Help is on the way ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

November 18, 2020

Understand more. Argue less.

Happy Wednesday.
Before we get into our story, take a moment to appreciate the healthcare workers and scientists on the front lines of fighting this virus. We stand with you.

This Week.

  1. What You Need To Know. Facts, not bias.
  2. Narratives from the Left & Right. No more channel flipping or Twitter overload.
  3. What Does It All Mean? The context you need.


Good News At Last

Katherine Chuang

After months of lockdowns, a summer of unrest, and an especially exhausting election, it’s understandable that some are burnt out by 2020 and COVID-19 news. Still, COVID itself is not taking a break; 76% of US counties have experienced a peak in new cases this fall (Axios). 

While some say the spike is due to a significant increase in daily testing, this cannot alone account for the total record spike in positive tests (Johns Hopkins).

Fear not: 2020 may not be a wash just yet. In the last week, drug companies Pfizer and Moderna have both announced vaccines that are testing at an effectiveness of 90% and 94.5%, respectively. Trump is pointing to the success of “Operation Warp Speed” as the reason for the vaccine announcements. It provided federal funding and lessened regulatory barriers for the development of a successful vaccine (HHS). Pfizer didn’t receive any federal funding for development, while Moderna accepted over $995 million from Operation Warp Speed. Both have supply agreements with the U.S. government worth upwards of $1.5 billion each. (Bloomberg

Here’s what you need to know


  • Where We’re At. Since January, 11.1 million Americans have been infected, and 246,000 have died. In the last week, over 1 million new cases have been reported (CDC). Without a vaccine, the University of Washington estimates another 100,000 American deaths by Inauguration day (Jan. 20). (BBC)

  • Testing. Pfizer tested their vaccine on 43,538 people in six countries, while Moderna’s trial included over 30,000 people. We still don’t know how long the vaccines will protect individuals from COVID until they need to be reimmunized. (CNET)

  • How Will They Work? Both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines rely on the same process.  Like most vaccines, they stimulate the creation of antibodies, which protect the body when exposed to the Coronavirus (Bloomberg). 

  • Storage Concerns. Pfizer’s vaccine poses a more significant distribution challenge because it has to be kept ultra cold until a few days before use. Moderna’s vaccine is stable at refrigerated temperatures for up to 30 days, and doesn’t need the special storage facilities that Pfizer’s vaccine does. (Bloomberg)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. These are not necessarily factual, but instead illustrate the news coverage that solidifies each narrative. The bias ratings refer to news outlets as a whole, not a specific article. Read more about them at the end of this email.

If you're reading on mobile, the Left's narrative will appear above the Right's. Next week, we'll switch it up.

Narrative from the Left

Finally we have some much needed good news. Science has prevailed once again. After Trump has done so much to diminish the COVID response, he has the nerve to vaunt Operation Warp Speed as the solution he had all along? Pfizer didn’t even receive federal funding. He’s completely shameless.

Headlines & Snippets

In The Absence Of A White House Response, States Move To Slow Infections

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, said on Sunday that 200,000 more people could die by spring if Americans did not more fully embrace public health measures, even with an effective vaccine. (NYT)

States Expand Mask Mandates And Social Restrictions As Covid-19 Hospitalizations Reach Record Highs

"We need every single state in this country to have a mask mandate," Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Georgia's Emory University School of Medicine, told CNN on Tuesday. "For thousands of people dying every day... we simply cannot wait for a vaccine." (CNN)

AMA Urges Trump to 'Save Countless Lives' by Sharing Critical COVID Info With Biden Team

The president has yet to concede, and his stonewalling of the transition has raised concerns that the president-elect's team could be unprepared after he is inaugurated on January 20, a problem that could amplify the pandemic's dangers. (Newsweek)

Narrative from the Right

How convenient. Biden declares victory, and big-pharma announces a successful vaccine produced through Operation Warp Speed. It’s comical how the left-wing media has downplayed Trump’s achievement, and instead promoted Biden’s “lockdown” strategy as a superior plan to Trump’s COVID response.

Headlines & Snippets

Trump Touts Coronavirus Vaccine Announcements 'On my watch': 'Great discoveries'

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar lauded Moderna's vaccine as part of "President Trump's vision" on "Fox & Friends" on Monday morning. "This is really a historic day," Azar said. (Fox News)

Arbitrary COVID-19 Control Measures Will Not Make Americans More Likely To 'Hang in There' Until Vaccines Are Available

Politicians should not be surprised by the skepticism and resentment they provoke. Worse, arbitrary legal restrictions may encourage Americans to disregard official advice and resist the voluntary steps that are crucial to reducing virus transmission. (Reason)

Operation Warp Speed Success As 20 Million Covid Vaccine Doses Expected In December

Slaaoui said the U.S. could be on the verge of benefiting from two vaccines currently in the process of completing phase three trials, along with two therapeutics on their way to being granted emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by year’s end. (Federalist)

But, It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news gets it right. Here are two instances of biased outlets that reported with civility by conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

CDC Chief: ‘Masks More Guaranteed’ to Protect Against Virus than Vaccine

"I am not going to comment directly about the president but I am going to comment as the CDC director that face masks, these face-masks are the most important powerful public health tool we have ,and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country to embrace these face coverings." (Brietbart)

What Joe Biden's Advisers Have Said About a National Lockdown in America

Atul Gawande, a member of Biden's COVID-19 advisory board, told ABC News on Sunday that a national lockdown is not something the incoming administration would support."We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown and believe there is not a scenario unless—there simply isn't a scenario because we can get this under control." (Newsweek)


What Does It All Mean?

The announcements by Pfizer and Moderna deserve to be celebrated. They’re a big step in the fight against the virus that’s turned everyone’s life upside down. However, like most things this year, not everybody is on the same page.

  • If your news outlets lean left, you’re irritated that President Trump is positioning himself as the savior of a mess he created in the first place. COVID wasn’t a convenient political reality in March, but now that he’s found a solution, Trump is more than happy to acknowledge the virus. You’re excited that the Biden administration is just months away from righting the ship and bringing competency back to the White House.

  • If your news outlets lean right, you’re skeptical of how the ground-breaking announcement conveniently landed right after the election concluded officially closed. You’re probably upset with how the Left is dismissing Trump’s historic progress with Operation Warp Speed. First the Left criticized his response to the pandemic, and then when a solution emerged, they’ve been all too excited to forget about his role in the program that made it possible.

Based on current projections, Pfizer estimates it will be able to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion in 2021. Moderna plans to ship 20 million doses in 2020 and up to 1 billion in 2021 (Cnet). While this is encouraging news for the general public, high-priority groups such as healthcare workers and the elderly will be the first to receive a vaccine. If the authorization process goes smoothly for both vaccines, roughly 20 million people could be vaccinated against the coronavirus in December. Around 25 to 30 million people could be vaccinated each month afterward, according to Moncef Slaoui, co-lead of Operation Warp Speed (Business Insider). That being said, apprehension still surrounds the vaccines: a Tuesday poll found that 42% of Americans would not want to get a vaccine when it is released (Gallup). Trust for vaccines may change as more information and data become available. 

Meanwhile, Congress is struggling to pass a second relief package with limited partisan communication; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell haven’t spoken since the election (AP). The Democrat's see rising cases as an indication that the next stimulus package should be significant, and have put forth a $2.2 trillion plan. The Republican’s plan is more conservative (see what we did there), and would cost around $500 billion (Cnet).

Before a vaccine can provide relief, state governments are moving to reimplement widespread lockdowns and increased restrictions, circa March of this year. Still, the news of promising vaccines is a breath of fresh air. Regardless of who you think deserves the credit, this is great news in the midst of a decidedly rough year.

Let's Argue Less

Now that you understand more about the vaccine, you're ready to take the next step.

Weekly Civility Challenge

Tell us about a civil conversation you had this week! What what is like?

Reply to this email with your response and we’ll feature the winner next week!

Last Week's Winner

Here's the best response we received. Thank you Cherie Morris!

"It’s not easy to take a step back when the discourse is still so escalated. I work professionally to help people de-escalate, every day, and I recommend we all remind ourselves that as Albert Einstein said:

There’s something amazing about America’s democracy, it’s got a gyroscope and just when you think it’s going to go off the cliff, it rights itself.

I find this to be true in the work I do too. So, collectively and individually I’m asking myself and my clients to take a deep breath and just give space to what has occurred and what’s next. Yes, conversations are more civil, I think, and we must remember that although we can’t control what someone else says we can control our response."

Want to Learn More About Civil?

Until next Wednesday, that's all from us. Thank you!