Friday, June 25

Death and Testing – The New York Times

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President Trump gave a confrontational interview to Chris Wallace of Fox News yesterday that included numerous untruths about the coronavirus. Trump claimed that the United States had the lowest death rate in the world; that new cases were surging here mostly because of the large number of tests; and that his virus response had saved “millions of lives.”

So I thought it was worth offering a quick overview of the actual situation with the virus, with help from a couple of charts:

The virus has still been deadlier in several European countries than in the U.S., after adjusting for population. But the total death rate in the U.S. is among the worst for any country in the world:

And the U.S. may continue to climb this ranking. Most high-income countries now have a relatively small number of new cases and deaths each day, while the U.S. does not:

The U.S. is conducting a large number of tests — but that isn’t why the virus statistics look so much worse here. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has now conducted more tests per capita than any other country.

In the Rio Grande Valley, on Texas’ southern border, more than a third of families live in poverty. Nearly half of the residents have no health insurance, and obesity and heart disease are widespread.

Now coronavirus cases there are surging, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and create a public-health disaster. “Our curve is a straight up trajectory right now,” one hospital official said. “There’s no relief.” A photo essay accompanies our story from the region.

In other virus developments:

  • As companies across China rush to produce personal protective equipment, some are using Uighur labor that puts members of the ethnic minority to work against their will.

  • More than six million people in the U.S. enrolled in food stamps in the first three months of the pandemic, an unprecedented rise.

  • The Canadian government will not allow the Toronto Blue Jays to stage home games when the baseball season starts this week, saying cross-border travel poses a health risk. The team is likely to play at a minor-league stadium in Buffalo instead.

John Roberts solidified his reputation during this past Supreme Court term as an idiosyncratic justice willing to vote with his liberal colleagues on some major issues. But one subject on which he has remained a stalwart conservative is also one that’s likely to matter a great deal in 2020: voting rights.

In its recent term, the Supreme Court issued four rulings to restrict voting rights. All of the rulings were decided quickly, in response to emergency applications asking the justices to take action in pending cases, as The Times’s Adam Liptak explains. Those rulings indicate that the court may choose not to act this fall to make sure people can vote during a pandemic.

Protests against racism and police brutality have endured in Portland, Ore., with peaceful marches during the day and more confrontational, and occasionally violent, demonstrations at night. And the recent deployment of federal officers to quash the protests seems to have had the opposite effect.

Demonstrations over the weekend drew the largest crowds in weeks, uniting a diverse group of activists in outrage. “I wasn’t even paying attention to the protests at all until the feds came in,” said Christopher David, a former Navy civil engineering corps officer.

They survived the Great Depression, a world war and the 2008 financial crisis — but not the pandemic. Small businesses that have stood for a century are shutting down, ending generations of family ownership.

And at big businesses: C.E.O.s of some major companies say they are increasingly worried about a prolonged economic disruption. “I’m less optimistic today than I was 30 days ago,” the chief executive of Marriott International said.

  • A gunman shot and killed the 20-year-old son of a federal judge as he answered the door of the family home in New Jersey yesterday and wounded the judge’s husband. The judge, Esther Salas, was home but was not injured.

  • Roger Stone, the Trump ally whose prison sentence the president commuted, denied he uttered a racial slur during an interview with a Black radio host. The audio suggests otherwise.

  • Trader Joe’s said it would rebrand international food items with names like Trader Ming’s, Trader José and Trader Giotto’s. An online petition had asked the company to remove packaging that reflects “a narrative of exoticism that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”

  • Lives Lived: Nakotah LaRance’s skill as a hoop dancer — a tradition in some Native American cultures — carried him to world titles, late-night TV, the Brooklyn Ballet and Cirque du Soleil. LaRance died last week at 30.

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Joe Biden’s polling lead has grown large enough that some Democrats are debating whether he should spend resources in traditionally Republican states in an effort to win a landslide victory. Here are the cases that each side is making:

No, don’t you remember 2016? Four years ago, Hillary Clinton campaigned in North Carolina, Texas and other states she didn’t need to win, while paying relatively little attention to Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — which she did need. Biden must avoid that same trap, some people argue.

“Lock down the states you MUST have by making sure your operations and ads are funded there for duration. THEN you expand to more ambitious targets,” tweeted David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s former strategist. For now, the Biden campaign is largely taking this path.

Yes, 2020 is a chance for realignment. Trump doesn’t just trail by almost 10 percentage points. He is also facing the prospect of a summer and a fall with a raging pandemic and a deep recession. Given all this, some people are urging Biden to flip states that Democrats have long dreamed of winning — and to help flip the Senate.

Unless the Democrats also win the Senate, they have little chance of passing major legislation. To win the Senate, they will need to win seats in some Republican-leaning states, like North Carolina, Montana, Georgia and Texas.

“When reliable polling has you tied or winning in Texas, you expand the map well beyond the six ‘battleground’ states,” the Democratic strategist Christy Setzer has said. Added Stacey Abrams, the Georgia politician: “The Sun Belt expansion is what will drive the next 30 years of elections.”

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