Saturday, July 18, 2020
Up First

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John Lewis has died a hero who stood on the front lines of the battle to end Jim Crow laws in this country.

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The civil rights leader was known by his colleagues as the conscience of the Congress. I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

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And I'm Scott Simon. And this is up first from NPR News.

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When you see something that is not right, not. John Lewis has died as this country faces another reckoning on racial justice, also due, stronger sales, equal economic recovery.

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Not quite. We'll tell you what the numbers mean.

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And a new rule on how coveted data should be reported as hospitals scrambling. So stay with us. We'll give you the news.

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You need to start your weekend support for this podcast. And the following message come from Integrative Therapeutics, creator of Physicians Elemental Diet, a medical food developed by clinicians for the dietary management of IBS, IBD and its IPO under the supervision of a physician. Support also comes from Better Help online counseling by licensed professional counselors specializing in issues including depression, stress and anxiety. Visit better help dot com slash up first. To learn more and get 10 percent off your first month.

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Representative John Lewis, a civil rights legend whom colleagues described as the conscience of the United States Congress, has died.

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Mr. Lewis was 80 years old and he suffered from pancreatic cancer.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last night that Lewis, his goodness, faith and bravery transformed the nation. And NPR congressional reporter Gloria Salis is with us now for more.

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Good morning. Hi, Lulu.

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So Representative Lewis spent six decades in public service. There's so much to say about a life as important as his.

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Let's start with you telling us a little bit about who he was and the mark he made in the fight against racial inequality.

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He always had what he described as a moral obligation to stand up for his beliefs. He started out leading these sit ins at segregated lunch counters in the Jim Crow era South, and he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King. Joining him as a speaker on the March on Washington in 1963, we said be patient and wait.

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We must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually. Well, we want to be free now.

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In 1965, he and other peaceful protesters were violently beaten while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. This came to be known as Bloody Sunday. And those images fueled a national outrage. And a few months later, then President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. His drive for service motivated him to run for Congress, where he served for more than 30 years. And he was known for his commitment to equality and social justice.

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And as a moving speaker and even in his later years, he remained very engaged right in recent events on the Hill and in the country at large.

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Yes, he was seen as a senior leader on the Hill and he was passionately supportive of health care reform, immigration and LGBTQ rights. In 2016, shortly after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, he led a sit in on the House floor and pledged for gun control legislation. Let's take a listen.

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The time for five patients is dying. We'll call it leadership with a harsh debray, common sense gun legislation.

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Do the House really vote that effort and others as part of what he called, quote, good trouble? And this became one of his marquee statements that he used to urge these sort of protests. When we saw this recent wave of national protest marches triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, he said it was so moving to see this large response. And he also called that good trouble. He joined in in these protests, in fact, more than 40 arrests over the course of his life in doing so.

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And in one of his last public appearances, he traveled to the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. And he also had clashes with President Trump. He called him an illegitimate president and played a key role in the House impeachment investigation.

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Congressman Lewis's death comes, of course, at yet another moment of reckoning with racism across the country and certainly in the halls of power.

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What has the reaction in Washington been? Yes, his life really spanned the civil rights movement as it weaved its way through political parties and generations. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, said, quote, Our great nation's history has only bent towards justice because great men like John Lewis took it upon themselves to help bend it. And former President Obama, who awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said, quote, Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way.

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John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now have our marching orders to keep leaving and the possibility of remaking the country we love until it lives up to its full promise.

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That's NPR congressional reporter Claude Gadgety Salis. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

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There was some encouraging news about the U.S. economy this week. Retail sales are bouncing back after a deep drop early in the pandemic.

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And homebuilders are starting to pick up steam.

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But at the same time, new unemployment claims are very high week after week. And tens of millions of jobless Americans are in danger of losing critical parts of their safety net unless Congress acts to extend it. NPR's chief economics correspondent Scott Horsley joins us. Scott. Thanks for being with us. Good morning. Good to with you.

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Let's start with consumer spending drives the economy in so many ways. But in the context of everything else that's going on around us, how important really is that rebound in retail?

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It's a good sign. Overall, sales in June were just above where they were a year ago. So that tells us the huge hole we saw in March and April has now been filled in. But it doesn't mean things are back to normal. You know, what people are spending money on has shifted. Spending is still way down at bars and restaurants. Also, gas stations, people aren't driving that much while spending at grocery stores and home improvement stores is way up.

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So the big picture is still one of a country where a lot of people are kind of hunkered down. They're also buying a lot of stuff online for home delivery. Online sales are up nearly 24 percent from a year ago.

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Course, we have to note at the same time, coronavirus infections are rising in most of the country and that that has to still have an impact on the economy.

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It's certainly not helping in some of the hardest hit states. We've now seen new restrictions imposed on bars and indoor dining. For example, a number of states have hit the brakes or even backtracked on reopening in the face of rising infections. What's more, we know even when the government doesn't dictate it. Consumers tend to stay closer to home and spend less money when the news about the pandemic gets worse. If consumers spend less, businesses don't need as many workers.

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We're already seeing some signs that hiring has slowed. As we've said all along, Scott, we are not going to have a sustainable economic recovery unless and until we get control of this virus.

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Congress is back in session next week and lawmakers are talking about new measures to prop up or stimulate the economy. What's on the table?

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There are a lot of ideas floating around. Republicans want to shield businesses from lawsuits if their workers get sick. Democrats want money to help state and local governments. The president wants a payroll tax cut, although that doesn't seem to be getting any traction. There's also some talk about another broad round of relief payments, like the twelve hundred dollars that went out during the spring. One urgent question, though, is what to do about the six hundred dollars a week in supplemental unemployment benefits that are due to run out in less than two weeks?

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Those payments have been a critical safety net for some 30 million people who've lost jobs. Indeed, Gupta, who's with the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, told All Things Considered, If that money goes away, it's going to cause a lot of individual hardship and also be a drain on the broader economy.

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Families are going to face high rates of eviction, homelessness, food insecurity, hunger. Going into debt. A number of other challenges. And the economy overall is going to see much slower progress in a recovery than otherwise.

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Without those extra unemployment benefits, we probably would not have seen those strong retail sales last month. We would have seen more defaults on car loans and credit cards, more people falling behind on their rent. There is some concern in the business community that the relatively generous unemployment benefits are discouraging people from going back to work. But that's not a really big concern when there just aren't a lot of jobs out there. And when the threat of getting sick from going back to work appears to be on the rise.

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NPR's chief economics correspondent Scott Horsley, thanks so much for being with us. You're welcome.

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So hospitals around the country are scrambling to figure out a new data reporting requirement from the Trump administration.

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They were told this week to send critical information about Kovik, 19, directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, which bypasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The move created confusion at hospitals and alarmed public health experts who worry about public access to this important data.

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We're joined now to talk about this with NPR's Pinkwashing. Thanks so much for being with us.

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Morning, Scott. Good to be here. This new reporting change has been infection's Wednesday. Can we tell how it's going? Yes. So it's been a mixed bag. I've heard from a few hospitals around the country. Some say it's been really hard. Some say it's been really confusing and others say it's been OK. But there's still sorting out the details of the change. But according to HHS, more hospitals have been reporting this week than have in the recent past.

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And they say that was one of the reasons they wanted to implement this new system, strip back pain, which changed for a hospital.

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OK, well, for a couple of months since the beginning of a pandemic, hospitals have been reporting this daily data about the number of covered patients they have, the number of beds and ventilators they have available to the CDC. And the CDC has been gathering the data. They've been analyzing it. They've been putting up on their website to give updates on hospital capacity, which is, you know, whether hospitals have enough resources and protective gear to take care of likova 19 patients that are coming in.

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But under this new rule, hospitals are now supposed to report this data either to their state health departments or to a different system called Tella Tracking, which has been set up by a private company and which provides that data directly to HHS.

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So hospitals will report the data just somewhere else. What has some experts and officials so concerned?

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Yes, so hospitals are still required to report the data, but they say it's been a big burden to change things up right now, especially for those facing certain coronavirus cases. And doctors have also pointed out that the administration seems to be saying hospitals have to use this new reporting system to gain access to the federal supply from death. Severe, which is one of the only drugs known to work, gets covered. 19 top scientists at the CDC says these new reporting methods ignore valuable experience at the CDC has in gathering this data.

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Here's Dr. Daniel Pollack.

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We have a longstanding working relationship with the hospitals. We have means to be able to do quality checks over the incoming data.

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He's not sure that the information coming in from these other methods will be as good as the data CDC was collecting. And public health experts have also been raising concerns. They see this in the context of the administration fighting federal scientists over coronavirus advice. And they say this could be part of a pattern in which the administration is trying to sideline the CDC, the nation's public health agency, in the middle of a pandemic.

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And this week, the CDC Web site that chaired that hospital data with the public went dark for a day or two. Do we know what happened? Yeah.

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So this is a Web site that was getting updated three times a week and it went down briefly and then it came online again. But it's using old data and reporting from Alex Smith at member station. Casey, you are in Missouri, says hospitals there are currently without access to critical data. They've been using for their daily and weekly reports. They hope the issues will be sorted out in the next days or even weeks. But in the meantime, the Missouri Hospital Association says they'll be very much in the dark.

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NPR's Ping Wong. Thanks so much for being with us. Thanks for having me. And that's a first for Saturday, July 18, 2020. I'm Scott Simon. And I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro. Up first is back on Monday with news to start your week. Follow us on social media word. Up first on Twitter and keep an eye on this feed for the occasional special episode.

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And for even more news and interviews, try us on something called the radio. Weekend Edition, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Find your station at stations. Dot NPR, dawg.

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What does it mean to be the only person who looks like you at your place of work? I was the first Latina in the newsroom at NPR ever to step foot who wasn't clean.

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And we discussed the reckoning over race taking place in newsrooms across the country. Listen and subscribe now to it's been a from NPR.

Saturday, July 18, 2020
Up First