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What Contact Tracing Data Is Telling Us About How COVID-19 Spreads : Shots

When everyone who tests positive for coronavirus in your community gets a call from a public health worker asking them about their contacts, and those contacts are then asked to quarantine, that can be a powerful way to keep the virus from spreading.

But contact tracing can do more than that: At scale, the data gathered in those calls also offers vital information about where transmission is happening in a community. That data can drive policy, and even guide individuals in assessing what’s more or less safe to go out and do in their communities.

NPR has surveyed the health departments of all U.S. states and territories three times to ask about contact tracing capacity — first in April, then again in mid-June, and most recently in late July. The latest survey, done in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, also asked states about

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‘The Disaster Tourist’ Is a Timely Capitalist Satire

The Canadian literary theorist Northrop Frye wrote that for satire to work, it needed to include “a token fantasy, a content which the reader recognizes as grotesque”; otherwise, the satire “breaks down when its content is too oppressively real.” The Disaster Tourist comes close to being oppressive at times, especially in Yona’s seemingly uncritical view of a workplace that keeps her down. When some colleagues approach her to say they’ve also been harassed by the manager who assaulted her, and ask her to join them in protest, Yona rejects them: “She had no desire to join the group of victims, the has-beens and the losers, the dregs of the company.” When she arrives on Mui, she seems to scoff at the way locals are forced to play up their misery. That she’s spent the past decade designing tours that require this

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Payroll Tax Delay May Mean Problems For Workers, Employers And Social Security : NPR

Employers are supposed to stop withholding the payroll tax on Sept. 1. But companies need guidance from the IRS on exactly who is eligible to have their taxes suspended and how to keep track so those taxes can eventually be repaid.

Elaine Thompson/AP


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Elaine Thompson/AP

Employers are supposed to stop withholding the payroll tax on Sept. 1. But companies need guidance from the IRS on exactly who is eligible to have their taxes suspended and how to keep track so those taxes can eventually be repaid.

Elaine Thompson/AP

President Trump wants to give a $100 billion boost to the U.S. economy by hitting the “pause” button on workers’ payroll taxes.

That would leave more money in people’s paychecks. But the move — which Trump ordered over the weekend — is only temporary. And that could produce headaches down the road for workers, employers and the Social

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Lebanon’s Tragedy Is All Too Familiar

In some ways, at least, the negligence of the Trump administration actually exceeds that of the Lebanese government. An explosion, after all, is a sudden thing that happens all at once. There is no intervening once it begins.

A pandemic, by contrast, takes place over time. Each day thus offers a new opportunity either for negligence or for leadership. And each day since the pandemic arrived in this country, Trump has awakened with what amounts to a renewed commitment to negligence. Sometimes the commitment takes the form of denial. Sometimes it takes the form of blame-shifting. Sometimes it takes the form of conspiracy theorizing. Sometimes it takes the form of magical thinking.

There is no such thing as leadership during an explosion. There is such a thing as leadership during a pandemic. And there is also such a thing as its absence.

We should

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