How I Built This: Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx
How I Built This: Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx

Fighting The Floods In Michigan; I Am Not Elon Musk!

Email sent: May 21, 2020 9:26am

Is this your brand on Milled? You can claim it.

Plus, how one woman inspired the design for the N95 mask.
by Korva Coleman and Jill Hudson

First Up

Water overruns the Sanford Dam in Michigan on Tuesday. The National Weather Service called the flooding "extremely dangerous" and said it was caused by "catastrophic failures" at two dams.
TC Vortex via Reuters
Here's what we're following today.

Roughly 10,000 residents in central Michigan were forced to evacuate on Wednesday after two dam failures threatened to flood parts of Midland County. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said there would be an investigation into the dam operators, adding "the incredible damage requires that we hold people responsible."

A new analysis from Columbia University finds nearly 36,000 fewer people would have died if social distancing measures had been put in place across the U.S. just one week earlier. (Listen here)

All 50 states have at least partially eased tight restrictions on businesses. Here’s a breakdown of the states that are allowing businesses like restaurants, and non-essential retail stores and malls to reopen, and those that have not.

The United States is still losing jobs at an alarming pace two months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That's down 249,000 — or 9% — from the previous week, but still painfully high by historical standards.

Publicity around the drug hydroxychloroquine spiked this week when President Trump revealed that he's taking it to prevent COVID-19. All the attention on the drug in recent months is increasingly spilling into science and complicating the job of scientists, who just want to find out whether the drug has potential to treat or precent the virus

Fewer people were on the roads in March as much of the country went on lockdown. You would think that would lead to safer highways, but a new report from the National Safety Council says motor vehicle fatalities per miles driven actually spiked 14% in March compared to last year. Some regional officials say motorists are driving more recklessly

The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked the release of secret grand jury testimony from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The House Judiciary Committee says the documents are related to an “ongoing investigation” prior to impeachment proceedings against President Trump last year. The Supreme Court ordered the Trump administration to file a special appeal by June 1.

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Today's Listens

Sara Little Turnbull was a designer and design consultant who worked with numerous corporations. She is credited with making an early version of a medical mask that would become the N95 respirator.
Courtesy 2017 Center For Design Institute

In 1958, a female designer named Sara Little Turnbull stood in the 3M company’s director’s room, and —  in true Peggy Olsen, Mad Men style —  pitched an idea to a room full of men about making products using a new, non-woven material. One of the items she created: the N95 respirator. NPR's history podcast Throughline tells us the story of how this seemingly simple mask became the lifesaving tool it is today. (Listen here)

There's a lot of research showing that optimism is correlated with all kinds of good outcomes like increased life expectancy, better recovery rates from heart operations, even success in work. But optimism, particularly right now, can be hard to come by. So NPR's Alix Spiegel decided to ask, is it a personality trait, or can it be learned? (Listen here or read the transcript)

How To, For You

Jesse Zhang for NPR

Hey, college students! There’s still time to get a summer internship. That’s the good news. The bad news: it’s likely to be completely virtual. Some companies are going remote with their summer internship programs; other firms have simply canceled theirs. Here's our resource guide to finding the internships that are out there.

Before You Go

A couple years ago, Lyndsay Tucker started receiving texts and calls for Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk. It seems AT&T randomly reassigned his old number to Tucker. She assures people she does not work for Musk or his companies.
Jessica Chou for NPR
  • Lyndsay Tucker, who works at a Sephora beauty store in San Jose, Calif., has tech billionaire Elon Musk's old cell phone number. So every day, she fields calls and texts intended for him with weird or wild offers, such as requests to go into space, or blueprints for bionic limbs. 
  • NASA researchers are seeking candidates who want to spend eight months isolated in a Russian lab. The study will simulate the psychological effects of isolation during trips in space.
  • A new collection of essays by Iranian-American novelist Porochista Khakpour, Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity, is intended to contrast with Joan Didion’s The White Album, and centers on the erasure of brown people in America.
  • A federal judge has approved a search for the Titanic’s wireless telegraph, greenlighting a private firm’s effort to retrieve the artifacts before they deteriorate further. 
— Suzette Lohmeyer contributed to this report. 

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