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Vaccination optimism

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Every time I visited my local cafe this summer, no customer could walk in. I ordered a mug from a worker standing at a table blocking the front door and returned a few minutes later to retrieve it.

In recent weeks, however, the store setup has changed. I now walk inside and order. Often a few other customers linger nearby, waiting for their coffee.

Across the country there are many other versions of this story. Professional sports leagues, for example, did not allow any audience to step into the stands for much of the summer. This weekend thousands of people attended college and professional football matches.

From a public health perspective, these changes don’t make much sense: Pandemic restrictions across the United States are now less stringent than they were in the summer, even though the rate of d infection is much higher.

How did it happen? State and local governments relaxed their policies as the virus receded in August and September – but then left those looser rules in place. (And the federal government has shown little leadership.)

Perhaps the # 1 pandemic question in the coming weeks is how state and local governments are aggressively reinstating restrictions.

“With the level of community spread that we have in Michigan and that many other states are now facing, the only way to bring down Covid is state action – or terrible loss of life,” Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services told me yesterday.

Several states have announced new measures in recent days. In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the temporary closure of indoor restaurants, casinos, movie theaters and in-person classes at high schools and colleges. Chicago, Philadelphia and most of California also reimposed restrictions.

Most of the new restrictions come from Democratic officials like Whitmer, but it’s not just a partisan issue.

The Republican governors of Iowa and North Dakota have issued mask warrants in recent days. And in the Wall Street Journal, Republican health pundits Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan wrote an op-ed titled “Now it‘s up to governors to slow the spread.” Gottlieb and McClellan wrote: “At least as infections are widespread and on the rise, local governors and leaders should enforce the use of masks and impose clear and consistent plans to restrict gatherings.

Yet most states, whether led by Democratic or Republican governors, have resisted tough measures, knowing that many Americans are tired of the pandemic. Meanwhile, infections continue to rise and deaths have started to rise in recent days as well.

The medium-term future looks increasingly optimistic, now that Moderna and Pfizer have reported encouraging vaccine trials. But the short term will depend to a large extent on what happens in state capitals. For now, many states – like Ohio, New York and New Jersey – are announcing new restrictions that are well below what public health experts deem necessary to crush the spread of the virus.

Lives lived: Bruno Barbey believed that photography “is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world”. Over a decades-long career he has covered unrest in Paris, the Middle East, Poland and Northern Ireland, and daily life in Italy. Barbey died at age 79.


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Jacques Pépin, the chef and cookbook author, grew up in France during World War II, shaped by the rarity of those years. “I really feel bad when I see wasted food,” Pepin wrote. Much of his subsequent advice to home cooks revolved around the astute use of the ingredients available.

This skill was particularly useful during the pandemic, when many people had to change their food shopping habits. Earlier this year, as the pandemic began to spread, Pepin began posting videos on Facebook that “explained how to cook well using the simplest, warmest things you have in your home,” like the writes my colleague Dwight Garner.

Dwight continues, “I found a lot of his videos to be, on some late sleepless nights, strangely and almost unbearably moving. His age, his beautiful battered appearance, his accent, the slight sibilance of his voice, his slightly worn culinary scholarship, his finely honed knife skills and the 70s funk of his paneled kitchen: it is sort of fascinating packaging. . “

The Spelling Bee pangrams of yesterday were eminently and imminently. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.