The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Rich Galen

Friday April 17, 2020

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  • As promised, the Trump Administration released its "guidelines" for restarting the economy.

  • The unfortunately named document, "Opening Up America Again," lays out the criteria for going back to work and the conditions that would prohibit it.

  • What I have to do to "go back to work" is to move my laptop from the left hand side of the coffee table in my den, to the right hand side.

  • For most people, though, it entails a trip at least beyond your front steps and likely either a ride on some form of public transport and/or a ride in a car, followed by a walk down a crowded sidewalk into a building which, if large enough, has an elevator which might not be six feet across in total, much less allow passengers to stand six feet apart.

  • Once in your office a major design flaw will face you: The modern rush to an "open office" plan is exactly the wrong design to keep social separation policies in force.

  • Trying to isolate cubicles would make the average office look like the overflow ward of the Hospital Ship Comfort.

  • With these and other issues in mind, how will the government - federal or state - get people comfortable to go back to work? Especially those who may be drawing enough from their enhanded unemployment benefits so that they are not suffering monetarily?

  • I was having this conversation with a friend who lives in Dallas the other day and I imagined the National Guard going door-to-door to roust non-workers.
    National Guardsman at the door. Doorbell rings, cat hides under the dining room table:

    Guardsman #1: Why aren't you at work?

    Me: I work at home

    #1: Where did you work before COVID-19

    Me: You mean during the dreaded COVID-18?

    #1 & #2 trade blank stares

    Me: At home

    #1: What do you do?

    Me: I'm a writer

    #1: What do you write?

    Me: I mostly draft op-eds for commercial clients

    #1: Have you ever written something we might have heard of?

    Me: Pause Ever hear of "For Whom the Bell Tolls?"

    #1: Checking with #2 No.

    Me: Yeah, well

  • As you may remember, I was a proud member of first the New Jersey National guard, then the Ohio Guard and in just six years rose to the rank of E4.

  • Everyone wants to get the economy back up and running. Donald Trump because his re-election probably depends upon it, and the rest of us just to get the kids and us out of the house.

  • But,as Josh Bolten, CEO of the Business Roundtable, said on CNBC (Via Axios):
    "If people don't have confidence that it's safe to go out and go to your job or go to a store, they're just not going to go regardless of what the government says."

  • Central to rolling out a re-start is adequate testing.

  • We've been hearing about testing since COVID-17


    The running gag of the COVID numbers is Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway's "This is COVID-19, not COVID-1, folks. And so you would think the people charged with the World Health Organization facts and figures would be on top of that" declaration on Fox that the WHO should have done a better job because it had 18 previous tries at it.

    COVIDs are not named sequentially. This one is named "COVID-19" because, according to COVID-19 stands for "coronavirus disease 2019" - reflecting the year in which the disease was first identified.



  • I watch this stuff all day long, especially when it's Esther Williams Day on Turner Classic Movies - and she made a lot of films.

  • I still can't figure out where the bottleneck(s) are for getting the appropriate tests performed on the appropriate people.

  • The New York Times ran a piece earlier this week which gave us a hint. It was headlined:
    3 Vans, 6 Coolers, a Plane, a Storm and 2 Labs: A Nasal Swab's Journey

  • The piece describes the circuitous journey of nasal swabs from a Northern New Jersey drive through testing site to a lab in Chantilly, Virginia - a trip which, according to Google Maps, would take about four hours in your car - took over 24 hours.

  • I know this is the point where I'm supposed to remind everyone of Trump's bragging (while wearing a campaign cap) that "Anybody who wants a test can get a test" at the CDC in early March.

  • He didn't know what he was talking about but it didn't slow anything down, because everyone who mattered knew he didn't know what he was talking about.

  • We'll get this worked out, but the country is not restarting today, tomorrow, or any time soon.

  • It's a big country, and COVID-19 is a very big problem. Bigger, even, than COVID-16.

  • Folks.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the official government guidelines to restart commerce, to that NY Times article about testing bottlenecks, and to the video of Trump at the CDC.

    The Mullfoto shows an inventive way to defeat a temporary wine shortage at Mullings Central.

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