May 12, 2020
To: All Domestic Employees
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Big Ask ~ Mixed Signals ~ Cleaning Rental Cars ~ Timely Message
Western Pact Asks for $1T
Yesterday, the Western States Pact (now consisting of California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington) urged Congressional leaders to approve a measure to provide those states one trillion dollars to help make up for some of the revenues lost due to COVID-19. Led by Governor Gavin Newsom, signatories argued that without federal support, “states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions – like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders.” This marks what will likely become a trend among the states, all of which have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. It is unclear whether the federal government has a constitutional basis for making federal monies available to states on an ad-hoc basis, but that question will undoubtedly be answered as legislators on Capitol Hill digest this request.
As reported by the Washington Post, Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, appeared before the Senate (virtually) yesterday and warned of the “danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” noting that “if we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to “Opening America Again,” then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country.” In the course of answering questions, he also stated that the death toll is likely higher than the 82,000 currently reported by CDC in the U.S. By contrast, as reported by the Business Insider, Dr. Deborah Birx, who also serves on the same task force, was quoted yesterday as saying that she feared CDC’s statistics on the mortality rate and case counts were inflated by up to 25%. Dr. Birx went on to note that some sources show a decline in daily mortality rate, while others show little change. What are we to make of these somewhat conflicting accounts? CDC’s numbers are consistent with multiple other sources (e.g., worldometers, Johns Hopkins University, WHO). Nor, to my knowledge has CDC changed its methodology for counting. Thus, for purposes of viewing the pandemic from 10,000 feet, a reasonable position might be to accept the CDC’s numbers and assume that the mortality rate is likely flat-to-down.
How to Clean a Rental Car
With states reopening to a limited extent and travel on the rise, Kevin Brady from the GAW Research Center asks how one might go about cleaning a rental car. Our man on the scene, Suneet Ranganath, polled Hertz, Alamo and Enterprise on the subject. They report that rental car companies spend far more time cleaning within the pandemic period than before (now 18 minutes per car, up from 8 minutes). They use a variety of disinfectants and, while most wash and re-use cloths, one company uses new microfiber cloths for every cleaning. Customers are always free to clean the car further – some rental companies offer wipes (on request), while others do not. So, if you want to be on the safe side, bring your own. In case you are a visual thinker, we are providing a pictograph (courtesy of Julia) that shows areas of highest contact in a typical car – it is based in part upon Enterprise’s cleaning protocols and in part upon logic. If you’re really good, it shouldn’t take any more than 18 minutes.
On a Lighter Note
This just in from our own John Immaraju: a cryptic message for our times compiled by a librarian (who was unexpectedly indoors for an extended period). Read the titles starting from top left onwards. It’s brilliant. If unclear, it reads, “The English patient had caught it on the beach. I should have stayed home, she said. Now she was in quarantine in the dark house of splendid isolation. Still, hope springs eternal – with a little bit of luck and personal hygiene, the complete book of horror stories must end soon. Always remember, clean hands save lives and, when in doubt, don’t go out!”
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COVID-19 Advisory: Big Ask ~ Mixed Signals ~ Cleaning Rental Cars ~ Timely Message