Coronavirus Diary (61): Tyler Cowen on the Nursing Home Controversy

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:

  1. 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

Coronavirus Diary (60): The NY/NJ Nursing Home Controversy

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

COVID-19 Narratives (7): Elegy for a Father

Elegy for My Father
Daniella Mieles

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

Coronavirus Diary (59): Arguing About Dentistry Under Lockdown

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

COVID-19 Narratives (6): Nursing Assistant in a War Zone

Nursing Assistant in a War Zone: COVID-19 at Englewood Health Center
Kendra Francisco

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

Charles “Rob” Roberts, RIP

I’m saddened to report the death, due to COVID-19, of my friend and one-time neighbor Charles “Rob” Roberts, of the Glen Ridge (NJ) Police Department. My deepest condolences to his wife Alice, and his kids, Natalie, Shea, and Gavin. Even in memory, I think of Rob as too vividly alive to be fully gone. I will miss him deeply, as will many others in his family, his department, his community, and beyond.

This is a tweet from the police department in neighboring Bloomfield Township; the Glen Ridge Department will make a formal announcement later.

Notices in, Essex Daily Voice,, and

I first mentioned the story here at PoT back on April 22nd.

Requiescat in pace.

Coronavirus Diary (58): Yet More on the Jersey Surge

I often find myself disagreeing with academics, and particularly academic philosophers, about the value of journalism. Many of the philosophers I know look down on journalism; ordinary reportage seems philosophically jejune to them, and the arguments one finds in editorial writing tend to be weak on precision and rigor. There’s something to that, but I think it could with equal validity be said that academics lack the robust sense of reality and common sense that some of the best journalists tend to have. Sent out into the field, the average philosopher (or data-oriented social scientist) would, I think, quickly fall prey to some version of Meno’s paradox: not knowing what to look for at the outset of the inquiry, and not grasping the significance of what one encountered along the way. By contrast, journalists solve that apparent paradox every day–just without any sense that it is one. Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (57): Valley-Mt. Sinai Platelet Donations (Update)

Back on April 12th, I posted a call for platelet donations issued by Valley Health and Mt. Sinai Hospitals. I know of a handful of people who’ve donated blood or platelets, including my Felician colleague Amy Dombach and (I believe) PoT’s own Michael Young, but I know of only one person who did so specifically in response to my post. Loyal but low-key PoT reader Chris Paglinco tells me (if I understand correctly) that he donated blood to the Valley/Mt. Sinai program after being presumptively COVID-positive, and getting the idea for a platelet donation by reading about it here. In his words: “They took samples of my blood for antibody testing. If I have had COVID-19, and have the requisite level of antibodies, I will go back and make the actual plasma donation.”* Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (55): The Labor Economics of La-La Land

The business and political leaders featured in this NJTV News segment sound delusional to me. They’re talking here as though things will be fine “down the Shore” by June 1, and that there’s a good chance that we’ll have a normal shore season. You don’t need a crystal ball or some sophisticated econometric model to see that that’s ridiculous. Continue reading

COVID-19 Narratives (5): Coronavirus, Chronic Pain, and College Life

Coronavirus, Chronic Pain, and College Life: A Student’s Perspective
Kiara A. Almendarez

The coronavirus pandemic is striking fear in people across the entire world, but how is this invisible enemy able to do this so effectively? As a student, I would say that the main reason is the anxiety produced by the uncertainty it’s produced. Personally, I’ve found the “lockdown” challenging to deal with as a college student. Once my university announced the transition to online classes, classes got increasingly difficult for me. Given the new circumstances, some professors were apt to give more assignments on the assumption that we now had more leisure time to spend on them, but this overlooks the fact that many students faced other severe challenges at home–including, most obviously, illness from the virus itself. On April 8, 2020, my younger cousin informed me that my maternal uncle and aunt had passed away. I had to restrain my emotions in order to finish an assignment that was due before midnight that night. It was extraordinarily difficult to do, but I had no choice. Continue reading