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Updated: 17 min 11 sec ago

Who’s the most galling, captivating character on our screens this summer? It’s ‘Karen’ - and she’s everywhere

Sat, 2020-07-04 09:06

Armed homeowners standing in front their house along Portland Place confront protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's house Sunday, June 28, 2020, in the Central West End of St. Louis. The protesters called for Krewson's resignation for releasing the names and addresses of residents who suggested defunding the police department. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP) (Laurie Skrivan/)

The most addictive TV show this summer isn’t even an official TV show, but how long before it becomes one? Several times a day, Instagram and Twitter feeds serve up another galling, sad and often intensely satisfying segment of a reality series we can just go ahead and call “Karens,” in which women (almost always white, almost always of a certain demeanor) make the mistake of policing, harassing or discriminating against their fellow human beings in public.

As soon as one Karen flames out across the internet, another apparently more unhinged Karen rises in her place.

One watches the video of the mask-defiant Karen in Dallas who angrily hurls the contents of her grocery cart to the floor, then, only hours later, one sees the terrifying video of a Karen and her husband (the male version of a Karen, sometimes known as a Kevin, has lately been termed a Ken) defiantly guarding their St. Louis manse from passersby marching in a protest on Sunday. This barefooted Karen, wearing a black-and-white striped shirt and the regulation Capri-length Karen pants, is waving a pistol; her husband, in his schlubby pink polo shirt, brandishes an automatic rifle. (In fact, they are attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey, but in today's context there is no mistaking that they are Ken and Karen America.)

It's not the couple's toughness that registers; it's their abject fear. Maybe they too have seen how things usually end these days, as the Karens increasingly get exactly what they've long had coming: resistance, mockery and, in some cases, the loss of their jobs.

It's a sudden reverse of the scenes that viewers used to gobble up in the outdated and justifiably canceled "Cops"and "Live PD," two popular reality shows that thrived by exalting the presumably noble dedication of law enforcement officers while exploiting a lack of sympathy for those who were most typically seen bearing the brunt of that enforcement.

On May 25, the same day George Floyd stopped breathing under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, one of the all-time Kareniest Karens - a white, 40-year-old dog-owner named Amy Cooper - was recorded in New York's Central Park verbally harassing Christian Cooper (no relation), a 57-year-old black birdwatcher, after he reminded her that her dog belonged on a leash. We all know how Amy Cooper's tantrum (which included a hysterical call to the cops) turned out for her.We also know how it might have turned out if Christian Cooper hadn't recorded the encounter.


This image made from Monday, May 25, 2020, video provided by Christian Cooper shows Amy Cooper with her dog calling police at Central Park in New York. A video of a verbal dispute between Amy Cooper, walking her dog off a leash and Christian Cooper, a black man bird watching in Central Park, is sparking accusations of racism. (Christian Cooper via AP) (Christian Cooper/)

And so, amid a culturally fractious and largely failed attempt to quell a killer pandemic, paired with a stirring surge in support of civil rights and police reform, there’s a strange sort of solace that comes from watching these Karen and Ken videos spring up like summer dandelions across the regulation-green lawn of the fragile, white American psyche.

You never know when Karen is going to show up - or, more importantly, when she's going to snap. The videos are most remarkable for their similarities. Karen points at the camera, Karen gets hostile, Karen is triggered by the audacity that someone would talk back to her, tell her no, tell her to try minding her own business. When cornered - when at last she reckons with the idea that millions might soon be watching - Karen doesn't back off, she doubles down. Out come the weird dance moves, racist slurs or anti-immigration diatribes. Go ahead, film me! How is it that Karens can so often be counted on to fly into these rages of entitlement?

Karen is all but rendered powerless by "Karens Going Wild by Pavel," an Instagram account with more than a half-million followers and rising, which shares particularly egregious Karen videos of the moment, resulting in swift responses. Over the weekend, a Hampton Inn employee in North Carolina called the cops on a black family (registered guests of the hotel) who were using the pool. As of Monday night (a day after Karens Going Wild shared the mother's video), the chain's parent company, Hilton, apologized to the family and said the employee has been fired.

Because that's how it goes in 2020, right? It can be greatly entertaining but just as often unsettling - especially if you happened to be holding out any remaining shred of hope in the social fabric. If you've lost that hope, there is Karen to blame.

She sometimes appears to suffer from mental illness or too much stress. Other times, it appears she's just a mean drunk. There is some fretting about the way viewers comment on Karen's appearance, a side concern about the cruel and sometimes sexist things people say. There is also the worry, now that firearms are part of the picture, that Karen videos have the potential to take a gruesome, violent turn.

The awful beauty of the Karen and Ken videos - their rawness and immediacy - is that we as viewers haven't yet processed how they truly make us feel. Only angry? Only vindicated? Aghast? Sick? It's a show that is very much in progress.

Yet Karen has been around forever. She's hardly new to anyone who recognized her long ago, whether in historical fact or observant fiction: Karen at the neighborhood HOA meetings. Karen as the perennial bigot in John Waters's movies. Karen in the shared revulsion of reality-star Kate Gosselin's infamous"I need to speak to your manager" hairstyle.

More than one clever Twitter user has posted a photo of Margaret Hamilton as the mean Miss Gulch in the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz," by way of Karen comparison. Miss Gulch was the Wicked Witch's Kansas analogue, who took Toto away in her bicycle basket - a total Karen move. Was it ever in doubt whom the audience was supposed to root against? And on a more existential level, does a Karen ever know she's a Karen?

This streaming supply of Karens is at its best and most brilliant when the person doing the filming just stands their ground, no matter how ugly the words get, and lets Karen reveal her true nature. Let her twist and gesticulate and scream her head off. After all, she’s melting, she’s melting.

‘People aren’t stupid’: Pence’s virus spin tests credibility

Sat, 2020-07-04 08:36

FILE - In this June 12, 2020, file photo Vice President Mike Pence, waves as he arrives to speak after a tour at Oberg Industries plant in Sarver, Pa. As the public face of the administration's coronavirus response. Vice President Mike Pence has been trying to convince Americans that the country is winning even as cases spike in large parts of the country. For public health experts, that sense of optimism is detached from reality. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File) (Keith Srakocic/)

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has long played the straight man to Donald Trump, translating the president’s bombast into more measured, calming language.

His job has become even more difficult. As coronavirus cases spike across large parts of the country despite months of lockdown, Pence has spent the past week trying to convince the American public that things are going very well, even though they're not.

“Make no mistake about it, what you see today is that America is going back to work and the American people are finding a way every day to put this coronavirus farther in the past,” he told CNBC the same day the country reported more than 55,000 new virus cases, a daily record.

For public health experts, the optimism has been unmoored from reality.

“It’s almost laughable because it doesn’t pass any test of credibility when we’re seeing spikes in cases, spikes in hospitalizations,” said Larry Gostin, who specializes in public health at Georgetown University Law School. “The American people aren’t stupid. They can see spin when there is spin.”

The most important thing Pence can do, Gostin said, “is to be honest with the American public. ... They need to be told the truth and then they need to be told what America is going to do to turn this around.”

It's not the first time Pence has been forced to put his own credibility on the line as he serves as Trump's most loyal soldier. It may be the most consequential.

While Trump has tried to distance himself from what he calls “the plague” as he pursues reelection, Pence has emerged as the public face of this phase of the outbreak, traveling frequently to virus hot spots, coordinating with governors and leading the administration’s coronavirus task force.

The role, according to those close to him, is a natural fit for Pence, a former Indiana governor who sees it as his job to defend the president and reopen the country as safely as possible. But allies are keenly aware that Pence's political future will hinge on whether Trump wins a second term.

If Trump loses, and Pence makes his own run at the presidency in 2024, he probably would face many candidates from a new generation of politicians. That could include Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina governor, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said Pence faces a “real dilemma” because Trump’s reelection depends so much on an economic rebound predicated on states reopening during the pandemic.

From a public health perspective, “We’re actually losing again. It’s getting worse. We’re gong to have to cut back in the economy,” he said.

After spending time on the road highlighting reopening efforts, Pence traveled this past week to Arizona and Florida, states where cases are surging. He tried to make the case that the country is in a far improved position now than it was early on in the outbreak when testing capacity was dismal and doctors and nurses were desperate for basic protective equipment.

“The American people deserve to know that we’re in a much better place today, thanks to the whole-of-government approach, the whole-of-America approach that President Trump initiated at the very outset of the coronavirus pandemic,” Pence said Tuesday during a task force briefing held not at the White House but at the U.S. Public Health Service headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

White House officials and allies stress there are positive signs beyond the flow of supplies, with deaths remaining down and several therapeutics on the market. The point of the lockdowns, they stress, was to flatten the infection curve to avoid overwhelming hospitals, not eliminate cases.

To further push that message, Pence is expected to resume campaign travel soon. Campaign officials met by phone on Thursday to map out media markets where they feel he could be beneficial.

While Trump favors large-scale rallies, Pence will continue to focus on more intimate settings, inducing diner visits, bus tours and smaller speaking engagements, especially in front of groups such as white evangelicals and suburban families who may be more receptive to a less hyper-political message.

Pence will focus on swing states by stressing local issues and trying to show voters how the administration has affected their lives for the good. He’s expected to spend plenty of time in states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as Arizona and North Carolina, talking about bringing back manufacturing jobs. It’s a promise Trump made in 2016 that has been largely unmet.

At the same time, however, Trump's campaign recently disbanded a team of staffers dedicated to Pence, including his communications director, spokesperson and the director of vice presidential operations. Strategy and planning are now being handled by Marty Obst, a longtime Pence adviser who served as his campaign manager in 2016, and Marc Short, his chief of staff.

While some described the move as a natural transition given the vice president already has a full staff at the White House, others said it suggested a diminished role on a campaign that sees Pence more as a surrogate than a principal.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Ali Pardo dismissed that suggestion, saying Pence “has played an integral role in promoting and implementing President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda across the country.”

Pence has made clear he feels this is Trump's campaign and he has every right to run it how he wants.

Barry Bennett, a longtime Republican strategist who worked for Trump in 2016, praised Pence's performance.

“He has a very tough job. But so far I think he’s managed to do it with compassion and integrity,” he said. “He’s probably the only that’s come out of the pandemic experience with positive results.”

Recklessness or reopening: Why are more young people getting coronavirus?

Sat, 2020-07-04 08:20

Visitors gather on the beach during the Memorial Day weekend in Newport Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Marcio Jose Sanchez/)

A surge of coronavirus cases among young people is leading to a generational blame game as California and other states grapple with a second wave of the virus.

Reports of outbreaks across the country tied to fraternity houses and college-town bars have helped fuel a perception that people in their teens and 20s — who are far less likely to die from COVID-19 but can still suffer debilitating bouts of the virus or pass it along to others who are more vulnerable — have thrown caution to the wind because they don’t feel threatened by it.

A long list of other factors may also be at play in the increase, however.

"I see plenty of irresponsibility going on across the age spectrum as we have opened up," said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the University of California San Francisco's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. "I don't think it's helpful to demonize one group or another."

An analysis released last week found 44% of new coronavirus cases in California were among people 34 or younger, compared to 29% a month ago. Meanwhile, the analysis of California Department of Public Health data, conducted by infectious disease epidemiologist George Lemp, found the share of cases from people over 50 was dropping.

At a press conference Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is seeing an alarming increase in coronavirus cases among people under 35, which he called "that age cohort that believes in many cases that they are invincible, and they are somehow immune from the impacts of COVID-19."

But the increase tracks with what Bibbins-Domingo said she expected as more businesses reopened.

During that process, she noted that government and public health officials told people at higher risk from coronavirus — particularly those who are older — that they should still stay at home to avoid infection. Younger people at lower risk, meanwhile, were given the OK to go out again, making it more likely they would catch the virus.

Now, after seeing a massive increase in new coronavirus cases last week, states and counties are rethinking their reopening plans.

"The age doesn't concern me as much as the big rise in cases," Bibbins-Domingo said.

Another possible explanation for the rise among young people: It's a lot easier to get a COVID-19 test these days, which has meant people with milder or even asymptomatic cases, who skew younger, are finding out they have the virus, Bibbins-Domingo said.

And the jobs young people do could be playing a role as well. Nationwide, only about one-third of workers are in the 16 to 34 age group, but those in essential, public-facing jobs — as well as industries that have started reopening more broadly in recent weeks — tend to be younger.

In retail, where officials have been easing lockdown restrictions, about 56% of workers at clothing stores are 34 and younger, as are 70% of workers at shoe stores and 60% of those at electronics stores.

Nearly two-thirds of restaurant workers are 34 or younger, as are nearly half of grocery store employees, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workers in food service "are so exposed," said Sameer Shah, the 36-year-old co-owner of Voyager Coffee, who noted the business model of a coffee shop relies on serving perhaps hundreds of customers each day — all of whom could pose a risk in the coronavirus age. Nearly every worker at Voyager's three cafes is under 35.

To lessen risk, Voyager workers serve customers at doorway counters, and don't let people inside their cafes. Shah said it seems like irresponsible behavior from customers is becoming more common as the pandemic has dragged on — but he didn't chalk it up to any particular age group.

"People are just not quite as on guard as they were before," Shah said.

Still, there is some evidence that young people are more likely to take risks during the pandemic: While most people across all age groups report they are consistently wearing masks, avoiding groups and staying at least six feet away from others, people from 18 to 24 were much less likely than older adults to say they were doing so, a May CDC survey found.

Then again, millennials from 25 to 34 tend to be more cautious — they trailed only people 65 and older in their likelihood to report they were avoiding groups and wearing masks. (People from 45 to 54, the age range 52-year-old Newsom falls into, reported the second-lowest levels of compliance with those guidelines.)

Cinque Curry, a 25-year-old construction worker from Oakland, admitted he didn't take coronavirus very seriously at first — he went on a cruise in February, and traveled to Las Vegas in March, just as casinos started shutting down.

But then, Curry said, "I started to really think about my grandmother," who was terrified of the virus. Seven of his family members across the country fell ill with COVID-19. All have since recovered.

Now, Curry said, he wears a mask, doesn't venture out much and takes other precautions. On Saturday, he was enjoying some takeout tacos on a bench in Jack London Square with plenty of distance from other groups; unlike some peers, Curry isn't jumping at the chance to start dining in restaurants or drinking in bars again.

“I feel like I’ve taken it as seriously as I can,” he said.

Trump to give fiery speech at Mount Rushmore amid protests and pandemic

Fri, 2020-07-03 18:04

A group with Cowboys For Trump shows their support for the president in Keystone, S.D. on Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves) (Stephen Groves/)

KEYSTONE, S.D. — President Donald Trump planned a fiery Mount Rushmore speech Friday night including denunciations of protesters he says are trying to “tear down” the nation’s history. He’s adding the condemnation of those who pull down statues to a big fireworks show and his more traditional July Fourth praise of America’s past and values.

Hours before the event, protesters blocked a road leading to the monument. Authorities worked to move the demonstrators, mostly Native Americans protesting that South Dakota's Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people against treaty agreements. About 15 protesters were arrested after missing a police-imposed deadline to leave.

The president has spoken forcefully against other protesters in Washington, D.C., and other cities who have tried to topple Confederate monuments and statues honoring those who have benefited from slavery, planned to target “the left wing mob and those practicing cancel culture,” said a person familiar with his remarks and describing them only on condition of anonymity.

The president was to preside over a fireworks display at an event expected to draw thousands, even as coronavirus cases spike across the country.

Trump was expecting a South Dakota show of support, with the state Republican Party selling T-shirts that feature Trump on the memorial alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. But concern about the coronavirus risk and wildfire danger from the fireworks, along with the Native American groups’ protests were also present.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, has said social distancing won’t be required during the event and masks will be optional. Event organizers were to provide masks to anyone who wanted them and planned to screen attendees for symptoms of COVID-19.

Noem and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., were among the crowd meeting the president and first lady Melania Trump at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Noem wasn't wearing a mask; Thune removed his face covering as he waited to greet the president.

The Republican mayor of the largest city near the monument, Rapid City, said he would be watching for an increase in cases after the event, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Enthusiastic attendees were unlikely to disqualify themselves “because they developed a cough the day of or the day before,” Mayor Steve Allender said.


President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force One, Friday, July 3, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump is en route to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon/)

The small town of Keystone, which lies a couple of miles from the monument, was buzzing with people Friday hoping to catch a glimpse of the fireworks and the president. Many wore pro-Trump T-shirts and hats. Few wore masks.

“This is going to rank up in the top Fourth of Julys that I talk about,” said Mike Stewhr, who brought his family from Nebraska.

Mike Harris of Rapid City, who said he was a Republican, wore a mask and waved an anti-Trump flag. He also was sporting a handgun on each hip. He said he was worried the event would spark a COVID-19 outbreak.

“I think it’s a bad example being set by our president and our governor,” Harris said.

Robin Pladsen, director of the Keystone Chamber of Commerce, handed out face masks and hand sanitizer from a tent. She said the tourist influx would help businesses pay back loans they had taken out to survive the economic downtown but acknowledged the health risk for the town.

Leaders of several Native American tribes in the region also raised concerns that the event could lead to virus outbreaks among their members, who they say are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of an underfunded health care system and chronic health conditions.

“The president is putting our tribal members at risk to stage a photo op at one of our most sacred sites,” said Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Some Native American groups used Trump's visit to protest the Mount Rushmore memorial itself, pointing out that the Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people.

More than 100 protesters, many Lakota, lined the road leading from Keystone to the monument holding signs and playing Lakota music in 95-degree heat. Some held their fists in the air as cars loaded with event attendees passed by. Others held signs that read “Protect SoDak’s First People,” “You Are On Stolen Land” and “Dismantle White Supremacy.”

“The president needs to open his eyes. We’re people, too, and it was our land first,” said Hehakaho Waste, a spiritual elder with the Oglala Sioux tribe.

Several people who once oversaw fire danger at the national memorial have said setting off fireworks over the forest was a bad idea that could lead to a large wildfire. Fireworks were called off after 2009 because a mountain pine beetle infestation increased the fire risks.

Noem pushed to get the fireworks resumed soon after she was elected, and enlisted Trump’s help. The president brushed aside fire concerns earlier this year, saying, “What can burn? It’s stone.”

Trump made no mention of the fire danger Thursday.

“They used to do it many years ago, and for some reason they were unable or unallowed to do it,” he said. “They just weren’t allowed to do it, and I opened it up and we’re going to have a tremendous July 3 and then we’re coming back here, celebrating the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C.”

Trump has presided over a several large-crowd events — in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and at an Arizona megachurch — even as health officials warn against large gatherings and recommend face masks and social distancing. He plans a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall in Washington despite health concerns from D.C.‘s mayor. Trump and Melania Trump plan to host events from the White House South Lawn and from the Ellipse.

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Washington and Todd Richmond in Madison, Wis., contributed to this report.

Jack, a retriever who didn’t retrieve, was a goof and a butthead. He was his own dog — and then, yours.

Fri, 2020-07-03 17:45

Jack inspects Christine Cunningham's fish caught while ice fishing in 2015. (Photo by Steve Meyer) (Steve A. Meyer/)

My first hunting dog never hunted. Not in the way that counts, in terms of intention.

I didn’t know any better at the time than to think a hunting dog was a breed. Some people believe this about sled dogs, too. It’s a simple thought — you get a type of dog to do a particular thing. Then, you bring the dog home, and you begin to learn that you have judged an individual animal before getting to know him.

Once I got to know Jack, the 1-year-old chocolate Labrador who would not hunt, it was too late to convince him. I still tried, but those scenes are like a lover’s quarrel. It seems so important at the time — the fury of how could he run in the opposite direction from the duck he ought to have retrieved.

It’s easy to see now that I was the wrong one.

The experts will tell you to find a bloodline that has proven hunters in it. They might frown at going to a shelter to find an adult dog without a history.

Although it may not be in the literature on the subject, the experts might, if not frown, at least tilt their heads quixotically at naming your first gun dog after a beat poet who referred to his style as “spontaneous prose.”

While Jack the Labrador had no connection to his namesake, Jack Kerouac, it did cross my mind that things might have turned out differently had I named him after Jack O’Conner, famed sportsman and author of carefully crafted prose.


Jack retrieves a duck dummy. He liked to retrieve, just not real ducks. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

I remember Jack’s scowling face as I insisted that he walk beside me back to the truck after I had to retrieve the duck I had shot and then haul him out of a pile of rotting salmon in which he had rolled.

Once you treat a fellow creature like an indentured servant, it’s difficult ever to get back what is lost. The bond suffers, as with human partners.

Almost instantly, Jack preferred Steve to me. When introduced, he ran to Steve’s arms not just as if anyone but me were better but specifically that this man was exceptional.

Well, I liked Steve too, but I didn’t particularly enjoy watching the two of them fawn over each other on my white faux suede furniture when I was still new to having muddy partners in the house.


Jack shows that he loves Steve Meyer best while ice fishing in 2013. (Photo by Christine Cunningham)

Jack wore me down along with all my belongings. When I finally let him sleep on my bed, it was not out of affection as much as exhaustion.

It turned out to be a good thing that he didn’t love to hunt. We soon found he had an injury of the spine suffered before his adoption, which would rob him of an active hunting life. When the vet showed me the X-rays and told me Jack would need to take it easy, I said, “That will be just fine.” As our bird dog family grew to include another Labrador who loved to hunt and several English setters, Jack showed a rare gift in welcoming a new dog to the family. He was like the guy who instantly befriends the new kid in school.

He was a great uncle to every pup we brought home. He loved to dig up large rocks and push them around the yard — aloof and self-stimulated. Never one to ask for attention. Always off on his own. Sometimes annoying to the others but with a sense of humor. A big-hearted animal who loved trips to the beach and jumping over the log across the trail on our daily walks.

He lost his hearing and his sight faded. He would not go up or down the stairs in the house and made only a few trips outside each day.

Then, about two months ago, I heard him clomping down the stairs to visit Steve and me. He came directly to me and plopped down in my lap. For about 20 minutes, he was as un-like Jack as ever. He looked in my eyes, and he demanded affection. I felt he was communicating something important. Behavior is communication, especially with dogs. I knew what he meant.

Last week, he wanted to go for a walk with the other dogs — no small thing for him. He hadn’t been on a trail in a very long time. And on this walk, he ran and jumped over his favorite fallen tree. Ran. And jumped. A dog who could barely walk. We nearly cried to see it.

That was his last surge of joyous life. He was 15 years old, and his life covered an era of mine.


Christine Cunningham throws snow in the air while a mesmerized Jack watches. (Photo by Steve Meyer) (Steve A. Meyer/)

You know they will leave you at some point, but it is a shock to see them in pain and looking just past you to a place neither of you can ever go. That place isn’t the heaven we haven’t yet realized, but the one we had.

On the drive to the vet, Steve sat in the back seat with Jack as I drove. I wondered if it was safe to drive with such a swollen throat and watery eyes. It was a sunny day, and it felt as far away as if it were midwinter.

Just ahead of us, a mother grouse ran out onto the highway with seven chicks. They were just-born small. I hit the brakes. But the family did not run to safety — they scattered and ran about right smack in the middle of the road ahead with cars soon to come.

Steve jumped out of the truck and ushered them into the bushes. It felt like a sign. It felt like Jack was capable of communicating with us on the universal level. What did it all mean? That there is always new life, and that death is a part of it?


The last photo of Jack, very happy after his walk and feats of Jack-like daring and joy. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

The best hunting dog is not the one that retrieves the most ducks or grouse or always obeys on command and does what you expect. Instead, the best hunting dog is simply by your side as you learn and live together.

Jack was special. A goof, a butthead. His own dog and then, yours.

He is the dog that watched me become a hunter and said “I’ll pass” for 14 years, and finally I watched in tears as my partner ushered baby chicks across the road with Jack in the back seat, as if to say in final words of wisdom, “This is the hunting life.”

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

For high-risk Alaskans navigating the pandemic, there’s no return to normal life in sight

Fri, 2020-07-03 17:28

Eleven-year-old Aubrey Virgin’s medical condition puts her at higher risk if she were infected by COVID-19. Aubrey, left, sits with her mother, Shannon Virgin at the family’s Palmer home on June 26, 2020. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

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Aubrey Virgin, 11, loves to read, run, play soccer and hunt.

“If you looked at her, you would have no idea she’s high-risk or has preexisting medical conditions,” said her mom, Shannon Virgin, from Palmer.

When Aubrey was very young, she was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease — a relatively rare illness that causes body rashes, high fever and swelling — along with asthma, juvenile arthritis and an autoinflammatory disease.

Virgin worries that if her daughter does get sick with COVID-19, “it will knock her down a lot more than it does the average person.”

It has been just over a month since Alaska has reopened, and for many, life has slowly started to return to a pre-pandemic state. But for Aubrey, her family and others in a high-risk category, a return to normal life still feels far away.

“I honestly don’t see my life ever going back to normal,” Virgin said. “I think this was eye-opening enough for me that we are always going to be a little bit more cautious.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that while everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19, some people are more likely than others to become severely ill. People in this category who contract the virus — older adults and those with underlying medical conditions — are more likely to require hospitalization, intensive care or a ventilator to help them breathe. And a recently released federal health report found that COVID-19 patients with underlying medical conditions were 12 times as likely to die as otherwise healthy people infected with the virus.

At a recent hearing, Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, explained that more Alaskans fall into this category than many realize.

“It’s not a small group: It’s at least a third of us,” she said, citing recent state-by-state data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

[Alaska logs 15th death and another record day of COVID-19 cases ahead of Fourth of July weekend]

Because there’s a higher risk that her daughter could react severely to COVID-19, Virgin said that since the beginning of the pandemic, she and her family have been “on high alert.”

They don’t go out as much. They haven’t been around anybody except for family, and recently, a couple of close friends they trust. They’re considering homeschooling Aubrey in the fall.

It hasn’t always been easy.

“Aubrey has come home a few times very upset and almost in tears over the fact that some people are not taking it seriously,” Virgin said. “She has actually asked me why her life isn’t valuable enough for other people to just wear a mask when they’re at the grocery store.”

For Virgin, the worst part is the comments she reads online.

“Like, ‘The only people who are dying are the ones that are high-risk or have pre-existing medical conditions.' And they seem to think that people in that category are already on their deathbed at that point. And that’s just not the case.”

Still, Virgin said, in many ways her family is lucky. She’s happy to be able to stay home with Aubrey. And recently, Aubrey’s doctors approved her going back to playing soccer.

“She’s only allowed to play with her feet and she has to wear a mask,” Virgin said. “And she does. She’s the only kid out there on the soccer field wearing a mask, and she gets it done.”

For other parents with high-risk children, explaining why life has profoundly changed in the time of COVID-19 has been a challenge.


Karolina Knapp, 11, and her brother Johnnie Knapp, 4, sit on a rock next to a stream near their house on Saturday, June 27, in South Anchorage. Both children have health issues that make them especially vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, and their mom Twana is happy with the Municipality of Anchorage’s new mask mandate. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes/)

Johnnie Knapp, 4, from Anchorage, was born with a hole in his heart. His sister Karolina is 11, and is also high-risk. Two years ago she was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, which occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough hormones. She was diagnosed after she went into cardiac arrest and had to spend more than a month in the hospital.

Their parents, Twana and Johnnie Knapp, said the last few months have been tough.

“It feels like it’s been a year, but it’s only been three months,” father Johnnie Knapp said.

They’ve passed the time with family movie nights, crafts and games. Johnnie Knapp has been able to work from home, and Twana Knapp does grocery pickups twice a week. Otherwise, they’ve stayed hunkered down, visiting with friends over video chat only.

Still, “every day, Karolina’s like, ‘I want to see my friends. I want to see Grandma.' It’s very difficult for her to be home all the time,” said Johnnie Knapp.

The Knapps are even more worried about their 4-year-old.

“Karolina can talk to her friends on video,” Twana Knapp said, “but Johnnie doesn’t understand why he can’t see his friend who lives down the street.”

“My biggest concern long-term is how damaging that’s going to be for his social skills and how he’s going to catch up after this is over,” Johnnie Knapp said of his son. It’s important for toddlers to learn how to play and share toys with children their own age, he said.

The couple says that the future remains uncertain. Twana Knapp said she is dreading the possibility of having to spend the next few holidays and birthdays without their extended families.

“But until people really start wearing masks and taking care of each other and looking out for each other,” she said, “I don’t feel that I can comfortably leave my home.”

Other high-risk Alaskans have found safety in leaving their home — as long as they are able to socially distance.

Stay-at-home dad and part-time bike mechanic Roger Parr has diabetes, a condition the CDC says may put him at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. He said that lately, riding his bike dozens of miles a day is one thing that has helped keep him sane.


Roger Parr poses for a photo outside his West Anchorage home on Saturday, June 27, 2020. Parr is diabetic and bikes to stay healthy, and he described feeling relieved after the Municipality of Anchorage ordered mask wearing in indoor public spaces. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes/)

“I found that the way for me to stay healthy, to keep my diabetes under control, and to fight this was by doing the one thing I had control over, which was my fitness,” Parr said.

What has been hardest for him is that his friends don’t always understand why he’s so careful about always mask-wearing and social distancing — and he often feels like he’s missing out.

“I turned down a lot of offers to go have fun. And I got a lot of people poking fun at me for taking it seriously,” he said.

State health guidelines advise Alaskans to maintain 6 feet of distance from people not in their household, and to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus. But in practice, these guidelines can sometimes be tricky to follow perfectly, Parr said.

The other day, for example, he agreed to give a friend a ride.

“And I show up wearing my mask but you know, I just felt silly,” he said. “So I ended up taking it off. I was sick of getting made fun of, and I had started thinking, you know, maybe we’re going to get over this.”

But once Parr saw news accounts over the next few days that detailed spikes in coronavirus cases in Alaska, he said he regretted that decision.

“I felt like I put myself at risk just because I wanted life to go back to normal.”

Parr said the new mandate signed by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, which requires face coverings in most indoor spaces open to public in the municipality, was “the best thing that happened all week.”

“I really think the big thing is, with all of this, it’s only going to get better if we all work together,” he said.

Parr said he feels cautiously optimistic about the future.

“I want to say that when this all goes away, that it will go back to normal,” he said. “But I guess it depends on how many friends I lose, how many people get sick, and how bad this gets.”

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Letter: Unbearable loads

Fri, 2020-07-03 17:19

Well, the horses are out again. Horse poop all over our roads, in front of my driveway, sprinkled like candy toppings on cupcakes, all over the road surface.

Why is it horse people do not have to clean up after their large pets? Why is it there are no fines for not cleaning up your horse poop? And yes, I have written about this before, I'm not sure how this changes. Human poop, dog poop, cat poop — if these are on the street, it is not OK. How did horse poop get the OK?

I would say this is complete bull, but that's the wrong animal.

Chad Gerondale

Anchorage

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A yes person learns to navigate the pandemic

Fri, 2020-07-03 16:50

I live my life sincerely terrified of getting to age 90 and wondering why I wasted my time on Earth.

There, that’s it. That’s my end game. Alli’s life’s spoiler, laid out there at the top of the page.

This is at the heart of all of my decision-making. If you want to get to know me and my motivations, there is nothing deeper or more complicated informing how I live. Being on my deathbed and looking back and wondering why I squandered my time, why I was petty, why didn’t I do more for myself and others, is the scariest feeling I can imagine.

So, working backwards, I tend to be a yes person.

Managing my urge to say yes with my inherent laziness can be challenging. I am exquisitely aware of the charms and comforts of my bed. I like my pillows propped just so. Recently, I took up TikTok like a good elder millennial curious about how younger generations waste time. I can fritter away entire hours of my life (the same one I’m so concerned about living to its fullest) on that app, leg swung over whatever edge is nearest — the couch, the bed, the precipice of self-loathing.

On the other hand, I live like someone throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. That thing that I throw? Tends to be myself. If I have a goal in mind, I commit to it. I may not be fast, but I am determined. I push, I fall, I cry, I learn, I keep going, I get better, repeat. If something isn’t working, I fix it. Life’s too short not to.

When opportunities come up, I push myself to say yes, even when the siren song of bed lulls me nearer.

Now: how the hell to be a yes person in the middle of a global pandemic while transmission rates are up in Alaska and I have an underlying condition?

Right, yeah, that’s a tricky one for me, too.

Like anyone with a life philosophy that’s worth clinging to, if only because it informs most of my life choices and I’m reticent to change or consider another path, I’m thinking a lot these days about how grateful I am that I’ve had a yes orientation for so much of my life. I have so many memories of places I’ve been and people I‘ve spent time with, and these are sustaining me.

Last year I sat on a hot beach in Massachusetts on July 1 with my sister. I remember each day bracketing that day was stressful — a 50th-anniversary alumni event I’d helped bottom line before, and then a week of in-person meetings that felt high-stakes to me.

But saying yes to the time with my sister felt important. We live on opposite sides of the country and rarely get to hang out. We showed up with a full cooler, trashy magazines and a pile of spray-on sunscreen. We lay out on our towels and ate chips, we dove in the water, we walked during low tide to a nearby island, we let waves hit us as we talked and stared out at the horizon. The sun worked its way through the rare, perfect New England blue sky. Before we knew it it was 5 p.m. and time to go home.

In 2018, I met my best friend in the desert, even though I barely had the days off and I was using airline miles I really should have saved for other travel. The trip required lost sleep on either end, and I worked on the red-eye flight south. We drove from the Las Vegas airport to the desert for a couple of nights in Death Valley National Park. I remember being absolutely awe-struck by the vastness and aridity of that enormous landscape, loving the sand in my hair even as I was a little scared at the ferocity of the wind gusts that picked up during a hike. Wearing shorts and tucking my tank top up into my sports bra in February while exploring narrow, high-walled canyons? Unbeatable.

Evenings with friends at an outdoor eatery. A quick overnight backpack into Sedona. Running along the road in Chaco Canyon. Classic ski trails groomed into perfect corduroy in Montana. A boat trip that ... well, didn’t stay afloat, but resulted in strengthened relationships with friends. I feel so lucky and grateful to have said yes when I did.

I know I will again. I know there are smaller things to say yes to right now, even if every yes is more calculated and frankly limited due to logistical unknowns and my need to substantially mitigate, if not outright avoid, risk. I can still strive to build, expand and deepen my life, even if it’s not with the same kind of wide net that I would cast before.

When the time comes I’ll be ready, probably, to say yes to a flight out of here, just to experience that exciting contrast from everything I see every day.

But right now I’m just trying to enjoy some of the presence of it all, while also being grateful I’ve packed in so many memories. I’m not 90 but I’m still pretty content with where I’ve made it in life so far. I’m grateful to have a minute to reflect on some of the good experiences I’ve been fortunate to have, and to imagine how those might inform my life moving forward.

Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.

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Alaska’s fishing boats are weathering an unprecedented storm

Fri, 2020-07-03 15:59

Commercial fishing boat moored in Dillingham on Monday, August 26, 2013, after the sockeye salmon fishing season. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Anchorage Daily News/)

No one reading this needs to be reminded that we are in uncharted waters as thousands of Alaska fishermen set out to sea for the salmon season. As a fisherman with two young boys, I felt a deep sense of both privilege and responsibility as I set my nets in the glacier-fed waters of Taku Inlet in late June.

Most fishing seasons the biggest questions are: Will the salmon come early or late? Will they be swimming deep or along the shoreline? This summer the questions are: Will Alaska’s independent fishermen financially survive the coronavirus? Will there be buyers willing to pay a decent price for their catch? Will fishermen get access to the personal protective equipment and testing that they need to avoid the spread of coronavirus? Will the long-fought Pebble mine be permitted while Bristol Bay’s fishing fleet is out risking their lives?

Realizing that spring in 2020 was like no other, here at SalmonState we felt it was important to reach out while hunkering down. We did that via SalmonState’s Spring Fishermen Survey. What we heard from the nearly 800 commercial fishermen who responded is while there are new concerns when it comes to their fishing operations, there are a couple of bedrock issues that continue to be priorities for those who make their living from the ocean.

Fishermen were clear about their needs. First, they need immediate assistance to survive the financial storm wrought by COVID-19. Secondly, they are adamant that they must take steps to keep Alaska’s coastal communities safe, and coming in a strong third was protection of clean water, intact watersheds and marine habitats, so that when we are back to “normal,” we have an intact and healthy resource to ensure fishing and jobs for decades to come.

Despite being considered essential workers, Alaska’s fishermen are most concerned about losing income this fishing season. Entire markets, e.g. food service, have vanished overnight, leaving fishermen without buyers and market prices half of what they were last year for some species. Fishermen shared in the survey that they plan to recover lost income by fishing longer, fishing alone and deferring boat maintenance. In other words, fishermen are paring down to only the bare essentials. And even then, many will still be cutting it tight.

A vast majority of survey respondents also said that they’re concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in local fishing communities. In their responses, fishermen were adamant about taking steps to keep Alaska’s communities safe and were equally adamant about needing the government to help provide testing, PPE, and clear health mandates. Fishermen want to ensure that their crew, their neighbors and their families and friends all have what they need to stay safe and healthy this summer.

The final theme that emerged was the fact that fishermen are deeply concerned about the protection of Alaska’s salmon habitat. This was a top concern for fishermen before COVID-19 and remains a top concern even in the middle of a pandemic. Fishermen are seeing increasingly urgent threats to the habitat that our fisheries depend on, and we should be listening to them and paying attention. Of particular concern is the proposed Pebble mine in Bristol Bay’s headwaters, a mine fishermen have been fighting to stop for more than a decade. In the survey, fishermen were unanimous in their cry for decision-makers to stop the Pebble mine and to not allow bad policy and management decisions from moving forward while fishermen are off the grid fishing. We need our state and federal officials to be not only our eyes and ears this season, but also a voice for us and the wild fish that Alaska benefits from.

Amid all the uncertainty, one thing that we do know is that Alaskans are resilient, and fishermen in particular are tough and resourceful. However, the impacts of the coronavirus on Alaska’s fishing industry will be long-lasting and far-reaching and we are going to need support from all levels of government to ensure that Alaska’s single-largest private sector employer stays afloat and Alaska’s lands and waters remain some of the most productive on the planet in order for us to be able to continue to provide wild, sustainable seafood for the world.

Tyson Fick works as a salmon evangelist for SalmonState. Aside from sport and commercial fishing, he has worked in the Alaska Legislature, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development as legislative liaison, and as the communications director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Alaska logs 15th death and another record day of COVID-19 cases ahead of Fourth of July weekend

Fri, 2020-07-03 15:58

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In the run-up to the Independence Day weekend, Alaska recorded another death and another record-high daily count of new COVID-19 cases involving Alaskans and nonresidents, state data showed Friday.

A 15th Alaskan has died with the virus, according to data posted Friday from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. The Anchorage resident was a man in his 80s who died in early June, and the virus “was listed as a contributing cause of death,” the state health department said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Of the 14 deaths previously announced by the state, four involved Alaskans who were out of state when they died.

The state reported 60 new cases on Friday, of which 46 involve residents and 14 involve people from outside the state. Since the pandemic began, 1,063 Alaskans and 223 non-Alaskans have tested positive for the illness caused by the coronavirus.

As of Friday, there were 680 active COVID-19 cases in Alaska among residents and people from Outside, another high since the virus was first detected in the state.

“We are thinking of the loved ones of the person who died,” the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said in statement Friday. “We are concerned about Alaska’s sharp rise in cases and hope everyone takes this as a warning call to limit contacts this weekend, stay six feet apart from non-household members, wear a face mask and wash your hands often.

“If you are sick, even with mild COVID-19 symptoms, please isolate yourself and seek testing. We need all Alaskans working together to break infection chains.”

Southcentral Alaska saw another jump in cases, with 19 Anchorage resident cases and two cases involving people from Eagle River. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough recorded three new cases among Wasilla residents, one among Willow residents and another involving someone from Houston.

Fairbanks also reported 11 new COVID-19 cases among residents and two cases involving people from Outside, according to state data.

In Seward — where officials implemented business capacity restrictions, gathering size limits and mask requirements this week — there were three new cases among residents and two cases among nonresidents. Elsewhere in the Kenai Peninsula, a Soldotna resident also tested positive for the illness.

There was also one case each reported among residents of Juneau, Nome, Bethel and smaller, unspecified communities in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area and the Kusilvak Census Area. The state doesn’t report the name of communities smaller than 1,000 people as a means of privacy protection.

Among the 10 other out-of-state cases reported Friday, seven involved seafood industry workers in the Bristol Bay and Lake & Peninsula boroughs while one involved a visitor to Dillingham, which the city announced Thursday.

State data showed another two non-Alaska residents in unknown parts of the state tested positive for the illness.

There were 25 people with suspected or confirmed cases of the illness in the hospital, according to state data Friday, which is up seven from the previous day. Of those 25, three were on ventilators, data showed. The state reported one new hospitalization in a person with a confirmed case of the illness Friday.

State data showed that 4,299 COVID-19 tests were completed on Thursday, according to the state’s health department. On Wednesday, there were 1,509 tests completed and on Tuesday there were 2,215 completed, state data showed. State testing numbers reflect the number of tests run, and not the number of individuals who were tested.

The state reports new cases daily reflecting test results returned on the previous day.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Anchorage releases list of bars with COVID-19 exposure, urges monitoring and testing

Fri, 2020-07-03 15:38

The rooftop bar at Williwaw Social in downtown Anchorage on June 10. (Bill Roth / ADN) (Bill Roth / ADN/)

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The Anchorage Health Department on Friday afternoon released a list of establishments — primarily bars — where people “who were infectious with COVID-19 spent extended time.”

The health department is asking that anyone who was in these businesses during the specified days avoid people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, monitor themselves for symptoms and check their temperatures twice daily for two weeks.

The list includes the following establishments and dates:

• Anchorage Moose Lodge #1534, eight case visits, exposure period: June 23 to June 28

• Panhandle Bar in Anchorage, six case visits, exposure period: June 16 to June 24

• JJ’s Lounge in Anchorage, six case visits, exposure period: June 15 to June 18

• The Gaslight Bar, five case visits identified, exposure period June 25 to June 27

• Williwaw Social in Anchorage, three case visits, exposure period: June 20, June 21 and June 25

• Chilkoot Charlie’s in Anchorage, two case visits, exposure period: June 18 to June 25

• Cabin Tavern in Anchorage, two case visits, exposure period: June 24 to June 25

• F Street Station in Anchorage, two case visits, exposure period: June 20 and June 25

• Eddie’s Sports Bar in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 18

• Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 25

• Pioneer Bar in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 20

• Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 25

• Great Alaskan Bush Co. in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 24

• Asia Garden in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 24

• The Blue Line Pub & Cafe in Anchorage, one case visit, exposure period: June 17

• Homestead Sports Lounge in Eagle River, one case visit identified, exposure period: June 26

• Matanuska Brewing Company in Eagle River, two case visits, exposure period: June 26

• Spurs Bar and Grill (formerly Four Corners Lounge) in Palmer, three case visits, exposure period: June 23 to June 27

• The Yukon Bar in Seward, two case visits, exposure period: June 23 to June 25

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include “fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pressure or tightness, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea,” the health department said in its statement.

It’s possible to be infectious with the virus two days before getting sick and 10 days afterward. The department asks that anyone who develops symptoms stay home except to get tested.

Anchorage saw a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases this week, straining its capacity to conduct contact tracing.

“With the current surge in cases and related contacts, our public health tracing capacity is maxed out,” Anchorage Health Department Director Natasha Pineda said in a statement Saturday. “At this time, particularly at locations where physical distancing and use of face coverings are unlikely to occur, the number of contacts is too large and complex for traditional contact tracing.”

The department cautioned that the list contains only confirmed places of exposures and the virus is spreading rapidly throughout the city. The health department said it’s working on a webpage that contains notices of exposure, though the department doesn’t list informal gatherings.

Some people who have tested positive for the illness “did not share or remember all of their close contacts or public places they visited,” the health department said.

It can take two days to one week before the Anchorage Health Department can learn where there were possible exposures. They’re asking that everyone in the municipality keep track of their contacts.

On Wednesday, the Pineda said the city’s “contact tracing capacity is at its max at the local level.”

Several new cases include people who have dozens of contacts — as opposed to just a few, which was more often the case earlier in the pandemic — as the city tries to hire more people temporarily to work on tracing.

Amid rising cases linked to multiple establishments, the Municipality of Anchorage and industry groups released a list of suggested guidelines for bars and restaurants on Wednesday that include measures such as limiting admittance to people wearing face coverings, turning down music (to keep people from having to get closer to hear one another) and instituting earlier closing hours.

Nationally, COVID-19 cases continued to climb in June, prompting some states to roll back reopenings and restrict or shut down bars.

[In reversal, Texas and Florida order bars to shut, restaurants to scale back as coronavirus cases surge]

When asked at a media briefing Wednesday about the possibility of reimposing restrictions on bars, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he would continue to watch the state’s COVID-19 numbers to make decisions if needed.

“Everything is on the table to fight a pandemic,” he said.

But, Dunleavy said, there are emotional, economic and health issues that come with each decision made.

“It’s difficult to answer until we really examine these numbers and see where they’re going to go here over the next few days,” Dunleavy said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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How Fauci, 5 other health specialists deal with COVID-19 risks in their everyday lives

Fri, 2020-07-03 13:41

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, lowers his face mask as he prepares to testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP) (KEVIN DIETSCH/)

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As Americans learn to live with the coronavirus, many are struggling with decisions about which practices are safe or risky for them. The Washington Post asked six public health/infectious diseases specialists about their own behavior choices. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.

The experts:

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Barry Bloom, Jacobson research professor and former dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Paul Volberding, professor of medicine and emeritus professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco.

Elizabeth Connick, chief of the infectious diseases division and professor of medicine and immunobiology at the University of Arizona.

Linda Bell, South Carolina’s state epidemiologist.

David Satcher, former U.S. surgeon general, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and most recently founder of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Q: When and where do you wear a mask?

Fauci: It dominates everything I do. The only time I don’t wear one is when I am alone, when I am home with my wife, or when I am speaking in public - provided there is 6 feet between me and the people to whom I am speaking, as was the case when I answered questions at the recent Congressional hearings.

Connick: I walk in the morning and never wear a mask walking around in my neighborhood. Even if you see somebody, you can keep your distance. But I do wear it otherwise. I don’t wear one inside my own office, but I do wear one in the general office area. I wasn’t wearing one before, but now everyone is masking because we have more COVID spread [in Arizona].

Volberding: I wear a mask most of the time, although not inside the house or sitting outside on my second-floor deck. I think people are crazy not to be wearing masks. The evidence that they are effective is pretty strong. I’ve noticed in recent weeks that the number of people wearing them seems to be decreasing, which concerns me. There is no shame in wearing a mask.

Bell: I wear one in public whenever possible, in stores, office settings, if I encounter groups of people that I can’t distance myself from and during press conferences when I’m not speaking.

Bloom: Every time I leave the house, inside and outside, and certainly when I shop.

Satcher: All the time. Even when I’m in the office, I keep it on, since people are always coming in and out. The only time I don’t is when I am home.

Q: Besides family, do you allow anyone else inside your home, such as cleaners or service people for repairs?

Fauci: The only person who comes into the house besides (my wife) Christine and me is the woman who cleans the house once every two weeks. She wears a mask and gloves at all times while in the house.

Connick: I pay someone to clean house. She was very afraid at first, and didn’t come for six weeks, but I paid her anyway. Then she decided she was comfortable and came back. I’m not here when she cleans, and she’s gone when I come home. So I am not breathing her air. I do have a pest control guy come. He’s quick, and I stay far away from him.

Volberding: We have cleaners who come once a week. They text me when they are nearly here, and (my wife) Molly and I close ourselves into a room on the top floor study and don’t interact with them at all. They text when they are leaving. They are good about disinfecting. As for the room we stay in, it’s my chore to keep it clean.

Bell: I allow repair workers in the home and don’t make them wear a mask while they’re working, but I do when I have contact with them, and I keep my distance.

Bloom: Yes, but only people I know, and we keep our distance and often wear masks.

Satcher: Yes, probably more than I should. My daughter is upset at the number of people I let in who don’t wear masks, although I wear one.


A shopper wears a mask as she pushes her grocery cart in the rain Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip/)

Q: Do you shop in grocery stores, or order online? Do you wash the items off or disinfect the outside of packages once you get home?

Fauci: I do physically go to the grocery store, but I wear a mask and keep my distance. I usually go at odd times. I spend half the day alone in my office, and I’m part-time at the White House. In the late afternoon or evening, when I’m finished with the White House, I go shopping for groceries, or to drugstores. I don’t disinfect the bags. In general, I will take the materials out of the bags, then wash my hands with soap and water, and then use Purell, and let everything sit for a day.

Connick: I wear a mask when I shop, and stay away from people while in the store. I try to minimize my trips. As infections become more widespread, I think I will be more conscientious about making only one visit a week. I don’t wash the packages. I did that for about a week, then decided there would be more cases if the virus was transmitted that way. I don’t think there is a lot of virus hanging around on those packages. But I do wash my hands.

Volberding: We have wonderful stores in our neighborhood that really enforce everything. They don’t let you get close to anyone else and everyone wears a mask. I don’t disinfect or wash anything. I don’t think the evidence for surface contamination is real. I don’t wear gloves in the store, but I wash my hands before I go and when I come back.

Bell: I shop in grocery stores and order online. I don’t disinfect packages that I bring into my home.

Bloom: I shop at grocery stores, and also have them shipped. I don’t wash them, but usually let them sit for a day before I use them. The bug dies pretty quickly.

Satcher: I shop in grocery stores and I wear a mask. I do the handwashing thing. I’m compulsive about that. I don’t wash or disinfect the packages, but I do wash my hands after touching them.

Q: Would you dine inside a restaurant? Outside? Do you get takeout?

Fauci: We don’t do anything inside. I don’t eat in restaurants. We do get takeout.

Connick: No, no restaurants. I avoid any closed space with a lot of people, particularly when it’s people whose risk I don’t know. I think the biggest risk is being in a closed space and breathing the same air that other people are breathing, and also not wearing masks. I wouldn’t go even if they were wearing masks. I might consider dining outside, although I would rather not. I think being outside is much safer. Takeout, yes. I would die if I didn’t do takeout.

Volberding: I wouldn’t feel comfortable yet with indoor seating, but I’d feel comfortable outside, with distances between the tables. We haven’t gone yet. We’ve gotten takeout a couple of times. We are cooking a ton, and love it.

Bell: I would not dine in a restaurant, but I would dine outside if the restaurant had a safe set up. I do get takeout.

Bloom: I would not dine inside now. I would dine outside. I’m a big believer in outside, that it’s safer outside.

Satcher: I have not dined inside a restaurant in a long time, and I used to do it a lot. I have not dined outside, but I would if I could be six feet away from other people. I do sometimes get takeout.


Bartenders were masks and face shields as they work at Slater's 50|50 in Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in Santa Clarita, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Marcio Jose Sanchez/)

Q: Do you take any precautions with your mail or packages?

Fauci: I used to, but now I just bring the mail in, wash my hands, then let it lie around for a day or two before I open it.

Connick: I’m just not that interested in my mail. It’s in a locked box across the street from my driveway, and I only pick it up once a week. If there is any virus on those letters, it gets cooked off. I don’t think a virus is living on my mail, and I’m really not worried about it. I don’t worry about packages. I open them.

Volberding: I don’t take any precautions with my mail. As for packages, there is no contact with the delivery person. I don’t leave them outside - they’d be stolen if I did.

Bell: No.

Bloom: I let them sit for a day. That’s probably irrational, but I do it that way.

Satcher: I’m so compulsive about mail that I’m reading it before I get it into my house. But I do wash my hands afterwards.

Q: Do you go to friends’ homes for dinner, or have friends to your house, or see them in other ways?

Fauci: On the rare occasion when we have people over, we have them out on the deck, six feet apart, and we never have more than two people, and they are people who themselves are locked in. We wear masks, unless we are eating. We don’t share anything. There are no common bowls. Each person has his or her own receptacle. Some people even bring their own glasses. We always do takeout and I tell the takeout people that I want the food in four separate plastic containers, so no one has to touch anyone else’s food. Everyone’s food is self-contained. Also, we always stay outside. We don’t do anything inside. If it’s too hot, or rainy, we cancel it.

Connick: There are a few friends I see for dinner. In Tucson, you can sit outside to eat. I’ve had a few people over to dinner and we eat outside. I don’t have many people over. The people I have over have been quarantining. We don’t wear masks. We sit outside at a good distance. I think if you are outside at a good distance the risk is very small. I invite over people who are very circumspect in their behavior. No one comes over to my house who goes to restaurants or bars.

Volberding: Except for seeing immediate family, the only thing we have done was to go to a birthday celebration for a friend in Golden Gate Park. Everything was widely spread out, and everyone was wearing masks. Everyone brought their own blanket and food. We haven’t been in anyone else’s house, and no one has been in ours, except our kids, and only once in a while.

Bell: I don’t go to friends’ homes for dinner at this time. I do see friends by practicing physical distancing and using masks if we have to be closer than six feet for longer than a few minutes. I allow friends in the home whose practices I’m confident in.

Bloom: I have only seen friends once, to dine outside, which was very nice. I am very keen on the outside and dispersion of aerosols sitting in the open air, but concerned about them in closed settings.

Satcher: I have not been to anybody’s house for dinner since this started. My son and his family came over for the day, and my daughter was over once to help me with a Zoom presentation.


FILE - In this Friday, June 26, 2020 file photo, Barber Mike McAndrew holds a mirror as customer Rob Verrastro looks at his new haircut at Three Saints Barbershop and Shave Parlor in Jessup, Pa. (Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP, File) (Christopher Dolan/)

Q: Are you getting your hair cut?

Fauci: I usually get it cut every five weeks, but I didn’t go for a long while. By the 11th week, it was looking really bad. So I asked the woman who cuts my hair if I could come in really early in the morning, at 7 a.m., and we arranged to do that. No one else was there. She wore a mask and I wore a mask.

Connick: I do not go to the hair salon. I pay my hairdresser to come to my house. The first time he did it, he said: “It’s on me, thanks for being a health-care worker.” The second time, I insisted. He did it outside the first time, the second time, inside. He comes once a month. No mask for my hairdresser or me in the past. However, now that salons are open, I will have to ask him how much time he has spent at the salon. If he is spending a lot of time, I may ask him to mask. We will definitely do hair outside next time. The pandemic is unfortunately ramping up in Arizona, and everyone’s risk is greater now than it was two months ago when he first cut my hair.

Volberding: [laughs] I am quite bald. I have a little hair on the sides and I buzz that off myself. I know Molly would love to get to the hair salon. She took some kitchen shears a couple of weeks ago and whacked off her hair. I understand the urge to get back to some of those personal services, but I haven’t been inclined at all.

Bell: I have not, but I would go if the business only allowed one client at a time in the general area, there was no waiting with other clients and the use of masks by all employees was required.

Bloom: Nope, I haven’t in three months, but that’s because the barbers were closed down. Now you have to make an appointment, and I haven’t had the time. Everybody wears a mask, so it would be fine.

Satcher: I haven't been to the barber since this started. I cut my own hair now, just like I did when I was in college.


Passengers wearing personal protective face masks leave the United Airline ticket counter after checking in Tuesday, June 16, 2020, at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Chris O'Meara/)

Q: Are you willing to fly? What about bus, train, subway?

Fauci: I’m 79 years old. I am not getting on a plane. I have been on flights where I’ve been seated near people who were sneezing and coughing, and then three days later, I’ve got it. So, no chance. No Metro, no public transportation. I’m in a high risk group, and I don’t want to play around.

Connick: I would only fly if I had to, for an emergency. I would not fly now for pleasure or work. I have a family reunion that happens every year, and I’m not going. But if I had to fly, I would wear an N95 mask.

Volberding: I haven’t flown, and I’m not eager to. I don’t like the idea of being in an enclosed space, especially when the airplanes are full. I’ve only ridden BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) once because we were in the East Bay to see our new granddaughter, and a Black Lives Matter protest took over the Bay Bridge. There was no way to get back except by BART. Normally, I wouldn’t have done it, but it wasn’t very crowded.

Bell: No. With the current disease activity in the country, I don’t know when I’ll fly again while airlines don’t require physical distancing and masks required for all. No [buses or trains], but public transport isn’t widely used in my community.

Bloom: No, none of them, not until the numbers of cases are down to much lower levels than they are at the moment.

Satcher: I am willing, but I haven’t flown recently. If someone invites me to speak, and I can speak by Zoom, I do it. If someone said they really needed me somewhere, I would go, but I would wear a mask all the way. I have not been on the subway since this started, but Atlanta isn’t as big on subways as New York or other places. I just usually drive my car.

Q: Would you visit your kids/grandkids?

Fauci: My middle daughter, who teaches school in New Orleans, drove up here after they closed the schools. She could teach online from here, so she thought: Why not come home and see her parents? When she got here she went straight through the back entrance into the basement. She stayed in our basement, which has a room with a bed, a shower, electricity, and she did not come upstairs for 14 days. My wife brought food down to her on paper dishes. She lives in a very high risk city, and she wouldn’t let us near her. I wanted to hug her when she arrived, but she said: “No way, dad.” She came upstairs after 14 days, and then stayed with us for several months.

Connick: I’m not going to go visit him [a son, 22, who lives in New York City] because of the flying. Besides, who wants to go to New York when you can’t go anywhere? Also, I wouldn’t take the bus or subway there. Those are enclosed spaces where you share air, and I avoid them.

Volberding: Not very often. At first, we didn’t at all. We have family cocktail hour Zooms twice a week. We talk a lot about COVID, and everyone is being super safe. I held my granddaughter - I couldn’t help that - but I don’t hug my kids or their partners.

Bloom: I have a brand new grandson, 2 months old, who lives in Los Angeles. He’s the cutest kid in the world. I would love to fly there and see him, but I won’t.

Satcher: I’ve visited my son and daughter-in-law once or twice. They needed me to sign some papers, so I went over. We were social distancing in the garage area and wearing masks, and my grandkids were wearing masks. We also do family Zoom meetings every other week on Sundays which include my two brothers and sister and their children.

Q: What would you tell your kids or grandkids who wanted to join a protest march or go to a political rally?

Fauci: My daughters feel very strongly about social injustice, but would not likely want to do that. They are very careful with their health. They stay away from crowds.

Connick: I’d be so proud of him. I would tell him to wear a mask. He’s young and doesn’t have any health conditions. Nothing is risk free. If that’s what he wanted to do, I’d ask him to wear a mask.

Volberding: We are a pretty political family, and believe in these protests. But I haven’t been to a rally. I’m old enough that it’s probably more serious for me. They are young enough that it’s probably less serious for them. But I would tell them to stay to the side and wear masks all the time, and that being in the mosh pit of a crowd is a pretty bad idea.

Bell: I would advise them that the risk for exposure is high, and that they should wear a mask at all times, and make every attempt to distance themselves from people without masks.

Bloom: The answer would be yes, but wear a mask and try to stay [six to eight] feet away from everybody. I wouldn’t do it because I am at high risk.

Satcher: I was quite active in the civil rights movement when I was a student at Morehouse. I went to jail at least five times. What bothers me about today’s protests is that they aren’t as organized as we were. You don’t know who you are marching with. You don’t want to find out when you get there that someone is going to throw a rock or start a fire.

Q: Would you go work out at a gym? Swim in a pool? Run? Walk?

Fauci: I wouldn’t go to a gym. I need to be so careful. I don’t want to take a chance. I have a pool at home, so I swim in that. I do power-walking with Chris. I was running until about a year ago, but every time I went running, my back would tighten up the next morning. So now I walk the same distance. It just takes longer. We go every day with few exceptions, 3.5 miles per day during the week, four miles over the weekend. Prior to COVID-19, I did it at lunch alone in the parks near NIH. Now, I do it in the evening with Chris around the neighborhood. On the weekends, Chris and I do it together on the C&O canal.

Connick: I wouldn’t go to a gym. I’d go to an outdoor pool, which is much safer than an indoor pool, since everything dissipates in the air, although I wouldn’t go to a crowded outdoor pool.

Volberding: I had a gym built in my house before this and it has everything, so I have no need to go to a gym. But I wouldn’t go eagerly. They can’t disinfect everything all of the time. As for pools, if anything, outdoors yes, indoors no. The swimmers would need to be far enough apart. There is a lot of heavy breathing, so even if they are in the next lane, I don’t think it’s fully safe. I try to get out and walk most days.

Bell: Of these I would only run, walk or hike where there were few other people, making it easy to avoid close contact

Bloom: I’m on the treadmill every other day at my house. I belong to a gym, but don’t believe gyms are the safest place to be until the numbers go down. Swimming outside itself is pretty safe - but stay out of the locker rooms.

Satcher: I’m not a gym person, even when there is no pandemic. I have to be outside. Being outside is good for you. I still run and walk, although I walk more than I run. I go about three or four miles most mornings. I would swim, since there is no evidence it is spread in water. I would only swim outside, since I am not an indoor swimmer.

Q: Are you making routine trips to the doctor or dentist?

Fauci: No, not yet, although I might check in within the next few weeks with my physician to get some soothing meds for my throat since I have a hoarse voice from so many briefings and interviews. He will probably take a look and say: “Just stop talking so much.”

Connick: Fortunately, I had my doctor checkup just before the shutdown, but I probably would not. As for the dentist, I probably wouldn’t go unless I had an emergency. I wouldn’t go for a routine cleaning.

Volberding: Nope. I had one doctor’s appointment done by video. I haven’t been to the dentist, although the problem with dentists is not my health, but theirs. I feel sorry for them.

Bell: No.

Bloom: No. I’m still nervous about infection control. If I had a major dental or medical emergency, I would go. The medical people take good precautions, but I am concerned with other patients going in and out.

Satcher: I haven’t seen a dentist since this started, but probably will go in soon. I’ve seen a physician once or twice for routine appointments, and I was comfortable with the way they handled the visits.

Q: What about mammograms? Would you get a routine mammogram/advise your wife/daughter to get one?

Fauci: If routine, I’d probably tell her to wait.

Connick: I am going to do it because I am a year overdue for mine, and want to get it done, otherwise I probably wouldn’t.

Volberding: Not yet.

Bell: Yes.

Bloom: Probably not.

Satcher: There is breast cancer history in the family, so yes.

Q: What kinds of questions would you ask a doctor’s office before going for a routine appointment - and what are “acceptable risk” answers?

Connick: I would ask if they practice universal masking and whether they are seeing sick patients in their office.

Volberding: I would ask about disinfection, masks and face shields, and - for the dentist - whether they are using tools that generate a lot of aerosols.

Bell: I would ask if they separate sick patients from others, whether they keep a physical distance between patients, whether they require the use of masks for all employees and patients in common areas, do they screen health-care providers for symptoms, and exclude those who are ill.

Satcher: I have not interrogated the doctors, because I trust them, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Q: Are you working in your office? What precautions do you take?

Fauci: I don’t wear a mask when I’m alone in my office, but I slap one on if I walk out into the hall and could pass someone, like my assistant, who also wears one.

Connick: In our infectious diseases clinic, if anyone is sick, they are sent home. They are screened outside and talked to on phone, and asked if they are sick. We see people for HIV or other chronic infectious diseases and they are asked not to come if they have a fever or upper respiratory tract symptoms. Also, everyone must wear a surgical mask or we won’t see them. I wear an N95 mask if I am seeing COVID patients, as well as goggles and a shield.

Volberding: I still have AIDS patients I do by phone. I went into clinic once a few weeks ago, but stayed only a brief period of time. I’m still not too eager to get back to the clinic. I do most work from home.

Bell: I primarily telework, but I wear a mask in group meetings when I’m in the office.

Bloom: Until recently, school has been closed and locked. I have permission to go in, but no particular reason to do so. I live by Zoom, and it’s fantastic.

Satcher: I go in about twice a week and wear a mask all the time, which is the rule. Also, everyone gets temperature checked.

Q: Will you ever shake hands again? Hug/kiss someone?

Fauci: I think it’s going to be a while. The infection rate will have to be extremely low or nonexistent, or we have to have a vaccine. Right now, I don’t even think about doing it.

Connick: I don’t know if people will ever shake hands again. Not until this thing is gone. Not until this is over. If my son came to visit, I’d hug him, but I’m generally not hugging people.

Volberding: It’s been a long time since I have shaken a hand. Maybe I will again once there is a vaccine. I grew up in Minnesota where hugging is not common, but since I’ve been out here, I’ve wanted to hug people, and love it. Once there is a vaccine, I want to get back to hugging. It just feels normal.

Bell: Yes [to shaking hands], followed by practicing good hand hygiene. Yes [to hugging and kissing.]

Bloom: I’d try to avoid it. I think it’s a bad idea. But I would rub elbows.

Satcher: I forget upon occasion and reach out my hand. I’m supposed to set an example, but I don’t always remember. Handshakes have always been a big thing at Morehouse, a firm handshake was one of the things they recommended when I was a student. I do the elbow bump thing, and I’m now a stickler for social distance. I don’t hug or kiss anyone.

Q: If you had young kids, would you send them back to school in the fall?

Fauci: It really depends on where you live.

Connick: I think that’s a very difficult question. I’m very glad I don’t have to make that decision. If they got sick, they may be fine but they could give it to me. As a doctor, I feel obligated to not get sick. It would be very difficult [to] have children who were in the school system.

Volberding: Oh boy, that’s a hard question. It’s such a challenge. The data I’ve heard about suggest that the really young kids are not much of an infection reservoir, so I think it might be okay for preschool, day care and elementary school. The question gets to be harder in high school and college. I think the schools probably will have shifts, morning and afternoon, and limited hours. They might consider teaching in cohorts - small groups of students, so if one get infected, they can quarantine that one group to keep it from spreading. I don’t think you can replace direct interaction with Zoom.

Bell: Yes.

Bloom: Yes. I believe that the process of socialization is really important, and that long-term deprivation of that is probably going to do more harm than the occasional child becoming infected. We also need to liberate parents and get them back to work, but as carefully as we can. I think kids need schooling and socialization.

Satcher: It would depend on what arrangements the school made to protect their health.

Q: Have you been tested for the coronavirus?

Fauci: Yes, every time I go to the White House.

Connick: I have not been tested. I’ve had no symptoms, so I see no reason to get tested.

Volberding: No. I am asymptomatic. I take my temperature every day and I have a spray bottle of fragrance that I spray into the air every day to make sure I haven’t lost my sense of smell. I’m in my house almost all the time except for walks in the neighborhood and trips to grocery stores.

Bell: No.

Bloom: No. But I have no symptoms.

Satcher: Yes, Morehouse requires it before we can come back. I actually took two different tests, the nasal swab and an antibody test because I was curious. I didn’t have any symptoms. Both were negative.

Q: What is your best guess about when a vaccine will be available?

Fauci: We have multiple candidates, and my hope is that we will have more than one, probably by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

Connick: Hopefully in six months. That would be a dream.

Volberding: The challenge isn’t making a vaccine, it’s in testing it for efficacy in large numbers of people. It’s got to be placebo controlled to know it’s working, and done on enough people with exposure risk. If everyone is staying at home, you won’t know. It also depends on how the epidemic goes. If, unfortunately, it is blasting along, you’ll be able to test it. It will take longer if there is a pandemic lull. I’m not expecting anything for at least a year from now.

Bell: Based on previous vaccine development, and the expectation that safety and efficacy were well tested, a complete guess would be late 2021.

Bloom: It’s unlikely we will have one that is 100 percent effective. But it would be terrific to have one that’s 50 percent effective, which is in the ballpark for flu. You need about 30,000 people to test and I don’t think 30,000 people are going to volunteer for each trial. So how many to know it’s safe and effective? My guess, though, is that we could have something by the first quarter of 2021.

Satcher: I wish I could say we will have one by the end of this year, but I can’t. We may have one in 2021, but I think it’s a long shot. Vaccines are not easy to develop, and this virus gives us some real challenges.

‘Huge bummer’: Fourth of July will test Americans’ discipline during pandemic

Fri, 2020-07-03 13:10

Flags line the beach in Belmar, N.J., on June 28, 2020. With large crowds expected at the Jersey Shore for the July Fourth weekend, some are worried that a failure to heed mask-wearing and social distancing protocols could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry) (Wayne Parry/)

The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans’ self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.

With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.

“This year is a huge bummer, to say the least,” said Ashley Peters, who for 14 years has hosted 150 friends and relatives at a pool party at her home in Manteca, California, complete with a DJ, bounce house, water slide and shaved-ice stand. This time, the guest list is down to just a few people.

Pulling the plug on the bash, she said, was a “no-brainer” because so many of those she knows are front-line workers, including her husband, a fire captain. “I woke up and told my husband I wish it was just July 5,” she said.

Health experts agree this will be a pivotal moment in determining whether the nation slides into a deeper mess. The fear is that a weekend of crowded pool parties, picnics and parades will fuel the surge.

“We’re not going to be arresting people for having gatherings, but we’re certainly going to discourage it,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health director for Seattle and King County.

Those who decide they must gather with a small group of family members need to be careful, he said: “Don’t share utensils, don’t share objects, don’t pass them back and forth, because you’re passing that virus around as well.”

The warnings were sounded after a Memorial Day weekend that saw many people emerge from stay-at-home orders to go to the beach, restaurants and family gatherings. Since then, confirmed infections per day in the U.S. have rocketed to an all-time high, more than doubling.

The U.S. set another record on Friday with 52,300 newly reported cases, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have been hit especially hard.

Despite it all, there will still be fireworks and community events scattered across the nation, with many taking social distancing into account. In Ohio, Upper Arlington’s July Fourth parade will take a much longer route through its neighborhoods so residents can watch without crowding the streets.

“We’re calling it the front porch parade,” said organizer Sam Porter. “We can’t just not do something.”


Nurse Tanya Markos administers a coronavirus test on patient Juan Ozoria at a mobile COVID-19 testing unit, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Lawrence, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (Elise Amendola/)
People wearing protective face masks walk past a closed entrance to the beach during the new coronavirus pandemic, Friday, July 3, 2020, in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Fla. Beaches throughout South Florida are closed for the busy Fourth of July weekend to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky/)

Fireworks will be launched from four spots across Albuquerque, New Mexico, so that people can ooh and aah from home instead of gathering in a single place.

Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July Picnic will carry on at his Texas ranch outside Austin, but this year the concert portion will be virtual.

President Donald Trump planned to travel to South Dakota on Friday for a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore before returning to the nation’s capital for military flyovers Saturday and a mile-long pyrotechnics display show on the National Mall that his administration promises will be the biggest in recent memory. Up to 300,000 face masks will be given away but not required.

The big party will go on over objections from Washington's mayor.

“Ask yourself, do you need to be there? Ask yourself, can you anticipate or know who all is going to be around you? If you go downtown, do you know if you’re going to be able to social distance?” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Beaches that had been open for the traditional start of summer over Memorial Day weekend will be off-limits in many places this time, including South Florida, Southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans who do go to the beach to wear face coverings, though not in the water.

With professional pyrotechnic displays canceled, authorities are bracing for wildfires and injuries caused by Americans shooting off fireworks at home. Sales of fireworks have been booming in what some sellers say may reflect a desire for a little excitement among people cooped up for so long.

Jamie Parrott, a pediatric neurologist in Columbia, South Carolina, said he intends to stay home with his grandchildren, setting off fireworks and eating hamburgers, because that's the safer course for older people like him.

“We’ll muddle through,” he said.

Delaware’s governor ordered bars in some beach towns to close, saying people were getting complacent about masks and social distancing. The Lake Erie resort village of Put-in-Bay in Ohio canceled its fireworks after a small number of coronavirus cases were linked to bars on the island. And the New Jersey resort town of Wildwood did the same.

Still, many people are expected to pack the beaches, boardwalk restaurants and amusement parks up and down the Jersey shore.

South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach is one of the nation’s worst hot spots for COVID-19, and officials in several other states blame their outbreaks on vacationers returning from the resort city. On Thursday, the city passed a mask requirement.

“I hate the perception that people have right now, as any city would,” said Mayor Brenda Bethune.

After hearing Michigan’s governor warn about the need to be smart amid an uptick of cases, Mary Halley of Jonesville said her family canceled plans for a weekend outing on Lake Michigan.

“We had some disappointed kids, but we knew as a family we couldn’t do that,” she said. The problem, she said, is that too many people aren’t listening to the experts. “Even in my small, little town, there are lot of people who didn’t comply with the orders,” she said.

Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hospital Association, said he is “really, really worried about the Fourth of July.”

“I think that will likely determine the trend for Alabama for the rest of the summer,” he said.

___

Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.

Part of busy boulevard in Anchorage’s U-Med District will be closed for 30 days

Fri, 2020-07-03 13:07

A sinkhole that opened up in December in the westbound lanes of Northern Lights Boulevard lies directly over the culverts carrying Chester Creek under the roadway. The city performed emergency repairs at the time, but starting Sunday, July 5, 2020, Northern Lights will be closed in both directions in the area so the culverts can be replaced. (Anne Raup / ADN archive)

Starting Sunday evening, a section of East Northern Lights Boulevard in Anchorage’s University-Medical District will be closed in both directions for 30 days as crews work to replace damaged creek culverts.

Drivers will need to take alternate routes to avoid Northern Lights between Lake Otis Parkway and UAA Drive, the Municipality of Anchorage’s Project Management and Engineering Department said in a statement Friday.

A fact sheet outlines two detour routes: one that heads north on Lake Otis to East 15th Avenue before wrapping back to Northern Lights via Bragaw Street, and a southern route that leads drivers south on Lake Otis to Providence Drive, then back to Northern Lights via UAA Drive.


Map of alternate routes for the 30-day Northern Lights Boulevard closure starting Sunday, July 5, 2020. (From the Municipality of Anchorage's Project Management and Engineering Department's fact sheet on the culvert replacement project) (Chelsea Ward-Waller/)

A sinkhole formed on the roadway after one of the two steel culverts under Northern Lights Boulevard at Chester Creek started collapsing in December. At the time, the city performed emergency repairs so the road could remain open to traffic. Inspections by the city “showed significant corrosion and rust below the waterline of both culverts, which weakened them structurally,” according to the Project Management and Engineering Department’s fact sheet on the project.

Now, the city says the road must be closed in both directions so crews can divert the creek — an active salmon habitat — while construction is underway to replace the damaged steel culverts with a concrete box culvert that will last longer and won’t rust.

“Under normal circumstances, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game would not allow construction while salmon are still running upstream,” the Project Management and Engineering Department said. “Due to the emergency nature of this project, Fish & Game is allowing us to proceed as long as the creek is diverted.”

The city is working on an accelerated timeline so the road can reopen by winter. While it was unclear whether the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in November 2018 caused the damage, the Project Management and Engineering Department said, the new culvert “will be seismically more robust.”

Construction on the project will continue for 10 weeks, including the monthlong closure of that portion of Northern Lights Boulevard.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

Police aren’t a good solution for everything. We shouldn’t act like they are.

Fri, 2020-07-03 12:24

Anchorage Police Department APD handcuffs Dec. 20, 2019. (Anne Raup / ADN)

So just exactly what is it that we expect from our police? Yes, I fully understand that they should not be racist. Seriously, that should just be a given. They should also not be prone to violence in their policing duties. Yes, there may be times when the only answer is a drawn gun. But that should never be the answer to a call for help with a social services or mental health situation. In fact, why the hell are we asking the police to respond to those things in the first place?

A person experiencing a mental health crisis needs a mental health counselor, not a cop with enough firepower on him to end the war in Afghanistan. And trust me, that is what police look like today — like they are going into a war zone and need everything but airstrikes to control their neighborhoods.

If we want the police to concentrate on being police and not substance abuse counselors or mental health counselors or homeless counselors, then we need to start funding those positions, even if it takes money away from the travesty that is now neighborhood policing. Neighborhood police should not look like they are walking through a bad neighborhood in Kabul.

But let’s get back to how we ease their burden, so they can learn how to be cops and not the horrible hybrid that is what passes for policing today.

If we actually had a functioning mental health system, we would have emergency counselors on call day and night, so that a family had someone to help if they notice their mentally ill relative unraveling. If, in fact, intervention was available before it turned into a full-blown and possibly dangerous emergency, then maybe that part of the burden could be lifted from the police.

If we truly want our criminal justice system to be a criminal justice system, then we have to stop treating jails as mental health facilities. It’s called mental illness for a reason. It’s an illness. You wouldn’t put a diabetic in jail for letting their blood sugar get dangerously high for a reason possibly beyond their ability to control. So why do we toss the mentally ill into a prison population, other than the fact that we have once again decided that all things we don’t want to deal with, we will expect the criminal justice system to handle for us? They are our new mental health facilities, whether we want to admit it or not. And they suck at it, because that’s not what they are and not what their staff train to be. 

The Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) is a disgrace and has been for longer than many of us have memories. It was built too small by a state that was willing to pay for a bigger sports arena for its college team but didn’t think we should build a bigger API, despite all the experts warning from the get-go that it was too small. And now we find that even the smaller facility is still too big for the meager little budget it receives.

We could repeat this whole scenario in talking about alcoholics or the homeless. Each of these populations have their own unique set of problems. Sometimes these problems overlap. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. But the police should not be asked to make those calls. They are not substance abuse counselors or homeless counselors. They are cops. Cops!

We need to defund the police to the extent that we fund these other critically needed services so that the police can go back to walking a beat, protecting and serving their communities and not wearing enough weaponry to scare even kids used to violent video games.

If we intervened earlier in some problems, whether it be mental illness or substance abuse, there is every chance we can avoid situations that reach the need for police intervention. At a minimum, if we had a counselor go out on these calls with the police maybe, just maybe, they could defuse the situation before it turned really dangerous.

How about we stop asking police to be everything from marriage counselors to combat-ready troops? How about we ask them to just be cops? Learn the neighborhood. Walk it. Keep it safe. And how about we fund social workers and counselors to work with those populations that need counselors, not storm troopers. Just seems like that would make everyone’s life a lot easier.

Elise Patkotak is an Alaska columnist and author. Her book “Coming Into the City” is available at AlaskaBooksandCalendars.com and at local bookstores.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

White Michigan couple charged after gun pulled on Black family

Fri, 2020-07-03 11:28

A white couple face criminal charges after one of them was captured on video pulling a handgun on a Black woman and her daughters in a restaurant parking lot in Michigan.

Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were arrested after Wednesday night’s confrontation and charged Thursday with felonious assault, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said in a release. They were later arraigned and are free on a $50,000 personal bond, according to the Oakland County sheriff’s office. As a condition of the bond they must turn over all firearms, not engage in “assaultive behavior” and not leave Michigan, Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a statement.

It was not clear whether they have attorneys yet who could comment on the allegations. The Wuestenbergs are next scheduled to appear in court for a probable cause hearing on July 14, the sheriff’s office said in a release.

Cellphone video captured the confrontation outside a Chipotle in Orion Township, about 40 miles northwest of Detroit.

Jillian Wuestenberg can be seen outside her vehicle shouting, “Get the (expletive) away! Get away!” while pointing a handgun. She eventually gets back in her vehicle, which her husband drives away.

Bouchard told reporters that the couple are from Independence Township and both have concealed pistol licenses. Deputies seized two handguns from the couple after they were detained.


Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard speaks at a news conference, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Pontiac, Mich., to confirm one felonious assault charge each has been filed against Eric and Jillian Wuestenberg, both of Independence Township, after a confrontation that resulted in pointing hand guns at Takelia Hill and her children after exiting a restaurant in Orion Township, a day earlier. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP) (Todd McInturf/)

The Detroit News first reported on the three-minute video posted online that shows part of the interaction. Takelia Hill, who is Black, told the newspaper that it happened after the white woman bumped into Hill's teenage daughter as they were entering the fast food restaurant.

The video footage starts after that, in the parking lot. A woman since identified as Jillian Wuestenberg is heard arguing with Hill and her daughters. Wuestenberg climbs into the vehicle, rolls down the window and says, “White people aren’t racist,” and, “I care about you,” before the vehicle she was in starts to back away.

Her husband, who had led his wife to the vehicle, turns to the camera and asks, “Who ... do you think you guys are?” using an expletive.

Then, as someone is behind the vehicle, Jillian Wuestenberg jumps out and points a handgun in the direction of a person who’s recording. She screams at people to get away from her and her vehicle. A woman shouts, “She’s got a gun on me!” and urges someone in the parking lot to call the police.

Wuestenberg then lowers the gun, climbs into the passenger seat and the vehicle drives off.

Cooper, the prosecutor, told The Associated Press that her office viewed the available video before filing charges.

“It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that tempers run high over, basically, not much of an incident,” she said of what led to the confrontation.

“There’s a lot of tension in our society, a lot of tension among folks and people with each other,” Bouchard, the sheriff, said “I would just say this, we are asking and expect our police — and rightfully so — to deescalate every situation they possibly can, and we should be doing that. But I would say that needs to happen with us individually in our own lives and situations, that we interact with each other and deescalate those moments.”

After the video surfaced, Eric Wuestenberg was fired from his job at Oakland University near Detroit, a spokesman said. He worked as a veterans support services coordinator, according to a university website.

“We have seen the video and we deem his behavior unacceptable,” the university said in an emailed statement. “The employee has been notified that his employment has been terminated by the university.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin said in a statement that Eric Wuestenberg also had participated in one of her voluntary advisory boards, on veterans’ issues. She said the conduct she saw in the video “is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior” and that she removed him from the advisory board Thursday.

___

Burnett reported from Chicago.

Western Alaska village complains of stigma following COVID tests

Fri, 2020-07-03 09:59

Napaskiak sits on the Kuskokwim River just downstream from Bethel. (ADN archive).

BETHEL — An official at one Alaska village says residents have been humiliated and discriminated against after the regional health corporation announced two people who were in the village tested positive for COVID-19.

Napaskiak Tribal Administrator Sharon Williams said village residents have been turned away from businesses in the nearby hub community of Bethel, even though they are adhering to proper COVID-19 protocols, KYUK in Bethel reported.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. on June 25 said there was likely community spread of COVID-19 in Napaskiak after two people who were in the village tested positive.

The Napaskiak Tribal Council the following week claimed in a statement that the village has experienced “humiliation, discrimination and feeling victimized.”

Williams sent two village employees for parts in Bethel. Both employees had tested negative for COVID-19 and wore masks, she said.

“Once the worker heard Napaskiak, he asked them to get out,” she added. The store manager later apologized, saying the store employee was not following store policy.

Williams blames the health corporation for disclosing the likely existence of community spread, which she said was made worse when the corporation notified all its employees that anyone who traveled to Napaskiak must be tested.

Williams said she felt “terrible for our village.”

Health corporation spokesperson Tiffany Zulkosky said the Napaskiak tribal chief, tribal administrator and mayor all gave prior approval to the announcement about likely community spread, and it would not have been released without the village’s support.

Williams said she isn’t sure there is indeed community spread of COVID-19 in the village since there have only been two cases. She said in one, the person tested positive in a first test, but two subsequent lab tests returned negative results.

The corporation said it doesn’t believe any cases announced in June, when both Napaskiak cases were tested, were false positives, Zulkosky said.

Dr. Ellen Hodges, the corporation’s chief of staff, said inconsistent test results are more often because the person tested has a low amount of the virus and sometimes tests can’t detect it.

The health corporation said it stands by its assessment of likely community spread in Napaskiak and believes it was important to make a public announcement.

“No one knows when a COVID-19 infection will result in serious illness that leads to hospitalization or death,” it said in a statement. “We believe not identifying the public health risk, once our providers noticed these trends, would have put lives at risk.”

About 263 village residents, or 64% of the population of the village located 7 miles southeast of Bethel in Southwest Alaska, were tested for COVID-19 and not all have received results yet. KYUK says there was more widespread testing offered from June 26 through Wednesday.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

Alaska’s top Republican says election-reform ballot measure would make political parties ‘extinct’

Fri, 2020-07-03 08:39

Voting at College Gate Elementary School in Anchorage on primary election day, Aug. 16, 2016. (ADN archive) (Loren Holmes/)

Current and former officials from Alaska’s two major political parties told a legislative committee this week that a proposed election-reform ballot measure would all but erase the parties’ power in Alaska. The state’s Libertarian Party disagrees, saying it the proposal would give voters more options.

Glenn Clary, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, said that if Ballot Measure 2 becomes law, “Political parties will become extinct.”

The measure, formally known as “Alaska’s Better Elections Initiative,” is on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. If approved by voters, it would place all state-election candidates onto a single primary ballot. The top four vote-getters in that primary would advance to the general election, regardless of party.

In the general election, voters would be asked to rank those four candidates, 1-4. If a candidate gets more than half of the first-place votes, he or she wins. If no one has more than half, the candidate who got the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and that candidate’s votes are redistributed to the voters’ second choice. The process repeats until a candidate has more than half the votes.

During both elections, campaign groups would be required to disclose the source of their contributions. Currently, full disclosure does not exist.

“I am intuiting that the reason these changes are proposed is one of the goals of the initiative is to minimize the roles of political parties,” said Kay Brown, a former state legislator and former executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party.

Jeanne Devon, communications director for the Alaska Democratic Party, said that despite Brown’s comments against the measure, the Alaska Democratic Party has not come up with an official position on the measure. For now, it’s “agnostic,” she said.

Bob Bird, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, said that organization also does not have an official position.

But Alaska’s Libertarian Party said in a written statement that it “stands firmly behind the Alaskans for Better Elections ballot initiative.”

Party chairman Jon Briggs Watts said the changes proposed by the initiative ensure “more voices, more points of view, more ideas, and more options are represented in the process.”

In 2002, Alaskans rejected a narrower ballot measure that would have imposed a form of ranked-choice voting. One of the sponsors of that initiative, Mark Chryson, said there’s a straightforward reason why the Republican and Democratic establishments would oppose the idea.

“It’s going to take away some of the power from the parties,” he said.

Shea Siegert, campaign manager of the group backing this year’s initiative, said it is not targeted at any side, but Brown and Clary told lawmakers that they believe the proposed changes would eliminate the parties’ ability to select and nominate their pick, possibly violating the constitutional rights of the party and the candidate.

For example, Clary said, the measure wouldn’t display a candidate’s party affiliation unless the candidate specifically requested it.

“People would have no idea what that candidate stands for and who they stand with,” he said.

[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]

Herman Cain treated for COVID-19 after attending Trump rally

Fri, 2020-07-03 08:14

FILE - In this June 20, 2014, file photo, Herman Cain, CEO, The New Voice, speaks during Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority event in Washington. Cain is being treated for the coronavirus at an Atlanta-area hospital. That's according to a statement posted on his Twitter account Thursday, July 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File) (Molly Riley/)

WASHINGTON — 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is being treated for the coronavirus at an Atlanta-area hospital, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account Thursday.

It's not clear when or where Cain was infected, but he was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He did not meet with Trump there, according to the campaign.

Cain, 74, was hospitalized after developing “serious” symptoms but is “awake and alert,” according to the statement.

The former pizza company executive has been an outspoken backer of the president and was named by the campaign as a co-chair of Black Voices for Trump.

“I realize people will speculate about the Tulsa rally, but Herman did a lot of traveling the past week, including to Arizona where cases are spiking,” Dan Calabrese, who has been editor of HermanCain.com, wrote on the website. “I don’t think there’s any way to trace this to the one specific contact that caused him to be infected. We’ll never know.”

Cain took part in a Trump campaign livestream before the rally with campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson and Texas state Rep. James White.

Asked whether Cain met at the rally with other senior campaign or administration officials, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh responded that “contact tracing was conducted after the Tulsa rally but we do not comment regarding the medical information of individuals.”

“Regardless, Mr. Cain did not meet with the President,” Murtaugh added.

At least six campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service working in advance of the Tulsa rally tested positive for COVID-19. An Oklahoma-based journalist has also confirmed testing positive soon after attending the rally.

Trump faced criticism for holding the big-arena event despite warnings from public health experts that it is not yet safe to hold mass gatherings. More than 6,000 people attended the rally at the BOK Center, an arena that can seat more than 19,000.

Cain’s official Twitter account on Wednesday included a posting of an article about South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem declining to impose mask-wearing or social distancing rules at Friday’s fireworks display at Mount Rushmore, an Independence Day weekend event that Trump is scheduled to attend. The Twitter posting included the addendum, “Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Cain briefly rose to the top of polls during the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination by highlighting a plan to simplify the tax code with what he called the 9-9-9 plan. On the campaign trail, he spoke about being diagnosed in 2006 with stage 4 liver cancer and his doctors giving him slim hope for long-term survival.

More recently, he has kept involved in conservative politics as a commentator on Newsmax.

Some jobs are coming back, but economy will need years to heal

Fri, 2020-07-03 08:02

President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing at the White House, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Washington, as White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, look on. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Evan Vucci/)

Sales were stronger than expected when Macy’s reopened its first stores in early May, after a nearly seven-week coronavirus shutdown. But that initial surge soon fizzled, leaving the retailer’s brick-and-mortar business down more than one-third.

Some stores reopened in malls where restaurants and movie theaters remained closed, limiting foot traffic. Outlets in major cities suffered from the absence of foreign tourists. And recent coronavirus flare-ups across the South and West convinced executives they faced a grueling recovery that could take until 2022.

"The situation is really fluid. And it changes day by day," Jeff Gennette, Macy's chief executive, told investors this week on an earnings call.

The same could be said of the entire U.S. economy, which has defied the most pessimistic forecasts yet still faces an uncertain trek back to its former heights. With the unemployment rate at 11.1 percent, worse than at any point during the Great Recession, and output continuing to decline, the healing could go on for years.

Employers are rehiring workers faster than economists anticipated, at least as of mid-June when the latest Labor Department survey was taken. But more recent setbacks in the economic reopening, as the daily number of coronavirus cases topped 50,000 for the first time, have blackened the outlook.

"It's going to be pretty slow going. The bottom line is this is all about public health, public health, public health," said Narayana Kocherlakota, a former Federal Reserve Bank president. "This is absolutely a multiyear recovery."

More than half of the country has now paused or reversed plans to reopen for business, according to Goldman Sachs. Almost four months after the first shutdowns, the health situation is getting worse, not better, in states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. New national data on credit card spending, restaurant reservations and small-business hours show that the recovery from the recession that began in February may already be losing steam.

On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released its new forecast, calling for the economy to expand at an annual rate of 12.4 percent in the second half of the year, down from the 15.8 percent it projected in May. That represents unusually rapid growth, but it will follow a three-month period that is widely expected to be the worst in modern history.

The Atlanta Fed's real-time model estimates that the economy shrank in the quarter that ended June 30 at a rate of 35 percent.

Still, the situation is not as bad as many economists feared. In March, as the economy plunged into the deepest recession in decades, many warned that the unemployment rate would hit 20 percent by summer.

On Thursday, in contrast, the Labor Department reported that the economy created 4.8 million jobs in June, shattering the record set in May. At the White House, President Trump took a victory lap, heralding the development as "spectacular . . . record setting . . . astonishing."

The president boasted of the rising stock market, robust retail sales, and a revival of consumer confidence. With customary bravado, he took credit for the rebound while laying the blame elsewhere for the plummet that had preceded it.

"This is not just luck, what's happening; this is a lot of talent," Trump said. "All of this incredible news is the result of historic actions my administration has taken working with our partners in Congress to rescue the U.S. economy from a horrible event that was formed, took place in China, and came here."

Indeed, Congress approved spending $3 trillion to rescue the economy while the Fed expanded its balance sheet by an additional $3 trillion to support lending to businesses, households and local governments.

Yet Democrats have charged that the president's failure to combat the coronavirus by encouraging the use of masks and implementing a national testing program helped fuel the latest surge in cases.

The economy remains badly wounded. Nearly 19.3 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, almost three times the peak during the worst of the 2008-09 financial crisis and up from just 1.7 million in early March.

The situation is still so dire that the Fed for the first time in its 107-year history has created a program to buy the corporate bonds of blue-chip companies such as Apple, Walmart and AT&T to facilitate lending.

Trump's salesmanship also risks opening a credibility gap between his rosy comments and reality. In a Fox Business interview on Wednesday, he again predicted a swift "V-shaped" recovery, an expectation that few economists outside his administration share. And he repeated his unfounded claim that the coronavirus will "just disappear" one day.

"We're headed back in a very strong fashion with a 'V,' and I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus," the president said. "I think that at some point that is going to sort of just disappear."

Instead, the outlook is a start-and-stop recovery with the economy held hostage by a failure to contain the pandemic, some economists said. Adjusted for inflation, the economy will be smaller than it was at the end of 2019 until the middle of 2022, according to the CBO.

Megan Greene, an economist with Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, expects the unemployment rate to increase in July. Many small businesses that took advantage of a government loan program for small businesses may exhaust their borrowings next month, and enhanced unemployment insurance payments will also expire unless Congress acts.

"It's a massive cash cliff for the economy," she said.

Elsewhere, Apple, which had been among the first retailers to close during the initial pandemic shutdown, this week shuttered 77 stores in seven states for a second time. Credit and debit card spending, which had recovered steadily since mid-April, fell back in the week ending June 27, according to JP Morgan.

The investment bank cited findings from a panel of 30 million Chase cardholders and said the decline was "surprisingly widespread across states and demographic groups."

Restaurant reservations also have lost ground in recent days. On July 1, bookings were down 64.7 percent from one year ago, having worsened from the 57 percent decline on June 27, according to the online dining service Open Table.

And Homebase, a provider of scheduling software, warned that small businesses were hitting a "reopening plateau." After a rush to reopen in May, progress in cities such as Houston and Phoenix has stalled, the company said. Up to 20 percent of small businesses might not survive, it added.

"Going forward, my expectation is it will be more mixed," said Nathan Sheets, chief economist at PGIM Fixed Income. "The biggest question is what happens with the virus. If we could get the virus out of the way, we have an economy that is itching to get back to normal."

There is ample evidence that the pandemic retains its iron grip on the $21 trillion economy.

In Texas, United Auto Workers Local 276 last week asked General Motors to halt production at its Arlington assembly plant out of concern over the spreading virus, a request the automaker refused as unnecessary in light of company safety protocols. "Every day we are setting new records in the number of people who are testing positive in the Dallas-Fort Worth area," the union said on its website.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio halted indefinitely plans to allow restaurants and bars to resume indoor dining.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered mandatory business closures in 19 counties where the coronavirus is raging.

While the stock market gives off a scent of euphoria - the tech-heavy Nasdaq sits at a record high - bond investors are sending a different signal. The yield on the 10-year Treasury security sits at 0.67 percent, little different from where it traded in late March, and proof that traders anticipate anemic growth.

Continued cause for concern was evident in the 1.4 million Americans who filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ending June 27. That marked the 16th consecutive week that jobless claims have topped 1 million. Before March, the previous record had been 695,000 in 1982.

Companies in some of the states struggling amid the worst coronavirus outbreaks continue to let workers go, contrary to the president's cheery forecast. In Florida, Levy Premium Foodservice, which handles concessions at sports facilities that are home to the NBA's Miami Heat and Orlando Magic and Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, notified the state of plans to lay off or reduce by more than 50 percent the hours worked for more than 1,400 employees.

It may be years before many Americans can count on complete recovery.

Over the past 70 years, the unemployment rate has declined from its recession peaks by 0.85 percentage points per year, according to a recent paper by Robert Hall, an economics professor at Stanford University, and Marianna Kudlyak, a research adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

The Fed expects the unemployment rate to be 9.3 percent at the end of this year. If the economy replays its previous performance, it would take nearly seven years for the economy to get back to February’s 3.5 percent jobless rate.

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