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COVID-19: politics and the stock market vs. science and survival

Posted by Pat McNees. This blog post has become a full website page, with categories, so it's easy to find what you're looking for. Go here:

Coronavirus: The good, the bad, and the practical


Or click on one of the categories on that page, here:

Pandemic: The big picture
Social distancing and sheltering in place
Testing, testing, testing--and contact tracing
What patients with Covid19 experience
The race for effective vaccines and anti-viral treatments
Where things went wrong in the U.S.
Where in the world things went right
Politics and the coronavirus
Trump's handling of the pandemic
Why Covid-19 is so dangerous
Who is harmed most by the coronavirus?
Reliable sources of information (and against misinformation)
Death and the coronavirus
Remembering victims of the coronavirus
A salute to medical workers and others who help
Coronavirus humor and inspiration
Facts and tips that don't fit elsewhere



This was updated daily until 5-8-2020, when the entries were re-arranged in a more organized format and then updated further with more entries.  For the time being I will leave the following copy below, but at some point I'll delete it as redundant.


A roundup of articles not so much about the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) but about how we're managing or mismanaging or stretching the truth about or fighting about how to manage the coronavirus. Let me know of any upbeat stories, as I'm mostly finding stories on the negative side. For basic info about surviving COVID-19 see What you need to know about coronavirus.

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.
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."
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.
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.
Those We’ve Lost (New York Times) The coronavirus pandemic has taken an incalculable death toll. This series is designed to put names and faces to the numbers.
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."
Trump’s Claim That U.S. Tested More Than All Countries Combined Is ‘Pants On Fire’ Wrong (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.
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."
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.
‘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.
‘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.”'
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 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.
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.
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.”
$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)
NYC morgues near capacity, DHS briefing warns (Politico, 3-25-2020)
On keeping a diary or journal of the pandemic
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 these were sold out.]
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).

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.
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.
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) See also 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.
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.
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...
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 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."
We Are Living in a Failed State (George Packer, The Atlantic, June 2020) The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.
‘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.
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.
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.

      “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.”  (3-16-2020)
What If We Have to Decide Who Gets a Ventilator? (Daniela J. Lamas, Opinion, NY Times, 4-2-2020) Thinking about the choices we could have to make as we treat patients with the coronavirus breaks my heart. (Dr. Lamas is a critical care doctor.) See also this story about Italy's first Covid-19 patient: 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."
'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."
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 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.
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)
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."
Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center (NewsGuard)
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.
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, NY 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.
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)
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.)
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."
'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.”
Those We’ve Lost to the Coronavirus (New York Times obits of people who have died in the pandemic)
Married for 50 years, a couple are separated by the coronavirus (Joshua Schneyer, Reuters, 4-10-2020)
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.
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.
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."
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?
100 Days That Changed the World (Michael Safi, The Guardian, 4-8-2020)
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.
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."
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.
A Nurse Bought Protective Supplies for Her Colleagues Using GoFundMe. The Hospital Suspended Her. (Marshall Allen, ProPublica, 4-7-2020) Olga Matievskaya and her fellow intensive care nurses raised more than $12,000 to buy (on eBay) and distribute protective gear for their colleagues, who say they felt inadequately protected against COVID-19. But rather than thanking the staff, hospital administrators on Saturday suspended Matievskaya for distributing "unauthorized" protective gear.
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.
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.
'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.
A new battle zone for the coronavirus looms: the developing world (Paul Salopek, National Geographic, 4-6-2020)  People in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, are coming together in the face of a possible catastrophe.
The Digital Burnout Was Coming. The Pandemic Is Expediting It. (Mary Alice Miller, Vanity Fair, 4-10-2020) 'A new book about our relationship with digital devices has come at the precise moment in which we’ve never been more dependent on them for working, socializing, and staying informed. Equal parts memoir and reported nonfiction, Attention: A Love Story, out now, chronicles author Casey Schwartz’s lifelong obsession with humanity’s ability—or lack thereof—to focus, with an emphasis on how the shift to an “attention economy” exacerbates the ancient conundrum of living in the here and now.'

     “This is a rich inquiry into what it means to pay (and maintain) attention in a world increasingly permeated with distraction and interference.”—Publisher’s Weekly
Medical Professionals Tap AI to Combat COVID-19 (Samuel Greengard, CACM, 4-9-2020) Healthcare experts and hospitals are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to aid in the battle against coronavirus.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
Reliable sources for updates on COVID-19 (roundup links)
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.
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.'
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.
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.”
Why did Matt Drudge turn on Donald Trump? (Bob Norman, CJR, 1-29-2020)
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.
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.
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.
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." (And home t.p. is better quality.)
A rare investment mechanism is helping to fund some health tech companies’ coronavirus projects (Kate Sheridan, STAT, 4-8-2020)
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."
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."
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, ProPubloica, 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.
Coronavirus and Kids: Comforting Your Child by Fern Reiss (read it on your Kindle)
Covering the coronavirus story as a journalist
Trump to New York: Drop Dead (Jennifer Senior, Opinion, NY 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.'
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."
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.”
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.”
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.”
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)
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) The epidemics of the early 21st century revealed a world unprepared, even as the risks continue to multiply. Much worse is coming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.” '
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)
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.
Journalism Professors Call for an End to Fox News Coronavirus 'Misinformation' in Open Letter to Rupert Murdoch (James Walker, Newsweek, 4-2-2020)
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."
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 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.” '
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.
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 COVID Near You, you can help researchers develop a nationwide look at where hotspots of coronavirus are occurring...
Exponential growth and epidemics: How is COVID-19 currently growing? (video, 3blue1brown.com) A good primer on exponential and logistic growth.
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.
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.
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 and the forthcoming 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."

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.
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.
How the Virus Transformed the Way Americans Spend Their Money (Lauren Leatherby and David Gelles, NY Times, 4-11-1010) Fascinating graphics! "Right now, more people are spending money on streaming services and gaming—and even ebooks have seen an uplift."
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.
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.'
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.
“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 South Korea Flattened the Curve (Max Fisher and Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times, 3-23-2020) The country 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.

But it may be too late for most countries to follow South Korea's model.
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) ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trump Says U.S. Isn’t ‘Built to Be Shut Down’ Over Virus (Justin Sink, Bloomberg, 3-23-2020)
Trump, Fauci differ on possible ‘game-changer’ coronavirus drug (Bob Frederick, New York Post, 3-20-2020)
The Broadway Coronavirus Medley (YouTube--funny)
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.
CDC says coronavirus survived in Princess Cruise ship cabins for up to 17 days after passengers left (William Feuer, CNBC, 3-23-2020)
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."
‘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." What happens when so many Americans live right on the edge of disaster.
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.
‘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.”
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)
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.
“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.
How prepared are you for disaster?
Dr. Anthony Fauci will ‘keep pushing’ with Trump despite disagreements (Emily Jacobs, New York Post, 3-23-2020)
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."
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.
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.
Lockdown. A poem by Brother Richard (Irish Central, 3-23-2020)
Life on Lockdown in China (Peter Hessler, Letter from Chengdu, New Yorker, 3-30-2020) Forty-five days of avoiding the coronavirus.
The psychological aspects of dealing with pandemics (American Psychological Association, many stories)
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?
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.



Our two pandemics:
COVID and the uninsured
and both are deadly.

                     - Johnathon Ross via KHN

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