This week we’re pleased to bring you “While You Were In”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of a week when many across the nation have been working from home.
Coronavirus Changes Life as We Know It
This week, throughout the United States and the world, restaurants, bars, stores, and churches closed their doors in unprecedented numbers, to "flatten the curve" and slow the spread of the Coronavirus from overburdening hospitals and increasing mortality. Federal, local, and state governments have recommended and mandated social distancing measures to avoid the losses experienced in countries like Italy, where the death toll from COVID-19 exceeded that of China this week. As a result of the numerous people who have lost work and are facing difficulty paying bills, Washington is considering a sweeping stimulus package to provide Americans with immediate cash to offset their losses.
The news updates related to the Coronavirus alone are so extensive (and, frankly, a bit all-consuming) that we at Verily created a daily newsletter to share just the top important news updates as well as bits of light along the way. It's called "Keeping Calm During COVID-19" and its goal is to curate content that will save you from reading 100 articles to get what you need to know, while fostering a shared sense of walking through this challenging time together. You'll also find enriching articles from our archives that offer insights applicable to the unique situations we're in right now—from adjusting to working from home, to pausing your gym membership. Join us here for daily updates. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Some States Postpone Primaries; Others Barrel Ahead
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is gradually shutting down more of daily life, and politics is no exception. This week, primary elections in Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, Kentucky and Puerto Rico were postponed as state officials emphasized the need to practice social distancing.
Ohio’s situation was uniquely chaotic, as Governor Mike DeWine announced the day before Tuesday’s contests that the virus put voters in the impossible position of having to choose between exercising their constitutional rights and protecting their health. That night, in an attempt to delay the election until June 2, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ohio voters, only for a judge to nix the effort. In the end, DeWine managed to postpone the election via declaring a “health emergency.” The back and forth lead to an avalanche of contradictory headlines and confusion in the electorate.
Other states chose to go ahead with primaries despite the risks, including Arizona, Florida and Illinois. The former vice president, Joe Biden, trounced his main rival, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, in the Democratic primary elections in all three states. Some supporters of Sen. Sanders cried foul, echoing Gov. DeWine’s comments by claiming that voter turnout was unfairly suppressed by health concerns.
Meanwhile, some are starting to worry about whether the November presidential election will be affected, a troubling prospect. —Margaret Brady
Joe Biden Pledges To Pick a Woman Vice-President
During a nationally televised debate on Sunday, the front runner for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination promised that he would choose a female candidate as his running mate.
"If I'm elected president, my Cabinet, my administration will look like the country, and I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a, pick a woman to be vice president," Biden said during the debate in Washington, D.C. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.”
Several women ran for president this year, including Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Kamala Harris of California, and Marianne Williamson. The last woman remaining in the race was Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who had so little public support that she didn’t qualify for the debate. By Thursday, she had suspended her campaign and endorsed Biden.
The only two major party women vice-presidential candidates in U.S. history are Geraldine Ferraro, a Democrat who ran with Walter Mondale in 1984, and Sarah Palin, a Republican who ran with John McCain in 2008. Neither ticket won.
Biden’s statement raised some hackles, as its non-specific nature was taken to imply that any woman would do, so long as she checked off the “female” box. Biden has faced criticism for his physical over-familiarity with women, even in public contexts. —MB
Tom Brady Says He Is Leaving the New England Patriots. Next Stop: Tampa Bay?
This week marked the end of a football era as legendary quarterback, Tom Brady, officially decided to join a new team, leaving behind the squad he led to a record nine Super Bowls.
Brady had played for the New England Patriots for 20 years since the franchise drafted him with the 199th pick, after every other team in the National Football League passed on him multiple times. An injury to the Patriots’ starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, gave Brady a chance to show he could be more than a backup. His star took off, as he helped the team win six Super Bowl championships, racking up four personal Super Bowl MVP awards.
The 42-year-old Brady, who is ancient by professional football standards, has said he wants to continue playing through his 40s. Last season, although the Patriots had a winning record, they missed the chance to participate in postseason play. With Brady entering free agency, the stage was set for a seismic reordering of the football world.
Reportedly, Brady’s new team will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team with orange uniforms and distinctly “meh” performance history: They won seven games last year and lost nine. Perhaps Brady will turn their luck around? Either way, seeing the former New Englander in a Florida setting will take some getting used to! —MB
Daniel Radcliffe Says The End of ‘Harry Potter’ Role Pulled Him Deeper Into Alcoholism
Actor Daniel Radcliffe recently revealed in an interview with BBC Radio 4 that his drinking began to spiral toward the end of filming the blockbuster Harry Potter series. “A lot of drinking that happened towards the end of Potter and for a little bit after it finished, it was panic, a little bit not knowing what to do next,” he said. Dealing with fame started him on the path to heavy drinking in the first place, as he sought to escape the uncomfortable emotions that came from being the center of (sometimes mocking) attention from the public.
This isn’t the first time Radcliffe has opened up about his alcohol abuse: In a previous interview with Off Camera, he admitted that he sometimes came to work on the set still drunk from the night before. “I can honestly say I never drank at work on Harry Potter. I went into work still drunk, but I never drank at work," he said then. "I can point to many scenes where I'm just gone. Dead behind the eyes."
The actor stopped drinking in 2010, and now, at 30 years old, has enjoyed a successful
post-Potter career. He currently stars in “Escape from Pretoria,” a movie about Apartheid-era activists escaping from a Pretoria prison. —MB
Princess Beatrice Cancels Royal Wedding
Not even royalty is exempt from coronavirus cancellations. Princess Beatrice and her fiance, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, announced that they are canceling their May 29th Buckingham Palace reception. According to a statement from the palace, the two are “very much looking forward to being married, they are equally aware of the need to avoid undertaking any unnecessary risks in the current circumstances.” This includes concern for older family members, such as the elderly Queen of England.
The royal couple may still hold a private ceremony, but that largely depends on the advice of government officials. In the UK, schools and colleges are closing by Friday, a trend that matches America’s growing closures.
Princess Beatrice has moved her wedding date twice before already. Between her father’s ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew’s uncomfortable BBC interview on the subject, the couple has largely scaled down the wedding and reception.
While it’s a shame the wedding is canceled—the revelry could be nice in these times—right now, the biggest priority is ensuring the health and safety of everyone around us, royals included. —Krysta Scripter
The United States and China Standoff in a Journalism War
The United States and China are dueling in a back-and-forth diplomatic quarrel over foreign news organizations in both countries. Earlier this month the Trump administration announced their decision to limit the number of Chinese citizens who may work in the United States for one of the five Chinese news organizations. In a statement to the press Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained the aggressive move, stating that “Our goal is reciprocity…It is our hope that this action will spur Beijing to adopt a more fair and reciprocal approach to the U.S. and other foreign press in China.”
On Tuesday the Chinese government responded in kind, announcing that it would expel American journalists working for some of the news organizations most prized for the coverage of world events. Additionally, the Chinese government is requesting that the outlets provide detailed information in regards to their operations there. China’s Ministry of Foreign affairs defended these actions, releasing a statement that called their countermeasure “entirely necessary and reciprocal.”
American news organizations in China, for their part, are appalled at the Chinese decision, as many of them have been reporting diligently on the Coronavirus since January, when the now-pandemic was still just a regionalized outbreak and being severely downplayed by the Chinese government. Some of those same American news organizations have also been reporting for over a year now, on other issues of Chinese abuses, including mass internment of Muslims and corrupt business dealings of political leaders.
The executive editor at The Times, a British daily national newspaper, spoke of China’s move in condemnatory tones and urged both China and the United States to “move quickly to resolve this dispute and allow journalists to do the important work of informing the public.” —Mariel Lindsay
Good News of the Week
Across the nation, St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities were canceled out of concern for the community spread of COVID-19. But for at least one bagpipe musician, that wasn’t going to stop him from finding safe ways to spread cheer. Cleveland News 5 reported that Tim Reed played Irish tunes on the traditionally loud instrument while walking around the perimeter of a Lorain county nursing home, where he was met with smiles from residents who peered gratefully from their windows. Nursing homes across the country have been closed to outside visitors due to the high fatality rates of COVID-19 for the elderly, making it a particularly lonely time for them. May the road rise up to meet folks like Reed today, and in the days ahead. —MRS
Watch of the Week
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has been playing peaceful songs on social media in hopes of sharing calm during the COVID-19 crisis. Here is one.
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