We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Meghan Markle shares that she and Prince Harry had a miscarriage in July
In a New York Times op-ed titled “The Losses We Share,” Meghan Markle announced that she and Prince Harry suffered a miscarriage in July. “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” the Duchess of Sussex shares. “Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, ‘Are you OK?’”
In the Thanksgiving-timed article, the Duchess considers the many heartbreaks people are experiencing in 2020, and invites readers to make a change in reaching out to each other with a simple question. “In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing,” she writes. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Attorney General William Barr Shuts Down Trump’s Fraud Claims
As we noted last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr promised to investigate claims of election fraud, saying the Justice Department would examine “clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.” Well, it seems that after pursuing his investigation, Barr has found that substantial evidence just isn’t there. The attorney general reported on Tuesday that the investigation had found no widespread evidence of voter fraud, contrary to the claims of President Trump.
Since Election Day, Trump has maintained that he won the presidential election, despite gaining fewer electoral votes than Joe Biden. (“This election is a far bigger scandal (FRAUD!) than anyone would have thought - not even close,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, echoing many previous claims that the election was stolen from him.) After Barr’s announcement, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani shot back, “With all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance of a Department of Justice investigation.”
Despite concerns about mail-in voting and election fraud, Barr said that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” Barr has been a strong ally to Trump on many issues, making his objections to the claims of election fraud even more notable. —Madeline Fry Schultz
COVID-19 Deaths Spike to an All-Time High
As the nation experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases, we’ve reached a new, harrowing record. This week, more patients than ever were staying in hospitals to be treated for COVID-19, with U.S. hospitals reaching a high of 100,200 patients on Wednesday. Not only that, but deaths are ticking up, too. The same day, 2,804 deaths were reported, the most for a single day in the United States.
Hospitals are straining to meet the influx of patients, as medical centers run out of beds and health care workers suffer from burnout. “The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times,” CDC Director Robert Redfield warned. “I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
For individuals, the CDC is still recommending basic precautions to stop the spread of the virus: physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning, and disinfection, and “respiratory etiquette” (mask-wearing and elbow-coughing). —MFS
Planned Parenthood Director Resigns Following Accusations of Transphobia and Racism
Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania director Emily Callen resigned Tuesday night following an open letter signed by hundreds of staff members and supporters calling for her removal. The lengthy letter details claims that since Callen ascended to the position earlier this year she has “pushed back against staff members who suggest more gender neutral language” and “disregarded the racist, white supremacist history of Planned Parenthood’s founding.” They also claimed Callen “deprioritized abortion” among the services provided.
The letter concludes by stating that it was compiled in “a concerted effort to protect our coworkers” after staff was informed that “there would be significant restructuring...because of budget constraints.” They noted that a “young black woman’ was fired from her position while Callen, with a six-figure salary, “refused to even consider taking a temporary pay cut to get us through the pandemic.”
Since Callen’s resignation this week the Planned Parenthood board of directors announced that they will soon appoint interim leadership and an investigation into the issues raised, adding another stain to the organization’s Planned Parenthood’s HR drama over the past two years. —ML
U.S. politicians under fire for stay-at-home hypocrisy
A U.S. mayor is making headlines after a local publication blasted him for vacationing at a resort in Mexico while telling his constituents to stay home. Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, Texas is the latest politician under fire in a string of unflattering news pieces exposing politicians for apparent hypocrisy as they request residents limit travel and social contact while they do the opposite.
Adler had recorded a video from a beach resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where he was vacationing with family and friends, after instructing residents that “We need to stay home if you can. This is not the time to relax. We are going to be looking really closely. We may have to close things down if we are not careful.” According to the Austin American-Statesman, Adler had hosted, the day before his trip, a hotel wedding reception with 20 guests in which masks were “probably not” worn, according to the mayor himself.
California Governor Gavin Newsom just suffered a similar scandal when spotted out at a party at a lavish restaurant. When first confronted, he said that the venue was outdoors but leaked photos later revealed that to be untrue. The San Francisco mayor and LA County Supervisor, meanwhile, were both caught dining at restaurants after both voted to uphold a ban on dining out.
CNN blasted the politicians, with host Brianna Kellar stating that “a number of Democratic leaders are apologizing, or reversing course, after multiple occurrences of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ They have been caught not following their own coronavirus guidelines.” According to The Hill,“Fewer Republican governors have been caught violating their own orders—in large part because they have not implemented the same kinds of restrictions.” —ML
Zappos former CEO Tony Hsieh dies after house fire
Former CEO of shoe and clothing site Zappos.com died this past week in a house fire. Tony Hsieh, 46, had retired recently after twenty years at Zappos, before it was acquired by Amazon for $1 billion. Hsieh shared his customer and employee care philosophy in his book Delivering Happiness.
Hsieh is also known for his part in funding the renewal of the much neglected downtown Las Vegas, through his investments in DTP Companies. "Tony's kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world," DTP Companies said in a statement. While details about the house fire’s cause have yet to be released, reports say he died of smoke inhalation and that the fire took place while he was spending time with family. —MRS
Whistleblower reveals China covered up early COVID-19 numbers
This week CNN released documents given to them by a whistleblower that purport to show that Chinese medical authorities intentionally publicly downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic during the early half of 2020. Within the 117 pages of leaked documents from the Chinese Provincial CDC are numerous reports that contradict official public information concerning infection rates and death counts related to the coronavirus.
One of the more striking data points, according to the CNN report, is the “slowness with which local COVID-19 patients were diagnosed….the average time between the onset of symptoms to confirmed diagnosis wass 23.3 days.” Early documentation also shows that confirmed cases and deaths were about double what officials told the public. Meanwhile, CNN notes in their exposé that while Chinese public health officials downplayed the virus, reporting on occasion half the number of total deaths, China’s political body was beginning their process of “draconian restrictions . . . strict lockdowns across the country, largely restricting more than 700 million people to their homes.” —ML
Sundance goes to the drive-in—and online
While the film industry is suffering in 2020, the annual Sundance Film Festival is still on, with organizers relying on drive-in movie theaters to screen its movie premieres.
“In addition to a creative new approach to in-person screenings, the festival will also double down on its digital offerings, which include more than 70 films, plus panels and other special events,” SFGATE reports. Further, to keep a festival-like experience, “each film will premiere online at a specific time slot with a live Q&A following the screening. Two days after a film has premiered, it will be able to be streamed on-demand for 24 hours to offer films a chance to build momentum off of industry buzz.”
Attending drive-in theaters definitely sounds fun for those near San Francisco. For the rest of us, this year’s virtual offerings may give us a closer seat to the action than we could have enjoyed in past years. —MRS
Good News of the Week
Dog saves child from snake
In San Paolo, Brazil last week, a pet dog defended a 12-year-old girl from a venomous snake. When the girl was confronted by the jararaca snake outside, she screamed and froze, Newsweek reports. Responding to her cry, the seven-year-old family dog, Typhoon, arrived and attacked the snake, sustaining four bites. The dog was hospitalized shortly after, but the girl was untouched. Veterinarians said the dog would recover, and that the bites are not as dangerous to dogs as they are to humans. —MRS
Watch of the Week
Whether you’re feeling crafty or not, this video is sure to inspire you to think outside of the box when it comes to what to do with old “ugly” throw blankets.