More weekend NYT highlights, chosen by David Lindsay
Eliza Blue took my breath away with her piece, Our Unstable Industrialized Food Chain. She wrote:
“Smithfield is near the end of the food supply chain; we are where it begins. On our drought-prone side of the state, where ruminants outnumber humans, there are no processing plants, just grass — vast, luminous expanses of grass — with intricate root structures that grow thick and deep.
There are still custom butcher shops scattered across the hundreds of miles of open pasture, small mom-and-pop operations, remnants of a system that used to connect rural economies to the food they were producing. Now nearly all animals raised here are shipped elsewhere — to feedlots to be grain-fattened, and then to gargantuan facilities like Smithfield to be slaughtered.
I know some ranchers who are working to change this system, but many more lack the financial or political clout to innovate beyond the scope of their own operations. We are part of an industrialized system that treats animals and their caretakers as columns on spreadsheets geared toward achieving maximum profit. These columns ignore the physical realities of labor in animal husbandry, as well the dignity of the animals we husband, while saddling us with debt and draining resources from our rural communities.” Eliza Blue prayed for a more humane animal husbandry. https://nyti.ms/3d4PRvV
Gina Kolata writes in One Way Back to Normal Life, “The researchers, Dr. Mette Kalager and Dr. Michael Bretthauer, a husband-and-wife team at the University of Oslo, do not suggest randomizing individuals, as is done in studies of experimental drugs, but rather randomizing regions like similar school districts in adjacent towns.
To test whether it was safe to open schools, they envision what is called rapid-cycle randomization, in which measures are quickly evaluated and adjusted as data emerge.
In the first cycle, schools in one district would remain closed while those in another would reopen carefully with, for example, half the usual number of students and with six-foot social distancing in place. Students and teachers in both districts would be tested for the coronavirus at the start and end of the cycle. Each cycle could last between 10 days and two weeks, accounting for a viral incubation period of four to five days.
If the careful reopening did not result in increased transmission of the virus, the study would advance to the second stage: Schools in one district would open with half the normal number of students and six-foot social distancing while those in the other would have three-quarters of the normal number of students and maintain just three feet of social distancing.
If there were no increased transmission, the third phase would compare that less restrictive setting with a full, unrestricted reopening.
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In the best-case scenario — no increased transmission — all schools could open after three to six weeks.” https://nyti.ms/3fg6dDJ
Brett McGurk’s haunting piece, The Father I Never Forgave, made me pause, and I wrote the following note to myself: “I should write the story of my life and the stormy relationship with my father.” My father was a great man in the law and politics, but also an alcoholic and a dead beat dad. I was blessed to have a marvelous reconciliation with him shortly before he died prematurely of cancer. https://nyti.ms/2SxioCC
Last but not least, Nicholas Kristof writes, A Young Doctor, Fighting For His Life:
“Dr. Andres Maldonado normally bounded into the Emergency Department, fit and vigorous, but this time he had to be escorted in, pale and fighting for breath, with a patient bracelet on his right wrist. A nurse, seeing her colleague struggle, burst into tears.
Maldonado was 27, a third-year resident physician with no underlying medical conditions. When he came down with a fever on March 23, he called in sick. Soon he developed a tightness in his chest and tested positive for the coronavirus.
At first he resisted the idea of seeking treatment. He was by nature stoical; in youth soccer games, other boys had crumpled when injured, but Maldonado always got up and limped through his pain. Now as a doctor — a badass emergency doctor, he jokingly called himself — he was humiliated by the thought of becoming a patient.
But on March 31, so out of breath he could barely get to the bathroom, he called his older brother, Nestor, also an emergency physician, who remembers panic in Andres’s voice.
“It hurts to breathe,” Andres told his brother. “My body aches all over. I’ve been having really bad fevers, and I’m getting, like, dizzy.”
“Yo,” his brother ordered him, “get your butt to the E.R.”
Maldonado called his parents to say that he was going to the hospital. His dad, Jose Maldonado, was a refugee from the civil war in El Salvador who started life over as a dishwasher in New York. His mom, Cecilia Aguilar-Maldonado, came from Ecuador, and both were undocumented for a time — yet they sent both sons through medical school. The parents were the first of many to be devastated by their son’s sickness. https://nyti.ms/3f9cr8F