sort of damaging offhand remarks, campaign clashes and clumsy encounters with voters that he used as weapons against Mrs. Clinton in the last general election,” Nagourney writes in the news section of the paper that spent a good part of 2015 and most of 2016 deeming Clinton unlikable, untrustworthy, and unhealthy. What a fortuitous circumstance for Joe Biden that he is not Hillary Clinton, huh?

So Nagourney can write of the contrast between Clinton and Biden: “He is a moderate Democrat who lacks a history of harsh partisanship or scandal.” Which anybody who has been alive and cognizant of politics would recognize as patently false. It’s just that this time around, the Times isn’t interested in rehashing old scandals or taking the bait Republicans have tried to dangle. Hunter Biden and Ukraine is no more ridiculous than whatever it was Republicans were trying to sell on Benghazi. A search for “Hillary Clinton Benghazi” results in 1,021 hits on the Times’ site. Anyway, let’s proceed on as if the Times has no part to play in how Trump can smear an opponent.

“It is going to be more difficult for the Trump campaign to go after a man who really is a centrist, has dealings with people across the aisle and knows how to talk to people who disagree with him,” Priscilla Southwell, a professor emerita of political science at the University of Oregon, told the Times. “And 2020 is a different kind of year. Donald Trump can appeal to his core by being negative, but it’s such a difficult time for everybody. I don’t think negativity is going to sell as well as it used to.” Note the emphasis we’ve now seen twice on Biden as a “moderate” and as a “centrist” in Nagourney’s reporting. That could be handy for a future “Dems in disarray” story, should he need it.

Outside of the Southwell quote, which includes that it will “be more difficult for the Trump campaign to go after a man,” there’s no reference at all to the fact that Clinton was the first woman for president and that much of her bad press and many of the attacks from Trump against her were rooted entirely in sexism. That would be an important thing for Nagourney and every political reporter to recognize right about now given that Biden has vowed to name a woman as his running mate. Nagourney in fact writes that “Mr. Trump is likely to turn to Mr. Biden’s running mate. Going after the vice-presidential candidate would be an unusual but not unprecedented strategy, and might have some resonance in this election given Mr. Biden’s age; he is 77.” Trump will go after the woman Biden chooses as a running mate. Because attacking women is what he does, physically and verbally.

This time around, it might be nice if national political reporters called those attacks out instead of gleefully amplifying them for the clicks.

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Backers of Medicaid expansion initiative in Missouri launch first TV ad ahead of August vote

Supporters of a ballot measure to expand Medicaid to 230,000 Missourians are airing their first TV ad ahead of next month’s vote. The spot’s narrator says that Amendment 2, as the measure is known, would “fix” the problem of Missouri’s federal tax dollars helping to pay for health care in other states by bringing those funds “back to Missouri.” The remainder of the ad argues that the amendment would “protect thousands of healthcare jobs,” “help keep our rural hospitals open,” and “deliver healthcare to more veterans and hardworking Missouri families.”

Our first TV ad just went out! Check it out, and then make a plan to vote #YesOn2 at https://t.co/G7fIybrsmx! pic.twitter.com/WuIIuc28OQ

— YesOn2: Healthcare for Missouri (@YesOn2MO) July 7, 2020

There hasn’t been any public polling on the issue, but efforts to expand Medicaid have performed well at the ballot box. Three red states states—Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska—all voted to expand the program in 2018, and just last month, voters in neighboring Oklahoma did so as well.

Koch-backed conservative groups unsuccessfully sought to block the Missouri measure from the ballot in court, but supporters have castigated Republican Gov. Mike Parson for moving the vote from November to the Aug. 4 primary, charging that Parson did so in the hopes that lower turnout would help defeat the amendment. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, another Republican, also made the unusual decision to schedule his state’s Medicaid vote to coincide with the primary rather than the general election, but the measure nonetheless passed by a narrow 50.5 to 49.5 margin.

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At least $1.4 billion in tax-funded COVID-19 relief has gone to tax-exempt Catholic church

This isn’t the kind of news Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Marco Rubio want to see about the continually problematic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) they got into this spring’s coronavirus relief bill: The U.S. Roman Catholic Church got at least $1.4 billion in those loans “with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.” (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.)

The AP has found that the Catholic Church got between $1.4 billion and at least $3.5 billion from the program, split among at least 3,500 forgivable loans to dioceses, parishes, schools, and other church programs. The report found that the church, by “aggressively promoting the payroll program and marshaling resources to help affiliates navigate its shifting rules,” became the biggest winner of all from the PPP loan programs. The legislation made an allowance for faith groups and other nonprofits to get the loans, which, being tax-payer funded, are not normally available to religious organizations because of the relief assistance they provide. That was to make sure that home health programs, food distribution centers, counseling services, that kind of thing, would continue. They didn’t only benefit from this relaxation of rules, they lobbied hard with the administration to allow them to circumvent the rules in the program that disqualified applicants that had more than 500 employees. They got that “preferential treatment,” as AP says, in the form of an exemption on the employee requirement.

“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” one expert on religion and constitutional law, Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor, said. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.” And likely worth billions more than even AP’s analysis uncovered. The AP found about 3,500 loans, but the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference found that about 9,000 Catholic entities got loans in a survey of financial officers. The loans made by the Small Business Administration under $150,000 haven’t been disclosed, so many smaller churches and church programs that got these loans weren’t included in the information AP reviewed.

But here’re some of the loans that were disclosed: The top executive offices of the Archdiocese of New York got 15 loans worth at least $28 million for whatever it does besides cover up child sexual abuse. Also in New York, St. Patrick’s Cathedral got at least a $1 million. A $70 million brand new “sparkling glass cathedral” in Orange County, California got at least $3 million in four separate loans. And this: “a loan of at least $2 million went to the diocese covering Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, where a church investigation revealed last year that then-Bishop Michael Bransfield embezzled funds and made sexual advances toward young priests.”

In the fiscal year ending in June 2019, AP reports, Catholic dioceses and orders paid out $282 million in settlements and legal costs in thousands of abuse cases. There were almost 4,500 reports of abuse that year. About 40 of the dioceses who received these PPP loans are among those who’ve paid out millions over the last few years in victim settlements and in bankruptcy proceedings. These several dozen dioceses got at least $200 million in loans. These loans are 100% forgivable. It’s unclear if they can use that money to recompense themselves for all the money they spent lobbying to get the loans.

Just one archdioceses, Los Angeles, spent $20,000 lobbying Congress to make sure that nonprofits and churches could get the loans. Catholic Charities USA spent $30,000 lobbying for it, and in return it and its member agencies got more than 100 loans, from $90 million to at least $220 million. Again, many of these charities are doing important relief work in this crisis, but whether these tax-exempt institutions should be getting taxpayer money to do that relief—given the net worth of all of the arms of the church—is a big question.

Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania professor and attorney who has represented clergy abuse victims, says it’s a big problem and a further erosion of the First Amendment’s wall between church and state. The political divide over religion is growing, Hamilton says. “At this point, the argument is you’re anti-religious if in fact you would say the Catholic Church shouldn’t be getting government funding.”

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