It’s reasonable to be skeptical of the idea that a single semester’s worth of students is representative of general trends in the larger population. But for whatever it’s worth, this New York Times article really rings true for me. Though focused on Latinos in California, the pattern it describes seems to apply to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area as well. The headline reads: “Many Latinos Couldn’t Stay Home. Now Virus Cases are Soaring in their Communities.” Continue reading
When Kansas State opened the doors to its athletic facilities, welcoming its football players back to campus starting the first weekend in June, administrators breathed a sigh of relief once the first batch of coronavirus tests came back.
The first wave of athletes spent a week in quarantine before voluntary workouts, as all players were required to do, and the scorecard was pristine: 90 tests, zero positives.
Another six players straggled in a day or two later and were swabbed. Again, no positives.
Then by June 12, the final group of 24 arrivals–largely freshmen–was tested. But just a week later, Kansas State shut down its workouts until at least mid-July after two positive cases in that final group morphed into four and then eight before leaping to 14, as nearly half the team needed to be checked again.
With its announcements on Saturday, Kansas State became the first school from a Power 5 conference to shut down football activities. Two other Football Bowl Subdivision schools did the same after outbreaks among their athletes, with Houston making the decision on June 12 and Boise State on Monday.
Pizza and Public Works: Making Ends Meet in a Pandemic
Anonymous DPW Guy from Monmouth County, New Jersey
I’ve been privileged to able to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. You might think that “privileged” is the wrong word, since anyone going out to work during the pandemic is probably at risk of getting infected. But “privilege” seems like the right word to me: millions of Americans are unemployed right now, unable to support their families. Unlike them, I have two jobs–one in public service, and the other in the food industry, both regarded as “essential” by the government, both state and federal. Continue reading
Peru has more than 170,000 confirmed cases, despite taking the virus seriously early on. The president, Martín Vizcarra, ordered one of the first national lockdowns in South America. Though the official virus death toll stands at around 5,000, Peru had 14,000 more deaths than usual in May, suggesting that a growing number of people are dying at home as hospitals struggle to handle a flood of cases.
So should the Peruvians be taking to the streets to express outrage at the incompetence of all those heads of households where excess mortality has taken place? Or alternatively, should Peru’s hospitals just have warehoused up to 14,000 post-acute COVID patients in the excess space they had as they were struggling “to handle a flood of cases”? Continue reading
If I have learned one thing over the last few weeks, it is that the psychology of the American public is weirder — and perhaps more flexible — than I ever would have thought.
Consider, as just one example among many, the issue of nursing homes. According to some estimates, about 40% of the deaths associated with Covid-19 have occurred in nursing homes, with more almost certain to come.
You might think that those 40,000-plus deaths would be a major national scandal. But so far the response has been subdued. Yes, there has been ample news coverage, but there are no riots in response, no social movement to “clean up the nursing homes,” no Ralph Nader-like crusader who has made this his or her political cause.
Nor has there been much resulting vilification. There are plenty of condemnations of technology billionaires, but very few of nursing-home CEOs. Many of the state and local politicians who oversee public-sector nursing homes have been rewarded with higher approval ratings.
As if all this weren’t bad enough, of those 40,000 deaths, surely a considerable number are African-American (data by race is hard to come by). This could be an issue for Black Lives Matter, but somehow it isn’t.
In a much-read and much-discussed interview in The Atlantic, the economist Tyler Cowen argues that the COVID-19 crisis proves that “the regulatory state is failing us.” Here is his Exhibit A for that claim:
Friedersdorf: What are the most significant failures of America’s regulatory state as it relates to the pandemic?
Cowen: Let me give you a few examples:
New York state regulations, until very recently, forced nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients being discharged from hospitals. Nursing homes, especially in the northeast, have been an epicenter for COVID-19 casualties. By law, they were forced to accept more than 4,500 COVID-19-positive patients, often without proper PPE for their staff.
I don’t find this convincing. Why, exactly, does this very partial description of the issue prove that government failed? And why does Cowen regard the matter as so obvious that a summary this brief should suffice to make the case? Continue reading
I’ve been pressed for time lately, as I do my share to add to the unemployment rate, but I couldn’t resist one thought in the form of a bleg, or query. For a month now, I’ve been seeing social media posts by people I respect (and many I don’t)–left, right, center, libertarian, and otherwise–criticizing Governors Cuomo and Murphy of New York and New Jersey of responsibility for mass death in the case of the the nursing homes in those states. Indeed, Cuomo himself has issued a mea culpa of sorts for doing whatever he’s supposed to have done wrong. Continue reading
Elegy for My Father
Opening up and discussing my experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic is very difficult, and not something I would ever have expected to do, but perhaps doing so will create more awareness about the dangers of this pandemic to those who still seem to regard it as a joke. People always talk about how life today is so much more advanced than it was in the past, and yet here we face a pandemic disease for which there is no cure. And there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for any of us. Continue reading
I had an argument with a dentist the other day about a predictable issue: dentistry under lockdown. The argument turned into a predictable, pointless stalemate.
As a dentist, he was angry that his business was under lockdown. He’s been losing money, his patients are suffering and need medical attention, he knows how to protect himself and others against infectious disease because he’s done it for decades, so he saw no point in delay. Open up now, was his view. (Terminological point: I’ll assume throughout this post that dental procedures are a type of medical procedure.) Continue reading
Nursing Assistant in a War Zone: COVID-19 at Englewood Health Center
Three to eleven pm was the shift I worked. I remember being at work one evening, looking at the news, and regarding myself as lucky not to have to work with or around COVID patients. Unlike a lot of my colleagues at Englewood Hospital, I wouldn’t need to wear a mask or protective gear because I was just a nursing assistant on a regular surgical recovery floor that Recovery shared with Pediatrics. “We’ll never get COVID patients here,” I remember thinking, “because for one thing, there just aren’t that many cases in the country, and second, kids don’t get it, so we won’t face the risk COVID-positive pediatric cases.” I went home that day without a worry in the world. Little did I know that the next twenty-four hours would change my life forever. Continue reading