Human capital stock car races are the very best kind.
Over Memorial Day weekend, a small North Carolina race track opened up for stock car races, drawing a capacity crowd of more than 4,000 spectators, and ignoring the state's public health rules because county officials gave the go-ahead. Raleigh News & Observer reporter Andrew Carter wrote a hell of a good feature story about the return to what a lot of the people there wanted to call "normal," as the racing season finally got underway at that Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, after a two-month delay. This isn't a big old NASCAR venue, just a little local track, a four-tenths of a mile oval. Most of the people Carter spoke to said they'd been cooped up for too long, and so it's time for everybody to get back to business, but safely. If "safely" means cramming close together and yelling loudly over all the engine noise, which is a super-efficient way for the virus to spread.
The people at the racetrack all seemed vaguely aware that the pandemic isn't over, but they're largely over the pandemic, and just don't want to think about it anymore. So they probably wouldn't have cared that in the week prior to the race, North Carolina's COVID-19 hospitalizations were actually increasing — from 481 on May 16, to 589 on Saturday, May 23, the day of the festivities. Since then, the number of current hospitalizations statewide is up to 702, as of yesterday.
To be honest, it's a difficult story to read, because it feels like an early chapter of And The Band Played On. There's a strong likelihood of a future story, profiling people who'll get sick or die after attending the race. Maybe not — viral outbreaks are a matter of risk, not certainty. But the odds are far higher than if all those folks had stayed home and held nice cookouts in their own backyards.
Golly gee, how quickly they change their tune.
Sean Hannity is suddenly very concerned about the novel coronavirus, and moreover, he even seems to understand how it spreads even among asymptomatic and relatively low-risk populations. Weird, right?
On Tuesday night, Hannity was troubled — dismayed — by that video of kids doing their drunkypartyfucky on Memorial Day weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks, because did you see they weren't even wearing masks? And they were drunkypartyfucky right on top of each other in the swimming pool! That is not proper social distancing, children!
Is it delicious like hamberder?
Everything is so batshit today, so please take a moment to mark in your mind that the United States, which is in the throes of the worst novel coronavirus epidemic in the world, which is rapidly growing, reached and surpassed 100,000 confirmed deaths today.
We'd say we've reached peak MAGA, but Donald Trump is such a fuckup, we don't want to underestimate how big this death count could eventually get with his tiny hands on the steering wheel.
Can't people take a joke?
A West Virginia postal carrier has been charged with trying to do election fraud after he altered five absentee ballot requests, changing them from requesting ballots for the state's upcoming Democratic primary election to Republican. Thomas Cooper, 47, who held a contract to deliver mail in three rural towns (Onego, Riverton, and Franklin, if you're checking), was charged in federal court with "Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election" after admitting in an affidavit that he had changed the ballots in April. The state had sent out absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters because of concerns the coronavirus outbreak would interfere with the state's June primaries.
Best part of the whole sad, badly planned ballot-tampering scheme? The fraud was discovered by the Pendleton County Clerk, who knew the people who submitted the ballot requests weren't Republicans and called them up to see what was going on. Hooray for small towns!