Coronavirus Briefing: 300K deaths by December 1, student papers step up, viruses and voting

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,515 words and will take you seven minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

This dispatch is proud to be service-y from time to time. In that spirit, I offer the following advice: If you happen to receive your annual flu vaccine ahead of schedule – say, at a Walgreens clinic in suburban Jer-Z on a Friday morning in August – you might want to reconsider sharing this information with anyone, especially your mother-in-law. 

Turns out that people have exceedingly strong opinions about pre-October flu vaccination. Some believe early doses are weaker than later ones. Some believe that, if administered too early, the vaccine’s effectiveness will wane during the worst months of flu season (there is evidence suggesting this could be the case). Some are, ahem, vaccine-skeptical.

Me, I just wandered into Walgreens looking for some junk for the kids. When I saw the vaccine was available and there was no line, I got the shot. I’m not worried about diminishing effectiveness because, let’s face it, we’re all gonna be tucked away at home again come flu season.

Getting the flu shot = the important part. Do this, for yourself and for everyone with whom you come in contact for the next six months and for the overburdened care providers who could do without a winter COVID/flu “twindemic.” There are many things worth overthinking amid this continued insanity; slightly premature flu vaccine administration is not one of them. And while we’re in checklist mode, confirm your voter registration deadline, register to vote, sign up to volunteer at your local polling place and mask up. Okay? Good. 

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,515 words and will take you seven minutes to read. 

The numbers redux

Every week sees more and more research around the rippling effects of COVID-19 on every aspect of our lives. That’s good! Most of the data suggests that, in our efforts to get out from under it, we’re traveling from point A to point B via points L, E, M, Q, Z and R. That’s not so good! 

  • The COVID Monitor school reporting and surveillance project is tracking infections in every school in the United States.

The Takeaway:

The more information, the better, no matter how it reflects on our approach to pandemic management and alleviation.

The virus and the vaccine and the vote

If it wasn’t clear before the revelations of the last two weeks, it is now: They’re inextricably intertwined.

  • PRWeek’s Chris Daniels recaps the highs and the lows from the Democrats’ “unconventional convention.” I can’t lie: I missed the event-capping confetti cyclone.

The Takeaway:

It’s encouraging we’re having a lot of these conversations now, as opposed to on Halloween. Does it make me an optimist to think that the U.S. Postal Service will rise to the occasion? It almost always does.


I’m not saying there’s a piece of good news to counterbalance every bad one. But if you seek it out and tilt your head just so, you can usually find a semi-related silver lining. To wit:

The Takeaway:

You can only dwell on the myriad miseries and disruptions so much without doing harm to your mental wellbeing. Any mitigation is good mitigation.

The messengers and the messages

Every person who works in or around the media is a COVID-19 reporter to a certain extent, because there’s nothing the pandemic doesn’t touch. This explains, if not excuses, the inconsistency of tone and approach. 

  • The independent Daily Tar Heel student newspaper has pretty much destroyed any plausible deniability University of North Carolina administrators might have around the predictability of the school’s recent COVID-19 outbreak. Also check out “Don’t Make Us Write Obituaries,” a throat punch of an editorial that ran on the cover of The Observer, an independent student-run paper serving the University of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College. 
  • In this week’s MM&M Podcast, longtime media exec John Kenyon, leader of Meredith’s Targeted Media Health unit, discusses his company’s point-of-care pivot amid the pandemic.
  • “Low mortgage rates and the emerging COVID-era lifestyle” are fueling a suburban housing boom in the United States, Bloomberg reports. If you’re a betting person, put a few bucks on a surge of “sales of heat lamps surge in the suburbs” trend pieces three weeks from now. 

The Takeaway:

Everybody’s doing the best she/he can. I believe this.

The rest

  • Ozzy Osbourne: “People who are locked up and worried about this pandemic and whatever need to unload, because if you don’t unload, you are going to get depressed. And if you get depressed, who knows what’s going to happen?” Also: “Wear a mask, wash hands, social distance.” Elect that man.

…and some songs.

Down to the Waterline, Dire Straits

An Ocean in Between the Waves, The War on Drugs

River Deep, Mountain High, Ike & Tina Turner

Nightswimming, R.E.M.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with the next Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing on Wednesday, September(!) 2. Enjoy the fleeting moments of summer, and stay well.

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