Opinion | Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease? – By David L. Katz – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Katz is president of True Health Initiative and the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

Credit…David Ryder/Reuters

“We routinely differentiate between two kinds of military action: the inevitable carnage and collateral damage of diffuse hostilities, and the precision of a “surgical strike,” methodically targeted to the sources of our particular peril. The latter, when executed well, minimizes resources and unintended consequences alike.

As we battle the coronavirus pandemic, and heads of state declare that we are “at war” with this contagion, the same dichotomy applies. This can be open war, with all the fallout that portends, or it could be something more surgical. The United States and much of the world so far have gone in for the former. I write now with a sense of urgency to make sure we consider the surgical approach, while there is still time.

Outbreaks tend to be isolated when pathogens move through water or food, and of greater scope when they travel by widespread vectors like fleas, mosquitoes or the air itself. Like the coronavirus pandemic, the infamous flu pandemic of 1918 was caused by viral particles transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Pandemics occur when an entire population is vulnerable — that is, not immune — to a given pathogen capable of efficiently spreading itself.

Immunity occurs when our immune system has developed antibodies against a germ, either naturally or as a result of a vaccine, and is fully prepared should exposure recur. The immune system response is so robust that the invading germ is eradicated before symptomatic disease can develop.”

Opinion |  Screw This Virus! – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Screw this virus. Screw this virus that is already ravaging families, burying people in the hard isolation of the same four walls, leaving waitresses in anguish about how they’re going to pay the rent. If you don’t have a little hate in your heart toward this thing, you probably aren’t motivated enough.

While we’re at it, screw certainty. Over the past few weeks I’ve been bingeing on commentary from people predicting how long this is going to last and how bad it’s going to be. The authors seem really smart and their data sets seem really terrible.

I’m beginning to appreciate the wisdom that cancer patients share: We just can’t know. Don’t expect life to be predictable or fair. Don’t try to tame the situation with some feel-good lie or confident prediction. Embrace the uncertainty of this whole life-or-death deal.

There’s a weird clarity that comes with that embrace. There is a humility that comes with realizing you’re not the glorious plans you made for your life. When the plans are upset, there’s a quieter and better you beneath them.”

“. . . . .Through plague eyes I realize there’s an important distinction between social connection and social solidarity. Social connection means feeling empathetic toward others and being kind to them. That’s fine in normal times.

Social solidarity is more tenacious. It’s an active commitment to the common good — the kind of thing needed in times like now.

This concept of solidarity grows out of Catholic social teaching. It starts with a belief in the infinite dignity of each human person but sees people embedded in webs of mutual obligation — to one another and to all creation. It celebrates the individual and the whole together, and to the nth degree.

Solidarity is not a feeling; it’s an active virtue. It is out of solidarity, and not normal utilitarian logic, that George Marshall in “Saving Private Ryan” endangered a dozen lives to save just one. It’s solidarity that causes a Marine to risk his life dragging the body of his dead comrade from battle to be returned home. It’s out of solidarity that health care workers stay on their feet amid terror and fatigue. Some things you do not for yourself or another but for the common whole.”

Opinion | How Trump Is Worsening the Virus Now – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“At a private New York meeting in October of 1940, William Knudsen made a desperate plea to the automobile industry’s top executives. Knudsen himself had been the president of General Motors until a few months earlier. But he had stepped down to help oversee military production at President Franklin Roosevelt’s request. The position paid $1 a year.

Knudsen told the executives that American military officials surveying the Nazis’ bombing of England had concluded that the country with the strongest airpower was going to win the war. And the United States was badly behind. So Roosevelt and his military advisers wanted the car companies to forget about making cars, Knudsen said. They needed to begin making warplanes.

It was a radical request. It also matched the urgency of the situation. The car executives said yes, and the overhaul of Detroit became crucial to winning the war.

The coronavirus is not an actual war, but it does threaten modern society and human life in ways that nothing has in decades. More than two million Americans could die. Many will do so alone, separated from their family and friends. Funerals will often be impossible. Stores, schools and entire neighborhoods are shutting down. In the second quarter of this year, which starts next week, forecasters predict that the economy could shrink at the most rapid rate since the Great Depression.

This is a moment that calls for the urgency that Roosevelt and Knudsen summoned in the fall of 1940 — when, it’s worth remembering, the attack on Pearl Harbor was still more than a year away.

President Trump, however, has chosen a different response.

He has repeatedly decided not to get out in front of the virus. Instead of taking aggressive steps that public-health experts were urging, he has moved slowly, presumably in the hope that things would somehow work out for the best. Only when it’s clear that they aren’t working for the best has he followed the advice that experts had been offering for weeks. He has then tried to rewrite recent history and claimed that his response had been aggressive from the start.”

Coronavirus Can Be Stopped Only by Harsh Steps, Experts Say – The New York Times

“. . . . In interviews with a dozen of the world’s leading experts on fighting epidemics, there was wide agreement on the steps that must be taken immediately.

Those experts included international public health officials who have fought AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, flu and Ebola; scientists and epidemiologists; and former health officials who led major American global health programs in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Americans must be persuaded to stay home, they said, and a system put in place to isolate the infected and care for them outside the home. Travel restrictions should be extended, they said; productions of masks and ventilators must be accelerated, and testing problems must be resolved.

But tactics like forced isolation, school closings and pervasive GPS tracking of patients brought more divided reactions.”

What it’s like to be infected with coronavirus – The Washington Post

March 22, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. EDT
PLEASE NOTE

The Washington Post is providing this story for free so that all readers have access to this important information about the coronavirus. For more free stories, sign up for our daily Coronavirus Updates newsletter.

“Ritchie Torres, 32, a New York City councilman from the Bronx, first had nothing more than a “general sickly feeling.” Then came a bad headache. He felt terrible. But for Torres, the worst effects of covid-19 so far have been mental: “It is psychologically unsettling to know I am carrying a virus that could harm my loved ones.”

The Rev. Jadon Hartsuff, 42, an Episcopal priest in Washington, D.C., felt drained after a Sunday service on Feb. 23. He took a nap. No big deal — the service can be tiring. The next day at the gym, his muscles ached. He became fatigued, feverish, slightly dizzy. “I kept telling people I felt spongy,” he recalls. “Like a kitchen sponge.”

Mike Saag, 64, an infectious disease doctor in Alabama, developed a cough, like a smoker’s hack. He was bone-tired, his mind foggy. About five days in, the misery intensified. “This is not something anybody wants to go through,” he said Saturday. “I implore everyone to stay at home!” “

Source: What it’s like to be infected with coronavirus – The Washington Post

Opinion | These Conservatives Knew Trump Would Be a Disaster in a Crisis – By Robert Saldin and Steven Teles – The New York Times

By Robert Saldin and 

Mr. Saldin and Mr. Teles are the co-authors of the forthcoming book “Never Trump: The Revolt of the Conservative Elites.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“In the blink of an eye, the essential nature of the American presidency seems to have changed. Only days ago most Republicans were cheering along to the president’s less than statesmanlike routine and happy to let him act as the chief culture warrior and judicial nominator in chief. But suddenly, the specter of Covid-19 has made owning the libs seem slightly less important and shined a bright light on the centrality of character to presidential leadership.

Even such fervid supporters of President Trump as Tucker Carlson have admitted that his management of his administration in this crisis has left something to be desired.

But there is one group of Republicans for whom the president’s performance under pressure has been entirely unsurprising — the oft-abused when not entirely neglected NeverTrumpers. Almost no one predicted that a global pandemic would be the test of President Trump’s mettle as a leader. But if you interviewed conservative critics of Trump as we did for a book, many of them emphasized precisely those aspects of the president’s character that have come to the fore in the last few weeks.

Many NeverTrumpers disliked what they saw as Mr. Trump’s violations of conservative orthodoxy, but what really cleaved them from their former friends who made peace with the president was their obsession with what they referred to as “character.” This concern was dismissed by most Republicans as moral preening or a Pollyannaish unwillingness to recognize the distinction between private morality and realpolitik.”

Opinion | 3 Rules for the Trump Pandemic – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“So Donald Trump is now calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus.” Of course he is: Racism and blaming other people for his own failures are the defining features of his presidency. But if we’re going to give it a nickname, much better to refer to it as the “Trump pandemic.”

True, the virus didn’t originate here. But the U.S. response to the threat has been catastrophically slow and inadequate, and the buck stops with Trump, who minimized the threat and discouraged action until just a few days ago.

Compare, for example, America’s handling of the coronavirus with that of South Korea. Both countries reported their first case on Jan. 20. But Korea moved quickly to implement widespread testing; it has used the data from that testing to guide social distancing and other containment measures; and the disease appears to be on the wane there.

In the U.S., by contrast, testing has barely begun — we’ve tested only 60,000 people compared with South Korea’s 290,000, even though we have six times its population, and the number of cases here appears to be skyrocketing.”

Coronavirus: Can the US catch up on testing? – BBC News

A nurse conducts a coronavirus test in SeattleImage copyrightREUTERS

“The US government has come under fire for its response to the coronavirus – particularly because it has tested far fewer people than other affected countries.

On Thursday, the top health official for infectious diseases admitted that the testing system was “currently failing”, and that the US was not able to supply tests “easily, the way people in other countries are doing it”.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency and said more tests would be available soon.

So what exactly went wrong – and will the US be able to catch up now?

How many people have been tested in the US?

The short answer is no-one knows for sure – not even the government.

Both Vice-President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar have been unable to confirm how many Americans have been tested.

This is because some tests were being conducted by private laboratories and hospitals that have not been reporting in to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We don’t have a centralised data registry tracking this the way we should,” says Prof Howard Forman, a public health expert at Yale University. “We should learn from this experience – having a centralised registry to keep track, with information flowing from labs to state and then federal governments, is critical.” ”

Source: Coronavirus: Can the US catch up on testing? – BBC News

Opinion | No Stimulus Without Election Protection – By David Leonhardt- The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Daniel Acker/Reuters

“Congress will almost certainly pass a very large stimulus bill soon — as it should, because the economy is in crisis. But there is another looming crisis, in addition to the recession and the public health crisis, and it’s one that Congress should be taking as seriously as the economy.

Our usual methods for conducting elections may not work in November.

Yesterday’s postponed primary in Ohio, which is the subject of a legal fight, highlights the problems. Come November, people may still not be able to gather safely at polling places, and election workers — many of them elderly — may not be able to interact safely with hundreds of people. That’s terribly worrisome. As Seth Masket of the University of Denver has pointed out, elections are an essential institution in a democracy, much as grocery stores are.

Fortunately, House Democrats have the political leverage to fix the problem, even if President Trump and congressional Republicans don’t feel the same urgency. (Republicans, alas, have spent more time restricting voting rights in recent years than protecting them.)

Here’s what Democrats can do: Refuse to pass any big stimulus bill unless it includes provisions to ensure that the country can hold a presidential election this fall. That may sound like bare-knuckle politics, but preserving democracy calls for toughness.

Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, put it well in a message to me on Tuesday:

Election bills are notoriously hard to get through Congress. And we don’t know when Congress will be able to meet again. The only way a congressionally mandated expansion of [voting access] for November’s elections is going to pass is if it is folded into one of the existing coronavirus bills needed to keep this country going during the crisis.

On Twitter, Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Election made a historical analogy:

Fighting coronavirus will take war-like mobilization of govt resources. But even during the Civil War & WWII, we still held elections. It’s essential that Congress mandate & provide funding for every state to adopt universal vote-by-mail so we don’t have a political crisis too.

Editorial | Stop Saying That Everything Is Under Control. It Isn’t. – The New York Times

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“In 1941, with war tearing through Europe and Asia and America on the precipice of joining the conflict, President Franklin D. Roosevelt compelled and inspired industries and individuals to rally for the greater good. Food was rationed without rioting, and car plants all but stopped producing automobiles in favor of tanks and fuselages. By 1944, American factory workers were building nearly 100,000 warplanes a year — or about 11 per hour.

The United States is again faced with a crisis that calls for a national response, demanding a mobilization of resources that the free market or individual states cannot achieve on their own. The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 180,000 people around the globe, and claimed more than 7,000 lives already. Based on what they know about the virus so far, experts say that between two million and 200 million people could be infected in the coming weeks and months, in the United States alone. If the worst came to pass, as many as 1.7 million of our neighbors and loved ones could die. How many people are affected depends on the actions that we as a nation take right now.

Understandably, many American leaders have been focused on shoring up an economy that’s hemorrhaging money and trust. Many of the measures being advanced by Congress, like paid sick leave, are crucial. But the best hope for the economy, and the nation as a whole, is a strong public health response to the coronavirus.

Confusion has reigned, among health care professionals and laypeople alike, over when or whether to test patients, quarantine the exposed and isolate the sick — even over how worried to be. Part of the problem is a supply shortage that is already growing dire in some places. But another problem is the lack of consistent messages from leaders, President Trump in particular. For weeks now, clear statements — for example, that the worst is yet to come — have been undercut by blithe assurances that everything is under control.

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