In Trump’s Final Chapter, a Failure to Rise to the Covid-19 Moment – The New York Times

“Throughout late summer and fall, in the heat of a re-election campaign that he would go on to lose, and in the face of mounting evidence of a surge in infections and deaths far worse than in the spring, Mr. Trump’s management of the crisis — unsteady, unscientific and colored by politics all year — was in effect reduced to a single question: What would it mean for him?

The result, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and others in contact with the White House, was a lose-lose situation. Mr. Trump not only ended up soundly defeated by Joseph R. Biden Jr., but missed his chance to show that he could rise to the moment in the final chapter of his presidency and meet the defining challenge of his tenure.

Efforts by his aides to persuade him to promote mask wearing, among the simplest and most effective ways to curb the spread of the disease, were derailed by his conviction that his political base would rebel against anything that would smack of limiting their personal freedom. Even his own campaign’s polling data to the contrary could not sway him.

His explicit demand for a vaccine by Election Day — a push that came to a head in a contentious Oval Office meeting with top health aides in late September — became a misguided substitute for warning the nation that failure to adhere to social distancing and other mitigation efforts would contribute to a slow-rolling disaster this winter.”

25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp – The New York Times

Chris BuckleyDavid D. KirkpatrickAmy Qin and 


“The most famous doctor in China was on an urgent mission.

Celebrated as the hero who helped uncover the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, now 84, was under orders to rush to Wuhan, a city in central China, and investigate a strange new coronavirus. His assistant photographed the doctor on the night train, eyes closed in thought, an image that would later rocket around China and burnish Dr. Zhong’s reputation as the nation’s medic riding to the rescue.

China’s official history now portrays Dr. Zhong’s trip as the cinematic turning point in an ultimately triumphant war against Covid-19, when he discovered the virus was spreading dangerously and sped to Beijing to sound the alarm. Four days later, on Jan. 23, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, sealed off Wuhan.

That lockdown was the first decisive step in saving China. But in a pandemic that has since claimed more than 1.7 million lives, it came too late to prevent the virus from spilling into the rest of the world.

The first alarm had actually sounded 25 days earlier, exactly a year ago, last Dec. 30. Even before then, Chinese doctors and scientists had been pushing for answers, yet officials in Wuhan and Beijing concealed the extent of infections or refused to act on warnings.”

Opinion | A Doctor’s Covid Vaccine Won’t Save Her Dying Patients – The New York Times

Dr. Lamas is a critical-care physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Credit…Simone Noronha

“I barely even feel the needle.

It is over so quickly that I begin to take it all in only afterward, as I claim a seat in the waiting area. There are a handful of us there, each of us newly vaccinated and waiting the designated 15 minutes before we can leave. I watch an environmental services worker flex his upper arm and shyly take a photo. A few internal medicine residents gaze out the window, bleary after a night shift. I feel a sudden urge to offer a congratulatory hug or handshake, but of course that is not possible. Our seats are too far apart for us even to talk.

I glance at my phone and open a message, an automated request to complete a mortality report for a patient who died of Covid-19 the week before. In our final conversation before he was intubated, I tried to comfort him, but he could barely hear me over the hiss of his high-flow oxygen. When he coughed, I flinched and hoped he did not notice. The survey asks if anything about this death was preventable, and I say no, because there is nothing we could have done differently — though clearly the real answer is yes. So many of these deaths could have been prevented.”

‘Like a Hand Grasping’: Trump Appointees Describe the Crushing of the C.D.C. – The New York Times

“ATLANTA — Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his deputy, Amanda Campbell, were installed in 2018 as two of the youngest political appointees in the history of the world’s premier public health agency, young Republicans returning to their native Georgia to dream jobs.

But what they witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic this year in the C.D.C.’s leadership suite on the 12-floor headquarters here shook them: Washington’s dismissal of science, the White House’s slow suffocation of the agency’s voice, the meddling in its messages and the siphoning of its budget.

In interviews this fall, the pair decided to go public with their disillusionment: what went wrong, and what they believe needs to be done as the agency girds for what could be a yearslong project of rebuilding its credibility externally while easing ill feelings and self-doubt internally.

“Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the C.D.C. was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” Mr. McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the C.D.C.” “

As U.S. Deaths Approach 300,000, Obituaries Force Reckoning with Covid – By Julie Bosman – The New York Times

“CHICAGO — When Kim Miller sat down in her Illinois house to compose her husband’s obituary, she could not hold back.

Not about the coronavirus that had left Scott, her fit, healthy spouse who loved to swim, golf and putter in the garden, gasping for breath and unable to move his limbs as he stood at the kitchen counter. Not about what had killed him swiftly and cruelly in only a few days.

“This disease is real, it is serious and it is deadly,” she wrote in his obituary. “Wear the mask, socially distance, if not for yourself then for others who may lose a loved one to the disease.”

“I couldn’t just write that he lived and died and had two children,” said Ms. Miller, a retired college professor, who wept as she spoke of her husband of 25 years. “I wanted people to read this and really read this.” “

Opinion | The Coronavirus Vaccine Won’t Solve Everything – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

“This should be a season of hope: We will shortly be getting a highly effective coronavirus vaccine, and the pandemic should wind down in the coming months.

Yet this is the most wretched holiday season of my life. Consider:

  • More Americans have died from Covid-19 in nine months than in combat over four years in World War II. The virus death toll exceeds 292,000, compared with 291,557 American World War II battle deaths.

  • We’re sometimes now losing more Americans from the virus in a single day than perished in the Pearl Harbor attacks or 9/11. But contrary to viral memes floating around the internet, the virus is not creating the “deadliest days” in American history: In October 1918, in a much smaller population, more than 6,000 Americans died of the Spanish flu on average each day for the entire month.

  • If American states were treated as countries, the places with the highest per capita coronavirus death rates would be: SloveniaSouth Dakota, North Dakota, Bulgaria, Iowa, Bosnia, Hungary, Croatia, Illinois, North Macedonia, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, San Marino.

A pandemic is a test of a country’s governance, and this is one the United States has failed. Much of that is on President Trump’s colossal failure of leadership, but it also reflects a deeper skepticism about science and a proclivity toward personal irresponsibility — such as refusing to wear masks.”

Opinion | It’s Time to Scare People About Covid – By Elisabeth Rosenthal – The New York Times

By 

Dr. Rosenthal is a contributing Opinion writer.

Outside of the Stephens Memorial Hospital emergency entrance in Breckenridge, Texas.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

I still remember exactly where I was sitting decades ago, during the short film shown in class: For a few painful minutes, we watched a woman talking mechanically, raspily through a hole in her throat, pausing occasionally to gasp for air.

The public service message: This is what can happen if you smoke.

I had nightmares about that ad, which today would most likely be tagged with a trigger warning or deemed unsuitable for children. But it was supremely effective: I never started smoking and doubt that few if any of my horrified classmates did either.

When the government required television and radio stations to give $75 million in free airtime for antismoking ads between 1967 and 1970 — many of them terrifyingly graphic — smoking rates plummeted. Since then, numerous smoking “scare” campaigns have proved successful. Some even featured celebrities, like Yul Brynner’s posthumous offering with a warning after he died from lung cancer: “Now that I’m gone, don’t smoke, whatever you do, just don’t smoke.”

As the United States faces out-of-control spikes from Covid-19, with people refusing to take recommended, often even mandated, precautions, our public health announcements from governments, medical groups and health care companies feel lame compared to the urgency of the moment. A mix of clever catchphrases, scientific information and calls to civic duty, they are virtuous and profoundly dull.

How long can you leave turkey broth out before it goes bad? | Charlotte Observer

Finally, I called Ben Chapman, the food safety expert at N.C. State University. He reassured me: The rules I follow are still absolutely correct: Once the stock cooled off, it only had two hours at room temperature before it became toxic stew. It didn’t matter if the lid was on or – as one commenter suggested – if I had strained it and discarded the bones first.The issue, he said, isn’t bacteria. It’s toxins produced by the bacteria. Bacteria are living creatures and like all living creatures, they produce things. Even if you kill them by “boiling them to hell and back,” you can’t remove the toxins their one-celled corpses produce.So why was I not seeing reports on outbreaks associated with tainted turkey broth? It probably happens, Chapman said. But in the foodborne-illness reporting world, an “outbreak” involves multiple people who aren’t related. In other words, if you make yourself and your elderly great-aunt Ethel sick, the world may never know, unless someone dies from it.

Source: How long can you leave turkey broth out before it goes bad? | Charlotte Observer

Opinion | Quarantine May Negatively Affect Kids’ Immune Systems – The New York Times

By Donna L. Farber and 

Dr. Farber is a professor of immunology and surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, where Dr. Connors is an assistant professor of pediatrics.

Credit…Dave Woody for The New York Times

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is unwittingly conducting what amounts to the largest immunological experiment in history on our own children. We have been keeping children inside, relentlessly sanitizing their living spaces and their hands and largely isolating them. In doing so, we have prevented large numbers of them from becoming infected or transmitting the virus. But in the course of social distancing to mitigate the spread, we may also be unintentionally inhibiting the proper development of children’s immune systems.

Most children are born with a functioning immune system with the capacity to respond to diverse types of foreign substances, called antigens, encountered through exposure to microorganisms, food and the environment. The eradication of harmful pathogens, establishment of protective immunity and proper immune regulation depends on the immune cells known as T lymphocytes. With each new infection, pathogen-specific T cells multiply and orchestrate the clearance of the infectious organism from the body, after which some persist as memory T cells with enhanced immune functions.

Over time, children develop increasing numbers and types of memory T cells, which remain throughout the body as a record of past exposures and stand ready to provide lifelong protection. For other antigen exposures that are not infectious or dangerous, a type of healthy stalemate can result, called immune tolerance. Immunological memory and tolerance learned during childhood serves as the basis for immunity and health throughout adulthood.

Memory T cells begin to form during the first years of life and accumulate during childhood. However, for memory T cells to become functionally mature, multiple exposures may be necessary, particularly for cells residing in tissues such as the lung and intestines, where we encounter numerous pathogens. These exposures typically and naturally occur during the everyday experiences of childhood — such as interactions with friends, teachers, trips to the playground, sports — all of which have been curtailed or shut down entirely during efforts to mitigate viral spread. As a result, we are altering the frequency, breadth and degree of exposures that are crucial for immune memory development.”

The Risks of Another Epidemic: Teenage Vaping – The New York Times

“As in decades past, the nation’s regulatory agencies have been slow — some say negligent — to recognize this fast-growing threat to the health and development of young Americans. Dr. Rome, a pediatrician who heads the Center for Adolescent Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, explained that nicotine forms addictive pathways in the brain that can increase a youngster’s susceptibility to addiction throughout life. The adolescent brain is still developing, she told me, and e-cigarette use is often a gateway to vaping of marijuana, which can affect the brain centers responsible for attention, memory, learning, cognition, self-control and decision-making.”