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.

Commentary: The American defeat in Afghanistan

Is “peace in our time” in Afghanistan at hand? President Trump thinks so. He described the agreement signed by an American diplomat and a Taliban official as providing “a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.” We must hope that he is correct.

Editorial: Despite Trump’s reassurances, market turmoil reflects genuine concerns

President Donald Trump can try all he wants to blame the news media and Democratic leaders for coronavirus financial turmoil, but the global fears of economic upheaval are based on genuine market concerns. Consumers and travelers are coming face to face with the market realities, belying Trump’s repeated assurances that everything is fine. Financial markets are risk-averse, and the global spread of the coronavirus is boosting the risk factor to new heights, which is why the stock market continued its roller-coaster ride even after Tuesday’s Federal Reserve interest rate cut.

Editorial: Trump’s war against immigration is grinding on — with unfortunate success

Immigration was a highly contentious issue in the United States long before President Trump took office, but his ascension to power, his predisposition to unilateral action and his willful ignorance about immigrants and their value to the American economy have made the discussion even more fractious, if that’s possible. The situation is especially fraught because of Trump’s racially framed view of the world, and because Congress is too ineffectual to stand up to him.