Because this is still a big and constantly developing story, we thought it would be prudent to just get updates up as quickly as possible and also to just have them all in one post, which we will be updating throughout the day. For convenience!

Joint Chiefs Just Chilling At Home After Exposure To Trump's Man Flu

Senior Pentagon leadership, including Gen. Mark Milley, are in quarantine after Vice Commandant of the US Coast Guard Adm. Charles Ray tested positive for COVID-19 Monday.

CNN reports:

"On Monday, the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Charles Ray, tested positive for COVID-19. He was tested the same day, after feeling mild symptoms over the weekend," the Coast Guard said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Coast Guard is following established policies for COVID, per CDC guidelines, to include quarantine and contact tracing. According to CDC guidelines, any Coast Guard personnel that were in close contact will also quarantine. In accordance with established Coast Guard COVID policies, Admiral Ray will be quarantining from home," the statement said.

Ray had attended several meetings recently with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Unlike the president, these are all important people who serve a critical role in maintaining national security.

Milley has tested negative but is working from home out of an abundance of (reasonable) caution. Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Charles Brown, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond also are all working from home.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany knew she'd been exposed to someone who had coronavirus but she didn't quarantine until after she tested positive herself. This is irresponsible and defies the White House's own CDC guidelines. She even took off her mask this weekend to address a press gaggle.

At least the Joint Chiefs have brains in their heads. But this disease that Donald Trump again compares to the flu is still spreading like the wildfires that Trump also isn't mentally equipped to manage.

[CNN]

— SER

Mike Pence Bitching About Plexiglass Debate Barriers, Because He Can Still See Kamala Harris That Way

While Vice President Mike Pence has — so far! — tested negative for the coronavirus, tomorrow night's vice presidential debate between Pence and Kamala Harris will feature some additional measures intended to reduce the risk that either candidate will infect the other, according to Politico. The Commission on Presidential Debates said the distance between the candidates will be increased from seven feet to about 13 feet, and plexiglass barriers will be erected on the stage between Pence and Harris, and between the two candidates and moderator Susan Page.

While Pence was at the Amy Bony Carrot superspreader picnic that seems to have infected half the GOP, he has not been quarantining.

Politico says the extra distance and barriers "have the support of the Cleveland Clinic, which is helping to set health protocols for the forums amid the pandemic." That's even though the debate will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is not Cleveland at all.

But the two campaigns didn't see eye to eye — not even over a distance — on the clear barriers. The Biden-Harris campaign was for 'em, but Team Trump-Pence opposed it. Pence spokesperson Katie Miller said "If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it," so you can probably expect some stupid posturing from Pence about how Harris is unfit to lead because she isn't willing to get infected like a real leader would.

On Twitter, Harris's press secretary, Sabrina Singh, replied that was a weird thing for a spokesperson for the head of the COVID-19 task force to say.

Miller, you may recall, was infected back in May, and she lived, proving that the virus actually doesn't harm anyone except the roughly 210,000 Americans who have died from it.

The Pence team is now objecting even more vociferously, because they are assholes.

In addition, Reuters notes, all of the limited number of guests at the debate will be tested for the virus, and this time they'll be required to wear face masks. Any audience members refusing to wear masks, the commission said, would be "escorted out," and the commission was definitely looking at the Trump Superspreader Family Bus over the tops of the commission's glasses while saying that.

So here's hoping the best for all involved, and that there's good ventilation in the building, because we don't yet know how effectively the virus is spread by aerosols, which would not be affected by a plexiglass barrier. We would say more, but Rebecca already made us edit out a 30-minute video of Rachel Maddow going over the history of plexiglass.

[Politico / Reuters]

— DZ

Rudy Giuliani Isn't Looking That Awesome

Rudy Giuliani had some thoughts about science Monday, telling Fox News host Martha MacCallum that Joe Biden is just trying to scare people when he wears a mask. MacCallum asked Giuliani to respond to some advice Biden had for Donald Trump during a campaign visit in Miami yesterday: "Now that he's busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: Listen to the scientists. Support masks." Well! Rudy wasn't about to sit still for THAT, because — really! — medicine is not a science, and scientists always disagree with each other, making their findings meaningless.

Well, I would say to Joe that you don't really understand what scientists are. First of all, listen to your doctors. They know your personal history. Doctors really aren't scientists. Scientists almost always have competing opinions. That's what science is about.

Science isn't a didactic, dogmatic religion. Almost every principle of this kind of science, medical science, has conflicting opinions.

Clearly, we shouldn't pay too much attention to the "overwhelming consensus" of science, because some outlier may disagree, so there! It might have been a more impressive point if Giuliani had declared he doesn't personally believe in gravity and then floated out of his seat.

But the real problem, Giuliani said, isn't that Joe Biden thinks medical science is a real thing, but that he overdoes it on the mask thing. Replying to a clip of Biden wearing a mask while onstage in Miami, Giuliani gotcha'd him so hard that Biden probably needs a doctor himself!

It isn't science to be wearing that mask, Joe, when you are giving a speech and people are 30-40 feet away from you. The only thing you can infect is the teleprompter that's near you. So, I see through you. That's a political statement to scare people, wearing that mask. You do not need that mask when you are standing at a podium.

This is technically probably true, but there's also such a thing as setting an example — and masking up when you don't absolutely have to is certainly better than the other way around, even if Giuliani dismisses it as "political theater." I for one was not frightened by Joe Biden in a mask as I am any time I see a close-up of Giuliani's teeth.

It's also worth noting that Giuliani participated in Donald Trump's debate prep, and that Chris Christie, who has tested positive, said "No one was wearing masks" at those sessions. Giuliani tested negative Friday, but told MacCallum he had had another test yesterday and was waiting on results.

The interview closed with Giuliani coughing several times while talking about how science really can't tell us anything, because "the experts can be wrong," and "nobody elected the experts," and more people might kill themselves because of lockdowns than the disease will kill (this has not happened).

Giuliani's cough led MacCallum to wish him well as she signed off, saying, "I hope that cough is not anything bad while you are waiting for your test to come back. [...] We hope you will be healthy and well." Giuliani said he'd be sure to let her know.

We don't yet have any information on the outcome of Giuliani's most recent test, which by his own standards he may just decide to ignore.

[Daily Beast / NYDN]

— DZ

White House Rapid Test Results Almost As Accurate As Fortune Teller Reading

Guests at President Prospero's Red Death ball in honor of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett thought they were safe to party within the Rose Garden walls because everyone had tested negative for COVID-19 and basic human decency, but the results were less than reliable.

The White House relies on the "rapid" test, Abbott's ID Now, to screen all visitors. This is how Trump felt comfortable enough to never wear a mask, social distance, or cuddle up for FaceTime calls with the Barstool Sports guy.

The New York Times reports:

The ID Now has several qualities in its favor: It's portable, doesn't need skilled technicians to operate and delivers results in 15 minutes.

Or your money back! (Offer will not be honored.)

The ID Now was never intended to help Republicans pretend COVID-19 exists. If you try to ignore the coronavirus, it'll go all Fatal Attraction on you.

The ID Now boasts a 95 percent success rate for identifying the virus in people with symptoms, but anyone with eyes can tell when someone is obviously sick with COVID-19. A good recent example is The Great Gaspy himself (h/t Wonkette commenter, "grindstone, classy AF") during his Truman Balcony address. You wouldn't come within a mile of the guy unless you were a Secret Service agent under duress.

However, when it comes to identifying COVID-19 in asymptomatic people, the ID Now is more consistently wrong than David Brooks.

But in people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms, the test is much less accurate, missing as many as one in three cases.

That's a 33 percent failure rate. You wouldn't board a plane that had a "one in three" chance of crashing into a mountain. Well, maybe Trump would right now. He's feeling indestructible.

Relying on negative test results from the ID Now as a way to conduct business as usual is dangerous, reckless, and just-plain stupid. It's vintage Trump, but there's no reason our Democratic ticket that has possession of its faculties should participate. Keep Joe Biden and Kamala Harris off the stage with anyone from this White House.

[New York Times]

— SER

Bigmouth We Mean Breitbart Strikes Again

Breitbart got a lot of Facebook love for an article proving masks are stupid, because, they said, Thom Tillis got the rona and he was wearing a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett Superspreader Spectacular. But whoops, like Ben Sasse, Tillis seems to only have worn his mask outside, for the cameras. So that's ... "coronavirus misinformation," right?

Facebook told Popular Information that the Breitbart article did not violate its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

Don't worry, Breitbart has done the responsible thing and updated its headline and first paragraph.

They have not posted the updated story, with updated headline, to Facebook.

— RS

The Maskless Marauder Returns To The White House, Takes Labored Breath Of Freedom

Donald Trump checked himself out of Walter Reed hospital Monday and declared himself as fit for duty as he ever was. Arriving at the White House Monday evening, Trump went up two flights of stairs to the Truman Balcony. This was already more exercise than he takes when he's well, but it was worth pushing his COVID-riddled lungs to the limit so he could cosplay Mussolini and Eva Peron.

The still-contagious president immediately took off his mask, because he's learned nothing and is incapable of demonstrating concern for others or modeling sensible behavior. This is the same man who looked directly at an eclipse and dared the sun to smite him. That orange makeup he thinks looks natural was back, presumably applied by terrified staffers with 10-foot poles.

According to the New York Times, Trump campaign advisers thought they could have a “political reset" if Trump survived the disease he'd caught through his own negligence and stupidity but at least appeared sympathetic and finally ready to take COVID-19 seriously. These people have apparently never met their candidate.

Trump didn't just tweet that he felt better than he had in decades, because he was juiced up on steroids, but he also claimed that "maybe I'm immune, I don't know" during a campaign video filmed on the balcony. He is not immune. He is still very ill. And his obvious drug-induced euphoria means he should not have access to the nuclear codes.

[The New York Times]

—SER

Super Serious GOP Shows Love For Dear Leader

Not long after Trump escaped Arkham was released from Walter Reed hospital, his supporters started tweeting deranged memes of Trump kicking the ass of COVID-19, like it was an actual person. They also hadn't received the memo from Trump's campaign advisers that voters might prefer to see a president humbled by his battle with a disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans. No, instead, Trump fanatics decided to go the other way.

Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler tweeted that COVID-19 “stood no chance" against Trump. Did she see the guy on the Truman balcony? The virus's chances are still pretty good.

Republicans insisted that Barack Obama deserved very little credit for killing Osama bin Laden. He might've given the order as commander-in-chief, but it was Navy SEALs who'd risked their lives carrying out the mission. Almost 10 years later, they're claiming Trump is solely responsible for beating back the virus. They don't credit the doctors who also risked their lives treating him. Doctors don't carry guns and don't beat up diseases. They rely on medicine and science, and Republicans have a defiant anti-nerd platform.

— SER


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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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