Latest US and World News - Capture Club
kmcowan 19 May, 2018 0

Latest US and World News

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  • Bill Withers’s Life Was as Rich as His Songs
    To turn to Bill Withers for solace has long been a reflex for millions. (Ed Caraeff / Getty)Bill Withers hadn’t released a new song of his own in decades, but even before he died at age 81 of cardiac problems on Monday, the soul singer was on the minds of many people amid the globe’s current viral crisis. Apartment buildings full of people in social isolation and hospital rooms of health-care workers sang his 1972 classic, “Lean on Me.” For weeks, YouTube listeners of “Lovely Day” left messages like “As I write this, we are in the middle of the corona virus pandemic. I need some inspiration. Thanks Bill,” and “THIS SONG IS GOING TO GET ME THRU COVID19!!”To turn to Bill Withers for solace has long been a reflex for millions. His songs have so suffused our communal space—churches, kids’ shows, supermarkets—that they seem older than the ’70s and ’80s, like they’re hymns. Music as widely consoling as his always runs a risk of overuse and misuse, and the popular reinterpretations of him range from outstanding instrumentals to Will Smith’s hammy dad rap to an Austin Powers parody I wish I could forget. But there was an edge to Withers. He had songs about mutilated soldiers and suicidal alcoholics, and he critiqued the music industry he walked away from soon after he conquered it. Withers was too great a talent and too independent an individual to be eclipsed by his own influence, and his legacy underlines the idea that comfort need not mean numbness, schmaltz, or complacency.He certainly had an unusual career arc. Withers was in his 30s when he started getting serious about music—and he didn’t stay serious about it for all that long. Born in poor and rural West Virginia to a coal-miner father who died when Withers was 13, he grew up amid rank segregation. As soon as he was of age, he enlisted in the Navy, where he served for nine years. His post-military gigs included delivering milk and working an assembly line. The cover of his 1971 debut album, Just as I Am, shows him holding a lunch pail on a break from the factory; he once recalled of the shoot, “So guys are in the back yelling, ‘Hey Hollywood!’”That album arose from a mix of ambition, impulse, and extraordinary talent. Inspired by seeing the singer Lou Rawls perform—and moreover, by noting the money and romantic attention Rawls got for it—Withers bought a used guitar, taught himself to play it, and recorded some demos. They impressed the music exec Clarence Avant, who set Withers up with the pivotal Memphis bandleader Booker T. Jones to cut an album. “The fact is we are born into the situations we were born into,” Withers said in a 2014 WNYC interview, looking back on his early life. “One day you … try to do something with yourself. The best advice anybody ever gave me was very simple: Go make something out of yourself.”A track from his first studio sessions, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” would rightly launch Withers to orbit. For all the covers the song has spawned over the years, the original recording remains stunning. Withers’s voice—round, rich, and reverberating—is central and godlike. The arrangement seems to drift and coalesce. The overall effect matches the lyrical conceit about loneliness that moves like weather. In obvious ways, the song rates  as “easy listening,” yet it also shows Withers’s genius for graceful extremity. Only a songwriter with a certain bravery and trust in the listener would cast those endless-seeming ripples of “I know / I know / I know.”Many of his best moments are like that one: stark, graphical, almost confrontational musical choices that don’t disrupt the song’s spell but pull you further into it. There’s the lengthy “daaaay” of “Lovely Day.” There’s the acidic but perceptive take on submissive love on “Use Me.” There’s his knack for bold imagery, whether used for affection means in “Grandma’s Hands” or for political ones in “I Can’t Write Left Handed.” And there’s “Lean on Me,” a song whose gentleness survives and is boosted by brief, jolting tempo changes. Some radio stations truncate the end of that song, when Withers says “Call me” 14 times. What are they thinking?Withers’s last hit was 1980’s “Just the Two of Us,” a jaunty duet with Grover Washington Jr. The backstory is another example of how Withers’s sweet soul sounds often came with a hidden thorn. Withers had bristled at the manipulations of his record company, Columbia, for years, so he went to work with Washington, who was on a rival label. “Just the Two of Us” was “a ‘kiss my ass’ song to Columbia,” he told Rolling Stone decades later. He’d use his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction speech in 2015 to joke that “A&R” stands for “antagonistic and redundant.”That induction speech is worth watching for a sense for how inspiringly and cannily Withers lived his life. He checked out of the music industry after 1985—the only original material since then came on a 2004 Jimmy Buffett album—and seemed quite happy raising a family in retirement. Onstage at the Hall of Fame ceremony, he was quick with jokes and jabs directed both at the contemporary pop scene and at his own old age. The impression he gave was of having willfully taken charge of his life as his songs took on lives of their own. “It’s been a wonderful odd odyssey with ups, downs, and sometimes screw-me-arounds,” he said, before acknowledging the varied pains his music had so often soothed: “We all know about those.”
  • The Atlantic Daily: Ideas for a Weekend in Quarantine
    Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.Mark Metcalfe / GettyRead a book. Read something surrealist. Something to feel better. Start that novel you meant to read last year—revisit our list of the best books of 2019. If your attention span is too frayed by the news, turn to poetry to ease back into reading.Put on some tunes. Our critics picked 13 songs to get you through social distancing and its accompanying moods, like the post–Zoom-call blues. The accompanying Spotify playlist can be found here.We also asked readers to tell us what songs they’re cueing up in this moment. Several of you had a recommendation that’s a little on the nose: R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).” Find that and more on this Atlantic reader-curated Spotify playlist.Or a podcast. Last month, we launched our first narrative podcast: Floodlines, hosted by Vann R. Newkirk II, is the story of an unnatural disaster. For additional inspiration, turn to our roundup of the 50 best podcasts of 2019.Follow the Barefoot Contessa. Literally, not metaphorically—smash that button on Instagram. Where other celebrities have failed to soothe, Ina Garten maintains “an uncanny empathy for how people are doing, and how the emotional resonance of food might be able to help.”Let Hollywood take you somewhere else. Our culture team recommended eight different shows and movies to stream right now. Indulge your longing for wide-open spaces by putting on a classic Western.Try old-fashioned crafting. Our assistant editor Rosa Inocencio Smith writes beautifully about turning to crochet for comfort: “In the long chain of actions and accidents that can lead to a stranger’s life or death, I don’t know where I fit or whether I’m doing the right thing. But I know how to do this; I know how to link one loop of thread into another.”Take on a cooking project.Choose something particularly tedious to lull you into a state of peace. Our resident newsroom chefs offer some tips for cooking sustainably—and creatively—amid an outbreak.Tour America from your couch. Let your eyes wander the country when the rest of you can’t. Our “Fifty” project, from photo editor Alan Taylor, highlights extraordinary photography of each U.S. state. (I may be a bit biased here, but isn’t Maryland lovely?)Revisit an extraordinary piece of journalism. Keep scrolling: Our editors and writers selected five reads for you below.Remember we’re all in this together. This is, perhaps, most important of all. From my little desk in San Francisco, I send you and your loved ones all the best during these turbulent times.Editor’s PicksDenise Wills Deputy editor, magazine“The Digital Ruins of a Forgotten Future” (2017)As we retreat ever more from in-person interaction, I keep thinking about this fascinating essay by Leslie Jamison, which tells the stories of people who (still!) spend much of their time on the all-but-forgotten online platform Second Life. Jamison explores how digital life offers connection, escape, reinvention—all so appealing right now—as well as how it falls short of the real deal.Best read: After a long day on the internet    Yoni Appelbaum Senior editor and former lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University“High Adventure (Part I)” (1916)In 1916, The Atlantic sent a young James Norman Hall across the Atlantic, to report on the volunteers taking to the air to defend France. Swept up in the romance of it all, Hall went rogue—enlisting in the Lafayette Escadrille himself, and becoming a highly decorated aviator, instead of filing the story he’d promised to write. The account he ultimately delivered, serialized in six parts in The Atlantic as “High Adventure,” mixes vainglory and bravado with a creeping awareness of the realities of war. (Hall and a fellow pilot moved to Tahiti after the war, where they wrote the The Bounty Trilogy together.)Best read: With a wheel of brie, and a grain of saltShan Wang Senior editor“The Dad-Joke Doctrine” (2018)As a childless Millennial, I love nothing more than a healthy volley of truly eye-rolling dad jokes. My colleague Ashley Fetters dove deep into “one of America’s great familial oral traditions” for this 2018 masterpiece. You’ll get to hear from everyone from linguists to actual dads (and granddads).Best read: Before a shower (Puns are great shower thoughts; let that sink in.)Adam Harris Staff writer, politics“A Fleeting Moment in the Solar System” (2020)Our moon had a partner, small and young, that joined it on the orbit around Earth; but it was a short relationship. Marina Koren writes about that loss, and the hope of partners to come.Best read: While looking up at the skyAnnika Neklason Archives editor“The Devil Baby at Hull House” (1916)In 1889, Jane Addams founded a settlement house in Chicago that provided childcare, education, and health services for the poor—and, some claimed, a home for a cursed “Devil Baby.” Investigating this urban legend for The Atlantic in 1916, Addams confronted the very real pain of the women the house served and offered an intimate account of how scary stories can take hold.Best read: When the shadows on the wall start to grow longSign yourself up for The Daily here.
  • 2020 Time Capsule #11: ‘Captain Crozier’
    The episode I’m about to mention has been receiving saturation social-media attention for the past few hours, as I write. But because the accelerating torrent of news tends to blast away each day’s events and make them hard to register—even a moment like this, which I expect will be included in histories of our times—I think it is worth noting this episode while it is fresh.Until a few days ago, Brett Crozier would have been considered among the U.S. Navy’s most distinguished commanders.He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1992 and then entered training as a naval aviator. He was qualified first as a helicopter pilot, and then in the Navy’s F/A-18 fighter planes. He was deployed aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz during the Iraq war, and he held an ascending series of staff and command jobs—as you can read in his Pentagon biography, here. He received a master’s degree from the Naval War College; he became executive officer (second in command) of the nuclear-powered carrier Ronald Reagan; and he became commander of the amphibious ship Blue Ridge. Then late last year, as a Navy captain, he took command of the Nimitz-class nuclear carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the 4,000-plus people in its crew.Last week, coronavirus sickness spread rapidly among the Roosevelt’s crew members. Five days ago, on Sunday, Matthias Gafni and Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle published an email by Crozier, addressed to his naval superiors, asking that the ship be diverted from its normal duties so that sick crew members could be treated and the spread of disease could be slowed. Gafni and Garofoli did not say how they had received the email, but it had been copied to a large number of recipients and not marked as sensitive; Crozier must have known it was likely to become public when he sent it.The four-page letter, which you can read in full at the Chronicle’s site, used the example of recent cruise-ship infection disasters to argue that closed shipboard environments were the worst possible location for people with the disease. It laid out the case for immediate action to protect the Roosevelt’s crew, and ended this way: 7. Conclusion. Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. A portion of the crew (approximately 10%) would have to stay aboard to run the reactor plant, sanitize the ship, ensure security, and provide for contingency response to emergencies. This is a necessary risk. It will enable the carrier and air wing to get back underway as quickly as possible while ensuring the health and safety of our Sailors. Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care... This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do. We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset our Sailors. Request all available resources to find NAVADMIN and CDC compliant quarantine rooms for my entire crew as soon as possible. “Breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.” “We are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset our Sailors.” “Unnecessary risk.” In any walk of life, such language would have great power. Within the military—where terms like “faith” and “trust” and “care” have life and death meaning, and are the fundamental reason people follow leaders into combat—these words draw the starkest possible line. This course is right. The other course is wrong. Thus a leader spoke on behalf of the people “entrusted to our care.”The letter got widespread attention in the press, and became a PR problem for the Pentagon and the administration. A commander was in effect saying that the command structure was mis-serving the troops; the command structure was not amused.Yesterday, April 2, four days after the letter’s appearance, the acting secretary of the Navy formally relieved Crozier of command of the Theodore Roosevelt. That is, Thomas Modly, the acting secretary who was himself a Naval Academy graduate and former naval aviator, fired Crozier from one of the most consequential command roles in the Navy. Crozier’s offense, according to Modly, was exercising “extremely poor judgment” in letting his plea become public. Also, Crozier’s letter had “unnecessarily raised the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines.” Modly was quoted in Stars and Stripes saying that the letter “creates a panic and creates the perception that the Navy is not on the job, the government’s not on the job, and it’s just not true.” A commander had gone outside channels and created a “perception” problem.    Last night, soon after Crozier had been “relieved,” he took his last walk off the ship as commander, down a gangway to the dock in Guam. As he left, the men and women serving with him signaled where their respect and loyalties lay. Videos that, based on current information, appear to be authentic, showed the crew heralding him on his departure, with supportive cheers of “Captain Crozier! Captain Crozier!” This account from Stars and Stripes gives a sample. Based on information available as I write, it appears that he took a stand, and is paying the price. Brett Crozier will no longer be one of the Navy’s most powerful commanders. He remains in the service, but his command has been taken away.He will likely be remembered among its leaders
  • The Surreality of Central Park’s Field Hospital
    When news spread that a field hospital was opening in Central Park, New Yorkers breathed a collective sigh of relief. The 68-bed respiratory-care unit would accept overflow patients from Mount Sinai, which was running out of hospital beds. It was a necessary contribution to a public-health crisis. But the next wave of news wasn’t so optimistic. As it turns out, Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian relief organization behind the field hospital, is run by a fundamentalist preacher known for his anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic rhetoric. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed serious concern. In a new documentary, The Atlantic visits Central Park to speak with volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse and to find out what New Yorkers think of it all. The tent hospital accepted its first patient on Wednesday.
  • Chinese Americans Have Seen This Before
    Back in January, when a mysterious virus in Wuhan still seemed like faraway news, Mei Mei and her husband bought N95 masks and two boxes of hand sanitizer to take to her elderly parents, who live 300 miles east of the Chinese city. Mei, 48, a real-estate agent in Fremont, California, had planned to bring the supplies on a trip to China to celebrate her parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Then Wuhan went into lockdown, and all of it was canceled.Mei still mailed the masks to her parents, but not the hand sanitizer—“which became such a blessing,” she told me, because hand sanitizer would soon sell out in stores around the U.S. Masks started disappearing, too. Over the month of March, a strange reversal began as new COVID-19 cases in China started to fall and those in the U.S. started to skyrocket. Mei’s parents in China were now worried about her. They still had some unused N95s left over. Should we, they asked Mei, send the same masks you mailed us the 6,000 miles back to you in California?For lots of Chinese Americans, the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. feels eerily familiar in a deeply personal way. First-generation immigrants in particular, many of whom still have close personal ties to China, followed the situation there closely and recognized the virus as a serious threat before it registered for the rest of America. Now the social isolation, the overwhelmed hospitals, the equipment shortages, the deaths—all of this is a replay of what loved ones in China went through two months ago.[Read: Everyone thinks they’re right about masks]“For the people who are connected to Wuhan, the overwhelming sentiment is terrible déjà vu,” Tony Fan says. Fan, 32, grew up near Atlanta, and he and his wife have family in and around Wuhan. They moved to Hong Kong a few years ago, and spent January concerned about their relatives in mainland China. His wife’s father, a dermatologist, was briefly conscripted into seeing COVID-19 patients. Worried about the lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, in his hospital, his wife stayed up late trying to source Tyvek coveralls from a factory. Fortunately, no one in the family got seriously sick with COVID-19. But lately, Fan has been buying masks in Hong Kong to ship to friends in the United States. At the end of our call, he offered to ship me some too.With COVID-19 cases mounting in the U.S., Chinese Americans have mobilized through WeChat, GoFundMe, and other social-media platforms to source and donate PPE for health-care workers in the U.S.—often drawing on the same connections made just a few months ago, when the outbreak in China was at its worst. Jerry Hu, an ophthalmologist in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered 5,700 surgical masks for a Beijing hospital in early February. Recently, he told me, staff at that same Beijing hospital donated about $14,000 for PPE, boxes of which are on their way to Hu’s house right now. He plans to distribute the equipment to local health-care workers.Mei Mei has been coordinating donations of equipment like masks and gloves for health-care workers in California. (Erin Brethauer)Mei, the real-estate agent in California, has also been coordinating a donation effort on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, collecting more than 27,000 masks, face shields, goggles, gloves, and other equipment to send to local hospitals. Packages are showing up every day outside her house from friends and acquaintances of her Bay Area Chinese American community. “A lot of the donations I received, they were all still in the original package shipped by their family [from China],” she told me.After Mei canceled her trip to China, she immediately began social distancing at home in California. This was January and February, when life around her in the U.S. still went on as normal. She canceled Chinese New Year celebrations. She stopped going to church services on Sundays and Bible study on Fridays. Having paid close attention to the stories out of China, she took the dangers of the coronavirus seriously—so did, she says, about half of the people in her Chinese community. “For everybody who was non-Chinese, I think they thought I was crazy,” she said.[Read: How the pandemic will end]Mei’s college-age daughter thought she was overreacting, too. In early March, when her daughter’s school had a charity dance event, Mei emailed the university president to urge them to cancel the event. The event did get canceled a few hours later, though Mei doesn’t know whether it was her doing. In any case, her daughter replied to the news with a sad face, saying, “Half of the school hates you.” “They don’t hate me now!” Mei told me on the phone. Her daughter has since admitted her mom was right.I have to say I was getting uncomfortable flashbacks at this point in my conversation with Mei. My own parents are first-generation Chinese immigrants, and when they were stocking up at Costco all the way back in February, I was rolling my eyes. “It’s not that scary, is it?” I asked my dad on the phone. I worried about my aunt in China, who is a doctor, but I never thought to worry about us here. And in the nearly dozen conversations I had for this story, I noticed the same general pattern in how first- and second-generation Chinese immigrants responded to COVID-19.Like most Americans, Angela Zhang, a medical student in Rhode Island, wasn’t too concerned about COVID-19 early on. At least not compared with her mom, who has been sending her multiple messages a day telling her to wash her hands, wear a mask, and stay at home. “It’s how she shows love,” says Zhang (no relation to me).Zhang’s mom, Yahua Yu, is a neurologist in Seattle. She had gone to medical school in Wuhan, and throughout January and February, she was getting dire updates from former classmates still in the city. The reality that seemed so far away and so unreal to many Americans felt very real and very close to her and other Chinese immigrants. Now that distant reality is America’s reality. “You tell people around you, but they didn’t really want to believe that,” she told me. “Then you start saying, ‘You will see. You will see.’”
  • We Need to Link Local Leaders Directly to One Another
    As the United States fights the spread of the coronavirus, health-care workers are recycling personal protective equipment, governors are engaging in bidding wars for ventilators, and large sections of our health-care infrastructure are being overwhelmed. Despite the herculean efforts of personnel across the federal government, it’s clear that a top-down approach to fighting COVID-19 is insufficient, and will continue to create silos between our frontline leaders. This war is being fought by governors, mayors, and hospitals, and they need a network that links them directly to one another, and moves as fast as the virus they are working to defeat. Otherwise, even if they win their local battles, the nation could still lose its war on COVID-19.I’ve seen this kind of challenge before. In 2008, 10 years into my career as a Navy SEAL, I visited a small, inconspicuous green tent on the outskirts of Baghdad. After years on the front line of the fight against al-Qaeda, I’d joined General Stanley McChrystal’s staff for a one-year tour as an aide-de-camp. Our visit that day was to something I’d heard about, but only vaguely understood—a “fusion cell.” Although Baghdad was still racked daily by horrendous violence, we knew we’d gained the upper hand on the al-Qaeda network, but it wasn’t until I stepped into this small tent that I understood why.[Read: How al-Qaeda benefits from America’s political divisions]While McChrystal spent time with the various members of the fusion cell, I sat quietly in the back and watched. A small number of personnel from different agencies and military units were reading intelligence reports, shouting across the room, running between desks, and hopping on and off calls to various strike forces on the front line. I realized: This is how we’re moving faster than the al-Qaeda network.I was late to the game, of course. The people in that fusion cell, and McChrystal’s senior leadership team, had appreciated the importance of this approach for years. They knew that the most easily exploited location on a traditional battlefield is where two lines meet. This can be a physical gap between units on the ground, or a gap in lines of authority between different agencies. When these gaps in communication are encountered, bureaucracy steps in to ensure deliberate, albeit slow, coordination. In Special Operations, we referred to these as “blinks”; moments when our eyes were closed, and the enemy network was safe to expand.Our fusion-cell network was the answer. Under McChrystal’s leadership, we placed small teams of intelligence analysts from Special Operations, conventional military units, civilian intelligence, and law-enforcement agencies at key locations around the world, as close to key nodes in the al-Qaeda network as possible. They weren’t frontline operators, but they were only one step away from, and in direct communication with, those teams. Wherever al-Qaeda was around the world, McChrystal fought to place a fusion cell there as well.These interagency teams were constantly scanning raw data from ongoing missions in the field, which they fused across their agencies. Each member of a fusion cell had the authority and responsibility to quickly connect with other fusion cells, in real time, without letting their home bureaucracy slow things down. The larger this global, interconnected fusion-cell network became, the more exponential its returns. While the visible fight was mostly centered on Iraq and Afghanistan, our network would grow to more than 70 discreet locations around the globe. If operators and helicopters were the muscle and skeleton of the fight against al-Qaeda, the fusion-cell network was its nervous system.The fusion-cell network accomplished three major goals that no bureaucracy could keep pace with. First, it captured and shared raw intelligence from one location that could drive immediate action at another. Second, it gave a nonsiloed view of the fight so that crucial decisions about where to allocate resources—where to send operators, helicopters, surveillance drones—were made with one common operating picture. And third, it provided a real-time network through which best practices on one side of the fight could be shared with other units, immediately saving lives on the battlefield. To illustrate: In a single night, the information gleaned from a raid in downtown Baghdad could be sent directly to a team 200 miles away in Anbar, which would step off for a mission with additional resources that had been coordinated by frontline leaders, and crucial intelligence that had yet to reach higher headquarters.The close-quarters fight against the COVID-19 pandemic will be waged—and the losses borne—by our doctors, nurses, and first responders. But those who have the privilege of leading these men and women—our mayors, governors, and medical experts—must be provided with a similar network methodology to tap into; we must ensure they’re not being forced to fight 50 state-level battles against COVID-19, but one unified war as a nation. A fusion-cell-network approach would ensure that intelligence sharing isn’t limited by state borders, bureaucratic rules, or the down-and-in structure of a hospital system, city, or state. We must ensure that they can establish real-time connectivity with one another, and not depend solely on traditional bureaucratic channels.[Read: How the pandemic will end]In short, mayors, governors, and the federal agencies assisting them should stand up fusion cells across the country. This is a light and fast solution. With two or three people in key locations, armed simply with smartphones and laptops, a network could quickly be put into place across our country. An existing entity, such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, could quickly create a network of local leaders who are fighting this threat in a coordinated fashion.The results of fusion cells would be quickly apparent. Raw, accurate emergency-room numbers from New York City wouldn’t need to go through layers of national bureaucracy and spreadsheet input before reaching other cities. A tactical improvement made in a Los Angeles emergency room would be shared immediately with doctors and nurses in Detroit and San Francisco. The network would provide mayors and governors with a more reliable single operational picture of this fight, so they can make informed decisions about resource allocation. Such a network wouldn’t be perfect—it never is—and would require trusting your team, but it could be crucial as the nation faces shortages and overload. We should not have governors or hospital systems in bidding wars for ventilators and personal protective equipment; instead, they need a network that allows them to make effective cross-border, cross-agency, and cross-party decisions.After my time on McChrystal’s staff in Iraq, I was able to spend a year at graduate school, and my thesis team’s research focused on interagency fusion cells. This was relatively early in the special-operations community’s recognition of their importance, and our goal was to flesh out the key variables that were making some of them so successful. We found, surprisingly, that one key factor far outweighed more obvious and visible ones, such as technological infrastructure, geographic location, the number or seniority of personnel, or physical constructions. Success hinged, quite simply, on the human factor.[Read: The four possible timelines for life returning to normal]If the members of a fusion cell were experienced players who enjoyed high levels of trust in their home community, regardless of their seniority or positional authority, they were empowered to quickly push insights across bureaucratic firewalls and create action on the front lines. Without personnel like that, a fusion cell became just another repository for information from which those closest to the fight needed to pull insights. A network node intended to add speed and connectivity can quickly turn into another bureaucratic layer. Keeping the nodes fast, light, and staffed by seasoned people proved key to success.This pandemic presents an incredible challenge for our nation, but we’ve learned previously how to defeat a problem like this. Agency and state bureaucracy will help us make sound and structured decisions, but it’s impossible to move key insights and raw intelligence through traditional means alone. The doctors, nurses, and first responders who are in this battle each day deserve every solution we can possibly offer. Minutes count. They need a network.
  • An Unhealthy Military Is Struggling to Fight COVID-19
    An outbreak on an aircraft carrier. Infections in basic training. Office-bound contractors unable to work from home. The coronavirus has hit the military-industrial complex, and this is not an enemy it knows how to fight.The U.S. armed forces and their supporting industries, with people wedged into shared barracks or in 96-person ship berths sleeping inches away from one another, are especially vulnerable to the spread of the virus. The military is also the world’s largest employer, with more than 3 million on the Defense Department payroll alone—not even counting legions of contractors that assist the entire enterprise.The virus now threatens to be deadlier to U.S. citizens than any of America’s recent armed conflicts, and take many multiples the number of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. And the institution that seeks to protect the United States from threats cannot stop the single biggest one the U.S. has faced in a generation. Meanwhile, even as the military is called upon to help with the domestic response, the nature of the virus strikes right at the core of its culture and ethos. The whole point of a military is to mass together to destroy an enemy. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do when confronting a transmissible virus.[Read: How the pandemic will end]Nevertheless, the U.S. government is relying on the military for a significant part of its effort to contain the pandemic. The Army Corps of Engineers is retrofitting convention centers and hotels into medical facilities in New York and Seattle, the Navy has sent hospital ships to New York and California, and the National Guard is unloading trucks at grocery stores in Arizona. The Defense Department is offering millions of masks and other equipment for the fight; the Army is asking its retired medical service members to consider coming back. But how can the military protect America when it can’t protect itself?“We are not at war,” wrote Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in a letter asking superiors for help following an outbreak on the ship while it had 4,800 people aboard. Certain risks the crew would necessarily take in wartime were unacceptable in peacetime, he wrote. But the Navy “cannot allow a single sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily.”“The environment most conducive to the spread of the disease is the environment the crew of the TR is in right now,” Crozier wrote in the letter, which the San Francisco Chronicle published. Thousands of sailors in a confined space. Shared restrooms. Close contact in narrow passageways. Ladders, hatch levers, doorknobs all being touched by numerous other people. Within days of the letter becoming public, the Navy relieved him of command of the ship.Similar obstacles to social distancing apply to the military as a whole, not just on ships—which is why the Defense Department has largely delegated decisions about health protections to commanders. The lack of unified instruction from the Pentagon’s leadership about necessary precautions and social-distancing enforcements has created a haphazard approach to containment, with more than 1,500 infections and five deaths so far across the military and Defense Department civilians, dependents, and contractors. “I can’t put out a blanket policy, if you will, that we would then apply to everybody, because every situation’s different,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters in March, when the virus had recently taken the life of one defense contractor. “Tell me, how do I do six-feet distancing in an attack submarine? Or how do I do that in a bomber with two pilots sitting side by side?”Navy leadership has defended its actions not evacuating everyone from the Teddy Roosevelt, now docked in Guam with thousands of sailors still aboard after about 100 people tested positive for the coronavirus—all of whom, per Navy officials, have been moved off the ship and isolated. The true number of infections could be higher—as of Wednesday, most of the crew hadn’t even been tested yet, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters. Still, “we cannot and will not remove all the sailors from the ship,” Modly said. “This ship has weapons on it, it has munitions on it, it has expensive aircraft, and it has a nuclear power plant. It requires a certain number of people on that ship to maintain the safety and security of the ship.”Close quarters have historically contributed to the spread of disease in the military, whether on ships or in boot camps or at overseas bases. For instance, the 1918 Spanish-flu epidemic first appeared in the U.S. at the Army’s Fort Riley, in Kansas, and spread rapidly from there, eventually killing nearly 700,000 Americans within a year.“All of this was entirely predictable. How could it have not been predictable?” Andrew Milburn, a Marine colonel who retired last year, told me. The original sin, in his view, was Esper’s decision to delegate safety standards to commanders. The result has been a patchwork of different restrictions and regulations across different services and units. The Army halted basic training in March and then reversed itself. The Navy is delaying new boot-camp arrivals by a week after a recruit tested positive. The Marines kept training going until its own outbreak of more than 20 recruits at the Parris Island recruit depot forced it to stop accepting new arrivals until mid-April. The Marine-barracks gym in Washington, D.C., was still open last week as the rest of the city shut down. The Marines haven’t relaxed grooming standards across the service, again delegating the decision down the chain; at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina barbershops remain open on the base, albeit with restrictions, even as the governor has ordered “non-life-sustaining” businesses to shut down across the state.“This was one time when hierarchical decision making was really, really needed,” Milburn said. “And it just didn’t happen.”Esper has defended the decision to delegate and even announced enhanced counternarcotics operations, deploying more cramped ships, helicopters, and planes to the Southern Hemisphere and putting yet more service members in risky close quarters. “There seems to be this narrative out there that we should just shut down the entire United States military and address the problem that way,” Esper said at a press conference on Wednesday. “That’s not feasible.” This kind of delegation also isn’t Pentagon-specific; the country as a whole lacks a unified response to the virus, with individual governors deciding when and how severely to restrict residents’ movements.[Read: The case against waging ‘war’ on the coronavirus]The military is a highly bureaucratic organization that values toughness, sacrifice, and, maybe above all, standard operating procedures. That culture applies to all kinds of illnesses. “In the Marine Corps, the typical solution [is to] have Motrin and drink water,” said a Marine lieutenant colonel who spoke with me on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to talk to the press. “And there are times when that’s not the appropriate answer.”Tom Crabtree, who spent 24 years as an Army surgeon, told me that this approach to treatment was common enough that people referred to Motrin as “Ranger candy.” While he doesn’t see the “Carry on” ethos as unique to the military—“I see the same things at Walmart”—the implications for America’s safety in the world are entirely different. “It’s a very simple fact: A healthy military is a capable military. For all the things that it needs to do and can do,” he said. “An unhealthy military is not.”And as commanders try to balance protecting the United States from external enemies while battling its own internal pandemic, the question is, when exactly does risking people’s health end up damaging all those other protection missions?Milburn thinks the military can afford further restrictions. And the Teddy Roosevelt carrier was a case in point. If some ships have to be mothballed for a few weeks to get cleaned and protect the sailors for an actual war when there is one, to him, it’s worth the cost. “Are we really going to cede control of the seas in this short period of time?” he asked.
  • Americans With Disabilities Are Terrified
    Many Americans are anxious about contracting the novel coronavirus. Daniel Florio is absolutely terrified.The 50-year-old lawyer from Maplewood, New Jersey, was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that makes him unable to walk or use his arms. His disability makes him more vulnerable to the virus than most people, and he’s afraid of what will happen if he ends up in the hospital with a serious case. Intubated people cannot speak, and Florio would not be able to use gestures or otherwise communicate with his doctors. Given infection-prevention rules, his caregivers would likely not be allowed to accompany him.“I would be in an awake coma for weeks,” he told me in an interview this week. “The fear of that … it’s overwhelming.”But Florio is afraid of something else too: the possibility that, if he contracts the virus, he could be denied lifesaving treatment because of his disability. And like other Americans with disabilities, he worries that could happen not just because of overt discrimination in hospitals, but also because of implicit bias. “People overwhelmingly believe that being disabled implies a worse quality of life than it does,” Florio said. If doctors act on those beliefs—wittingly or not—“what that means in practical terms is that people like us will die.”As the coronavirus spreads, states may rely on existing best-practice protocols for rationing treatment if they have more coronavirus patients than they do beds and equipment. Some of those protocols stipulate that in such an emergency, people with intellectual or physical disabilities will be deprioritized. The Department of Health and Human Services, in response to formal legal complaints from disability advocacy groups, recently issued guidance that hospitals cannot ration treatment based on disability status. But that’s not enough to ensure that there won’t be discrimination, activists say.Rationing guidelines in Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee, and Washington State allow doctors to withhold care from people with disabilities in violation of federal law, the advocacy groups argued in complaints filed with HHS last week. Alabama’s Emergency Operations Plan, for example, says that “persons with severe mental retardation” are among those who “may be poor candidates” for lifesaving care if there is a shortage of supplies like ventilators. The Kansas and Tennessee emergency guidelines suggest that people with “advanced neuromuscular disease” might be excluded from receiving critical care. Washington’s guidelines include considerations about a patient’s “baseline functional status,” which involves factors such as physical ability and cognition. Some groups also fear that in certain states, a patient who is seriously ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and who regularly uses a personal ventilator could see that ventilator reallocated to another patient.[Read: How the pandemic will end]The Washington health department told me it’s updating its guidelines to make sure “its original intent of nondiscrimination” is “unequivocally clear,” and a representative for the Kansas health department said it is “reviewing/updating the material to ensure we best meet the needs of all Kansans.” The Alabama health department has replaced its emergency plan, according to a spokesperson, but the new guidelines do not address ventilator-shortage protocols. (Officials at the Tennessee health department did not respond to questions as of press time.)It’s possible that hospitals in some areas of the country will be forced to ration care soon. New York City expects a ventilator shortage after the wave of new patients arriving at hospitals this week, and the New Orleans area is set to run out of machines by tomorrow. The American health-care system has never faced a situation quite like this.In catastrophic circumstances, doctors should try to save as many lives as possible, says Matt Wynia, the director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado at Anschutz. But equally important is protecting the country’s social fabric and preserving confidence in institutions. That can erode when people feel as if the lives of certain citizens are valued more than others. “We need to be able to look back and say we made those decisions in a way that maintains the trust of the community, that maintains social cohesion, and allows us to heal,” Wynia says.That means that when the time to triage comes, medical professionals should not consider a patient’s disability status, Wynia says. Ideally, patients would be given preference based on whether and to what extent treatment would help them. “If you have Down syndrome, I don’t see why that should matter, unless your Down syndrome comes with a lung condition that makes you less likely to benefit from treatment,” he says.This is what most advocates are arguing, too. People’s fitness for treatment should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Disability-rights laws, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, are “all about individual determination,” says Shira Wakschlag, the legal director at The Arc, an advocacy organization for people with intellectual disabilities. “A diagnosis is not the whole picture.”When 33-year-old Conrad Reynoldson heard about some of the state protocols, he told me he had “a moment of sinking dread.” The Seattle attorney has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and he’s worried that if he becomes seriously ill, his diagnosis could prevent him from getting treatment. “I’m healthy, stable, and I’m contributing to the community,” he told me. “I don’t want someone looking at my diagnoses and rationing care based on inaccurate assumptions.”Assumptions is an important word here. People with disabilities worry that doctors, nurses, and health-care administrators may not even realize they have biases against disabled people. Research indicates that people without disabilities tend to rate the quality of life of disabled people lower than those people would, says Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics-research institute. “We do make snap judgments about whose life seems better than another person’s life,” Berlinger told me. “Allocation protocols must guard against that.”[Read: Don’t believe the COVID-19 models]The HHS Office for Civil Rights’ Saturday guidance assures Americans that the federal government will not tolerate this kind of discrimination, and the office has promised to open investigations into advocacy groups’ complaints. “We’re concerned that stereotypes about what life is like living with a disability can be improperly used to exclude people from needed care,” Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, wrote in the guidance.But people with disabilities and advocacy groups want states to make clear to the public that they understand that guidance by proactively issuing statements and rewriting their emergency procedures immediately. States should indicate that they will not include diagnostic categories at all—not for intellectual and physical disabilities, and also not for diseases, such as COPD, that may make someone more vulnerable to the virus, but are also very treatable. Each diagnosis varies too greatly, they argue, for doctors to make sweeping judgments about any of them. “We want to make sure this message gets to the people who need to hear it in a very timely way,” Wakschlag says—so that both doctors and Americans with disabilities are aware of these obligations.Ultimately, states’ protocols show that institutions need to do a much better job of including people with disabilities in emergency-preparedness and other public-health conversations, advocates say. They hope that this moment encourages more conscientious policy making so that in the event of another pandemic, Americans with disabilities won’t have to feel quite so uncertain about what the future holds.It’s exhausting to balance the fear of contracting a deadly virus with the fear that the people who are supposed to care for you may not do so, said Florio, who lives in a part of New Jersey that has been hit especially hard by the virus. “The stress that we’re under really is a more extreme version of what we already experience,” he told me, “in terms of being undervalued by society.”
  • How to Cut Your Own Hair
    Magic Shave powder smells like sulfur, a fetid perfume. They call it Magic because it keeps the razor bumps away. Black men have used it for more than a century to keep the coarse hair jutting from their faces from curling back into their skin. You whip it to a froth in a cup, slather it on your face, and wipe it clean with a butter knife.My granddad used the Magic that comes in the red-and-white can—extra strength. He lived in a single-story ranch-style shotgun house in Montgomery, Alabama. Even now, I can see my 8-year-old self standing alone in front of the mirror in his back bathroom. It’s summer. I’m holding his clippers. My mom cut my hair all the time; it seemed easy enough. All you have to do is keep your hand steady, I tell myself, before plugging the clippers in. Pop, they’re on. I glide my hand toward my hairline. The blade courses over it toward the back of my scalp. Bzzp. A single patch of hair falls to the floor.What did I just do? I hide the hair, ditch the clippers, and walk out of the bathroom toward my cousins, the adults, and my granddad. They had to have been laughing, because when I ask my mom about it now, she’s beside herself. Someone helped me fix the patch on my head, right?“Nope,” she laughs.These days, statewide stay-at-home orders and temporary closures of nonessential businesses are forcing all sorts of people to turn their bathrooms into barbershops—with mixed results. Senator Sherrod Brown sat “somewhat still” while his wife, Connie Shultz, cut his hair; former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang got “prepared” as well, tweeting a photo on Wednesday of rechargeable clippers. Earlier this week, my colleagues noticed something different on video calls: Did you risk it all for a haircut? I laughed.[Read: Isolation is changing how you look]I was in high school when I started learning the craft. My dad wasn’t bracing for a pandemic the first time he tried to teach me how to do it, in San Antonio. I’m guessing that he saw the thatches of hair scattered alongside my pride on the garage floor and decided to step in.That night, I’d retreated upstairs in frustration before returning to the living room and telling my mom I was going to cut my hair off. I was an angsty 11th grader. What was I so mad about? I have no idea. I’d been getting haircuts at Daniel and Jason’s shop for the past few months, but something in me said I couldn’t wait any longer. “Fine, do it,” she told me, “but you can’t do it in the house.”I went out to the garage and plugged in the clippers. Pop. I dragged the blades across my scalp, backward and forward. I held a mirror up with my left hand. (Why hadn’t I been doing this the whole time?) I had tiger stripes all over. Sweat beaded on my forehead, and I tried to gain the composure to face my mom and sister back in the house.Here were the laughs again. “Audrey,” I asked my sister, “you want to cut some?” I figured it couldn’t get any worse. Back to the garage we went. She had more sense than I did. Go with the grain. But her knowledge of patterns didn’t extend to length. My parents came in to finish the job. The final result was as close to bald as I’ve ever been. When I went to school, I acted like it was on purpose. “Bald with a chinstrap is the new wave,” I’d say, referring to the stubble on my face that I called a beard. Sometimes you just have to go with it.[Read: Everyone thinks they’re right about masks]Clippers, brush, du-rag. A gray Houston Astros flat-bill hat to conceal the evidence in case I mess up again. I’m 17. It’s two days after Christmas—the clippers, my first set, were a gift from my parents. My dad watches, and offers two pieces of advice: Use a guard, and go with the grain. The guard keeps the blade at just the right distance from your scalp. I go from back to front on the top; angle down on the sides, down in the back; and go with the grain of the crown. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough. He helps me with my line. He does the initial short, precise strokes of the blade, then hands it to me. I am careful not to go too fast. I look in the mirror and run my hand over my head. For the first time, I have cut my hair and am not embarrassed.My parents probably wanted to make sure that when I went to college, I wouldn’t struggle to get an acceptable haircut. It worked. I’ve been cutting my own hair for a decade. Every now and then during college, I would help a friend out and cut his hair. I use standard Wahl clippers and Andis T-Outliners. They get the job done.Every week or two, I go to the bathroom and turn on some music—usually a Spotify station based on my parents’ wedding song: Earth, Wind & Fire’s “We’re Living in Our Own Time.” I’ll reach under the cabinet, grab my bag, and pull out my clippers. I plug them in and flip them on. It takes me back to the bathroom at my granddad’s house, the garage in San Antonio, and the last house I lived in with my family. Thinking about home is cathartic when you’re not supposed to go anywhere.Last Wednesday, day who-knows-how-many of social distancing, my hair was uneven, my shape-up had grown oblong, and I was feeling anxious—an unholy mix of cabin fever, exhaustion, and missing my parents. The anxiety is more frequent these days. After my daughters went to sleep, I stole away to the bathroom to give myself a haircut. I can’t control much right now, but at least I can tame my hair. I grabbed my clippers and plugged them in. Pop.
  • We’re All Larry Davids Now
    In the latest season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which concluded in March, Larry David opens a “spite store”—a new coffee shop located next door to Mocha Joe, a rival establishment that banned him for excessive complaining. The primary goal of Latte Larry’s is to put Mocha Joe out of business. But that doesn’t mean David can’t implement a few design tweaks of his own, including heated cups, a total ban on defecation in the bathrooms, and most important, a bottle of Purell on every table. “In case there’s any handshaking to be done, you know, I just say … a little squirt!” David explains.Curb Your Enthusiasm (available on HBO) completed filming long before the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States, but that particular innovation felt hilariously prescient on David’s part. Of course, various obsessions have been baked into his onscreen persona for years—hyper-attention to germs, uneasiness about personal contact, and an inherent distrust of other people’s cleanliness. The line between the “Larry David” of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the real writer-actor has long been a blurry one, a distinction David has poked at, most recently in a cheerfully irascible PSA recorded for the California governor’s office, urging people to stay home. “You’re hurting old people like me. Well, not me … I’ll never see you.” Larry David wants everyone to stay home to protect older Californians from #COVID19! He does not do these things. Listen to Larry. #StayHomeSaveLives covid19.ca.gov — Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) March 31, 2020“I basically want to address the idiots out there … You’re socializing too close, it’s not good, you’re hurting old people like me,” David says, pontificating from a comfortable chair in his home. “Well, not me—I have nothing to do with you. I’ll never see you.” To David, the order to stay at home and socially distance is a glorious affirmation of his entire approach to humanity: “You’re passing up a … once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay in the house, sit on the couch, and watch TV!” he crows. “If you’ve seen my show, nothing good ever happens going out of the house, you know that. There’s just trouble out there. It’s not a good place to be.”[Read: What you’re feeling is plague dread]The jokey video is no more than a helpful nudge, an assist to Governor Gavin Newsom’s efforts to keep Californians indoors to try and flatten the curve of infection from COVID-19. But given that my socially distant lifestyle also encouraged me to catch up on the latest season of Curb and find out what happened to Larry’s “spite store,” the PSA helped me realize that we’re all Larry Davids now: suspicious of other people, overtly worried about hygiene, and trigger-happy on the bottle of Purell (if you even have one).Before March, crossing the street to avoid someone walking toward you on the sidewalk might have seemed rude or suspicious; now, cautiously avoiding close personal contact on any stroll around the block is the norm. That shift eliminates one of David’s ultimate fears in Curb Your Enthusiasm, the “stop-and-chat,” where bumping into an acquaintance outside might necessitate a longer conversation simply out of politeness. In one episode from the most recent season, David wore a Make America Great Again baseball cap to scare his left-wing friends away from socializing with him, calling the hat a “great people repellent.”For decades, David has built a comic persona around the little foibles that come with in-person human interaction. Those idiosyncrasies surfaced in multiple characters in his sitcom Seinfeld, which he co-created with Jerry Seinfeld; there, Seinfeld’s character was known for his excessive neatness and his discomfort with physical contact, such as a “kiss hello.” Curb Your Enthusiasm, though, took that itchiness even further. David is certainly disturbed by physical contact, but it’s really every layer of socializing that he struggles with, from the various protocols of the service industry to dinner-table banter with his closest friends.[Read: Isolation is changing how you look]The transgressive joy of watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, of course, is that David is far ruder and blunter than anyone would dare be in real life—even David himself, who has spoken about the differences between the character he plays and his actual behavior. Fans “think that I’m going to be as brutally honest as the guy in the show, and that I’m not nice,” he once remarked. “But I am nice, which makes me sick! I wish I wasn’t.” Still, over the course of the show, David says he’s only grown closer to his fictionalized doppelgänger. “Every day confirms, more and more, he’s right! He’s right about everything; he’s rarely, rarely wrong,” he said to Time on the launch of Season 9.As I methodically wipe down packages that I bring into my home, walk in the road to stay away from people, and fixate on the noises my neighbors make stomping around their apartment, it’s hard not to feel like a Larry David acolyte. But just as these recent weeks have been an inadvertent affirmation of his grouchiness and uncharitable view of human hygiene, I live in hope that sometime in the future we’ll be able to firmly repudiate it, and go back to a world of stop-and-chats and warm hellos. The bottle of Purell on every table, though? That might be sticking around for a while.
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  • Anti-abortion group is short of signatures for ban at 22 weeks
    An anti-abortion group did not turn in enough valid signatures to place a 22-week abortion ban on Colorado’s November ballot, the Secretary of State’s Office says. The group, Due Date Too Late, will now have 15 days to collect more signatures. Because of a Denver judge’s order Thursday in favor of the activists, those 15 days will not begin until after the state’s emergency stay-at-home order is lifted. The proposed Initiative 120 would make performing an abortion after 22 weeks a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, with an exception if it’s to save the mother’s life. A woman receiving an abortion cannot be punished under the proposed law. Last month, Due Date Too Late turned in 137,624 signatures. An initial sampling found the group was likely short of the 124,632 valid signatures needed. Line-by-line verification of the signatures was then conducted, concluding Friday, and 114,647 signatures were accepted. Related Articles Colorado late-term abortion ban initiative can start gathering signatures Ballot initiative sought to ban late-term abortions in Colorado Anti-abortion groups want Sen. Mark Udall to support limits on late-term abortions Editorial: The tragic stories of late-term abortion don’t support a ban “Coloradans have repeatedly rejected abortion bans by landslide margins, so it’s not a surprise that this one failed to gather enough signatures to make the ballot,” said Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt, a Colorado abortion-rights group.
  • Kiszla: As Broncos Country yearns for return of NFL, Shelby Harris warns: Don’t rush it.
    Here in Broncos Country, is life worth living without NFL games? We’re all going stir-crazy, looking out the window, praying coronavirus doesn’t come knocking for us next. Like you and me, Broncos defensive lineman Shelby Harris is antsy to get back to football. So long as haste and bad judgment don’t kill his grandma. I asked Harris if he expected there to be NFL games in September. “You want to go back out there and work, but you want to be safe,” Harris replied. What’s the definition of safe in a time of plague? How soon can we hug grandma, much less stand alongside 75,000 screaming Broncomaniacs at the stadium? Nobody, from the best medical minds in America to money-grubbing commissioner Roger Goodell, knows the answer. With March Madness down the tubes, the Avalanche’s quest for a Stanley Cup in jeopardy and the Masters vacating spring in hopes of teeing it up before the snow flies, sports fans don’t want to think about the possibility that coronavirus could also wipe out pro football in 2020. Harris harbors optimism football will return. Eventually. But at what cost? The NFL season must be listed as questionable at this point, if you listen to the league’s chief medical officer. “As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus, you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact … in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about re-opening a team sport,” Dr. Allen Sills said. “Because we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time.” Nothing about the blood, sweat and cheers of pro football works with social distancing. Yes, I selfishly want to see the Broncos open their season shortly after Labor Day. Harris also wants to see his grandma alive and happy on Christmas day. Can you blame him? Even a knucklehead like me understands what’s more important, in the grand scheme. “It’s about the masses, not just a single person,” said Harris, a rare athlete capable of keeping his eye on the ball, while simultaneously seeing the big picture. “I’m worried about some things, like about people bringing (the virus) to my grandma, bringing it to my mom, bringing it to my family. I just think the important thing right now is just focus on social distancing.” The idea has been floated the NBA playoffs could be staged, from start to finish, exclusively in Las Vegas, turning LeBron James and Nikola Jokic into bubble boys, sealed off from family and the outside world, all in the name of the almighty dollar. If that sounds like an impossible dream, it’s because sports are played by athletes with spouses, kids and real-world responsibilities bigger than keeping score. Let’s raise a toast to Harris for finding reasons for gratitude rather than surrendering to bitterness in these challenging times. It’s not always easy. For anyone. Instead of rolling in the Monopoly money of free agency, Harris was humbled by the market place and returned to the Broncos on a one-year deal at a mere fraction of the riches he sought. “At the end of the day, I’m just happy to have a job,” said Harris, after “settling” for a $3 million salary, which ain’t anywhere near bad.  “There are millions of Americans who have lost their job because of this (virus).” I am grateful to sports for the decades of unpredictable drama and handsome paychecks provided me. But I’d rather hug my 88-year-old mother, hospitalized in Florida for nearly a month with congestive heart failure, one more time than see the Broncos win the Super Bowl again. So here’s a humble thank you to Harris for reminding us athletes aren’t the real heroes to cheer at this point, and prayers for the NFL’s quick return would be better directed elsewhere. Related Articles Daniel Murphy makes another $100,000 donation amid coronavirus pandemic, this time to “Feed The Rockies” fundraiser Pandemic forcing NBA players to work out with what’s on hand Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia organizes drive for food, supplies in his hometown in the Dominican Republic Colorado high school athletes’ historic milestones in jeopardy as potential coronavirus cancellations loom With baseball postponed, Coors Field’s Aramark workers struggle with no financial support from company or Rockies “We have to give our thanks out to the nurses and the doctors and the first responders and everyone that has the essential jobs,” Harris said. Don’t know about you. But while stuck in the house, counting the days until the Broncos take the field is way more therapeutic for me than dancing to Drake. At the same time, it would be foolhardy to think the NFL schedule is worth more than the paper it’s printed on until this country gets down to the serious business of producing enough COVID-19 tests for every person in America and also ensures no doctor or nurse ever has to enter the ICU without a proper surgical mask. “There are literally people putting their lives and putting their family’s lives on the line, so that we can somehow live,” said Harris, saluting heroes on the front lines in this fight against a pandemic. “Out of respect for them, we have to do what’s best for the community and not try to rush anything.” Amen, brother. The NFL can wait. A hug from grandma beats playing football.
  • Colorado defense attorneys petition state to release some inmates as coronavirus spreads in jails
    Vomiting inmates are preparing food for hundreds. Jail phones are not being sanitized after each call. Coughing inmates are not being separated from others. Deputies are wearing gloves, but are using the same ones all day as they interact with dozens of other people. Those are the conditions that Colorado’s defense attorneys say their clients are subjected to inside Colorado’s jails during the coronavirus pandemic. As deputies and inmates continue to test positive for COVID-19, the state’s defense attorneys are asking the state’s highest court to intervene and create standard rules aimed at decreasing the number of people locked up and preventing the spread of the coronavirus in courts. The filing comes two days after the first Colorado law enforcement officer — an El Paso County sheriff’s detention Deputy Jeff Hopkins — died from the respiratory disease. The Colorado Office of the Public Defender, the criminal defense attorney bar and the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel on Friday filed two petitions asking the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court to issue statewide rules about jail depopulation. Chief Justice Nathan Coats on March 16 issued a statewide order suspending many court operations, but left each of the state’s 22 judicial districts to make their own decisions on how to best address the threat of the virus. The order did not address the jails. “Businesses, restaurants, schools, government offices, and churches are closed,” one petition states. “But for incarcerated people, who live in conditions ripe for rampant spread of disease and lack the autonomy to self-isolate, daily life continues as usual.” The Colorado Supreme Court will now decide whether to accept jurisdiction over the petition and how to proceed. The court could also reject the petition completely, said Maureen Cain, director of legislative policy and external communications for the Colorado State Public Defender. The petitions from the defense attorneys ask the chief justice to mandate lower courts do the following: reduce the number of arrests and release arrestees on personal recognizance bonds, where possible. review cases of people held in jails because they cannot afford their bonds and release them, if safe. reduce sentence lengths, convert jail time into home detention or temporarily release inmates. automatically allow defendants and attorneys to appear in court via telephone, waiving the need to ask permission. limit groups of people in courthouses to no more than 10. provide hand sanitizer inside all courtrooms. The population of state’s largest jails has declined by about a third in response to the threat of the virus, but inmates in many facilities still cannot practice social distancing and rates of depopulation varies by county. That means whether an inmate is released often depends on where they were arrested. Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to spread inside Colorado’s criminal justice system. Positive tests include: an inmate at the Weld County jail, three Weld County sheriff’s deputies, a Jefferson County jail deputy, eight El Paso County deputies, three inmates at the Denver downtown jail, three Department of Corrections staff members, multiple public defenders and a Colorado Springs prosecutor. Thirty-two staff members of the Denver Public Safety Department have tested positive, department spokeswoman Kelli Christensen said Friday, but the city will not identify which agencies they belong to “due to patient privacy.” The safety department includes the police department, sheriff’s department, fire department, 911 communications and community corrections. A positive diagnosis inside a jail isn’t confined to facility walls, as recent cases show. Two of the Denver jail inmates who tested positive have since been released from the facility on bond, Christensen said. A Weld County inmate contracted the disease despite been incarcerated since 2018, meaning someone brought it into the facility. “If you spread the disease around the jail, the first responders get sick,” Cain said. “Everybody gets sick.” The conditions inside jails are creating widespread fear and anxiety among those inside, defense attorneys said in letters attached to the petitions. “Inmates are starting to feel like they’re getting sick; it felt like a riot was about to break out a few nights ago because people were upset no one was doing anything to keep them from getting sick,” one inmate at the El Paso County jail told his attorney, according to a letter from the Colorado Springs Public Defender’s Office. The petitions Friday follow calls last week by multiple members of Colorado’s U.S. House delegation that ICE release non-violent immigration detainees on parole. “ICE detention centers and their contract facilities are a hotbed for the spread of the coronavirus and are a tremendous threat to the health of the detainees, staff, and community as a whole,” Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, said in a news release. “If there are measures we can take to prevent the spread of the virus, we take them. That’s how this needs to work.” Attorneys and local nonprofits said an unprecedented number of people were released from the Aurora immigration detention center with ankle monitors late last week. Related Articles Uneven response to coronavirus in Colorado courts leads to confusion, differing outcomes for defendants Colorado’s biggest jails drop population by a third as sheriffs combat spread of coronavirus Colorado public defenders, advocates call for drastic change to prevent coronavirus in jails, prisons A group of 12 women were released together on March 26, said Sarah Jackson, founder of Casa de Paz, a nonprofit that helps detainees and their families. The following day, 16 men were released. Jackson believes the detainees are being released on humanitarian parole in response to the virus, though officials have not confirmed that to her organization. When asked last week if the federal immigration agency was releasing inmates from the Aurora facility in reaction to COVID-19 concerns, a local ICE spokeswoman directed a Denver Post reporter to a webpage about national response to the pandemic that did not contain any information about the local facility. A report from Crow’s office released March 27 found that 633 people were detained in the facility and nine were quarantined for illness. Seventy-seven detainees had been tested for COVID-19 but results had not yet come in, according to the report
  • Broncos Draft Board: Small-school safety Kyle Dugger would also bring cornerback skills
    EDITOR’S NOTE: One of a series of profiles on draft prospects who would fit the Broncos’ needs. A player from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne has not been drafted since 2000. That will change this year. And a player from Lenoir-Rhyne has never been drafted in the top four rounds or 105 picks. That will change this year. Introducing safety Kyle Dugger, who followed up a strong college career with solid showings at the Senior Bowl and scouting combine. The top safeties are LSU’s Grant Delpit, California’s Ashtyn Davis and Alabama’s Xavier McKinney. But Dugger is expected to be selected in rounds 2-3. The Broncos have three third-round picks if Dugger falls and could view him as a third-safety/dime personnel option while getting him ready to eventually take over for Kareem Jackson. Dugger, who spent six years in college and is 24, will be the first Lenoir-Rhyne player to be drafted since defensive end John Milem by San Francisco in 2000 (fifth round/No. 150). Not bad for a player who didn’t start until his senior year of high school. “I can honestly say there were a lot of times when I stood on the sideline and asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’” Dugger said at the combine. Related Articles Broncos draft film study: Denver needs another CB. Could Alabama’s Trevon Diggs be the answer? Broncos Draft Board: Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs’ size, athleticism likely makes him likely top-10 pick Broncos NFL draft 2020: Profiles, analysis, mock drafts and more Broncos Draft Board: Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa would bring pass-rush production and potential versatility Broncos will be prepared for multiple logistical situations when draft is held Dugger’s three offers were from Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.), Berry College (Ga.) and Reinhardt University (Ga.). He redshirted in 2014, but despite not playing, he set his focus toward the NFL. “My redshirt year, I was able to catch my body up and really set goals and make (the NFL) a goal,” Dugger said. “My head coach had a meeting with me and told me I had a special skill set and the NFL was a possibility for me.” Playing cornerback in ’15, he started all 10 games and had 43 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. Following a missed year, he moved to safety and made 86 tackles. As a senior, he was limited to seven games because of a hand injury (31 tackles). At the combine, Dugger’s 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds (at 217 pounds) was sixth-fastest among the safeties and his arm length of 32 7/8 inches was the longest of the 27 safeties. But what will help Dugger most is his reputation to run and hit. One video collection of his highlights showed sideline-to-sideline speed, but also the ability to cover the slot receiver, which could be useful to him as a sub-package player. Dugger didn’t have many opportunities to play the football because teams went away from him. “The competitor in me definitely wanted more (chances) at times, but I wouldn’t describe it as boring,” he said. “I liked playing down by the line of scrimmage. I was involved in the action a lot down there.” Dugger said he studies several current safeties, including Baltimore’s Earl Thomas, the Chargers’ Derwin James, Buffalo’s Micah Hyde and Minnesota’s Harrison Smith. Thomas, James and Smith were first-round picks, but Hyde rose from the fifth round to become a starter for Green Bay and now the Bills. Regardless of where Dugger is drafted, his mindset won’t change. “I kind of like the underdog role,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to continue to drive me.” Dugger File Age: 24 Position: Safety School: Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) Hometown: Decatur, Ga. Height/weight: 6-1/217 Statistics: Intercepted seven passes in college career and had seasons of 43, 86, 76 and 31 tackles. … First-team league as a junior in 2018 as defensive back and returner when he had three interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. … Won Cliff Harris Award as best small college defensive player of the year in ’19 and played in Senior Bowl. Fit for Broncos: Drafting Dugger would allow them to groom an eventual replacement for Kareem Jackson and potentially allow coach Vic Fangio to play more dime personnel (three cornerbacks and safeties apiece).
  • Denver to close several streets starting Saturday to allow for more outdoor activities
    Portions of several Denver streets will close to vehicles Saturday to allow for pedestrian and bicycle traffic as residents weather the city’s weeks-long stay at home order to combat the spread of coronavirus, city officials said in a release. “We want to encourage folks to get outdoors to enjoy themselves,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a video posted on Twitter. “Whether you’re walking, taking a nice jog or a nice bike ride, do us all a favor: Practice physical distancing. It’s extremely important no matter what street or road you’re on; it’s important that we practice those guidelines.” The following roads will close Saturday: East 11th Avenue from Lincoln to Humboldt streets. Bryon Place from Zenobia to Stuart streets. Stuart Street from 24th to 21st avenues. East 16 Street from Lincoln Street to City Park Esplanade. Additional streets are under consideration and more closures will be listed at denvergov.org soon, the release said. Densely populated neighborhoods and those without immediate park or trail access will receive priority. Related Articles Colorado defense attorneys petition state to release some inmates as coronavirus spreads in jails At least 111 coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado as COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 800 RTD to suspend fares, halt downtown shuttle amid coronavirus pandemic All Coloradans should wear non-medical masks when they leave the house, Gov. Jared Polis says Republicans call on El Paso County party chair to resign over controversial coronavirus comments Emergency vehicles, residents and people carrying out essential activities will still be allowed to drive on the streets, the release said. On-street parking is still allowed. Group gatherings, picnics, furniture and play equipment are not allowed, however.
  • At least 111 coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado as COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 800
    At least 111 people in Colorado now have died of complications related to the novel coronavirus, as hospitalizations continue to spike, state health officials said Friday. Officials said 4,173 people have now tested positive for COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory illness causes by the virus, as the state has ramped up its testing capabilities to more than 2,000 per day. Still, the number of people infected with the new coronavirus is likely four to 10 times higher than reported, top health officials previously said. At least 823 people have been hospitalized with the illness, while health officials confirmed 27 outbreaks at residential and non-hospital health care facilities. Related Articles Colorado defense attorneys petition state to release some inmates as coronavirus spreads in jails Denver to close several streets starting Saturday to allow for more outdoor activities RTD to suspend fares, halt downtown shuttle amid coronavirus pandemic All Coloradans should wear non-medical masks when they leave the house, Gov. Jared Polis says Republicans call on El Paso County party chair to resign over controversial coronavirus comments El Paso and Weld counties — with 18 and 16 deaths respectively — have seen the most deaths in the state related to the global outbreak. Gov. Jared Polis on Friday said anyone leaving their homes to buy groceries or to take a neighborhood walk should now be wearing non-medical face masks to stop the spread of the virus. Based on new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which says as many as 1 in 4 people infected with the virus may not show symptoms, Polis said old T-shirts or any type of cloth will do as a makeshift mask, reserving the medical N95 masks for health care workers. Subscribe to bi-weekly newsletter to get health news sent straight to your inbox.
  • RTD to suspend fares, halt downtown shuttle amid coronavirus pandemic
    Starting Sunday, RTD will stop charging fares for bus or train service, suspend the 16th Street Free MallRide and Free MetroRide and implement rear-door boarding on buses to create distance between driver and passenger as part of an effort to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus spread. The Regional Transportation District announced the changes Friday after meeting with its safety consultant about how best to run its trains and buses in the face of a world pandemic. An RTD spokeswoman on Friday said fares will be suspended because fare boxes on buses are at the front of the vehicle, next to where the driver sits. She said the fare suspension is being applied across the whole system “so as not to discriminate against any group of riders.” Passengers who use a wheelchair should continue to board RTD vehicles at the front, where a wheelchair lift is available. Passengers using RTD’s over-the-road coaches will need to continue using the front door, as there is no rear door on those regional buses. Related Articles RTD slashes bus, light rail service as coronavirus spurs “unrivaled” ridership drop RTD ridership drops 60% amid coronavirus outbreak, but agency isn’t cutting service Coronavirus begins ravaging downtown Denver businesses as foot traffic decelerates The agency is working through processes for refunds and exchanges on applicable fare products as part of the district-wide fare suspension. Service is also being suspended on the 16thStreet Free MallRide and Free MetroRide because both lines are experiencing low ridership as people stay home from work and restaurants and shops remain closed. Because the MallRide buses offer multiple-door boarding and exiting, RTD will move as many of them as possible to regular routes. RTD has seen a dramatic drop in ridership across its entire system over the last few weeks, as stay-at-home orders have kept people from their regular commuting patterns. The agency is putting in place a dramatic service reduction starting April 19 as confirmed coronavirus infections move past 4,000 in Colorado, with 111 deaths.
  • Colorado Shakespeare Festival postponed until summer 2021 due to the coronavirus
    By Kalene McCort, The Daily Camera Colorado Shakespeare Festival announced Friday that due to the coronavirus it would no longer continue its 2020 summer season at the University of Colorado Boulder. Despite all spring events hosted by the College of Music and Department of Theatre & Dance being canceled, CSF had initially planned on continuing its longtime tradition of theater under the stars and taking extra precautions regarding sanitization. “It was a very easy decision to make from a health and safety standpoint,” said Tim Orr, producing artistic director. “It was an extremely hard decision to make knowing how many artists are losing jobs and income because of this.” The festival, originally scheduled from June to August, was set to include performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Coriolanus” and “Pericles.” The season is now planned for 2021. “The first day of work was approaching — May 12,” Orr said. “Much of our company comes here from out of state and were anticipating a place to live in Boulder this summer. Holding out on them any longer wasn’t right.” While CSF has no definite plans to offer virtual performances, company members are discussing ways to deliver engaging content this summer. Read more on our sister site The Boulder Daily Camera. Related Articles Schools across Denver area will remain closed rest of academic year due to coronavirus Q&A: Gov. Jared Polis on the supply shortage, his stay-at-home order and when the coronavirus peak will hit A furlough and a layoff represent a different level of commitment to workers Colorado orders Hobby Lobby to close all stores in state after retailer defied stay-at-home directive Colorado legislature can resume its regular session after breaking for coronavirus, Supreme Court rules
  • Daniel Murphy makes another $100,000 donation amid coronavirus pandemic, this time to “Feed The Rockies” fundraiser
    Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy is opening up his pocketbook — again — to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. After ponying up $100,000 for minor league families earlier this week, the Murphy family matched that amount with another $100,000 donation to the team’s “Feed The Rockies” fundraiser. The fundraiser, which began Friday in conjunction with what would have been the Rockies’ 2020 home opener, benefits food banks throughout Colorado and Wyoming. The Rockies Foundation is matching all donations up to $300,000. Care & Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Community Food Share, Food Bank for Larimer County, Food Bank of the Rockies and Weld Food Bank will benefit from the donations.
  • Pandemic forcing NBA players to work out with what’s on hand
    MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo is spending much of his time during the coronavirus-imposed hiatus working out, helping care for his newborn son and playing occasional video games. What the reigning MVP isn’t doing very often is shooting baskets since the NBA has closed team practice facilities. “I don’t have access to a hoop,” the Milwaukee Bucks forward said Friday during a conference call. “A lot of NBA players might have a court in their house or something, I don’t know, but now I just get my home workouts, (go) on the bike, treadmill, lift weights, stay sharp that way.” The hiatus is forcing thousands of athletes, pro and otherwise, to work out from home as they try to keep in shape. Equipment varies from player to player, too. “It all comes down to what they have and what they’re capable of doing,” Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We can do a lot of body weight stuff. That’s how they stay ready. That’s the most I can offer as a coach for them to stay ready. I can’t say ‘Hey, can you find access to a gym?’ That would be bad management on my part.’’ For instance, Pierce said Hawks guard Kevin Huerter has access to a gym in New York and guard Jeff Teague owns a gym in Indiana. Other players face different situations. “I’ve seen LeBron’s Instagram,” Pierce said of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. “LeBron has a house with a full weight room and he has an outdoor court. He’s got a different reality right now that gives him a little more access to continue the normal. (Hawks rookie) Cam Reddish lives in an apartment and it’s probably a two-bedroom apartment. He can’t go in the apartment weight room because it’s a public facility. So he’s limited in all things.’’ Bucks coach Mike Budenhlolzer said he wanted his players to focus on keeping their bodies in shape and conceded that logistics surrounding the pandemic would make it tougher for them to do any basketball-specific activities. The Bucks are still finding ways to stay sharp. Bucks players said team officials have made sure they all have the necessary exercise equipment. Antetokounmpo noted the Bucks also had a catering company bring food to make sure they maintain a proper diet. Center Brook Lopez said workout plans have been sent to them via a phone app. “They’ve done a really good job of getting everything taken care of and still having tailored workouts for each individual player despite the situation,” Lopez said. But it’s difficult for them to work on their shooting without access to a court. “Since the practice facility is closed down, I don’t have any access to a basketball goal unless I go to one of my neighbors’ houses and shoot outside,’’ Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “There’s really no basketball for me. It’s basically like Giannis said. Treadmill, jump rope, some weights and that’s it. I have a couple of basketballs I can dribble in my house or outside, but no actual goal to shoot on.” Pierce noted that Huerter recently asked him when players would be able to get back into the Hawks’ practice facility. “I told him, ‘I’ll tell you when we won’t,’ ‘’ Pierce said. “We won’t in April.”
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  • Coronavirus stay-at-home orders in Colorado
    On March 18, San Miguel County on Colorado’s Western Slope became the first in the state to impose a shelter-in-place order for its residents, a move intended to counter the novel coronavirus’s spread. It comes as one in four Americans now fall under strict movement orders — though Gov. Jared Polis has not mandated such a “stay at home” measure statewide. On March 23, Denver followed suit — and other municipalities soon adopted similar orders. Authorities in the city of Boulder and Piktin County, plus the Southern Ute Tribe in the southwest corner of the state, have all adopted stay-at-home orders. These orders include closing non-essential businesses, and mandating that people stay home unless they are buying groceries, going to the doctor or providing other critical services for family members. Group gatherings have been banned, while outdoor exercise (in non-group settings) will still be allowed. Related Articles Colorado defense attorneys petition state to release some inmates as coronavirus spreads in jails Denver to close several streets starting Saturday to allow for more outdoor activities At least 111 coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado as COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 800 RTD to suspend fares, halt downtown shuttle amid coronavirus pandemic All Coloradans should wear non-medical masks when they leave the house, Gov. Jared Polis says For more information, go to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on coronavirus in Colorado.
  • T.J. Ward’s home is for sale. And the former Broncos safety’s “swag and style” are everywhere.
    T.J. Ward is selling his custom home in Lone Tree. The 6,745-square-foot interior was designed by the former Broncos safety and is listed at $2.24 million. Ward was a veteran of the Broncos secondary for three seasons and a driving force in the team’s Super Bowl 50 run. But what led him to construct a home from scratch came from an aspect of his life outside the white lines. “I was inspired by my sense of fashion,” Ward said. “It was my first home and I wanted my home decor to represent me and my personality as much as possible. I have a lot of space so I could create different aspects of my life into each room.” The interior features vaulted ceilings, a gourmet kitchen and automation throughout that controls the lights and audio/video. Two places, in particular, hit home most for Ward. “I was most adamant about my bedroom and the finished basement,” he said. “I spend most of my time in those places.” Ward’s master suite pairs with a luxury bathroom housing a steam shower. The space also has a custom sitting room and wet bar. There are five bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a half bath in all. The basement has a bar, and media and exercise rooms, and walks out to an enclosed fireplace courtyard that’s surrounded by a large backyard. “He wanted to make (the house) unique and modern and picking things that other people didn’t pick,” said Gwenivere Snyder, a luxury property specialist with Christie’s International Real Estate and Ward’s realtor. Snyder worked with Ward from the home’s inception to its completion in early 2017. Snyder said Ward’s home at 9697 Vista Hill Drive is on one of the biggest lots in a gated community that also houses Ward’s former Broncos teammate, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. “This location was perfect for me because I could get to Dove Valley, where we practice, quickly and also be near lots of retail,” Ward said. Although Ward was the only resident of the home, he certainly had space for some familiar faces. “Family first is everything to T.J.,” Ward’s mother, LaNeita Ward, said. “Throughout the process of building this home he had his family in mind. Every family member has their own bedroom. T.J.’s style and swag is present everywhere in the home. He brought me in at every phase of the process, from selecting the tile in the kitchen to choosing custom pieces of furniture. I truly loved and appreciate sharing his experience with him and was pleasantly surprised that we had the same taste and style.”
  • This Colorado log home has a 750-foot zipline and its own stocked fishing lake
    Imagine zipping down a 750-foot zipline over your private lake, then taking in the beautiful Colorado views from the comfort of the expansive front porch of your log home. It doesn’t get much more “Colorado” than this. This idyllic Rocky Mountain dream could become a reality for a homebuyer with $2.5 million to plop down on 568 Woodside Drive in Pine, a picturesque 4-bedroom, 5-bath log home situated on seven acres of land in the mountains of Colorado. The 5,703-square-foot home, which was built in 2003 by Roger and Lorna Nichols, is constructed of kiln-dried, hand-hued Colorado-grown logs and 400 tons of moss rock. Roger Nichols, who is an excavating contractor by trade, said the logs are 16 inches to 24 inches in diameter and were all brought in from Steamboat Springs. “A log home is the most expensive home you can build per square foot,” Roger Nichols told The Denver Post. He said many people dream of building a log home but often they will scale back and use other materials when they find out how expensive they can be to construct. “It’s just special,” Nichols said of the home. “It’s just homey. Everybody who sees it wants it.” When the Nichols family first set out to build the log home at 568 Woodside Drive, the lot looked a lot different. “I thought, if I could put a lake in here, I’d like it,” Nichols said. So he went about getting permits and excavating the land to put in a lake that covers about an acre of the property, is about 4 feet to 9 feet deep and is now stocked with trout. At the edge of the lake is a log archway from which hangs an old chairlift from the Breckenridge ski area. Nichols said the archway originally was erected for his daughter’s wedding and was later converted to have the chairlift bench added. Inside the home, buyers will find 10-foot-tall ceilings throughout, with some areas where the ceilings soar to 28 feet. “One of the things that’s great about this property is it can come fully furnished if the buyer would like,” said Jackie Garcia, the listing agent with RE/MAX Luxury Homes. The home’s furnishings currently include several taxidermied animals that give it the feel of a Colorado lodge — and Nichols said they don’t really fit with their new home in the Florida Keys. The kitchen has a large island, Brazilian marble countertops, double refrigerators, double freezers, a restaurant-quality cooktop and custom stainless steel hood. “My wife’s like Martha Stewart,” Nichols said. The home also has a workshop with plenty of space for parking ATVs or a recreational vehicle. And there’s more for the kids, too, with a playground and a playhouse. “The playhouse has electricity so the kids can play their video games in it,” Nichols said. The home is located about 35 minutes from Denver and 45 minutes to Breckenridge, depending on traffic, and has access to nearby trails and amazing views, especially from the front porch and the balconies, Nichols said. “We just loved it up there,” Nichols said. “You see deer and elk in your yard every day. It’s just nice.”
  • This is Denver’s most expensive home listing. And it has a gym, yoga studio and koi pond.
    If you’re a fitness junkie with a cool $14 million to spend on a home in Denver, it’s hard to beat 460 Saint Paul Street. The 5-bed, 8-bath mansion in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood has a two-floor gym with a weight room, fitness machines, a yoga studio, massage room and a juice bar lounge. “The location is super strong,” listing agent Gina Lorenzen said. “It’s steps away from the best boutiques in Denver.” Priced at $13,995,000, the home is currently the most expensive listing on the market inside Denver city limits. When you first walk in, you are sure to be impressed. “It’s just the elegance of the design, the openness, and all the natural sunlight,” Lorenzen said. She added that the home, which was constructed by Paul Kobey in 2000, was built with the highest caliber materials. The gym was added six years later. The 11,832-square-foot home sits on a 13,300-square-foot lot and was designed by architect Michael Knorr. Related Articles Hundreds of metro Denver home sellers yank their listings Rent and coronavirus: Some Colorado businesses get an April break while many apartment residents face late fees Not Colorado’s first pandemic: What we can learn from the Spanish flu Front Range tech companies not waiting on government orders to send workers home amid coronavirus spread Mortgage markets returning to normal after freezing up during a volatile week “He’s a very well-known, well-respected architect who specializes in a contemporary style,” Lorenzen said, adding that the design of this home is very unique. The home has mountain views from the master bedroom and also a private upper deck, Lorenzen said. The home also features a koi pond. The high-end Poggenpohl kitchen was recently upgraded and has limestone countertops and a glass backsplash. It also has plenty of parking. In addition to a five-car garage, the home also have five additional parking spots deeded to it.
  • Buyers can “name their price” for this multimillion-dollar Telluride home
    There’s a home in Telluride that would make Flo from Progressive proud. Potential buyers can name their price on this 5,400-square-foot house at 220 Cortina Drive, which hit the market Aug. 12. But don’t expect to toss a “Price is Right” bid — the window for offers is $3.75 to $4.195 million. “220 Cortina Drive was originally listed for $4.995 million and wasn’t receiving any offers, so we decided to take a different approach,” said Mike Russo, founder and developer of SparkOffer, a transaction platform that aims at a more transparent way to connect sellers with buyers. “Based on my 20 years of industry experience in the global luxury residential sector, I know that every property has a low end of the range which will motivate buyers on an accelerated time frame. “I’ve also noticed that when buyers see a set asking price that isn’t within their budget, they won’t even bother to make an offer. From that understanding, we developed our methodology of listing homes with a range vs. one price, to spark offers. Our goal is to increase sales activity within a 45-60 day time frame for 220 Cortina Drive.” The property’s clean lines and symmetrical design mirror mid-20th-century architecture constructed of steel, stone and glass. Inside features include a custom-built staircase with a 16-foot chandelier. All three levels house a bar and kitchenette and the master bedroom, fittingly, has a master balcony. Sean Hakes, managing member of Monroe Cardinal, an advisory and asset management platform, highlighted his favorite aspects of the interior: “We built two living rooms on top of each other, both with tremendous entertainment systems. You could have an extended family in both rooms and simultaneously have different experiences. Additionally, the tongue-and-groove cedar ceiling on the main floor and in the master suite lends great context and warmth to the home.” A hallmark is the house’s “green energy” ventless fireplaces found in multiple living spaces. “I’m also very proud of our energy rating. If the new owner wanted to have the house LEED certified it would qualify. San Miguel County was very complimentary about our energy efficiency, and our ongoing utility bills are almost nonexistent.” This ski-in, ski-out residence occupies 0.21 acres within Cortina Mountain Village along Sundance Trail, dotted with tall Aspen trees. “I love the overwhelming feeling of how nature surrounds you and how the home belongs among the Aspen trees,” Hakes said. “It makes me feel like I am living in a luxury treehouse.” Information provided by a news release from Quinn PR.
  • In-N-Out Burger planning to open near Lone Tree’s Park Meadows mall next year
    Colorado Springs is the beachhead. But it’s always been clear In-N-Out Burger planned to feed its fanatical following along the Front Range by building more than just the one restaurant coming to that city in 2020. Company officials have been tight-lipped about their plans for the state, but based on a site plan document available through the city of Lone Tree’s website, it appears location No. 2 is headed for the Park Meadows mall area. The document, dated Aug. 1, lists 9171 E. Westview Road as the address for the proposed new restaurant. The one-and-a-half acre patch of land is located just to the northeast of the mall along East County Line Road. It is occupied today by the Suds Factory Car Wash & Auto Detailing Center. RELATED: Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado location The site plan outlines a six-month construction process expected to wrap up in time for a late 2020 opening. The red-and-white-tiled restaurant would employ between 45 and 90 people. Its parking lot would have room for 47 cars as well as a drive-through lane with room for 26 cars. The place will be open late, from 10 a.m through 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, per the site plan. The document also gets into one of the key details of In-N-Out’s approach that has helped turn the California-based chain into a phenomenon with a devoted following: freshness. “In-N-Out cooks all of its burgers and fries to order — nothing is pre-cooked and there are no cooked food holding bins. This restaurant will be equipped with three burger grills. Two grills will operate at all times, and activation of the third grill will be done in response to high dine-in or, more typically, high drive-through demand … ” it reads. The site plan was first unearthed by the Lone Tree Voice newspaper on Thursday. According to the Voice’s reporting, the plan must first be approved by city staff before going on to the planning commission. The Lone Tree City Council will have the final say on whether or not the 3,867-square-foot restaurant gets built. The city of Lone Tree issued a statement on the plans Friday afternoon. The growing north Douglas County community is “excited about the potential of being one of the first In-N-Out Burger locations in Colorado.” “We pride ourselves in being a business-friendly municipality and always look forward to welcoming new businesses into our community,” the statement says. “Plus, we know that In-N-Out Burger will be one that many people in our community, and beyond, will be thrilled to see.” Related Articles Colorado’s first In-N-Out Burger moves closer to 2020 opening with land purchases Double-Double wait: In-N-Out Burger still 2 years away from opening first Colorado restaurant In-N-Out watch: It could be three years before Colorado’s first location opens Colorado will get In-N-Out and already has Trader Joe’s and Ikea. What more could we possibly want? In-N-Out laid out plans in December for its first Colorado restaurant, set to open in the middle of next year in northeast Colorado Springs. A large In-N-Out office building and a 100,000-square-foot distribution facility are also coming to that city’s Victory Ridge development. Those projects will feed the company’s operations across the state. The distribution facility is expected to have the capacity to support up to 50 restaurants. In-N-Out was founded in 1948 and now operates more than 340 locations spread across California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. The sought-after fast-food brand has a dedicated real estate website, innoutrealestate.com. It is represented in Colorado by the Denver office of international brokerage SRS Real Estate Partners, according to that site. A voicemail seeking comment on the Lone Tree location left for a broker in that office was not returned Friday. The real estate site offers some clues as to where In-N-Out’s iconic red and yellow arrow sign might pop up next in the Centennial State. It lists “minimum standards” for all sites where the company would put a store. Sites must be near a roadway that carries at least 50,000 cars trips daily and must be in a “trade area” of at least 60,000 people. The area median income has to be north of $45,000 per household. The company also prefers to buy its sites. If it’s going to sign a lease it wants an option to buy, according to its standards. Updated 11:10 a.m. Aug. 16, 2019 This story has been updated to correctly identify the news organization that first reported In-N-Out’s Lone Tree plans.
  • What parts of Colorado see the most lightning?
    A recent study outlined Colorado’s most lightning-struck corridors, and it highlights much of the Denver metropolitan area as the most vulnerable part of Colorado to lightning. The April study, conducted by scientists from the National Weather Service in Pueblo and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, outlines Denver’s southern and western suburbs as part of the lightning capital of Colorado. The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado typically see the most lightning in the western half of the state, while Colorado’s plains are also fairly active, particularly during the spring months. Here’s a detailed look at the areas of highest lightning in Colorado, with red indicating the areas of highest average annual lightning, and blue indicating the least. The data is based on lightning strikes between 1996 and 2016. You may have heard about the unfortunate incident last weekend, where lightning killed a hiker near Boulder. Colorado receives a lot of lightning strikes, and this fascinating map from a study led by @NWSPueblo shows where they happen. (1/2) #cowx pic.twitter.com/pf5LLCq7jg — ColoClimateCenter (@ColoradoClimate) July 16, 2019 The most susceptible parts of the Denver metro area to lightning are the foothills west of the city, and the Palmer Divide to the south of it. In detail, the most lightning-hit areas include: Douglas, western Jefferson and parts of Arapahoe Counties in the Denver metro area. Additionally, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Teller, western and central El Paso, western Elbert and eastern Park Counties are all in the corridor of most lightning-prone areas in the Centennial State. RELATED: Why lightning is one of the top weather-related killers in Colorado One of the main reasons parts of the Denver area are particularly susceptible to lightning is because of the so-called Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ). The DCVZ is a term frequently used by local meteorologists to explain a natural area of spin that often takes place in and around Denver due to eastern Colorado’s topography. That can lead to increased stormy weather for parts of the Front Range. Provided by National Weather ServiceThe animated image shows lightning strikes by time of day in Colorado from 1996-2016. The DCVZ creates a mini area of low pressure in the Denver area as air is sandwiched between the Divide to the south, the Rockies to the west and the Cheyenne Ridge to the north. In essence, the immediate Denver area becomes a funnel for converging winds, leading to some of Denver’s hyper-local and crazy weather — that often can be difficult to predict. On the contrary, that same rising motion along the Divide can create a sinking motion further north, and you can probably note a lack of lightning from Longmont up to around Fort Collins and Greeley. This area also is known for having lower snow amounts during winter storms. “(The DCVZ) enhances the activity over the southern Front Range Mountains/Pikes Peak/Palmer Divide region,” the study hypothesizes. “While decreasing lightning activity over the northern Front Range Mountains/Cheyenne Ridge region and over the area of the plains just east of the Front Range Mountains, generally north of Denver.” In light of the July 14 lightning fatality in Boulder County, it’s worth noting that the foothills west of Denver and the Palmer Divide are both especially vulnerable to lightning. Hikers, bikers and anybody enjoying the outdoors in these areas should try and get activities done earlier in the day, particularly in the lightning-heavy months of July and August. Based on analysis from the study, other parts of Colorado that are prone to lightning include the San Juans (mainly due to monsoonal moisture in July and August), the state’s eastern plains (storms that roll off the mountains and run into more low-level moisture as they move east), and far southern Colorado (monsoon). The study appeared in the June edition of the National Weather Association Journal of Operational Meteorology. Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.
  • Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch — featuring seven lakes, a dance hall and 11,600 acres — can be yours for $50 million
    Golfer Greg Norman’s Colorado ranch has just about everything a sportsman could want. There’s seven lakes, the pristine fly-fishing waters of the White River, miles of horseback riding and hiking trails, a sporting clays course, a long range rifle course, and 8,350 acres of private elk and deer hunting. And all you need is $50 million to call it home. Surrounded by the White River National Forest, the 11,600-acre Seven Lakes Ranch located in the Meeker Valley is on the market three years after his wife, Kirsten, an interior designer, helped update the main lodge in 2016. RELATED: Rocky Mountain High-priced home: John Denver’s 7,735-square-foot Aspen mansion going for $11 million First constructed in 1993, the nine-bedroom lodge was originally used as a rental for company retreats prior to Norman’s purchase, according to Tatiana Ceresa of Compass. In addition to the newly renovated main lodge, the property features six “Nippe” guest cabins (smaller and without heating) as well as an executive cabin (three bedrooms), a four-bedroom hunting house, four staff housing cabins (one to three bedrooms) and a sportsmen’s lodge with a half bath. There’s also a maintenance barn, fitness center, horse barn and ranch office, and water treatment plant. The property is remote. But don’t worry, it’s no more than a half-hour helicopter ride to Vail, Aspen and Steamboat. (No, there is no helipad on site, but when you’ve got 11,600 acres to play with, who needs one?) Find out more about Seven Lakes Ranch at sevenlakesranch.com.
  • This iconic Cherry Hills Village home listed at $7.75 million after major renovations
    An exquisite estate in Cherry Hills Village that finished as a finalist for the 2019 Home of the Year in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Magazine was recently listed for sale at $7.75 million. The immaculate single-family house was originally designed in 1952 for actress and singer Ethel Merman, according to local fable. The grounds span just over two acres wrapped by formal gardens and punctuated with a vast circle drive. The Taylors have owned the five-bedroom, nine-bathroom home at 3900 S. Colorado Blvd. for over three years. Jim Taylor, his wife and two young children relocated from the Highlands area and have been enjoying the home for the past year and a half after completing a comprehensive remodel. “We were living downtown and wanted more space for the kids,” Taylor said. RELATED: In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices. In all, Taylor’s renovations expanded the property from 7,000 square feet to 15,000 – that includes a 160-square-foot wine cellar in the basement – while gutting the house to the studs in the process.  Taylor converted the existing tennis court into a pickleball court for his children and added a 1,200-square-foot master suite as well as a 1,200-square-foot cabana and an 800-square-foot greenhouse. The Taylors now have their sights set on another iconic Cherry Hills house, a mid-century modern this time. Related Articles Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course. In Denver housing market, what was hot is now cold. See where your ZIP code ranks in home prices. Property values take another leap higher across metro Denver Denver is the most expensive city to rent an apartment in the metro area. Find out what cities are the cheapest. Denver-area real estate agents face challenges from DIY buyers and sellers and low-cost competitors “I’m a process person so I don’t mind starting a new project,” Taylor said.  “Modernizing this legacy home was the opportunity of a lifetime. Selling it is a little bittersweet.” Like this story? Help support more local journalism. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
  • Why would someone tear down a $2.1 million home in Boulder? To build this $7.5 million house, of course.
    A luxurious estate in Boulder’s Knollwood neighborhood is on the market for $7.5 million. The home sits on a 0.45-acre lot at 2135 Knollwood Drive and faces south so that its floor-to-ceiling windows can flood the main rooms with natural sunlight and take in Boulder Canyon and Flatirons, which are visible from nearly every window of the 5,075-square-foot home. “It’s on the western edge of Boulder right above downtown,” said Tim Goodacre, owner of Goodacre & Company. “It’s private and quiet in the Knollwood subdivision with walking trails right above it.” Annette Martin, a Boulder architect, designed this home that replaced one which was bought for $2.1 million in 2015. The single-family property houses three bedrooms and five bathrooms and was built last year. Inside features oak floors and its hallmark centers around the living room. “The living room expands to the deck, so it’s a true indoor-outdoor living space,” Goodacre said. Journalism doesn’t grow on trees. Please support The Denver Post. Become a subscriber for only 99 cents for the first month.
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  • Electric scooter brands Lyft, Spin offering free rides in Denver to health care workers in April
    Two e-scooter brands are now offering free riders to health care workers in Denver, while two others have pulled their machines off the city’s street entirely while they seek to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic. Lyft launched its new program in Denver on Friday morning. Through April 30th, qualified health care and transit workers and first responders will be able to use the company’s scooters for free for trips of up to 30 minutes, according to a company news release. The program is set up through employers. Those seeking to provide free riders for their workers should email HeroScooters@Lyft.com for enrollment information. Lyfts announcement comes a few days after Ford-owned scooter company Spin launched a similar program for health care workers in the markets where it does business, including Denver. The Spin program also offers free rides of up to 30 minutes through April 30. An application can be found online at bit.ly/3bEETN0. Bird and Lime have stopped placing their rechargeable rides on sidewalks during the pandemic. The development, first reported by BusinessDen earlier this week, was confirmed by a Denver Department of Transportation & Infrastructure spokeswoman Thursday. The companies intend to keep operating in the city in the future. Related Articles PHOTOS: Denver stays home — views of a shuttered city
  • As coronavirus surveillance escalates, personal privacy plummets
    By Natasha Singer and Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times In South Korea, government agencies are harnessing surveillance-camera footage, smartphone location data and credit card purchase records to help trace the recent movements of coronavirus patients and establish virus transmission chains. In Lombardy, Italy, authorities are analyzing location data transmitted by citizens’ mobile phones to determine how many people are obeying a government lockdown order and the typical distances they move every day. About 40% are moving around “too much,” an official recently said. In Israel, the country’s internal security agency is poised to start using a cache of mobile phone location data — originally intended for counterterrorism operations — to try to pinpoint citizens who may have been exposed to the virus. As countries around the world race to contain the pandemic, many are deploying digital surveillance tools as a means to exert social control, even turning security agency technologies on their own civilians. Health and law enforcement authorities are understandably eager to employ every tool at their disposal to try to hinder the virus — even as the surveillance efforts threaten to alter the precarious balance between public safety and personal privacy on a global scale. Yet ratcheting up surveillance to combat the pandemic now could permanently open the doors to more invasive forms of snooping later. It is a lesson Americans learned after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, civil liberties experts say. Nearly two decades later, law enforcement agencies have access to higher-powered surveillance systems, like fine-grained location tracking and facial recognition — technologies that may be repurposed to further political agendas like anti-immigration policies. Civil liberties experts warn that the public has little recourse to challenge these digital exercises of state power. “We could so easily end up in a situation where we empower local, state or federal government to take measures in response to this pandemic that fundamentally change the scope of American civil rights,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan. As an example, he pointed to a law enacted by New York state this month that gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo unlimited authority to rule by executive order during state crises like pandemics and hurricanes. The law allows him to issue emergency response directives that could overrule any local regulations. Increased surveillance and health data disclosures have also drastically eroded people’s ability to keep their health status private. This month, Australia’s health minister publicly chastised a doctor whom she accused of treating patients while experiencing symptoms of the virus — essentially outing him by naming the small clinic in Victoria where he worked with a handful of other physicians. Related Articles Colorado defense attorneys petition state to release some inmates as coronavirus spreads in jails Denver to close several streets starting Saturday to allow for more outdoor activities At least 111 coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado as COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 800 RTD to suspend fares, halt downtown shuttle amid coronavirus pandemic Colorado Shakespeare Festival postponed until summer 2021 due to the coronavirus The health provider, who tested positive for the coronavirus, responded with a Facebook post saying the minister had incorrectly characterized his actions for political gain and demanded an apology. “That could extend to anyone, to suddenly have the status of your health blasted out to thousands or potentially millions of people,” said Chris Gilliard, an independent privacy scholar based in the Detroit area. “It’s a very strange thing to do because, in the alleged interest of public health, you are actually endangering people.” But in emergencies like pandemics, privacy must be weighed against other considerations, like saving lives, said Mila Romanoff, data and governance lead for United Nations Global Pulse, a U.N. program that has studied using data to improve emergency responses to epidemics like Ebola and dengue fever. “We need to have a framework that would allow companies and public authorities to cooperate, to enable proper response for the public good,” Romanoff said. To reduce the risk that coronavirus surveillance efforts might violate people’s privacy, she said, governments and companies should limit the collection and use of data to only what is needed. “The challenge is,” she added, “how much data is enough?” The fast pace of the pandemic, however, is prompting governments to put in place a patchwork of digital surveillance measures in the name of their own interests, with little international coordination on how appropriate or effective they are. In hundreds of cities in China, the government is requiring citizens to use software on their phones that automatically classifies each person with a color code — red, yellow or green — indicating contagion risk. The software determines which people should be quarantined or permitted to enter public places like subways. But officials have not explained how the system makes such decisions, and citizens have felt powerless to challenge it. In Singapore, the Ministry of Health has posted information online about each coronavirus patient, often in stunning detail, including relationships to other patients. The idea is to warn individuals who may have crossed paths with them, as well as alert the public to potentially infected locations. “Case 219 is a 30-year-old male,” says one entry on the Health Ministry’s site, who worked at the “Sengkang Fire Station (50 Buangkok Drive),” is “in an isolation room at Sengkang General Hospital” and “is a family member of Case 236.”( On Friday, Singapore also introduced a smartphone app for citizens to help authorities locate people who may have been exposed to the virus. The app, called TraceTogether, uses Bluetooth signals to detect mobile phones that are nearby. If an app user later tests positive for the virus, health authorities may examine the data logs from the app to find people who crossed their paths. A government official said the app preserved privacy by not revealing users’ identities to one another. In Mexico, after public health officials notified Uber about a passenger infected with the virus, the company suspended the accounts of two drivers who had given him rides, along with more than 200 passengers who had ridden with those drivers. In the United States, the White House recently spoke with Google, Facebook and other tech companies about potentially using aggregated location data captured from Americans’ mobile phones for public health surveillance of the virus. Several members of Congress subsequently wrote a letter urging President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to protect any virus-related data that companies collected from Americans. The digital dictates may enable governments to exert more social control and enforce social distancing during the pandemic. They also raise questions about when surveillance may go too far. In January, South Korea’s government began posting detailed location histories on each person who tested positive for the coronavirus. The site has included a wealth of information — such as details about when people left for work, whether they wore masks in the subway, the name of the stations where they changed trains, the massage parlors and karaoke bars they frequented and the names of the clinics where they were tested for the virus. In South Korea’s highly wired society, however, internet mobs exploited patient data disclosed by the government site to identify people by name and hound them. As other countries increase surveillance, South Korea had an unusual reaction. Concerned that privacy invasions might discourage citizens from getting tested for the virus, health officials announced this month that they would refine their data-sharing guidelines to minimize patient risk. “We will balance the value of protecting individual human rights and privacy and the value of upholding public interest in preventing mass infections,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is a tricky balance that some U.S. officials may need to consider. In New York this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio posted details on Twitter about a lawyer in Westchester County who was the second person in the state to test positive for the virus — including the name of the man’s seven-person law firm and the names of the schools attended by two of his children. A few hours later, The New York Post identified the lawyer by name and was soon referring to him as “patient zero” in the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle. In a response posted on Facebook, Adina Lewis Garbuz, a lawyer who is the wife of the man, Lawrence Garbuz, pleaded with the public to focus instead on the personal efforts the family had made to isolate themselves and notify people who came into contact with them. “We would have preferred this all remain private,” Garbuz wrote in the Facebook post, “but since it is no longer, I wanted to at least share some truths and allay people’s fears.”
  • Selma Online offers free civil rights lessons amid virus
    RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The first attempt of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, led to police violence against peaceful African-American demonstrators. The beatings, known as “Bloody Sunday,” generated anger across the nation 55 years ago this March and prompted President Lyndon Johnson to push the Voting Rights Act through Congress. It was one of the most significant moments in U.S. history but remains almost absent from public schools’ social studies lessons. A new online project by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and a coalition of foundations hopes to change that. The center in March unveiled Selma Online — a free, online teaching platform that seeks to transform how the civil rights movement is taught in middle and high schools across the country. The project uses footage from Ava DuVernay’s 2014 movie “Selma” and attempts to show students how events in 1965 shaped voting rights. Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. helped create an interactive website with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program and Left Field Labs. Its release comes as schools across the U.S. have closed because of the coronavirus and many students are in need of educational material to learn at home. “It’s perfect timing, unfortunately, because of the crisis we are in,” Gates told The Associated Press. “Not only is the timing optimal for teachers who are developing online lesson plans but also for families.” Gates said the website can be broken up into quick lessons or over a semester. The idea for it followed the release of DuVernay’s film. William Lewis Jr., co-chairman of investment banking at New York City-based Lazard, and other black business leaders raised money so 500,000 children in 33 cities could see the historical drama for free. The film follows the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., played by David Oyelowo, as he and other civil rights leaders push for voting rights in Selma, Ala. Marches are soon met with violence by police, which eventually leads to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. After the success of the fundraiser for kids to see the movie, former Time Warner CEO Richard “Dick” Parsons reached out to Gates about developing the website using “Selma” to teach the history of voting rights and the civil rights movement. “It was such a novel idea, I said “OK,’” Gates said. The Rockefeller Foundation soon awarded the project a grant. In 2019, organizers tested the website after years of development with teachers and students in schools in Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, Alabama and California. Developers incorporated suggestions in time for the 55th anniversary of the violence this March. The website comes as educators in various states push for more lessons in ethnic studies amid demographic changes in public schools. In New Mexico, for example, scholars and teachers are working on getting Chicano studies and Mexican American history into public high schools around Albuquerque. Gates said he sees Selma Online​ as a test run for similar projects around African-American history, including slavery. “You change the curriculum, you change civic behavior,” Gates said.
  • Mayo Clinic in Minnesota adds robots to hospital cleaning crew
    By Brian Arola, Mankato Free Press MANKATO, Minn. — Hal and Dee aren’t your typical hospital workers. They do their jobs alone, which is probably good because they’re not much for conversation. They’re stationary, so in between jobs they need assistance to make the rounds. They’re also robots. The Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato brought in the two robo-helpers in February to clean patient rooms. If you’re imaging two Roombas meandering along a hospital floor, think bigger, the Mankato Free Press reported. The robots are closer to R2-D2’s size and use a light rather than suction to clean. After housekeeping crews do their thing, they clear the room so Hal or Dee can emit bright UV lights to kill lingering bacteria and germs. The duo has cleaned at least 180 rooms since their first shift Feb. 11. The technology enhancements help the hospital provide a clean environment for patients, said Lindsey Benson, the health system’s regional director of environmental services. “This just happens to be one of those added tools we can use to meet our goal, which is keeping our patients safe,” she said. Certain germs are more resilient against traditional cleaning measures. C. diff is one of the most common, causing 223,900 infections and 12,800 deaths in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Antibiotic Resistance Threats report from 2019. “C. diff germs are so small relative to our size that if you were the size of the state of California, a germ would be the size of a baseball home plate,” the CDC’s website states. “There’s no way you can see C. diff germs on your hands, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.” Hal and Dee basically hunt and zap C. diff and other pesky germs with their intense UV lights. Each device goes through three to four cycles in different parts of the rooms, taking about 25 minutes to finish. The health system’s Fairmont facility recently received a robot as well — Serena. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester started using them in 2014, resulting in a 30% decrease in C. diff infections. The Mayo in Mankato’s environmental services team received training to use the robots. Once the robots finish beaming the lights inside the room, an orange cone outside lights up a green button to signal the cleaning is done. Patients won’t encounter Hal or Dee unless the machines are being wheeled from one room to the next. No one can be in the room with the robots when they whir into action— a sensor shuts off the devices when it detects motion. “What anybody would see is just a beaming light underneath the door,” Benson said.
  • How to clean the bundle of germs that is your phone
    NEW YORK — You’re washing your hands countless times a day to try to ward off the coronavirus. You should also wash that extension of your hand and breeding ground for germs — your phone. Tests done by scientists show that the virus can live for two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cleaning all “high-touch” surfaces daily, including phones, keyboards and tablet computers. But cleaning your phone improperly can damage it. You want to avoid getting moisture inside it or scratching the surface. Don’t spray cleaners directly on the phone, don’t dunk it in cleaning solutions, don’t spray it with compressed-air devices used to clean keyboards and avoid rubbing it with abrasive materials. Instead, start by turning off the phone and unplugging all cables. Your phone shouldn’t be charging as you clean. You can use Clorox wipes or wipes with 70% alcohol, which you can get at the drugstore, to wipe down your phone. Apple, which has cautioned against using household cleaners on its phones, says to do that “gently.” AT&T has further recommended wringing out disinfectant wipes before using them on a phone. You can also use soft cloths to clean the phone, such as a microfiber cleaning cloth or the cloths used to clean camera lenses or your glasses. Google says you can dip the cloth in soap and water, as long as you’re careful not to get moisture in the phone. AT&T says paper towels work, too. You can spray them with disinfectant. Again, don’t spray the phone itself. Samsung, the world’s biggest phone manufacturer, says it’s offering a free phone-sanitizing service involving UV light inside U.S. Samsung stores and service centers. It will expand to other countries in the next few weeks. The phone-cleaning step is one of many measures public-health authorities are recommending to try to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Spying on the virus: Israel secret service to track patients
    JERUSALEM — The head of Israel’s shadowy Shin Bet internal security service said Tuesday that his agency received Cabinet approval overnight to start deploying the agency’s phone surveillance technology to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus in Israel, a move that sparked widespread criticism from lawmakers and civil rights groups. While Nadav Argaman acknowledged that using the agency’s counter-terrorism capabilities to track sick Israeli citizens deviates from Shin Bet’s typical operations against Palestinian militants, he said the goal was still in line with its overall mission of “saving lives.” The move was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a series of sweeping measures to stop the outbreak and immediately raised concerns from civil-liberties advocates that the practice would raise serious privacy issues. On Tuesday, in a live televised announcement, Netanyahu said the technology had indeed been deployed, calling the strategy “critical” to slowing the outbreak. The final go-ahead also came the day a new Israeli legislature was sworn in following the country’s third election in less than a year — meaning it bypassed the typically required oversight of a special parliamentary subcommittee that had already begun reviewing the measures. Argaman vowed there would be stringent oversight to maintain individual privacy and that operatives would only use their geolocation findings from cellphones and credit card use to warn those that may be exposed to the virus — rather than enforcing any government-mandated quarantine. “The other state bodies don’t have the necessary technological means to aid this effort,” Argaman said in a statement. “I am well aware of the sensitivity of this matter and therefore have instructed that only a very limited number of agents will be handling this and the information will not be saved in the Shin Bet database.” Still, criticism over the move and its unchecked approval was swift. Gabi Ashkenazi, a retired military chief who headed the special parliamentary subcommittee in the outgoing parliament, called the government approval a “heist in the dead of night.” His centrist Blue and White party chief and fellow retired military chief, Benny Gantz, also criticized the move. “These are exceptional times that, unfortunately, call for exceptional measures in order to save lives. That said, we cannot surrender transparency and oversight,” said Gantz, Netanyahu’s chief rival in the elections. “A functional parliament, even and especially in states of emergency, is a hallmark of democracy and we will be steadfast in preserving it.” Netanyahu rejected the comments, saying that delaying the deployment of the measures could “lead to the deaths of a great many Israelis.” Netanyahu acknowledged the technology had never been used before on civilians and would involve a certain degree of violation of privacy. But he said the unprecedented health threat posed by the virus justified its use. “These means will help us greatly in locating the ill and thus stopping the spread of the virus,” he said in a televised announcement. “We will approve these digital tools for a limited period of 30 days. Israel is a democracy and we have to balance individual rights with the greater needs of all.” Among various other measures, Israeli health officials have put out public advisories ordering tens of thousands of people into protective home quarantine. The new tactic looked to use mobile-phone tracking technology and a review of credit card data to give a far more precise history of an infected person’s movements before they were diagnosed and identify people who might have been exposed. Those in jeopardy would then be notified by text message to self-quarantine. The only other place believed to have used similar technology to fight the coronavirus pandemic is Taiwan, where the government used mobile phones to make sure infected people do not leave their quarantine. Netanyahu’s office insisted the Shin Bet would not be involved in enforcing quarantine orders against sick patients and that all its actions would be shared with health authorities and overseen by legal experts. Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at George Mason University and director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, said the Israeli measure was justified and legal and should serve as a model for the United States. “During this and other epidemics, the government has the right to curtail many fundamental liberties,” he said. “One person’s rights end where they begin to endanger others. This information is used to save lives, by finding people who have been unwittingly exposed and may be spreading disease.” Still, Israel’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge over the move, which has sparked a heated debate over the use of sensitive security technology. The lead editorial on Tuesday in the liberal Haaretz daily warned that the fight against the new virus in Israel was threatening individual rights. “The state should not determine the locations of law-abiding citizens, whose only crime is to be infected by the coronavirus,” it wrote. “In emergency situations, governments have an even greater responsibility than usual not to violate the checks and balances that are the foundation of the democratic system.”
  • Virtual religion: Denver houses of worship go online after coronavirus closures
    Screenshot from Central Presbyterian ChurchPastor Louise Westfall delivers her sermon from live video at Central Presbyterian Church in Denver on Sunday, March 15, 2020. At Central Presbyterian Church last Sunday, Pastor Louise Westfall stood in a strangely empty sanctuary, lit a candle, and delivered a livestreamed service. “If you’re watching via Facebook, check in regularly during the broadcast. Those little emojis scrolling up the screen provide a way to connect with virtual touch,” the pastor told her distant — and social-distancing — congregation. Elsewhere in downtown Denver, a kansho, or bronze bell, sounded outside the Denver Buddhist Temple, the traditional start to a Sunday dharma service. But last week’s service there, too, was digital, posted to the temple’s Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel. On Wednesday night, Chris Griggs , pastor of Denver Baptist Church, clipped a lapel microphone to his polo shirt, sat at his dining room table, placed a Bible in front of him, and looked into a camera. “Our mission statement isn’t dependent on a building. We don’t need these things to make disciples and advance the Gospel,” he said early in a 28-minute video that was later uploaded to Vimeo. Across the city, state and country, houses of worship have been closed indefinitely almost overnight, victims of a global pandemic unlike any in recent history. But with the tools of modern technology at hand, faith leaders soldier on, delivering the wisdom of ancient texts via Facebook, Zoom, Vimeo and YouTube. “We never thought that we would be doing first-century church — in other words, church at homes — through digital connections, in the way that we are right now,” said Pastor Marty Lettow as he adjusted his glasses and spoke, via video, to members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Wednesday night. At Temple Sinai, Rabbi Rick Rheins hosted a virtual class on the Talmud on Thursday afternoon. Congregants joined via Zoom, allowing them a break from the solitude this bizarre week brought. The chat was interactive, with laughter and heartfelt hellos and jokes about who wasn’t wearing pants. “My goal,” Rheins said then, “was for everybody to be able to share and see each other. Because one of the parts of being in isolation is that we feel so alone.” That is especially true for elderly Coloradans who live alone and for whom religious services are a source of great comfort. Online services, for those with the technical know-how to access them, can be a connection to a familiar and friendly weekly routine that has been dramatically upended this month. “It’s hard to adjust,” said Iman Jodeh , a spokeswoman for the Colorado Muslim Society, which streams services on Facebook. “People look forward to going to the mosque. It’s a place of solitude and sanctuary and when that’s taken away from a lot of folks, it’s hard. Especially for people who are there every day.” Related Articles Aurora church starts “drive-by” Sunday mass to slow coronavirus spread Amid coronavirus threat, Coloradans nix church handshakes, rethink trips and take other precautions What’s it like to shelter in place as part of the fight against coronavirus? Look no further than Telluride. Three regional books to keep you occupied while homebound during the coronavirus outbreak In an attempt to replace that solitude and sanctuary, leaders of congregations large and small, of faith systems Western and Eastern, sat or stood in front of a camera this week and did what centuries of their predecessors did before them, during times far more trying than this. They read aloud holy words from holy works. Some did so in sacred spaces that now sit empty. Others spoke from a home office or living room couch, the sounds of their children and dogs in the background. Still others did so from a kitchen table or back patio. But all carried a similar message: We, as a people and a religion, have survived worse, and we will survive this. “There is a fear around us right now,” said Father Sam Morehead during a pre-recorded Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “There is this unknown disease, the coronavirus, in our community. We should be very prudent, very smart in how we handle our health, but we must not be ruled by any fear. Not ever.” Join our Facebook group for updates on coronavirus in Colorado.
  • Google recommends employees in Boulder and nationwide work from home to slow spread of coronavirus
    Google, which has a campus in Boulder, has recommended that employees in all its offices in North America work from home until April 10 to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, the company confirmed Wednesday. “Our goal is to reduce the density of people in offices, which expert advice suggests may slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the burden on the local community and health resources,” the company said in an email. “Our offices remain open to employees whose roles require they come in.” Google employees in New York and California previously had the option of working from home. The company had recommended that staffers in Washington, hard-hit by the outbreak, work from home. RELATED: Have you been affected by the coronavirus in Colorado? We want to hear from you. Related Articles CU, CSU and DU among Colorado universities moving classes online amid spread of coronavirus Colorado opens drive-thru coronavirus testing facility. Here’s what you need to know. State of emergency in Colorado as coronavirus cases rise to 17 The tech giant said in a blog post Tuesday that it is creating a fund to allow temporary employees and vendors to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of coronavirus or can’t work because they’re quarantined. Last week, the company said members of its extended workforce affected by reduced office schedules, like restaurant workers, will be compensated for the time they would have worked. Google opened its Boulder campus in 2017. The Daily Camera reported in January that the company is expanding the campus and adding employees. Google employs more than 1,300 people in Colorado, a spokeswoman said. Join our Facebook group for updates on coronavirus in Colorado.
  • GM shows 13 electric vehicles as it tries to run with Tesla
    DETROIT — General Motors, trying to refashion itself as a futuristic company with technology to compete against Tesla, rolled out plans Wednesday for 13 new electric vehicles during the next five years. The company touted an exclusive new battery technology that could propel some of the vehicles as far as 400 miles (644 kilometers) on a single charge as it tries to capture electric vehicle enthusiasm that has brought wild growth to rival Tesla’s share price. At an event for investors, dealers and analysts at its sprawling technical center in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan, GM executives said the new vehicles would be built using modular chassis and drive systems for manufacturing simplicity. GM will be able to build trucks, cars, SUVs and even an autonomous shuttle based on the new systems, the company said. The global vehicles will include affordable transportation, work trucks, luxury SUVs and performance vehicles. CEO Mary Barra said GM will be able to build at a large scale, similar to its profitable full-size truck business. “We want to put everyone in an EV, and we have what it takes to do it,” she said at a presentation for investors. Some of the new vehicles will be able to go from zero to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour) in as little as three seconds — performance that rivals electric vehicle sales leader Tesla Inc. New all-electric models will come from the Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick brands starting this year, beginning with the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV to be unveiled in April. A new Chevrolet Bolt small SUV comes in the summer of 2021. There’s also the GMC Hummer EV pickup coming to dealers in the fall of 2021. GM also has plans for three more Cadillac SUVs, a midsize Chevrolet SUV, two Buick SUVs, a GMC Hummer SUV, a Chevrolet full-size pickup with 400 miles of range, a luxury Cadillac car and the Cruise Origin, an autonomous electric shuttle. With fewer parts than petroleum-powered vehicles, electric vehicles will be much cheaper and simpler to build, reducing manufacturing costs, GM said. The company plans 19 different battery and electric motor and transmission combinations, compared with 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations available today. The company said a joint venture with Korean battery maker LG Chem will use a low-cobalt chemistry to drive down battery costs to below $100 per kilowatt hour. Related Articles Colorado small businesses able to tap billions in stimulus money for forgivable loans Electric scooter brands Lyft, Spin offering free rides in Denver to health care workers in April Reduce crew sizes, focus on “truly critical” activities: Colorado updates guidance for construction work during coronavirus pandemic Farm-to-table operations now taking an online farm-to-public approach in the age of coronavirus Outdoor Retailer cancels summer show in Denver because of coronavirus Executives told the group that the next generation of GM’s electric vehicles will be profitable. Barra said the new vehicles can increase sales and market share, and the batteries and drive units could be licensed to other companies to bring in more revenue. She said the company plans to sell more than 1 million electric vehicles in North America and China by the middle of the decade. To get there, GM will spend more than $20 billion developing the vehicles through 2025, she said. Electric vehicle sales will have to grow substantially both worldwide and in the U.S. for GM to meet its targets. Last year manufacturers sold just over 236,000 fully electric vehicles in the U.S., about 1.4% of total new vehicle sales, according to Autodata Corp.
  • Should robots have a face?
    By Michael Corkery, The New York Times When Tina Sorg first saw the robot rolling through her Giant supermarket in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she said to herself, “That thing is a little weird.” Programmed to detect spills and debris in the aisles, the robot looked like an inkjet printer with a long neck. “It needed personality,” said Sorg, 55, who manages the store’s beer and wine department. So, during one overnight shift, she went out to a nearby arts and craft store, brought back a large pair of googly eyes and, when no one was looking, affixed them on the top of the robot. The eyes were a hit with executives at global grocery company Ahold Delhaize, which owns the Giant and Stop & Shop supermarket chains. They are now a standard feature on the company’s nearly 500 robots across the United States. How this supermarket robot got its goofy eyes touches on a serious question: Will robots with friendly faces and cute names help people feel good about devices that are taking over an increasing amount of human work? Robots are now working everywhere from factories to living rooms. But the introduction of robots to public settings like the grocery store is fueling new fears that humans are being pushed out of jobs. McKinsey, the consulting firm, says the grocers could immediately reduce “the pool of labor hours” by as much as 65% if they adopted all the automation technology currently available. “Margin pressure has made automation a requirement, not a choice,” McKinsey said in a report last year. Retailers said their robot designs were not explicitly meant to assuage angst about job losses. Still, companies of all sizes — from Carrefour in Spain to Schnucks supermarket in St. Louis — are investing in tens of thousands of friendly looking robots that are quickly upending human work. Most of the retail robots have just enough human qualities to make them appear benign but not too many to suggest they are replacing humans entirely. “It’s like Mary Poppins,” said Peter Hancock, a professor at the University of Central Florida who has studied the history of automation. “A spoonful of sugar makes the robots go down.” Related Articles Colorado small businesses able to tap billions in stimulus money for forgivable loans Electric scooter brands Lyft, Spin offering free rides in Denver to health care workers in April Reduce crew sizes, focus on “truly critical” activities: Colorado updates guidance for construction work during coronavirus pandemic Farm-to-table operations now taking an online farm-to-public approach in the age of coronavirus Outdoor Retailer cancels summer show in Denver because of coronavirus Perhaps no other retailer is dealing as intensely with the sensitivities around automation as Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, with about 1.5 million workers. The company spent many months working with the firm Bossa Nova and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to design a shelf-scanning robot that it hopes both employees and customers will feel comfortable with. This robot was designed without a face because its developers did not want customers to think they could interact with the device. But many of the robots have names, given to them by store staff. Some also wear name badges. “We want the associates to have an attachment to it and want to protect it,” said Sarjoun Skaff, a co-founder and the chief technology officer at Bossa Nova. Walmart said it planned to deploy the robots in 1,000 stores by the end of the year, up from about 350. At the Walmart Supercenter in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, on the Pennsylvania border, employees named the robot WALL-E — a choice partly inspired by the Pixar film that depicts a trash-collecting robot on a deserted planet. The robot can work 365 days a year, scanning shelves with high-resolution cameras tabulating out-of-stock items. It takes a short break between shifts to recharge its batteries in a docking station. WALL-E completes its route with no assistance from humans, except when it becomes stuck on the rug in the pharmacy section. When this happens, the store manager, Tom McGowan, gets an alert on his phone, sometimes in the middle of the night. He then calls the store to tell someone to free the robot. McGowan said that he referred to WALL-E as a he but that other employees thought of the robot as a she. “I’ll say, ‘Where is he at?’” McGowan said. “But they say, ‘Where is she at?’” Tally, a robot that cruises the aisles of Giant Eagle grocery stores in Pennsylvania and Ohio, has digital cartoonlike eyes that blink but perform no actual function. A blue computer screen flashes messages informing customers what the robot is doing: “Stock check!” Jeff Gee, a co-founder of Simbe Robotics, the firm that developed Tally, said the eyes were meant to help customers feel comfortable with the device, particularly in areas of the country “where a lot of people have never experienced robots in the wild before.” Simbe is short for Simulated Being. A spokeswoman said the company’s mission was to “foster a harmonious relationship between robots and humans.” One of Simbe’s biggest financial backers is Venrock, a firm which was founded as the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family. Some robots, the tech companies say, are blending seamlessly into the stores. Walmart and malls operated by the Simon Property Group are using self-driving floor scrubbers that have a steering wheel, a cushy seat and even a cup holder — features that give the impression that these scrubbers are meant for humans settling in for a long shift of floor washing with a coffee at their side. The scrubber can be driven manually to set the routes it will take through the store. Then, a worker needs only to touch a screen, and the device takes off on its own. About 80% of the time, there is no human at the wheel. Before deploying the device in stores, Brain Corp, the San Diego firm that developed the device, tested customer reactions to a driverless machine. The humans, the company learned, were not missed. “The biggest reaction we got” to the driverless machine, said Phil Duffy, Brain Corp’s vice president of product management, “is no reaction at all.” Retailers say the robots are good for their workers. They free up employees from mundane and sometimes injury-prone jobs like unloading delivery trucks to focus on more fulfilling tasks like helping customers. At the Walmart Supercenter in Phillipsburg, some workers have put their personal touches on automation that’s changing their jobs. The store’s newly installed FAST unloader automatically sorts boxes arriving at the store and reduced the number of workers needed to empty a delivery truck from eight to four. The task now takes employees about two-thirds the time it used to, springing them from the often sweltering confines of the back room to spend time ferrying inventory out to the aisles and dealing with customers. Walmart says the new unloader has reduced turnover in the back room. The employees named the unloader Grover and placed a plush blue puppy on top of it as a kind of mascot. “It’s the way of the world,” said Lori Vogelin, who works in the back room in Phillipsburg. Automation has not yet reduced Walmart’s overall workforce, but executives acknowledge that the number of positions in the stores will eventually decline through attrition. The company says it was retraining many of its employees to work in its e-commerce and health care businesses or even helping them prepare for jobs outside Walmart. “There is never going to be this great cataclysm of job loss,” Hancock, the University of Central Florida professor, said. “It is going to be death by a thousand cuts or death by a thousand robots.” Throughout history, Hancock said, workers have attacked technologies when they feel threatened, like the 19th-century Luddites, who destroyed machinery in textile mills. “If you push too hard, too far, people transfer their anger to the technology, and they revolt,” he said. Sorg, who has worked at Giant for 14 years, isn’t worried. At first, she was unsure how her bosses would react to the googly eyes. But the robot’s developers at Badger Technologies loved them. A spokeswoman for Badger said one of the supermarket’s executives remarked that robot reminded him of an employee named Marty, who was “tall, thin, reserved and not very emotional.” Since then, the robot has been known as Marty. While others might worry about robots taking jobs, Sorg said: “I haven’t put much thought into it. I am just fascinated by the whole thing.” For Halloween, she dressed up as Marty to go trick-or-treating with her grandchildren. Last month, Stop & Shop celebrated Marty’s first anniversary with a series of parties at its stores around the Northeast. The company said the parties were partly a chance for Stop & Shop to explain to customers how robots are improving the cleanliness of its aisles. Marty is equipped with sensors that detect spills and then trigger an automated announcement over the store’s loudspeaker beckoning employees to clean up the mess. At the many “Marty Parties,” there were sheet cakes decorated with the robot’s signature eyes and goody bags containing robots fashioned from juice boxes and applesauce containers. An older customer in Newburgh, New York, brought the robot a can of WD-40 lubricant as a gift. In Queens and on Long Island, children made cards, drew pictures and composed poems for Marty. “Wishing you a Happy First Birthday,” one young customer wrote to the robot. “May you have many more.”
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