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Coronavirus: the good, the bad, and the practical
 

Pat McNees (updated 6-4-2020)

        Terminology: COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is the name of the disease.The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2, given by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. A new virus called SARS-CoV-2 caused a disease called COVID-19. Coronavirus is a family of viruses named for the spikes on their surfaces, which have a crown-like appearance.~ AP Stylebook Tips (Poynter)

 

Pandemic: The big picture
Social distancing and sheltering in place
Testing, testing, testing--and contact tracing
Reopening safely
Why are masks so important?
Reliable sources of information
Combatting the misinformation epidemic/campaigns
The latest conspiracy theories
Understanding the maps and the numbers
What patients with Covid19 experience
The race for effective vaccines and anti-viral treatments
A salute to medical workers and others who help
Where things went wrong in the U.S.
Where in the world things went right
Politics, government, and the coronavirus
Trump's handling of the pandemic
Why Covid-19 is so dangerous
Who is harmed most by the coronavirus?
Death and the coronavirus
Remembering victims of the coronavirus
Life after the pandemic
Coronavirus humor and inspiration
Facts and tips that don't fit elsewhere
SARS, MERS, and other forms of coronavirus

See also
Covering the COVID-19 pandemic: Resources for journalists
Coronavirus: How to minimize your risk
Saying goodbye to the dead, during the pandemic
(changing our burial practices)
Recommended reading about pandemics
Lost to the coronavirus pandemic
Keeping a diary or journal of the pandemic
Obits of people lost to the coronavirus
85+ things to do (listen, watch, read, share, do) during the pandemic

This website page started as a blog post--COVID-19: politics and the stock market vs. science and survival--which swelled to the point of feeling chaotic. This is an attempt to give it some shape as it keeps expanding.

Pandemic: The big picture

Grim Reapers: How Trump and Xi set the stage for the coronavirus pandemic (Laurie Garrett, New Republic, 4-2-2020) The "2020 pandemic is, at its root, the story of two deeply flawed leaders, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, who for too long minimized the coronavirus threat—and who, because of the enormous, largely unaccountable power they wield, must share responsibility for its global scale. At key moments when their mutual transparency and collaboration might have spared the world a catastrophic pandemic, the world’s two most powerful men fought a war of words over trade policies, and charged each other with responsibility for the spread of the disease." Analysis of what they both did wrong.

Bill Gates Warned Us About Pandemics Multiple Times (YouTube) "If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it's most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war....all of the supply chains would break down. There would be a lot of panic. Many of our systems would be overloaded." Why didn't we listen? See also The next outbreak? We're not ready (Bill Gates TED Talk, 2015) In 2014, the world avoided a global outbreak of Ebola, thanks to thousands of selfless health workers—plus, frankly, some very good luck. In hindsight, we know what we should have done better.
Pandemics That Changed History (History.com timeline, 4-1-2020) As human civilizations rose, these diseases struck them down.
The Official Coronavirus Numbers Are Wrong, and Everyone Knows It (Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 3-4-2020) Because the U.S. data on coronavirus infections are so deeply flawed, the quantification of the outbreak obscures more than it illuminates. Preparing for a sizable outbreak seemed absurd when there were fewer than 20 cases on American soil. Now we know that the disease was already spreading and that it was the U.S. response that was stalled. The reality gap between American numbers and American cases is wide.

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It Wasn’t Just Trump Who Got It Wrong (Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, 3-24-2020) As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics. Widespread asystemic thinking may have cost America the entire month of February, and much of what we'd normally consider credible media were part of that failure.
How to Talk to Coronavirus Skeptics (Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker, 3-23-2020) A science historian discusses the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic and strategies for convincing doubters that the threat of the coronavirus is real. All of the major areas where we see resistance to scientific findings in contemporary life fall into the category of implicatory denial--that is, "we reject scientific findings because we don’t like their implications." See also Chotiner's piece Jeffrey Sachs on the Catastrophic American Response to the Coronavirus (New Yorker, 4-21-2020) The economist Jeffrey Sachs says that President Trump is the “worst political leader” he has seen in his forty years of working with governments around the world. Trump's disastrous response to Covid-19 demands investigation.
100 Days That Changed the World (Michael Safi, The Guardian, 4-8-2020)
The Coronavirus Spurs a Movement of People Reclaiming Vacant Homes (Dana Goodyear, New Yorker, 3-28-2020)
'All of This Panic Could Have Been Prevented': Author Max Brooks On COVID-19 (Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR, 3-24-2020) Apocalyptic novelist Max Brooks is something of an expert on planning for pandemics and other disasters. His books include World War Z, Germ Warfare (YouTube, a graphic history), and Devolution. “President Trump was slow to acknowledge the virus as a real threat. And thus far, the president has resisted using the Defense Production Act to force private companies to manufacture masks, gloves and other essential supplies in the fight against the coronavirus. Many government task forces that plan for disasters have yet to be activated in this crisis."
Inside America’s 2-Decade Failure to Prepare for Coronavirus (Dan Diamond, Politico, 4-11-2020) Top officials from three administrations describe how crucial lessons were learned and lost, programs launched and canceled, and budgets funded and defunded.
How the Pandemic Will End (Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 3-18-2020) The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out. See also his article The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready? (Atlantic, July 2018—notice the date!) The epidemics of the early 21st century revealed a world unprepared, even as the risks continue to multiply. Much worse is coming.
Our Pandemic Summer (Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 4-14-2020) Three takeaways: 1. This virus isn’t going away anytime soon. 2. Even when the U.S. reopens, the fight won’t be over. 3. Steel yourself psychologically. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself.
Are Hospitals Near Me Ready for Coronavirus? Here Are Nine Different Scenarios. (Annie Waldman, Al Shaw, Ash Ngu, and Sean Campbell, ProPublica, 3-17-2020) In most scenarios, “vast communities in America are not prepared to take care of the COVID-19 patients showing up,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, who led a team of researchers that developed the analysis.
The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged (Yasmeen Abutaleb, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Washington Post, 4-4-2020) From the Oval Office to the CDC, political and institutional failures cascaded through the system and opportunities to mitigate the pandemic were lost.

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The Intolerable Fragility of American Hospitals (Libby Watson, New Republic, 4-30-2020) The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the frail and unequal nature of our public health system. It doesn’t have to be this way.
What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals About American Medicine (Siddhartha Mukherjee, New Yorker, 4-27-2020) "...it was known that SARS and MERS were deadly coronaviruses with animal reservoirs that could hop to humans. ...Why wasn’t our research investment remotely commensurate with our threat assessments?...No set of reforms will deal with every problem, such as a President who, bickering with scientists, equivocated and delayed what could have been a lifesaving, economy-protecting, coördinated response. Given the resolve and the resources, however, much is within our grasp: a supply chain with adequate, accordioning capacity; a C.D.C. that can launch pandemic surveillance within days, not months; research priorities that don’t erase recent history; an F.D.A. that serves as a checkpoint but not as a roadblock; a digital system of medical records that provides an aperture to real-time, practice-guiding information....

     "Some of medicine’s frailties are new; some are of long standing. But what the pandemic has exposed—call the experience a stress test, a biopsy, or a full-body CT scan—is painfully clear. Medicine needs to do more than recover; it needs to get better."

      "Competitive-bidding programs drove margins down so low that more than forty per cent of such companies—responsible for the supply of portable oxygen tanks and concentrators—went out of business." Not to mention the problem of health-care coverage that leaves millions of Americans uninsured.
The U.S. Was On Track to Build Cheap, Easy-To-Use Ventilators Years Ago. Then a Big Device-Maker Got in the Way. (KHN Morning Briefing, 3-30-2020) Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations (with links to stories).Public health experts have long known that a ventilator shortage is a vulnerability in the system. The government tried to rectify the problem, but efforts stalled. The New York Times takes a deep-dive into what went wrong. Meanwhile, manufacturers across the country say they lack federal guidance on where to ship new products.
The Pandemic Will Cleave America in Two (Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 4-10-2020) Some will emerge from this crisis disrupted and shaken, but ultimately stable. Others will come out of it with much more lasting scars. The answers to each of these two questions—whether someone still has a job, and whether they can do it safely—strongly predict how any given American household is faring right now. (Plus, whether they have any savings.)
What We Can Learn From 1918 Influenza Diaries (Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 4-13-2020) These letters and journals offer insights on how to record one’s thoughts amid a pandemic. Though much has changed since 1918, the sentiments shared in writings from this earlier pandemic are likely to resonate with modern readers.
Comparing the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 to the Coronavirus (New Yorker Video, released 3-25-2020) John Barry, an expert on the earlier pandemic, speaks with David Remnick about the parallels between 1918 and 2020.
One Parallel for the Coronavirus Crisis? The Great Depression (Livia Gershon, JSTOR Daily, 5-20-2020) “The idea that the federal government would be providing emergency relief and emergency work was extraordinary,” one sociologist said. “And people liked it.”
10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World (McKinley Corbley, Good News Network, 3-17-2020) 1) US Researchers Deliver First COVID-19 Vaccine to Volunteers in Experimental Test Program. 2) Distilleries Across the United States Are Making Their Own Hand Sanitizers to Give Away for Free. 3) Air Pollution Plummets in Cities With High Rates of Quarantine. And so on.

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What patients with covid-19 experience


What it feels like to survive COVID-19’s dreaded “cytokine storm” (Keith A. Spencer, Salon, 4-5-2020) "The primary symptoms I had are quite typical for those who find themselves truly afflicted with the illness: high fever, a dry cough and pain in my throat. Not a classic pharyngitis, rather a sort of aching pain which was intermittent. Subsequently, the fevers really took off and averaged 102.5 over the following days. Headaches, nausea, severe muscle and bone pain, change of bowel habits and a loss of taste and smell all evolved." A doctor and coronavirus patient in recovery describes his experience surviving COVID-19's worst side effects.
COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months (Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 6-4-2020) 'The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends.... Most have never been admitted to an ICU or gone on a ventilator, so their cases technically count as “mild.” But their lives have nonetheless been flattened by relentless and rolling waves of symptoms that make it hard to concentrate, exercise, or perform simple physical tasks. Most are young. Most were previously fit and healthy. “It is mild relative to dying in a hospital, but this virus has ruined my life,” LeClerc said. “Even reading a book is challenging and exhausting.”
A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — Even in His Young Patients (Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, 3-21-2020) “It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube.”
How does the coronavirus cause COVID toes or loss of smell?(Ramon Padilla, and Adrianna Rodriguez, USA Today) Illustrated. The CDC has officially listed nine symptoms of the illness caused by the new coronavirus: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. The CDC says these symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. However, the unofficial list of symptoms continues to grow.They vary from patient to patient and can range from an acute skin rash to a severe inflammatory reaction. Some doctors have reported gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms turning up: strokes, 'COVID toes,' rashes & other skin manifestations.
Startling Number Of Young People Without Any COVID Symptoms Seek Care For Strokes (KHN Morning Briefing, 5-15-2020) The trend of young people getting strokes from the virus is just one of the baffling aspects of the disease that doctors are trying to understand. See Coronavirus May Pose a New Risk to Younger Patients: Strokes (Roni Caryn Rabin, NY times, 5-14-2020) Doctors have reported a flurry of cases in Covid-19 patients — including a healthy 27-year-old emergency medical technician in Queens. After a month in the hospital, he is learning to walk again.
Voices from the Pandemic A collection of accounts from people who have been sharing their personal stories about covid-19. As told to Eli Saslow (Washington Post oral history collection)
---‘How long can a heart last like this?’ (5-9-2020) Darlene Krawetz, on what life becomes when covid-19 won’t go away. After weeks with coronavirus, a sick woman wonders when it will end.
A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — Even in His Young Patients (Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, 3-21-2020) “It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube.” Read what acute respiratory distress syndrome, ARDS, looks like and you’ll be more likely to social distance. "This is knocking out what should be perfectly fit, healthy people." 
‘I apologize to God for feeling this way.’ (5-2-2020) Gloria Jackson, on being 75, alone, and thought of as expendable.
Mysterious Heart Damage, Not Just Lung Troubles, Befalling COVID-19 Patients (Markian Hawryluk, KHN, 4-6-2020) Most of the attention in the COVID-19 pandemic has been on how the virus affects the lungs. But evidence shows that up to 1 in 5 infected patients have signs of heart damage and many are dying due to heart problems.
The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients (Richard Levitan, Opinion piece, NY Times, 4-20-2020) A major reason this pandemic is straining our health system is the alarming severity of lung injury patients have when they arrive in emergency rooms. Covid-19 overwhelmingly kills through the lungs. And because so many patients are not going to the hospital until their pneumonia is already well advanced, many wind up on ventilators, causing shortages of the machines. And once on ventilators, many die. There is a way we could identify more patients who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively — and it would not require waiting for a coronavirus test at a hospital or doctor’s office. It requires detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter. [The top-rated pulse oximeter monitors are sold out on Amazon, but that's what you want.] All persons with cough, fatigue and fevers should also have pulse oximeter monitoring even if they have not had virus testing, or even if their swab test was negative, because those tests are only about 70 percent accurate. A vast majority of Americans who have been exposed to the virus don’t know it.
Doing Time (Jill Siebers, Pulse, Voices from the Heart of Medicine, 5-5-2020) COVID-19 Confinement, Day Four. James has what is likely a moderate case--cough, no interest in food, a profound need for sleep. Still, it is shocking when a six-foot three-inch, 225-pound man goes down.

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-

Social distancing

(and sheltering in place)

I Can’t Stop Thinking About Patient One (Rachel Donadio,The Atlantic, 4-16-2020) Italy shows us that controlling the pandemic will require reshaping family life in much of the world. "In Germany, some health experts have suggested that children not see their grandparents until well into the fall, or even after Christmas. In Britain, where the government has told citizens to save lives by staying home, a cabinet minister was criticized for visiting his own parents."
Domestic Violence Calls Mount as Restrictions Linger: ‘No One Can Leave’ (Julie Bosman, NY Times, 5-15-2020) The coronavirus has created new tensions. Staying at home has worsened abusive situations. Shelters worry about the spread of the virus. Safety supports aren't accessible. Callers to a hotline in Chicago have asked for help on how to keep their partners calm, how to secretly save money, how to develop code words with children that will tell them they need to call 911.
A Guide to Staying Safe as States Reopen (Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 5-7-2020) Can I eat at a restaurant? Can I go shopping? Can I hug my friends again? Experts weigh in. See The Atlantic's podcast Social Distance.
The Four Possible Timelines for Life Returning to Normal (Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 3-26-2020) The coronavirus outbreak may last for a year or two, but some elements of pre-pandemic life will likely be won back in the meantime.
How a superspreader at choir practice sickened 52 people with COVID-19 (Laura Geggel, Live Science, 5-14-2020) and Business InsiderThe virus spread to 87% of attendees at the session, which the CDC said "underscores the importance of physical distancing." The CDC said the choir meeting "provided several opportunities" for the virus to spread, "including members sitting close to one another, sharing snacks, and stacking chairs at the end of the practice." Officials said the group was able to stop the virus spreading further by self-isolating even before public health bodies were told of the outbreak. It also said that "The act of singing, itself, might have contributed to transmission through emission of aerosols, which is affected by loudness of vocalization."
I Miss My Grandchildren (Robin Marantz Henig, The Atlantic, 5-28-2020) The pandemic isn’t clarifying what’s important; it’s ripping it away.
How a Game With My Daughter Helped Us Cope With Quarantine and the Past (Amy Herzog, The New York Times Magazine, 5-20-2020) Playing hours of pretend with my 5-year-old showed me how coronavirus was re-activating old medical traumas in our family. One of several articles about children and quarantine, including (all in one long section)
--- "Insanity Can Keep You Sane" (by Molly Young). If you can’t live normally, why not find little harebrained ways to warp reality?
--- "The Comfort of Common Creatures" (by Helen Macdonald) Watching birds is a way of mobilizing attention, to turn it into a means of imaginative escape.
--- ‘‘Someone in Georgia Is Having a Bad Hair Day’’ (by Kara Walker) Conté crayon and graphite on paper (in progress), 2020
--- Finding Belonging in Exile (by Thomas Chatterton Williams) I didn’t feel Parisian until I escaped Paris.
--- Turning The Camera From War to Family (by Paolo Pellegrin)“We’re very fortunate to all be here together.”
--- Something Happens When You Fall (by Hisham Matar) Two artworks that ask the question: What world will we find on the other side of this?
--- When the World Unravels, Braid Your Own Hair (by Jazmine Hughes) I’ve worn my hair in the same exact style for six years. Learning to style it myself has brought some comfort of normalcy.
--- You Can Be Homesick at Home (By Mark O'Connell) The lockdown revealed an uncanny and alienating version of my surroundings.
--- You’re Never Alone in a Dusty Apartment (by Jamie Lauren Keiles) Your dust is you, and the life outside your window, and the life of every tenant before you. Gross — but who right now can turn down company?
--- The Truth About Cocoons What (by Sam Anderson) What caterpillars really go through in there has applications for our moment. Again, you can find those stories here.
How Coronavirus Is Changing the Dating Game for the Better (Helen Fisher, NY Times, 5-7-2020) Video chats are in. Small talk is out. You don’t have to fret about who picks up the check. And maybe the biggest plus: You’re forced to take things slow. See also Fisher's Cupid in Quarantine: What Brain Science Can Teach Us About Love (4-13-2020) A global tragedy has forced us into full-time togetherness. Here’s how couples can rekindle romantic love and grow together rather than apart. Fisher is author of Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray . Watch her TED Talk: Why we love, why we cheat.
Tips for social distancing with older children (Commercial Free Childhood) Our experts' advice on social distancing with children 6-12. See also Managing social distancing with young children
Unmute (Amy Cowan, MD, Pulse, 4-15-2020) 'He's already three sentences into his monologue, not pausing for breath as he mansplains the state of the world--telling me, his physician daughter, about COVID-19 and how we should wear masks "like the Orientals do." ...When we last talked, three weeks ago, he told me that COVID-19 was all a hoax.'
Why Fox News and Republicans are promoting a social distancing backlash (Paul Waldman, WaPo, 4-16-2020) Key excerpt: "Many of his voters have chosen to ignore his actual agenda, so intoxicated are they with the idea of giving a giant middle finger to the forces they thought were holding them down." (H/T Sam Greengard)
Life on Lockdown in China (Peter Hessler, Letter from Chengdu, New Yorker, 3-30-2020) Forty-five days of avoiding the coronavirus.
‘It’s Not Over Until It’s Over’: 5 Things to Know About Hitting the COVID-19 Peak (Phil Galewitz, KHN, 4-17-2020) It's hard to see the peak. The peak does not mean the pandemic is nearly over. What comes next depends on readiness. You're going to need masks a long time. Without a vaccine, people's risk doesn't change. See also Despite Trump's Optimism, There's Still a Long Road to Reopening (NPR, 4-17-2020) "Despite Trump's boasts, testing is still not widespread in the U.S. Not everyone who wants a test can get one. Only people with symptoms are getting them — and not all of them are — and asymptomatic people are able to spread the disease. That means no one really knows just how widespread the virus is. And without a vaccine or known treatment, there's the risk of more outbreaks." The main reason for stay-at-home orders is to prevent overwhelming hospitals, and people in rural areas would be particularly endangered because of fewer nearby hospitals.
The Streets of New Orleans Under Quarantine (New Yorker video, released 5-6-2020) Scenes from a week of weirdness under lockdown, as residents of New Orleans practice social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
Quarantine Fatigue Is Real (Julia Marcus, The Atlantic, 5-11-2020) Instead of an all-or-nothing approach to risk prevention, Americans need a manual on how to have a life in a pandemic. For example, casual interaction in outdoor settings seems to be much lower risk than prolonged and close contact in enclosed and crowded settings.
Early Data Shows Black People Are Being Disproportionally Arrested for Social Distancing Violations (Joshua Kaplan and Benjamin Hardy, ProPublica, Crowds of mostly white protesters have defied Ohio’s stay-at-home order without arrest, while in several of the state’s biggest jurisdictions, police departments have primarily arrested black people for violating the order. In Columbus, Toledo, and Cincinnati, ProPublica found, black people were at least four times as likely to be charged with violating the stay-at-home order as white people.
Not again: China imposes NEW coronavirus lockdown—fears grow for devastating second wave despite the ruling Chinese Communist Party's attempts to claim the country is winning the battle against the disease. (Ciaran McGrath, Express, 4-19-2020)

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Why are masks so important?

(PPE means "personal protective equipment")


Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them when out in public. (Jeremy Howard, Washington Post, 3-28-2020) When historians tally up the many missteps policymakers have made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the senseless and unscientific push for the general public to avoid wearing masks should be near the top. The evidence not only fails to support the push, it also contradicts it. Masks effective at "flattening the curve" can be made at home with nothing more than a T-shirt and a pair of scissors. See CDC on use of face coverings (how-to, illustrated)
Instructions on how to make a hand-sewn mask (PDF, Johns Hopkins Medicine)
•Who should wear masks and why? CDC and the Surgeon General initially discouraged the use of face masks, because there was a critical shortage and they were needed more urgently by medical personnel -- and we're in need of the medical personnel. The use of facemasks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility) to prevent their catching the virus.  As production of facemasks ramps up and there is no shortage, whenever you go out you should use a facemask (especially if you show symptoms of COVID-19) to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. If nothing else, facemasks keep YOU from touching your own mouth and nose. Read Guidance against wearing masks for the coronavirus is wrong – you should cover your face (Boston Globe) Blocking access to your nose, throat, and eyes will prevent infection from the coronavirus, flu, and any other several other respiratory viruses, which is why medical workers must wear them. We should all wear masks — store-bought or homemade — whenever we're out in public.
What’s the Deal With Shifting Guidance on Masks During the Coronavirus Pandemic? (Craig F. Walker, Boston Globe, 5-27-2020) Guidance on masks has shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic, with experts initially saying they were largely unnecessary before reversing course and advising people to don face coverings whenever they can’t practice social distancing. So what changed? An entry on the CDC website suggests the recommendation on masks evolved as researchers learned more about the potential for asymptomatic coronavirus carriers to unknowingly spread the disease to others.
Everyone Thinks They’re Right About Masks (Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 4-1-2020) How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic. When masks were in short supply, mask-wearing among the public was discouraged because the masks were needed by health care professionals. “You’re not wearing them to stop yourself getting infected, but to stop someone else getting infected.” This might be especially important for SARS-CoV-2, which can spread without immediately causing symptoms. If people are infectious before they fall sick, then everyone should wear face masks “when going out in public, in one additional societal effort to slow the spread of the virus down,” says Thomas Inglesby of the John Hopkins Center for Health Security.
The best way to clean your face mask (National Geographic) The virus can remain infectious for several hours, potentially up to a few days, on various surfaces, including masks--whether you’re wearing a disposable surgical mask or a cloth bandana. Here’s how to clean masks and gloves, when to dispose of them, and why you ultimately shouldn’t fear harboring the coronavirus on the rest of your clothes. CDC advises a cloth covering for anyone venturing into a crowded public place. The masks and gloves themselves collect viruses if they’re not cleaned or changed frequently, and they may then contaminate your hands or things that you later touch without protection.
Different types of face mask to use during the COVID-19 pandemic (Medical News Today)
Republicans push back on Trump's mask rhetoric. ‘Wearing A Face Covering Is Not About Politics’ (KHN Morning Briefing) See, for example, ‘There’s no stigma attached to wearing a mask’: McConnell makes plea in favor of face masks (Caitlin Oprysko, Politico, 5-27-2020) and Trump’s Mockery of Wearing Masks Divides Republicans (Michael Scherer, Wash Post, 5-26-2020) A growing chorus of Republicans are pushing back against President Trump’s suggestion that wearing cloth masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is a sign of personal weakness or political correctness. They include governors seeking to prevent a rebound in coronavirus cases and federal lawmakers who face tough reelection fights this fall, as national polling shows lopsided support for wearing masks in public.
Without a Strong Partner in Washington, Charlie Baker and His Fellow Governors Are on their Own (Anthony Brooks, WBUR, 4-8-2020) It's a race to prepare a medical system before it is overwhelmed by the epidemic. A big part has been Governor Baker's effort to secure equipment for doctors, nurses and other medical workers in Massachusetts. The federal government hasn't made it easy. At one point, the state had ordered 3 million N-95 masks — but the feds stepped in and impounded the shipment in New York.
How Mask Mandates Were Beaten Down in Rural Oklahoma (Victor Luckerson, New Yorker, 5-27-2020) In Oklahoma, where the state government is currently implementing one of the country's fastest reopening plans, local leaders have found themselves caught between state politics, economic imperatives, and a clear scientific consensus.
The Secret, Absurd World of Coronavirus Mask Traders and Middlemen Trying to Get Rich Off Government Money (J. David McSwane, ProPublica, 6-1-2020) The federal government and states have fueled an unregulated, chaotic market for masks ruled by oddballs, ganjapreneurs and a shadowy network of investors.

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Testing, testing, testing--and contact tracing

See Contact tracing, below.

 

NIH Is Testing People for Covid-19 Antibodies—and Looking for Volunteers (Kristen Hinman, Washingtonian, 4-13-2020) You can enroll in the serological study from home. They'll mail you a blood-test kit.
Discussing the Need for Reliable Antibody Testing for COVID-19 (Dr. Francis Collins, NIH Director's blog, 6-4-2020) A useful Q&A with Dr. Norman “Ned” Sharpless, Director of NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) and an expert on antibody testing for COVID-19.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes coronavirus antibody test(CNN, 4-21-2020) He walks us through his coronavirus antibody test and highlights key details regarding this type of testing. See also WebMD's explanation: Antibody Testing for COVID-19. Elsewhere Dr. Gupta explained on CNN the difference between three types of Covid-19 test and says "so far the tests we have are giving a lot of false positives.":
---PCR diagnostic test confirms if person is positive or negative for the virus. (PCR stands for polymerise chain reaction.)

---Serology test detects antibodies which mean person has been infected
---Antigen test detects viral proteins typically made for flu & strep screenings. With a throat swab you can get quick results (though less expensive, these results are less reliable and may need to be confirmed with genetic tests). See a fuller description of these three types of test here: Different paths to the same destination: screening for Covid-19 (Chloe Kent, Medical Device Network, 4-3-2020)
Let’s Get Real About Coronavirus Tests (Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker, Opinion, NY Times, 4-28-2020) There aren’t enough. Many are shoddy. Most aren’t even designed to tell us what we really want to know.
The 4 Key Reasons the U.S. Is So Behind on Coronavirus Testing (Olga Khazan, The Atlantic, 3-13-2020) Bureaucracy, equipment shortages, an unwillingness to share, and failed leadership doomed the American response to COVID-19.

(1) Red Tape. Dozens of labs in the U.S. were eager to make tests and willing to test patients, but they were hamstrung by emergency use authorization (EUA) regulations for most of February, even as the virus crept silently across the nation.

(2) Hard-to-get virus samples.Miller said it would help if researchers, governments, and companies firmed up pathogen-sharing contracts in advance of an outbreak.

(3) “We don’t have a nationalized health-care system where you put the same equipment in all the hospitals,” Wu says. “We have all these independent hospital systems with their own equipment in their own labs.” Even though some hospitals actually have the new, functional CDC tests, the extraction machines and reagents that are used to perform them are in short supply.

(4) Leadership and coordination problems. For months, President Trump made light of the coronavirus. “Much of what he’s said publicly about the virus has been wrong, a consequence of downplaying any troubles on his watch.” Trump put Mike Pence, who has no public health experience, in charge, late, and there was infighting between and little coordination among departments.
Why even a super-accurate Covid-19 test can fail (Umair Irfan, Vox, 5-1-2020) Public health officials know that some infected people can spread the virus without showing symptoms, sometimes for weeks. That makes testing to identify and isolate the infected the most important way to slow the spread of the virus. But the shortage of tests means officials don’t yet know how many are still out there, or how many have already recovered. It also turns out that the tests are not always that great. Both the genetic tests for Covid-19 (that look for active infections) and the serological antibody tests (that can identify past infections) have had issues with accuracy. The prevalence of the disease influences the chances of a correct test result. Many researchers agree that the United States needs to be testing millions of people per day, yet the country is struggling to test more than 200,000 in a day. And since a test is just a snapshot in time, many people, particularly in high-risk jobs, will have to be tested over and over.
Coronavirus Testing Used by the White House Could Miss Infections (Katie Thomas, NY Times, 5-13-2020) A rapid coronavirus test used by the White House to screen its staff could miss infections up to 48 percent of the time, according to a study by researchers at N.Y.U. Langone Health. A study found that the Abbott ID Now machine was less accurate when it processed short, dry swabs. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, evaluated the accuracy of the test, Abbott ID Now, a machine about the size of a toaster oven that can yield results in five to 13 minutes. The product, which was given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in late March, has been enthusiastically promoted by President Trump — it was even used as a prop during at least one news conference. Mr. Trump has said the tests are “highly accurate.”
Records show snags in Oregon's search for COVID-19 test supplies (Nick Budnick, Portland Tribune, 4-29-2020) 'Swab shortages and a federal 'runaround' have curbed state efforts to boost coronavirus testing. President Donald Trump unveiled rapid coronavirus-testing machines to great fanfare, saying the devices manufactured by Abbott Laboratories would create "a whole new ballgame" in fighting the disease. The federal government sent 15 of the Abbott machines to Oregon in early April— with no supplies to operate them. The machines require a special Abbott-made test-kit to operate. Allen likened the federal government's sending of the 15 Abbott machines to "giving us a printer with no ink." State officials reached out to Abbott, which said Oregon could only order from the federal government. State officials ordered 5,000 more test kits from the federal government. When the shipment arrived however, it fell short — 4,996 test kits short.'
What Antibody Studies Can Tell You — and More Importantly, What They Can’t (Caroline Chen, ProPublica, 4-28-2020) Coronavirus antibody studies and what they allegedly show have triggered fierce debates, further confusing public understanding. Chen explains the basics. Antibody studies can be used to answer more questions than you might think. Setting up a sero-survey correctly means you need to test a random population — easier said than done. Test accuracy can skew results in some pretty surprising ways (true positive, false positive, and true negative, explained). Antibody tests aren’t ready to be used to issue “immunity passports.”
Tip sheet can aid your reporting on COVID-19 serology/antibody testing (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-5-2020)
What coronavirus antibody tests tell us — and what they don’t (Erin Garcia de Jesus, ScienceNews, 4-28-2020) Widespread testing could reveal who has had COVID-19, but not whether they’ll get it again. "Knowing how many people have already been exposed to the virus is also a step toward understanding when the pandemic might end (SN: 3/24/20). High numbers of immune people can protect the population as a whole from outbreaks, creating what’s called herd immunity. Researchers estimate that around one-third to two-thirds of a population would need to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 to reach herd immunity."
Emergency Use Authorizations (FDA) Scroll down for testing kits, both PCR and serology.
FDA pushed through scores of inaccurate antibody tests without agency review. (Zachary Brennan and David Lim, Politico, 4-27-2020) Some are giving too many false positive results, which could mislead some people into thinking they have already been infected.
Seniors With COVID-19 Show Unusual Symptoms, Doctors Say (Judith Graham, KHN, 4-24-2020) "COVID-19 is typically signaled by three symptoms: a fever, an insistent cough and shortness of breath. But older adults — the age group most at risk of severe complications or death from this condition ― Instead, seniors may seem “off” — not acting like themselves ― early on after being infected by the coronavirus. They may sleep more than usual or stop eating. They may seem unusually apathetic or confused, losing orientation to their surroundings. They may become dizzy and fall. Sometimes, seniors stop speaking or simply collapse."
1 In 5 New Yorkers May Have Had Covid-19, Antibody Tests Suggest (Goodman and Rothfeld, NY Times, 4-23-2020) One of every five New York City residents tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, according to preliminary results described by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday that suggested that the virus had spread far more widely than known (and the death rate may therefore be lower than previously thought). Accurate antibody testing is a critical tool to determine if the pandemic has slowed enough to begin restarting the economy. A top health official in New York City cautioned that the tests being used were not a reliable indicator of immunity.
COVID Tests Are Free, Except When They’re Not (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, KHN, 4-29-2020) Her doctor worried she had COVID-19 but couldn’t test her for it until she ruled out other things. That test cost a bundle. (Scroll down to The Takeaway for practical advice.)
•  The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Robinson MeyerAlexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 3-6-2020) “I don’t know what went wrong,” a former CDC chief told The Atlantic.
A New Statistic Reveals Why America’s COVID-19 Numbers Are Flat (Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal,The Atlantic, 4-17-2020) "At least 630,000 people nationwide now have test-confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, a state-by-state tally conducted by more than 100 volunteers and experts. But an overwhelming body of evidence shows that this is an undercount...".(We don't know our prevalence rate because we haven't tested enough.) "The U.S. still lags far behind other countries in the course of fighting its outbreak. South Korea — which discovered its first coronavirus case on the same day as the U.S. — has tested more than half a million people, or about 1 percent of its population, and discovered about 10,500 cases. The U.S. has now tested 3.2 million people, which is also about 1 percent of its population, but it has found more than 630,000 cases. So while the U.S. has a 20 percent positivity rate, South Korea’s is only about 2 percent — a full order of magnitude smaller....Each of those uncounted cases is a small tragedy and a microcosm of all the ways the U.S. testing infrastructure is still failing."
COVID Tests Are Free, Except When They’re Not (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, KHN, 4-29-2020) Her doctor worried she had COVID-19 but couldn’t test her for it until she ruled out other viral possibilities. That test cost a bundle. The guidelines state that insurers are required to cover the cost of an appointment without cost sharing only if the doctor orders or administers a COVID-19 test. “They’re getting a battery of other tests,” said Corlette. “But because there’s not enough [COVID-19] tests, they can’t get this protection.”... If an insurer does not cover the total amount charged by a provider, the patient may get balance-billed, or slapped with a surprise charge.Consumers may find protection from these bills through a requirement attached to federal relief funding for medical providers. Health care facilities that receive any of the $100 billion from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund are not allowed to balance-bill patients for COVID-19 treatment. (Somewhat complicated. Read the article!)
Chicago Plans for a Slow Recovery from the Coronavirus (Peter Slevin, New Yorker, 4-22-2020) Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has spoken of her frustration with the White House’s response to the coronavirus and believes Chicago is “not testing nearly enough people.”
Testing Falls Woefully Short as Trump Seeks an End to Stay-at-Home Orders (Abby Goodnough, Katie Thomas and Sheila Kaplan, NY Times, 4-15-2020) Flawed tests, scarce supplies and limited access to screening have hurt the U.S.’s ability to monitor Covid-19, governors and health officials warn. Most of the country is not conducting nearly enough testing to track the path and penetration of the coronavirus in a way that would allow Americans to safely return to work, public health officials and political leaders say. So far there is not enough national capacity for either diagnostic or antibody testing. Testing is critical for detecting and stamping out smaller outbreaks before they get big. Many say the biggest challenge is getting not the diagnostic tests themselves but the supplies to process them, including chemical reagents, swabs and pipettes. One expert said 'confusion over which laboratories were accepting tests, and “convoluted” systems connecting providers to labs, meant his facilities were running about 200 to 300 tests per day when they could handle 1,000.'

Thousands of coronavirus tests are going unused in US labs (Amy Maxmen, Nature, 4-9-2020) Experts say the lack of a national strategy is largely to blame. "A Nature investigation of several university labs certified to test for the virus finds that they have been held up by regulatory, logistic and administrative obstacles, and stymied by the fragmented US health-care system. Even as testing backlogs mounted for hospitals in California, for example, clinics were turning away offers of testing from certified academic labs because they didn’t use compatible health-record software, or didn’t have existing contracts with the hospital." (Worth a read.)
Local officials on watch for unauthorized COVID-19 test sites (Cheryl Clark, Covering Health, AHCJ, 4-16-2020) Cities, counties and states around the country are probably on heightened alert for unauthorized pop-up COVID-19 testing operations after San Diego County took steps to shut down one such clinic Wednesday, lest a bogus test give someone a false result and jeopardize public health.
Despite Promises, Testing Delays Leave Americans ‘Flying Blind’ (Sheila Kaplan and Katie Thomas, NY Times, 4-6-2020) Testing availability remains a signature failure of the battle against the coronavirus in the United States, despite President Trump’s boast last week that he got a rapid test and results within minutes. On a per capita basis, the United States had tested far fewer people than several other countries. Even as new and faster tests become available, lengthy delays to obtain results continue and test materials are running low, compounding the crises hospitals are facing. Demand for testing has overwhelmed many labs and testing sites and swabs and chemicals needed to run the tests are in short supply in many of the nation’s hot zones. Excellent overview of where things stand from many viewpoints.
‘We're behind the curve’: U.S. hospitals confront the challenges of large-scale coronavirus testing (Jon Cohen, Science, 3-11-2020) “The reality is most people will not be able to get a test this week, and most people will not be able to get a test next week,” says physician and epidemiologist Michael Mina, who helps run the diagnostic lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and has been critical of the Trump administration in blistering tweets. Mina "also anticipates that there will be—or may already be—a shortage of reagents needed to run the test kits."
The Dangerous Delays in U.S. Coronavirus Testing Haven’t Stopped (Robinson MeyerAlexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 3-9-2020)
Reviewing Public Health Record of Coronavirus Commander Mike Pence (KHN, 2-28-2020) KHN Midwest editor and correspondent Laura Ungar appeared on “CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin” to discuss Vice President Mike Pence’s appointment to lead the nation’s response to the novel coronavirus in light of how he handled a 2015 HIV outbreak when he was governor of Indiana. Prevention and quick evidence-based action are the most important steps to take in these health crises and Pence took neither in 2015.
Key Missteps at the CDC Have Set Back Its Ability to Detect the Potential Spread of Coronavirus (Caroline Chen, Marshall Allen, Lexi Churchill and Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, 2-28-2020) The CDC designed a flawed test for COVID-19, then took weeks to figure out a fix so state and local labs could use it. New York still doesn’t trust the test’s accuracy.
Drive through testing begins at Edinburgh hospital (BBC News, 2-28-2020)
New California Coronavirus Case Reveals Problems with U.S. Testing Protocols (Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Rachel Bluth, KHN, 2-27-2020)
Estimates fall short of the F.D.A.’s pledge for 1 million coronavirus tests. Health care supply companies and public health officials have cast doubt on the federal U.S. government’s assurances of greatly ramped-up testing for the virus, as complaints continue that the need for testing remains far greater than the capacity. Some companies developing tests say their products are still weeks away from approval. See also What went wrong with the coronavirus tests in the U.S. (Carolyn Y. Johnson and Laurie McGinley, WaPo, 3-7-2020)
‘It’s Just Everywhere Already’: How Delays in Testing Set Back the U.S. Coronavirus Response (Sheri Fink and Mike Baker, NY Times, 3-10-2020).
The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 3-6-2020) "The haphazard debut of the tests—and the ensuing absence of widespread data about the epidemic—has hamstrung doctors, politicians, and public-health officials as they try to act prudently during the most important week for the epidemic in the United States so far....the capacity to test for the coronavirus varies dramatically—and sometimes dangerously—from state to state." 
COVID-19: Who's at fault when a negative test is false? Maybe nobody. (MadelineMitchell, Cincinnati Enquirer, 5-5-2020) A negative result does not rule out COVID-19.  False negatives are more possible with less sensitive tests because patients without symptoms, or with mild symptoms, often have low viral loads that may evade detection by standard tests.
Coronavirus: How CDC Lab Contamination, and a Failure to Cooperate Globally, Led to Catastrophe (Anita Bartholomew, Forbes, 4-19-2020)

      “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.” 
The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What's Coming (Steven Levy, Wired, 3-19-2020) Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who warned of pandemic in 2006, says we can beat the novel coronavirus—but first, we need lots more testing. Brilliant is chairman of the board of Ending Pandemics.<
Talking Can Generate Coronavirus Droplets That Linger Up to 14 Minutes (Knvul Sheikh, NY Times, 5-14-2020) A new study shows how respiratory droplets produced during normal conversation may be just as important in transmitting disease, especially indoors.
How To Know If You Can Trust That Headline-Grabbing COVID-19 Study (Rachel Fairbank, Lifehacker, 4-29-2020) Fairbank lays out significant issues with antibody testing.

Expanding contact tracing


Tracking Coronavirus Exposure: How Contact Tracing Works (Grace Tatter and Meghna Chakrabarti, On Point, WBUR, 4-29-2020) Contact tracing. It's infectious disease detective work. We learn all about the techniques and technology used to track down people who've been exposed to the coronavirus. Excellent links to more key articles on the topic.
Coronavirus: NHS contact tracing app to target 80% of smartphone users (Leo Kelion, BBC, 4-16-2020) "A contact-tracing app could help stop the coronavirus pandemic, but 80% of current smartphone owners would need to use it, say experts advising the NHS."
We Can’t Reopen the Country Without Better Contact Tracing (Jane C. Hu, Slate, 4-17-2020) Some countries, like Singapore and Korea, have rolled out apps that track users’ locations and ping them if they’ve recently crossed paths with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Virus hunters rely on faxes, paper records as more states reopen (Darius Tahir, Politico, 5-11-2020) Congress approved more than $500 million for health data in last month's relief package, but disease trackers say they're using paper reports and outdated spreadsheets for contact tracing and determining how many people were potentially exposed to the virus.

     Public health technology was in crisis even before the pandemic, but the novel coronavirus has significantly elevated concern. “Outdated digital infrastructure means that services don’t scale, so rapid relief is unavailable to large numbers in times of crisis,” four congressmen wrote in a “dear colleague” message seeking upgrades in state and local IT. “It means that government employees are unable to work remotely, putting them and their communities at risk. And it means that these systems are under increasing threat from malicious cyber actors looking to take advantage of the crisis.”

     The congressmen recommend the bill should: maximize flexibility for systems that can receive funding; require states to submit modernization plans based on risk assessments that ensure access for local governments; and focus on long-term projects with some funds for immediate equipment and license needs.
How Contact Tracing Can Help Stop COVID-19 (Healthline) As U.S. states begin reopening, health experts are calling for massive investment in contact tracing — identifying and notifying people who have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus. Many states also don’t yet have the resources needed to make contact tracing work effectively. We may need many more contact tracers to control the COVID-19 outbreak.
Contact tracing starts with a person testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It can also be done for suspected cases, as when someone shows symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough or shortness of breath. A trained public health worker interviews that person to help them recall all the people they’ve had close contact with while they were infectious.
States Nearly Doubled Plans for Contact Tracers Since NPR Surveyed Them 10 Days Ago (Selena Simmons-Duffin, Morning Edition, NPR, 5-7-2020) An influential group of former government officials released a letter last week calling for a contact tracing workforce of 180,000 around the country. Other estimates of how many contact tracers are needed range from 100,000 to 300,000. See NPR's chart for how many contract tracers your state has.
When I call you, it means you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus (Jackie Munn, Opinion, Washington Post, 5-24-2020) Contact tracing is laborious and stressful — and essential to reopening safely.
Does Covid-19 Contact Tracing Pose a Privacy Risk? Your Questions, Answered (Andy Greenberg, Security, Wired, 4-17-2020) "When Google and Apple announced last week that the two companies are building changes into Android and iOS to enable Bluetooth-based Covid-19 contact tracing, they touched off an immediate firestorm of criticisms. The notion of a Silicon Valley scheme to monitor yet another metric of our lives raised immediate questions about the system's practicality and its privacy. Now it's time to seek answers."
A National Plan to Enable Comprehensive COVID-19 Case Finding and Contact Tracing in the US (PDF, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security)
Contact Tracing : Part of a Multipronged Approach to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic (CDC, Covid-19)
Contact tracing must balance privacy and public health (David Blumenthal and Richard Blumenthal, STAT News, 5-15-2020) In the digital age, contact tracing comes with a modern twist: the ability to use smartphones and devices to do the work of walking back through weeks of our lives to find out where we have been, who we have been with, and how widely we may have spread a virus....[But] it’s important to acknowledge that contact tracing of any stripe is intrusive. Professional contact tracers will sit with an individual to review his or her social media, text messages, credit card statements, public transportation records, and more to find anyone they could have exposed. Those contacts receive unexpected calls from strangers asking them to potentially upend their lives for weeks to self-isolate or get tested for potential exposure to an infectious disease."
Feds Make $631 Million Available to States to Pay for Coronavirus Testing, Contact Tracing (William Wan, WashPost,4-23-2020) CDC announced that it is sending $631 million to state and local health departments to increase their capacity to do contact tracing and testing for the novel coronavirus — a fraction of what many officials say they need to safely restart their economies.
The Callousness of India’s COVID-19 Response (Vidya Krishnan, The Atlantic,3-27-2020) The government is showing how not to handle a pandemic. The government is offering little in the way of a safety net. The lockdown may help “flatten the curve” and buy the authorities some time, but that means little if they do not take advantage by aggressively testing, isolating confirmed cases, and performing contact tracing. Absent these measures, the lockdown will merely create concentrated pockets of outbreaks that will then expand rapidly once the restrictions are eventually lifted.
Small Towns Won’t Know They’re Infected Until It’s Too Late (Mark Bowden, The Atlantic, 5-27-2020) The demise of local news is a pandemic emergency. Local news has largely disappeared—the phenomenon of news deserts is by now well known....The crucial virus data is hyper-local. We all know that these numbers are imprecise. Most people have not been tested. Some of those who have been tested were tested for active infections and others for antibodies that signal old infections—numbers that have been combined, for no good reason. Some of the jump might simply be because more tests are being administered.

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Reopening the economy safely

How We Reopen Safely Tracking states as they make progress towards a new normal
Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes (CDC)
How to Reopen America Safely (Marty Makary, Opinion, NY Times, 5-14-2020) Months ago, I called for a long lockdown. Now we must minimize collateral damage. Doctors in China believe universal masking is one of the main reasons they have stemmed the spread of the virus.
How restaurants are responding to challenge of reopening safely (Video, Today, 5-28-2020) Restaurants focus on distance and hygiene.
The CEO’s guide to safely reopening the workplace (Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb, and Mara Lederman, MIT Technology Review, 5-28-2020) Until there’s a treatment or vaccine for covid-19, public health will depend heavily on decisions by business leaders. Technology and systematic thinking can help. First, information-based solutions involve predicting who is infectious and who is immune and then using this information to decide who gets to enter the workplace. Second—since these predictions will inevitably be imperfect—are always-on solutions: technologies and processes that limit the spread of the virus when infectious people do enter. Lockdown is the most extreme always-on solution; reopening requires more nuanced ones.
5 Tips for Safely Reopening Your Office (Joseph Grenny, Harvard Business Review, 5-20-2020)
Reopening Safely: Helpful Tips for Community Leaders and Small Business Owners (Matthew Wagner, Main Street America, 4-30-2020) One tip sheet for community leaders and one for small business owners.
The False Hope of Antibody Tests (Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, 4-28-2020) The immunity tests were supposed to be a “game changer,” but they are instead revealing that the majority of Americans are still vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. ‘The pandemic may be global but, as Yonatan Grad, an immunologist at Harvard University, told me, “it is made up of hyperlocal epidemics that are differentially impacting communities.” If neighboring cities, states, or countries are at very different points in their outbreak trajectory, it could create difficult questions about when and how to reopen.’
What’s the Risk of Catching Coronavirus From a Surface? (YouTube video, Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times, 5-28-2020) Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen.

From Camping to Dining Out: Here's How Experts Rate the Risks of 14 Summer Activities (Allison Aubrey, Laurel Wamsley, and Carmel Wroth, Shots, Morning Edition, NPR, 5-23-2020) The relative level of risk calculated for various activities: a BYOB backyard gathering with one other household, eating indoors at a restaurant, attending a religious service indoors, an outdoor celebration such as a wedding with more than 10 guests, using a public restroom, letting a friend use your bathroom, going to a vacation house with another family, staying at a hotel, getting a haircut, going shopping at a mall, going to a nightclub, going camping, and exercising outdoors.
8 ways to go out and stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic (German Lopez, Vox, 5-22-2020) People are starting to leave their homes again. Here’s how to do that and stay as safe as possible. Part of The Vox guide to navigating the coronavirus crisis.
Sweden’s Coronavirus Strategy Will Soon Be the World’s (Nils Karlson, Charlotta Stern, and Daniel B. Klein, Foreign Affairs, 5-12-2020) Herd Immunity Is the Only Realistic Option—the Question Is How to Get There Safely. Rather than declare a lockdown or a state of emergency, Sweden asked its citizens to practice social distancing on a mostly voluntary basis. Swedish authorities have not officially declared a goal of reaching herd immunity, which most scientists believe is achieved when more than 60 percent of the population has had the virus. But augmenting immunity is no doubt part of the government’s broader strategy—or at least a likely consequence of keeping schools, restaurants, and most businesses open. When much of the world experiences a deadly second wave, Sweden will have the worst of the pandemic behind it. Lockdowns are simply not sustainable for the amount of time that it will likely take to develop a vaccine. See also Coronavirus: Has Sweden got its science right? (Maddy Savage, BBC News, 4-25-2020) and A Virtual Conversation with Malin Attefall, science journalist at Sweden's Public TV (ScienceWritersNYC, YouTube video, 1 hour, 5-13-2020) David Levine, host, as Attefall discusses how Sweden is responding to coronavirus, common misconceptions about Sweden’s approach, and differences in everyday life compared to the lockdown in other countries.

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Ending lockdown, town by town? state by state?


Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sen. Rand Paul spar over safety and death rates among children with coronavirus (William Feuer @WillFOIA and Christina Wilkie, CNBC, 5-12-2020)
Coronavirus Advice From Abroad: 7 Lessons America’s Governors Should Not Ignore as They Reopen Their Economies (Stephen Engelberg, Caroline Chen and Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica, 4-18-2020). Advice on restarting the economy. They spoke to frontline experts from around the globe and have compiled a list of recommendations for reopening U.S. states. Their consensus? It’s tough to find policies that simultaneously save lives and livelihoods. Essential reading.
Thousands from coronavirus hot spots flocked to Maryland and Virginia as parts of the states reopened (Katherine Shaver, Washington Post, 5-20-2020) By reopening some parts of states considered at lower risk ahead of coronavirus hot spots, Zhang said, “It actively encour­ages people to travel from high-risk areas to these otherwise safer, more rural areas without many cases. That’s certainly not a good trend.” Traveling generally increases personal interactions, making it easier to transmit the virus. It also makes contact tracing more difficult, they say, because people who later discover they’re infected are less likely to know with whom they interacted.
Executive Orders, by State (COVID-19 Resources for State Leaders, The Council of State Governments) You can view executive orders by state or by classification.
The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them (Erin Bromage, Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology (specializing in Immunology) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) "The only reason the total USA new case numbers look flat right now is because the New York City epidemic was so large and now it is being contained." So throughout most of the country we are going to add fuel to the viral fire by reopening. He details how much virus is released into the environment every time someone breathes, sneezes, coughs, spends time in a bathroom, etc. This is also why it is critical for people who are symptomatic to stay home. "Your sneezes and your coughs expel so much virus that you can infect a whole room of people."
The success of Gov. Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy rests with what we do in our cities and counties (Editorial, Dallas Morning News, 4-23-2020) "The decision to shut down the Texas economy was a tough call. Getting back to business safely is becoming an equally difficult decision. On Tuesday, Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton announced plans to relax stay-at-home orders and Dallas County Commissioners voted to extend Dallas County’s stay-at-home order until May 15, both acting before the expiration of the governor’s statewide shelter in place order at the end of April. It is essential that state and local officials work together and that timetables for reopening the Texas economy not devolve into a clash over local and state control. By law, Abbott has the legal last word over cities and counties, and he plans soon to issue a new executive order to reopen the economy and replace his statewide order to shelter in place with a phased-in process.
‘Is this another death I’ll have to pronounce?’ (4-25-2020) Michael Fowler, Dougherty County coroner, on the reopening of Georgia. 'I’m always driving, going back-and-forth between nursing homes, the hospital, and the morgue. All these roads should be empty if you ask me. But now I see people out running errands, rushing back into their lives, and it’s like: “Why? What reason could possibly be good enough?” Sometimes, I think about stopping and showing them one of the empty body bags I have in the trunk. “You might end up here. Is that worth it for a haircut or a hamburger?”'
Lockdown. A poem by Brother Richard (Irish Central, 3-23-2020)

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What patients with covid-19 experience

Including the immune-overresponse called
multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)


What it feels like to survive COVID-19’s dreaded “cytokine storm” (Keith A. Spencer, Salon, 4-5-2020) "The primary symptoms I had are quite typical for those who find themselves truly afflicted with the illness: high fever, a dry cough and pain in my throat. Not a classic pharyngitis, rather a sort of aching pain which was intermittent. Subsequently, the fevers really took off and averaged 102.5 over the following days. Headaches, nausea, severe muscle and bone pain, change of bowel habits and a loss of taste and smell all evolved." A doctor and coronavirus patient in recovery describes his experience surviving COVID-19's worst side effects.
Mysterious Heart Damage, Not Just Lung Troubles, Befalling COVID-19 Patients (Markian Hawryluk, KHN, 4-6-2020) Most of the attention in the COVID-19 pandemic has been on how the virus affects the lungs. But evidence shows that up to 1 in 5 infected patients have signs of heart damage and many are dying due to heart problems.
The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients (Richard Levitan, Opinion piece, NY Times, 4-20-2020) A major reason this pandemic is straining our health system is the alarming severity of lung injury patients have when they arrive in emergency rooms. Covid-19 overwhelmingly kills through the lungs. And because so many patients are not going to the hospital until their pneumonia is already well advanced, many wind up on ventilators, causing shortages of the machines. And once on ventilators, many die. There is a way we could identify more patients who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively — and it would not require waiting for a coronavirus test at a hospital or doctor’s office. It requires detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter. [The top-rated pulse oximeter monitors are sold out on Amazon, but that's what you want.] All persons with cough, fatigue and fevers should also have pulse oximeter monitoring even if they have not had virus testing, or even if their swab test was negative, because those tests are only about 70 percent accurate. A vast majority of Americans who have been exposed to the virus don’t know it.
Voices from the Pandemic A collection of accounts from people who have been sharing their personal stories about covid-19. As told to Eli Saslow (Washington Post oral history collection)
---‘How long can a heart last like this?’ (5-9-2020) Darlene Krawetz, on what life becomes when covid-19 won’t go away. After weeks with coronavirus, a sick woman wonders when it will end.
‘I apologize to God for feeling this way.’ (5-2-2020) Gloria Jackson, on being 75, alone, and thought of as expendable.
A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — Even in His Young Patients (Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, 3-21-2020) “It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube....This is knocking out what should be perfectly fit, healthy people."
Inflammatory Syndrome and COVID-19: What Do Parents Need to Know? (Erin Digitale, Stanford Children's Health, 5-14-2020) The immune-overresponse called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is very rare, but parents should know what to watch for: persistent fever, a rash or changes in skin color, red eyes or conjunctivitis, abdominal pain, and swollen lymph nodes. “The key is to identify this early so the child can receive appropriate treatments to help with the body’s inflammatory response.” said Roshni Mathew, MD. Kids admitted to the hospital wouldbe carefully monitored for complications such as cardiac problems. Children with MIS-C don’t always show respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.
Why does COVID-19 appear to cause inflammatory response in some children? (Judy Woodruff, William Brangham, and Jane Newburger, PBS NewsHour, 5-15-2020) In more than 100 cases in New York and 60-plus across Europe, young people have developed an inflammatory response similar to what's known as Kawasaki disease. It's led to concerns that we still don't fully understand the full impact that COVID is having on children and teens. In young people exposed to the virus, "it's manifested by either an extreme inflammatory response and by at least one organ, often two or more, that are not functioning properly because of the inflammatory milieu. It's less about the virus and much more related to the body's immune response to having been exposed to the virus. Newburger: "So if a child has fever and seems inflamed, with a rash, red eyes, red lips, any signs of what we call Kawasaki disease, and if they have G.I. symptoms as well, which seem to be very, very common, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, they should be in contact with their primary caregiver or their pediatrician.
"If the child really seems sick, in a sense — the way that a parent's sixth sense tells you, and they don't seem responsive or their color doesn't seem right, then they should go to a hospital, if they're worried."
Rare, COVID-Related Inflammatory Disease Affecting Children (Beata Mostafavi, Health Lab, U of Michigan, 5-14-2020) Cases of what’s being called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) have been reported in parts of the U.S. and Europe, with some children experiencing organ failure. At least three deaths have been reported in New York. The novel coronavirus still affects a very small number of children, but new reports describe serious symptoms in some pediatric cases in parts of the U.S. and Europe. Experts suspect that in children with PMIS, the virus may trigger the immune system to overreact and cause widespread inflammation throughout the body.
      Symptoms include a high fever that lasts four or more days, a rash, very red eyes, abdominal pain and skin peeling on hands or feet. The condition resembles a rare childhood illness called Kawasaki disease, which has similar signs and symptoms and can lead to enlargement of blood vessels that in severe forms may cause heart damage.
Two more NY children dead of coronavirus-related disease (Sara Dorn, New York Post, 5-9-2020) This “truly disturbing” coronavirus-linked inflammatory syndrome mirrors Kawasaki disease, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. The illness, which experts have said appears to originate from the novel coronavirus, has infected at least 73 children statewide. Similar to toxic-shock syndrome, Kawasaki disease causes an inflammation of blood vessels in infants, toddlers and elementary school-aged kids, potentially leading to heart disease and death.
Doing Time (Jill Siebers, Pulse, Voices from the Heart of Medicine, 5-5-2020) COVID-19 Confinement, Day Four. James has what is likely a moderate case--cough, no interest in food, a profound need for sleep. Still, it is shocking when a six-foot three-inch, 225-pound man goes down.

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The race for effective vaccines and anti-viral treatments

Vaccines and treatments

Despite pronouncements, no quick turnaround likely for COVID-19 treatments, vaccines (Bara Vaida, Covering Health, Association of Health Care Journalists, 3-20-2020) An inaccurate statement that President Trump made during a March 19 news briefing - that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine had been approved as a COVID-19 treatment - demonstrates how skeptical journalists should remain when covering the unfolding story about treatments and preventative measures. While there are more than 85 trials for vaccines and treatments underway for COVID-19, scientists don't expect them to be available to the public soon, despite what some headlines suggest.
Covid-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker (Milken Institute) A list of all treatments and vaccines currently in development.

 

Vaccine development

Profits and Pride at Stake, the Race for a Vaccine Intensifies (David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick, Carl Zimmer, Katie Thomas and Sui-Lee Wee, NY Times, 5-2-2020) "Governments, companies and academic labs are accelerating their efforts amid geopolitical crosscurrents, questions about safety and the challenges of producing enough doses for billions of people. Seven of the roughly 90 projects being pursued by governments, pharmaceutical makers, biotech innovators and academic laboratories have reached the stage of clinical trials....But the whole enterprise remains dogged by uncertainty about whether any coronavirus vaccine will prove effective, how fast it could be made available to millions or billions of people and whether the rush — compressing a process that can take 10 years into 10 months — will sacrifice safety."

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine (Bill Gates, GatesNotes, 4-30-2020) The world is creating this vaccine on a historically fast timeline. There are over 100 different coronavirus vaccine candidates in the works. These candidates take a variety of approaches to protecting the body against COVID-19.We need to manufacture and distribute at least 7 billion doses of the vaccine.
A top virologist believes the coronavirus vaccines won't be ready for distribution until 2021 — here's why (Guido Vanham and Peter Vanham, Business Insider, 4-18-2020) The phases of vaccine testing, explained. Most of the current candidates are still in the non-human development and testing phase. In the end, SARS-CoV2 vaccines will not be realistically available for another 12-18 months. And even then, we must be lucky every step of the way. A vaccine must be rigorously tested before it is released to the public. "Before we have effective treatment or vaccine, we will have to behave similarly to South Korea, Singapore or Hong Kong, with widespread access to testing, contact tracing and isolation, quarantining people in cases of potential contact."
The Danger of Rushing Through Clinical Trials in the Pandemic (Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker, 5-14-2020) An epidemiologist discusses what makes a good trial and why a pandemic is not the time to speed up the drug-approval process.
How profit makes the fight for a coronavirus vaccine harder (Stephen Buranyi, The Guardian, 3-4-2020) The near-total lack of interest from markets means there’s precious little foundation for scientists to build on.
Warning: early vaccine trial results don’t always stand test of time (Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review, 5-19-2020) Not good enough: "The vaccine "appears to be safe." Strengths and weaknesses of various news accounts, including Fox News. Good for explaining what to look for in a news account of developing science. Recommended reading: Vaccine experts say Moderna didn’t produce data critical to assessing Covid-19 vaccine (Helen Branwell, STAT News, 5-19-2020) and Moderna’s claim of favorable results in its vaccine trial is an example of ‘publication by press release’ (William Haseltine, Opinion, WashPost, 5-19-2020) See also How Upbeat Vaccine News Fueled a Stock Surge, and an Uproar (Katie Thomas and Denise Grady, Wash Post, 5-23-2020) Dr. Fauci said the big question remained: Will the vaccine work? “When you’re developing a vaccine,” he said, “nothing is guaranteed.”

Hydroxychloroquine
As Trump touts an unproven coronavirus treatment, supplies evaporate for patients who need those drugs (Christopher Rowland, Washington Post, 3-23-2020) Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are in high demand, even though they have not yet been verified as an effective treatment for the coronavirus.The sudden shortages of the two drugs could come at a serious cost for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients who depend on them to alleviate symptoms of inflammation, including preventing organ damage in lupus patients. See also
Trump’s Inaccurate Claims on Hydroxychloroquine (Linda Qiu, FactCheck, WashPost, 5-21-2020) The president falsely described scientific research around the malaria drug, falsely denied the existence of a federal warning against it and argued, with no evidence, that large numbers of health care workers were taking it.
Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: Cure-All or Flim-Flam?(Anita Bartholomew, Forbes, 4-8-2020) Hydroxychloroquine (brand name Plaquenil) is an anti-malarial drug being used experimentally to treat COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine and an earlier variant, chloroquine, appear to hold promise, though not nearly as much as some overheated rhetoric suggests, nor as little as the opposite side insists. Hydroxychloroquine kills viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 in the test tube, but the anti-malarials are almost certainly not preventives. 'With hydroxychloroquine, the most likely benefit comes from the drug’s ability to tamp down inflammation. This is how it’s used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other auto-immune disease symptoms. A misfiring, hyper-active immune system appears to be behind some of the worst coronavirus respiratory symptoms, too. The lungs become disastrously inflamed as the body attempts to expel the virus. If the inflammation becomes pronounced enough, it’s the immune response itself, rather than the virus, that can land someone on a ventilator in the ICU, and sometimes result in death....This means that, for those with or at risk of severe COVID-19 lung complications, hydroxychloroquine might be a good, potentially lifesaving treatment....Although there has been much hand-wringing about politicians and certain media touting an “unproven drug” like hydroxychloroquine, it cannot be stressed enough: There are no proven treatments for COVID-19.'
What if hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work? What if it does? Right now, we don’t know (Matthew Herper, STAT News, 3-27-2020) An old malaria medicine, hydroxychloroquine, has gone viral on the internet. But is it really an antiviral drug? The drug stops the virus from infecting cells in the dish, but in humans...?
Much-Hyped Malaria Drug Linked To Higher Rates of Death in VA Study (KHN Morning Briefing, 4-22-2020) Links to several articles about hydroxychloroquine.

Remdesivir
Chasing the Elusive Dream of a COVID Cure (Liz Szabo, KHN, 5-15-2020) Although scientists and stock markets have celebrated the approval for emergency use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19, a cure for the disease that has killed nearly 260,000 people remains a long way off — and might never arrive. Researchers have already announced that they will combine remdesivir with an anti-inflammatory drug, baricitinib — now used to treat rheumatoid arthritis — in the hope of improving results.
But COVID-19 is an elusive enemy. Doctors treating COVID patients say they’re fighting a war on multiple fronts, battling a virus that batters organs throughout the body, causes killer blood clots and prompts an immune system overreaction called a “cytokine storm.”
Trump, Fauci differ on possible ‘game-changer’ coronavirus drug (Bob Frederick, New York Post, 3-20-2020)
What the public didn’t hear about the NIH remdesivir trial (Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review, 4-30-2020) It reduced recovery time by 4 days but didn't reduce fatality. As Fauci stated, "it is very important proof of concept.” The mortality rate “trended” towards being better but “has not yet reached statistical significance.”
Fauci’s announcement of remdesivir trial findings leaves out crucial detail (Tara Haelle, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-1-2020)  It doesn't reduce the number of deaths.
The COVID-19 research news rollercoaster is running again: STAT News + Gilead’s remdesivir (Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review, 4-29-2020) Don't mistake publicity for journalism.

Clinical Trials
Lost opportunities from FDA, NIH inaction when sponsors fail to report clinical trial results (Christopher Morten, Peter G. Lurie, and Charles Seife, STAT, 4-13-2020) The federal government provides a handy resource for navigating disputes about clinical trials: ClinicalTrials.gov, where drug makers and other sponsors of clinical trials must report their results. But that decision-making machinery can be thrown off when trial sponsors don’t have to share the results of all of their trials. STAT News identified a loophole letting trial sponsors do just that and sued the federal government to close it, but that will prove a hollow victory unless the FDA and NIH step up enforcement of an important law, and soon. Without enforcement, Americans are at greater risk of wasting money on useless medical products and being injured by unsafe ones.

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Why Covid-19 is so dangerous


The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients (Dr. Richard Levitan, NY Times, 4-20-2020) During 10 days of treating Covid pneumonia at Bellevue Hospital, this ER doctor found that elderly patients who had passed out for unknown reasons and a number of diabetic patients were found to have Covid pneumonia, even though they did not report any sensation of breathing problems, even though their chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia and their oxygen was below normal. "As the inflammation from Covid pneumonia starts, it causes the air sacs to collapse, and oxygen levels fall. Yet the lungs initially remain “compliant,” not yet stiff or heavy with fluid. This means patients can still expel carbon dioxide — and without a buildup of carbon dioxide, patients do not feel short of breath. Patients compensate for the low oxygen in their blood by breathing faster and deeper... injuring their own lungs by breathing harder and harder.
This silent hypoxia (the body being deprived of oxygen) can be detected early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter. [By the end of the day this article came out, many leading suppliers of the best of these were sold out.]

How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes (Meredith Wadman, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Jocelyn Kaiser, Catherine Matacic, Science Magazine, 4-17-2020) Despite the more than 1000 papers now spilling into journals and onto preprint servers every week, a clear picture is elusive, as the virus acts like no pathogen humanity has ever seen. 'Some clinicians suspect the driving force in many gravely ill patients’ downhill trajectories is a disastrous overreaction of the immune system known as a “cytokine storm,” which other viral infections are known to trigger. Cytokines are chemical signaling molecules that guide a healthy immune response; but in a cytokine storm, levels of certain cytokines soar far beyond what’s needed, and immune cells start to attack healthy tissues. Blood vessels leak, blood pressure drops, clots form, and catastrophic organ failure can ensue.'
     Meanwhile, other scientists are zeroing in on an entirely different organ system that they say is driving some patients’ rapid deterioration: the heart and blood vessels..."The more we look, the more likely it becomes that blood clots are a major player in the disease severity and mortality from COVID-19," says Behnood Bikdeli, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Scientists are struggling to understand exactly what causes the cardiovascular damage.
    For some, “The lung is the primary battle zone. But a fraction of the virus possibly attacks the kidney. And as on the real battlefield, if two places are being attacked at the same time, each place gets worse,” says Hongbo Jia.

     Another striking set of symptoms in COVID-19 patients centers on the brain and central nervous system. ' Some people with COVID-19 briefly lose consciousness. Others have strokes. Many report losing their sense of smell. And Frontera and others wonder whether in some cases, infection depresses the brain stem reflex that senses oxygen starvation. This is another explanation for anecdotal observations that some patients aren’t gasping for air, despite dangerously low blood oxygen levels.'
Chasing the Elusive Dream of a COVID Cure (Liz Szabo, KHN, 5-15-2020) Although scientists and stock markets have celebrated the approval for emergency use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19, a cure for the disease that has killed nearly 260,000 people remains a long way off — and might never arrive. Researchers have already announced that they will combine remdesivir with an anti-inflammatory drug, baricitinib — now used to treat rheumatoid arthritis — in the hope of improving results. But COVID-19 is an elusive enemy. Doctors treating COVID patients say they’re fighting a war on multiple fronts, battling a virus that batters organs throughout the body, causes killer blood clots and prompts an immune system overreaction called a “cytokine storm.”

Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes (Ariana Eunjung Cha, WashPost, 4-24-2020) Doctors sound alarm about patients in their 30s and 40s left debilitated or dead. Some didn’t even know they were infected. Once thought to be a pathogen that primarily attacks the lungs, it has turned out to be a much more formidable foe — impacting nearly every major organ system in the body. See also Large Vessel Strokes in Younger Patients Tied to COVID-19 (Judy George, MedPage Today, 4-28-2020) Five patients ages 33 to 49 presented to Mount Sinai Health System from March 23 to April 7, all tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and all developed acute ischemic large-vessel stroke.

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Who is harmed most by Covid19?


‘I Wasn’t Eating’: Senior Twin Sisters Battle Pandemic Anxiety Together (Cara Anthony, KHN, 4-16-2020) As a longtime advocate for residents of East St. Louis, Ethel Sylvester hopes more people will take time to listen to the needs of seniors long after the pandemic ends. “With all of this stuff going around, we old folk feel lost,” Sylvester said. “We don’t know where we are going and we don’t know what to do.”
Coronavirus is harming the mental health of tens of millions of people in U.S., new poll finds (Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 4-2-2020) Nearly half the people in the United States feel the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a survey published Thursday that demonstrates how the covid-19 pandemic has escalated into a nationwide psychological trauma. The poll makes one thing clear: If you’re scared, anxious, depressed, struggling to sleep through the night, or just on edge, you’re not alone. Mental health experts suggest ways to cope with anxiety, stress and adjusting to how covid-19 is changing our lives. 

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect suicide rates? (Eileen Abbott, Changing America, The Hill) Some indicators suggest a rising call volume at crisis centers. Here are two of them:

---Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline (SAMHSA’s helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

---National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
92 Years Old, Scared and Pleading to Come Home (Dan Barry, NY Times, 3-19-2020) A family grapples with a wrenching coronavirus question: Do we leave our father in the nursing home? See also Coronavirus-19 in Geriatrics and Long-Term Care by Joseph G. Ouslander (Wiley)
COVID-19 Presents Significant Risks for American Indian and Alaska Native People (Samantha Artiga and Kendal Orgera, KFF, 5-14-2020) AIAN people face disproportionate risks from the COVID-19 outbreak given significant underlying disparities in health, social, and economic factors. Addressing their needs as part of COVID-19 response efforts will be key for preventing further widening of these disparities. See also Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to the Navajo Nation (video and transcript, Christina Capatides, CBS News, 5-11-2020)
Under COVID Cloud, Prisons In Rural America Threaten To Choke Rural Hospitals (LJ Dawson, KHN, 5-14-2020)As the COVID-19 pandemic swept into Montana, it spread into the Marias Heritage Center assisted living facility, then flowed into the nearby 21-bed hospital. Toole County quickly became the state’s hot spot for COVID-19 deaths, with more than four times the infection rate of all other counties and the most recorded deaths in the state. Six of the state’s 16 COVID deaths through Tuesday have occurred here. Almost 70% of the nation’s more than 1,100 prisons are located outside of metropolitan areas...even a small number of serious cases in a small jail or prison could overwhelm limited resources."
“It Spreads Like Wildfire”: The Coronavirus Comes to New York’s Prisons (Daniel A. Gross, New Yorker, 3-24-2020) The U.S. as a whole may be able to flatten the curve of the outbreak through social distancing, but Gregg Gonsalves, the epidemiologist, expected to see in prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers a largely “uncontrolled, unflattened curve,” even if the incarcerated try to practice social distancing and have constant access to soap and hand sanitizer.
Are people of color hit harder by COVID-19 in your state or city? (Matthew Kauffman, Positive Deviance Data Project, Solutions Journalism Network, The Whole Story) The database is dynamic: Where it reports the data it simply links to each state or city's reporting page.
“Similar to Times of War”: The Staggering Toll of COVID-19 on Filipino Health Care Workers ( Nina Martin and Bernice Yeung, ProPublica, 5-3-2020) One of every four Filipinos in the New York-New Jersey area is employed in the health care industry. With at least 30 worker deaths and many more family members lost to the coronavirus, a community at the epicenter of the pandemic has been left reeling.
From Black Death to fatal flu, past pandemics show why people on the margins suffer most (Lizzie Wade, Science, 5-14-2020) ' “Bioarchaeology and other social sciences have repeatedly demonstrated that these kinds of crises play out along the preexisting fault lines of each society,” says Gwen Robbins Schug, a bioarchaeologist at Appalachian State University who studies health and inequality in ancient societies. The people at greatest risk were often those already marginalized—the poor and minorities who faced discrimination in ways that damaged their health or limited their access to medical care even in prepandemic times. In turn, the pandemics themselves affected societal inequality, by either undermining or reinforcing existing power structures.' An interesting chart shows this: "Before the 20th century, rising economic inequality in Italy was reversed only once: during and after the Black Death, according to tax records. Data from elsewhere in Europe suggest economic inequality dropped again after 1918, but the impact of that year’s influenza pandemic can’t be separated from that of two world wars."

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Communities of Color at Higher Risk for Health and Economic Challenges due to COVID-19 (Samantha Artiga, Rachel Garfield, and Kendal Orgera, KFF, 4-7-2020) People of color have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions than whites, are less likely to have access to adequate healthcare, and are more likely to live in circumstances that put them at increased risk of infection from coronavirus.
The First 100: COVID-19 Took Black Lives First. It Didn’t Have To. (Duaa Eldeib, Adriana Gallardo, Akilah Johnson, Annie Waldman, Nina Martin, Talia Buford and Tony Briscoe, ProPublica, 5-9-2020) In Chicago, 70 of the city’s 100 first recorded victims of COVID-19 were black. Their lives were rich, and their deaths cannot be dismissed as inevitable. Immediate factors could — and should — have been addressed.
'We're Like A Lifeline': Postal Workers Fight Fear To Work During Pandemic (Jey Born and Emma Bowman, Morning Edition, NPR, 5-15-2020) Craig Boddie and Evette Jourdain, both mail carriers in Palm Beach, Fla., spoke for a remote StoryCorps conversation last month about the job risks created by the coronavirus outbreak. They worry they will bring the virus home.
Hospitals Have Left Many COVID-19 Patients Who Don’t Speak English Alone, Confused and Without Proper Care (Joshua Kaplan, ProPublica, 3-31-2020) One medical worker told us: “It takes 10 minutes of sitting on the phone to get an interpreter, and that’s valuable time when you’re inundated. So this utilitarian calculus kicks in. And the patients that are most mainstream get the best care.”
Hospitals Tell Doctors They’ll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear (Olivia Carville, Emma Court, and Kristen V Brown. Bloomberg, 3-31-2020)
Early Data Shows African Americans Have Contracted and Died of Coronavirus at an Alarming Rate (Akilah Johnson and Talia Buford, ProPublica, 4-3-2020) No, the coronavirus is not an “equalizer.” Black people are being infected and dying at higher rates. Here’s what Milwaukee is doing about it — and why governments need to start releasing data on the race of COVID-19 patients. See also The Coronavirus’s Unique Threat to the South (Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic, 4-2-2020) More young people in the South seem to be dying from COVID-19. Why? And see Virus Is Twice as Deadly for Black and Latino People Than Whites in N.Y.C. (Jeffery C. Mays and Andy Newman, NY Times, 4-8-2020) "The preliminary death rate for Hispanic people in the city is about 22 people per 100,000; the rate for black people is 20 per 100,000; the rate for white people is 10 per 100,000; and the rate for Asian people is 8 per 100,000. The rates are adjusted for the size and age of the population." And 100 to 200 people a day "are presumed to be virus victims but who are not tested and are left out of the virus death toll."
The Coronavirus’s Unique Threat to the South (Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic, 4-2-2020) More young people in the South seem to be dying from COVID-19. Why? “Due to high rates of conditions like lung disease and heart disease and obesity, the people living in these states are at risk if they get the virus,” Neuman told me. These aren’t “people who are sick, but these are people who have underlying comorbidities that put them at higher risk of serious illness if they get infected." ... The South is the poorest region in the country. The poor, black, Latino, or rural residents who make up large shares of southern populations tend to lack access to high-quality doctors and care."
Los New Yorkers: Essential and Underprotected in the Pandemic’s Epicenter (Adriana Gallardo and Ariel Goodman, ProPublica, 5-2-2020) In a city besieged, undocumented New Yorkers have been left outside public measures to help those impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, they weigh impossible choices: medical help and exposure, safety or sustenance.
What Happened When Health Officials Wanted to Close a Meatpacking Plant, but the Governor Said No (Michael Grabell, ProPublica, 5-7-2020) New documents obtained by ProPublica show public health officials in Grand Island, Nebraska, wanted the JBS meatpacking plant closed. But Gov. Pete Ricketts said no. Since then, cases have skyrocketed.
Why Housing the Homeless in the Age of Covid-19 Is Essential (Anita Bartholomew, Forbes, 4-3-2020) The country can’t afford to allow large swathes of the population to go unhoused and exposed. It endangers everyone.

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Where in the world things went right


How South Korea Flattened the Curve (Max Fisher and Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times, 3-23-2020) South Korea showed that it is possible to contain the coronavirus without shutting down the economy, but experts are unsure whether its lessons can work abroad.

Lesson 1: Intervene Fast, Before It’s a Crisis.

Lesson 2: Test Early, Often and Safely.

Lesson 3: Contact Tracing, Isolation and Surveillance.

Lesson 4: Enlist The Public’s Help.. See also What’s Behind South Korea’s COVID-19 Exceptionalism? (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, 5-7-2020) Seven weeks ago, South Korea and the U.S. had the same number of virus deaths. Today, South Korea has fewer than 300, and the U.S. has more than 70,000. The country’s three-pronged strategy: Test, trace, isolate.

       But it may be too late for most countries to follow South Korea's model.

Here's everything we know about how San Francisco is battling the coronavirus pandemic (Bryan Pietsch and Katie Canales, Business Insider, 4-18-2020) San Francisco declared a state of emergency in February and was one of many Bay Area counties to enter a shelter-in-place order on March 17, among other smart moves.
New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve. It’s squashing it. (Anna Fifield, MSN, 4-7-2020) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is adamant that New Zealand will complete four weeks of lockdown — two full 14-day incubation cycles — before letting up. It has been less than two weeks since New Zealand imposed a coronavirus lockdown so strict that swimming at the beach and hunting in bushland were banned. See also New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet (Uri Friedman, The Atlantic, 4-19-2020) Her leadership style, focused on empathy, isn’t just resonating with her people; it’s putting the country on track for success against the coronavirus. “She doesn’t peddle in misinformation; she doesn’t blame-shift; she tries to manage everyone’s expectations at the same time [as] she offers reassuring notes.”
New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve. It’s squashing it. (Anna Fifield, MSN, 4-7-2020) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is adamant that New Zealand will complete four weeks of lockdown — two full 14-day incubation cycles — before letting up. It has been less than two weeks since New Zealand imposed a coronavirus lockdown so strict that swimming at the beach and hunting in bushland were banned. See also New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet (Uri Friedman, The Atlantic, 4-19-2020) Her leadership style, focused on empathy, isn’t just resonating with her people; it’s putting the country on track for success against the coronavirus. “She doesn’t peddle in misinformation; she doesn’t blame-shift; she tries to manage everyone’s expectations at the same time [as] she offers reassuring notes.”
The Secret to Germany’s COVID-19 Success: Angela Merkel Is a Scientist (Saskia Miller, The Atlantic, 4-20-2020) The chancellor’s rigor in collating information, her honesty in stating what is not yet known, and her composure are paying off.
'Prayer Is Not Enough.' The Dalai Lama on Why We Need to Fight Coronavirus With Compassion (Dalai Lama, Time, 4-14-2020) "This crisis shows that we must all take responsibility where we can. We must combine the courage doctors and nurses are showing with empirical science to begin to turn this situation around and protect our future from more such threats."
Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not (Charles Duhigg, New Yorker, 4-26-2020) The initial coronavirus outbreaks on the East and West Coasts emerged at roughly the same time. But the danger was communicated very differently. More than fifteen thousand people in New York are believed to have died from COVID-19. Last week in Washington State, the estimate was fewer than seven hundred people....Said Sonja Rasmussen, a former CDC official, “It seems silly, but all these rules and SOHCOs and telling people again and again to wash their hands—they make a huge difference. That’s why we study it and teach it.” She continued, “It’s really easy, with the best of intentions, to say the wrong thing or send the wrong message. And then more people die.”
How Iceland Beat the Coronavirus (Elizabeth Kolbert, Letter from Reykjavík,New Yorker, 6-1-2020) By May 17th, Iceland had tested 15.5 per cent of its population for the virus. In the U.S., the figure was 3.4 per cent. By sequencing the virus from every person infected, researchers at deCODE could also make inferences about how it had spread. “One of the very interesting things is that, in all our data, there are only two examples where a child infected a parent,” Stefánsson told me. “But there are lots of examples where parents infected children.”...“So we started our preparations long before the first case tested positive here in Iceland. And it was very clear from the beginning that this was something that should be led by experts—by scientific and medical experts.” Jakobsdóttir praised the work of the contact-tracing team, which had compelled one of her three sons to go into quarantine.
Why Estonia Was Poised to Handle How a Pandemic Would Change Everything (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 3-24-2020) The little start-up country that did better than the U.S.
'The impossible has already happened': what coronavirus can teach us about hope (Rebecca Solnit, a 'long read,' The Guardian, 4-7-2020) In the midst of fear and isolation, we are learning that profound, positive change is possible. Having lived through and written extensively about past disasters, Rebecca Solnit senses as well as anyone what comes next. We’re still in the middle of a global battle, but slowly talk of “after” will come, and we will need guidance from those who have endured similarly treacherous stretches. “It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency,” Solnit writes, “but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide it.&rdquo
A German Exception? Why the Country’s Coronavirus Death Rate Is Low (Katrin Bennhold, NY Times, 4-4-2020) "The pandemic has hit Germany hard, with more than 92,000 people infected. But the percentage of fatal cases has been remarkably low compared to those in many neighboring countries...significant medical factors that have kept the number of deaths in Germany relatively low, epidemiologists and virologists say, chief among them early and widespread testing and treatment, plenty of intensive care beds and a trusted government whose social distancing guidelines are widely observed."
Desperate for Covid-19 answers, U.S. doctors turn to colleagues in China (Sharon Begley, STAT, 3-24-2020) Fed 'up with what they see as inadequate and confusing directives from public health authorities, many physicians are trying to get on-the-ground advice directly from colleagues in countries that were the first to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention originally told physicians, nurses, and others caring for Covid-19 patients to use N95 masks, for instance, but earlier this month changed that to ordinary surgical masks for most needs....

      Severe and critical cases in China get hospitalized, but at a dedicated facility, to reduce spread from Covid-19 patient to hospital worker to non-Covid-19 patient....The Hopkins teams was impressed with China’s scrupulous measures to minimize viral transmission, “especially among health care workers,” Auwaerter said. “Such measures have successfully slowed the epidemic in China.” In contrast, failing to do so has fueled the disastrous spread of Covid-19 in Italy, physicians at a hospital in the country’s hard-hit north warned over the weekend.'
'In The End, The Voters Responded': Surprising Takeaways From Wisconsin's Election (Miles Parks, Coronavirus Crisis series), 4-15-2020) "Unlike more than a dozen other states, Wisconsin plowed ahead with the April 7 election in the face of the coronavirus pandemic after the intervention of the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.... former Vice President Joe Biden won the state's Democratic presidential primary, and a judge backed by Democrats was elected to a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That high-stakes judicial race was at the heart of the conflict around the election. Many liberals and election experts accused Republicans of trying to suppress turnout by holding the election during a public health crisis."
Why covid-19 seems to spread more slowly in Africa (The Economist, 5-16-2020) Transport links are worse.

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Where things went wrong in the U.S.

In nursing homes and elsewhere

One Hospital Was Besieged by the Virus. Nearby Was ‘Plenty of Space.’ (Jim Dwyer, NY Times, 5-14-2020) How The Chaos At Elmhurst Hospital Exposed Health Care’s Fiefdoms. Even as Elmhurst faced “apocalyptic” conditions, 3,500 beds were free in other New York hospitals, some no more than 20 minutes away. In late March, as the most dire public health crisis in a century swept across New York, sick people and those caring for them faced a hospital system that was less than the sum of its mighty parts. At Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, hundreds of Covid-19 patients arrived in need of more help than besieged medical workers could give. Patients were found dead in rooms. One medical resident described conditions as “apocalyptic.” Yet at the same time, 3,500 beds were free in other New York hospitals, some no more than 20 minutes from Elmhurst, according to state records. The city, which runs Elmhurst, had a fleet of 26 new ambulances available to transfer patients.
Medicaid Providers at the End of the Line for Federal Covid Funding (Julie Rovner, KHN, 5-18-2020) In March, Congress authorized $100 billion in funding for health care providers, the majority of which so far has gone to hospitals, doctors and other facilities that serve Medicare patients. That allocation, however, leaves out a large swath of the health system infrastructure that serves the low-income Medicaid population and children. State Medicaid directors say that without immediate funding, many of the health facilities that serve Medicaid patients could close permanently. Of special concern are children because Medicaid covers nearly 40% of them across the county. And with the economy in free fall, more people will qualify for Medicaid coverage in the coming weeks and months.
Coronavirus: How CDC Lab Contamination, and a Failure to Cooperate Globally, Led to Catastrophe (Anita Bartholomew, Forbes, 4-19-2020) "Failures happen. Contamination happens. But if one thing has stood in the way of saving the [U.S.] from the worst of the pandemic more than others, it might be the country’s own go-it-alone attitude.... If the world doesn’t come together on its response to the coronavirus, not only will global—and US—pain continue longer than it needs to, the world could miss the chance to eradicate this virus." [America had better stop seeing the rest of the world as markets, competitors, or obstacles and start being part of a global team.]

     Quoting WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “…the most effective way to prevent infections and save lives is breaking the chains of transmission. And to do that, you must test and isolate.

Docs show top WH officials buried CDC report (Jason Dearen, AP, 5-9-2020) The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press. The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It included detailed “decision trees,” or flow charts aimed at helping local leaders navigate the difficult decision of whether to reopen or remain closed.
How Profit and Incompetence Delayed N95 Masks While People Died at the VA (J. David McSwane, ProPublica, 5-1-2020) Federal agencies have hired contractors with no experience to find respirators and masks, fueling a black market filled with price gouging and multiple layers of profiteering brokers. One contractor called them “buccaneers and pirates.” Though several states have clear price gouging laws, those rules don’t apply to federal government purchases.
Small Towns Won’t Know They’re Infected Until It’s Too Late (Mark Bowden, The Atlantic, 5-27-2020) The demise of local news is a pandemic emergency.
How Mask Mandates Were Beaten Down in Rural Oklahoma (Victor Luckerson, New Yorker, 5-27-2020) In Oklahoma, where the state government is currently implementing one of the country's fastest reopening plans, local leaders have found themselves caught between state politics, economic imperatives, and a clear scientific consensus.
Nursing Homes Violated Basic Health Standards, Allowing the Coronavirus to Explode (Charles Ornstein and Topher Sanders, ProPublica, 4-24-2020) ProPublica's analysis of federal inspection reports found that nine nursing homes put residents in “immediate jeopardy,” including a case where a nursing assistant fed a resident after changing soiled briefs without washing hands.
Despite violation records, nursing homes seek liability waivers during pandemic (Joseph Burns and Liz Seegert, Covering Health, AHCJ, 5-29-2020) 'Despite a recent GAO report detailing persistent infection control violations at nursing homes throughout the United States, many states are waiving liability for these facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, at least 20 states have issued executive orders or enacted legislation temporarily absolving long-term care and assisted living facilities unless “gross negligence” or “willful misconduct” can be proven.'
In 18 States, Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities Account for at Least Half of Their COVID-19 Deaths (Chart showing state stats, Kaiser Family Foundation, 5-18-2020)
Major nursing home chain violated federal standards meant to stop spread of disease even after start of covid-19, records show (Debbie Cenziper, Sidnee King, Shawn Mulcahy and Joel Jacobs, Washington Post, 5-16-2020) "Nursing homes operated by Life Care Centers of America, one of the largest chains in the industry, violated federal standards meant to stop the spread of infections and communicable diseases even after outbreaks and deaths from covid-19 began to sweep its facilities from the Pacific Northwest to New England, inspection reports show.
Since the outbreak in Kirkland, the privately owned company with more than 200 nursing homes has seen at least 2,000 cases and 250 deaths among residents and staff, according to a Post tally of state data and local media accounts. Five Life Care nursing homes have experienced outbreaks of 100 or more cases. More than 6,000 nursing homes have been assessed, with inspectors finding “sporadic noncompliance” involving hand-washing, the proper use of personal protective equipment and the separation of sick patients from healthy ones...."
Nursing Homes Fought Federal Emergency Plan Requirements for Years. Now, They’re Coronavirus Hot Spots. (Bryant Furlow, New Mexico In Depth, Carli Brosseau, The News & Observer and Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, 5-29-2020)The long-term care industry resisted a federal mandate to plan for disasters including pandemics. About 43% of nursing homes have been caught violating the requirement, including facilities that have now had deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.
Nursing homes caring for mostly minorities are more than twice as likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks (Katie Camero, Miami Herald, 5-27-2020)
COVID-Plagued California Nursing Homes Often Had Problems in Past (Jordan Rau and Anna Almendrala, KHN, 5-4-2020) Michael Connors, an advocate with the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said nursing homes with fewer staff members and poor compliance with infection control practices are ripe for the spread of the virus. “No place could be more dangerous to live right now,” Connors said. “It’s these characteristics that make nursing homes ground zero for COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths.”
The State Attorney General Is Scrutinizing This Assisted Living Facility Over Its Handling of COVID-19. Some Residents Are Suing It, Too. (Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, 5-8-2020) Coronavirus was infecting residents and staff of a Queens adult home, who told ProPublica management had misled them about its spread. Now, the New York attorney general is examining what happened and several residents are suing.
Covid-19 experts lament dismissal of early warnings and disease’s impact on communities of color (Shraddha Chakradhar, STAT News, 5-13-2020) From testing failures to downplayed virus risks to the disproportionate effect on communities of color, two Covid-19 experts emphasized at a Tuesday forum what is now a familiar refrain: The U.S. response has been fundamentally flawed. “We had information and we discounted it,” said panelist David Williams, a professor of public health, African and African American studies, and sociology at Harvard. “We didn’t take it as seriously as we could have. I do think that we could have been in a better position than we currently are if we had acted promptly.” The U.S. is paying for these early missteps, reporter Helen Branswell said, and the ripple effects will be felt for quite some time. “People make mistakes, but the lack of swift action to make up for it and to find a plan B, I think, really, was a very bad mistake,” she said.
To Understand the Medical Supply Shortage, It Helps to Know How the U.S. Lost the Lithium Ion Battery to China (Lydia DePillis, ProPublica, 4-21-2020 The failed U.S. effort to dominate global production of the lithium ion battery — which is key to energy independence, automobile innovation and more — holds lessons for leaders grappling with the U.S.’s reliance on China for emergency medical supplies. “The government invests in basic research and leaves everything else to chance,” said Sridhar Kota, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan. “The free market has spoken for 30 years. It’s not working for us, because we are not leveraging our own investments, and lithium ion batteries are just one painful example of that.”
What Happened When Health Officials Wanted to Close a Meatpacking Plant, but the Governor Said No (Michael Grabell, ProPublica, 5-7-2020) New documents obtained by ProPublica show public health officials in Grand Island, Nebraska, wanted the JBS meatpacking plant closed. Although hundreds of workers from this plant have tested positive for COVID-19, Gov. Pete Ricketts blocked recommendations to close it. Since then, cases have skyrocketed.

• Personal historian Leah Abrahams writes: 'I don't see God coming to save us to end this plague. I believe in free will so it's more a question of—can we change our society? How can we reunite the incarcerated immigrant children, distributed haphazardly and without accountability around the country, with their parents—some separated for more than two years? How can we resurrect a society where real journalism is respected and news is not entertainment or propaganda? It all seems to come down to politics if we want to realize the values that many of us hold: feed the hungry; clothe the poor; justice and healthcare for all, and not just for those who can afford it. What can I personally do besides voting to change this society? To rescue democracy? And finally, who are these frightened people who work with and support the Administration day after day and can't admit that "the emperor has no clothes"? Don't they have a conscience, a moral compass? How do they sleep at night?'
Medical Staffing Companies Cut Doctors’ Pay While Spending Millions on Political Ads (Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, 4-20-2020) While cutting benefits for emergency room doctors and other medical workers, TeamHealth and Envision have spent millions on ads meant to pressure politicians working on legislation to cap out-of-network costs for Americans.
Internal Emails Show How Chaos at the CDC Slowed the Early Response to Coronavirus (Caroline Chen, Marshall Allen and Lexi Churchill, ProPublica, 3-26-2020) The CDC fumbled its communication with public health officials and underestimated the threat of the coronavirus even as it gained a foothold in the United States, according to hundreds of pages of documents ProPublica obtained.
Who Should Get Bailed Out in the Coronavirus Economy? (John Cassidy, New Yorker, 4-23-2020) The pandemic has left small businesses and unemployed workers struggling. Yet there is no shortage of taxpayer money to help large corporations. Although the CARES Act provided for a system of oversight by an independent inspector general and two new committees, to be appointed by Congress, this system isn’t up and running.
The Secret to Germany’s COVID-19 Success: Angela Merkel Is a Scientist (Saskia Miller, The Atlantic, 4-20-2020) The chancellor’s rigor in collating information, her honesty in stating what is not yet known, and her composure are paying off.
'Prayer Is Not Enough.' The Dalai Lama on Why We Need to Fight Coronavirus With Compassion (Dalai Lama, Time, 4-14-2020) "This crisis shows that we must all take responsibility where we can. We must combine the courage doctors and nurses are showing with empirical science to begin to turn this situation around and protect our future from more such threats."
In Desperation, New York State Pays Up to 15 Times the Normal Prices for Medical Equipment (Lydia DePillis and Lisa Song, ProPublica, 4-2-2020) State data shows that New York is paying enormous markups for vital supplies, including almost $250,000 for an X-ray machine. Laws against price gouging usually apply to consumers, but not to government purchases. See also Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas. (Patricia Callahan, Sebastian Rotella and Tim Golden, ProPublica, 3-30-2020) As coronavirus sweeps the globe, there is not a single Trilogy Evo Universal ventilator — developed with government funds — in the U.S. stockpile. Meanwhile, Royal Philips N.V. has sold higher-priced versions to clients around the world.
The 9/11 Era Is Over (Ben Rhodes, The Atlantic, 4-6-2020) "We need to change our attitude about government itself. The multidecade assault on the role of government in American life led to a Trump administration that disregards expertise and disdains career civil servants. The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that government is essential; that public service is valuable; that facts and science should guide decisions; and that competence matters more than Washington’s endless gamesmanship."
When science loses its voice (Cinnamon Janzer, CJR, 4-23-2020) "Concerns that CDC officials are being muzzled seem especially notable under an administration characterized by a brazen disregard for facts, science, and truth itself. (Throughout the pandemic, variations on the phrase “the CDC did not respond to a request for comment” have abounded.)...Scientists, the report argued, “need to have the freedom to speak candidly with journalists—and hence the public—about their work. For example, if scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have apprehensions about a new strain of influenza or a tuberculosis outbreak, the public needs to have confidence that these scientists are communicating openly with the press and that the CDC’s response is based on science.”

'A Tragedy Is Unfolding': Inside New York's Virus Epicenter (Annie Correal and Andrew Jacobs, NY Times, 4-9-2020) In a city ravaged by an epidemic, few places have been as hard hit as central Queens.
Millions Stuck at Home With No Plumbing, Kitchen or Space to Stay Safe (Laura Ungar and Elizabeth Lucas, KHN, 5-12-2020) In nearly half a million American homes, washing hands to prevent COVID-19 isn’t as simple as soaping up and singing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing. In many of those homes, people can’t even turn on a faucet. There’s no running water. In 470,000 dwellings in the United States — spread across every state and in most counties — inadequate plumbing is a problem, the starkest of several challenges that make it tougher for people to avoid infection.
How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease (Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 5-7-2020) A catastrophic loss in biodiversity, reckless destruction of wildland and warming temperatures have allowed disease to explode. Ignoring the connection between climate change and pandemics would be “dangerous delusion,” one scientist said.
$8,000 rentals. Private jets. How the super-rich escape the coronavirus (Kurtis Lee, Richard Read and Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times, 4-26-2020)
Millions of Americans Might Not Get Stimulus Checks. Some Might Be Tricked Into Paying TurboTax to Get Theirs. (Justin Elliott and Paul Kiel, ProPublica, 4-5-2020) Congress gave the IRS the job of sending out coronavirus rescue checks. But the underfunded agency is struggling, while for-profit companies like Intuit have started circling, hoping to convert Americans in need into paying customers.
Two coronavirus podcasts (are there more?):
---Six Feet Apart (COVID podcast with Alex Wagner)
---American Dissected: Coronavirus The Coronavirus is now a global pandemic. How did we get here? What went wrong? What do we do about it now? New episodes every Tuesday & Friday.

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Politics, government, and the coronavirus

A plan to defeat coronavirus finally emerges, but it’s not from the White House (Lena H. Sun, William Wan and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Washington Post, 4-10-2020) Instead, a collection of governors, former government officials, disease specialists and nonprofits are pursuing a strategy that relies on the three pillars of disease control: Ramp up testing to identify people who are infected. Find everyone they interact with by deploying contact tracing on a scale America has never attempted before. And focus restrictions more narrowly on the infected and their contacts so the rest of society doesn’t have to stay in permanent lockdown.Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, say the White House has made a deliberate political calculation that it will better serve Trump’s interest to put the onus on governors — rather than the federal government — to figure out how to move ahead.
A Trump Official Tried to Fast-Track Funding for His Friend’s Unproven COVID-19 'Treatment,' Whistleblower Says ( Lisa Song, ProPublica, 5-14-2020) Whistleblowing virologist Rick Bright says that his Trump-appointed boss tried to fast-track funding for a friend’s coronavirus treatment, and that he was reassigned for insisting that funding be reserved for “safe and scientifically vetted solutions."
Obama Says U.S. Lacks Leadership on Virus in Commencement Speeches (NY Times, 5-16-2020) The virus has “torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” the former president said. “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.” Transcript of Obama's speech.
Two Coasts. One Virus. How New York Suffered Nearly 10 Times the Number of Deaths as California. (Joe Sexton and Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, 5-16-2020) California’s governor and San Francisco’s mayor worked together to act early in confronting the COVID threat. For Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, it was a different story, and 27,000 New Yorkers have died so far. In an interview, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said it was critical to allow Northern California counties to rely on their own experts, act with a degree of autonomy and thus perhaps pave the way for the state to expand on what they had done. And three days after San Francisco and its neighboring counties were closed, Newsom, on March 19, imposed the same restrictions on the rest of California.
     New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, reacted to de Blasio’s idea for closing down New York City with derision. It was dangerous, he said, and served only to scare people. Language mattered, Cuomo said, and “shelter-in-place” sounded like it was a response to a nuclear apocalypse. When de Blasio finally decided to close the city’s schools, it was Cuomo who rushed to make the public announcement, claiming it as his decision.“No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval,” Cuomo said of de Blasio’s call for a shelter-in-place order. “I have no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city.”Cuomo’s conviction didn’t last. On March 22, he, too, shuttered his state. By then, New York faced a raging epidemic, with the number of confirmed cases at 15,000 doubling every three or four days.
Washington Post FactChecker: McConnell’s claim that Obama left behind no ‘game plan’ for the coronavirus outbreak (Glenn Kessler, WaPo, 5-14-2020) There is little continuity in the top levels of the U.S. government when one political party replaces the presidential administration led by another. The natural inclination is to ignore much of the work left behind by the previous folks — and to reinvent the wheel all over again. But former Obama administration officials cried foul after McConnell’s comments. “We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook.... that they ignored,” tweeted Ron Klain, the former “Ebola czar” in the Obama administration. See also Trump team failed to follow NSC’s pandemic playbook (Dan Diamond and Hahal Toosi, Politico, 3-25-2020) The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities – which were then ignored by the administration.
Amy Maxmen Unveils Scientific Roadblocks Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic (Katherine J. Wu, The Open Notebook, 6-2-2020) Maxmen documents the process and progress and setbacks of science. And, with both Ebola and COVID-19, the places where science and society intersect. Or, as Katherine Wu writes, where biology and medicine "collide with politics, economics, and social justice."
Trump Accuses Media and Democrats of Exaggerating Coronavirus Threat (Peter Baker and Annie Karni, NY Times, 2-28-2020) The accusations came as other elements of the federal government moved to head off a broader wave of infections like those in China.
As Washington stumbled, governors stepped to the forefront (Dan Balz, Washington Post, 5-3-2020) The history of the United States has generally been written with the states in a subordinate role or cast in a negative light — but no longer. The story of America’s confrontation with the coronavirus pandemic is one in which states and their governors have been dominant. As Washington has stumbled, governors of both parties have acted to fill the void. States have pleaded with Washington for help, and sometimes have gotten it. As often, however, the tensions and disagreements between state leaders and the federal government — especially with President Trump — have come to define the crisis.
      Over time, the federal government has regularly usurped the broad authority given to the states, often to wipe away problems or correct historical injustices.This spring, the balance of power has been flipped, with states forced to compensate for failings at the national level. Those federal deficiencies reflect an absence of readiness and sometimes a lack of interest and competence on the part of the Trump administration."
  Be Prepared but Don't Panic: Health Departments Respond to Coronavirus (Alan Greenblatt, Governing, 3-2-2020) State and local governments have adapted plans for other pandemics and are putting them into action. They're hoping for better coordination and more funding from the feds. Most medical dollars are devoted to individual treatment and care. Less than 3 percent of U.S. health-care spending is devoted to public health. Those dollars aren’t all distributed evenly. The American health system is highly fragmented. Not every community has the resources of a San Antonio or Seattle.
America’s far right is energised by covid-19 lockdowns (A political virus, The Economist, 5-17-2020) 'America’s far right is energised by covid-19 lockdowns. Extremists see the pandemic as the prelude to the apocalyptic “boogaloo” ...The spreading of conspiracy theories is central to the extreme right’s activities. Some claim the virus is a hoax. Others blame the Chinese, the Jews or even Bill Gates. Some claim that the federal government is using the virus as a pretext to confiscate weapons and enforce “medical martial law”. Extremists also spread more familiar conspiracy theories, decrying 5G networks and vaccinations, which help introduce the uninitiated to their ideology.'
Masks Become a Flash Point in the Virus Culture Wars (Rick Rojas, NY Times, 5-3-2020) As people resume going out in public in the middle of a pandemic, to wear or not to wear a face mask has become a personal statement and sometimes a political one.
‘Extraordinary change’: How coronavirus is rewiring the Republican and Democratic parties (David Siders, Politico, 3-23-2020) "Last week, Republicans joined Democrats — and in some cases got in front of them — in calling for direct payments to Americans to help cope with the economic fallout from the pandemic. The Trump administration, after laboring for years to repeal Obamacare, said it was considering creating a special enrollment period for the program due to the coronavirus. When Donald Trump himself suggested the government could take equity stakes in private companies that receive federal aid, it was a Democratic governor, Colorado’s Jared Polis, who accused the president of being a socialist....The pandemic could alter politics for a generation — or even longer." This is what happens when so many Americans live right on the edge of disaster.
Letters from an American (Heather Cox Richardson, 5-4-2020) "While there is a lot of talk about Trump wanting to reopen the states to repair the economy, it’s hard to see how that can happen if the pandemic continues unabated or even gets worse....But I wonder...if what is really driving this mad push, funded as we know it is by right-wing political groups, is a frantic determination to make sure the country does not turn again now, in the midst of this pandemic, to a government that regulates business and provides a basic social safety net, a government like the one we created during the Great Depression."

Why Trump's new CDC director is an abysmal choice (Laurie Garrett, CNN, 5-13-2020) Giving Dr. Robert Redfield the top job at CDC has ignited controversy because of his dubious qualifications for the job, his hardcore, right-wing credentials, and the over-the-top salary offer. Such a prominent job at such ridiculous pay—even a lowered sum—is another example of the Trump administration's willingness to place politics over sensible public policy. On the other hand, as Darius Tahir points out in Politico (How the CDC director became the MAGA whisperer on coronavirus), "Robert Redfield is becoming Trump's point man with a fervent crowd that has been deeply skeptical of the pandemic....Redfield may be filling the role of 'trusted communicator' for the conservative audience skeptical of mainstream media and the public health establishment, said MIT political scientist Adam Berinsky, who studies the sticking power of misinformation and tactics to counter it.... He’s becoming the point man for President Donald Trump with a fervent crowd that has been deeply skeptical of the coronavirus outbreak, believing it a hoax, a Chinese weapon or a Deep State plot to tank the economy and destroy the Trump presidency."
Trump Has Emergency Powers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About (Elizabeth Goitein and Andrew Boyle, Brennan Center for Justice, Opinion piece, NY Times, 4-10-2020) Given that they could make their first appearance in the coronavirus crisis, Congress should insist on having full access to them. Read follow-up warning/piece in Heather Cox Richardson's excellent newsletter Letters from an American (4-12-2020) -- by the author of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party.
The Federalist as “Medical Journal” in the Time of the Coronavirus (Charles Bethea, New Yorker, 4-12-2020) The Federalist, a conservative online magazine not known for its medical coverage, has published pseudoscientific takes on COVID-19 by writers not known for their epidemiological expertise.
The American Exception (Zadie Smith, New Yorker, 4-10-2020) Death comes to all—but in America it has long been considered reasonable to offer the best chance of delay to the highest bidder.
White House: We’re Going to Have to Let Some People Die So the Stock Market Can Live (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair, 3-23-2020)
GOP Congressman: Lawmakers Must “Put On Our Big Boy and Big Girl Pants” and Let Americans Die (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair, 4-14-2020) Indiana congressman Trey Hollingsworth told a radio-show host that it’s Congress’s job to sit Americans down and explain to them that dying in a pandemic isn’t as bad as the havoc said pandemic is wreaking on the economy. "And while we would absolutely hate to draw some sort of distinction between the approach of the two political parties, it would appear that whereas Democrats are urging vigilance, science, and an emphasis on preserving human life, the general take of Republicans might be summed up as: Screw it, some people are going to have to take one for the team."<
Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Reported Medical Shortages (Jason Slotkin, NPR, 5-2-2020)
Fully Armed Rally-Goers Enter Kentucky’s Capitol Building With Zero Resistance (Peter Wade, Rolling Stone, 2-1-2020) Follow-up story: Kentucky Reports Highest Coronavirus Infection Increase After a Week of Protests to Reopen State (Christina Zhao, Newsweek, 4-19-2020) .
The Quiet Hand of Conservative Groups in the Anti-Lockdown Protests (Kenneth P. Vogel, Jim Rutenberg and Lisa Lerer, NY Times, 4-21-2020) Groups in a loose coalition have tapped their networks to drive up turnout at recent rallies in state capitals and financed lawsuits, polling and research to combat the stay-at-home orders. Some key Republican leaders have embraced the types of restrictions being targeted, while powerful grass-roots mobilizing groups, including those spearheaded by the billionaire activist Charles Koch, have so far not embraced the protests.
Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right (Davey Alba and Sheera Frenkel, NY Times, 3-28-2020) Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s most outspoken advocate of emergency virus measures, faces a torrent of false claims that he is mobilizing to undermine the president. See also How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor (Michael Specter, New Yorker, 4-10-2020) Fauci once explained 'that he has developed a method for dealing with political leaders in times of crisis: “I go to my favorite book of philosophy, ‘The Godfather,’ and say, ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s strictly business.’ ” He continued, “You just have a job to do. Even when somebody’s acting ridiculous, you can’t chide them for it. You’ve got to deal with them. Because if you don’t deal with them, then you’re out of the picture.” '
After Threats, Anthony Fauci to Receive Enhanced Personal Security (Katie Benner and Michael D. Shear, NY Times, 4-1-2020) Dr. Fauci has become a target of online conspiracy theorists after advocating social distancing rules
Trump Says U.S. Isn’t ‘Built to Be Shut Down’ Over Virus (Justin Sink, Bloomberg, 3-23-2020)
In Idaho, Far-Right Republicans Defy Coronavirus Health Restrictions (Kirk Siegler, NPR, 4-13-2020) "Quite frankly, I don't know why Idaho is falling in line with some of the most liberal governors across the nation," said Rep. Heather Scott, a state lawmaker from Blanchard, in northern Idaho. On her YouTube channel and in her regular newsletter to constituents, Scott called COVID-19 the virus that threatened to kill the Constitution. She also routinely casts doubt on the severity of the pandemic. "The lying, Trump-hating media who continues to push global and socialist agendas has told us that there is an emergency," Scott said in her YouTube video.
What Trump’s Twitter Feed Tells Him About the Coronavirus (Politico, 3-14-2020) The president follows 47 accounts on Twitter. Here are the five main things they’re saying about the pandemic. #1 This is China's fault. #2 Joe Biden would be worse. #3 Trump is doing a great job. #4 The media is fueling the panic. #5 But there's no reason to panic.
Trump says he would consider government equity stakes in companies seeking bailouts (Lauren Hirsch, CNBC, 3-17-2020) "An equity stake is unlikely to be the companies’ preferred form of relief. The move is often dilutive to shareholders and gives the government greater ability to oversee a company. General Motors gave a stake in its business to the U.S. government during the auto bailout in 2009. When it ultimately paid back the government, it had to wipe out shareholders in return."
Sen. Richard Burr Is Not Just a Friend to the Health Care Industry. He’s Also a Stockholder. (Robert Faturechi and Derek Willis, ProPublica, 4-27-2020) The Republican of North Carolina, who is under investigation for his stock trading, regularly flips health care stocks even as he pushes for legislation to help the industry. Then, same authors: On the Same Day Sen. Richard Burr Dumped Stock, So Did His Brother-in-Law. Then the Market Crashed. (5-6-2020) The brother-in-law, a Trump appointee, sold between $97,000 and $280,000 worth of stock. Burr is under federal investigation over whether he traded on non-public information gathered through his work in the Senate.
An Invitation to Corruption (Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic, 3-20-2020) "As long as lawmakers are allowed to trade individual stocks, disaster profiteering is always a risk." This week, ProPublica and the Daily Beast reported that members of Congress sold equities after receiving briefings on the dangers of the novel coronavirus. The sales came before a global financial panic slashed stock prices around the world, and before the American public was broadly cognizant of the scale and danger of the virus." See also Shareholder suit accuses Sen. Richard Burr of securities fraud (Matthew Choi, Politico, 3-23-2020) Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is being sued after selling shares in a hotel company (up to $1.7 million in stocks) while possessing confidential information about the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic. And see Sen. Kelly Loeffler Dumped Millions in Stock After Coronavirus Briefing (Lachlan Markay, William Bredderman, and Sam Brodey, Daily Beast, 3-19-2020) The Senate’s newest member (R-GA) sold off seven figures’ worth of stock holdings in the days and weeks after a private, all-senators meeting on the novel coronavirus that subsequently hammered U.S. equities.

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Trump’s handling of the pandemic


This Is Trump’s Fault (David Frum, The Atlantic, 4-7-2020) "That the pandemic occurred is not Trump’s fault. The utter unpreparedness of the United States for a pandemic is Trump’s fault. The loss of stockpiled respirators to breakage because the federal government let maintenance contracts lapse in 2018 is Trump’s fault. The failure to store sufficient protective medical gear in the national arsenal is Trump’s fault. That states are bidding against other states for equipment, paying many multiples of the pre-crisis price for ventilators, is Trump’s fault. Air travelers summoned home and forced to stand for hours in dense airport crowds alongside infected people? That was Trump’s fault too. Ten weeks of insisting that the coronavirus is a harmless flu that would miraculously go away on its own? Trump’s fault again." And so on.
World looks on in horror as Trump flails over pandemic despite claims US leads way (Julian Borger in Washington, Helen Davidson in Sydney, Leyland Cecco in Toronto, Daniel Boffey in Brussels Philip Oltermann in Berlin, Angela Giuffrida in Rome, Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro and Emmanuel Akinwotu in London, The Guardian, 5-15-2020) The US has emerged as a global hotspot for the pandemic, a giant petri dish for the Sars-CoV-2 virus. As the death toll rises, Trump’s claims to global leadership have became more far-fetched. Around the globe, the “America first” response pursued by the Trump administration has alienated close allies. In Canada, it was the White House order in April to halt shipments of critical N95 protective masks to Canadian hospitals that was the breaking point....The editor of the Global Times tweeted: “US system used to be appealing to many Chinese people. But through the pandemic, Chinese saw US government’s incompetence in outbreak control, disregard for life and its overt lies. Washington’s political halo has little left."
“There’s No Boogeyman He Can Attack”: Angry at Kushner, Trump Awakens to the COVID-19 Danger (Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair, 3-16-2020) For weeks, Trump and his son-in-law saw the novel coronavirus mostly as a media and political problem. But the spiraling cases, plunging markets, and a Mar-a-Lago cluster finally opened eyes.
How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence (David Remnick, New Yorker, 3-22-2020) COVID-19 is unimpressed and unimpeded by the President’s bluster. And the prolonged process of his humbling has put untold numbers of Americans at risk. What got his attention? The President listened when he received a visit at Mar-a-Lago from Tucker Carlson, who broke ranks with his Fox News colleagues and urged serious action. Misinformation and cant, along with a kindred scorn for science and professional expertise: these things are pathogens, too.
Trump Challenges Authority, Independence of Agency Watchdogs Eric Tucker, Matthew Daly, and Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, 4-8-2020) "In four days, Trump has fired one inspector general tied to his impeachment, castigated another he felt was overly critical of the coronavirus response and sidelined a third meant to safeguard against wasteful spending of the coronavirus funds. The actions have sent shock waves across the close-knit network of watchdog officials in government, creating open conflict between a president reflexively resistant to outside criticism and an oversight community tasked with rooting out fraud, misconduct and abuse."

     Ellen Nakashima reported (WaPo): “We wanted inspectors general because of an out-of-control president named Richard Nixon, and this president is trying to destroy them,” said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight. “What’s happened this week has been a total full-on assault on the IG system.”
Chaos rocks Trump White House on virus' most tragic day (Stephen Collinson, CNN, 4-8-2020) The chaos and confusion rocking President Donald Trump's administration on the most tragic day yet of the coronavirus pandemic was exceptional even by his own standards. Trump set out Tuesday to cement his image of a wartime leader facing down an "invisible enemy" at a dark moment as the country waits for the virus to peak and with the economy languishing in suspended animation... But instead of putting minds at rest, Trump's wild performance instead put on a display many of the personal and political habits that have defined his tumultuous presidency. See also Trump says he's considering ending funding to World Health Organization (CBS News, 4-7-2020) The man does not read or remember the daily briefings he gets.

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Trump’s Inaccurate Claims on Hydroxychloroquine (Linda Qiu, FactCheck, WashPost, 5-21-2020) The president falsely described scientific research around the malaria drug, falsely denied the existence of a federal warning against it and argued, with no evidence, that large numbers of health care workers were taking it.
Trump: “Every Country” Spreads Lies About the Coronavirus, What’s the Big Deal? (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair, 3-30-2020) You want to know the real threat to America? Windmills.
He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus (Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes, New York Times, 4-11-2020) “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen the effects of the coronavirus coming. An examination of the evidence reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response. A timeline of failures to act.
Why did Matt Drudge turn on Donald Trump? (Bob Norman, Columbia Journalism Review,  1-29-2020)
Trump to New York: Drop Dead (Jennifer Senior, Opinion, New York Times, 3-24-2020) 'So it’s essentially come to this: President Trump is treating each of our 50 states as individual contestants on “The Apprentice” — pitting them against one another for scarce resources, daring them to duke it out — rather than mobilizing a unified national response to a pandemic.'

Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed (Michelle Goldberg, Opinion, NY Times, 4-2-2020) Trump's son-in-law has no business running the coronavirus response. He has a long track record of overconfidence in the face of repeated failure. .
Trump Congratulates Businesses for Helping Fight Coronavirus. But His Own Company Has Been Absent. (Peter Elkind, ProPublica, 1-2-2020) 'ProPublica examined the seven hotel properties and dozen U.S. country clubs owned by the Trump Organization and could find no sign that any are taking the sorts of civic-minded steps the president has urged....In Florida, Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club, where the membership initiation fee is $200,000, remained open and seemingly disdainful of social distancing until March 21, after reports of coronavirus infections spread at crowded Trump fundraisers, a reception for Brazil’s president and a glittery party for Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, where guests danced in a conga line on March 7. This prompted Politico to describe the 20-acre resort as “a gilded petri dish.”

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Trump Won’t Order Vital Coronavirus Supplies Because Corporate CEOs Asked Him Not To (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair, 3-23-2020) They’re worried it could be bad for business. Thank goodness for stories like Bess Levin's; check them out.
Trump Administration Uses Wartime Powers to Be First in Line on Medical Supplies (Christina Jewett and Lauren Weber, KHN, 4-3-2020) The Trump administration quietly invoked the Defense Production Act to force medical suppliers in Texas and Colorado to sell to it first — ahead of states, hospitals or foreign countries. It took this action more than a week before it announced Thursday that it would use the little-known aspect of the law to force 3M to fill its contract to the U.S. first. Firms face fines or jail time if they don’t comply.The Cold War-era law gives federal officials the power to edge out the competition and force contractors to provide supplies to them before filling orders for other customers....But if the government is going to take more control — which many health and government leaders have urged it to do — it should be transparent about its actions, said Dr. Atul Grover, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He said medical leaders have been whiplashed by their orders for protective gear falling through and speculated that they lost out to federal agencies."
Injections of Bleach? Beams of Light? Trump Is Self-Destructing Before Our Eyes (Frank Bruni, Opinion, NY Times,4-24-2020) The notion that he is bound for four more years is pure superstition. "The unbesotted see and hear the president for what he is: a tone-deaf showman who regards everything, even a mountain of corpses, as a stage." See Trump's disinfectant injections idea comes straight from internet conspiracy theories (Next Web).
Fact-checking Trump’s letter blasting the World Health Organization (Glenn Kessler, WashPost, 5-20-2020) "In previous administrations, a letter to an international organization signed by the U.S. president generally would have been carefully vetted and fact-checked. But President Trump’s May 18 letter to World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus contains a number of false or misleading statements."
The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying (Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, 5-8-2020) The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others.
In unprecedented move, Treasury orders Trump’s name printed on stimulus checks (Lisa Rein, WaPo, 4-14-2020)The 'looter in chief' is shameless.
Trump and Kushner could reap a pandemic windfall (Dana Milbank, WaPo, 4-14-2020) "[O]ne of its largest provisions, a $170 billion tax giveaway, appears to be tailor-made for the benefit of wealthy real estate investors such as President Trump and his son-in-law...The giveaway, primarily to real estate investors and hedge funds, is larger than the total amount in the legislation for hospitals ($100 billion) and for relief for all state and local governments ($150 billion). Worse, the bonanza for these millionaires and billionaires has little to do with the coronavirus: It lets them offset losses not just from 2020 but from 2018 and 2019, before the pandemic."
Dear Colleague: We Must Insist and Act on the Truth in the Coronavirus Crisis (House Speaker Nancy takes Trump to the woodshed, in a letter to her Democratic colleagues.) See also transcript of her interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's The Lead (4-15-22)

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Trump owed tens of millions to Bank of China (Marc Caputo, Meridith McGraw, and Anita Kumar, Politico, 4-24-2020) Donald Trump is warning “China will own the United States” if Joe Biden is elected president. But in 2012, the Bank of China, a commercial bank owned by the Chinese state, provided more than two hundred million dollars in loans to a New York office building (1290 Avenue of the Americas) that Trump co-owns, Politico reported on Friday. The loans will come due in 2022, “in the middle of what could be Trump’s second term,” the timely article noted. The deal was reported previously by several news outlets in stories about the “maze” of Trump’s finances and a history of how he came to partly own the building.
How Jared Kushner's volunteer force led a fumbling hunt for medical supplies (Nicholas Confessore, Andrew Jacobs, Jodi Kantor, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Luis Ferré-Sadurní, The New York Times, 5-6-2020) As the United States faced a critical shortage of masks, gloves and other protective equipment to battle the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner recruited inexperienced, untrained people (a supply-chain task force) to sort through tips on equipment desperately needed to fight the coronavirus while warehouses ran bare and doctors made their own gear. See also Jared Kushner’s Young Consultant Army Was Clueless On Coronavirus (Eric Lutz, Vanity Fair, 5-6-2020) “Trump's son-in-law's volunteer team—pulled from private equity, venture capital and consulting firms—reportedly hampered efforts to procure.... largely served to add an extra layer of confusion to the White House’s already shambolic response...an absolute mess of ineptitude and political favoritism...”
Trump’s Claim That U.S. Tested More Than All Countries Combined Is ‘Pants On Fire’ Wrong (Shefali Luthra, KHN, 5-1-2020) “We’ve tested more than every country combined.” ~ President Donald Trump at White House press briefing on April 27, 2020. In raw numbers, the United States has tested more people than any other individual country — but nowhere near more than “every country combined.” And when you factor in population size — which is essential in understanding how well we are doing — the U.S. still falls short. The U.S. underperforms by several measures, including the per capita rate of testing.
Trump lashes out at scientists whose findings contradict him (Jill Colvin, AP) 'Trump has long been skeptical of mainstream science — dismissing human-made climate change as a “hoax,” suggesting that noise from wind turbines causes cancer and claiming that exercise can deplete a body’s finite amount of energy. It’s part of a larger skepticism of expertise and backlash against “elites” that has become increasingly popular among Trump’s conservative base.'
Why the Trump Ploy Stopped Working (David Brooks, NY Times, 4-20-2020) "As the nation unifies, divisiveness falls flat. The polarization industry is loath to admit this, but, once you set aside the Trump circus, we are now more united than at any time since 9/11. The pandemic has reminded us of our interdependence and the need for a strong and effective government....The pandemic has been a massive humanizing force — allowing us to see each other on a level much deeper than politics — see the fragility, the fear and the courage.”

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Coronavirus: The maps and the numbers


COVID 19 Dashboard Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) World statistics, graphic and in actual numbers. Play with the charts.
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak (New York Times) Click on: Total cases, total deaths, globally. Map, Country table, New cases, Tips, Latest News)
Cases in the U.S. (CDC). Total cases, total deaths. Click on Cases, Data, and Surveillance
Live Updates from CNN (Coronavirus pandemic: Updates from around the world)
Singapore’s Covid-19 case fatality rate is remarkably low. Why? (Dylan Scott, Vox, 5-20-2020) "Death rates can be the byproduct of lots of testing — and a little randomness. Singapore can be thankful that its worst outbreaks have been in dorms full of young workers instead of nursing homes, as we’ve seen in the United States and Europe. Some credit is also certainly due to the testing-and-tracing programs, the travel restrictions, and Singapore’s strong health care system (disparities for migrant workers notwithstanding). "Some of these things could be applicable in America: The country could do better testing and tracing, and it could build a stronger health system. The US does have a relatively young population compared to other countries and so more testing could potentially reveal a more widespread outbreak — and, paradoxically, a lower death rate — than the current data suggests.But the coronavirus has already infiltrated nursing homes in the US."
The Tricky Math Behind Coronavirus Death Predictions: Computer models are based on assumptions, data that change frequently (Brianna Abbott and Paul Overberg, WSJ, 5-5-2020) "The near doubling of coronavirus death predictions in a closely followed model this week underscored a frustrating reality for officials: Many basic facts about the virus remain unknown....Researchers have strained to pin down basic bits of information about the disease, such as its infectiousness. Undercounted infections and deaths have blinded public-health authorities and modelers alike to the full scope of the pandemic."
In 18 States, Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities Account for at Least Half of Their COVID-19 Deaths (KFF, 5-18-2020) Chart shows where.
These Updating Charts Show How the Coronavirus Is Spreading Across the US (Peter Aldhous and Jeremy Singer-Vine, BuzzFeed, 3-9-2020) Follow the latest data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in the US.

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Combatting the Misinformation Epidemic/Campaign

Do not trust unreliable sources.

When Mr. Trump and Dr. Fauci disagree, listen to Dr. Fauci. Fighting coronavirus requires scientific knowhow, not presidential cheerleading.

Fighting the Infodemic: The #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance Led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance unites more than 100 fact-checkers around the world in publishing, sharing and translating facts surrounding the new coronavirus. Updated daily. Scroll down to see various ways to find and study what's in the database.
Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center(NewsGuard) Sites identified as publishing materially false information about the virus.
The coronavirus ‘infodemic’ is real. We rated the websites responsible for it (JohnGregory, STAT, 2-28-2020)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters (World Health Organization) These things are not true:

There are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Adding pepper to your soup or other meals DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19. COVID-19 IS NOT transmitted through houseflies. Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. Drinking methanol, ethanol or bleach DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19 and can be extremely dangerous. 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19.Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). You can recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Catching the new coronavirus DOES NOT mean you will have it for life. Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease. Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus. Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease. The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites. And so on.
Tech Companies Aim to Stop COVID-19 Disinformation (Tim Mak, Morning Edition, NPR, 3-16-2020) "Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus and is just as dangerous."~ World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom.
       John Gregory, the deputy editor of health at NewsGuard, says there are three big buckets of coronavirus misinformation circulating right now. "No. 1, conspiracies about the origins of the virus; two, bad health cures, either ineffective or both ineffective and harmful. And three, minimizing the outbreak, saying it's not as big of a deal as the media is making it out to be."
Get Ready for a Vaccine Information War (Kevin Roose, The Shift, NY Times, 5-13-2020) Social media is already filling up with misinformation about a Covid-19 vaccine, months or years before one even exists. What if we get a Covid-19 vaccine and half the country refuses to take it? It occurred to me that all the misinformation we’ve seen so far — the false rumors that 5G cellphone towers fuel the coronavirus, that drinking bleach or injecting UV rays can cure it, that Dr. Anthony Fauci is part of an anti-Trump conspiracy — may be just the warm-up act for a much bigger information war when an effective vaccine becomes available to the public.
Journalism Professors Call for an End to Fox News Coronavirus 'Misinformation' in Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch (James Walker, Newsweek, 4-2-2020)
W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic’ (Matt Richtel, NY Times, 2-6-2020) Medical misinformation on the virus has been driven by ideologues who distrust science and proven measures like vaccines, and by profiteers who scare up internet traffic with zany tales and try to capitalize on that traffic by selling “cures” or other health and wellness products.
Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion (Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times, 4-1-2020) Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators turned a pandemic into a battle of us vs. them — the kind of battle President Trump has waged for much of his life. "For years, Mr. Limbaugh has encouraged his audience to be suspicious of science as one of his so-called Four Corners of Deceit, which also include government, academia and media.
I’m an Investigative Journalist. These Are the Questions I Asked About the Viral “Plandemic” Video. (Marshall Allen, ProPublica, 5-9-2020) ProPublica health care reporter Marshall Allen describes the questions he asks to assess coronavirus misinformation, starting with a viral video that claims the coronavirus is part of a “hidden agenda.” Questions to ask, with such material: Is the presentation one-sided? Is there an independent pursuit of truth? Is there a careful adherence to the facts? Are those accused allowed to respond? Are all sources named and cited, and if not, is the reason explained? Does the work claim some secret knowledge?
In the Bubble with Andy Slavitz Informative, intelligent interviews about COVID-19. "From his own bubble, health care leader, turnaround expert and #stayhome architect Andy Slavitt is making it his mission to give Americans critical information in real-time but also hope for a path forward."

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Conspiracy theories


Why Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Flourish. And Why It Matters. (Max Fisher, NY Times, 4-8-2020)Unseen villains. Top-secret cures. In their quest for reassurance during the pandemic, many people are worsening more than just their own anxiety.
Pandemics Go Hand in Hand with Conspiracy Theories (By Frederick Kaufman, New Yorker, 5-13-2020) From the Illuminati to “COVID-19 is a lie,” how pandemics have produced contagions of fear.
The Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Targeting 5G Technology, Bill Gates, and a World of Fear (Amy Davidson Sorkin, New Yorker, 4-24-2020) If people believe that they are being deceived—or even targeted—by public-health authorities, why would they follow their directives?
“Immune to Evidence”: How Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracies Spread (Marshall Allen, ProPublica, 5-17-2020) Conspiratorial videos and websites about COVID-19 are going viral. Here’s how one of the authors of “The Conspiracy Theory Handbook” says you can fight back. One big takeaway: Focus your efforts on people who can hear evidence and think rationally.
The Conspiracy Theory handbook by Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook (PDF, free online). Distinguish between real conspiracies and conspiracy theories, between conventional thinking and (the seven traits of) conspiratorial thinking. Understand why conspiracy theories are so popular, how they do damage, and how to protect the public against them. Read how to talk to a conspiracy theorist.
Who Believes in the Moon Landing? (Dorothy Wickenden, New Yorker, 7-22-19) A significant percentage of Americans believe the moon landing was a government hoax. How does the conspiracy theory continue to thrive? Check out More New Yorker stories about conspiracy theories.
Wikipedia's list of conspiracy theories
Faced with an appalling US coronavirus death toll, the right denies the figures (Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian, 5-15-2020) Fox News is foremost in promoting the idea that official figures are inflated, whereas experts believe more people have died.
Coronavirus is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories – here’s why that’s a serious problem (Daniel Jolley and Pia Lamberty, The Conversation, 2-28-2020) One conspiracy theory proposes that the coronavirus is actually a bio-weapon engineered by the CIA as a way to wage war on China. Others are convinced that the UK and US governments introduced the coronavirus as a way to make money from a potential vaccine.The novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, with new cases being reported all the time. Spreading just as fast, it seems, are conspiracy theories that claim powerful actors are plotting something sinister to do with the virus. Our research into medical conspiracy theories shows that this has the potential to be just as dangerous for societies as the outbreak itself.'
Conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists around the world seize on the pandemic (Marc Scott and Steven Overly, Politico, 5-12-2020) Civil rights advocates have warned for months that the coronavirus could aid recruiting for the most extreme white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.
How to respond to your family's coronavirus conspiracy theories (Shira Feder, The Insider, 5-12-2020)There are ways to respectfully debate conspiracy theories with your family, though sometimes it's best to just end the conversation.
'Obamagate': Fox News focuses on (Martin Pengelly, The Guardian, 5-14-2020) Trump has dubbed the brouhaha ‘the greatest political crime’ in US history despite being unable to say what it is. In recent days, the US president’s favourite network has elevated the spurious “Obamagate” scandal over all other subjects, most obviously the deaths of more than 84,000 Americans in a pandemic which the Trump administration has failed to contain.
• • Time's List of Conspiracy Theories (1989) On the 40th anniversary of the moon landing — or was it just a sinister hoax? — TIME looks at 10 of the world's most enduring conspiracy theories.
What’s New About Conspiracy Theories? (Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, 4-15-19) Outsiders have always had a weakness for paranoid fantasies. Now our leaders are conspiracists, too.
America’s far right is energised by covid-19 lockdowns (A political virus, The Economist, 5-17-2020) 'Extremists see the pandemic as the prelude to the apocalyptic “boogaloo” ...The spreading of conspiracy theories is central to the extreme right’s activities. Some claim the virus is a hoax. Others blame the Chinese, the Jews or even Bill Gates. Some claim that the federal government is using the virus as a pretext to confiscate weapons and enforce “medical martial law”. Extremists also spread more familiar conspiracy theories, decrying 5G networks and vaccinations, which help introduce the uninitiated to their ideology.'
W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic’ (Matt Richtel, NY Times, 2-6-2020)
• “Shadowland,” an Atlantic series about conspiracy thinking in America
---The Paranoid Style in American Entertainment (Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 5-13-2020) How the mechanisms of reality TV taught us to trust no one.
---Birtherism of a Nation (Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, 5-1302020) The conspiracy theories surrounding Obama’s birthplace and religion were much more than mere lies. They were ideology.
---Something in the Air (Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 5-13-2020). The coronavirus pandemic is sparking baseless theories about the dangers of 5G. But the fear that wireless technology is slowly killing us isn’t new—and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
---The Conspiracy Theorists Are Winning (Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, 5-13-2020) America is losing its grip on Enlightenment values and reality itself.
---The Prophecies of Q (Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, 5-13-2020) American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase. "You know that a small group of manipulators, operating in the shadows, pull the planet’s strings. You know that they are powerful enough to abuse children without fear of retribution. You know that the mainstream media are their handmaidens, in partnership with Hillary Clinton and the secretive denizens of the deep state. You know that only Donald Trump stands between you and a damned and ravaged world."
---The Conspiracies Are Coming From Inside the House (Renée DiResta, The Atlantic, 3-10-2020) After 2016, Americans are alert to Russian election interference, but domestic influencers are spreading discord on their own.
---The Normalization of Conspiracy Culture (Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, 6-17-17) People who share dangerous ideas don’t necessarily believe them. Donald Trump may be the most famous conspiracy theorist in America, but a close second is the Infowars talk-radio personality Alex Jones, who has made a name for himself spewing reprehensible theories. He claimed the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax.
---The Conspiracy Museum: A speculative address (Robin Sloan, The Atlantic, 4-16-2041(!)) This short story is part of “Shadowland,” a project about conspiracy thinking in America.
Covering the coronavirus amid infection, misinformation and scared sources (Emilia Díaz-Struck, Scilla Alecci, Will Fitzgibbon, Jelena Cosic, Delphine Reuter, and others, Press Freedom, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 5-7-2020) Journalists covering the coronavirus from Hungary to Chile are not only faced with the risk of contagion. They are battling secretive governments, restricted movement, misinformation and sources who are too scared to speak.  (Scroll to bottom for links to more fact-checking sites.)

Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory (FactCheck.org)
The coronavirus ‘infodemic’ is real. We rated the websites responsible for it (John Gregory, First Opinion, STAT 2-28-2020) “I’m an editor at NewsGuardNewsGuard, which rates the credibility of news and information websites. Our ongoing analyses show that misinformation about the outbreak is clearly beating reliable information when it comes to engagement on social media worldwide. NewsGuard has rated the credibility and transparency of more than 3,200 news and information sites in the U.S., accounting for 96% of online engagement, previously reporting that more than 1 in 10 of these sites share health misinformation.” An overview of the misinformation epidemic. conspiracy theories, and the most prolific peddlers of health misinformation.
Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center (Newsguard)
FactCheck.org to Work With Facebook on Exposing Viral Fake News (Annenberg Public Policy Center, 12-15-16)
Coronavirus Coverage (FactCheck.org)
SciCheck (FactCheck.org)
Debunking False Stories
The Paranoid Style in American Politics (Richard Hofstadter, Harpers, Nov. 1964) It had been around a long time before the Radical Right discovered it—and its targets have ranged from “the international bankers” to Masons, Jesuits, and munitions makers. This became a book. See Wikipedia entry on this article and topic.
The Truly Paranoid Style in American Politics (Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, 11-25-13) From the JFK assassination to weather control and the New World Order: 50 years of conspiracy theory.

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Reliable sources of information and updates on COVID-19

See also Combatting the Misinformation Epidemic/Campaign


Coronavirus Tracker (Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF) Global confirmed cases.
Covid-19 Dashboard (Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)
Covid-19 Tracker (STAT and AppliedXLabs)
CDC COVID Data Tracker (U.S. Cases and Deaths by State)
CoronaTracker (World Health Organization) Country counts.
Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID 19) (World Health Organization)

"We need facts, not fear, we need science, not rumors, we need solidarity, not stigma.”

 

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary (CDC updates) Includes background information, including relationship to MERS and SARS betacoronaviruses.This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance. Follow CDC Twitter feed: @CDCgov
Covid19 Cases in United States (CDC map and data) and Preventing and treating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (CDC)
Kaiser Health Network, Kaiser Family Foundation (invaluable resource, especially on policy) Follow @KHNews And/or listen to KHN's What the Health? podcasts
Coronavirus Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice (New York Times)
MedlinePlus Twitter feed (National Library of Medicine, NIH, @MedlinePlus)
Spotlight on Coronavirus (Science Friday with Ira Flatow, National Public Radio, @scifri). Listen to useful explanations such as Coronavirus: Sanitizing, According to Science
Boston’s infectious disease specialists’ message to the public: Don’t be cavalier about the coronavirus (Boston Infectious Disease Specialists, Boston Globe, 3-13-2020) Main take-aways:
(1) Testing capacity is still woefully lacking, and we therefore must conserve Covid-19 testing for those most in need.
(2) The community must begin social distancing immediately.
(3) The public should help in conserving vital medical resources, such as health care provider time and personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
Help Researchers Track COVID-19 (Bob Hirshon, Scientific American, 3-26-2020) By entering your health status, even if you’re feeling fine, at the Web site
Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities (CDC)
CDC Guidance for Travelers
• The best way to see where the disease has spread, and how much: COVID-19 map (Johns Hopkins University & Medicine). See also their Coronavirus Resource Center and its Situation Reports.
Coronavirus updates, NY Times. See especially Tracking Every Coronavirus Case in the U.S.: Full Map (Jerome Groopman, 4-1-2020)
Washington Post: daily live updates
NIH Updates on coronavirus (National Institutes of Health)
Annals of Internal Medicine
Coronavirus articles (STAT)
The New Yorker’s coronavirus news coverage and analysis temporarily free for all readers. See A New Study Questions the Effectiveness of a Potential “Game Changer” Against the Coronavirus
PBS News updates
BBC News, including Coronavirus and fake news – what to believe?.
Fact Checker (Glenn Kessler, WaPo). See Fact-checkers, right, left, an center (sites checking for truthfulness and accuracy).
Helen Branswell, Scientific American.
 Coronavirus stories (Politico) Politico Nightly: Coronavirus Special Edition
What We Need to Understand About Asymptomatic Carriers if We’re Going to Beat Coronavirus (Caroline Chen, ProPublica, 4-2-2020)
Hydroxychloroquine For COVID-19: Cure-All Or Flim-Flam? (Anita Bartholomew, Forbes, 4-8-2020) Clear and balanced reporting.
Coronavirus podcasts:
--- Coronavirus Daily podcast (NPR, audio)
--- Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction (CNN, host: Dr. Sanjay Gupta)
--- COVID-19: What you need to know (ABC Audio)
COVID Near You, you can help researchers develop a nationwide look at where hotspots of coronavirus are occurring...
Covering the COVID-19 pandemic: Resources for journalists (Pat's Writers and Editors site)
W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic’ (Matt Richtel, NY Times, 2-6-2020) Medical misinformation on the virus has been driven by ideologues who distrust science and proven measures like vaccines, and by profiteers who scare up internet traffic with zany tales and try to capitalize on that traffic by selling “cures” or other health and wellness products.
Exponential growth and epidemics: How is COVID-19 currently growing? (video, 3blue1brown.com) A good primer on exponential and logistic growth.
In a pandemic, what is essential journalism? (Alexandria Neason, CJR, 4-2-2020) "Journalists routinely enter dangerous or risky situations in the interest of informing the public, but most such decisions—to travel to a conflict zone, for instance, or to report from the eye of a dangerous storm—harbor risk for a limited number of people. Here and now, on the other hand, what we consider basic journalistic practice is in some ways diametrically opposed to the communal good."
How the COVID Tracking Project fills the public health data gap (Emily Sohn, CJR, 3-24-2020)
Virtual conversations with medical and science writers in New York (SciWritersNYC, SWINY, YouTube videos of thoughtful journalistic interviews with experts about Covid-19 and other topics)

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Combatting the Misinformation Epidemic/Campaign

Do not trust unreliable sources.

When Mr. Trump and Dr. Fauci disagree, listen to Dr. Fauci. Fighting coronavirus requires scientific knowhow, not presidential cheerleading.

Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center (NewsGuard) Sites identified as publishing materially false information about the virus.
The coronavirus ‘infodemic’ is real. We rated the websites responsible for it (JohnGregory, STAT, 2-28-2020)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters (World Health Organization) There are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Adding pepper to your soup or other meals DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19. COVID-19 IS NOT transmitted through houseflies. Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. Drinking methanol, ethanol or bleach DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19 and can be extremely dangerous. 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19.Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). You can recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Catching the new coronavirus DOES NOT mean you will have it for life. Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease. Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus. Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease. The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites. And so on.
Tech Companies Aim to Stop COVID-19 Disinformation (Tim Mak, Morning Edition, NPR, 3-16-2020) "Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus and is just as dangerous."~ World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom.
       John Gregory, the deputy editor of health at NewsGuard, says there are three big buckets of coronavirus misinformation circulating right now. "No. 1, conspiracies about the origins of the virus; two, bad health cures, either ineffective or both ineffective and harmful. And three, minimizing the outbreak, saying it's not as big of a deal as the media is making it out to be."
Get Ready for a Vaccine Information War (Kevin Roose, The Shift, NY Times, 5-13-2020) Social media is already filling up with misinformation about a Covid-19 vaccine, months or years before one even exists. What if we get a Covid-19 vaccine and half the country refuses to take it? It occurred to me that all the misinformation we’ve seen so far — the false rumors that 5G cellphone towers fuel the coronavirus, that drinking bleach or injecting UV rays can cure it, that Dr. Anthony Fauci is part of an anti-Trump conspiracy — may be just the warm-up act for a much bigger information war when an effective vaccine becomes available to the public.
Journalism Professors Call for an End to Fox News Coronavirus 'Misinformation' in Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch (James Walker, Newsweek, 4-2-2020)
W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic’ (Matt Richtel, NY Times, 2-6-2020) Medical misinformation on the virus has been driven by ideologues who distrust science and proven measures like vaccines, and by profiteers who scare up internet traffic with zany tales and try to capitalize on that traffic by selling “cures” or other health and wellness products.
Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion (Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times, 4-1-2020) Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators turned a pandemic into a battle of us vs. them — the kind of battle President Trump has waged for much of his life. "For years, Mr. Limbaugh has encouraged his audience to be suspicious of science as one of his so-called Four Corners of Deceit, which also include government, academia and media.
I’m an Investigative Journalist. These Are the Questions I Asked About the Viral “Plandemic” Video. (Marshall Allen, ProPublica, 5-9-2020) ProPublica health care reporter Marshall Allen describes the questions he asks to assess coronavirus misinformation, starting with a viral video that claims the coronavirus is part of a “hidden agenda.” Questions to ask, with such material: Is the presentation one-sided? Is there an independent pursuit of truth? Is there a careful adherence to the facts? Are those accused allowed to respond? Are all sources named and cited, and if not, is the reason explained? Does the work claim some secret knowledge?
In the Bubble with Andy Slavitz Informative, intelligent interviews about COVID-19. "From his own bubble, health care leader, turnaround expert and #stayhome architect Andy Slavitt is making it his mission to give Americans critical information in real-time but also hope for a path forward."

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Death and the coronavirus


Tally of number of Covid-19 cases and deaths (Joe Fox, Brittany Renee Mayes, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro, Washington Post, 2020)
Worldometer's stats on cases and deaths plus interesting graphic displays, especially Distribution of cases outside China
Veterans Affairs orders $300,000 worth of body bags (Betsy Woodruff Swan, Politico, 4-30-2020) More than 8,500 VA patients have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and nearly 500 have died.
NYC morgues near capacity, DHS briefing warns (Politico, 3-25-2020)
On keeping a diary or journal of the pandemic
Before ‘Tidal Wave’ Of Illness, Nursing Home Thought It Had COVID-19 Contained (Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio/KHN, 4-20-2020) An investigation finds that the facility downplayed the outbreak to first responders on 911 calls in late March.Nursing homes are quickly becoming the deadliest battleground in this pandemic, with more than 3,600 deaths...
‘We Ran Out Of Space’: Bodies Pile Up As N.Y. Struggles To Bury Its Dead (Alan Feuer and William K. Rashbaum, NY Times, 4-20-2020) 'The 40-foot trailer has been there for weeks, parked outside the Leo F. Kearns Funeral Home in Queens. Its refrigerator hums in an alley next to a check-cashing establishment. Thirty-six bodies, one atop the other, are stacked on shelves inside. The funeral director, Patrick Kearns, has barely slept since the day he took charge of them. As he lies awake in the middle of the night, he knows there will be more. “It weighs on you, having so many cases in your care,” he said. “The death rate is just so high, there’s no way we can bury or cremate them fast enough.”'

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Remembering victims of the coronavirus

Those We’ve Lost to the Coronavirus (New York Times obits of people who have died in the pandemic) The coronavirus pandemic has taken an incalculable death toll. This series (Those We’ve Lost) is designed to put names and faces to the numbers. 

Lost On The Frontline A collaboration between The Guardian and KHN that aims to document the lives of health care workers in the U.S. who die from COVID-19. Many cases are shrouded in secrecy. The project hopes to become a collective memorial to honor those lost while serving on the front line.
A virtual funeral changes perspective (Jack ElHai, Medium, 4-13-2020) "I recently attended a virtual funeral broadcast with Zoom, and the result was that I felt distant from the deceased but close to my fellow mourners." (Shefali Luthra, KHN, 5-1-2020) Among other things, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and Canada have all tested a much larger percentage of the population than the United States has. By any meaningful metric of diagnosing and tracking, the United States is still well behind countries like Germany and Canada.
Why Is the Pandemic Killing So Many Black Americans? Linda Villarosa, a writer for The New York Times Magazine covering racial health disparities, who spoke to Nicole Charles in New Orleans about the death of her husband, Cornell Charles, known as Dickey. He was 51.
‘My Boyfriend Died of COVID-19’ (Video by Olmo Parenti, The Atlantic, 4-20-2020) From the diary of a Chinese girl living in Wuhan during the coronavirus epidemic. As 2019 drew to a close, a young woman, Niuniu, and her fiancé, Tongsheng, looked forward to a bright future. Like many victims of this pandemic, Tongsheng had difficulty accessing medical care. In( mid-January, he died alone in a hospital waiting room.
Married for 50 years, a couple are separated by the coronavirus (Joshua Schneyer, Reuters, 4-10-2020)

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A salute to the medical workers and others who help


Lost on the Frontline (The Staffs of Kaiser Health News and The Guardian, 5-12-2020) A pharmacist who refused to let the patients down. A police officer turned nurse. A school nurse who “was a mother to many.” These are some of the people just added to “Lost on the Frontline,” a special series from The Guardian and KHN that profiles health care workers who die of COVID-19.
Voices from the Pandemic A collection of accounts from people who have been sharing their personal stories about covid-19. As told to Eli Saslow (Washington Post oral history collection)

---‘It was impossible. It’s still impossible.’ (4-19-2020) Mikaela Sakal, on being an ER nurse in an overwhelmed hospital and the decision she had to make.
---‘Wearing a mask won’t protect us from our history.’ 4-11-2020) Burnell Cotlon, whose grocery store in New Orleans has become a food pantry. "I’ve got 62 tabs in the book now. From zero to 62 in less than a month. It’s page after page of customers on credit. I’m out almost $3,000 so far." When a customer dies, he crosses them off the list.
---‘You’re basically right next to the nuclear reactor.’ (4-5-2020) Cory Deburghgraeve, on performing one of the pandemic’s most dangerous jobs. "I could be the last person some of these patients ever see, or the last voice they hear. A lot of people will never come off the ventilator. That’s the reality of this virus. I force myself to think about that for a few seconds each time I walk into the ICU to do an intubation."
---‘Is this another death I’ll have to pronounce?’ (4-25-2020) Michael Fowler, Dougherty County coroner, on the reopening of Georgia. 'I’m always driving, going back-and-forth between nursing homes, the hospital, and the morgue. All these roads should be empty if you ask me. But now I see people out running errands, rushing back into their lives, and it’s like: “Why? What reason could possibly be good enough?” Sometimes, I think about stopping and showing them one of the empty body bags I have in the trunk. “You might end up here. Is that worth it for a haircut or a hamburger?”'
12 Fraught Hours With E.M.T.s in a City Under Siege. (Jan Hoffman, NY Times, 4-1-2020) "Special units of emergency medical workers in Paterson, N.J., respond to 911 calls for suspected coronavirus.... The crisis has turned an already difficult job upside down. A few weeks ago, a 911 call for “respiratory distress” would have sent emergency medical technicians — E.M.T.s — rushing into the building to examine the man and take his vitals. Now with coronavirus infections sweeping through the region, the emergency medical workers of Paterson, a poor, industrial city in the penumbra of pandemic-stricken New York, are working in a new, upside-down reality: Don’t go in a home, don’t touch the patient, and don’t take anyone to the hospital, unless absolutely necessary."
The survivors of Covid-19 (Mandy Zuo, South China Morning Post, 4-5-2020) As Wuhan cases decline, a visiting doctor remains behind to help the city recover. Second in a SCMP series about Covid-19 survivors.
It's shameful how many health-care workers are dying from Covid-19 (Kent Sepkowitz, CNN, 4-15-2020) See also CDC data for Feb 12-April 9 "Of 9,282 U.S. COVID-19 cases reported among HCP [health care personnel], median age was 42 years, and 73% were female, reflecting these distributions among the HCP workforce. HCP patients reported contact with COVID-19 patients in health care, household, and community settings. Most HCP patients were not hospitalized; however, severe outcomes, including death, were reported among all age groups."
Spiritual Care at the Front Lines of the Pandemic (Jenna Barnett, Sojourners, 5-6-2020) Spiritual care in times like these can look quite casual — like gently showing up. In a typical work week, members of one woman’s spiritual care team spend about 70 percent of their time attending to patients and 30 percent offering care to staff. COVID-19 has nearly flipped that ratio. The chaplains wear masks and have their temperatures checked upon arrival so that they can continue to safely care for both patients and staff.
First Denial, Then Fear: Covid-19 Patients in Their Own Words (Wired) People infected with the coronavirus try to cope as the crisis accelerates. The professionals taking care of them are quickly becoming overwhelmed. This is the start of Wired's living oral history of the Covid-19 pandemic, an attempt to capture in real time the stories playing out across our country, in the words of those who are experiencing the crisis. This installment focuses on people who are ill right now (or suspect they are sick) because of the virus, along with the voices of doctors and health care workers taking care of them.

More to come.

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SARS, MERS, and other forms of coronavirus

 "SARS-CoV-2 is the virus. COVID-19 is the disease that it causes. The two aren't the same. " ~ Ed Yong

 

g

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that are named for the spikes on their surfaces, which have a crown-like appearance.The viruses can cause the common cold or more severe diseases such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and COVID-19, the latter of which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.


Coronavirus (World Health Organization) Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
• "In 2002, SARS spread virtually unchecked to 37 countries, causing global panic, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing more than 750. MERS appears to be less easily passed from human to human, but has greater lethality, killing 35% of about 2,500 people who have been infected." ~ The Guardian
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) (WHO Fact Sheet, 3-11-19) Symptoms, source, method of transmission, prevention and treatment, etc. Approximately 35% of reported patients with MERS-CoV infection have died. Approximately 80% of human cases have been reported by Saudi Arabia.
COVID-19, MERS & SARS (NIH/NIAID) Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

     Research evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, and the original SARS-CoV all originated in bats. SARS-CoV then spread from infected civets to people, while MERS-CoV spreads through infected dromedary camels to people. Scientists are trying to determine how SARS-CoV-2 spread to people.    
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) (WHO)
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Scientists Compare Novel Coronavirus with SARS and MERS Viruses (Abby Olena, The Scientist, 2-11-2020) Researchers find 380 amino acid substitutions between 2019-nCoV and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related coronaviruses. "We’re all wondering where this virus came from, and we can see from the new sequence and the sequences that we’ve already had for coronaviruses that it’s likely to be a recombinant of a number of different coronaviruses that are known." ~ Rachel Roper, East Carolina University
How Does Wuhan Coronavirus Compare With MERS, SARS and the Common Cold? (Pien Huang , Goats and Soda, NPR, 1-22-2020) Chart shows what the four coronaviruses have in common and how they differ.

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Facts and tips that don't fit elsewhere

 

Swine Flu (H1N1) was very contagious but not very fatal.

SARS virus was very fatal but not very contagious.

Covid19 is both fatal and very contagious.

 


Get My Payment (IRS site to learn when you will get your stimulus check)
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Guidance for the Self-Employed, Freelancers and Contractors (Brian Thompson, Forbes,5-18-2020) A useful explanation of PPP loan forgiveness for freelancers. You will almost certainly have to pay a portion of the loan back--still, a good deal. (H/T ASJA)
Donating your body to science (Science Care)
Tips and tricks for grocery shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic (Courtney Campbell, Reviewed.com, USA Today, 4-10-2020)
What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage (Will Oremus, Marker/Medium, 4-2-2020). The home-toilet-paper market is pretty steady, but suddenly demand is up 40%. Demand in the commercial-establishment-toilet-paper market, also typically steady, is way down. "Not only is it not the same product, but it often doesn’t come from the same mills." See also Coronavirus and shopping for supplies: Getting to the bottom of the toilet paper shortage (Brent Schrotenboer, USA Today, 4-8-2020) A fundamental shift in demand for a certain kind of toilet paper for use at home, kinks in the supply chain between factories and stores, hoarding, people going to the bathroom more than normal and at home more. Office TP is typically one-ply; home, two-ply (and softer).
Here’s where you can buy toilet paper right now (Shayna Murphy, Reviewed.com, USA Today, 4-14-2020) Further reading: Toilet paper (Wikipedia's long entry)
The Safe Way to Donate Blood During the Coronavirus Pandemic (Lisa L. Gill, Consumer Reports, 5-8-2020) With blood supplies critically low, giving now can help, especially if you've already recovered from COVID-19.
The little book sellers that could: How indie stores managed to take a slice of Amazon business (Sindya N. Bhanoo, Washington Post, 4-24-2020) The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the retail apocalypse, with Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and Gap fighting for survival. But it has also created a few openings for savvy independent retailers who are willing to up their online shopping game. "In January, before life in America was upended by the coronavirus, a start-up called Bookshop.org launched a beta site to sell books online. Its goal was simple: to slice off a sliver of Amazon’s giant share of book sales and push it toward indie bookstores, which have long struggled to maintain footing in the business." A few "independent retailers have rapidly pivoted toward e-commerce, in some cases using strikingly low-tech analog systems to retaliate against Amazon, which itself went live as a small online retailer of books 25 years ago."
How ‘Karen’ Became a Coronavirus Villain (Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 5-6-2020) A popular joke about entitled white women is now a big pandemic meme.
What would happen if the world reacted to climate change like it’s reacting to the coronavirus? (Adele Peters, Fast Company, 3-10-2020) What would a fast, coordinated, collective response to climate change look like?
How prepared are you for disaster?
The psychological aspects of dealing with pandemics (American Psychological Association, many stories)

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Coronavirus humor and inspiration


Coronavirus horse race (Terrence K. Williams) Pretty darned funny.
10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World (McKinley Corbley, Good News Network, 3-17-2020) 1) US Researchers Deliver First COVID-19 Vaccine to Volunteers in Experimental Test Program. 2) Distilleries Across the United States Are Making Their Own Hand Sanitizers to Give Away for Free. 3) Air Pollution Plummets in Cities With High Rates of Quarantine. And so on.
‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity (Anne Lamott, National Geographic, 10-2018) With Earth beset by conflict, climate change, pollution, and other ills, the best-selling author asks: What better time to be hopeful?
Hugh Weber’s twitterfeed on reactions to his 11-year-old’s love letter to the post office .
We're All Home Bound -- The Coronavirus Song (YouTube) Claire and Mel Vatz of Pittsburgh sing a delightful ode to our worldwide crisis, to the tune of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “Homeward Bound.” They did it for friends but it went viral.
Dance Song (for the End of the World) 5-minute Quarantine music video (music by Lizzy Shapiro & The Triggermen, dancing by a delightful variety of people)
The Broadway Coronavirus Medley (YouTube—funny)
A Letter from the Condo Association to Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth (McSweeney’s)
Coronavirus memes capture humor in social distancing, test kits, toilet paper, and family relationships

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Life after the pandemic

Uncharted (The Atlantic, a great series about the world we’re leaving behind, and the one being remade by the pandemic, May 2020)

A mere sampling:
---When Will We Want to Be in a Room Full of Strangers Again? (Helen Lewis, 5-12-2020) Theater, an industry full of optimists, is reckoning with a heartbreaking realization.
---Celebrities Have Never Been Less Entertaining (Spencer Kornhaber, 3-21-2020) Top singers and actors are live-streaming from quarantine, appearing equally bored and technologically inept.
---Good Riddance to the Handshake (Megan Garber, 5-11-2020) A terrible custom is gone for good. Hallelujah.
---Air Travel Is Going to Be Very Bad, for a Very Long Time (James Fallows, 5-11-2020) Flying used to be unpleasant. But scarcity, low demand, and public-health risks could make it unbearable.
---Work From Home Is Here to Stay (Olga Khazan, 5-4-2020) The future of jobs after the pandemic is a blurry mix of work, life, pajamas, and Zoom.


What Will Work-Life Balance Look Like After the Pandemic? (Bobbi Thomason and Heather Williams, Harvard Business Review, 4-16-2020) The Covid-19 crisis has shoved work and home lives under the same roof for many families like ours, and the struggle to manage it all is now visible to peers and bosses. We can hope that one major shift after the pandemic will be a move away from the harmful assumption that a 24/7 work culture is working well for anyone.
What Will Life Be Like After the Pandemic? (Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, Knowledge, Insead, 4-23-2020) "More than anything, the coronavirus has highlighted existing political, economic and social dysfunctionalities. It has also shown the crisis of leadership. Kets de Vries suggests two possible scenarios:
---Scenario 1: Populations may become more willing to hand over control to governments. As a rule, when we are frightened, we are more willing to cut down on civil liberties. Even when leaders pretend to be democratic, under the right conditions, the inner autocrat may emerge.
---Scenario 2: Crises can also create solidarity. The present pandemic could spur us to tackle issues that we have always been quite aware of but have preferred to ignore. Despite the enormous number of jobs lost, could the pandemic be an opportunity to direct our energies to other kinds of activities? What parts of the economy would we like to restore, and what parts could we do without?

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Quotations and verse to see us through the pandemic

 


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
~ Dorothy Parker, in Not So Deep as a Well

 

• Live your life the way you want to be remembered.

• "It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; and in these qualities old age is usually not only not poorer, but is even richer." — Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

•"The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down."~ T. S. Eliot
"BACKWARD, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for to-night!" ~ from the poem Rock Me to Sleep by Elizabeth (Akers) Allen (full text appears on Bartleby.com)

• "Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live." ~Henry Van Dyke
• "The idea is to die young as late as possible." ~Ashley Montagu

• David Shields' excellent autobiography of his body, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, is a fascinating little book about life and death and about what's happening to your body enroute from one to the other. Don't read it if you don't want to hear the bad news, but it does help explain things like why you have to make more trips to the bathroom as you age. See quotations from the book on the Amazon site. For example: "You're born with 350 bones (long, short, flat, and irregular); as you grow, the bones fuse together: an adult's body has 206 bones. Approximately 70 percent of your body weight is water—which is about the same percentage of the earth's surface that is water."

• "Life may not be the party we expected, but while we're here, we might as well dance." ~ spotted on a tee shirt at Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom
• "And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." ~Friedrich Nietzsche
• "Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like." — Lemony Snicket

• "Sexiness wears thin after awhile and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that is a treat." — Joanne Woodward
• "Growing older is like climbing a mountain: the higher you get, the more strength you need, but the further you see." — Ingmar Bergman
• "My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn." — Louis Adamic

• "The idea is to die young as late as possible." ~Ashley Montagu
• "New poems no longer come to me, with their prodigies of metaphor and assonance. Prose endures. I feel the circles grow smaller, and old age is a ceremony of losses, which is on the whole preferable to dying at forty-seven or fifty-two. When I lament and darken over my diminishments, I accomplish nothing. It’s better to sit at the window all day, pleased to watch birds, barns, and flowers. It is a pleasure to write about what I do." — Donald Hall, Out the Window (The New Yorker, 1-23-12)
• Religion is following the messenger. Spirituality is following the message.
• “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel
• "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." — Mae West
• "The alternative to growing old is dying young." — Sally Field
• "A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams." — John Barrymore
• "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes." — Ella Wheeler Wilcox
• "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." — Alice Walker
•"You're never too old to become younger." ~ Mae West

"Joy is the happiness that doesn't depend on what happens." — David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and teacher, founder of A Network for Grateful Living, author of David Steindl-Rast: Essential Writings
"One rule of the game, in most times and places, is that it’s the young who are beautiful. The beauty ideal is always a youthful one. This is partly simple realism. The young are beautiful. The whole lot of ’em. The older I get, the more clearly I see that and enjoy it...
Attitude is (nearly) everything
"And yet I look at men and women my age and older, and their scalps and knuckles and spots and bulges, though various and interesting, don’t affect what I think of them. Some of these people I consider to be very beautiful, and others I don’t. For old people, beauty doesn’t come free with the hormones, the way it does for the young. It has to do with bones. It has to do with who the person is. More and more clearly it has to do with what shines through those gnarly faces and bodies."
— Ursula LeGuin: Aging and What Beauty Really Means
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ~Albert Einstein
“To enjoy and give enjoyment, without injury to yourself or others; this is true morality.” ~ Nicolas Chamfort
“Usefulness is not impaired by imperfection; you can drink from a chipped cup.” ~ Greta K. Nagel
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ~ Robert Frost
"Forever is composed of nows." ~ Emily Dickinson

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” ~ Abraham Maslow.
"Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” ~ Willa Cather
“What is to give light must endure burning.” ~ Viktor Frankl
" We are not all born at once, but by bits. The body first, and the spirit later... Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth."~ Mary Austin
" Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
"Perhaps one of the gifts of old age is that nothing stands between us and what we see." ~ May Sarton, Kinds of Love
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." ~ Zora Neale Hurston
"The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear." ~Gandhi
" I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish." ~ poet Edith Sitwell
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ~ Albert Einstein
"Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet--that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent."
~What Is Wabi Sabi?, from the book The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty by Robyn Griggs Lawrence and Joe Coca
"Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world's greatest need." ~ Frederick Buechner
"Aging brings home to us what we have done or failed to do with our lives, our creativity or our waste, our openness to zealous hiding from what really matters. Precisely at this point, age cracks us open, sometimes for the first time, makes us aware of the center, makes us look for it in relation to it. Aging does not mark an end but rather a beginning of making sense of end questions, so that life can have an end in every sense of the word." ~ Ann Belford Ulanov, writing about why older people are able to be such effective ministers, in Aging: On the Way to One’s End (Harper & Row, 1981), p. 122
"Ripe old age, cheerful, useful, and understanding, is one of the finest influences in the world."
~ Ida Tarbell, The Business of Being a Woman
Fame is a bee It has a song—— It has a sting—— Ah, too, it has a wing. ~ Emily Dickinson


“We're all just walking each other home.” ~Ram Dass

Quotations, section 2
“I will age ungracefully until I become an old woman in a small garden, doing whatever the hell I want.” ~ Robin Chotzinoff
The Paradox of Choice. Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied. "The secret to life is low expectations." Great cartoons.
"If old age in the shape of waning strength says to me often, 'Thou shalt not!' so do my years smile upon me and say to me, 'Thou needst not.'
~ Mary Heaton Vorse, Autobiography of an Elderly Woman (1911)
"Old age would be the most happy of the stage of life, if only it did not know it was the last."
"Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations." ~Faith Baldwin
What happens to a social media account after a person's death? --Great Lakes Caskets
"After one has lived a life of meaning, death may lose much of its terror, for what we fear most is not really death but a meaningless and absurd life." ~Robert Butler, author of Why Survive? Being Old in America
“The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” ~Dr. William Osler
"No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." ~ Terry Pratchett
Living with Lou: Dudley Clendinen on a Good, Short Life by Dudley Clendinen (NYTimes, 7-9-11). Living with Lou Gehrig's disease is about life, when you know there's not much left. And Writer Dudley Clendinen has chosen not to go to the great expense and limited potential of extending his life--but to enjoy what he can of it, while he can. He learned he had the disease when he was 66, and Maryland Morning, an NPR news station, has been airing conversations with him about how he and his daughter Whitney have been dealing with the disease and its implications. Listen to the podcasts: Living with Lou: Dudley Clendinen on a Good, Short Life (Maryland Morning, 2-21-11)
~ Comtesse Diane, Les Glanes de la Vie