27 March, 2020

Some good news

You know the nightmare scenarios I’ve been telling you about? If we treat this like the seasonal flu we could get over 800,000 dead people. Well, here is good news.
We are not going to get the nightmare scenarios. Why?
It is not that the modeling was wrong. Actually, the modeling has been fairly accurate. The modeling is precisely why Governor Kemp has not locked down all of Georgia, for example. The modeling, it turns out, has been right.
That includes all the modeling — including the part that showed if we changed our behavior we could avoid the nightmare scenarios.
Because you and I have changed our behaviors, we are seeing good news in the data. There is still a lot to be troubled by and there are still shortages and problems ahead. But for most of the country, we are turning the corner. It’s going to take a bit longer to see for sure, but the data is really encouraging.

24 March, 2020

How to Talk to Coronavirus Skeptics



In general, people use experts all the time, and most of us don’t spend a lot of time second-guessing experts on most issues. There are some definite exceptions to that. If we have reason to believe that people are dishonest or incompetent, then we may be skeptical. But, when it comes to science, the big exception has to do with what I’ve written about, which is implicatory denial. That is to say, we reject scientific findings because we don’t like their implications.

All of the major areas where we see resistance to scientific findings in contemporary life fall into this category. So if you ask yourself, Why do people reject the evidence of evolution? It’s not because evolutionary theory is a bad theory, or a weak theory scientifically, or that we don’t have good evidence for it. It’s because some people think that it implies that there’s no God, or that it implies that life is meaningless and has no purpose, or that it’s all just random and nihilistic. If we think about vaccinations, it’s a similar sort of thing. It’s not that the science of immunology is a bad science or a weak science. It’s not that the people who reject immunization really understand immunology and have an intellectual critique. It’s a matter of, if their children are autistic, they feel upset that their children have a quite devastating disease and modern medical science doesn’t have an explanation for it. So they feel upset and they want an explanation, and so they turn to something like vaccinations, and they say, “Well, that’s the cause.” And so on and so forth with climate change, et cetera.

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief?ab=hero-main-text
Finally, it’s a good time to stock up on compassion. Everyone will have different levels of fear and grief and it manifests in different ways. A coworker got very snippy with me the other day and I thought, That’s not like this person; that’s how they’re dealing with this. I’m seeing their fear and anxiety. So be patient. Think about who someone usually is and not who they seem to be in this moment.
One particularly troubling aspect of this pandemic is the open-endedness of it.
This is a temporary state. It helps to say it. I worked for 10 years in the hospital system. I’ve been trained for situations like this. I’ve also studied the Spanish Flu. The precautions we’re taking are the right ones. History tells us that. This is survivable. We will survive. This is a time to overprotect but not overreact.

America’s coronavirus response failed because we didn’t understand the complexity of the problem.



In the United States and Europe, the die is mostly cast for the immediate future. But understanding our failures leading up to this moment isn’t an abstract exercise. Maybe we will muddle through the next few months, at great cost. But we will still need all the systemic thinking we can muster to anticipate the second and third order effects that will follow this crisis. And if we hope to blunt the impact of others like it, let’s not forget, again, that all of our lives are, together, embedded in highly complex systems.

23 March, 2020

Hold the line

First, we are in the very infancy of this epidemic’s trajectory. That means even with these measures we will see cases and deaths continue to rise globally, nationally, and in our own communities in the coming weeks. This may lead some people to think that the social distancing measures are not working. They are. They may feel futile. They aren’t. You will feel discouraged. You should. This is normal in chaos. But this is normal epidemic trajectory. Stay calm. This enemy that we are facing is very good at what it does; we are not failing. We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not my opinion; this is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. I want to help the community brace for this impact. Stay strong and with solidarity knowing with absolute certainty that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people begin getting sick and dying. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.

The Virus Can Be Stopped, but Only With Harsh Steps, Experts Say

Just as generals take the lead in giving daily briefings in wartime — as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf did during the Persian Gulf war — medical experts should be at the microphone now to explain complex ideas like epidemic curves, social distancing and off-label use of drugs.
The microphone should not even be at the White House, scientists said, so that briefings of historic importance do not dissolve into angry, politically charged exchanges with the press corps, as happened again on Friday.
Instead, leaders must describe the looming crisis and the possible solutions in ways that will win the trust of Americans.
Above all, the experts said, briefings should focus on saving lives and making sure that average wage earners survive the coming hard times — not on the stock market, the tourism industry or the president’s health. There is no time left to point fingers and assign blame.
“At this point in the emergency, there’s little merit in spending time on what we should have done or who’s at fault,” said Adm. Tim Ziemer, who was the coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative from 2006 until early 2017 and led the pandemic response unit on the National Security Council before its disbanding.
“We need to focus on the enemy, and that’s the virus.”

22 March, 2020

THE TRIBES THAT BIND

http://annesnyder.org/2020/01/08/the-tribes-that-bind/
We live disaggregated lives. We are disaggregated physically, many of us living far from family and home base. We are disaggregated sociologically, many of us shuttling between contexts that don’t touch one another, compartmentalized social and civic habits compounded now by online engagement. We are also disaggregated morally, the elites we once trusted to lead either offended by the idea that there could be a shared compass in pluralistic times, or themselves so corrupted in character and vision that it’s hopeless to defer in their direction.
And so we resort to an ancient survival mechanism activated when fear is kicked up and identities of all kinds are under siege: Find your team and defend it. It’s your only shot at significance and psychic sanity.

21 March, 2020

How to Survive a Plague

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/andrew-sullivan-how-to-survive-the-coronavirus-pandemic.html
These weeks of confinement can be seen also, it seems to me, as weeks of a national retreat, a chance to reset and rethink our lives, to ponder their fragility. I learned one thing in my 20s and 30s in the AIDS epidemic: Living in a plague is just an intensified way of living. It merely unveils the radical uncertainty of life that is already here, and puts it into far sharper focus. We will all die one day, and we will almost all get sick at some point in our lives; none of this makes sense on its own (especially the dying part). The trick, as the great religions teach us, is counterintuitive: not to seize control, but to gain some balance and even serenity in absorbing what you can’t.
There may be moments in this great public silence when we learn and relearn this lesson. Because we will need to relearn it, as I’m rediscovering in this surreal flashback to a way of living I once knew. Plague living is almost seasonal for humans. Like the spring which insists on arriving.
See you next Friday.

20 March, 2020

“They Ignored the Warning Signs”: A New York City ER Doctor Explains What She’s Up Against


What are you seeing on the ground in the ER right now?
It’s changing every day. A point I want to emphasize, though, is that the federal government set us up for failure. They should have paid attention to what the forecasters were saying months ago, but they ignored the warning signs and stuck their heads in the sand. The underreporting and under-testing has made us fundamentally unable to combat this effectively. The New York [state] government has been remarkable; [Governor Andrew] Cuomo has been doing a great job. But the lack of federal oversight means that there will be pockets of success and pockets of failure. It makes it that much harder for us to combat this on a global level. On the ground, I’m seeing health care professionals do their best to catch up. New York has the highest number of infections of all the states in America, and we’re going to see that number increase exponentially.
The testing criteria is changing day to day, but we are not able to test enough people—just a fraction of the patients we see are getting tested. People who live with their 85-year-old grandmother and are displaying symptoms are not getting tested. People who have symptoms [and] need a positive test in order to keep getting paid by their employers while they’re not working are not getting tested. Right now, we are saving the tests for people who are in critical condition.
We’re all wearing as much PPE [personal protective equipment] as possible, including goggles that were given to us by the hospital. But we don’t know how long the supplies are going to last.

18 March, 2020

Coronavirus Ravages 7 Members of a Single Family, Killing 2

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/nyregion/new-jersey-family-coronavirus.html
Grace Fusco — mother of 11, grandmother of 27 — would sit in the same pew at church each Sunday, surrounded by nearly a dozen members of her sprawling Italian-American family. Sunday dinners drew an even larger crowd to her home in central New Jersey.

Now, her close-knit clan is united anew by unspeakable grief: Mrs. Fusco, 73, and four of her children are hospitalized with coronavirus. Two children who contracted the virus have died in the last week.

Mrs. Fusco’s eldest child, Rita Fusco-Jackson, 55, of Freehold, N.J., died Friday with the virus, a relative said. Her eldest son, Carmine Fusco, of Bath, Pa., died on Wednesday, said the relative, Roseann Paradiso Fodera.

Three of the four siblings who remain hospitalized are in critical condition, Ms. Paradiso Fodera said.