The City of Cambridge recently emailed to say “Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Order #50 made certain Phase III adjustments, including extension of outdoor dining provisions and opening of indoor and outdoor gaming arcades”. This reminded me that we’ve now had 50 governor’s orders related to this virus.
What’s in the latest one? First, a reminder of how awesome it is to have the power of being a state governor:
(sorry for the images, but the governor distributes these as scanned PDFs without OCR). Then, just as the City of Cambridge says, two pages regarding under what circumstances the state and local License Rajs might allow restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors and might allow arcades to reopen.
What about a never-shut never-masked country with less than half the COVID-19 death rate compared to Massachusetts? Sweden seems to have had about 10 new regulations in the past 6 months and they’ve either been laws passed by the legislature or regulations issued by bureaucracies, not orders coming down from a muscular executive such as the Prime Minister. Sweden is being governed, even in what Americans have characterized as “an emergency”, by consensus rather than via dictates from individuals.
(How is Sweden doing with plague right now? The WHO dashboard shows them at 578 deaths per 1 million residents (i.e., only 99.94 percent of Swedes remain alive). The U.S. is at 584. So, despite our shutdown, the U.S. caught up to Sweden just as the former chief scientist of the European CDC said (in April) that we would.
“The age of incrementalism is over,” Markey said. “Now is our moment to think big.” (Boston.com)
Ed Markey, who might be running to replace President Harris in 2028 when he will be a young 82 years of age, defeated Joe Kennedy III in the Maskachusetts Senate primary by declaring that Kennedy was not progressive enough and winning the endorsement of AOC. Yet ProgressivePunch says that, during the 2019-2020 session, AOC had a “Progressive Score” of only 94.94 percent (based on her votes). Kennedy, by contrast, voted correctly 96.2 percent of the time.
In other words, a candidate who was actually more progressive than AOC lost the election here in Massachusetts.
(This was the only race on my Democratic primary ballot in which there was a choice; all other candidates were running unopposed.)
From Newburyport, MA yesterday, a multilingual Hate Has No Home Here message that welcomes migrants right next to a No Trespassing sign. The owner is also apparently an Ed Markey fan:
“It is the duty of the revolution to put an end to compromise, and to put an end to compromise means taking the path of socialist revolution.” (i.e., the age of incrementalism was also over in 1917; V.I. Lenin)
The First Amendment rights of young people to assemble, go to school, work, socialize, travel, etc. have been suspended or eliminated due to the coronavirus public health emergency declared by the governor here in Maskachusetts.
The municipal leaders agreed on five shared principles:
We agree that systemic racism is a public health emergency, which must be addressed by strong and decisive actions over the coming weeks and months, and by patient and determined efforts years into the future. We are in this now; we are in it for the long haul.
In other words, in addition to the multi-year coronavirus “emergency”, there is a “long haul” “emergency” that will stretch “years into the future.”
Readers: What former Constitutional rights that survived corona-edicts can be eliminated to deal with this emergency?
“Mass. Students, Kids in Day Care Must Get Flu Vaccine, DPH Says Amid Pandemic” (NECN): Students at Massachusetts schools from kindergarten up to universities, as well as children at least 6 months old in day care, must get the flu vaccine by the end of the year if they’re around others, health officials said Wednesday. The new requirement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which public health experts have said could be exacerbated by the annual resurgence of the flu in the fall and winter. “It is more important now than ever to get a flu vaccine because flu symptoms are very similar to those of COVID-19 and preventing the flu will save lives and preserve healthcare resources,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, medical director of the DPH’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, in a statement. (Why not prohibit alcohol if we are trying to save lives, instead of going door to door hunting for young people who are #Resisting flu shots?)
The 74-year-old Ed Markey is running for reelection to the Senate here in Maskachusetts, The 39-year-old Joe Kennedy III, whose primary qualification is being a Kennedy, is running against him. Whom to vote for?
Text: “Progressive leadership isn’t about your age. It’s about the age of your ideas and your commitment to fighting for what’s right, even when it isn’t easy. That’s what my partnership with @AOC is all about.”
If we average Markey’s age and AOC’s age (30), we would get the age of a person whom an American business might trust to serve as a manager?
No Republican can win in November, so the real contest is the September 1 primary among Democrats. (Though, in fact, all of the other candidates on my primary ballot are running unopposed. So there will be two successive ballots in which nearly every candidate is unopposed!)
Why doesn’t AOC like Joe Kennedy III? Wikipedia says that he supported the Green New Deal (we can prevent climate change from killing anyone who somehow escapes coronadeath). Kennedy has an elite educational background: BB&N (where students actually got taught this year, unlike in the Massachusetts public schools), Stanford, Harvard Law School. Maybe AOC is worried that Kennedy will follow the old rule: “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” As Kennedy gets older he will begin to listen to his buddies from Stanford and Harvard Law School about how taxes are too high?
(Among registered Republicans, those who #BelieveScience and #RespectScience have the option to vote for a real scientist (PhD in systems biology), Shiva Ayyadurai (also the inventor of email). A sign among the righteous suburbanites, many of whom have “We Believe… Science is Real” signs in their yards:
Next best thing to voting for Dr. Fauci! The inventor of email’s opponent in the tilting-at-the-windmills exercise in futility (a Republican primary in MA) is a law firm partner, Kevin O’Connor.)
Massachusetts’ education department is reportedly issuing guidance on the amount of remote learning schools should use based on the coronavirus risk level in their communities.
As school districts scramble to submit reopening plans to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by Friday, superintendents received a memo from Commissioner Jeffrey Riley Tuesday night that would limit the use of online learning, according to The Boston Globe.
Here’s the map….
From a linked page:
Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Revere are included in the high risk category, meaning they have over eight cases per 100,000 residents. Twenty-nine other communities, including Auburn, Belchertown, Boston, Brockton, Charlton, Chicopee, Fall River, Framingham, Georgetown, Granby, Holyoke, Hull, Lawrence, Longmeadow, Malden, Marlborough, Maynard, Middleton, Northampton, Peabody, Salem, Saugus, Springfield, Quincy, Randolph, Taunton, Winthrop Worcester, Wrentham, are in the moderate risk category, meaning they have between four and eight cases per 100,000.
In other words, if your town is packed with welfare-dependent People of Color and migrants… no school (“remote learning” in your crowded public housing apartment). The rich white kids in Wellesley and Dover can go back to school, though!
When not filled with arguments about how to pay for the most expensive (per student) school ever to be constructed in the United States, our righteous suburb (rich in BLM and Rainbow flags, if not in people who identify as persons of color or members of the LGBTQIA+ community) is filled with arguments about the best approach to coronapanic. The latest furor concerns the lethal Covid-19-spreading properties of Canis familiaris. Touched someone else’s dog? Dig yourself a grave. A proposed solution is that our town will one day see reason and pass a leash law to reduce the chance of human-canine encounters.
Thus, it was with some trepidation that I took Mindy the Crippler for her first post-plague visit to the grooming salon. If our neighbors are right, the groomers should all be dead. Folks in the salon apparently did not get the memo regarding the hazards of touching dogs and, remarkably, have failed to die on schedule. While Mindy was having her spa treatment, I met a couple of friends for a rare indoor dining experience at a Panera-style restaurant (order at counter; food delivered to table). They have failed to adapt to coronaplague by augmenting the handful of outdoor tables and it was super hot outside so we ate indoors.
We’re in Month 5 of shutdown here and Month 3 of the universal mask law. Everyone seemed to be attempting to wear masks, but, just as the Swedish MD/PhDs predicted, once they were masked they made little attempt to keep a 6′ social distance. There were a fair number of masks-under-noses as well. We’re spending $trillions on things like $600/week handouts to people who became unemployed after the License Raj made it illegal to operate restaurants. But there doesn’t seem to be any money for adaptions that would contribute to long-run plague reduction (like my pet idea for schools). For example, cruise ships usually have handwashing sinks near the entrance to restaurants. Not this restaurant. If we believe the W.H.O. guidance on mask usage (early June 2020 edition of “science”!), the restaurant should have had a sink outside near the outdoor tables and an indoor sink that didn’t require going into a restroom. After all, masks are effective only when combined with handwashing, so we were told by W.H.O. But, in fact, there were no sinks for customers other than ones in the restrooms.
I took Senior Management’s car for a state inspection on the way back to the groomer. None of the guys at the gas station were wearing masks when working in the bay or outdoors, but put them on (without washing hands!) when going inside the shop to run credit cards with customers.
Mindy wasn’t quite ready, so it was necessary to kill time at Dunkin’ Donuts. The women behind the counter were both wearing masks… underneath their noses. Then the hardware store to buy three bottles of drain cleaner to address a slow kitchen sink. “Why do you need three bottles?” asked the partially masked woman in the store? “One thing I have learned from our government is that when something doesn’t work, keep repeating it over and over.” (The grease clog and a small leak in the elbow were eventually solved by a plumber for $370, further evidence that owning property in the U.S. is stupid, except for the exceptionally capable who can do everything themselves.)
Note the mask directives for boarding the ferry to Chappaquiddick. Perhaps if Ted Kennedy had worn a mask, American politics would have gone in a different direction! (my Cape Cod photos include historical photos of the inn where Teddy K stayed and the motel room where Mary Jo Kopechne stayed).
Two miles away…
I still wonder if having customers inside retail stores makes sense in a country where the only goal is avoiding COVID-19. As noted in “Train Americans to use masks the way that surgeons do or restructure the physical environment?”, why can’t stores go back to their 18th century roots: Customer enters spacious front part of shop and asks for item. Shopkeeper goes into jammed back part shelves to retrieve requested item. (tweak so that customer never goes into the store itself, but stays outside and transacts business over a counter)
We’re afraid of getting Covid-19 from surfaces, right? (hence the constant sanitizing) We’re also afraid of getting Covid-19 from sharing air. How can it make sense to put the entire country at risk by continuing to operate retail stores as they were configured in the pre-Covid-19 age?
“Masks are pointless, says Sweden’s maverick chief medic” (Financial Review): “Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks,” said Medical Care Minister Tamara van Ark. (Where is the respect for #Science?)
Reusable bags have been cleared to return to checkout lines in Massachusetts, with a previous ban now removed in the latest round of Baker administration guidance affecting grocery stores.
“This is a home run — good for the environment, for public health, for reducing waste, and for protecting both workers and shoppers,” MASSPIRG executive director Janet Domenitz said in a statement.
“Reinstating bags bans, effective immediately, doesn’t give business owners a chance to use up their stock of existing plastic bags or a chance to stock back up on paper bags if they need them. Even 30-60 days advance notice would have been a help,” Reibman wrote. “?It’s bad enough that store workers have to enforce mask wearing. Requiring cashiers to be the ones who inform customers this week that they have to pay for bags again, is just cruel.”
We’ve seen how powerful a virus can be, generating enough fear to paralyze a society of 330 million, for example, despite killing only about as many people as will be replaced in a few months of immigration (see “More than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year.”). We watch as $billions continue to be spent on obsessive sanitizing of every surface that is reachable with a Lyson wipe. Does it actually make sense to encourage people to bring their filthy bags into stores again? (for a canvas bag to do less harm to the environment than a series of disposable plastic ones, the canvas bag must be re-used literally hundreds of times (Oregon Public Broadcasting))
After all of this effort to turn our grocery stores into Japanese- or Swiss-style models of cleanliness, we’re going back to bags that have been soaked in germs for years?
Bonus… the Big Save market in Hawaii, 1990. Rollei 6×6 SLR and… film!
The latest from our governor: a $500/day fine for anyone returning or traveling to Maskachusetts who does not either (a) quarantine for 14 days, or (b) produce a negative Covid-19 test result from within the preceding 72 hours. (But it is now taking a week or more to get a test done in most parts of the U.S.? So prong (b) has no practical effect?)
The new restrictions are effective on August 1.
From our airport management: “Please find below and attached new directives from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please post these new directives within your leased area and to ensure visibility and cooperation.”
Do you send out one email every Monday morning and then host a couple of group video chats later in the week? You’re a hero!
Educators will continue their heroic efforts from this spring and will work hard to make our schools ready for our students this fall. Educators, through their unions and in collaboration with students and families, must play a central decision-making role in the return-to-school plan, district by district. Ultimately, we will decide if these directives have been met by the state and the districts.
Everywhere that the schools previously had a rainbow there will now be a double rainbow:
We cannot go back to the status quo, which was actively harming many of our youth, families, and educators of color, as well as people from other marginalized groups, including our LGBTQ+ students. We must instead be bold and create free and equitable schools where education liberates and empowers our youth so a brighter future is possible for all of us.
[among the “Key Directives”] Curriculum must reflect and affirm our LGBTQ+ students.
This is a bit odd when you think about it. LGBTQIA+ students weren’t being reflected and affirmed previously. I am sure that we will all agree that this was a terrible situation. But who created that situation if not the very unionized teachers who now say that the situation must end? What was stopping them from reflecting and affirming LGBTQIA+ students six hours per day every day?
There is one Key Directive that is worth putting in bold:
Eliminate MCAS and reevaluate the ways our public schools are assessed.
In other words, the only objective test of student learning has to be tossed out. (Admittedly, the raw MCAS does not measure school performance that well since the children of well-educated parents tend to score highly even if their teachers don’t teach anything.)
Teachers should be hired and promoted based on skin color:
We must prioritize hiring, retaining and promoting educators of color.
But will the older white teachers resign or subject themselves to firing in the event of poor performance in order to make room for educators of color?
Here’s a principle that I can support wholeheartedly:
Every student — and every educator — deserves access to the basic tools of a modern society: a computer and reliable internet access.
Would someone please tell this to Comcast?
As soon as the first person anywhere in the state gets a fever in November and a positive coronavirus test, the teachers will go back home to their pets and gardens:
Educators must be supported with … effective practices for crisis learning remotely.
Districts must provide support … if we are again forced to return to crisis learning remotely.
One fact that I learned about a private school was that they have already wired up every classroom with video cameras so that students who need to stay home for any reason can participate remotely and see what is going on in the physical class.
The MTA is a union of 116,000 educators … We are entering a dangerous and unknown peak period of this pandemic. … We present these demands of local and state officials …
Keep schools closed statewide for as long as necessary to ensure the health of students, faculty, and staff. No educator should be required to come to work when schools are closed for students. Any vulnerable staff should be able to stay home with no loss of pay or benefits.
All educators – full-time, part-time, hourly and per-diem workers, including teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers – must be fully paid during this time,
Guarantee that pay and pensions are not affected by the pandemic.
Declare a moratorium on all educator evaluations
Based on the above, I don’t think my friend is going to get that property tax refund he had been expecting based on the fact that his middle schoolers did not receive any education after mid March.
[Our own town of Lincoln, Massachusetts will presumably be one of the last to reopen its schools due to the fact that the square footage is going to be dramatically reduced via a $110 million construction project that moves children into cramped trailers with minimal windows and doors from 2020 through 2023:
They couldn’t find a place to build a new building on the 70-acre campus (above) while continuing to use the old building.]
State reopening guidance (June 25): “Schools do not appear to have played a major role in COVID-19 transmission. … Students in grade 2 and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth. Students in kindergarten and grade 1 should be encouraged to wear a mask/face covering. … Mask breaks should occur throughout the day. Breaks should occur when students can be six feet apart and ideally outside or at least with the windows open. … aim for desks to be spaced six feet apart (but no fewer than three feet apart)” (in other words, elementary school children do not spread coronaplague, but let’s make them wear masks anyway)
“Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions” (nytimes, June 5): The average student could begin the next school year having lost as much as a third of the expected progress from the previous year in reading and half of the expected progress in math… A separate analysis of 800,000 students from researchers at Brown and Harvard looked at how Zearn, an online math program, was used both before and after schools closed in March. It found that through late April, student progress in math decreased by about half in classrooms located in low-income ZIP codes, by a third in classrooms in middle-income ZIP codes and not at all in classrooms in high-income ZIP codes. When all of the impacts are taken into account, the average student could fall seven months behind academically, while black and Hispanic students could experience even greater learning losses, equivalent to 10 months for black children and nine months for Latinos, according to an analysis from McKinsey & Company, the consulting group. … The disparities in educational progress do not appear to be caused by any lack of effort on the part of families. The poorest parents spent about the same amount of time during school closures assisting their children with learning — 13 hours per week — as those making over $200,000 per year, according to a May Census Bureau survey of households with children.
The school in our town shut down on the afternoon of March 12. Initially, the school decided that teachers wouldn’t be tasked with any online teaching. This was consistent with my theory that #1 priority for a public school is welfare enterprise for employees and that #2 priority was teaching.
This theory turned out to be wrong. Our email inboxes were flooded with content regarding the school’s heroic efforts to continue providing meals to students entitled to welfare. Could the school add $300/month to the mom’s EBT card and task her with microwaving whatever was purchased from a supermarket? Apparently that would be too challenging, so the school decided that they would have people come in to cook every day (spreading coronavirus to each other?) and then hire drivers in school buses to deliver the food to students, most of whom were located a 30-minute drive away in Boston (part of the METCO program that brings exotic skin colors to the suburbs while relieving wealthy Boston skyscraper owners from paying property tax).
How about the teachers? They email students with some assignments on Monday morning. These review material previously taught. They host a couple of Google Classroom hangout sessions each week, in which the students chat amongst themselves.
Facebook post from the father of an 8th-grade student here in our town (soon to be home to the most expensive school, per student, ever constructed in the United States):
Quarantine Day 30+ in a district with some of the highest teacher salaries in Massachusetts and a future $100m middle school building:
How was your video lesson with your teachers today? Have you guys started learning something new?
Papa, seriously, today we talked about our teachers’ dogs, dogs other teachers would love to get, and some other unrelated nonsense. For 45 minutes.
“Papa, our teachers finally stopped pretending. This week’s science homework is ‘reflect on last week’s homework'”
The 8th grader spends roughly five hours per week on schoolwork, including the video chat. There are no grades.
Maybe things are better in Brookline, a top school district within Massachusetts? “The teachers are useless,” said a friend. “The kids are getting nothing.” His perspective was confirmed by another friend in that town: “Very close to giving up on Brookline schools, which have devolved into about one half hour of Zoom per day. It’s teacher’s union saying ‘you can’t make us teach’ and weak administration and School Committee — and somehow parents just aren’t organized enough even here…” (ordinarily she is a huge believer in the power of bigger government to fix any problem, and a loyal Clinton/Warren-style supporter of unionized labor)
How about high school? I ran into a 10th/11th grade English teacher walking his dog in the during what used to be the school day. He described his current work schedule as “intense.” What hours was he actually online with the students? “12-2 every day.”
What about private school? Friends have 3rd and 6th graders in a local school for intellectually and financially elite children. The teachers transitioned seamlessly and immediately to Zoom, working from 8 am to 2 or 3 pm daily. There are substantial homework assignments afterwards, especially for the 6th grader. Although the children are Zooming ahead, so to speak, academically, a lot of parental effort is required. There are numerous breaks and small tasks that require the mother and father to step in at various points throughout the school day.