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Good morning. Trump leaves the hospital, but only briefly. He is taking a medicine used in severe cases. And many Americans are wondering why pandemic rules don’t apply to everyone.
The sacrifices of many
Millions of Americans have gone months without seeing some of their closest relatives or their colleagues. They have canceled weddings and graduations. They have said goodbye to dying loved ones by phone.
But when many of the nation’s political leaders gathered at the White House nine days ago to celebrate the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, they decided the pandemic rules that applied to everybody else didn’t apply to them.
Some of them assumed, wrongly, that because they had received a fast-response virus test when arriving at the White House, they could not be infectious. Others simply chose not to think about the virus, it seems. Instead, dozens of them sat, unmasked, within inches of one another. They shook hands, hugged and kissed. After starting outdoors, the event moved indoors, where the participants continued to celebrate like it was 2019.
There is now reason to believe that the gathering was a superspreader event for the coronavirus. The president and the first lady are sick, as are two senators who attended, a former governor, the president of the University of Notre Dame and multiple White House staff members, journalists and others.
And anyone infected at the White House that day may have later infected others.
Andrew Joseph of the health publication Stat wrote this weekend that the event at the White House “offers a case study in what experts say has been the administration’s recklessness.” The Times has compiled photos from the event, with labels identifying many of the attendees.
Rebecca Ruiz of Mashable tweeted, in response to a photo of the indoor reception for Barrett: “I haven’t hugged my parents since March 8 and they haven’t hugged their grandchildren since then either. 6yo desperately wanted to hold hands w/ her grandpa on her birthday and I said no, we can’t take that risk.”
David French of the conservative website The Dispatch, wrote, “What a breathtaking contrast to the way so many millions of Americans have lived their lives.”
Perhaps the most poignant response came from, the Notre Dame president, the Rev. John Jenkins. This spring, Jenkins had made the case that colleges had a moral obligation to reopen, for the sake of the “body, mind and spirit” of their students. But Notre Dame would do so carefully, he promised. When some students violated campus rules by holding parties — without masks or social distancing — and a virus outbreak followed, Jenkins canceled in-person classes for two weeks as a punishment and a precaution.
Early last week, even before it was clear that the White House helped spread the virus, Jenkins wrote a letter to the Notre Dame community expressing regret for his behavior there. “I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so,” he wrote. “I especially regret my mistake in light of the sacrifices made on a daily basis by many.”
Lives Lived: He was so dominant in 1968 — posting an earned run average that remains the lowest of the past century — that Major League Baseball lowered the height of the pitcher’s mound the next season. And he was at his best in the World Series. “My thing was winning,” Pack Robert Gibson, who was known as Bob, said after his retirement. Gibson died Friday at age 84.
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IDEA OF THE DAY: Closed borders
Many Americans recoil at the idea of shutting the nation’s borders. It goes against the image of the United States as a country of immigrants. It smacks of nativism and, sometimes, racism.
But the evidence of the last several months suggests there is at least one instance when shutting a country’s borders can doa lot of good: in the early stages of a deadly pandemic.
Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Rwanda, Ghana and multiple other countries in Asia and Africa held down their infection rates partly by shutting their borders. Many countries in Europe, North America and South America, however, following the advice of the World Health Organization, kept their borders open — and appear to have suffered for it. (In the U.S., Trump claims that he closed the borders to China and Europe, but he did not.)
“For decades, as trade and travel drew the world closer, public health policy, enshrined by treaty, encouraged global mass tourism by calling for open borders, even during outbreaks,” a team of Times reporters — Selam Gebrekidan, Katrin Bennhold, Matt Apuzzo and David Kirkpatrick — have written. “But what is now clear is that the policy was about politics and economics more than public health.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, GNOCCHI
Make something easy
Seared gnocchi (store bought) and sautéed brussels sprouts make for a delicious meal that comes together in under half an hour. Tossed with lemon zest, red-pepper flakes and brown butter, there’s no shortage of flavor.
Food for thought
In the Florida Everglades, Burmese pythons up to 20 feet long can swallow bobcats whole. Sea lampreys suck the blood out of fish in the Great Lakes. And wild boars stir trouble in city streets from Berlin to Hong Kong. All of these are examples of invasive species.
One way to control their numbers: Cook them for dinner. There are annual invasive-species-themed cook-offs, fund-raisers and feral-hog roasts, framing what might otherwise be seen as an offbeat food choice into “a civic duty, a heroic act, even a declaration of war,” writes Ligaya Mishan in T Magazine.
Nicole Kidman goes deep
In HBO’s mini-series “The Undoing,” a psychological thriller that premieres this month, Nicole Kidman plays a Manhattan therapist whose impeccably ordered life is suddenly shattered by violence and lust. It’s a type she’s played time and time again. “I’ve fought that emotional intensity at times and tried to protect myself from it,” Kidman said in a new interview. “Now I’m at the point where I’m like, no. Digest it. Maybe don’t even understand it. But always have it flow.”