Legal

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Your Right To Die Of Coronavirus

This is what we in the law biz call unfuckingbelievable.

Last night, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin released its opinion in Wisconsin Legislature v. Palm — and threw the state into chaos.

Last month, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (also called DHS and not to be confused with the fascist federal Department of Homeland Security) issued a stay home order that closed schools and businesses and instructed residents to stay home unless the travel is essential. The Wisconsin GOP, known the world over for being a freedom-loving bunch (unless you're a woman, a person of color, or someone who wants to exercise their constitutional right to vote), filed suit.

Yesterday, the conservative majority of the state's highest court concurred with their Republican overlords in a 4-3 decision, declaring the stay-at-home order illegal. Because we must ensure that everyone can exercise their constitutional right to spread a deadly disease.

To make things even more delightful, the deciding vote was cast by Justice Daniel Kelly, a lame duck who lost reelection last month by 10 points. Another win for democracy!

And the cherry on top? The court held oral arguments, deliberated, and released its decision ... remotely.

You know, to stay safe.

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coronavirus

Kroger Pays CEO $21 Million After Ending Store Workers' 'Hero Bonus'

'Eat the Rich' not yet available in deli section.

Kroger, the national grocery store giant, has really distinguished itself during the COVID-19 pandemic, if not always in ways it might want shoppers to think of. Early on in the outbreak, Judd Legum's Popular Information newsletter highlighted the company's sick leave policy that actually encouraged employees to work while ill. That created enough bad publicity that the chain eventually expanded its leave policy to allow two weeks' paid leave if employees had symptoms or needed to self-isolate. It still wasn't a real paid sick leave policy, since it will only last during the national state of emergency, after which the old, crappier policy will return.

Last week, the chain announced it would be ending the temporary $2 an hour "hero bonus" it had started paying store workers at the end of March. The company had to be shamed into providing that hazard pay after other stores had adopted the policy, but apparently Kroger figures the pandemic is over, since clearly nobody's wearing masks anymore. Weirdly, Kroger is still running this ad thanking its "associates" for feeding America and being brave; it actually played on the Spotify while I was typing up this story.

Thank You Associates For Keeping America Fed | The Kroger Co. youtu.be

Here's the latest development in the Story Of How Kroger Sucks And I'm Not Shopping There No More Except For In Idaho It's "Fred Meyer": Judd Legum, at it again, reports (in a subscribers-only joint) that Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and other top executives got their very own hero bonuses, to the tune of many millions of dollars. Not because they're out on the front lines risking infection by idiots who think viruses aren't real, but because they've done so well at bringing in big money for the company.

As if the chain's weirdass CGI Fisher-Price looking ads weren't off-putting enough.

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coronavirus

Massive COVID-19 Deaths May Slightly Delay Trump Push To Deregulate Nursing Homes

Once they're all given a liability shield they can get back to business.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit nursing homes especially hard. The AP says nursing homes account for "about a third" of deaths; the New York Times says it's "over a third"; and ABC News suggests the number is more like 31 percent nationwide, but also pointing out that 15 states don't report deaths in nursing homes as part of their coronavirus stats at all. So for the 35 states and DC that do report nursing home deaths, that works out to 40 percent.

Hey, why aren't we giving you statistics from the federal government? That's because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees federal regulation of nursing homes, didn't start requiring nursing homes to report coronavirus infections and deaths directly to the CDC until late April, and won't get around to releasing any data until the end of May. Oh, yes, and on April 30, two months into the outbreak, and long after everyone knew the disease was spreading out of control in nursing homes, the White House finally created a national task force on coronavirus in long-term care facilities. That was not quite two weeks ago, so hooray for the quick action.

So with all the horror going on, it only stands to reason that CMS, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is circulating a draft of a plan to "reopen" nursing homes so people can go visit Nana as soon as possible. Yes really, although the Wall Street Journal dutifully notes that the "final version of the guidelines might be significantly different from the early draft" that its reporters obtained. Like if people all stand up and scream "ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?"

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coronavirus

Nancy Pelosi Wants To Give You This Shiny New Corona-Stimulus, Too Bad Mitch McConnell Is An Evil Dick

But what about the rich and the corporations? Who'll think about them?

House Democrats released their proposal for a "Phase Four" economic stimulus bill Tuesday, calling for a new round of direct payments to most Americans, as well as support for state and local governments, more funding for coronavirus testing, and a bunch of other Democratic priorities that are — and we can't emphasize this strongly enough — not in any way about protecting big companies that allowed a deadly virus to infect to their workers. Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to have the House vote on the bill Friday, although its fate after that is uncertain, since Republicans have decided their next big plan to help Americans is Doing Nothing.

The Democratic bill, called the "Heroes Act" to emphasize its aid to frontline healthcare workers, may not have any immediate prospects of being enacted, but it's designed to pressure Republicans to get off their asses and negotiate a bipartisan stimulus package sooner, and of course to draw the contrast between the two parties: Democrats want to get help to Americans in a crisis, and Republicans want to protect meatpacking plants that have been making the outbreak worse.

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