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Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing

The White House

Will there be incisive questions today? We can always hope.

Today should be a disinformation doozy, considering the tweets today.


Can you really practice social distancing while cutting someone’s hair? Barbering is an intimate act, one that that many of us are nostalgic for in the Covid-19 lockdown. But thanks to an executive order from Governor Brian Kemp, residents of Georgia will in a matter of days be able to go to hair salons and a host of other businesses. Following the lead of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly advocated an early reopening of the economy, Kemp has issued orders allowing, as The Washington Post reports, the reopening of “fitness centers, bowling alleys, body-art studios, barbers, nail salons, cosmetologists, aestheticians, beauty schools, massage therapists, theaters, private social clubs and dine-in restaurants.”

Many of these businesses don’t meet the criteria set out by the White House for a safe operation. Nor is Georgia a state that seems ready for experimentation with reopening. With 818 deaths as of Tuesday, it has the 11th-highest number of fatalities of any American state.

During a briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force was asked how social distancing could be practiced in hair salons, nail salons, and tattoo shops. Birx replied, “I believe people in Atlanta would understand that if their cases are not going down, that they need to continue to do everything that we said, social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a mask in public. If there’s a way that people can social distance and do those things, then they can do those things. I don’t know how, but people are very creative. So I’m not going to prejudge.”

Birx’s incoherent answer reflects the dangerously mixed messages the Trump administration has been sending about Covid-19. Birx, like her colleague Dr. Anthony Fauci, has repeatedly stressed the need for continued social distancing, which will allow for a testing regime to be set up that will make it safer to return to normal social life. Unfortunately, the sound advocacy of Birx gets overwhelmed by others in the administration, including the president himself, who are eager for a quick solution. In order to maintain their status in the White House, Birx and Fauci have to compromise with this faction, leading to absurdities such as Birx’s suggestion that a barber shop could practice social distancing.



Remember that the neologism of “stochastic terrorism” is based on a media effects argument:


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