It’s Monday, April 14. In today’s newsletter: The Democrats’ improbable victory in the Wisconsin judicial election. Plus: The pandemic isn’t Pearl Harbor or 9/11. It isn’t a hurricane or a wildfire.
(MORRY GASH / AP)
In Wisconsin, Democrats somehow score a decisive victory.
The conditions for last week’s election in Wisconsin were stunning. After weeks of Democratic leaders (ultimately unsuccessfully) trying to postpone the election, after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, leaving Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee, after in-person voting concluded on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 outbreak and with drastically scaled-back polling sites, Democrats got a similarly stunning political win.
Russell Berman, who’s been following this election closely, writes of today’s results:
The far more consequential race was the judicial election, and Judge Jill Karofsky’s defeat of incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly gave Democrats an important victory—delayed by nearly a week as a deluge of absentee ballots was counted—in what was essentially a trial run for the November election in the closely divided swing state.
But the bigger mystery was how it had happened at all.
In the days leading up to last Tuesday’s vote, Democrats had done all they could to call off in-person balloting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, either by switching to an all-mail election or by postponing the vote until June. Republicans had rebuffed them at every turn, insisting that the election go on as scheduled, even if it meant voters would have to risk their health—and violate a statewide stay-at-home directive—to cast a ballot at the few polling places that had enough workers to staff them. (In Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, just five out of 180 polling places were open.) When Democratic Governor Tony Evers issued a last-minute order to postpone the election, Republicans persuaded conservatives on both the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court to block him.
What happens as this pandemic spring turns into summer? Ed Yong explores the various paths the U.S. can take:
As I wrote last month, the only viable endgame is to play whack-a-mole with the coronavirus, suppressing it until a vaccine can be produced. With luck, that will take 18 to 24 months. During that time, new outbreaks will probably arise. Much about that period is unclear, but the dozens of experts whom I have interviewed agree that life as most people knew it cannot fully return. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.”
The pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. It is not comparable to Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Such disasters are confined in time and space. The SARS-CoV-2 virus will linger through the year and across the world. “Everyone wants to know when this will end,” said Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh. “That’s not the right question. The right question is: How do we continue?”
(CDC / GETTY / THE ATLANTIC)
New data from 29 states confirm the extent of the racial disparities of those dying of COVID-19, Ibram X. Kendi writes:
Over the past two weeks, each answer led to new questions. Should states be collecting racial data? Yes. Do those data show racial disparities? They do. And that led to the question Americans have been arguing over since the beginning of the republic: Why do racial disparities exist? Why are black people generally being infected and dying at higher rates than other racial groups? This is the question of the hour. And too many Americans are answering this new question in the old, familiar way. They are blaming poverty, but refusing to recognize how racism distinguishes black poverty from white poverty, and makes black poverty more vulnerable to a lethal contagion …
Without question, African Americans suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, obesity, and asthma, which make it harder for them to survive COVID-19. But if Cassidy were looking at science, then he’d also be asking: Why are African American suffering more from these chronic diseases? Why are African Americans more likely to be obese than Latinos and whites?
(Illustration: Oliver Munday; Kampus / Shutterstock)
The Atlantic’s May Cover Story
Before COVID-19 sent families across the U.S. into lockdown, our senior editor Kate Julian began reporting a story for the latest issue of our magazine about children’s declining mental health, focusing on anxiety. What she learned was alarming but also weirdly hopeful—and very relevant to this moment. The kids are not all right, but:
The good news is that new forms of treatment for children’s anxiety disorders are emerging—and, as we’ll see, that treatment can forestall a host of later problems. Even so, there is a problem with much of the anxiety about children’s anxiety, and it brings us closer to the heart of the matter. Anxiety disorders are well worth preventing, but anxiety itself is not something to be warded off. It is a universal and necessary response to stress and uncertainty. I heard repeatedly from therapists and researchers while reporting this piece that anxiety is uncomfortable but, as with most discomfort, we can learn to tolerate it.
Yet we are doing the opposite: Far too often, we insulate our children from distress and discomfort entirely. And children who don’t learn to cope with distress face a rough path to adulthood. A growing number of middle- and high-school students appear to be avoiding school due to anxiety or depression; some have stopped attending entirely. As a symptom of deteriorating mental health, experts say, “school refusal” is the equivalent of a four-alarm fire, both because it signals profound distress and because it can lead to so-called failure to launch—seen in the rising share of young adults who don’t work or attend school and who are dependent on their parents.
You can keep up with The Atlantic’s most crucial coronavirus coverage here.