Summer at Covid Camp

Listen to this episode

S1: The following program may contain language that is explicit and by explicit, I mean implicitly Nottie words.

S2: It’s Tuesday, June 9th, 2020.

S3: From Slate’s The Gist, I’m Mike Pesca. Our president, Donald J. Trump began the day by suggesting that Catholic peace activist Martin Gugino either Lord Buffalo police into pushing him expertly staged a police pushing for. Hear me out now. Springing up from the ground where he was lying in what appeared to be a pool of blood, convinced Buffalo police officers to walk backwards and played the entire clip in reverse to fool us all. Well, us all.

Advertisement

S4: Except for the savvy, savvy president who blamed Dan TFR and cited the reporting of the One America News Network or own a network that is made in and exists to promote the image of Donald Trump. So a cell phone, if you will, the tweet Buffalo protester shoved by police could be an antifa provocateur or he fell harder than was pushed was aiming scanner. Could be a setup. Really doesn’t do justice to just how insane the theory is. Here is the own clip that set Trump off. It is reported by one Christian Rose.

S5: A new report finds the latest tensions of the Buffalo police departments could be a result of a false flag provocation by far left group identified according to the conservative Tree House Saturday, 75 year old protester Martin Goode Chino, shivved by the Buffalo police at last week’s protest, is a well-known activist bragging on social media about far left views.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: My God, you always heard that Russian bots were pushing news at us. You just didn’t think that one would identify himself by a human name in a cable news clip.

S5: In addition, the seventy five year old has been referred to as an agitator, was supposedly using the technology. It’s a blackout’s police communications. That’s, however, didn’t quite work. And many Buffalo police officers support their embattled colleagues.

S4: He has been described, in fact, by Christian Rose, who shoved that description down our throats.

S3: And I don’t think he means embattled. I think he means something closer to girded for, engaged in or causing battle. Where do you serve, son?

Advertisement

S4: The battle of Martin Gugino, sir. I don’t like to talk about it during a Purple Heart. I’ll order a Lenine for Trump. This is not a new low. This is in fact just another variation on these same low. Sadly, Martin Gugino is still in the hospital after sustaining that head injury. Strangely, President Trump is not on the show today. How Bill de Blasio weighs in on police violence.

S3: The mayor says no more. Wait, sorry. He actually says something closer to Benjamin Moore. But first, with a new rise in Reporting’s of Koven 19 in places like the Carolinas, but also sufficient plateauing such that we now have Las Vegas open, we’re asked what’s permissible and what’s not. And especially what about the children?

Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: I’m joined by economist Emily Oster from Brown University, where we discuss summer camps, parental shaming and how to accurately assess risk, even if it involves your own project.

S6: Let me play a quote on you. I have learned that to be with those I like is enough. Now, the reason I say that quote is it was made by Walt Whitman and my kids go to a camp near Camp Walt Whitman. Or do they? That is the question. They like camp enough. In fact, they love those at camp. For me and my family, going to camp is extremely important. It’s one of the important things about kids and the pandemic and all the choices we make that are related to cost benefit analysis. The absolute perfect person to talk about this is Professor Emily Oster, who’s been on the just before talking about her book Crib Sheet. She also wrote Expecting Better, basically as her kids age. She thinks about economic issues around the children and writes a book about it. She’s a professor of economics at Brown University and has been doing a lot of writing on Cove at 19. Hello, Professor Oster. Hi. Thanks for having me on. Would it be funny if I were to say and the best person to talk about this is Emily Oster? Unfortunately, we couldn’t book her. But no, here we got some other guy. Woo hoo!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: So let’s just start with camp. And this is not going to be a solipsistic exercise in justifying my priors. But here’s how I see it. Kids do get the virus, but they get it. Yes, I know there’s some inflammatory Kawasaki like disease showing up here and there, but they get it in less serious ways than adults do. And the big problem with kids getting it is what if they spread it? But if all the kids are alone in an island of kids were the only adults or, you know, in their early 20s, it’s not, in fact, a best case scenario. People looking at camp like can re risk it. I look at it like, can we not?

Advertisement

S7: Yeah, it’s it’s super interesting. So I have in some ways the same instinct and many people have expressed that to me that basically like, why don’t we just ship all the kids off to sleepaway summer camp and they can ologists, you know, effect each other and then they won’t have, as you said, most kids, a very mild illness. And then we’ll kind of be be done with that. I’m not sure that’s how everyone is seeing it. But, you know, you are not the only person who’s ever expressed that sentiment to me.

S6: Wow. OK. I thought I would be a unique flower. But is it a smart sentiment? I mean, what are they if you don’t want to send your kid to a camp in that situation, don’t. But what are the pitfalls of that?

Advertisement

S7: Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, I think you’re sort of you’re right. We sort of start from the place of most kids have mild have mild infection. Kids can get sick, you know, and they can get quite sick. That is something to think about. You know, you send your kid off and then have them be sick somewhere else. And camps will need some way to deal with the fact that, you know, more kids are going to have respiratory illness probably than in a typical summer. And I think there is a real risk and it’s going to come up as we think about camps and think about schools. You are there definitely are risks to older people involved in camps. You said, you know, most the people were there in their early 20s. That’s true. But not everybody. And so just like we worry when we’re thinking about schools, about the teachers and about administrators, we’re gonna have the same kinds of concerns at camp. So I think that’s a lot of what’s that’s a lot of what’s been coming up in these conversations, I think.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Yeah, it seems to me that that’s a better argument. I mean, it’s true. But if anyone has it is immunocompromised or has other co morbidity or is in their 40s or 50s. When I say they don’t have to go. I don’t mean that cruelly. It’s different from saying a public school teacher doesn’t have to go right now. None of those people will be drawing a salary anyway. So I see it as a much different calculation. And add on to this that the idea that most camps, if they do help, if any camps do open and some camps in the south, I heard, are they’ll be testing beforehand. They’re actually trying to keep the corona virus out as best they can. It also seems plausible to me that that can happen.

Advertisement

S7: Yeah, the thing you said that I really agree with is I think this is a great opportunity to test how things are going to go. We’re going to think about opening schools in the fall. A lot of you look at we’ll just wait. You know, we won’t have anything in the summer and then we’ll wait to open the fall. Like, your plan is to, like, learn nothing over the summer and then all of a sudden send, you know, 60 million kids back to school in September. That’s insane. You know, camp is actually an opportunity to learn something about how much transmission there is. Right. So I hope that when some of these camps open, they will actually be doing some testing. We’ll sort of find out, like, do a lot of kids spread the virus amongst each other? It feels pretty low stakes as a way to learn it relative to school, especially since the adult population is just much lower risk on average.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Yeah. I think people are just employing this heuristic, which is general kids. We need to protect them and they are and they spread germs without even knowing it. But the environment and the background is very different from camp in school. I would say just about everything I’ve said about camp literally does not apply to school. Like we shouldn’t experiment. We can’t force adults to take part in it. It’s not true that if they get the symptoms, they’ll be contained amongst themselves. It’s a totally different calculus.

S7: As a matter of fact, any experimenting is much different. Right. Even if you think about your it kind of talking about sleep away camp, but you think about something like daycare, like let’s say we open day camps and a bunch of kids go and then, you know, we. Carefully. And, you know, people start to get sick. We can just shut down the day camps, like we can just be like, I’m sorry. This week there’s no camp. Sorry. That’s too bad. And of course, like that would be very frustrating. But that is completely different than saying in October, OK. Everybody’s out of school again. Right. And so just like the veil, like opportunity to experiment in like just that. It’s so much of a lower stakes environment. I kind of think we have to I think it’s a little bit irresponsible not to try to do some of that this summer.

S1: I think you’re right and I don’t blame my fellow humans. But in general, I find that, you know, knowledge works like this. First we find out big general things and we make big pronouncements, kind of black and white pronouncements. So maybe one of the general things. I mean, this goes back as far as, you know, what happens when you get infected with a cut or how does a car work? You get the big general rules and then you can learn nuance. So it’s a pandemic. It is true that, for instance, asymptomatic carriers cannot have it and spread it. That’s absolutely true. And early on, before we really knew much about it, that was true enough. That’s kind of all we needed to know. But as we go on and we learn new things that, for instance, the asymptomatic carriers don’t spread it as much as the other carriers. And if you get it from someone with a low viral load, you might have a low viral load and have immunity. And it seems like we’re not sufficiently updating our knowledge, being humble about it, but we’re not sufficiently updating our knowledge to, you know, perfectly serve the public interest. We’re retreating on just broad truths instead of the more refined truths that we have been learning.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: For me, what’s particularly costly about that is actually now we are doing a lot of reopening. Many places are starting to like open restaurants, open, you know, hairlines, open, all this other stuff. And somehow it feels like we need this sort of nuance in terms of using all of our understanding about what are the riskiest activities, what are less risky activities. We need that to process like which of these things should I do? And yet somehow all the information we’d have as well, like things are risky. OK. But like you’re telling me, I should go to that. Should I go to the gym? Like, I, I. I don’t know how to make that decision because two weeks ago you told me, never leave your house and now you’re telling me it’s cool to go to the gym and somehow, like what? You know, what has changed? How can I understand what has changed it to sort of think about what I should change?

S1: And it seems to me, does it seem to you that the do correlate between if we open up is not. How much have we understood the risk of that particular enterprise? But the thing that more correlates to is what is the general attitude of the person in charge of opening up to begin with? So, you know, the governor of Georgia is Mr. Open Up. Why? Because of the facts? No. Because he’s Mr. Open Up. And maybe the mayor of New York City is Mr.. Keep it closed down. Why? Because of the facts? No. Because that’s just his general orientation.

S7: Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, I think there’s relatively little like fact based, fact based decision making. Actually, one of the things that’s so great. So I live in Rhode Island and one of the best things about Rhode Island is that the governor is actually pretty into facts. And so when she talks about reopening, she’s like, OK, here is the metric. Like, we can’t have more than 30 hosp new hospitalizations a day every day. She’s like, this is how many new hospitalizations we had. This is how many positive tests we had, like, you know. Here’s what we’re gonna do next. And she’s sort of trying to move slowly. And so even though I really just want camps to open, I sort of appreciate the like, fact based, slow moving aspect of this that Gina has brought to the table.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: I, I also I’m in a weird position where because my kids camp is in New Hampshire and the governor there actually a few Republican governors in New England. But Governor Sununu is kind of the most trumpy of them. And this is the one incident that might benefit me. He’s the trouble. But, you know, for once in the last three years, that actually might redound to my benefit if New Hampshire allows camps to open.

S7: Yeah, well, you know, there are some in Maine that Maine has allowed some of them to open. It’s interesting to see. So somebody sent me like one of the protocols the other day. So, you know, there’s like you get it, you know, they’re basically sending kids a test to take it home and then they will test them again when they get to camp. So, you know, there’s a there’s a kind of there’s a thoughtful way to think about doing this, not dissimilar from how I think universities will think about doing it if they open in the fall. Fair amount of testing and surveillance.

S1: I read crib sheet and I know most of your writing and the through line is that people are so cautious about anything having to do with parenting. And also there’s a shame based part of it. So there’s a lot of irrationality. There’s a lot of defensiveness. There’s a lot of if I don’t do this, I’m a bad parent. Do you see a lot of that going on in the calculations regarding the pandemic and how children should be affected?

S7: Yeah. I mean, I think it goes beyond how kids can be affected, but I think it is in the same it’s in the same kind of space of sort of there there’s there’s one piece of it which is just like the extreme caution around kids. You know, and so when this stuff came out about, you know, there are a small number of cases of this inflammatory syndrome. People freaked out and we’re like, OK, we can never let kids out of the house again because, you know, there’s 100 people who have had this thing. And you’ve got to take a step back and be like, you know, actually like the overall risk to kids from this is really, really low. And, you know, yes, the serious thing could happen. But that’s also true of, you know, the flu. I mean, that’s true of like other other things that that can happen. So I think there was there’s sort of some of that which I see a lot in parenting in other kind of risk taking in parenting. I think there’s also a sort of performative piece of some of the covert avoidance, which is sort of like who can isolate the best, like who can be the best, the most extreme form of isolation. And, you know, I think that that was particularly true early on. But even as things have started to reopen, you know, I’m a little bit out there, kind of like you saying, you know, OK. Like camp opens, like I’m going to send my kids. And definitely some of the things I hear, like, you know, well, it’s your social responsibility never to let your kids out of the house, because what if they in fact, that somebody and I think that, you know, there’s a there’s a balance there which goes different ways for different people, I guess.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: And there’s also a shaming thing, shaming.

S1: There’s issues of judge mental illness and there’s a shaming with both. There’s so much shaming with parenting and there’s so much shaming with anything having to do with getting out of lockdown during this pandemic.

S7: So, you know, it also goes together. Actually, somebody like shamed my sister in law for not putting a mask on her two year old at the park the other day. It’s like a combo combo covered parents shame.

S6: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like wrestling a greased snake. Why don’t you try putting a mask on a two year old lady? Yeah. You’re not supposed to put mass on to whatever it’s like. No, you got to do.

S1: What are the things you’re writing about? It’s not just what’s the risk? What’s the reward? You write a lot about framework, which is sort of to take a step back and say, think about what you’re really thinking about. Right?

S7: Yeah. So I think I the kind of key point that I’ve been trying to make to some people about a lot of these kind of choices are that that it can be very hard to even frame the question, but that that should be like your first step in a lot of things is think about like what is the choice that I’m making? Like, am I choosing my kids? Go to camp. It’s not really enough to say should my kids go to camp or not without being like, what do you mean or not like. Or they do what like they wander the streets. They hit each other with sticks. Your parents take care of them. You quit your job like there probably is some alternative. But I think we’re often particularly now thinking about like, should I go out or not without being like okay but. Or not means what? Like when would you be going out and in what way? And I think that that that framing it like that is often a much easier way to actually make decisions. Because if you don’t do that, then how can you even contemplate what the question is?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Yeah, my kids are actually going to a stick fighting camp if they if the summer camp doesn’t open up. So that’s an end. Yes. And instead of an or not. But you were also writing about this in terms of visiting the elderly, the framing how to what the proper framing for that.

S7: So visiting the elderly, I think, is some of the hardest stuff that people are thinking about because everybody wants their kids to see their grandparents and the elderly are really high risk. So unlike in sort of the some of these conversations about kids where you can say, you know, well, maybe kids could spread it, but they themselves are not so much at risk. You know, your if your parents are 18 and have compromised immune system, they are like a lot of risk. You know, the mortality rates of this, we don’t exactly know how they are, but I think we know that they’re pretty high. And so, you know, I’ve been sort of targeted as we’re trying to write to people about and write about, like how do you mitigate that risk? You know, what’s the safest way to do this? Should you think about quarantining before you see your parents? You know, after you see your parents, like. Should you meet them outside? How you know, how do you think about that risk? But at the same time, like trying to encourage people to think about some of the benefits and so some of the like most heartbreaking stuff that people have written to me in this. You know, somebody wrote to me like I’m you know, my daughter will let me see by my grandkid cause I’m you know, she’s afraid I’m going to get sick. And like, I understand this, but I sometimes think I would rather be dead than not get to see my grandkids. And, you know, it’s like there are real losses on both sides, which I think we are we are not always really thinking enough about.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Well, I started with Walt Whitman, Kyoto, and with one I liked the scientific spirit, the holding off, the being sure, but not too sure the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them. This is ultimately fine. Yes.

S7: Wow. He nailed it. I feel like Walt Whitman was like I feel like maybe he lived and maybe he was in the pit in traffic. Maybe that thing goes off codes. They’re pretty good.

S1: These are pretty good quotes because he also said God is a mean spirited, pugnacious bully bent on revenge against his children.

S6: Well, OK, go. Yeah, well, you know, some evidence for that, too. Could be good.

S1: And we ask there is a professor of economics at Brown University. Her books are crib sheet and expecting better. She also has a couple of great newsletters. Including her sub stack and something called Explain Kovik dot org, which may be called also, Koven explained. But go to explain Kova Dawg, great writing there.

S7: Thanks so much, Amila. Thank you so much for having me.

S8: And a postscript and not a good one for the Pascha lads. New Hampshire announced plans to open, but their particular camp could not meet the requirements. Too many staffers have to travel there by airplane. The number of kids and counselors in the bunk wouldn’t provide adequate staffing. So it looks like summer camp is now us.

S3: And now the spiel I’ve finally figured out, Bill de Blasio. I mean, it the thing that frustrated me about the New York mayor was, wow. A lot of his policies and statements, but mostly my confusion. I just didn’t understand how it was that he was this guy who is a liberal guy elected to a liberal city, and he pursued a liberal agenda. And yet everyone seems to hate him. Was it that some of those very liberals are actually more should be fairly liberals or somewhat liberals? And there was a mismatch in politician, constituency and agenda for a while I thought that must be it. But then I read a little paragraph and I got it. It hit me. It was in Jonathan Bernstein’s excellent Bloomberg newsletter, Early Returns, where he quotes the current political scientist, Seth Masket, and the late political science professor, Eminence Richard Fenno. And the discussion was photo ops. Here’s Bernstein writing for me. This ties back to the concept of representation. Politicians promise to act in certain ways and even to be a certain person if elected. And making good on those promises may entail things such as what they wear, what they eat, who they appear with and more. Those sorts of pledges are potentially just as important as policy promises, and maybe more so, depending mainly on the representational relationship between politician and constituent. That’s it. De Blasio, his promise was very much up to the barricades. Let’s take on the system. Bernie Sanders acolyte type vow. But the representations of said policy stances are just off or even 180 degrees from what they should be daily trips by SUV to work out in a gym miles from his Gracie Mansion residents. The upbraiding of activists and journalists who seemingly champion his world view, not showing respect for those he presumably seeks to honor by being late for every funeral, wreath laying rally and ribbon cutting. He ever put on his own schedule. And then when you think you’ve figured him out, OK, maybe he’s not the leftist that people thought he was or that he acts like rhetorically. Maybe he’s really more moderate. He then swerves directly into the raised fist in the air lane, and he does so often through symbols or the misuse of symbols. So after taking time to defend police who rammed cars through demonstrators and used tear gas and batons against what seemed like lawfully assembled protesters. De Blasio backtracked and said, no, they should be investigated. Today, he announced this initiative. The mayor, clearly jealous of Washington D.c.’s Municipal Undertaking, announced that he would be taking back the streets, at least graphically speaking.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: The proposal put on table is to name streets in each borough and to paint the words on the streets of this city.

S3: And those words are Black Lives Matter. Now rechristening streets, at least temporarily, with a statement of solidarity, it absolutely could be comforting or rousing to activists. True. And it did come from a meeting with community leaders that the mayor described this way.

S9: Conversation that everyone involved thought should be different, should be something done truly, mutually. Not about photo ops, not about something superficial, but something essential.

S3: Okay. He did talk about actual reforms taken up by the city council like a ban on chokeholds that he now says he’s behind. He wasn’t once, but it is the street painting that got a lot of attention. Will it make a difference? Well, you have to realize that in New York City, streets on a block by block basis are not painted, but are often named renamed after New Yorkers who the city wishes to honor. And so many, many of these streets are named in remembrance and praise of police officers. Traverse the city and you’ll come across Hector Fontana’s place. Chelina Renison Gay Way, Michael Riedy Pathway, Lieutenant Frederico Nevarez, Tot Lot, Officer Thomas Ruotolo Corner. There are all police officers. They all died in the line of duty or at least met untimely deaths. Several were shot by suspects, but Joseph C. Meeters Avenue was named for an officer who was killed when struck by an oil delivery truck while performing patrol duties on a scooter ran a singer who I mentioned was killed in the line of duty in an accident in which he was struck by a street cleaning truck in Manhattan while writing parking tickets. Police Officer William Rivera died as a result of injuries he sustained when he fell 20 feet from a fire escape while pursuing a burglary suspect.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S10: There’s Detective David Allen Way. David Allen died in a tragic accident while cleaning his service revolver. I came across this honoree, Keith A. Ferguson was street named after him. He served with this from the official description. He served with the NYPD for 17 years. He was on patrol in lower Manhattan as part of the NYPD anti-terrorism unit. When he heard a foot patrol officer calling for assistance in chasing a suspect when running to assist the officer in the chase, Sergeant Ferguson suffered a heart attack and died. That sounds sad, but it certainly sounds heroic. He was fighting terrorism, but actually he wasn’t fighting terrorism at the time. As press accounts make clear, that’s not what the suspect in this case was suspected of. Ferguson died chasing a man selling fake brand name watches. It’s sad. It’s all sad. I’m not mocking him, not belittling. I am thanking these police officers who gave their lives and should be remembered. I’m not advocating for taking their names off the signs. Then again, there’s no chance that will ever happen. The city has a deep commitment to remembering every slain police officer, every accidentally killed police officer, even police officers killed by his or her own hand. It’s kind of a death cult. I realize all societies go to lengths to honor the fallen so that others who serve will be motivated to see themselves in this noble tradition. But they also begin to see their profession as embattled. Perhaps under siege and is dangerous and keeping alive all these memories of those who died often 20 or 30 years ago when the city was much less safe. Probably does serve to convey the message that patrolling today is terribly, terribly dangerous. I’m OK. It is a lot more dangerous than podcasting, but it’s also less dangerous than it ever has been in the history of the department. There are signs on New York streets honoring humanitarians who have nothing to do with policing, honoring civil rights activists, honoring victims of police brutality. You can find yourself on Amadou Diallo place in the Bronx. He’s the man who shot 19 times by the NYPD for reaching for a wallet. Honoring names serve essentially the same functions as gravestones. They keep the past alive in a specific way, and they tell specific stories or reflect specific priorities of the people who decide on those names. Black Lives Matter reflects this moment, and it is or actually should be entirely uncontroversial, just an assertion that doesn’t actually work its way into the fiber of a community. Like dozens or possibly hundreds of these street names. But the mayor clearly thinks he’s creating a beautiful, unifying gesture. What I think he may be doing is avoiding what could be a more forceful statement. By rethinking those street names, also, he’s not thinking ahead. What happens when the original coat of paint fades? What happens if it gets defaced? Who do you send to enforce that particular quality of life crime? It’s not a photo op, but of course, it is an unpaired with substantive reform. It will be an unsatisfying photo op at that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S11: And that’s it for Today Show, Margaret Kelly is the just associate producer. She believes Miss Colombia may have suddenly packed on the pounds in order to beat Trump into insulting her. It’s all part of an Antifa slash FAQ plot to embarrass our president. Daniel Shrader, just producer, is tracking down the theory that Twitter might not just be auto correcting Trump, but auto generating ridiculous tweets. It’s part of Project Co FFA codenamed Hamburger, All a PSYOPS mission. Details have left the gist. You can find me on the corner of Save the Whales Have. And Hey, hey, ho ho. Single use plastics have got to go. Parklike Adepero Dupere. And thanks for listening.