As countries begin to reopen, COVID-19 infection rates rise: The transmission rate in Germany has been up above R1 for three days, but public health officials aren't concerned, according to the BBC, because the number of newly reported infections there is hovering below 1,000 per day. Meanwhile, despite a "surge" in new cases and the second-highest case number in the world, Russia will begin to lift its lockdown measurers today, reports The Guardian. The UK, which has the fourth highest case rate in the world, is beginning to ease restrictions, too, but officials are saying the summer holiday season of international travel is "likely" canceled (or, rather, "cancelled"). And you can now attend a funeral in Italy, so long as you keep the grieving party below 15.
Dr. Fauci thinks the U.S. shouldn't be opening this quickly: Today the nation's top infectious disease doctor will tell the Senate Health Committee that "Americans would experience 'needless suffering and death' if the country opens up prematurely," according to the New York Times. Fauci, along with several other of the nation's top scientists, is delivering his testimony right now on a video call via self-imposed quarantine. Without Trump breathing down their necks, the Times notes, the doctors may speak more freely about the difference between their informed opinion and the president's deadly and self-interested dissembling. Watch live:
A little joke from Alexandra Petri about the Senate panel: "Welcome to our safe-to-go-back-to-work panel. You may notice we are not safely back to work."
Does Trump have to release his tax returns? SCOTUS is hearing argument on the case today. Watch live and listen for another flush.
Democrats start planning virtual convention: The New York Times is careful to say that it's not a done deal, but today the party will vote "to give convention officials the authority to alter the event’s key processes—like switching to remote voting for delegates," paving the way for a virtual convention. House Speaker Nanci Pelosi suggested hosting the show in a football stadium so people can stay 6-feet apart from one another. And Pete Buttigieg's campaign manager quoted one of the campaign's former creative content managers offering this idea:
Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to Navajo Nation: The Nation, which spreads out across the four corners area of the western United States, "has more coronavirus cases per capita than any state in America" and a higher death than 46 states, reports CBS in a good TV spot hosted by a vapid but well-meaning and compassionate broadcast guy. The humanitarian org, which has never deployed a team this close to the U.S. before, sent nine medical professionals to help out.
South Dakota Governor to sue tribes over checkpoints: The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe have set up checkpoints along state and federal highways that run through tribal land in order to prevent the spread of COVID to their nations, which can't handle an outbreak right now. Governor Kristi Noem ordered the tribes to remove the checkpoints because the state has "people who live in tribal areas, and also have property there such as cattle or ranches, and they're not allowed to go there and check on their property or to do normal day-to-day business," according to NPR. The Native Americans refused to budge from their own land, saying "the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868" give the tribes the power to establish the checkpoints, as does a "1990 opinion by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals." Now we have ourselves a legal standoff.
Spokane County wants to skip ahead to Phase 2: The county's Health Officer, Dr. Bob Lutz, wrote a letter to the Board of Health asking for a waiver to partially reopen before June 1, when most of the rest of the state may move on, according to the Spokesman-Review. "Lutz acknowledged the county and health district might have to supply more data to state health officials in order to move ahead to Phase 2. He called the letter a 'starting point.'"
Washington's dine-in restaurants must keep a "daily log of all customers...for 30 days" if they want to reopen during Phase 2: Governor Jay Inslee's office released new guidelines for "the Dine-In Restaurant and Tavern Industry" Monday evening. One of those guidelines requires restaurants to keep a log "including telephone/email contact information, and time in" of all customers to assist with contact tracing. The proclamation also limits restaurants to 50% capacity and tables no larger than 5 patrons. It prohibits bar seating and buffets/salad bars (ARE YOU KIDDING ME), requires single-use menus and condiments, and forces Republicans to melt their guns and pledge allegiance to abortions at the door. Seattle Times reporter David Gutman has the correct response to anyone who's already flipping shit about the "log":
Restaurants that take reservations already do this
— David Gutman (@davidlgutman) May 12, 2020
UW Medicine in “deep financial trouble” due to the pandemic, staff cuts and furloughs could be coming: The Seattle Times got ahold of a letter from UW Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey claiming the university's medical system—which includes Harborview, Valley Medical Center, UW's med school, and the University of Washington Medical Center—is looking down the barrel of a $500 million shortfall. Ramsey blames lost revenue on the temporary cancelation of elected surgeries, the cost of personal protective equipment, and "lost opportunities to implement new programs designed to improve care in the most cost-effective manner.”
Meanwhile, UW's residents are still working the front lines without a contract: They took out an ad in the Seattle Times in the form of a letter to Ramsey:
We are among the lowest paid residents in the country by cost of living and our contract has been expired for almost a year. We wrote a letter today to @UWMedicine in the @seattletimes saying we need a #faircontractnow. pic.twitter.com/0q4VXoW8vU
— UW Housestaff Assoc. (@uw_housestaff) May 3, 2020
“Giant potato giveaway” comes to Tacoma on Thursday: Washington's potato farmers plan to distribute 200,000 pounds of spuds in the parking lot of the Tacoma Dome this Thursday, May 14th at 11 a.m. Fast food restaurant closures left farmers with literally tons of a certain kind of ugly ass potato they sell for fries, so now they're making thousands available for hungry people who want to make their own damn fries. Given the fact that state expects 1/4 of the population to be in line for food through September, I'd plan on getting to the Dome early if you're in need.
A stabbing among acquaintances on the bus: One person was detained in a stabbing on a RapidRide D line headed into downtown Seattle, according to the Seattle Times. "The victim, who’s approximately 40 years old, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition."
Ain't their fault that they're out here getting loose: Robert Eagle Staff Middle School marching band performed "Juice" by Lizzo while social distancing, reports My Ballard. The saxophone players have tremendous style, and I admire the dedication beaming out of the ~17 flute players. Also, kudos to the kid who put the trombone bell up to the camera. Never change.