How Will COVID-19 End? with Ed Yong
You do not want to miss this riveting conversation between Andy and The Atlantic’s Ed Yong, the journalist Andy thinks has done the best job writing about and analyzing the pandemic. They discuss America’s failed response, how this whole thing might end, and why wanting things to go back to “normal” isn’t the right mindset.
Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt and Instagram @andyslavitt
Follow Ed Yong on Twitter @edyong209.
In the Bubble is supported in part by listeners like you. Become a member, get exclusive bonus content, ask Andy questions, and get discounted merch at http://lemonadamedia.com/inthebubble/
Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Pre-order Andy’s book, Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response, here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250770165
- Read all of Ed Yong’s COVID-19 reporting in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/author/ed-yong/
- Check out The New York Times piece “The Pandemic in Six-Word Memoirs” Ed mentions in today’s show: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-poetry-memoirs.html
- Read the paper Ed talks about by historian Howard P. Segal on “America as Techno-Fix Nation”: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/utopianstudies.28.2.0231
[00:48] Andy Slavitt: Welcome to In the Bubble. This is Andy Slavitt. Ed Yong today! As you know, if you’ve been listening to this show, I have been working up to this episode. I’ve got my best game for who I think is the best gamer in the pandemic game. He is just an unbelievable writer, thinker, person who understands the issues and explains them extremely well. You are going to be blown away. I would be surprised if this isn’t one of your favorite episodes. Tell your friends. And by the way, he speaks with an English accent, which just. It works. It really kills. Anyway, here’s Ed.
[01:35] Ed Yong: Hey, can you hear me? Do I sound OK?
[01:41] Andy Slavitt: You sound British.
[01:45] Ed Yong: I’ll take that as a yes.
[01:46] Andy Slavitt: I wrote this on Twitter last night, and I don’t know if you appreciate the analogy, but I think what Ronan Farrow did for the MeToo movement is essentially who you are to pandemic and the pandemic response. The long-form pieces that you’ve written, and I’m sure most people have read them by now. And if you’re listening and you haven’t you probably should stop listening and go read them. But incredible journalism, which I think does something that I haven’t seen other people do, which is combine the sociology of what’s happening with the science of what’s happening, and explain it to people in a really, really nice way. So it’s great to have you on.
[02:29] Ed Yong: Thank you. Yeah. It’s a delight to be here. Thanks for having me.
[02:32] Andy Slavitt: All right. So in the spirit of man, woman, person, camera, TV, give us the five words that would describe our pandemic response.
[02:48] Ed Yong: Didn’t the New York Times just do like a series of like small six-word summaries of the pandemic? And I think I wrote this morning, mine would be “the same mistakes we keep making.” Because I just think that we’re going round in circles. You know, I’m sitting here talking to you in September, and it feels like while we have made some progress since March, when I first really started writing these long form pieces, you know, it does feel like we’re sort of in a bizarre stalemate with the pandemic, and that a lot of the problems that we encountered early on are still the same problems that we’re wrestling with right now, both in terms of the things that we have, you know, the lack of PPE, the problems with testing, but also just the conceptual problems, like the errors of intuition that have been tripping us up for a long time.
[03:46] Andy Slavitt: How do you think it gets broken, the stalemate? You’ve painted an image in one of your pieces about ants marching in a circle in a death spiral. How does it get broken?
[03:57] Ed Yong: I don’t know. I think the first step has to be some kind of radical introspection. And that’s what I’m hoping to do with these pieces to show like where we’re going wrong. And, you know, to reiterate, I think where we’re going wrong isn’t just about things, it isn’t just about people, although that is clearly part of it. I think that we are not rising to the challenge in terms of thinking about this problem at the scale and scope that it demands. You know, this pandemic is obviously a planetary problem. It affects us all. It has happened over a very short amount of time. And, you know, it involves a virus that no one had heard about until, you know, earlier this year. And because of that, it’s very confusing. The whole pandemic has been just riven with uncertainty and anxiety and fear, and that’s making us lapse into unproductive modes of thinking. And I talked a lot about this in the latest piece, which has the metaphor of the ants death spiral that, you know, we are going round in circles. We are going from one silver bullet countermeasure to the next without thinking about them all in unison. You know, we’re embracing false dichotomies, magical thinking. People lapse into this complacency of an experience where they haven’t encountered the virus firsthand. They’re too lackadaisical about it. We’re too reactive and not sort of proactive. We’re blaming individuals instead of fixing broken systems. So many of these and, you know, they have affected our attitudes to masks, to social distancing. They’ll affect our attitudes to the vaccine. And with the ant metaphor, ants only go round in circles till they die because they’re sensing pheromone trails in front of them which looped back on themselves. They don’t have the sense of the bigger picture. Now, we theoretically have the ability to sense the bigger picture. We have capacity for things like introspection. You know, we can listen to the experience of others. But we’re not doing that. Unless we actually do that, and unless we really look at what’s going wrong, I think we’re just going to keep on going in circles. So that’s why I’ve written pieces about things like these conceptual ideas about why the pandemic is so confusing, about why America has been defeated thus far.
[06:31] Andy Slavitt: I’ve noticed that you start by writing about science and you realize we have the science, at least the science we need before a vaccine, which is unlike global warming. We have masks. We have the ability to breathe on one another. We’re not using them. So the scientific insights seem to have gotten less important to you than these sociological ones. All those things you described are things that are kind of concepts of privilege, silver bullets, magical thinking, etc. I mean, it strikes me that in Africa, which has I think, what is it, 1.3 billion people, there’s only about 28,000 deaths. And so one would have thought at the beginning of this, if we would have said, Ed, there’s going to be a global pandemic and there’s going to be 200,000 people dead in the United States. How many would be dead in Africa? We’d both probably say, oh, that’s over a million, because they don’t have the sanitation capabilities. They don’t have a whole bunch of other things, but they are used to dealing with and complying with public health crises. How much of this is something that it’s just because it’s our first time and we will learn to get better at this?
[07:52] Ed Yong: Yeah, I think there is an element of truth there. I think a lot of the people who I respect have made this point that this should shake up America’s attitude to global health, where previously there was this very, like, arrogant sense of exceptions that America led the way. And, of course, you know, in many ways it did lead the way. It did provide aid. It provided the model in terms of the CDC. But I think you’re right that that exceptionalism provided an unwarranted degree of complacency so that when the pandemic first started, a lot of people just, I think, simply didn’t really understand that it could be this bad and that the country as a whole has been lax in taking up measures that other places implemented instantly. You know, everything from masks that were very commonly used in East Asia to just taking more steps to check people coming out of airports to do contact tracing, that a lot of people in countries where healthcare isn’t so focused on hospitals are more used to doing. You know, in many ways, America has just done what the rest of the world has already knows well to do quite late in the game. And that, I think, explains some of the country’s shortfalls early on. I don’t think it explains the continuing pattern to fail at this throughout the pandemic, even when the virus has reached American shores and is really making an impact within the country, Americans still, like parts of America that are untouched, are still failing to learn the lessons from places like New York. That sense of exceptionalism and complacency is a within-country problem as well as a between-country problem. And I think what this makes me think more broadly is the global health and public health communities should have this like intense reckoning of how much do we actually understand about the concept of preparedness. When I wrote that 2018 feature for The Atlantic about pandemic preparedness, it was sort of to try and answer this question. And, you know, if you look at things like the Global Health Security Index, which had America ranked as like the number one most prepared nation in the world, I mean, that’s just ludicrous in hindsight. I think what that tells us is our ability to assess whether a country was prepared or not was just seriously lacking. But either we were looking at the wrong factors or we were not weighing those factors appropriately or not properly grappling with the ways in which one bad factor can topple a lot of other things.
[10:42] Andy Slavitt: Here’s how I put it. And tell me if you agree with this. I think we had two gates. Gate one we counted on. Gate one was the gate we used in Ebola an SARS original, which is the scientists insert and some high tech solution. And, you know, I don’t think we could have just all described it at the time, but. But the work of the CDC, the preparedness. And so we probably at one point were very competent, relatively speaking at gate one. The problem is this is a virus that penetrated gate one quite easily. And gate two is us. Gate two is our own behavior. It’s NPIs. It’s like a technology system that has one layer of security. But once you get past that layer of security, it’s a free for all. You can go anywhere and do anything. And so I think we’ve been wonderful hosts to this virus once they got past our bouncer.
[11:39] Ed Yong: Yeah, I was reading for that new piece on the pandemic death spiral, I read this some paper by a historian named Howard Siegel who makes this point that America has this long history since its very inception of using techno fixes to bypass social problems rather than actually fixing them. And that leads to exactly the situation you describe where we have all these layers of plaster, all these band-aids sitting over these deep social problems. And if the band-aids fail, like if they all fall off, then we’re just left with these, like, wounds that have been festering for decades and centuries. So, you know, in the big magazine story I wrote about how the pandemic reached America, I talk about the weird system of employer based health insurance, the underfunding of public health, the legacy of racism and discriminatory policies that have jeopardized the health of black and brown and indigenous and other communities.
[12:47] Andy Slavitt: The phony individualism.
[12:50] Ed Yong: Exactly. You could argue fairly that in a more competent presidency, those band-aid solutions might have worked. They might have held the line. But if they don’t work, then you’re right. Then there are all these vulnerabilities for a pathogen of this kind to easily exploit.
[13:14] Andy Slavitt: Right. And by the way, like if you were ranking this bug against a potential for — I try for simplicity to say there’s two characteristics of a bug that are important to think about relative to other ones. One is how contagious is it? Including, you know, the R-naught, but it’s also does it spread asymptomatically etc. And then how lethal is it? And there are far more contagious virus issues and far more lethal. You could you could imagine a measles virus with a Ebola lethality to it that strikes either indiscriminately or it strikes children. And so we ought to look at this as our starter bug, because if we don’t figure it out here and — look, the truth is that because it was low tech, because it was really predictably low tech and medium tech, I mean, diagnostics are not super high tech, but they’re also not low tech like masks. Like in Africa, clean water and clean air save more lives than anything else. Here, if it was something we actually had to do, it turned out we weren’t very good at it. But in some respects, it had to happen because I think, you know, it’s not like this is a “new normal.” I think now we’re back to the normal that we are living with this virus.
[18:37] Andy Slavitt: I want to show you a question about another element. You wrote this element of blame. So people are unhappy. People are anxious. People are lashing out. It seems very hard for people to actually just blame the virus. People have to blame the fact that they’re being meant to stay at home or that their favorite businesses closed. And many, many other hardships. And I don’t take away from any of those hardships people are experiencing. But the question is, people have sort of come to blaming other people, even to the point where I wonder, you know, people like Mike Osterholm and Bill Gates and Bill Joy, Larry Brilliant, probably yourself. I can understand before there was an outbreak, people saying, oh, those people are fear mongers. They wouldn’t be right, but you could understand them saying it. You’d have thought that once this broke out, the people would say hey, you know what? My bad. These people were actually right. And it’s amazing. We’re fine. I’m finding people are actually doubling down even in the face of massive death.
[19:37] Ed Yong: Yeah, and I think there’s so much going on there. I think the virus is invisible to the naked eye, which is already like stacking the psychological odds against us because you can’t see it. You can only see when people are sick. You know, that creates this long standing problem where the pathogen itself becomes conflated with the people who carry it. And then it means that the crisis is very difficult to visualize and appreciate. So unless you are sick yourself or know someone who is stuck on a ventilator, then you don’t — there’s no like there’s no orange sky with this, right. There’s no winds whipping in from the ocean, you know. And then after the crisis is over, there’s no sign that, like, lasting damage has been incurred. There’s no floodwater around your ankles. There’s no, like, charred buildings. You know, there’s no, like, telephone poles blown over. I can go for a walk around my neighborhood. And if I had been in a cave for the last year, I wouldn’t know there was anything different other than that. People are wearing masks now. That’s hard to appreciate.
[20:54] Andy Slavitt: You add exponential growth to that, right? Which is that our brains don’t accept naturally.
[20:58] Ed Yong: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s very hard to visualize. You know, the temporality of the virus is tricky because it’s both very fast, like you said, exponential growth. So when things are really kicking off, they’re really kicking off. But it also, you know, it’s not like it spreads fast enough that it’s everywhere in the U.S. at once. So we’ve had this patchwork pattern that I’ve also written about where it kind of allows people time to have a false sense of security. You know what? New York is getting crushed. Other places get to look at their own communities and go, is this really a big deal? I’m not seeing it here. It sort of spreads slowly enough to exploit our kind of catastrophic lack of empathy and our ability to, like, look at what’s going on outside the bounds of our personal experience and actually learn from it before we get knocked for six ourselves. So there’s that. And then I think the last piece I wanted to say on this was that at the best of times, I think people in general do find it difficult to reconcile when they have been wrong. And when new evidence really does shake their long standing beliefs. And I think that acts of, you know, changing your mind becomes even harder when you have so much fear and uncertainty and anxiety going. Like, I desperately want things to be okay. And I want to make sense of this thing, which just feels like it’s shaken everything up. It has. You know, and I feel that pull myself. So I totally get why people are — you’d love to look out the window and say everything’s the same or it’s good.
[22:48] Andy Slavitt: It’s fine because you suffer when you think differently. Plus, we’re not meant to think about things we don’t know. Whenever we think about an uncertain future, we don’t have the mechanisms to do that very productively. So this becomes challenging because it’s by definition uncertain.
[23:08] Ed Yong: Right. And there’s also the fact that there are so many forces marshaled against our shared understanding of what is going on. You know, I’ve said before that to report on this virus, on this pandemic, is like being gaslit on a daily basis by everyone from some rando on Twitter to the president of the United States, who is a another rando on Twitter. Those are not non overlapping sets.
[23:39] Andy Slavitt: In another world, without an Electoral College, he would be a rando on Twitter.
[23:43] Ed Yong: I get why people are confused because, like I you have to struggle through this, like, all the time to make sense of what is going on.
[23:55] Andy Slavitt: There’s a lot of people with these sort of observational theories that are by definition flawed, are questions we don’t know. And I think it’s where people bring the confirmation bias. It’s like, you know, the president of Purdue saying, college kids, they’ll get sick, you know? Ergo, I have no problem having them here. I don’t care if they have cases. Or the curve in Phoenix or Florida flattens, and people say we must have a lot of T-cell cross immunity. And I want to focus on that one in particular. Do you think that is people clutching at a theory, false fitting, or do you think there are natural forces that are reducing susceptibility like T-cell cross immunization or something like it.
[24:44] Ed Yong: So I think it’s not a ludicrous idea. But I think that there is this natural tendency to grasp the kind of magical solution that is going to lead us out of this without us having to make any effort. It’s not an implausible solution. It just happens to be a very convenient one, which means that we should think about it with the critical mindset that is warranted. So with the T-cells, for listeners who don’t know the background on this, there’s a few studies now which have found that somewhere between 20 to 50 percent of people have T-cells, which are immune cells that kill cells that have been infected by specific viruses. So they have T-cells that react to COVID. So what this means is that some people may have immune cells that are ready to react to a COVID infection, perhaps because they have been exposed to other, milder corona viruses that have similarities to this new one. What we don’t know, of course, is whether these cells will actually protect us at all. Like I’ve written about this, too. The immune system is incredibly complicated. And what you think is intuitive is often not actually what happens. So those T-cells might do nothing. They could make things worse. They could make things better. We won’t know until we actually do the experiments. And those experiments have not been done. Regardless of whether they do anything or not, if they do, T-cells don’t block infections. They kill infected cells. They might reduce the severity of an infection, which would be great. But they’re not going to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.
[26:32] Andy Slavitt: Right. So they wouldn’t account for a lower number of percent positives in a location.
[26:38] Ed Yong: Right. I think the thing that I keep on coming back to is that this is an incredibly complex problem with lots of things that go into it.
[26:51] Andy Slavitt: Including randomness, right?
[26:54] Ed Yong: Yes! Ah, yes. So, so much that. And people forget that. So it’s very easy to look at — I’m not going to name a specific place, let’s say like State X, you know, did not do the things that everyone else did and seems to not have a high spike in cases. Therefore, all those things that everyone else did were wrong. That has been a common line of thinking. And State X could be, you know, a state in America, could be a country, could be a city. But when you have something that’s this widespread, you just have a lot of weirdness. Like a wider pandemic is a weirder pandemic. So stuff that happens at the far ends of the probability distribution will actually happen. Sometimes people will get very unlucky. So you might get people being reinfected early, which is what we’re seeing, or sometimes people get very lucky. They’ll get by even though they’ve done none of the things that will keep them safe. And we’ve probably seen examples of those, too. None of these should be like falsifications. Again, a wide pandemic. Lots of stuff will happen. Some of it will be weird. And not every place or every person will experience the same thing all the time, even though it’s the same virus.
[28:15] Andy Slavitt: Boy, it sounds so right and sounds way too complex for people to want to try to understand if in fact they have an agenda. If they don’t have an agenda, I think people can follow that. But if people have a preconceived view, if they’re looking for confirmation of that view, then, you know, they will go to that length because there’s too much you can find that just supports everything you see. I will ask you a question at the end about voices and places to trust. But one of the things that I continually say is if the people you’re getting information from don’t frequently say we don’t know, then you’ve got the wrong source.
[29:01] Ed Yong: I think you’re right that, like, it’s very easy to find data that support your own agenda, if you have what. But I think also we all have an agenda here to an extent, because, you know, we’re all being affected by this. And, you know, I think in the main, it sucks. I don’t think many of us are happy, having a very great 2020. And so I do get the desire for normality. The desire to think that things are better than they are. The desire to have it all just go away. That would be great.
[31:28] Andy Slavitt: You wrote a piece called How the Pandemic Will End. Let’s talk about that. I will admit I played with some models over the weekend to just sort of ask a question. The question I was trying to understand is how much does a lack of trust in a vaccine elongate the virus, and how long, how much does it add to the death toll? But the broader, I believe, relative to the broader question, which is how do you see the pandemic coming to an end?
[31:59] Ed Yong: Yeah, I don’t know. Just to make sure that you trust me. I don’t know. I think probably the least likely outcome for me is that somehow we get to eradication. I just think that that’s so unlikely now. So I think that we’re probably looking at this being an endemic part of our lives for some time. And then I think the variables there depend on a large number of factors of which the most important are the following. The extent and nature of immunity. How long it lasts for either, through natural infection or through a vaccine. The extent of, you know, for the moment the extent of preexisting immunity, whether through these T-cells that may or may not provide some degree of preexisting protection or the proportion of people who’ve already been infected and may have immunity through that. There are the sociological factors that we’ve already talked about. To what extent will people hold the line in terms of measures like social distancing or mask use? How many people will actually get a vaccine? How effective will that vaccine be or how good will the logistics be in terms of vaccine manufacture and distribution? All of these factors will be huge.
[33:17] Andy Slavitt: So let’s assume that we’ll get it wrong at first and get it right eventually. You know, there’ll be vaccines that have some level of protection. There’ll be distribution that’s not particularly good. But that over time, we eventually get it right for it. Do you agree with that? And secondly, do you see the U.S. getting to enough of a level where spread can be really reduced to the kind of European green levels sometime in, say, 2021?
[33:48] Ed Yong: I don’t know. I would hope for an outcome like that. I do honestly believe that a lot of it probably depends on what happens in November with the election. I think our chances of doing better in the future become considerably greater if there is a coordinated federal strategy of the kind and the detail and thoughtfulness that has been lacking until now. But I think that it is a really complicated problem. And I keep on saying this.
[34:28] Andy Slavitt: Let me take it from the United States then to say Germany, let’s solve for the election. Let’s say there is a competent leader, in a country that can be unified under those circumstances. Is it simply when a vaccine is ready and available? Is it more than that? What do you see as the key question?
[34:51] Ed Yong: I mean, I think it’s more than that because I think that a vaccine, even in a good situation, a vaccine is not is not just a light switch that turns off the COVID era and turns on, you know, 2019. Again, I think we are going to be in a situation where we have to deal with the consequences of this virus even after an effective vaccine comes out. You know, in the best case scenario, the vaccine is incredibly effective and is rolled out efficiently. That will still take time and it’s time in which things like testing and masking and tracing and all the rest will still be important. So I think that, you know, in the most optimistic timescales, we’re still looking at an unsettled and a difficult start to 2021.
[35:34] Andy Slavitt: I have a request if we’re gonna go back in time. Can we not go back to 2019, go back to a 2014 or something?
[35:40] Ed Yong: No, I think let’s just not go back at all. You know, one crucial point that I’ve made in past pieces and a little bit now is that new normal led to this, right? Normal was a world in which we had a ton of vulnerabilities, social inequities, all kinds of problems that made a crisis like this that much worse. And that will also affect our ability to deal with global warming, with drug-resistant bacteria, with the biodiversity crisis. Normal was great for some people. It was terrible for a ton of other people. And we can do better than that. And this should be a call to action. I don’t really want to call it an opportunity because it’s an opportunity at what cost? Like hundreds of thousands of deaths. It’s a huge cost. But it is a moment in time that demands the full force of our imagination. We fail the challenge if all we do is go is back to like some earlier safe point.
[36:47] Andy Slavitt: You know, I thought that was really beautifully said. I was talking to a couple of climate scientists yesterday and I was struck by something they said, which was climate change is basically — imagine the pandemic, but there’s no masking, no vaccine.
[37:03] Yeah. So earlier you asked me about this virus as like a starter pandemic. Right. Like it could be worse. And yes, I agree with that analysis. I think some people have argued that maybe it’s — like I’ve described this as like the anti-Goldilocks virus, like it’s just bad enough to cause problems, but not bad enough, just OK enough that it flies under the radar. Put that aside. I agree that it could be worse, but it’s not just a starter pandemic. It’s like the starter planetary problem. So it’s in many ways it has commonalities with things like the biodiversity crisis, with climate change. But it is happening on a much faster timescale, which means that we can see more clearly what is happening. You know, we don’t have to wait decades for the Western states to start burning down before we suddenly go, oh, maybe, maybe we should have done something about that? It really should galvanize us. If it fails to do that, the problem is that there are so many other problems that are knocking at our doors which don’t create the same kind of urgency. One of the quotes on the pandemic, that spiral piece I wrote that really has still shaken me is this is one from a sociologist at Colorado Boulder who says, you know, our ability to deal with these social problems hinges on us having a shared understanding that it is a problem. And it is really shocking that we have failed to do that, because you would have thought that with a pandemic, it would be very easy.
[38:48] Andy Slavitt: Our ability to deny is far greater than I imagined. You know, I think of you as somebody who sees what’s happening more clearly and in greater context than just about anybody. Is that a burden?
[39:06] Ed Yong: I don’t know. I don’t think that’s true.
[39:13] Andy Slavitt: Well, I don’t want you to answer whether you think it’s true, because I know it’s flattering. I don’t want it to be awkward and I phrased it awkwardly. But you know what I’m getting at?
[39:22] Ed Yong: I do. Yes, it is. I did this piece on public health experts who were burning out. And Nicolette Louissaint told me this brilliant point that to think about preparedness is very hard because it means that you’re constantly trying to look several steps into the future at the worst-case scenario, which is already like a dismal, horrible headspace to try and inhabit all the time. And it’s even worse when the predictions that you make come to pass. So this is a huge crisis. It’s not just a science problem. It’s a sociology problem. It’s a political problem. It’s a cultural problem. Any of those areas on its own would be enormously challenging to try and come to grips with and to try and come to grips with all of them and at the same time organize that in a way that helps readers and then explain it in a way that people can understand and appreciate has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. That would be challenging enough even if the stakes weren’t so high, and the stakes are incredibly high. So, look, I don’t want to be, you know, self-effacing about it. I’m not an essential worker.
[40:55] Andy Slavitt: I understand the context. And I appreciate your honest answer. Look, I am grateful for long-form journalism, that it still exists. We’re grateful for The Atlantic for having you and others who I think are doing a great, great job in The Atlantic. But you in particular. I’ve got like so many other things I would love to talk to you about, maybe you’d be willing, if this was now too unpleasant an experience to come back and talk some more?
[41:25] Ed Yong: Yeah, of course. I’m always happy to. And thank you for mentioning The Atlantic where I work. There is something important there. I think when I started covering this, when I started doing long-form pieces in March on this, my editors were very clear that they wanted big swings. They wanted pieces that were huge in scope and ambition. And that would genuinely help our readers to make sense of this fast changing, difficult to grasp moments in time. And so the mandate was always to do work of this kind. And that mandate is rare in journalism. You know, if you had told me at the start of this year, I would spend like six months trying to cover this incredible story that is moving so quickly, but I was going to do it through the medium of like a dozen consecutive 5,000 word stories, that’s probably not where I would have thought to go with it. But I think that’s what the moment demands. And I think that’s what I had the ability and the freedom to do because of the place where I was.
[42:43] Andy Slavitt: I know the people who listen to this show would say they don’t love bad news, but they love getting it straight and they don’t and they don’t like it. They don’t need to get it in chyrons and hushed tones and people screaming. They just want to hear facts from people who are putting them out there because we could all deal better. I think it’s less scary to feel like you’re getting a chance to see the truth and you’re doing an incredible job at doing that. And you did a great job at helping me do that the last 40 minutes or so. So I really appreciated it.
[43:16] Ed Yong: Oh, thank you. Always happy to chat. Thanks for taking the time.
[43:40] Andy Slavitt: Wednesday, Governor Andy Beshear from Kentucky. He will talk about that state’s incredible response. It’s not such an easy state to govern. He’s done a phenomenal job. He gets very, very high marks. Then on Monday, Rajeev Shah, which I think will be fascinating. He is head of the Rockefeller Foundation. You’re really going to enjoy that. And then Wednesday, we have an eviction problem in this country. We also have the rent coming due at one of the most prominent addresses in the country, The West Wing. I thought it would be interesting to have a special episode on what it is like in the West Wing, what it’s like to work in the West Wing, what it’s like to do business in the West Wing. And for that, Pete Souza, who was the White House photographer in the Obama administration and also in the Reagan administration, is going to be our primary guest. And then we have a secret hidden surprise guest, not Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, but it’s an enjoyable, secret, hidden surprise guest. Thanks for listening.
[44:51] Andy Slavitt: Thanks for listening to In the Bubble. Hope you rate us highly. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen, produce the show. Our mix is by Ivan Kuraev. My son Zach Slavitt is emeritus co-host and onsite producer. Improved by the much better Lana Slavitt, my wife. Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs still rule our lives and executive produce the show. And our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, and additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me @ASlavitt on Twitter or @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you like what you heard today, most importantly, please tell your friends to come listen. But still tell them at a distance or with a mask. And please stay safe. Share some joy and we will get through this together. #StayHome.