Something About the COVID-19 Pandemic Feels Off Kilter

Waiting for drive-thru fruits and vegetables at a local farm.Kevin Drum

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

I want to summarize in one place a few of the coronavirus oddities I’ve noticed over the past week or so:

  • Social distancing was supposed to reduce the transmission rate of the virus and push out the peak. Instead, the peak seems to have stayed the same or even been pulled forward.
  • Grocery workers, by all odds, should be more at risk from the virus than the rest of us. But their death rate is lower than the national average for working-age adults.
  • The case fatality rate varies exceptionally widely between countries. Some of this is due to testing differences, demographic differences, etc. But none of that seems to be enough to account for a range of 7x or so.
  • Everyone agrees that the United States responded late and chaotically. But our death rate is pretty low compared to other similar countries.
  • Sweden has deliberately adopted a much less stringent version of social distancing than other countries. Despite this, their death rate is about the same as most places (though higher than other Nordic countries).

I don’t have any conclusion to draw from all this. It just strikes me that there are enough little weirdnesses to make me wonder if something is going on that we’re missing. I can’t imagine what it might be, since the basic epidemiology of pandemics is reasonably well understood. And yet.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate