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Certain elections balloon beyond their candidates, embodying the central tensions of the political moment. Right now, that race is the Republican primary for an Ohio Senate seat. As they say, it’s one to watch.
The question dogging the race isn’t whether the GOP is the party of Donald Trump (spoiler: it is). The Ohio contest, the writer Clare Malone points out, is a test of which style of Trumpism voters find most palatable.
The race is an experiment in bridging the old GOP with the new. “Whether Ohio Republican voters want the party’s new Trump ideology to be in-your-face loud or laundered through the bland language and bad suits of Styrofoam-cup coffee klatches remains to be seen,” Malone writes.
That means J. D. Vance, of Hillbilly Elegy fame, is backpedaling. The venture capitalist is flip-flopping on some anti-Trump statements he made in the past. Tom Nichols argues that he’s completely lost his moral compass.
The news in three sentences:
(1) The Delta variant is behind the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States, the CDC reports. (2) The Capital Gazette shooter is criminally responsible for the death of five people, a jury found. (3) An 18-year-old will join Jeff Bezos (and Wally Funk) on a trip to space next week.
One question, answered: Is it safe to take my unvaccinated child to a splash pad this summer?
Our deputy managing editor Rachel Gutman reports:
Splash pads, also known as spray pools or interactive fountains, are a delight in the dog days of city summers, but also notorious for spreading germs. The water in many splash pads is recycled, and might carry bits of fecal matter from small children wearing diapers or sitting on water jets. The CDC has warned that swallowing the water in splash pads (which, let’s face it, is pretty hard to avoid if you’re less than 4 feet tall) can make kids sick with diarrhea. But the agency hasn’t offered any specific guidance about splash pads and the coronavirus.
A CDC spokesperson told me via email, “There is no evidence that splash pads pose a greater COVID-19 risk to children than pools or other playgrounds.” William Schaffner, a professor of infectious disease and health policy at Vanderbilt University, agreed: “COVID is not considered a fecal-oral disease,” he wrote in an email.
Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and dean at the Baylor College of Medicine, pointed out that at least one small study found that fecal-aerosol transmission (yep, it’s what you think it is) might have caused an outbreak in a Chinese apartment building. But given that splash pads are outdoors, you can probably worry less about COVID-19, and more about keeping your kid’s mouth off the fountain.
Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:
World happiness rankings don’t tell us much about what brings people joy, but they do offer a few distinct models for well-being. Figure out which one drives your own happiness.
A break from the news:
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