Coronavirus Diary (30): Reporting from Brooklyn

I am too fucking exhausted to blog today, but too wound up not to. It occurs to me that getting sick would not be a good look right now, but on the other hand, I’d hate for silence to suggest complacency.

I’m going to resolve this dilemma by relying on a little help from my friends, or at least one of them. So today, I’m taking a break and referring you to the latest post on Chris Sciabarra’s blog, which you should have been reading the whole time anyway. Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (29): Connect but Back Off

Here’s a short, sweet, simple piece from City of Hope about my friend William Dale MD’s efforts to bridge the gap (or apparent gap) between generations, ensuring that older people get the social support they need during this crisis. It’s easy, given the imperatives of social distancing, to forget about them.

“Mary,” a City of Hope patient and a 70-something grandmother from Beverly Hills, worries that the coronavirus and the calls to practice social distancing may actually make things worse for many seniors who already lack the close personal connections they desperately need.

“I just wish that people would not think that older people are invisible or incompetent,” she said. “I think that many of us seniors are very isolated and lonesome.”

The whole article provides a welcome contrast to the explicit ageism and the infantile enthusiasm for generational conflict that seems to dominate so much social-media discourse.

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Coronavirus Diary (28): The Fifth Amendment Under Quarantine

The Attorney General (of New Jersey) needs to explain whether the Fourth and Fifth Amendments have literally been suspended in Essex County, where enforcement actions have been stepped up considerably (especially in Newark, Irvington, Orange, and East Orange).

In order to be stopped by the police, there must be reasonable suspicion of the commission of an infraction within the jurisdiction of the officer doing the stop. The mere presence of a person in public cannot constitute reasonable suspicion of any infraction, including Executive Order 107.* So we need to know: do Fourth Amendment strictures still apply, or have they been discarded for the duration of the order? Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (27): COVID-19 and the Banality of Evil

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Coronavirus Diary (26): New Jersey Under Siege

Most of the national media reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic has focused, understandably, on the catastrophe taking place in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic. A student in one of my classes, with friends and family in Queens, told me that he knew personally of fifteen COVID-19 deaths in Queens alone (Elmhurst). New York City essentially leads the world right now in COVID-19 cases.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle as it always is, is the second-place case of New Jersey, where, apart from graduate school, I’ve lived all my life. You can turn on the TV to see what things are like in New York, but whether you see it there or not, things aren’t much different in Jersey: like New York, New Jersey is under siege. And “siege” is no metaphor. COVID-19 is an invading army–much more so than the Japanese, the Nazis, the Soviets, Al Qaeda, Saddam, or ISIS ever were–and we’re losing the battle to it. Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (24): Peace Trains

A lot of the news about India’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been demoralizing, and justifiably so, but I haven’t seen much coverage in the American press of one of India’s more ingenious success stories. Apparently, the Indian government has decided to re-purpose railway cars as medical facilities. This particular idea seems to be the successor to an earlier one, described in a recent paper in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (23): “A Disdain for Science”

A plea from my sister-in-law, Jessica Franklin, MD, of Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey. She posted this on Facebook, and was reluctant to have it posted publicly, describing it as more a “frustrated, heart-broken rant than a reasoned opinion.” But there’s been no paucity of reasoned opinions at this point. Every other commenter on her Facebook post has a story to tell about someone’s backsliding or refusing to comply with social distancing, the ban on gatherings, etc. If we’re going to break our health care workers and our health care facilities in this excruciating way, we should have the courage to watch it happen in real time.  Continue reading