Hey...It's the final Sunday of what many are calling a "lost month". Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee my weekly look at the stories you may have seen, or missed, all laced with my commentary. Why? Because it's what I've been doing for well over a decade and besides, sleep is overrated. So, let's move....
Just because "45" can't engage thousands of believers in stadiums where he rants and lies doesn't mean he's not holding them...he's just moved the venue to television where the, often, two hour "Coronavirus Updates" does the same thing. Actually, if you believe the polls its a smart move. The president is enjoying the largest bump in his approval rating...ever. Two weeks ago his approval rating among several polls was as 44% today it is 47%. On his handling of the pandemic, Gallup found 60% of American adults approve. A Fox News poll out Thursday found it lower, at 51%. Reuters/Ipsos and Economist/YouGov polls had it at 49%. Trouble is 'non-voters" are the ones who are giving the president the bump. You can see the NPR story here.
Meanwhile this president continues to flounder, lie and remain ineffective when it comes to leadership. You may have forgotten the big story back on March 13 when he announced that Walmart, Target and CVS would start "massive community testing" in their parking lots. Of the 16,580 combined physical stores in the U.S. only four...four...are doing community testing. And they are not testing "everybody".
That, my friends is just one example of the "Lost Month". Had this president been a leader and not joked and put off and dismissed COVID-19 we would all be in a better place today. This is on him.
The Blame Game
We're now hearing calls for "unity" as the U.S. struggles and becomes the nation with the most confirmed cases of the virus on the planet. I believe this nation is united in the reality that we are..."scared and confused" because of the mixed messaging coming from leadership. The president should, as others have suggested, take a cue from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) who offer up facts and science rather than empty promises and threats. (Image: Getty Images)
As late as yesterday the president was still blaming science, congress and even President Obama for what he, himself, did to our national readiness to address this pandemic as he cut funding all in the name of "saving money".
There have been calls for the president to "step aside" and let the doctors and science deliver the updates. That will not happen because, see above, they have become political events. Weary.
If you want a perfect example of how tone-deaf "45" is to this nation it was his proclamation that he would like to see "business as usual" by Easter. "It would be a beautiful thing to see churches full on Easter. It's much better there. I know, I had to go to church last week by watching it on television." WTF? Anybody wanna bet? Unless it was him giving the sermon it's difficult for me to see this guy at any religious function...well, OK, he's been to a funeral or two and remember how uncomfortable he was?
But, I digress. It would seem to me, a non-Christian, that this has now become another wedge. So, what about the Mosques, Temples and Synagogues? Anyway, I'm sorry but this guy is playing you...big time. BTW... Happy Easter.
New Jersey authorities report that police charged a Wade E. Jackson with allegedly obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function, and violating the “Emergency and Temporary Acts,”. Sounds serious. So what did Wade do? He threw a "Coronavirus Party" in his apartment this past Friday night. Meanwhile, two Lakewood, N.J. residents were charged earlier this week after police broke up a gathering of 25 people at a school. New Jersey what's going on there? Other than the fact that the state reported 2,289 new coronavirus cases Saturday, with a total of 11,124 in the state. At least 140 have died in New Jersey from the virus.
It's Not Really Shelter In Place
Last week, here in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) continued to shutter more places of business. On the list, along with salons and restaurants are furniture stores, non-essential surgeries and a host of other items. Meanwhile the governor said it is not time to issue a "shelter in place" declaration. Meanwhile there are, according to several sources, those who are saying any closing of any business or park or golf course is an illegal crackdown on their civil liberties. I wish I were kidding.
Later today on our business news broadcast on News/Talk 1540 KXEL I've got a story about workers in food processing plants that are testing positive for COVID-19. Workers at poultry giant Sanderson Farms based in Mississippi and Smithfield Foods in South Dakota tested positive. This morning in the Des Moines Register there is a report that at JBS, a processing plant in Ottumwa, a worker has tested positive and is in isolation. The facility employees 2,200 people. In all cases the companies say production will continue and that they have added more workers to clean and sanitize the plants. (Image: Boston Globe)
To be sure the food from a plant where infection pops up doesn’t pose health concerns because by all accounts Covid-19 isn’t a food-borne illness. Supplies from a farm or a production plant with a confirmed case can still be sent out for distribution.
Yet, it is the workers who often are in close proximity to each other that is a worry. While there has not been a disruption in food to this point it does give us some pause.
In a related story workers at Instacart, a grocery delivery service, have said they will strike starting tomorrow if the company does not come through with better pay and protective equipment. According to a statement with the Gig Workers Collective...The workers are asking Instacart for an additional $5 per order and a default tip of at least 10% per order.
The group is also asking Instacart for safety provisions like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and soap, as well as expanded paid leave for people with preexisting conditions or those who are required to self-quarantine.
And in case you've run out of stuff to worry about...consider this. Local news outlets are struggling even in the face of increased news consumption. It's been well documented that local newspapers, already under the gun due to declining readership and revenue, have cut staff. In some places up to 25% of the newsroom has been laid off and we could see more. Why? Declining revenue. As more and more restaurants, bars, events, furniture stores and other businesses are ordered closed who is left to pay for advertising?
What is ironic is that as newspapers take down their pay-walls in response to getting the news out and available they are seeing a surge in band usage. For example the New Orleans Advocate and Times-Picayune announced that despite web traffic running “three to four times above normal” and digital subscriptions doubling, it would have to furlough a tenth of its staff and require the rest to work four-day weeks.
Even digital only newsrooms, like BuzzFeed have announced salary cuts in the face of lost advertising revenue.
This past week, here in Des Moines, Big Green Umbrella Media, the publishers of Cityview and the stable of Iowa Living Magazines, shut down due to revenue lost.
My friend Rick Green, who was once stationed in Des Moines at the Des Moines Register and is now the editor for the Louisville Courier Journal, put out a four minute video explaining the situation and how his paper is attempting to overcome the revenue loss and, how critical it is that the news gets out to an ever expanding public hungry for information. (Image from 2013 at DSM Register.)
All of this...matters.
OK...enough...right? Sorry for the stark look at our world today but it's all real. However, on the positive side we have witnessed some interesting and hopeful moments. People out walking with their families, stopping to chat (at a safe distance) and engaging each other online. Some have even suggested that when we get on the other side of this crisis we very well may come out better; more engaged and less isolated.
My friend Chef Michael Leo, who is currently quarantined in Austria at a resort no less, said much the same thing to me yesterday in a video chat. "I think, when this is over, we will start to understand how important it is to become more like our parents and grandparents. We may start to believe in "buy local" as more than a slogan and really start to support each other professionally and personally." (Image from Strudl Haus - 2016)
I hope he is right.
Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday.