Off-Peak Pandemic | Crooked Media
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May 01, 2022
What A Day
Off-Peak Pandemic

In This Episode

  • The current COVID wave in the U.S. is relatively mild considering what we’ve seen in the past. For instance, recent data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the daily COVID death rate has really slowed. And COVID hospital admissions are far below what we’ve seen during other surges.
  • After numerous refusals by Ukraine to surrender the city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials have brokered a deal with Russia to allow some civilians trapped in a steel mill there to evacuate safely. The operation, in collaboration with the United Nations and the Red Cross, began over the weekend.
  • And in headlines: Thousands of people around the world took to the streets for May Day, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill to protect abortion providers from bans in other states, and now-former member of UK’s Parliament Neil Parish resigned over the weekend.


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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, May 2nd. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where we are busy getting ready for tonight’s Met gala in case we get an invite in the next 6 hours.


Tre’vell Anderson: I am waiting on my invite from my old friend Anna Wintour.


Josie Duffy Rice: It is possible that they thought we were too cool to get an invite, you know?


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, evacuations are underway for some of the Ukrainian civilians trapped in the city of Mariupol. Plus, we ranked President Biden’s best jokes from the White House Correspondents Dinner.


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, there is, dare I say it, good, or at least relatively good news about COVID in the U.S.. Based on recent stats, this current COVID wave is relatively mild, especially considering what we’ve seen in the past.


Tre’vell Anderson: I like to hear that. So what are some of the data points you’ve seen out there?


Josie Duffy Rice: According to info from Johns Hopkins University, the daily COVID death rate has really, really slowed. So on March 11th, it was an average of over 1,200 people a day in the U.S. dying of COVID. Now it’s about 300. So while that’s still far too many people, that is about a 75% drop in less than two months. So that’s big. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal looked at stats from the Northeast, which was the first region to see a surge of the newest Omicron variant. And it reported that the level of virus detected through wastewater there has flattened, which is a good omen for the rest of the country. And while hospital admissions have increased in that region, they’re still way, way, way below what we’ve seen during other surges.


Tre’vell Anderson: I like what I’m hearing.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s all good so far.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Still, given how contagious this Omicron variant is, why does it seem that this one is hitting us less hard than past variants? I don’t want no surprises. Josie.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. So there is no one answer to that question, but a big part of the reason might just be increased natural immunity. The CDC estimated last week that 60% of Americans have had the virus at this point and so we might just be at a point where enough people have enough immunity that it’s not racing through the population in the same way.


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So what does this all mean for the near future? In particular, our hot girl summers, exactly.


Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. Let’s talk about what really matters. It actually depends on where you live. So the expectation, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the White House COVID response task force coordinator, Dr. Birx says that from this point forward, the South will likely see COVID surges in the summer, while the Northeast surges will likely happen in the winter around the holidays. Here she is on yesterday’s CBS Face the Nation:


[clip of Dr. Deborah Birx] What has happened each time is we’ve had a summer surge across the south and a winter surge that starts in the Northern Plains and moves down, accelerated by Thanksgiving and the holidays of Christmas, Kwanza, ,and Hanukkah. And that’s predictable. We have tools, better tools than we had a year ago. So we have the tools now to enable every American to not only survive, but thrive. But that means every American has to have access to these tools.


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay, so we’re avoiding the South in the summer and avoiding the Northeast in the fall and winter. I can do that.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s really not too bad of a deal, to be honest.


Tre’vell Anderson: And Josie, we talked last week about Moderna applying for FDA approval of its vaccine for young children. What’s new with that?


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, well, as of now there are still 18 million kids five and under, who cannot yet be vaccinated. Two of those 18 million live in my home, so I have a personal investment in let’s get this show on the road. The FDA has announced three tentative days in June where they expect to review applications for Moderna and Pfizer for a five and under vaccine. But again, those dates are not set in stone, and while that would be a step forward, there would still be a ways to go before a five and under vaccine was approved.


Tre’vell Anderson: All right. So we’re still holding out for the children.


Josie Duffy Rice: We are.


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all right. That’s all right. We’ll cross our fingers and hopefully you and your kids can get that soon.


Josie Duffy Rice: That would be awesome.


Tre’vell Anderson: Moving to the international front, some positive news out of Ukraine as Russia’s invasion continues. Last week we told you about the city of Mariupol where Ukrainian civilians and military personnel were holed up in a steel mill. After numerous refusals by Ukraine to surrender the city, Ukrainian officials have brokered a deal with Russia to allow some civilians to evacuate safely.


Josie Duffy Rice: Wow, that is decent news for this topic. So how did this come about?


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So the operation, which is in collaboration with the United Nations and the Red Cross, began over the weekend. It’s unclear exactly how many people in total have been or will be evacuated, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted, quote, “The first group of about 100 people is already heading to the controlled area.” By which he means the city of Zaporizhia. But evacuees are also being taken to Russia controlled territories. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, some 80 civilians have been taken to a small eastern Ukrainian village where they were given medical care and supplies. And in a statement carried by Russian state media – which can and should be taken with a grain of salt – the ministry said that civilians who wanted to leave for Ukraine in controlled areas, quote, “have been handed over to representatives of the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross.”


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, this is one of those times. I really, really, really want to believe the Russian state media. So, let’s hope. There’s also some updates to share on how much the United States and its NATO allies have given to Ukraine in terms of military and humanitarian supplies. So what’s new there?


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So last week, a group of 40 nations gathered by the U.S. collectively agreed to streamline and expedite the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. And on Thursday, Biden asked Congress for another 33 billion – that’s billion with a B – in supplemental funding to support Ukraine over the next several months, saying, quote, “The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen.” Then over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest ranking official to meet with Zelenskyy since the war began more than two months ago. She and a congressional delegation spent over 3 hours on the ground in Kiev. Here she is speaking with Zelenskyy:


[clip of Speaker Nancy Pelosi] We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom, that we are on a frontier of freedom, and that your fight is a fight for everyone. And so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.


Josie Duffy Rice: This sounds like things are more optimistic than they were a few weeks ago. Obviously, things change day to day. There’s no way to really know the answer to some of this. But Tre’vell, what do we know about what’s next and when this war might come to, like, dare I say, an end?


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So on the Ukrainian side of things, the head of their military administration in Kharkiv said that four settlements have been recaptured from Russians. But we’ve also seen the violence in the eastern region of the country increase over the last couple of weeks. And according to The New York Times, Russia’s highest ranking officer visited the front lines of the conflict in eastern Ukraine late last week in an effort to, quote, “change the course of their offense.” There is some reporting out there that cites U.S. intelligence intercepts that suggests Putin might be looking at May 9th as a target date or deadline to finalize things, so to speak – so exactly one week from now. We don’t know with finalize things means, right, but that is a prominent holiday already on the Russian calendar known as Victory Day, and it marks the Nazi surrender in World War II. Officials say Putin wants to be able to celebrate a victory of some kind on that day. So we will be keeping our eyes out on May 9th. So that’s your update on Ukraine and Russia. That is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headline.


[sung] Headlines.


Tre’vell Anderson: Thousands of people around the world took to the streets yesterday for May Day, also known as International Workers Day. Every year, folks come together on that date to show solidarity with workers and the labor movement across the globe, and yesterday was no different. [crowd noise] So as you just heard, in France, demonstrators clashed with police in protest of the country’s newly-reelected president, Emmanuel Macron. The main protest was in Paris, where union workers marched to protest Macron’s policies, specifically his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. In Cuba, thousands took to the streets of Havana and waved photos of revolutionary leaders in the air as they walked in celebration of the Cuban revolution of 1959. And in Sri Lanka, protesters assembled in the capital of Colombo to demand the resignation of their president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The rally came just a few days after millions of Sri Lankan workers went on a one-day strike in protest of his administration closing down essential businesses and schools. And Sunday’s May Day rally was a continuation of the movement against Rajapaksa that began about a month ago amid the worst economic crisis the island country has seen.


Josie Duffy Rice: The Connecticut Senate passed a bill on Friday night to protect abortion providers from bans in other states. The bill is designed to do two things, increase the number of medical professionals who are allowed to perform abortions, as well as stop Connecticut courts from enforcing another state’s penalties against local providers. It is in direct response to laws we’ve been following in other states like Texas, which bans abortions after six weeks and allows individuals to sue anyone suspected of helping a person get the procedure. Connecticut joins other states moving to increase abortion access like New York and California, which have also recently allowed a wider range of medical specialists to perform abortion services. Next, Connecticut’s bill heads to Governor Ned Lamont’s desk, where he has already pledged to sign it into law, and it will go into effect in July. This is all happening while we await the fate of Roe v Wade, because the U.S. Supreme Court might or probably will overturn it as early as next month.


Tre’vell Anderson: Turning now to the kind of gossip that’s not very spicy, but still very important: gossip about canceling student loan debt. The Biden administration is reportedly discussing a variety of means tests to determine who is eligible for federal student loan debt forgiveness. According to multiple reports, top Biden aides are looking at a plan to exclude borrowers who make over $150,000 a year from relief so that a plan can prioritize lower-income Americans. And administration officials have signaled that they will cut $10,000 per qualifying borrower per Biden’s campaign promise. While this movement on the issue of student loans might seem good, progressive lawmakers and advocates worry about the barriers these means tests will create for borrowers. They argue that someone having student loans in itself is a means test because – hello – why would people borrow money if they could afford an education on their own?


Josie Duffy Rice: I just love loans.


Tre’vell Anderson: And many say that only forgiving a small portion of someone’s debt, like $10,000, won’t provide much relief for folks with loans in the six figure range.


Josie Duffy Rice: Like me!


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the Debt Collective, which is the nation’s first debtors union, said on Friday in a new petition, quote, “If Biden were to cancel 10K for all 45 million borrowers, we’d still have a massive student debt crisis on our hands.”


Josie Duffy Rice: Every person now carries a device in their pocket with the power to ruin their life with just a few clicks, and a now-former member of UK Parliament has done just that. Neil Parish resigned over the weekend after admitting he watched porn on his phone while in the House of Commons chamber – that is like watching porn while in the Senate. It’s not cool.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yikes.


Josie Duffy Rice: This all happened after two female colleagues claimed they saw a Parish looking at, quote, “adult content at work” and by adult content, they did not mean laws, taxes, and budgets. Parish was suspended by his Conservative Party on Friday and resigned Saturday. During a BBC interview, the lawmaker came clean about two different times he watched X-rated content in parliament. The first time Parish claimed he came across the porn by accident while searching for a tractor website.


Tre’vell Anderson: Hmm.


Josie Duffy Rice: Presumably farm hub dot com. Things went wrong. But he confessed the second time was deliberate while he was waiting to vote with his fellow lawmakers. Here’s a moment from that exclusive BBC interview:


[interviewer] So what was going through your mind?


[interview clip] Yeah, I mean, a moment of madness, and also totally wrong.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.


Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.


Josie Duffy Rice: I think that’s fair to say. Parish’s actions follow several other recent acts of sexual misconduct and harassment committed by men in the UK’s parliament and more specifically in the Conservative Party. Just to remind you, Tre’vell, that is the party of family values.


Tre’vell Anderson: Which apparently those family values include looking at porn while you’re on the job.


Josie Duffy Rice: On. The. Job. Taxpayer-funded, looking at it on your phone. It’s just so bold.


Tre’vell Anderson: You’re not even in the bathroom, you know?


Josie Duffy Rice: Right!


Tre’vell Anderson: You’re on the floor. Like, come on!


Josie Duffy Rice: Do you not have an office? Like, I just feel like we could do this better, which makes me think it was not the first or second time.


Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely not. Yikes. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with a critical look at the comedy stylings of the one and only President Biden.


[ad break]


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday WAD squad, and we’re just days away from the event that puts the leaders of our country face to face with the people who hold them to account and encourages them all to be friends, ironically: the White House Correspondents Dinner. The event was held on Saturday night in Washington, DC, and was the first to feature a comedian as its emcee since Michelle Wolf hosted in 2018 and made Sarah Huckabee Sanders feel bad about constantly lying.


Josie Duffy Rice: I forgot about her.


Tre’vell Anderson: Didn’t you? Probably for the best.


Josie Duffy Rice: Sarah Huckabee Sanders!


Tre’vell Anderson: She’ll be on Dancing with the Stars or something soon, I’m sure.


Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely.


Tre’vell Anderson: This year’s host was Trevor Noah. And Noah got some good lines in during his part of the show. Like this one about one infuriating senator from Arizona.


[clip of Trevor Noah] I’m not doing this just for the attention. All right? I’m a comedian, I’m not Kyrsten Sinema. All right? And by the way, give it up for Kyrsten Sinema. Whoever thought we’d see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual but closeted Republican? Huh? That’s progress. That’s progress.


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, we all know who does the truly cutting edge jokes at the Correspondents Dinner, though, a man who learned the art of comedy from the golden age of radio plays: President Joe Biden. So, Josie, our producers have pulled some of Biden’s best jokes from Saturday night, and they want us to tell them our favorites. Are you ready?


Josie Duffy Rice: I am so ready.


Tre’vell Anderson: All righty. Let’s hear joke number one.


[clip of President Biden] This the first time the president attended this dinner in six years. It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague, followed by two years of COVID.


Josie Duffy Rice: Cute, cute.


Tre’vell Anderson: That was cute It was cute. What’s the next one?


[clip of President Biden] Very first President attend the White House Correspondents Dinner was Calvin Coolidge in 1924. I’d just been elected to the United States Senate. I remember telling him, Cal, just be yourself, get up there and speak from the heart. You’re going to be great, kid. You’re going to do it well.


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, that was great.


Josie Duffy Rice: I like that. I like him making fun of the fact that he’s ancient. What else we got?


Tre’vell Anderson: All right, next joke.


[clip of President Biden] I know there are questions about whether we should gather here tonight because of COVID. Well, we’re here to show the country that we’re getting through this pandemic. Plus, everyone had to prove they’re fully-vaccinated and boosted! So if you’re at home watching this and you’re wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite fox news reporter. They’re all here: vaccinated and boosted!


Josie Duffy Rice: Love that.


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay.


Josie Duffy Rice: I love a calling out a hypocrite.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Shout out to the writers. Shout out to the writers. They did pretty okay there.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.


Tre’vell Anderson: So we had the plague joke. We had the Calvin Coolidge joke. And we had that Fox News booster joke. In your opinion, Josie? What’s Biden’s best material here?


Josie Duffy Rice: I got to go with the Fox News booster joke. That’s good.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s just telling the truth and the truth is funny.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I have to agree with you. I do think the Calvin Coolidge old man joke is like a close second.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. I would agree.


Tre’vell Anderson: Making jokes about Fox News is always funny to me.


Josie Duffy Rice: Can’t go wrong.


Tre’vell Anderson: Cannot ever go wrong. That’s our review of Biden’s set this weekend. Remember that it’s our right as members of a democracy to criticize the President’s stand-up comedy. That is what we all vote for.


Josie Duffy Rice: And we are true patriots.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, be careful when visiting farm hub dot com, and tell your friends to listen.


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading, and not just instructions on how to do stand-up comedy when you’re the president like me, What A Day is also a daily newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


[together] And we’re waiting on our gala invite.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, I have a perfect pair of shoes that I’ve been waiting to break out, Josie.


Josie Duffy Rice: Maybe we could wear our gala outfits to the White House Correspondents Dinner when we are co-presidents.


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh! The democracy we’ve all been waiting for, truly.


Josie Duffy Rice: From WAD to the White House.


Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.