Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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May 7: The Trump administration shelves a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen public places. Agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day.”An anonymous official leaks the 17-page report titled, “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework.” It was originally supposed to be published on Friday, May 1. Cities across the U.S. report over 70% increases in coronavirus cases over the last week (on March 11, Trump falsely declares that the number of cases is going down). Gregory and Travis McMichael are charged with murder in Arbery case. Department of Justice drops case against Michael Flynn who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during an investigation conducted by Robert Mueller. *

From the cutting room floor...

Historian Edward Said (pronounced Sa-yeed) argued that “Othering”—creating a “them” in order to create an “us”—had become a vital part of modern political culture.[1] The “They” serves as a useful enemy that can be imbued with whatever negative and terrifying traits are needed at that moment, usually to keep the already powerful in power. Rep. Crenshaw, for instance, describes a shadowy “They” more powerful than himself, perhaps, who abuselaws(Passed by whom for what reason? He is a lawmaker!) by keeping entertainment or appearance-related stores—commerce not essential to staying alive, in other words—closed. In the past, Crenshaw has used the same term to describe the same people as being against law and order, anarchistic, and disrespectful of leadership. “They” is a term defined not by a static meaning, but by the need to justify his group’s beliefs and retained societal power—the power to have a judge’s sentence overturned, in this case, and to not even apologize for disrupting “law and order.”

The more concrete issue here is that public health versus individual thriving is not a real dichotomy.[2] We have historically found ways to have both. People can drive their cars wherever they like, but we still require car manufacturers to put in seatbelts and airbags and run crash tests. And we still make it illegal to be in a car without your seatbelt on or to drive over the speed limit. We allow people to buy cigarettes, a substance that is known to have adverse public health effects. But we still require them to be legal adults and to only smoke outdoors. (Interestingly, in both of these examples, car manufacturers and tobacco companies made the same argument that this represented a violation of their civil rights but public health won out.)


[1] Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1978).

[2] Jesse Borke, “Toothpaste Overdose,” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, October 11, 2018,

Read more

“‘They’re drunk on power’: Crenshaw blasts coronavirus restrictions,” Fox News (May 7, 2020),

Brandon Rittiman, “VERIFY: The Epoch Times spreading many false COVID-19 claims,” ABC10 (May 20, 2020),


*If the pdf thumbnails are not appearing, please reload the page.

Kaplan, Joshua, and Benjamin Hardy. “Early Data Shows Black People Are Being Disproportionally Arrested….” ProPublica, May 8, 2020.
Mongeluzzi, Robert J., Steven G. Wigrizer, Jeffrey P. Goodman, and Jason S. Weiss. Estate of Enock Benjamin v. JBS S.A et al., Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, May Term 2020, E-filing No. 2005005845 (May 7, 2020).
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Additional Links
  • Cao, Bin, Yeming Wang, Danning Wen, Wen Liu, Jingli Wang, Guohui Fan, Lianguo Ruan, et al. “A Trial of Lopinavir–Ritonavir in Adults Hospitalized with Severe Covid-19.” New England Journal of Medicine 382, no. 19 (May 7, 2020): 1787–99.
  • Mongeluzzi, Robert J., Steven G. Wigrizer, Jeffrey P. Goodman, and Jason S. Weiss. Estate of Enock Benjamin v. JBS S.A et al., Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, May Term 2020, E-filing No. 2005005845 (May 7, 2020).
  • Victorino, Daniella Balduino, Marcia Guimarães-Marques, Mariana Nejm, Fulvio Alexandre Scorza, and Carla Alessandra Scorza. “COVID-19 and Parkinson’s Disease: Are We Dealing with Short-Term Impacts or Something Worse?” Journal of Parkinson’s Disease Preprint, no. Preprint (May 7, 2020): 1–4.

* 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.