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Tue Aug 18, 2020, 04:04 PM

New Yorker: The Race to Investigate a Coronavirus Outbreak at a Georgia Prep School

While it easy to blame individuals for their reckless behavior, e.g., "COVIDIOTS," it is a real big problem that Trump and many Governors have helped turn the pandemic response into a partisan issue where simply taking precautions depends on your party affiliation. The sad thing is that millions of people take their cue from Trump, because he is the President. He is also a self-centered moron, and we are reminded each day how Americans are paying for his incompetence with their lives and livelihoods.


The Lovett School, a private K-12 institution in Atlanta with an annual tuition approaching thirty thousand dollars, stopped holding in-person classes in March. From that point until the end of the school year, all meetings happened online. On May 17th, a hundred and sixty graduating seniors and their families observed the occasion with an automotive parade around the tree-lined, hundred-acre campus, which is situated along a picturesque bend in the Chattahoochee River, a few miles from the governor’s mansion, in the city’s tony Buckhead district. Range Rovers, Mercedes-Benzes, and a ’67 Stingray, among other vehicles, circled for about forty-five minutes. Graduates yelled out of car windows and from the bed of a pickup truck. Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blared from speakers. Faculty and administrators lined the route, handing out cookies.

About a month later, I spoke to a father who had driven around his son. “I haven’t left my driveway in twenty-one days,” he said. He and his son had both since tested positive for the coronavirus. “I had a fever for nine days,” the father told me. “I’ve been unable to play golf.” He knew just how they had got it, he insisted. It wasn’t the parade. “We got it from one of those parties,” he told me. “We know the kids who got it,” he added.

After the parade, multiple Lovett families held private parties to celebrate. One party, at a home, was attended by about twenty people. Another, in a back yard, was attended by about fifty. There were also smaller gatherings. This seemed fine at the time, the dad said. “We don’t live in New York,” he pointed out. “Our state was open.” Georgia, under a directive from Governor Brian Kemp, was the first state to allow businesses to reopen, on April 24th. This alarmed many observers; a headline in The Atlantic described Kemp’s decision as an “experiment in human sacrifice.” But, for the first few weeks, no clear spike in cases was detected. “We were no longer in quarantine,” the dad said. “They were telling people to go to restaurants, get their hair cut, get a tattoo, do things. It’s Georgia, for God’s sake.”

His family, he went on, was lucky they detected the virus when they did. “The only reason we knew he had it was because my son had what he thought was a head cold,” which he began feeling two days after the parade, “and we were going to the lake the next weekend to see his grandparents from North Carolina. We said, ‘Let’s drive by Georgia Tech and just get him checked.’ ” They did that two days after the onset of symptoms, on May 21st, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. The positive covid-19 test result came back the same day and the family notified Lovett immediately. “We probably saved lives,” the father said.

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