- EntertainmentThe Guardian
Years after his pandemic novel, bestselling author tells CNN he is mystified that US was not better preparedIt has been four decades since Stephen King wrote The Stand, his acclaimed novel about a deadly influenza pandemic wiping out most of human civilization.So the bestselling contemporary horror novelist has difficulty understanding why authorities did not see the coronavirus crisis coming, or take the necessary precautionary steps.“Just in the last three or four weeks people are saying to me, ‘We are living in a Stephen King world,’ and boy, all I can say is I wish we weren’t,” King, who has sold an estimated 350m books worldwide, told CNN.“This has been waiting in the wings for a long, long time. I wrote The Stand about a pandemic that wipes out most of the human race, and thank God this one isn’t that bad, but I wrote that in 1979 and ever since then this has just been waiting to happen.“The fact that nobody really seemed prepared still mystifies me.”King has been outspoken in his criticism of Donald Trump’s reaction to the crisis. On Sunday he added Ron DeSantis, the Republican Florida governor, to his list of leaders he believes have underperformed. DeSantis has been under fire for not enacting a statewide shelter-in-place order and for allowing beaches to remain open, placing hordes of spring breakers at risk of infection.“It’s almost impossible to comprehend,” King said. “I remember back in the 70s when Republicans laughed at Jimmy Carter as being indecisive and wishy-washy.“The president we have now, and Ron DeSantis here in Florida, these are supposed to be go-to-it guys, the guy you want in charge when something really goes wrong because they don’t waffle, they don’t wishy-washy.”King, who has homes in Maine and Florida, continued: “You had Trump at first saying, ‘This isn’t really very serious, don’t worry, everything’s going to be OK,’ then when the stock market starts to die, when the reality of the thing hits home, he’s talking about, ‘Well, take it easy. This thing is going to be like a miracle, everything’s going to be OK by Easter and we’ll have the churches full.’“And then a couple of days later he talks about a quarantine. [New York governor] Andrew Cuomo didn’t know about it, nobody really seemed to know, it just came out of his head.”DeSantis, a fervent supporter of the president, is following suit, King believes: “I’m not sure he’s ahead of the curve, I think he’s somewhere behind it. This whole situation is a little bit like the barn door has been locked but the horse was stolen, I’m going to say, 10 days ago.”The author did have some good news for fans. Publication of his next book, If It Bleeds, has been brought forward two weeks to 28 April, to entertain self-isolating readers sooner.King noted that the new publication date would be the same as his fellow bestselling author John Grisham’s new novel, Camino Winds.“I want to talk to the publisher about maybe doing a two-for-one,” he said. “Wouldn’t that be cool, a double feature?”
- EntertainmentYahoo Celebrity UK
Elton John’s warning during coronavirus benefit: ‘There was another infectious disease that was ignored’
John’s comments divided Twitter, but everyone seemed to enjoy his guests' 'iHeart Living Room Concert for America' performances — all shot at home in the name of social distancing.
- CelebrityYahoo Lifestyle
Elizabeth Hurley shares sexy photo while in 'lockdown' with family: 'Finally washed my hair, put on some makeup'
The 54-year-old told fans she's quarantining in the countryside with family members and friends, some of whom are high-risk.
- WorldYahoo News UK
Coronavirus: Police left in 'absolute shock' after finding 25 adults and children at karaoke party despite lockdown
Derbyshire Police said its officers were left shocked after finding the gathering of 25 adults in children in Normanton, Derby, on Saturday night.
- U.S.The New York Times
WASHINGTON -- So much has changed so quickly for Joseph Palma that he barely recognizes his life.On Tuesday last week, he was going to work, helping passengers in the customs area of the Miami airport. The next day, he was laid off without severance or benefits. Five days later, he moved back in with his 59-year-old mother, loading his bed and his clothes into the back of his friend's pickup truck.Now he is staring at his bank account -- totaling about $3,100 -- and waiting on hold for hours at a time with the unemployment office, while cursing at its crashing website."I'm feeling scared," said Palma, who is 41 and nervous about the $15,000 in medical debt he has from two recent hospital stays. "I don't know what's the ending. But I know I'm not in good shape."For the millions of Americans who found themselves without a job in recent weeks, the sharp and painful change brought a profound sense of disorientation. They were going about their lives, bartending, cleaning, managing events, waiting tables, loading luggage and teaching yoga. And then suddenly they were in free fall, grabbing at any financial help they could find, which in many states this week remained locked away behind crashing websites and overloaded phone lines."Everything has changed in a matter of minutes -- seconds," said Tamara Holtey, 29, an accountant for an industrial services company in the Houston area, who was on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, as the coronavirus outbreak intensified in the United States and was laid off on her second day back at work.Now she spends her days applying for jobs online from her home in Alvin, Texas, while she and her wife weigh whether to delay paying their mortgage for a month or two -- only to have to pay more in interest."It's just a constant thought in my head: Am I going to lose my house? Am I going to lose everything?" she said. They had been talking about starting to have children, but "that's on pause now."In 17 interviews with people in eight states across the country, Americans who lost their jobs said they were in shock and struggling to grasp the magnitude of the economy's shutdown, an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Unlike the last economic earthquake, the financial crisis of 2008, this time there was no getting back out there to look for work, not when people were being told to stay inside. What is more, the layoffs affected not just them, but their spouses, their parents, their siblings and their roommates -- even their bosses."I don't think anyone expected it to be like this," said Mark Kasanic, 48, a server at a brasserie in Cleveland who was one of roughly 300 workers that a locally owned restaurant company laid off last week. Now he is home-schooling his children, ages 5 and 7, one with special needs.Julian Bruell was one of those who had to deliver the bad news to hourly employees like Kasanic. Bruell, 30, who helps run the company with his father, said that only about 30 employees are left running takeout and delivery at two of its five restaurants. He has not been earning a salary, his goal being to keep the business afloat through the crisis."If it's going to July this may not be sustainable," he said. "I just want us to have a future."On Thursday, he was planning to file for unemployment himself.In many states, that has been its own wild odyssey. Kasanic said he had spent hours dialing and redialing four Ohio numbers: three wound through a maze of messages that ended with a dead line and a fourth was always busy. His strategy now is to call at four in the morning."Getting through is nearly impossible," he said. "I probably tried calling over 100 times to try to get a hold of somebody."Going online has not been any easier."I've gone on their website and the site would crash or pages would disappear," he said.He still has not gotten through. But he is trying.Many described a feeling of sudden economic helplessness that did not match how they saw themselves. In the space of two weeks, Olivia Fernandes, 26, and her husband, Fabio, both fitness instructors in Miami, went from earning $77,000 a year to frantically trying to file for unemployment online.Now everything is on hold as the couple, who married three years ago, scramble to figure out their newly unemployed world -- from next month's student loan payment to the long-planned vacation to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where Olivia Fernandes would have met her in-laws for the first time."We watched it all collapse," Olivia Fernandes said. "We looked at each other and said, 'Oh, my God, we have lost it all.'"Before the outbreak, they had used much of their savings to chip away at student loans. Their health insurance coverage runs out at the end of March. Rent is due April 1, and their landlord has made it clear that no extensions will be granted. By Olivia Fernandes' calculations, they will have almost nothing left after April's bills. Wearing gloves, they left their home to apply to Whole Foods and Target, but were then told to apply online.Whether to opt for a high-risk job has turned into a common subject of conversation.Scott Yates, 42, who was indefinitely furloughed from his job as a head bartender in one of the busiest and largest hotels in Charleston, West Virginia, said he and his wife had decided not to, even though it seemed that Walmart, Sam's Club and Kroger were "hiring left and right.""It's not worth a $13-an-hour job coming home and infecting my family -- and then who else does that spiderweb to?" said Yates, who has two teenagers, and Friday got his last paycheck, which was about half of what he normally makes with tips.The last days of work came suddenly, and had a dreamlike quality. Spring Drake, 30, an events manager at a large hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, said cancellations swept her department like a wave beginning around March 9 -- first a large snack industry conference, then one by an aviation association. By week's end, its book of business was almost entirely gone and employees were told they would be working only four days a week. On March 17, four out of five event managers were furloughed. One stayed on to handle the remaining cancellations.The normally bustling hotel was unrecognizable. She said the lights had been turned off in the main banquet hall to conserve energy."It was eerie almost," said Drake, who lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina. "It was real silent. It was nothing but the bones of the hotel."When asked what she would compare it to, she could only think of a television show: "You ever seen 'The Walking Dead'?"Sometimes there was sweet with the bitter. Maggie Johnston, a waitress, was nervous about losing her job at Joe's Inn, a popular neighborhood restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. She had turned 60 a few days before, and did not have a lot saved. On the last night the restaurant was open to diners, a customer came up and slipped her a $20 bill with a note attached: "This is for when times get tough."Someone started a GoFundMe for the employees. On Friday it stood at $17,000. She has received several checks in the mail, including one from a name she did not recognize. Her landlord has agreed to let her pay just half her rent until she starts work again."I'm humbled," she said Thursday. "Even though I lost my job after 20 years, it could be so much worse."Severe economic collapse, something like war, can bring changes so sudden that there is no time to adapt. Melissa Dellapasta, 45, was setting up a meal for executives of the Cleveland Indians on March 12 when everyone seemed to just get up and leave. An announcement had come: Baseball was postponed indefinitely. She has not worked since."Maybe they'll open in April," said Dellapasta on Thursday, what would have been opening day for Major League Baseball. Her employer runs the concessions and caters the meals at the ballpark where the Indians play. "Nobody has any idea. But I have no paycheck."For now, as far as rent and food, she is OK because her boyfriend is still working. He has a job at an Amazon warehouse. But they are nervous about his safety."There are all these new people who got hired when the restaurants shut down," she said. "He can work overtime but he says he's scared. He doesn't want to be in the warehouse with all those people and get it and bring it home and give it to me. Yes, we could use the money but you can't risk it."Young parents said they now understood the extreme stress their parents experienced when they had been laid off, a mood they mistook as just another bout of grown-up grumpiness.Nawaz Haraish, 26, said that when his mother lost her job in 2012 she was suddenly home all day and "super stressed" all the time.He understands her now. Last week Haraish lost his job as a curbside assistance worker at Terminal 4 of John F. Kennedy Airport. He is deeply worried about providing for his daughters, ages 2 and 4, who he called "my two sweethearts." He said his first destination after leaving the airport the day he was let go was the store, to buy diapers and wipes."I'm hoping the unemployment money will start coming in," said Haraish, who lives in Richmond Hil in the New York borough of Queens. He said he sometimes watched YouTube videos as a distraction. One was about how to cope with anxiety. "Other than that I can't tell you. I don't really have a plan right now. I am super worried. But I'm trying not to let anxiety ruin me. I have my daughters. And they need a sane father."His mother, he said, never quite recovered."You can see it in her face," he said. "She has a stressed-looking face, like she's been through a lot."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
- PoliticsThe Week
Heading into 2020, it seemed like those online election prediction maps would be the most exciting thing to watch over the coming year. But now, a different map may tell us much more about what the future holds.While the coronavirus spreads across the nation with no regards to state borders, the nation's governors are taking wildly different approaches to tackling the disease, resulting in a patchwork national map that undermines our ability to stop COVID-19 effectively. Coupled with the disastrous leadership of a president more interested in retaliating against his perceived enemies than employing his powers for good, the fractured response to coronavirus reveals how much has to be healed in our nation's system. It also sets in motion an inevitable showdown between Trump and those state leaders who are taking coronavirus seriously, a divide that is only going to get worse given Trump's toxic tendency to blame others for his own shortcomings.Trump's sickness was startlingly evident in his interview with Fox News' Bill Hemmer last Tuesday. Asked about his administration's coordination with the states, a basic function of the federal government and a critical one in a crisis moment, Trump's response displayed his typically transactional view of how things get done under his watch. "It's a two-way street," Trump childishly whined, "They have to treat us well, also. They can't say, 'Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.'"That's been Trump's approach to working with others, especially those in need, from the start, a twisted outgrowth of the manipulation tactics he's used throughout his personal and professional life.As president, his self-interest and demands for personal loyalty always guide his decision making. At the depressingly dysfunctional level, that has meant a revolving door of White House staffers and administration appointees, including Jeff Sessions, who didn't satisfy Trump's insatiable ego enough to stay. At the lawbreaking level, it has meant his bald quid pro quo demand that Ukraine investigate a political rival in order to receive congressionally-mandated foreign aid and putting extreme restrictions on federal aid to Puerto Rico, seemingly in retaliation for how government officials there had criticized his handling of Hurricane Maria.But where Trump's pay-to-play expectations of Ukraine, despite the Senate's judgments, were unconstitutional, his praise-to-play demands of state governors while the health of the nation hangs in the balance are nothing short of unconscionable. Trump's refusal to take federal action against the virus may be the most disastrous decision of his presidency. His petty privileging of red states and his punishing of blue states may be the most deadly, with consequences for all Americans no matter their politics.After Andrew Cuomo requested 30,000 ventilators for his coronavirus-ravaged New York, Trump coughed up only 400 machines while, as usual, freely blaming the governor for the state's situation. "You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators," an exasperated Cuomo asked at a recent news conference. "You're missing the magnitude of the problem."On Thursday, Trump lashed out at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her criticisms of the administration's inaction. "We've had a big problem with the... woman governor," Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "We don't like to see the complaints." He later said he'd told Vice President Mike Pence not to call "the woman in Michigan."Meanwhile Florida, a state run by a loyal Trump supporter, Gov. Ron DeSantis, has fared better, not surprisingly. Despite DeSantis’ failure to take the disease seriously and limit its escalating spread through the state, Florida has received all the medical supplies it has requested from the federal stockpile, and then some. New Jersey, on the other hand, a state with currently the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, initially got only a small fraction of what it requested.Other Republican state leaders are making Trump's abdication of responsibility even easier, propping up his fantastical and fatalist thinking and actively undercutting public health measures. Trump's arbitrary selection of April 12 as the date he wants the country "opened up" has outraged public health officials who warn we need much more time. But Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's horrific recent comments that grandparents should be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the economy is merely putting the public voice to the sort of Machiavellian logic shaping red states' policies.In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring almost all the businesses in the state as "essential," thereby invalidating any local mayors or state agencies that have tried to implement social-distancing requirements. Reeves' decision also included religious facilities, despite an earlier directive by the state's Department of Health that Mississippians avoid church services, weddings, and funerals to help curb the virus' spread.In other Republican-led states, the continued lack of prohibitions against public gatherings will spell disastrous consequences. Blue states and places like Ohio and Maryland, led by reasonable Republican governors, cannot combat the virus alone. If Trump keeps picking favorite states to help in the absence of a national approach, everyone will lose.A moment like this requires leadership, but Trump is no leader. Sulking that he can no longer hold the public rallies that give him life, Trump is incapable of rallying the nation in defense of its own. With potentially millions of Americans at risk of dying from coronavirus, Trump's only interest, as always, is in tending to his bruised ego, and he'll ruthlessly play governors against each other to fulfill his needs.In his Friday press conference, Trump told reporters, "All I want [governors] to do... I want them to be appreciative. We've done a great job." All those governors want is a president who cares about the lives of their constituents, regardless of whether they voted for him.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com Once coronavirus infects a human body, what happens next? Joe Biden is the worst imaginable challenger to Trump right now John Krasinski launches YouTube show dedicated to good news, slips in Office mini-reunion with Steve Carell