Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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Apr 25: President Trump tweets that holding White House press briefings to address the coronavirus pandemic are no longer “worth the time and effort” because the “Lamestream Media” asks “nothing but hostile questions” and then “refuses to report the truth.”*

From the Cutting Room Floor...

Last week, Shelley Luther, a hairdresser and owner of Salon a la Mode, in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, reopened her business against the stay-at-home order that Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins issued back on March 21. Yesterday, County Judge Jenkins issued a cease-and-desist letter to Shelley. Today, Shelley showed up at a surprisingly quickly organized “Open Texas” rally in front of the courthouse in Frisco, Texas. Most people did not wear masks and no one was practicing social distancing. Twelve speakers got up on the podium to speak, But Shelley Luther was the highlight. She brought the cease-and-desist letter onto the stage, and with a drama that would make the greatest Shakespearean actor jealous, she tore the letter to shreds. “Come and get it, Judge Clay Jenkins. Come and get it,” she said into the microphone, as the crowd cheered.

Yesterday, police arrested a man in in Brentwood, NY,  Amardeep Singh, who owns a small shoe store, for stocking up on scarce materials like N95 masks and personal protective equipment and then selling them at massive markups. He had a warehouse full of 100,000 face masks, 10,000 surgical gowns, 2,500 full-body isolation suits, and 500,000 disposable gloves, which of course are the very things that the state’s most vulnerable populations need. There are rumors of people meeting in back alleys to exchange masks at super inflated prices. Buyers will pay for it if their parents are at risk. It seems unforgivable, and throughout history it has been a crime to hoard needed goods in times of crisis. You could get 5 years in jail for hoarding meat, gasoline, and building supplies during the Second World War. Of course, the counter argument is that cornering a market, creating scarcity and then profiting from it, this is just the sort of predatory capitalism we take for granted elsewhere. When the media asked Singh’s lawyer about the charges, he responded, “I’ve never heard of this in my whole life, and I don’t think anyone else has, either.”[1] But this behavior definitely wasn’t tolerated two generations ago.



[1] Emilie Ruscoe, “NY Sneaker Salesman Charged With COVID-19 Price Gouging,” no. Law360 (April 24, 2020),

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CBSDFW. Salon Owner Rips Cease And Desist Letter From Texas Gov. Abbott Ordering Her To Close, 2020.

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Blum, Sam. “Hundreds at Open Texas Rally in Frisco Call for End to State’s Stay-at-Home Orders.” Dallas News, April 25, 2020.
Cassidy, John. “Donald Trump’s Debt to China.” The New Yorker, April 25, 2020.
Leung, Kathy, Joseph T. Wu, Di Liu, and Gabriel M. Leung. “First-Wave COVID-19 Transmissibility and Severity in China Outside Hubei after Control Measures, and Second-Wave Scenario Planning: A Modelling Impact Assessment.” The Lancet 395, no. 10233 (April 25, 2020): 1382–93.
Telford, Taylor, and Kimberly Kindy. “As They Rushed to Maintain U.S. Meat Supply, Big Processors Saw Plants Become Covid-19 Hot Spots, Worker Illnesses Spike.” The Washington Post, April 25, 2020.
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* Timeline summaries at the top of the page come from a variety of sources:, including The American Journal of Managed Care COVID-19 Timeline (, the Just Security Group at the NYU School of Law (, the “10 Things,” daily entries from The Week (, as well as a variety of newspapers and television programs.