Editorial: Four ways to shore up American democracy in a time of crisis

The United States is facing a double-barreled health and economic crisis unlike anything it has seen since a brutal flu pandemic a century ago when the world was a different, less connected place. Mass quarantines have led to mass layoffs. Numerous businesses and entire industries are flailing. Hard-hit states are desperately working with the federal government to build new hospitals as more and more of the 100,000-plus Americans known to have coronavirus go on to develop the disease it causes — COVID-19, a life-threatening respiratory condition.

Noah Smith: How to limit hoarding and keep America’s hands clean

“What happened to the soap?” That’s what many Americans may be thinking as they wander forlornly through the aisles of local grocery stores (always careful, of course, to maintain a 6-foot distance from other customers). Fresh food may be abundant, but the necessities of a disease quarantine — hand soap, sanitizer, toilet paper and so on — are increasingly hard to find. For some items, such as peanut butter, this isn’t much of a problem. But for soap, hoarding could set back the country’s ability to suppress the coronavirus by making it harder for people to clean their hands — which medical professionals say is important to prevent the disease from spreading.

Editorial: It’s time to prepare for an economic recession

As much as the nation’s elected leaders from the White House to statehouses have found themselves at the vanguard of health care policy in recent days, taking dramatic actions to close schools, churches and businesses to lessen the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, the day is swiftly coming for equally decisive action to protect the nation’s economy from the worst of a looming recession.

Editorial: The US economy is sliding into a coronavirus hole. Congress needs to do more to pull it out

The intensifying drumbeat of coronavirus-related restrictions and shutdowns has drawn outrage from some conservatives, who argue that the government is driving the U.S. economy into a ditch and, by overreacting, pushing us unnecessarily into recession. Some even contend that this whole virus thing is a plot by liberals to prevent President Trump from being reelected in November.

Editorial: Stay home and be safe. The coronavirus pandemic demands we all take extreme precautions

Travel to and from the U.S. has been curtailed. Major sports leagues have suspended their games. Conferences and concerts have been shut down, and in some places large gatherings have been banned outright. Disneyland is closed for the foreseeable future. Universities have sent students home and moved classes online. Employers have asked their workers to stay out of the office, and government offices have closed to the public. People have been cautioned to remain 6 feet away from each other. The U.S. economy has gone from solid to suspect almost overnight.

Editorial: Coronavirus’ other vulnerable population: prisoners

We’ve heard a lot about vulnerable populations when it comes to coronavirus, but one that’s not getting as much attention as it should is the prison population. Inmate living conditions can be a perfect breeding ground for disease. There’s generally high turnover; overcrowded, cramped quarters; subpar medical attention; shared sinks and toilets; a lack of hand towels and often a contraband ban on hand sanitizer because of its high alcohol content.

Coronavirus: US must shift from containment to aggressive mitigation

The situation with coronavirus has changed dramatically over the last few weeks. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, and the U.S. will see an even more dramatic escalation in the weeks to come. As communities, institutions and individuals, we need to switch from reacting to what’s happened to taking bold action in anticipation of what’s coming.

Commentary: COVID-19 could worsen depression, divisions in US

The coronavirus outbreak gathering speed around the world is scary enough. Locally, the announcement Wednesday that California had its first COVID-19 death hammered home. But even after (and assuming) the virus ultimately fades away, whether its overall impact is akin to the average annual global deaths from seasonal flu — ranging from 291,000 to 646,000 people — much less than that, or much worse, the outbreak seems certain to worsen an existing American epidemic: the high levels of mental illness linked to technology and/or extreme isolation.