Get me rewrite! (Oh wait, that's me)

So much has happened in the last 12 hours—even since many of you might have gone to sleep—that I wound up preempting today's newsletter and starting over.

I’m having a hard time keeping up with the coronavirus story over the last day or two, and I suspect you might be too.

But it’s clear this is very serious. I’m not going to criticize anyone who takes an extreme step now to try to stave off an existential threat. I’d rather we all look silly later than not do enough.

A few developments from the last 12 hours or so alone:

  • The president addressed the nation from the Oval Office, and announced travel restrictions from Europe (except the UK) and some health insurance agreements, among other things. However, there was some intense confusion about the details afterward.

  • Clarifications afterward seemed to suggest that the travel restriction applied only to people, not goods (via the president’s tweet), that the “people” applied mainly to foreign nationals (DHS statement), and that insurance copays would be waived for coronavirus testing (not “for coronavirus treatments,” as the speech read.)

  • Other stuff: The State Department advises Americans just “reconsider travel abroad” in general.

  • The NBA announced it’s suspending its season. A player for the Utah Jazz tested positive, and the entire teams of the Jazz and Oklahoma Thunder (who they were playing) are reportedly in quarantine.

  • The NCAA announced that the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played with no fans attending. There’s pressure on the NHL to suspend, too, and baseball’s Opening Day on March 26 is in jeopardy.

  • Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they’ve tested positive.

  • Italy is almost 100 percent shut down now — no stores open except for food markets and pharmacies. El Salvador is quarantining the entire country, although it has no confirmed cases yet.

  • The big New York-based TV shows—examples: The View, The Tamron Hall Show, Late Night and The Late Show—will keep broadcasting but stop hosting audiences.

  • No St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York, Chicago, and probably wherever you live.

  • Testing is in crisis. The U.S. is testing about 1,000 to 2,000 people a day. South Korea, as I wrote about recently, has 1/6 our population but was testing 10,000 people a day.

  • From Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: "We love to embrace. We love to shake hands. We love to kiss. No more. ... If there is no need for conferences or events, do not hold them and do not go to them. I am saying this as clearly as possible. We are in a global pandemic."

  • More work-from-home edicts: Twitter (worldwide), and Google (for all U.S. and Canada employees), and lots of other companies.

  • 23 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have declared “states of emergency” that let them take drastic action, like banning large groups from getting together.

  • And this was a bit earlier but I have to mention: the Council on Foreign Relations canceled a conference on the coronavirus because of the coronavirus (Bloomberg on this one, so $).

Write stuff down

Besides washing your hands, and taking steps to avoid spreading the disease—for the benefit of higher risk people, if you’re in the lower risk pool—I have another suggestion.

Actually, I didn’t come up with it. Credit for that goes to Kelsey Proud of WAMU radio in Washington. But it’s simply this: Take notes. Write down what’s going on in your life right now.

As she puts it, “We’re all going to be asked about this someday. We’re all going to share stories about what this was like.”

I’m thinking of a friend of mine—more my wife’s friend, but he’s mine now, too—who was in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

He escaped, but it was harrowing, and a day or so later he wrote down everything he could remember. Now it’s something worth having.

So much for my big announcement

I had an entire edition of Understandably written for today, and I rewrote this last night as the news kept coming in.

But let me tease something I was going to write about at greater length. Maybe I’ll adapt it for tomorrow.

I’ve been working on a project about “how to work from home,” since so many people are going to be doing it now. We have advice from literally hundreds of people already, and all kinds of stuff.

Since there’s way too much for a single edition of Understandably (or a single article on, and since it only applies to some of the readership here anyway, I’ll be doing it as a separate, limited-run email newsletter called: Working From Home.

Sign up for 'Working From Home'

I’ll delay the real announcement until tomorrow, but if you want to sign up for it now—as I say it’s a separate email, not daily, maybe one or two times a week for a few weeks—you can do so here.

Actually, one of you will probably be literally the first person to do so. Wouldn’t that be a great way to start the day with an accomplishment?

Ideas and feedback actively solicited. If you haven’t subscribed, please do so! (You can also just send an email to

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