A coronavirus vaccine won’t change the world right away

Two coronavirus vaccines entered the final stages of human testing last week, a scientific speed record that prompted top government health officials to utter words such as “historic” and “astounding.” Pharmaceutical executives predicted to Congress in July that vaccines might be available as soon as October, or before the end of the year.

As the plotline advances, so do expectations: If people can just muddle through a few more months, the vaccine will land, the pandemic will end and everyone can throw their masks away. But best-case scenarios have failed to materialize throughout the pandemic, and experts — who believe wholeheartedly in the power of vaccines — foresee a long path ahead.

“It seems, to me, unlikely that a vaccine is an off-switch or a reset button where we will go back to pre-pandemic times,” said Yonatan Grad, an assistant professor of infectious diseases and immunology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Or, as Columbia University virologist Angela Rasmussen puts it, “It’s not like we’re going to land in Oz.”

The declaration that a vaccine has been shown safe and effective will be a beginning, not the end. Deploying the vaccine to people in the United States and around the world will test and strain distribution networks, the supply chain, public trust and global cooperation. It will take months or, more likely, years to reach enough people to make the world safe.

For those who do get a vaccine as soon as shots become available, protection won’t be immediate — it takes weeks for the immune system to call up full platoons of disease-fighting antibodies. And many vaccine technologies will require a second shot weeks after the first to raise immune defenses.

Immunity could be short-lived or partial, requiring repeated boosters that strain the vaccine supply or require people to keep social distancing and wearing masks even after they’ve received their shots. And if a vaccine works less well for some groups of people, if swaths of the population are reluctant to get a vaccine or if there isn’t enough to go around, some people will still get sick even after scientists declare victory on a vaccine — which could help foster a false impression it doesn’t work.

A proven vaccine will profoundly change the relationship the world has with the novel coronavirus and is how many experts believe the pandemic will end. In popular conception, a vaccine is regarded as a silver bullet. But the truth — especially with the earliest vaccines — is likely to be far more nuanced. Public health experts fear that could lead to disappointment and erode the already delicate trust essential to making the effort to vanquish the virus succeed.

The drive to develop vaccines is frequently characterized as a race, with one country or company in the lead. The race metaphor suggests that what matters is who reaches the finish line first. But first across the line isn’t necessarily the best — and it almost certainly isn’t the end of the race, which could go on for years.

“The realistic scenario is probably going to be more like what we saw with HIV/AIDS,” said Michael S. Kinch, an expert in drug development and research at Washington University in St. Louis. “With HIV, we had a first generation of, looking back now, fairly mediocre drugs. I am afraid — and people don’t like to hear this, but I’m kind of constantly preaching it — we have to prepare ourselves for the idea we do not have a very good vaccine. My guess is the first generation of vaccines may be mediocre.”

Vaccine Day

On April 12, 1955, a vaccine against polio was shown effective and safe. Its inventor, Jonas Salk, became a national hero. Church bells rang and people ran into the streets to hug one another, said Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan.

But there were bumps along the way, even as scientists and public health authorities sought to thwart a disease that was of greatest threat to children. The “Cutter incident” became an infamous moment in medicine, when one of the suppliers of the vaccine failed to fully inactivate the virus in the shot, infecting about 40,000 children, paralyzing 51 and killing five. Those infections seeded their own epidemic, paralyzing 113 others and killing an additional five people.

“What’s incredible is it was only a blip. Parents were so trustworthy of doctors and scientists, and it went on, people got their shots,” Markel said.

The Salk vaccination was a transformative moment, but it was also not the end of polio. Over the course of two years, cases in the United States dropped by 80 percent, but outbreaks continued for several years, even as the vaccine was rolled out. Six years later, an oral polio vaccine that could be given as a sugar cube that dissolved on children’s tongues was introduced. Polio was eliminated in the United States in 1979.

But the polio vaccine came at a distinct moment in American history, Markel said, when people had great faith that scientists, medicine and government institutions could change their lives for the better. For the coronavirus, a relatively small setback — a miscommunication about vaccines, an unpleasant side effect, a much-hoped-for candidate that fails in large clinical trials or a vaccine that is only partly protective — could have outsize effects, especially with anti-vaccine activists already working to sow distrust.

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified Friday before Congress that he is “cautiously optimistic” that a 30,000-person, Phase 3 clinical trial just getting underway will yield an effective vaccine. But there has been little talk about how to think about failures, even though those are an inevitable part of science.

“What happens if any of them fail a Phase 3 trial — are people just going to give up? Is it going to be like entering Dante’s inferno?” Columbia’s Rasmussen said. “I’m really worried people have been relying on this hope that a vaccine is going to fix everything, and vaccines are not perfect, just like any type of therapeutic. They do fail.”

All approved vaccines must be shown to be safe and effective, but that doesn’t mean they perform the same. The measles vaccine is one of the best — 98 percent effective at preventing disease. But the flu vaccine clocks in most years at 40 to 60 percent effective. And some vaccines work less well in groups of people — older people, for example, have less robust immune responses and need a special high-dose flu vaccine, or one with an extra ingredient called an adjuvant.

U.S. regulators will require a coronavirus vaccine to be 50 percent effective, and if a shot just barely clears that bar, public education will be required to help communicate how many people need to receive it to establish herd immunity — a threshold at which enough of the population is immune to stop the spread, when the virus is truly tamed.

“If you get a vaccine that just meets the guidelines, the chances are you’re not going to be able to achieve herd immunity,” said Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center. “You tamp down transmission, substantially. It decreases your risk of getting exposed, but it doesn’t eliminate it. But a 50 percent effective vaccine is a lot better than zero percent effective vaccine. I would take it.”

Even the word “effective” will be parsed by experts and may need to be carefully explained. The goal is for a vaccine to prevent infections altogether. But that’s not the only definition of a successful vaccine, which could also include shots that reduce the severity of symptoms people experience. Ideally, a vaccine would do both. But what happens in real life will influence decisions about who should get the vaccine first.

“We talk about making something work, and public health is very much about the public,” said Natalie E. Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida. “You can make something work perfectly in the lab; it’s a whole other thing to make it work out in the community.”

A vaccine that mainly lessens the severity of disease might be directed at older people and others at greatest risk for the worst outcomes. One that prevents infections well, but perhaps doesn’t work as much in older people, might be directed to the younger population to try to protect older people.

The effectiveness of the vaccine also influences how many people need to get it to reach herd immunity.

Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, ran through one back-of-the-envelope scenario with an optimistic outcome: Say a vaccine is 75 percent effective at preventing people from shedding the virus and passing it on. Vaccinating even some people will slow the spread, with the biggest effects emerging if the first doses are channeled to the right people. But he estimated it would be necessary to vaccinate two-thirds of the population to reach herd immunity.

“If you’re talking about throwing arms around each other, sitting with 67,000 people at a Philadelphia Eagles game, I’d imagine that would take a couple years,” Offit said.

‘A rollout, not a thunderclap’

The coronavirus descended quickly, altering daily life in unimaginable ways practically overnight. People’s social circles shrank to their household contacts. Schools closed. Even the Earth stopped vibrating as much. Impatient for the pandemic to lift its heavy weight off the world, all eyes have turned to the vaccine.

“I think everybody’s so sick of this pandemic and this damn virus they’re really looking to the vaccine as a savior,” said Mark Mulligan, director of the New York University Langone Vaccine Center.

Mulligan said he believes people should view vaccines in much the same way they have regarded reopening — as something that must occur in gradual phases to be safe and could even double back on itself as we learn more. Governments and companies are investing billions of dollars to ramp up the vaccine supply now, but even so, it won’t be possible to vaccinate everyone in the first week or even the first month after the first vaccine becomes available. The world will become safer, bit by bit, not all at once.

“The vaccine is going to be a rollout, not a thunderclap,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Irvine.

And failures that have snarled testing capability — including distribution challenges and making sure the supply chain of basic ingredients is robust — are a huge risk.

Public communication will have to be nuanced, with leaders setting responsible examples. President Trump, able to take advantage of daily testing with rapid turnaround times, did not model until recently the precautions that public health experts said the rest of the nation must take, helping sow confusion on masks. Sports stars and celebrities have appeared to have easier access to testing than the masses throughout the pandemic. If such inequalities occur with vaccines, it may give people false confidence about what is safe.

“What happens when politicians get prioritized [for a vaccine] … there’s the projection of invincibility and others who are not vaccinated let their guard down,” said Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. “That has happened for testing and masks. It’s not a fantasy, and we’re not prepared for that.”

The quest for a vaccine has persuaded many scientists that success is possible. But if the promise of a vaccine dangles like a get-out-of-jail-free card, it’s possible the world doesn’t do enough to build out all the other tools — treatments, testing, contact tracing — needed to get back to normal.

“There’s a very myopic focus on this one little part of outbreak response, the research and development,” Dean, of the University of Florida, said. “Then, we neglect the stuff that’s a little less exciting, but probably more immediately impactful and in the long run is going to be really important, as well in terms of feeling confident that we’ll be safe.”

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Deborah Birx Won’t Say That Schools With High Positive Test Rates Should Stay Closed

Trump coronavirus coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx refused to say that schools should stay closed if they have a high positive test rate.

Dana Bash asked on CNN’s State Of The Union, “Should schools in areas with a positive iterate of 5% or more remain closed and have distance learning only?”

Birx answered, “So as you described at the beginning, I am the coordinator. So I work with Dr. Redfield and Dr. Fauci and Dr. Hahn and others every single day and we go over the data together. I would endorse what Dr. Redfield is saying. In these areas where we have the widespread case increases, we need to stop the cases.”

Bash asked again, “Schools there should stay closed?”

Birx, “Safely reopening.”

Bash kept asking, “So schools there should stay closed?”

Birx dodged, “I’m going to do what the CDC guidelines have recommended, and certainly the doctors. If you have high case load and active community spread, just like we are asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreadings events, we are asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control.”


Birx’s answer is why the federal coronavirus response is failing. Dr. Birx was so afraid of angering Trump and defying his proclamation that all schools must reopen as normal that she refused to state a common-sense answer. Schools with high positive testing rates should not be open.

Dr. Birx is a public health official who is letting the political needs of a president influence public health policy.

There is no executive branch federal leadership, and that is why this pandemic will rage on until Trump is gone.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow Jason Easley on Facebook

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Breaking New

Iran Will Expand Nuclear Program and Won’t Talk to U.S., Ayatollah Says

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said in a televised address that Iran will expand its nuclear program and will not negotiate with the United States, doubling down on his defiance of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy.

In a Friday speech for the Eid al-Adha holiday, Ayatollah Khamenei said that entering talks with Washington over Iran’s nuclear program, as President Trump has urged Tehran to do, would only improve Mr. Trump’s chances of being re-elected in November. That, the ayatollah said, was Mr. Trump’s reason for suggesting such talks in the first place.

“He is going to benefit from negotiations,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “This old man who is in charge in America apparently used negotiations with North Korea as propaganda,” he added — a reference to Mr. Trump’s high-profile nuclear diplomacy on another front, which to date has been mostly fruitless.

Ayatollah Khamenei also said that Iran would maintain its close alliances with militia groups in the region that it uses as proxies, defying another demand from the Trump administration.

The Iranian leader was not the first to connect the possibility of talks with the United States to the presidential election. Last month, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Iran could make a better deal if it did so before November. “Don’t wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal,” he wrote. “I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”

The United States has continued to tighten sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which have had a crippling effect on the Middle Eastern country’s economy. On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the State Department would expand the sanctions to cover 22 materials believed to be used in Iran’s nuclear, military and ballistic missile programs.

Ayatollah Khamenei said that Iran would not try to negotiate its way out of the sanctions and that it would be better off relying on its own industrial development. He said the Americans were targeting his country’s economy in the hope that Iranians would rise up against their government, which the ayatollah dismissed as “pipe dreams.”

Mr. Khamenei said that developing the nuclear program was an absolute necessity for Iran’s future. He dismissed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers, which Mr. Trump abandoned in 2018, as “very damaging,” saying that Iran had suffered economic setbacks because of it.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is meant exclusively for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other countries believe it is pursuing the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who was in charge of the negotiations for Iran, said as recently as last month in Parliament that the negotiating team had Ayatollah Khamenei’s full support and blessing to reach a deal.

The ayatollah, who recently directed his closest economic advisers to cement a 25-year military and economic partnership with China, said in his speech that European countries involved in the nuclear deal were unreliable, and that their attempts to salvage the pact — such as creating a secure financial channel so that Iran could maintain a limited amount of trade — were “useless games.”

Some Iranian officials and analysts have said that Iran’s strategy was to wait out the remainder of Mr. Trump’s term in hopes of a Democratic victory that could revive the deal, which was reached under President Barack Obama.

“Khamenei has always believed that accommodating to one U.S. demand would bring about another demand and another,” said Sina Azodi, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “For him, every solution would bring about another problem.”

But analysts, entrepreneurs and businessmen inside Iran have warned that the economy risks collapse if the current situation continues.

Since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in May 2018, Iran’s currency has dropped sharply and inflation has surged. The government said it faced a budget deficit of nearly 30 percent this fiscal year. Oil sales have plummeted from 2.5 million barrels a day to about 300,000, nearly eliminating Iran from the global crude oil market.

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Dining News

Chef Holly Smith: I Won’t Reopen My Dining Room Without a Vaccine

This is Eater Voices, where chefs, restaurateurs, writers, and industry insiders share their perspectives about the food world, tackling a range of topics through the lens of personal experience. First-time writer? Don’t worry, we’ll pair you with an editor to make sure your piece hits the mark. If you want to write an Eater Voices essay, please send us a couple paragraphs explaining what you want to write about and why you are the person to write it to

The emails are coming more frequently. Some customers write, “Love to get a table for our anniversary,” or, “When you all open we want to be the first table — hope to see you soon.”

Cafe Juanita misses its guests, too. I personally miss the connection to customers, staff, and suppliers, the buzz of a dining room and kitchen line, the look on someone’s face when they are surprised by a dish. So I respond with a concise, friendly email that notes, “At this time, I do not plan to reopen for in-house service until we are post-vaccine.” Then I sheepishly add a link to the online store, write another salutation, and press send.

In early March, Cafe Juanita was near the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. The first documented death and many more occurred at a nursing home in Kirkland, less than four minutes from my 20-year-old restaurant. The fire department station down the road locked down in quarantine after EMTs and firefighters had repeated exposure at that facility, which was eventually fined more than $600,000 for its negligence. The situation was dire, illustrating for the first time in the U.S. how quickly COVID-19 spreads — and the vulnerability of frontline workers.

Given the proximity and enormity of this situation, what initially felt like an isolated case quickly became a real concern. While I had been warning my staff to prepare for a future closure, I thought such a measure might be months away. But it was getting real.

As a restaurant owner and small-business employer, I reacted to developments as the pandemic rapidly unfolded. Customers were concerned — and I was concerned that we were part of the problem. We chose to close on March 13, ahead of Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandated closure a few days later. We reopened for takeout service (Cafe Juanita at Home) not long after Inslee’s stay-at-home order was implemented, but the dining room remains closed, even to people who regularly deliver our supplies.

I am in the hospitality business, and have learned over many years that a well-reasoned “no” is as beneficial to my guests as all the “yeses” we can facilitate — but this feels different. We need to be honest about the reality that small, medium, and large table-service restaurants face today. As I told my customers who emailed, we will not open for in-house service at Cafe Juanita until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19.

Plenty of kind guests have emailed back to say they “completely agree” with the decision. I feel better for a moment, but as this pandemic continues, and as an object as benign as a face mask confers a political message and creates such a dangerous divide, I imagine the eye rolls and head shakes as people hear we are closed for dining indefinitely.

Hearth bread in the Cafe Juanita kitchen getting ready for pickup
Holly Smith

There is nothing political about my decision, though. My experience operating my business for 20 years, and my own need to care for my staff while being responsible as a member of my community, led me to this way of thinking.

I opened Cafe Juanita in April of 2000 and have seen economic downturns and 9/11. Throughout my 20 years, we have focused on creating and maintaining a team that has grown together and improved every year. We have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and have received other honors. I had a very robust business going into the coronavirus-related closures, with the last year the best ever in just over two decades. But Cafe Juanita is not insulated from the issues at hand, and we needed to adjust.

For the past four months, my restaurant has operated a no-contact, pickup-only model, offering meal kits with select items that guests finish quickly at home, as well as filled frozen pastas and an array of hand-cut pasta, vegetable dishes, and desserts. We have learned more than I could have ever imagined. We are still helping our guests celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, or just providing a connection to our food. We are even sharing our wild sourdough starter and local organic flour. Guests have sent great bread pictures to me.

Sadly, not all of the staff are with us at this time. We had 28 staff members on March 13, before we shut down. Money received from the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) let us retain most of our staff through June, while still allowing them to stay home. Those who weren’t helping with takeout attended online wine education classes led by our wine director, and we checked up on each other daily or weekly, discussing their concerns and discomfort in coming back to business, as well as my own. The team felt very much together, but in limbo. In June, the PPP loan ran out, and we needed to lay off people. Today, we have nine full-time workers, plus one part time.

One reason why the staff is small is to keep our “bubble” as consistent and controllable as possible. My goal is to break even during this time, continuing to pay 100 percent for staff medical and dental insurance and offer supplemental insurance on top, as well as a 401k program. Of course, if we are profitable, that is great, but being profitable is not the focus for me at this time. We had just finished 13 record-breaking months in a row, so suffice it to say we are doing far less in sales than this time last year, and we need to be mindful and continue to learn and evolve.

There are many reasons why I’m choosing not to open during the COVID-19 pandemic for seated, in-house dining, and some aren’t necessarily unique to Cafe Juanita. The primary concern is the public health risks to staff and customers. My employees cannot socially distance themselves from guests and fellow workers inside. Period. End of story. No restaurant can.

Time spent inside matters. The duration guests are in a restaurant has correlated to an increase in the risk of novel coronavirus transmission from airborne droplets. And we are a special-occasion restaurant, with birthdays, anniversaries, and work celebrations all a cause to linger at the table. Masks are mandatory across Washington inside restaurants, but guests will remove their masks to eat, all while servers and cooks spend seven to 12 hours inside with upward of 100 people, depending on a restaurant’s capacity. How does that jive with statewide and CDC guidance to spend time with no more than five people outside your household a week?

In the past, my servers have spent two to three hours with every table over the course of a meal, whether that’s a tasting menu or multiple courses. If cough droplets go as far as nine to 13 feet, those aerosols would travel around multiple tables, including our server stations. And our layout is not unique. With the asymptomatic transmission and politicizing of responsible best practices, the staff has no way to feel safe or in control of their well-being.

On the economics side, there are other peripheral issues in a business with highly perishable items served in intimate contact with consumers. And that includes insurance. Shortly after SARS, in 2002 to 2003, there were huge payouts, including one for $16 million to one hotel chain.

Not again. After SARS, insurance companies added exclusions to standard commercial policies for bacteria and viruses. The realization that I had no insurance coverage for such contingencies felt as surreal as the pandemic itself. I knew the exclusion existed — it was out of my control, but that didn’t matter until it did.

Let me lay out what this means in my world. I have insurance to protect myself, my business, and my staff. Heck, it even covers you when you’re in my space. It is universal, a part of our social contract that I will take care of my universe, and you as well. It is what I pay for, and it makes the risks we take — opening the doors to the public — a bit less risky.

Insurance is helpful for me in two ways when closure occurs. I have business interruption and spoilage insurance; one covers a loss for shutting the doors and the other pays for all the lost food already purchased. But, because of those aforementioned exclusions, neither applies due to COVID-19. Trust me, I tried. We were closed by the governor’s mandate, but there was no recourse to recoup losses. My insurance was a no-show. There was no coverage for the food in the walk-in for a busy weekend, or for the months of reservations I had to cancel.

Olive oil chiffon with spruce tip mousse at Cafe Juanita

Olive oil chiffon with spruce tip mousse
Holly Smith

Every restaurant is different, but food in a fine dining restaurant is one of our most significant expenses. On any given day, the total amount of food at Cafe Juanita can cost well over $20,000, the bulk of which is highly perishable. Without protection for those financial hits, we are in a tenuous position. Not to mention that business will be slower until we have a vaccine. I am grateful that restrictions were applied to in-house dining by the state at 50 percent in phase two of the reopening plan, but those illustrate the limitations on occupancy and therefore revenue, before we take into account the large number of guests who are not ready to return to indoor dining. That means the staff would get fewer hours than in the past, and receive less revenue from gratuities. None of this is rocket science: The risks of reopenings simply do not outweigh the benefits.

Many areas in the U.S. have either reclosed restaurants or are getting close to that point after a rise in COVID-19 cases, and the same goes for Washington; Inslee recently reinstituted some restrictions on restaurants, such as only allowing people from the same household to eat at the same table inside. During this time of uncertainty, supporting restaurants with a model that keeps the business and staff safest is imperative.

As I think about the landscape in a year, I hope that restaurants and small businesses will shift and stand in our maturity and expertise. The usual mantras of “the guest won’t do x, y, or z” and “we cannot charge what we need to” have to stop. Restaurateurs and owners need to focus on running healthy businesses. To do that, we have to pay our staff well enough to live well, and we have to create structures that can be reasonably profitable.

The old adage “don’t buy yourself a job” bears some meditation. Too often, restaurants make too many compromises in the name of hospitality. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to be able to take care of others. I will do my best to let Cafe Juanita be true to itself, even under the circumstances, and it feels like that will get us to the other side of the pandemic.

And, consumers, please consider what you are paying for. Yes, the meal is expensive in my restaurant, but the staff has always had a 401k plan; medical, dental and supplemental insurance; paid vacations; and ongoing professional training. I believe these expenses are as important as my food or my rent.

I know that everyone is missing “normal activities,” and I hope that when a restaurant says it needs to stay closed or chooses not to reopen after saying it will, you consider all the factors its proprietors are weighing — professional, personal, financial, and emotional — and support the services they offer. The restaurant industry needs your help, but encouraging us to take on more risk in a tumultuous time is not that.

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Breaking New

Trump Won’t Say Whether He Will Accept 2020 Election Results: ‘I Have To See’

President Donald Trump wouldn’t say whether he will accept the results of the general election in November during an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” claiming again without evidence that the process is rigged before any votes have been cast.

Host Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was a good loser, to which the president responded that he is not. “But are you gracious?” Wallace pressed.

“You don’t know until you see,” Trump said. “It depends. I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.”

Asked if he’s suggesting he might not accept the results of the election, Trump said, “I have to see.”

Many states are preparing for a significant increase in voters who cast their ballots by mail this year as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country.

Trump and Attorney General William Barr have asserted several times without evidence that mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud. (Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and several other administration officials have voted by mail in recent elections.)

But election officials from dozens of states have disputed the administration’s arguments about potential fraud, saying that there are many security measures in place to prevent any issues.

“President Donald Trump has a long track record of false and misinformed statements about voting and elections, including his recent remarks about mail voting,” Alex Curtas, a communications director for New Mexico’s secretary of state’s office, told ABC News last week.

“Ballot tracking, intelligent barcodes, identity verification, post-election audits and the fact that there are severe criminal and civil penalties already in place (which makes any attempt at vote tampering a high-risk, low-reward endeavor) all combine to ensure that mail-in voting is a trusted way for voters to make their voices heard,” Curtas added.

This isn’t the first time Trump has refused to say whether he will accept election results. He also evaded a similar question from Wallace during a debate against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in October 2016.

“I will tell you at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.”

Asked for a direct response on “Fox News Sunday” to the question of whether he would accepting the election results, Trump again said he will “have to see.”

“No, I’m not going to just say yes,” the president said, adding: “And I didn’t last time, either.”

Trump disputed polls that showed presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden at an advantage in some areas. He called Biden “mentally shot” and said the former vice president wouldn’t be able to sit through an interview with Wallace.

“He’ll be on the ground crying for mommy,” Trump said.

Wallace interviewed Biden on “Fox News Sunday” in March.

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Live music won’t return until 2022, Lollapalooza co-founder says

You may have spent your quarantine dreaming of attending that concert the ongoing pandemic ultimately canceled. And you may have hoped, really hoped, that the venue would reschedule the event for sometime this year.

Well, according to a Lollapalooza co-founder, don’t hold your breath.

Making an appearance on Bob Lefsetz’s podcast this week, Marc Geiger was asked when live music will return.

“In my humble opinion, it’s going to be 2022,” he said.

He went on to say, “It’s going to take that long before what I call ‘the germaphobic economy’ is slowly killed off and replaced by the claustrophobia economy — that’s when people want to get out and go to dinner and have their lives, go to festivals and shows.”

“It’s my instinct that’s going to take awhile because superspreader events — sports, shows, festivals, etc. — aren’t going to do too well when the virus is this present.”

This comes at a time when the coronavirus has surged in states including California, Florida and Texas — and as more than 3.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with the illness. This year’s Lollapalooza was canceled in June.

As a result, Geiger predicts, among other things, bankruptcies in the live music industry.

“The whole thing is a s - - t show,” he said.

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’30 Rock’ reunion special won’t air on many NBC stations

What started as another dip in the TV nostalgia pool has ended up making waves for NBC as most of its independently owned affiliates are pledging not to air Thursday night’s “30 Rock” reunion.

The prime-time reunion, created by and starring the team behind the original NBC comedy mainstay, including Tina Fey, is scheduled to air Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It will be in major U.S. markets via the NBC owned stations and made available across other platforms.

The news was first reported by Vulture and confirmed to Deadline by numerous sources with knowledge of the situation. Stations owned by Nexstar, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tegna, Gray Television and other companies have all pledged not to air the show, sources said, though not 100% of their stations are part of the pullout. Local station officials, of course, always have the option of whether or not to air what the national network is feeding them. From time to time, they refuse based on their sense of what is in the best interest of their stations and the viewers they serve.

The conceit of Thursday’s episode from the beginning was that it would double as a vehicle for the network’s upfront messages while also capitalizing on the recent flurry of reunions. In place of the NBCU extravaganza at Radio City Music Hall, which was scrubbed this year due to COVID-19, the plan was hatched to use “30 Rock” to highlight opportunities for advertisers across NBCU. The network is also convening an online “creativity summit” on Thursday. That event will feature an advance screening of the reunion for media buyers and press, so one insider described any prime-time viewing of the show in prime time by fans or general audiences as a “bonus.”

Beyond the traditional linear opportunities for advertisers, NBCU is keen to promote Peacock, the ad-supported streaming service whose national debut is Wednesday. It will make the “30 Rock” reunion available on Friday. Peacock has rubbed many affiliates the wrong way for months given its plan to stream late-night shows in primetime on the East Coast and also carry big-ticket sports events like an NFL playoff game.

For many affiliates, the prospect of airing a full hour of promotion for not only NBCU cable networks like Syfy and USA but also for Peacock was unappealing. The fact that the hour is also advertising-free, amid a steep decline in ad spending hitting local broadcasters during COVID-19, also proved a deal-breaker for many affiliates.

NBC, meanwhile, is also in an unprecedented bind due to the coronavirus, with its upfront inventory still not completely sold and programming plans in flux due to the surge in infections in recent weeks. All broadcast networks typically lock in as much as one-third of their full year’s worth of ad revenue in the springtime, a process punctuated by lavish presentations held in New York in May. This year’s pageant has gone by the boards, along with much else in society, putting pressure on networks to deliver. Most ad industry and Wall Street analysts expect network ad revenue to fall anywhere from 5% to 10% in 2020 compared with 2019.

Representatives of several of the station groups reached by Deadline declined to comment. NBC also did not weigh in on the situation.

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Breaking New

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Won’t Cross the Border for Washington Summit

TORONTO — He sent his regrets.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Monday he won’t attend a meeting in Washington this week with President Donald Trump and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. The meeting was meant to celebrate the official start of the new trade deal between the three countries — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (U.S.M.C.A.).

Mr. Trudeau’s reason for not attending? Scheduling conflicts, he said.

He has virtual cabinet meetings and a “long-planned” session in Parliament on Wednesday, when the Washington summit is scheduled to begin.

That Mr. Trudeau would choose not to fly to Washington to celebrate what many consider one of his most important accomplishments to date — securing the pact with his country’s biggest, and in recent times, most temperamental, trading partner — was striking.

He and his team spent more than a year feverishly working on closing the deal, often dropping everything to rush to Washington. But the pressure evaporated in November 2018, when it was officially signed.

And since the coronavirus pandemic reached Canada, the prime minister has become the country’s model for following new medical guidelines on virus-spreading prevention, which include wearing a mask and avoiding travel.

“Will Trump be wearing a mask in the meeting?” asked Roland Paris, a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, and a former foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trudeau. Would Mr. Trump stand closer than two meters away?

“I don’t think Trudeau has any interest in being drawn into American debates on mask-wearing and appropriate health precautions during an epidemic,” Mr. Paris said.

While President Trump has continually underplayed the severity of the virus, and even mocked people for wearing masks, Mr. Trudeau became the first G7 leader to self-isolate after his wife came down with flulike symptoms and later tested positive for Covid-19 in March.

For two weeks, Mr. Trudeau juggled the country’s response to the pandemic from his home study, caring for the couple’s three young children without the help of his usual political aides or personal staff. He didn’t get a test himself because, at that time, doctors were advising only those with symptoms to get tested, and he had none.

It would also look hypocritical for the prime minister to dash into the United States for a quick trip when his government officially shut the border in March to anything but essential travel, experts said.

“It’s not clear that a photo op counts as essential,” said Mr. Paris.

Polls have consistently shown the majority of Canadians want the U.S.-Canada border to remain closed for safety reasons. While new cases of the novel coronavirus surge to record levels in many parts of the United States, they have dropped across Canada to levels similar to March. To date, around 8,700 Canadians have died from the disease.

“It would be really awkward for the prime minister to go when, in all likelihood, the border is not going to open, given the escalating cases in the United States,” said Janice Stein, the founding director of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

Not everyone agreed.

“It’s a rookie mistake for him not to go,” said John Higginbotham, a senior fellow at Carleton University in Ottawa who served as the second-highest-ranking Canadian diplomat in Washington for six years. “That’s the president to have in front of us. There are so many issues to be discussed. There’s so much turbulence internationally, then there’s long-term trade, and economic cooperation between our countries and the opening of the border.”

And Mr. Trump “may take this as a slight,” Mr. Higginbotham added.

Mr. Trudeau has been at the receiving end of Mr. Trump’s quick-twitch anger before.

The president was so furious with Mr. Trudeau when he said Canadians would not be pushed around at the end of the G7 summit in Canada in 2018 that he lashed out on Twitter, calling his host “very dishonest and weak” as he departed the country.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration discussed reimposing tariffs on Canadian aluminum over concerns about rising exports to the United States.

Mr. Trudeau did promise Mr. Obrador a visit “as soon as possible” over the phone.

When that would be, his staff would not say.

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Dining News

Eater Critic Ryan Sutton Outlines Why He Won’t Eat At Restaurants Right Now

I’m a restaurant critic. It’s my job to dine out. Yet even though the restaurant shutdown ended nearly a month ago on Long Island, where I’ve been living since March, I still haven’t ordered anything except takeout. In fact I haven’t sat down for dine-in service in over 122 days, with no plans to change course. Resurgent COVID-19 infections prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce today that he’s pushing back the onset of indoor dining in the city. That’s a good start, but if you care about the safety of your fellow humans amid a pandemic that has killed over half a million globally and sickened many more — myself included — you should consider a stronger measure. You might consider not drinking or dining out at all, not even outdoors.

You should instead stick to takeout. I make that suggestion with a heavy heart. After COVID-19 wrecked my body — I lost 10 pounds in a week — I spent the following three months dreaming about falling back into my old routines: sipping daiquiris at a local Hell’s Kitchen bar, or gorging on vaca frita while a live Latin jazz band plays on stage. It appeared for a while that New Yorkers were about to return to such everyday indulgences. But as states throughout the country loosened restrictions on their hospitality industries and larger economies, the virus came back hard, threatening the progress we’ve made in the five boroughs.

For a patron with a sudden craving, no plate of duck wings or fluke ceviche is worth getting catastrophically sick over, especially if one can order those dishes more safely via takeaway. For a staffer with little alternative but to work, no economic benefit outweighs the reality of getting infected with COVID-19, which can bring with it chronic health repercussions, devastating financial consequences, and death.

Whenever I do feel the urge to go out for a sit-down meal or drink, I think about how COVID-19 cases are increasing in the U.S. more than almost anywhere else in the world, with new infections now double what they were earlier in June. I think about how Texas and Florida are shutting down their bars, how California is shutting down Los Angeles dining rooms, and how revelers in Hell’s Kitchen and the West Village stand as closely together as at a mosh pit while drinking. I think about how scores of restaurant workers have died, and how those that have recovered are going back to work without knowing whether they’ll fall ill again.

I have no doubt that smart people have carried out rigorous cost-benefit studies about keeping businesses open, arguing that at some point the social ills of a stagnant economy will wreak more havoc than the virus. Thing is, my argument isn’t a macro one for policymakers — who should pay workers so they can stay at home — it’s a micro one for consumers. For me, the low risk of sending a single uninsured waiter to an ICU bed, someone who isn’t really there by choice, in exchange for the pitcher of frozen margaritas you happen to be craving in the late afternoon, is a morally indefensible transaction.

A collection of tables and wicker chairs wrapped in plastic wrap in New York
Gary He/Eater

Other food reviewers have shared the larger sentiment against dining out. Los Angeles Times critic Bill Addison penned a newsletter wherein he said he wouldn’t feel comfortable returning to restaurants after hanging out at a Beverly Hills steakhouse. San Francisco Chronicle critic Soleil Ho wrote on Monday that she’s “still just cooking at home.” These statements and essays are meaningful because they implicitly deal with setting the right example. When a president doesn’t wear a mask, his followers don’t. When you see a friend drinking in a group and they ask you to join, it’s easy to say yes. When you know a critic is eating out around the city and filing regular dispatches from dining rooms, it acts as a signal that others can and should do the same.

New York Times California critic Tejal Rao was particularly eloquent in her own essay against dining out, citing the absurdity of having restaurants assume the responsibility of safeguarding the health of workers or patrons. “Restaurateurs, despite being pushed into the role, are not our public-health officials,” Rao wrote. Indeed, there’s something distinctly worrisome about entrusting the U.S. hospitality industry — known for more documented wage violations than any other sector — with the health and wellbeing of millions.

Many ex-restaurant staffers are actually doing okay thanks to a federal pandemic unemployment program that’s paying them $600 every week to stay at home, protect themselves, and protect their families. Those people, many of whom are only earning a living wage for the first time in a long time thanks to government assistance, are being pulled into work to earn less and put themselves at risk for catching infections, spreading infections, and dying. Many of those workers are uninsured, and while federal law is supposed to ensure that most patients not face costs for COVID-19 treatments, the reality is slightly more complicated.

What’s more is that local health regulations for dining out aren’t strong enough. Before every shift, restaurants have to screen employees with health based questions, but temperature checks aren’t mandatory for either staffers or employees. And even though patrons are encouraged to wear masks at tables while they’re not actively eating or drinking, few really do. Even if no one dies or is sent to intensive care under these conditions, the notion of being in a place where underpaid staffers are financially compelled to interact with unscreened and unprotected patrons seeking leisure is unacceptable to me on a very basic human level.

Surely, some people will still insist on dining out anyway. Perhaps they’ve assessed that the chances of falling ill are acceptable, or that they’re ready to tough it out if they get sick. So allow me to recount what it’s actually like to catch COVID-19 — and I was one of the lucky ones.

On March 9, there weren’t any reported infections in Idaho where I was vacationing. There were just 600 or so confirmed cases nationwide, a reality that admittedly caused me to miss a few signals. I felt a little out of breath that day, but blamed that on the 3,000 meters of altitude. My cough didn’t seem odd either, which I attributed to the fact that my companion was vaping. When I got chilly after pizza and beers, I thought, hey, it’s winter. I drank some tequila to warm up.

By midnight, I had warmed up. My temperature likely approached 104 degrees Fahrenheit. My upper respiratory system started to get clogged up with fluid. My nausea was uncontrollable. I kept a cold rag over my head for most of the night because my body had transformed itself into an impromptu Russian sauna without an off switch. My resting heart rate, which often dips into the mid 40s during a good night of sleep, averaged well over 105 beats per minute for nearly nine hours. I was delirious and miserable. A day later a local doctor told me their goal was to keep me out of the hospital.

When I started cycling back in New York a few weeks later, the sensation was akin to breathing gasoline that had been set on fire. At some point during my recovery I regressed and barely had enough energy to stand up for more than 30 seconds at a time. I experienced an uncontrollable dry cough for over thirty days. If I had to be physically present at an office, or engaged in client meetings, I estimate I would have been out of work for at least one month.

Mask-free patrons converse in front of a bar in New York

Patrons converse in front of a bar in New York
Gary He/Eater

So if you think in selfish terms, and are trying to calculate your own risk-reward scenario for dining out, remember that there are about 40,000 more confirmed U.S. cases per day now than there were when I became infected. And while most of those cases aren’t in New York, keep in mind that there aren’t any border guards stopping folks from flying into the city from California or Texas, even if they are required to quarantine now.

My relatively mild infection, confirmed by an antibody test, was among the most traumatic medical experiences I’ve ever endured. Imagine having to go through that, or imagine more permanently maiming yourself, killing your family members, or losing your ability to truly appreciate whatever expensive food you claim to enjoy for up to months at a time. My parents both tested positive later in March, and while I never developed anosmia, my mother lost most of her sense of taste for nearly sixty days. Cilantro, one of her favorite herbs, still tasted like soap to her as of a few weeks ago.

If this line of reasoning is what it takes for you to stay at home and not kill restaurant workers — now that you finally suppressed your hankering for rooftop blueberry mojitos and vegan chorizo arancini — so be it. And speaking more superficially, I’ll argue that restaurant food is a heck of a lot more enjoyable when enjoyed safely in your apartment, or on a bench, or on a grassy field in a park where waiters aren’t hovering around with plastic face shields like in some Michael Crichton quarantine horror flick. So really, maybe just stick with takeout.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Why He Won’t Be on ‘Big Brother’ 22’s All-Star Season

Not returning just yet. Despite rumors that Big Brother 20 alum Chris “Swaggy C” Williams is in talks to appear on the second all-star season of Big Brother this summer, the reality star claims that’s not true.

“I would not go back right now. I know there’s all these rumors about all-stars season 2. Swaggy C is not on that,” the Challenge: Total Madness alum, 25, said on the “Challenge Mania” podcast, published on Tuesday, June 23. “I can’t afford to leave the business and me trading and all that stuff right now. I’m 100% percent guaranteed not on that. I can’t right now.”

Earlier this month, Us Weekly exclusively broke the news that CBS is eyeing all returnees for season 22 — which also marks the 20th anniversary of the show’s debut. The cast has not yet been locked in and could still change, but multiple sources confirmed to Us that many memorable past competitors have been contacted and are negotiating.

Swaggy C won't be on big brother all stars
Chris ‘Swaggy C’ Williams Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

“CBS was originally aiming for July 15 premiere, but now it’s set for July 22,” an insider shared exclusively. “It could be pushed back even further due to COVID-19.”

Swaggy C, who works as a day trader, was the second to be evicted on his season in 2018, leaving the show on day 23. Most recently, he competed on The Challenge 35, alongside fiancée Bayleigh Dayton, whom he met on Big Brother.

Swaggy C and Bayleigh
Swaggy C and Bayleigh Courtesy of Swaggy C/Instagram

“If it was two [or] three years down the line and everything with the business was automated and I made enough money where I feel like, you know, let me chill and not put money as the top priority and let me just chill, then it’s, like, ‘Yeah, I would love to go back on Big Brother,’” the Connecticut native told hosts Scott Yager and Derrick Kosinski. “Just right this second, where, like, I’m in the prime of my life and I’m about to hit my first $2 million, $3 million a year. Because last year I wasn’t making $2-3 million. Now I’m at a stride where it’s all clicking and I’m at the prime. I can’t just leave and go on another TV show — not right this second.”

The show has reached out to season 6’s Janelle Pierzina, season 14’s Ian Terry, season 16’s Frankie Grande and season 20’s Tyler Crispen, according to multiple sources. “Contracts are still be negotiated, but NDAs have gone out,” the insider added.

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