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Baker begins to re-open economy, starting with factories and construction sites

COVID-19 Update: May 18, 2020

From the state report on re-opening.

Gov. Baker this morning announced the first phase of re-opening the state: Starting today, factories and construction sites can re-open - provided they take steps to protect workers, such as social distancing and liberal dispensing of masks and access to sinks for frequent hand washing.. Houses of worship can also re-open with more limited seating.

Next week, offices can reopen, to 25% capacity, except in Boston, where they will have to wait until June 1, as part of Baker's overall four-phase plan, each phase of which might happen about three weeks apart.

Also on May 25, retail stores can open with new rules - such as curbside pickup. And barbers and hairdressers: Get your scissors sharpened for that date.

The next phase, which might follow in three weeks, would include hotels, restaurants, and nail salons and day spas, with capacity reductions.

Phase 3, possibly three weeks after that, would include bars and restaurant dining rooms, casinos, museums and gyms, again with capacity reductions.

The final phase would include nightclubs and large venues.

All re-opening businesses will have to have Covid-19 plans that include details of how they will protect workers and customers. The state will not actively enforce these, but will respond to complaints from workers and customers, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. She said the goal is not to fine businesses but to help them into compliance - although she cautioned fines could come if a business gets repeated complaints.

She added the state is setting up a portal to connect employers with manufacturers that can supply face masks and other sanitary supplies. The state is not setting up a portal through which workers and the public can file complaints; Polito said they should call their local board of health.

A key part of the plan is encouraging employers to let workers continue to work at home and to stagger shifts to reduce the load on the MBTA. Polito said the T will, initially, continue to run reduced service - and will drone public-health messages into rider's ears over and over.

The state also has a new "safer at home" advisory that urges all people to stay home whenever possible - don't go wild with road trips. People over 65 should just stay home, except for "essential" trips to the supermarket or doctor.

Baker said there will be at least three weeks between each of the plan's four phases, to give officials time to look at public-health data to ensure things are still going as well as possible in a state that has now had some 5,800 deaths from the virus - and to deal with any possible flare-ups.

From Reopening Massachusetts:

State data showing decreases in Covid-19 metrics

Baker, who prefaced his announcement by noting the terrible toll the virus has taken on Massachusetts - only New York, New Jersey and maybe Michigan have been hit harder - said that even as the state shifts from requiring people to do things to more of a reliance on "personal responsibility," he is hoping people will continue the practices he said helped flattened the curve: Hand washing, face covering, social distancing and staying at home as much as possible. Otherwise, he said, the state might face a new Covid-19 spike in the fall.

And he emphasized he will continue to be guided by public-health data in deciding whether any pullbacks might be needed.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said seats in current emergency child-care centers will begin to be opened to non-emergency workers. She said that currently, these centers have room for 10,000 kids, but is currently only serving 3,500. She added details on re-opening all child-care centers - and the state's 1,400 summer camps, could come in the next couple of weeks.

More details on state plan.

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Comments

Reading some of the new guidelines and reacting to the Baker approach to re-opening. Like most of what the Baker administration does, it's sometimes ok, but often lacking substance.

There was no organized labor input, no labor input of any kind. The process was all driven by the needs of businesses. There is no direction that I could find about how to file complaints about businesses, except "contact your local board of health". How about some specific information instead of asking workers to go fish?

I looked at the specific guidelines for construction. Some good recommendations but some guidelines define a new reality that will not be possible. For example, the new guidelines say that all workers should drive to a job site in a single occupancy vehicle, failing to recognize or address that many workers don't have their own vehicle. So how is this supposed to work? Magically?

Polito said we must balance the needs of business and safety. So apparently safety isn't that important?

And as I am typing this, Baker is now answering questions from reporters. But we cant hear the questions, and Charlie wont repeat or restate the question. One reporter told me that the reason he does that is so we won't recognize he is not really answering the questions. Baker is an arrogant leader. and we don't need that.

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Voting closed 77

There was also no representation of small business on the advisory board. The CEO of Davios represented the restaurant and hospitality industry. Come'on Charlie. You can do better than that.

And wow, Charlie is going to open the beaches and parks. Lets remember that they closed the beaches and parks because people couldn't social distance on a couple of warmish spring days. I'm sure everyone has learned their lesson and will practice social distancing now that the weather is warming up and we head toward summer.

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Voting closed 40

I think generally, people overestimate the outdoor risk and underestimate the indoor risk.

Outdoors, so long as the same person isn't breathing directly on you for multiple minutes, there's not much to worry about.

Churches, on the other hand, seem like a bad idea. Indoors, and lots of people all talking/singing at once.

FWIW, I'm mostly taking my info from this post:

https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

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Voting closed 56

Are the best reasons to open up churches

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Question from "mamajoan" that I saw on Uhub twitter. It's an important question.

Has anything been said about whether workers can continue to receive unemployment if their sector is reopened but their employer chooses not to? Or if their employer does reopen but they don't feel safe returning to work?

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Voting closed 27

The leadership of the task force looks to be all corporate bigwigs and government
https://www.mass.gov/orgs/reopening-advisory-board

But looking at this collection of logos, it looks like labor was involved in some way.
I wish they spelled it out instead of showing the logos.
https://www.mass.gov/doc/reopening-massachusetts-may-18-2020/download

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Voting closed 13

Polito said we must balance the needs of business and safety. So apparently safety isn't that important?

I don't see the problem with this, and this is actually refreshing IMO to see a politician say.

"Safety is our #1 priority" is a nice, feel-good slogan but nonsense in reality.

You balance safety concerns with whatever else it is you're trying to do, every minute of every day. Otherwise, you wouldn't ever leave your house (COVID-19 or no COVID-19). You choose to make safety you're #2 priority the moment you get into your car, or ride your bicycle, or walk across a crosswalk. If you didn't, you wouldn't do any of these things.

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More Mush From the Wimp.

Three weeks of a task force (blue ribbon no doubt) and they come up with this?

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The COVID-19 Control plan template just issued states (sorry . . I don't know how to do the text box thing);

Control plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on premise and made available in the case if inspection or outbreak.

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Voting closed 7

Fixed.

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You don't need to do it, but if you press "Quote" (right above the box you type in), you'll get
two blockquote statements inserted into your comment. Just type or paste your quote between the two blockquote statements and you'll get it all nice and pretty.

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In case you're not familiar with HTML, those statements look like this:
open statement: *blockquote*
close statement: */blockquote*

Substitute < and > for the *s to make it work.

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I assume (hope) that grocery stores still have to limit the number of customers?

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He is going to get battered on social media but he managed to slip and slide through the press conference. He did order the wearing of masks on the MBTA but managed to avoid any questions on how he planned to enforce the ban. He also talked about how he didn't want to see the subways overwhelmed with passengers. Since the MBTA has lost ninety five percentage of their riders many of whom will never return overcrowding should not be a problem.

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Voting closed 9

The mask requirement is unenforceable anyway. The governor's order explicitly states that people claiming medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask exempt them, and goes on to say that one cannot be required to provide documentation for such a condition.

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There's video of a woman in CA throwing a tantrum because a market wanted her to wear a mask. She claimed to have a medical condition, and the store offered to have staff pick her groceries for her, which seems like a very reasonable accommodation. She continued her tantrum, which made her appear irrational. So if stores are willing to do that for people claiming medical conditions, they should be able to keep the barefaced out.

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Does the task force and governor realize kids still lack child care? How are parents supposed to go back to work?! I'm sure the employers that can re-open will understand and let them stay home and keep their jobs.
This is BS.

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Voting closed 27

Half of the Commonwealth want everything to return to normal right now. The other half don't want anything reopening.

A slow progression is the only way possible. It would be true now and it would be true if he waited another month.

There are a million "but what about..." cases and there's no clear or obviously answer beyond hope your employer is reasonable and expect things to suck for some time to come.

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Voting closed 40

Half of the Commonwealth want everything to return to normal right now. The other half don't want anything reopening.

You may be using the word "half" casually (ie: in a non-specific sense), but I would question whether the breakdown of people in favor of "reopen now" vs those who support "stay closed" is actually an even split.

Most (national) polls I've seen seem to indicate that 70+% of Americans are more worried that their governor will reopen their state too soon than they are that their governor is moving too slowly.

I (for one) don't like working from home (even as I realize that I'm privileged to be able to do so), and my heart goes out to those who have lost part or all of their income due to the shutdown, but I'd rather the governor err on the side of caution and move more slowly, than risk moving too quickly and cause another spike of infections and deaths.

I'm relatively young & healthy, and thus not in a high risk group for COVID-19, but many of those I care about are not so fortunate as to have youth & robust immune systems on their side.

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How would you do child care?

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Churches are opening immediately because you can’t communicate to Sky Fairies unless you are in a tall, pointy building. It will be perfectly safe because God’s Light shining through stained glass windows instantly kills the virus and helps you win Keno. Basic science.

It’s also important for the economy because it creates jobs for lawyers who represent child molesting priests and the restaurants those lawyers order trays of sandwiches from.

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Voting closed 48

You're actually quite good at this when you're not on about motor vehicles.

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Are you implying that say, Muslims in a Mosque are worshiping an imaginary fairy?

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what makes you think an atheist would treat Allah any differently than God?

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what makes you think an atheist would treat Allah any differently than God?

Surely you know that "Allah" is just Arabic for "God", that Christians and Jews who speak Arabic, and Arabic translations of the Old and New Testaments, use the name "Allah"

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my hunch was that Republican was insinuating that leftists are more “tolerant” of muslims than they are of christians

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You do know that Muslims, Christians, and Jews all worship the same god, right? Christianity built on Judaism and Islam built on Christianity.

I don't personally put much stock in any of them, but I don't fault people who do. Not sure why you seem to be particularly obsessed with one of them.

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the God of Concern Trolling.

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I never said fairies were imaginary. ALL SKY FAIRIES MATTER

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Never let a good chance to stereotype and insult people not exactly like you go to waste, eh?

After reading many months' worth of your comments, is there anybody--other than cyclists--who you don't feel compelled to incessantly crap on?

My church has been feeding the homeless via a weekly supper for years and has continued to do so throughout this crisis. I'm proud to support that effort through my donations. Sorry if we're doing so because, at least in part, we feel like our Sky Fairy friends would want us to. Perhaps our guests would prefer a lecture about the evils of organized religion instead of a meal.

Do you honestly think you're winning anybody over with this stuff? And if winning others over is not your intent, what does it say that you use the internet as nothing but a public forum to anonymously sneer at people? I mean, I know this Bernie Bro edge lord thing is your schtick, but DAMN.

I am a registered Democrat and a Christian. I voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary (and held my nose to dutifully vote for HRC in the general). There are more of us than either you or Pat Robertson thinks there are, and this strawman of all religious people as serpent-handling simpletons is just pure laziness.

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but he's right on this one.

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I mean, I know this Bernie Bro edge lord thing is your schtick, but DAMN.

If you think that's what his deal is, you're really out to lunch.

He's obnoxious af, all right, but I'm wondering if you can tell us how "houses of worship" qualify to open in phase 1, as opposed to, say, bookstores. The criteria, supposedly, is a lower public health risk and a higher economic benefit of reopening. So how do "houses of worship" qualify?

*It's also possible that you don't know what those words mean...I've never seen it written "edge lord", but what do I know?

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You talk about "child molesting priests" I and many other people prefer the more accurate description, of Gay Rapist. Maybe you and I, should meet, I'll introduce you to people who fled their countries when their priests were murdered. Their fellow parishioners raped, assaulted, murdered and sometimes taken as slaves and of course their churches were burned down. But then again you would think these stories as funny.

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I think I’ll pass on that offer, Sean! But the next time another local priest is caught molesting kids I’ll think of you and wonder what crazy way you are deflecting and blaming others.

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I appreciate your satire and I do question the balance between public health and opening churches...

But it is spelled out, freedom of religion, right there.

In the first bit of our civil rights.

It's important.

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ut it is spelled out, freedom of religion, right there.

In the first bit of our civil rights.

It's important.

There's tons of case law on this: the concept of freedom of religion does not give anyone a pass on otherwise illegal behavior.

Claiming that driving 100 miles per hour, or stealing your neighbor's chickens, or pissing in people's beer are your religious practices does not protect you from prosecution. (Yes, I'm aware of the very limited carve-out for peyote).

A law that bans indoor gatherings of more than 10 people, if it is applied consistently to church services, book club meetings, music rehearsals, college lectures, business meetings, etc., is not a law about religion and does not infringe religous liberty any more than any other law restricting any behavior of any kind.

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Because it is specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights. I think legally you are probably ok shutting them down, but at some point you might face some legal entanglements.

(IMO religious buildings should be right after gyms for "essential" services, but I'm just guessing why Baker is putting them in this phase)

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Big unanswered question in the presentation (though one reporter at least started to ask it): If business, etc... is ramping up even modestly, does the T have the capacity to handle that commuting traffic while providing social distancing?
...or are people supposed to drive and pay downtown garage rates?

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If I understand correctly, the T won't be operating on its regular schedule until phase 3, which would be at least 6 weeks out. And since the trains were previously overcrowded on their regular schedules, the answer is a resounding no.

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I really don't get the reasoning for not returning the T to a full schedule in Phase I. Is it to protect the T workers? Which is reasonable, though it's not equitable with workers in other sectors. But overcrowded trains/buses (overcrowded as defined in this new era) is putting both T workers and riders at increased risk. They must have the personnel, so why not run it more frequently?

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The economy is reopening the economy, not Baker. Baker's just not going to openly command armed units to jail people for attempting to perform business activities.

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it strikes again, forcing the governor to... reopen the economy...

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This may be true of barbershops and bars, but not of the large companies that play a dominant role in the Massachusetts economy. Many here seem to think the BIg Business is all eager to tear down the walls and get back to making Big Money. In reality a lot of large businesses have been quite cautious. One document worth taking a look at is the Mass High Tech Council's Covid-19 briefing, which presents many of the issues with admirable clarity, and advocates a careful approach to reopening, going into some detail about the potential risks.

http://www.mhtc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/MHTC-COVID-19-Briefing-v3...

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My wife works for a major software company. They have no plans to have people stop working remotely any time soon. My son's manager floated the idea, and all of his employees responded negatively, so that didn't go any farther. People who can work at home are more comfortable doing that than going back to their petri-dish offices. People who can't work remotely, because they work with their hands or provide hands-on care need protection and support.

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Baker, who prefaced his announcement by noting the terrible toll the virus has taken on Massachusetts - only New York, New Jersey and maybe Michigan have been hit harder -

Well, yeah, we have a small land area. The virus wouldn't be so bad in Massachusetts if the borders of Massachusetts encompassed Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont. Borders are imaginary. I'd like for the public to point out more often the disingenuity of using state borders to cry woe.

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It would have been just as bad. The same number would have gotten sick and died.

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...they would have died as FREE MEN without the authoritarian boundaries of state lines oppressing their brilliant Galtian minds.

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Me: (Intelligent point about how stats can be skewed when you base them on centuries-old decisions about boundaries and governance never adjusted for contemporary realities)

Other UH commenter: (Name drops 63-year old book character because they have no response)

I'm not even a registered Libertarian, I just like a lot of their ideas. Everyone else's ideas around here get rejected with an intelligent thought, sometimes even a historical context, mine just get a mention of an old book without even any citations from said book.

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Voting closed 12

Everyone else's ideas around here get rejected with an intelligent thought, sometimes even a historical context, mine just get a mention of an old book without even any citations from said book.

Nonsense. Many of the comments on this site are met with dismissive, mocking, vacuous comebacks, not just yours.

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Cripes, they don't even like driver's licenses!

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You are yet to make an intelligent point on this here website but bless your heart, you do try so hard.

All boundaries are arbitrary at some level oh wise one. Perhaps a world without boundaries, ruled by a one world gov't would be more to your liking? What would your boy Ron Paul say though?

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Then redraw the borders of MA to exclude Boston and Chelsea. And even if my first example stands, it reduces the number of deaths relative to population density, which, I don't know, is kind of a relevant metric when counting deaths from a spreading illness.

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We know that MA hospitals have plenty of vacancy, surplus ventilators and are laying off trained medical staff, so why does Governor Baker continue any lockdown? Baker further harms small business by delaying the opening of car washes, barber shops etc. until Monday when a Friday opening, on Memorial Day weekend, just 72 hours earlier than planned, would bring millions in lost sales and possibly save businesses from bankruptcy. Since there seems to be little science behind any of this, Baker's 72 hour delay is a knife in the back then twisted, simply destroying people and businesses because he can.

There's also the question of whether lockdowns are doing more harm than good since states that opened two weeks ago are thriving. Fresh air and sunlight (vitamin D) are known to thwart the disease. We know that in addition to the nursing home atrocities, most in NY died while locked down. This weekend or sooner, watch for the type of unauthorized openings in MA like we saw this morning at the NJ gym with crowds (and police) cheering.

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We know that MA hospitals have plenty of vacancy, surplus ventilators and are laying off trained medical staff, so why does Governor Baker continue any lockdown?

Fish, I know that you're an intellectually dishonest tool, but after it's been repeated to you dozens of times, I'd think it could sink in that having full hospitals and a dying person on every ventilator is not a sign that things are ok. But I understand that it's a tossup between Trumpian lies and genuine stupidity with you, so...

Fresh air and sunlight (vitamin D) are known to thwart the disease.

Oh. Right. Virus detonates on contact with "fresh air" and "sunlight" which of course is exactly the same thing as "vitamin D".

Liar or idiot? It really is a tossup which one wins in any given Fishstench post.

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Voting closed 62

Are you capable of any kind of independent thought that doesn't come directly from Trump's derriere? Fresh air and vitamin D? WTF??

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Is it simply to destroy peoples and business for.........what exactly?

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Not sure it’s sunny and warm in MA yet, but other states which opened are loving life (and the consistently pleasant weather in this mid May).

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...then we'll see.

Besides, they're not us.

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"Go ahead and run around in crowds with that profoundly idiotic set of notions," but sadly, the virus does not check the color of your hat before laying you low. If I thought you didn't run the risk of infecting innocent, rational people, I'd say suit yourself: get yourself sick and dead, dumbass.

Baker is steering a cautious course based on scientific and medical advice (except for the houses-of-worship re-opening, which is more dubious and likely politically motivated). We won't have to wait long to see the consequences in states that don't go that way, and we can't close our borders to travelers from them.

One step forward and two back with the inevitable resurgence of infections, deaths and lifelong medical complications for survivors is not a sane economic re-opening plan.

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Fresh air and sunlight (vitamin D) are known to thwart the disease.

Show me the evidence. And feel free have a cup of Lysol while you're at it.

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Is it just me, or is does any one else cringe when "LG" takes the podium?

It's like back in the fourth grade, when the teacher would call on the slowest kid in the class, to read a paragraph out loud. And the victim would stumble through five sentences of two syllable words while the rest of the class squirmed and twisted and prayed for a fire drill.

It sounds like she would be in over her head at anything more complicated than running a yard sale (which she can't do anyways now due to the lock down so we're safe there.) Listening to her butcher a PowerPoint presentation that your average college intern could deliver without a problem doesn't make me feel good about anything.

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This is the first time I've listened to more than a soundbite from her, and it was so cringeworthy. I don't think we have to worry about her running for governor; she'll become a "consultant" after this gig is up.

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The thing I am a one issue voter about is

When does the recreational weed go back on sale?

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I’m going with mid September. Yet, it could go three weeks either way.

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If all the selfish people wore mask a month ago?

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