Reason Roundup

Will a Rise in Coronavirus Numbers in 14 States Refocus Attention on the Pandemic?

Plus: Protest updates, a small blow against qualified immunity, a lesson in not feeding the trolls, and more...


Rise in COVID-19 numbers seen in more than a dozen states. American attention has started wandering from its recent laser focus on COVID-19, and even New York politicians begin letting up on stay-at-home rules, but some new data is pushing coronavirus back in the headlines—and possibly reigniting the fight about lockdowns.

Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have been "recording their highest averages of new cases since the pandemic began," according to The Washington Post. And "hospitalizations in at least nine states have been on the rise since Memorial Day."

States experiencing rises in new documented coronavirus infections include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Some of this can be attributed to more testing, but that's not the only thing going on in the data:

Data from states that are reporting some of their highest seven-day averages of new cases is disproving the notion that the country is seeing such a spike in cases solely because of the continued increase in testing, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

Right now, "the qualified good news is that the daily tally of new confirmed cases has stabilized at around 20,000 for the past three weeks while COVID-19 deaths are averaging 750 per day," writes Reason's Ron Bailey. "The bad news is that so far nearly 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with the illness and more than 111,000 have died of it."


• Seattle protesters have claimed a part of the city as an autonomous zone:

• In Ohio, 22-year-old Sarah Grossman died of a heart attack a few hours after being tear-gassed by Columbus police at a May 28 protest. "An emergency room nurse reported the death as a suspected overdose, but no toxicology screen has been completed to show drugs in her system. Her family denies any history of drug abuse, the records say." Columbus city spokesperson Robin Davis told the Dayton Daily News that "Police did use gasses to disperse crowds that night."

Meanwhile, new examples are emerging every day of cops abusing and killing black Americans—horrors that wouldn't likely come to light were it not for cellphone video capturing it.

• That's what exposed police in Shreveport, Louisiana, punching and tasing Tommie Dale McClothen repeatedly before he died in police custody. "In the 4 1/2 minute video, which the station shot off of the cellphone of a person who the station said witnessed the altercation, officers can be seen wrestling with a man on the ground with at least one officer punching him repeatedly and another appearing to hit him with a baton. A voice can be heard saying that the officers were using a Taser on the man," reports the Associated Press.

  • In Los Angeles:


Censorship versus editorial discretion. Mike Masnick of Techdirt has it right on the Tom Cotton op-ed published by The New York Times (about using military force against protesters) and subsequent strife among staff, including the resignation of Opinion Editor James Bennet.

His resignation prompted "a new round of hand-wringing … that American newsrooms were 'becoming college campuses' full of 'safe spaces' and 'political correctness,'" Masnick explains. But that's backward, he suggests:

I'm probably more extreme than most in arguing for free speech and the importance of listening to viewpoints and ideas that people disagree with. And while there have been incidents on college campuses where students have pushed back on hearing uncomfortable ideas, there's a big difference between an unwillingness to listen to "uncomfortable" ideas and an unwillingness to support disingenuous ideas that are simply designed to rile people up.

Again, as we discussed last week, while some people were freaking out about so-called 'censorship,' the issue was actually about editorial discretion—which is something wholly different. When you consider every act of editorial discretion to be the same as censorship, then the real problem is on your end. You can disagree with the decision (in either direction) and speak out about it (because there are many ways to speak out these days). But a single platform choosing to publish a terrible, disingenuous op-ed whose entire point appeared to be to piss people off, and then the person in charge resigning following the controversy, has nothing at all to do with censorship or safe spaces or avoiding difficult conversations.

The issue, again, is whether or not the editorial discretion is well applied. And the evidence—which goes way beyond that one op-ed—says that it was not. […] It comes down to this simple point: there are certain elements in society now who are simply trolling. And Tom Cotton is a giant troll. Whether he intends to be or not, he has all of the characteristics of an internet troll. He's posting dishonest claptrap, designed to enrage. He's cherry picking his facts and ignoring any countervailing evidence. He frames his nonsense with claims about wanting to be a part of the debate, but as anyone who has ever dealt with internet trolls knows, that's all part of the game to keep people engaged.

The general rule of thumb on the internet is "don't feed the trolls." I don't always agree with that wisdom, as there is sometimes value in a one-off response to trollish behavior to highlight for others why the troll's disingenuous claims are bullshit. But, there's an issue beyond just not "feeding" the trolls: you never need to elevate them and act as if they are in the debate for honest and reasonable reasons.

More here.


On the rise of OnlyFans:


• The TV show Cops has been canceled.

• The New York City Health Department tells people to get "kinky" with face masks.

• A fifth Tennessee prison guard has "pleaded guilty to using unlawful force on an inmate and then conspiring to cover it up," the Department of Justice announced yesterday. Former guard Jonathan York "admitted that, on Feb. 1, he and other correctional officers entered the cell of R.T., an inmate in the mental health unit at the Northwest County Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee. York asked a fellow officer to cover the surveillance camera in the cell. R.T. was seated in the cell and did not pose a threat to the officers. York punched R.T. in retaliation for R.T. spitting earlier. York punched R.T. in the neck, face, back, and chest. York admitted to punching R.T. around 30 times. York's punches caused visible injury to R.T. and caused him to bleed."

• Republicans may be moving their convention from North Carolina to Florida over disagreements about COVID-19 precautions North Carolina officials want the convention to take.

• New York lawmakers passed a bill repealing a terrible police secrecy law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign it.

• The war on terror comes home.