Opinion writers weigh in on issues surrounding the coronavirus.
Boston Globe: Call Your Mom: The Generational Politics Of Covid-19
There’s a lot we don’t know about Covid-19, but one dynamic appears clear: The health danger is highest for older people and those with preexisting health conditions, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. In South Korea, where there is a lot of testing and a strong public health system, not a single person under 30 has died from the disease. Only two people under 50 have died out of 3,263 South Korean cases reported on March 8. On the Diamond Princess cruise ship, out of 705 coronavirus cases, there have been 8 fatalities — and none of these were under 70. But there are 72 million Americans over 60 years old in the United States. If only a fraction of them get the virus and the mortality rate still turns out to be lower than the 1-5 percent that South Korea is seeing among this age group, we’re still looking at hundreds of thousands of mortalities, not to mention a large multiple of that number who will need extended intensive care. That’s why hospitals are preparing for the possibility that coronavirus could kill the number of Americans who die each year of diabetes, flu, Alzheimer’s, and strokes . . . combined. This is why the Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that people over 60 stay in their homes. (Eli Pariser, 3/9)
Stat: If Covid-19 Gets Bad, Triage Will Be Needed. Are We Ready For That?
The emergence of a new infectious disease that rapidly spreads around the world, like Covid-19, makes disaster planning experts move into overdrive. Lessons learned over the last decade can help cope with the spread of the novel coronavirus. In the spring of 2009, a new type of flu virus, called H1N1, was detected in the United States. It spread across the U.S and to other countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that, in the U.S. alone, between April 2009 and April 2010 H1N1 sickened more than 60 million people, caused 275,000 hospitalizations, and killed more than 12,000 people. (Matthew K. Wynia and John L. Hick, 3/10)
The Washington Post: It’s Now Or Never For The U.S. If It Hopes To Keep Coronavirus From Burning Out Of Control
The first phase of the coronavirus outbreak was a domestic challenge for China and a border containment one for the United States and others. Now we are in the second phase: community mitigation. Math and history must guide our next steps. The near-term objective should be to reduce the acute, exponential growth of the outbreak, in order to reduce suffering and the strain on our health-care system. (Tom Bossert, 3/9)
The New York Times: It Took Me 3 E.R. Visits To Get A Coronavirus Test In New York
Two weeks ago, I flew from La Guardia Airport to Toronto for a 24-hour trip. In the immigration intake area, at least 100 passengers streamed off a flight from Shanghai, where the coronavirus had been found a month earlier. We all pressed our fingers on touch screens to answer immigration questions and waited for about 15 minutes for masked, gloved agents to examine each passport. The next day, I flew back. (Robin Shulman, 3/9)
Bloomberg: Coronavirus Testing Failure In U.S. Is Revealed In One Chart
If you look only at a list of confirmed novel coronavirus cases, you wouldn’t think the U.S. was doing badly. Eight other countries currently have more infections, and some have many more. Don’t cheer just yet. The lower case count doesn’t mean Americans are doing a better job of containing the virus; rather, it reflects the fact that the U.S. is badly behind in its ability to test people. (Max Nisen, 3/7)
WBUR: Ensuring Care For Vulnerable Patients Is The Only Way We Can Contain The Coronavirus Outbreak
Coronavirus has exposed more than our ill-preparedness for public health crises; it has reinforced the deep and dangerous inequities that define American health care today. As we prepare to confront a potential pandemic, it is that inequity that could hamper our response most of all. (Joe Kennedy III, 3/10)
Bloomberg: Coronavirus Got You Working From Home? Expect A Pain In The Neck
Now the global spread of the coronavirus offers a far larger and wider natural experiment in the technical, logistical and human challenges of having large numbers of people work remotely. Companies from Twitter Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc to Dentsu Group Inc. have advised, encouraged or required at least some staff to work from home. How well businesses function under these conditions could have a lasting impact on our approach to work. For me, the technical hurdles have been insignificant — trivial, to use a word beloved of techies — and nothing that Bloomberg’s technical support team couldn’t sort out relatively quickly. I have found the principal challenges to be physical and psychological. (Matthew Brooker, 3/7)
The New York Times: Ted Cruz, Public Health Hero?
All too often, the elected officials responsible for safeguarding the public interest seem removed from the realities facing that public. The higher the office, the greater the remove. For Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, that distance shrank dramatically this weekend, when he was notified that he had been in contact with someone later found to have the coronavirus. The interaction — a handshake and brief exchange — occurred late last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of activists held in the suburbs of Washington. (Michelle Cottle, 3/9)
NBC News: Matthew Lee: Coronavirus Fears Show How ‘Model Minority’ Asian Americans Become The ‘Yellow Peril’
On the same day that federal health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that the new coronavirus was certain to spread within the United States, I was on my usual morning train in New York City when the person next to me pulled out a bottle of nail polish and started painting their left hand. The fumes from the polish hit me hard and I sneezed twice in quick succession. Instantly, all eyes turned toward me. I watched the fear spread as public perception of me shifted from being a “model minority” to a “yellow peril.” (Matthew Lee, 3/9)
The New York Times: God Vs. Coronavirus
Where does God self-quarantine during an epidemic? Not in a church, probably. At least not in a church in northern Italy, the center of the largest coronavirus outbreak in a Western country so far. Masses and other religious services, including funerals, have been suspended for weeks there, in keeping with government rulings to curb the contagion. On Sunday, the same day the government announced that the north was going under lockdown, all religious services throughout Italy, including those at mosques and synagogues, were canceled until at least April 3. (On Monday, travel restrictions were extended to whole country.) (Mattia Ferraresi, 3/10)
WBUR: Detecting More Mass. Coronavirus Cases Means Public Health Success, Not Failure
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has just announced 13 more presumptive cases of the new coronavirus. These cases, combined with earlier detected cases, raise the total number in Massachusetts to 41.The response from many residents will be fear and panic. But these cases are reflections of local public health and health care system success, not failure. (Adam L. Beckman, Suhas Gondi, Gregg Gonsalves, Howard Forman, 3/9)
The Hill: Medicaid Expansion Should Be Part Of Our Emergency Response
Texas, Florida, and 12 other states are putting lives at risk across America by refusing to extend Medicaid coverage to millions who are poor and uninsured. This ensures that many Americans who become infected will go undiagnosed and untreated: people for whom going to the doctor portends financial calamity tend not to do so before their health circumstances become dire. (Dr. M. Gregg Bloche, 3/9)
Meanwhile, on other health issues —
Stat: Startling Documents Reveal New Facets Of Sacklers’ Opioid Empire
What could possibly be new about the Sackler family, the billionaire owners of Purdue Pharma? That was a question I asked myself in the late fall of 2015 as I began doing research for the book that would become “Pharma.” The project I had pitched to my publisher was a comprehensive history of the American pharmaceutical industry, starting with patent drugs and finishing with biotechnology breakthroughs. Covering the full breadth of the domestic drug industry in a single, readable volume meant I would have to compress into single chapters many consequential matters that had been the focus of full-length books. (Gerald Posner, 3/10)
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