Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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Jul 12: With 15,300 new cases, Florida breaks the one-day COVID case record set by New York City on April 4.

Jul 13: California’s  governor orders businesses to shut down again. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families USA, a record 5.4 million Americans lost their health insurance between February and May due to job layoffs during the coronavirus crisis. A Federal judge strikes down Georgia’s six-week abortion ban. 

Jul 14: CDC Director Robert Redfield urges President Trump to wear a mask to “set an example,” calling mask-wearing for all Americans a “civic duty.” Redfield also warns that the winter of 2020 and 2021 is going to be “probably one of the most difficult times we’ve experienced in American public health.” Redfield along with two other senior agency officials write in an editorial in JAMA that  “the public needs consistent, clear, and appealing messaging that normalizes community masking.” As of May 2020, states with the greatest percentage of nonelderly adults who are currently uninsured included Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, according to an analysis from Families USA. These states also report the highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents as of July 12. Data from phase 1/2 trials of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine show that doses produced immune responses in all 3 groups of 15 volunteers. The company was the first to enter large-scale human trials. Adverse effects of the vaccine candidate, which is administered twice 28 days apart, include injection site pain and chills. USA Today publishes an op-ed by Peter Navarro, White House Trade advisor, arguing that “Fauci has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” 

Jul 15: The White House ends the CDC’s COVID-19 data collection system, turning over the responsibility to a private company.Michael Caputo explains that the decision was made due because the CDC system was considered to be too slow. In a statement to reporters, Caputo explains: “The CDC’s old data gathering operation once worked well monitoring hospital information across the country, but it’s an inadequate system today.” The decision is highly criticized. The White House begins conducting one-on-one interviews with health officials and political appointees, reports Politico.  According to at least one person briefed on the interviews, the exercise is largely seen as “an exercise in ferreting out people who are perceived as not Trump enough.”

Jul 16: The United States reports a record 75,600 cases of COVID-19 in a single day. Texas, Hawaii, and Montana are among the 10 states reporting new record daily totals. The National Security Agency and its counterparts in the United Kingdom and Canada report that hackers linked to Russian intelligence services are trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research. Another 1.3 million Americans file 1st-time jobless claims. USA admits to errors in fact checking when it published Navarro’s op-ed on July 14. 

Jul 17: Civil rights leader Representative John Lewis dies of pancreatic cancer at age 80. Civil rights leader C.T. Vivian dies at 95. The Pentagon bans Confederate flags from military bases.

From the Cutting Room Floor ...

I get my first COVID test today. I drive to the local clinic in the morning heat. This town is always quiet in the summers, but it is eerie now. Worker vans and trucks make up most of the traffic, with the occasional fisherman towing his boat to the lake. At the clinic, signs direct me to park my car and call the clinic from my cell phone. “DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR!” one sign yells. “WE WILL COME TO YOU!” Closer to the entrance of the clinic, I can see someone standing in full PPE, taking temperatures and asking questions of people as they enter. This clinic offers OB/GYN and Pediatric care to Medicare recipients as well as general care to University employees and students, so there is lots of traffic. I see two young women holding up their newborn babies to have their temperatures checked. I call the clinic and am told to wait in my car for a nurse. It seems pretty clear that I am going to be waiting for a while; the woman in the white Chevy Caprice next to me is painting her nails hot pink and has started to apply a second coat.

Just as I am settling in to read my book, a sharp knock comes at my window. It is an older woman in a cream blouse and matching linen trousers telling me that she is ready to be tested for “The COVID.” I roll down my window and tell her that I am not a nurse; I am in line, waiting to be tested. “I’ve walked over from the nursing home,” she informs me. Across the street is the nicest and most expensive retirement center in town, costing around $3000/month. “It’s all those [she lowers her voice] Medicare people that are slowing up the line,” she says conspiratorially to me. I look away, already regretting rolling down my window, “They could be necessary workers,” I say. “Oh, no,” she retorts, “They don’t want to work. They just want free handouts.” Judging by the woman’s hair set and matching outfit, I am guessing she hasn’t worked a day in her life.

Eventually a nurse in full PPE emerges from the clinic. She is African American, and I can tell she is tired by her slow shuffle. She looks down at her feet through the full plexiglass mask. When she gets to me, she asks me why I am being tested, if I have knowingly been exposed to COVID, and if I have symptoms. Then she shoves a long swab up each nostril until I am pretty sure she has hit my brain. “Thank you,” she says as nicely as she can. “You will get your results in a day.” The older woman is standing at the nurse’s elbow, waiting her turn. “Girl, you can do me next,” she says. I see a flash in the nurse’s eyes before she turns resignedly to ask the woman her questions.

One change I do see are the masks. It feels like we have at least hit a place where people are coming to terms with mask wearing. Partly, this is due to the undeniable burst of COVID cases in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.[1] CEOs of retail stalwarts like Best Buy, Foot Locker, Giant Eagle, and Levi’s Jeans are insisting that governors mandate masks be worn during shopping.[2] Plutocrats, like Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, called out the country’s leadership as well. The change in national attitude could also be because the president finally decided to wear a mask. Intentionally. And he was photographed doing it.

At the same time, Trump’s administration has moved against Anthony Fauci and the CDC, blaming him for the obvious failures in managing the epidemic.[3] The White House Trade Advisor, Peter Navarro, wrote in the magazine USA Today that Fauci “has been wrong about everything that I have interacted with him on.”[4] Then, Dan Scavino, one of the president’s closest assistants, posted a cartoon on his personal Facebook page portraying Fauci as a faucet whose policies are drowning Uncle Sam. At the same time, the presidential spokespeople claim that the president is also “listening” to Fauci’s advice.[5] There is a blatant duplicity to the language surrounding Fauci, who has been at the CDC for 36 years and has helped the United States get through HIV/AIDS, SARS, MERS, Ebola, and Swine Flu. Looking back at April, Trump did something similar. Back then, it seemed as though he attacked Fauci after hearing that people trusted Fauci more than him. Now, Trump is flagging in the polls. It feels more serious—as if they’re going to try to blame Fauci for something and force him out.



[1] Jeneen Interlandi, “Why We’re Losing the Battle With Covid-19,” The New York Times, July 14, 2020, sec. Magazine,

[2] Corie Barry et al., “Retail CEOs: Enough Is Enough. It’s Time for All US Governors to Require Masks in Stores,” CNN, July 17, 2020,

[3] David Smith, “‘I Think You Can Trust Me’: Fauci Stands Firm as Trump Works to Undermine Him,” The Guardian, July 15, 2020, sec. US news,

[4] Peter Navarro, “Anthony Fauci Has Been Wrong about Everything with Me: Peter Navarro,” USA Today, July 14, 2020,

[5] Tamara Keith, “‘He Shouldn’t Be Doing That’: Trump Weighs In On Navarro Op-Ed Attacking Fauci,”, July 15, 2020,

Read more
Smith, David. “‘I Think You Can Trust Me’: Fauci Stands Firm as Trump Works to Undermine Him.” The Guardian, July 15, 2020, sec. US news.
Dice, Mark. Masks! 🤡, 2020.

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Allegheny. “Mt. Lebanon’s Joke & Murphy’s Bad Advice.” Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (blog), October 10, 2018.
Associated Press. “Coronavirus Data Is Funneled Away from CDC, Sparking Worries.” Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2020.
Barry, Corie, Gary Philbin, Mary Dillon, Sonia Syngal, Erik Nordstrom, Anthony Hucker, Johannes Fieber, et al. “Retail CEOs: Enough Is Enough. It’s Time for All US Governors to Require Masks in Stores.” CNN, July 17, 2020.
Keith, Tamara. “‘He Shouldn’t Be Doing That’: Trump Weighs In On Navarro Op-Ed Attacking Fauci.”, July 15, 2020.
Milbank, Dana. “Opinion | The Great American Crackup Is Underway.” Washington Post, July 17, 2020.
Navarro, Peter. “Anthony Fauci Has Been Wrong about Everything with Me: Peter Navarro.” USA Today, July 14, 2020.
Oregon Department of Justice. “Attorney General Rosenblum Files Lawsuit Against U. S. Homeland Security; Announces Criminal Investigation.” Oregon Department of Justice, July 17, 2020.
Seligman, Lara. “Trump Skirting Congress to Install Loyalists in the Pentagon.” POLITICO, July 17, 2020.
Smith, David. “‘I Think You Can Trust Me’: Fauci Stands Firm as Trump Works to Undermine Him.” The Guardian, July 15, 2020, sec. US news.
Husain, Iltifat, Blake Briggs, Cedric Lefebvre, David M Cline, Jason P Stopyra, Mary Claire O’Brien, Ramupriya Vaithi, Scott Gilmore, and Chase Countryman. “Fluctuation of Public Interest in COVID-19 in the United States: Retrospective Analysis of Google Trends Search Data.” JMIR Public Health and Surveillance 6, no. 3 (July 17, 2020): e19969.
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Additional Links

* 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.