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What the hell is going on with the stock market? A former Fed economist explains.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 10, 2020, in New York City. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images An expert on the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The stock market has been in a free fall the last week or so as fears around the coronavirus spread across the global economy. If you don’t follow the market that closely, or if you don’t understand how it works more generally, it’s hard to know what to make of this volatility. But the uncertainty raises a ton of questions, whether you’re invested in the stock market or not. Is a recession looming? How will this impact the average worker? Are we doing anything to fix it? And above all, will it get worse? To get some answers, I reached out to Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff economist who’s now with the Washington Center on Equitable Growth. She’s an expert on recessions — what triggers them and what stabilizes them — and a lot of her research explores the efficacy of previous stimulus programs. We discussed if the economic fallout from the coronavirus will hit some regions of the country harder than others, if the stock market is causing our problems or just a sign of them, and if the Trump administration is doing anything to stop the financial bleeding. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Sean Illing What is going in on with the economy right now? Claudia Sahm The economy is reacting to the coronavirus. As of [Wednesday] morning, stock prices were down almost 20 percent. And this is just from three weeks ago. This is a very rapid contraction and we’re flirting with what’s called a bear market. That’s where you hit the 20 percent mark. This is a very swift descent and a sign that we’re in a frightening economic situation. I want to add one thing about stock prices, because we’ve seen them jump up and down and the markets are gyrating at this point. The markets are telling us a few things. The most important thing is that they don’t know what’s going on, and these are professionalswho are supposed to know what’s going on. But this makes sense since there’s a lot of uncertainty about how the crisis will unfold. What we know is that the virus is spreading in the US and we’ve seen countries like China use authoritarian measures to get it under control. We now have Italy shutting down its entire country, and the death rates in Italy are well above what has been reported in other countries. So events are moving quickly and anybody that tells you that they know what the hell is going on is lying. Sean Illing Can you explain why the stock market is so volatile in moments like this? Claudia Sahm Stock prices don’t reflect what’s happening in the economy today. They’re looking forward. The stock prices us about the expectations of people on Wall Street, and they’re looking closely at consumer confidence numbers. They’re looking at surveys telling them what people expect to happen to their household finances, what they expect to happen with their employment and income. These are the sorts of data points they’re looking at because they point to what’s likely to happen in the future. None of this is certain. These are indications of what’s most likely, but it’s ultimately a guessing game. “We’ve seen this before and it can lead to a recession” Sean Illing This feels a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is the stock market causing problems, or is it just a sign of problems that already exist? Claudia Sahm It’s a very important question. This is the sort of downward spiral that brings the economy into a recession. We’ve seen it time and again, especially with natural disasters like the coronavirus. So when you think about a hurricane hitting the country, it disrupts economic activity, especially where the hurricane hits, but then it gets better. It’s temporary. There’s destruction in a particular area that causes lots of distress, but eventually we bounce back. But the coronavirus isn’t a hurricane. It’s not something that rolls through in a few days and then we start rebuilding. This is a spreading sickness and a potentially months-long disruption. There are many households in the economy that are one paycheck away from serious financial distress. And right now what’s so scary for those people is that they don’t know if they’re going to get sick. They don’t know if their companies or employers are going to put them on furlough without pay. And even if the virus turns out not to be as severe as we think, much of the damage will be done. It’s being done right now, and families don’t recover easily from that. We’ve seen this before and it can lead to a recession. And that’s what we’re on track for unless there is a very immediate and very big policy response. Sean Illing We’ll get to what that response ought to look like, but first can you tell me how worried the average person should be? Is this a navigable problem, or is it a genuine economic crisis? Claudia Sahm It’s the real deal. And Americans know this. That’s why we’ve seen markets collapse. American families are getting increasingly worried about whether they’re going to get sick, whether they’ll lose paychecks, whether they’ll be able to provide for their families. And things are a lot more real than they were a few weeks ago. Sean Illing Should we expect the economic impact of the pandemic to hit different regions of the country in different ways? Claudia Sahm Well, we know where the virus is spreading the fastest — in Washington State and areas of New York right now. So we need to be watching the economic activity in those areas very closely, because if it’s temporary, if it doesn’t spiral, we can take some comfort from that. But we still need to step in and help the people who are directly affected. I am deeply concerned that what we’re going to see in those areas is not a temporary effect but a long-term effect, and then that will spread across the country as the virus spreads. And then we’re in a recession. Sean Illing What should the government be doing? What sorts of policies should we prioritize? Claudia Sahm I think there are two approaches that we need to see. One, there has to be a public health response. The federal government needs to put hundreds of billions of dollars out to public health. We need to see free testing available to individuals. We don’t want anybody that doesn’t have health insurance to avoid the doctor if they feel sick. And people who can’t work, for whatever reason, need to have paid family leave. They need to have their jobs protected. But then you’d have the paychecks protected, too. We need federal government money that should be very specifically earmarked for people directly affected by the virus. In addition, because we have this downward spiral taking hold, there needs to be support for consumers and businesses because everyone’s freaking out. The fact that no one knows who’s going to be affected is making it worse, so everyone is pulling back on their spending. “Events are moving quickly and anybody that tells you that they know what the hell is going on is lying” Sean Illing The Trump administration is considering a payroll tax cut. Is that a good idea? Claudia Sahm It’s a terrible idea. Sean Illing Why? Claudia Sahm It doesn’t work. It’s too little and it’s not going to move fast enough. And I say this because in the last decade that I worked at the Federal Reserve Board as a forecaster, I tracked the effects of the payroll tax cut on households in real time and it doesn’t work well. First of all, it comes out in dribs and drabs. You’re going to get a little bit in every paycheck. President Trump has talked about that little boost to paychecks happening through the end of the year. He doesn’t want a tax increase before the election. But households don’t need $25 in the next two weeks, or $50 in the next four weeks. They need $500 right now, because if you wait and you put it out in these little increments, it’s no good to people who end up losing their job or getting sent home without pay. We have the ability, since the virus is not affecting broad areas of the country right now, to get ahead of it. If we can push out to these workers a sizable amount of money, then that gives them some financial cushion if they do end up being in this group of individuals who are directly affected.
2020-03-12 14:30:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
Coronavirus will also cause a loneliness epidemic
The coronavirus outbreak may cause a collapse in social contact that is particularly hard on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. | Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/Getty Images We need to take both social distancing and the “social recession” it will cause seriously. Deborah Johnson Lanholm, 63, lives in Sicklerville, New Jersey. A retired nurse, she’s the primary caretaker for her older sister, Helen Palese, who lives with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. “She’s nonverbal,” Deborah says. “I do her speaking for her. So every other day, we do something together. We go to the movies. I take her to my crocheting group. We go out to dinner or the mall. But she’s with other people. All of that will have to stop because she’s too compromised.” And it won’t just stop for Helen. It’ll stop for Deborah, too. “I’ll have to change my routine because I have to care for her,” Deborah says. “I won’t go out in crowds or be in places where I’ll be exposed.” Make no mistake: The rapid implementation of social distancing is necessary to flatten the coronavirus curve and prevent the current pandemic from worsening. But just as the coronavirus fallout threatens to cause an economic recession, it’s also going to cause what we might call a “social recession”: a collapse in social contact that is particularly hard on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness — older adults and people with disabilities or preexisting health conditions. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Outdoor spaces are increasingly becoming sparsely populated as fears of the coronavirus spreading through the US are increasing. A tension in the coronavirus response is that it’s so difficult to get people to accept social distancing that few want to muddle the message with worries about social isolation. But if the ultimate concern is the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, then both dangers need to be addressed. “We’re now officially in a pandemic,” says Eric Klinenberg, a New York University sociologist who has studied the way social isolation leaves older Americans vulnerable in emergencies. “But we’ve also entered a new period of social pain. There’s going to be a level of social suffering related to isolation and the cost of social distancing that very few people are discussing yet.” Congress and the administration are, even now, debating the best tools to deploy in fighting the coronavirus’s economic effects. Washington is deep in a debate over payroll tax cuts, industry bailouts, and paid sick leave. But there are fewer policy tools to fight a social recession. What all the experts I spoke to agreed on was this: Just as it’s incumbent on those of us least affected by coronavirus to take precautions to limit its spread, it’s also important that we reach out to limit its social damage. “The brunt of Covid-19 will be borne by the poor, elderly, and sick,” says former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, “and it is up to us to ensure they are not left behind.” Isolation and loneliness are health problems, too The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already warned Americans over age 60 to “avoid crowds,” cancel “all nonessential travel,” and “stay home as much as possible.” William Schaffner, a CDC adviser and infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, went even further. “The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is reduce your face-to-face contact with people,” he told CNN, adding that he is only going shopping late at night, when the stores are empty, and his wife is giving up attendance at her bridge club. “It worries me both for my patients and the larger community and my own family members,” says Cynthia Boyd, a geriatrics specialist at Johns Hopkins University. “My mom and dad live near me now. I definitely feel like I’m not going to pop over as much with their grandchildren.” Boyd was a contributor to a major National Academies of Sciences report on the health consequences of social isolation and loneliness in older adults. The researchers found that even before the coronavirus, about a quarter of older adults fit the definition of socially isolated — which measures routine social contact — and 43 percent said they felt lonely. You can be socially isolated without reporting feelings of loneliness, and you can be lonely without being socially isolated. But both conditions seem to inflict harm on physical and mental health. “Social isolation has been associated with a significantly increased risk of premature mortality from all causes,” the report found, including a “50 percent increased risk of developing dementia,” a “29 percent increased risk of incident coronary heart disease,” a “25 percent increased risk for cancer mortality,” a “59 percent increased risk of functional decline,” and a “32 percent increased risk of stroke.” The mental health risks are also profound. The researchers reviewed dozens of studies and found a consistent relationship between social isolation and depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Empty streets, restaurants and cafes make up the business area in the one mile containment zone in New Rochelle, New York, on March 11, 2020. “The health effects of loneliness are astounding,” says Carla Perissinotto, the associate chief for geriatrics clinical programs at UC San Francisco and a contributor to the NAS report. “At any point across the life span, the things we’re most worried about is losing our independence, losing our minds, and heart attack, and these are all affected by loneliness independent of other risk factors.” Humans are social animals, and coronavirus threatens those connections Human beings evolved to feel safest in groups, and as a result, we experience isolation as a physical state of emergency. “Over thousands of years, the value of social connection has become baked into our nervous system such that the absence of such a protective force creates a stress state in the body,” wrote Murthy in a review of the emergent evidence. “Loneliness causes stress, and long-term or chronic stress leads to more frequent elevations of a key stress hormone, cortisol. It is also linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body. This in turn damages blood vessels and other tissues, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, joint disease, depression, obesity, and premature death.” If stress is the pathway by which loneliness damages health, then even beyond its direct dangers, coronavirus is a dual threat: It’s simultaneously terrifying and isolating. Alice McHale is a 70-year-old living outside Indianapolis with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “I am having extra anxiety now and have trouble concentrating and sleeping,” she says. Already a self-admitted “homebody,” she says concern about coronavirus has left her afraid to leave the house. “I decided that for me, the easiest way to cope with it all was to pretty much stay home,” she says. No one quite knows how the isolation enforced by an epidemic disease will affect those at the highest risk, but even those who avoid the worst consequences will see their quality of life degrade. Local clubs, religious services, and time with family bring social structure and joy to many of our lives, but they are particularly important touchpoints for those who don’t work or can’t go out on their own, due to age or health conditions. If older and sick people have to refrain from these activities for months on end, their lives will be worse, and the rhythms and relationships that once sustained them may prove hard to rebuild. “We don’t really know what the dose-response curve is for loneliness and isolation,” Perissinotto says. “But the longer it is, the bigger impact it will have, and the harder it will be to reestablish connections.” Fighting the social recession There is no stopping the social recession. It’s an inevitable byproduct of public health recommendations. But there are actions and policies that could ease it. “Obviously, we want people to follow the public health recommendations about social distancing and quarantining,” Boyd says, “but at the same time, we want to try and enable people to remain as connected as possible. We need to be thinking about what individuals can do, but also what we as neighbors and a society can do, to not make it worse than it might otherwise feel for people.” Many of us will face the same choice as Deborah Lanholm: limiting our level of social activity to make sure we can safely visit with at-risk friends and families. The more the young and healthy are careful in their daily activities, the safer it will be for them to see more vulnerable friends and family members. The less careful we are, however, the more we will stay away from older, sicker relations out of caution, worsening their isolation. Yifan Ding/Getty Images Tourists wait by a closed gate of the Shanghai Disneyland in Shanghai, China, on March 10, 2020. The Shanghai Disney Resort will reopen some of the shopping, dining, and entertainment options, though the main theme park remains closed to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. But even where some risk is inevitable, there are ways to mitigate it: A walk outside or even a picnic is safer, from a public health perspective, than a dinner in a crowded restaurant. That will, of course, be simpler for some than others. “People who have easy access to safe and verdant outdoor space are going to feel more comfortable in public,” Klinenberg says. “I’m speaking to you from Manhattan, where it’s gray and crowded in many neighborhoods and being outdoors feels more stressful. You always feel like you’re about to get coughed on.” Just as countless businesses have moved to remote work and teleconferencing to balance social distancing and the need for continued collaboration, every expert I spoke to emphasized the promise of virtual options to ease isolation. Vivek, the former surgeon general, told me that “to compensate for the reduction in in-person social interaction, we must ramp up our virtual communication and ensure we are not losing touch with friends and family.” Video conferences and phone calls, he said, are “more rich than texting or emailing alone.” Sadly, the hardest-hit populations are often the least technologically savvy. So one simple way to help may just be to act as tech support for the people in your life. McHale told me that an unexpected blessing for her was that her computer died last month, and the tech support she received when setting up its replacement “made me a much better tech user.” That’s been a boon as she’s begun to self-quarantine, as it’s allowed her to connect with others online. But the hardest hit, by definition, will be those without robust networks of family and friends who can advocate on their behalf. “When we rely on our personal networks, we guarantee the most isolated and disadvantaged people will be excluded,” Klinenberg says. “By definition, they are not in our networks; they are the least likely to get assistance. This is an area where government can help by funding and supercharging community organizations.” As with so much else in the coronavirus pandemic, the response here will depend on the level of social solidarity we feel, and the degree to which we’re willing to look out for each other. Social isolation and loneliness among older, sicker populations isn’t something caused by the coronavirus, but it will be worsened by it. The question is whether the intensity of the problem will force us to see, and respond, to pain we typically ignore. “A lot of my work is premised on the idea that extreme situations like the one we’re in now allow us to see conditions that are always present but difficult to perceive,” Klinenberg says. “We’re going to learn a lot about who we are and what we value in the next few months.” Help Vox’s reporting on the coronavirus pandemic We want to know what your experience has been when it comes to testing for the virus, figuring out travel plans, and staying healthy. Let us know by filling out the survey below (you can also access the Google form here). Loading…
2020-03-12 14:20:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
How churches are trying to keep parishioners safe as the coronavirus spreads
A worshipper wears a mask to protect against coronavirus at the Ash Wednesday services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. | Mario Tama/Getty Images From Communion to passing the peace to Easter season rituals, Christian churches are balancing tradition with precaution. The coronavirus outbreak has caused nearly every religious organization around the world to rethink how it holds worship services, which typically involve people gathering in a confined space and coming into physical contact with each other. But in majority-Christian nations like the US, the question is most fraught for local churches, as they prepare for Easter (Christianity’s most important holiday, which falls on Sunday, April 12, this year). What’s more, many Christian churches practice the rite of Communion using a “common cup” to share wine among the congregation, which means everybody drinks out of the same chalice. And even beyond communion rituals, most churches practice some variation of the “passing of the peace” — in which congregants shake hands and wish each other “peace be with you.” During Holy Week, which directly precedes Easter, many churches traditionally wash parishioners’ feet, to replicate a moment from the Bible. But even outside of official forms of worship, most churches are spaces where there are plenty of handshakes and hugs, before and after services. And that’s to say nothing of other gatherings churches might host, like coffee hours after services, fish fries during Lent, or soup kitchens for those in need. Churches’ responses to coronavirus have evolved rapidly in the time I have spent reporting this article over the past week. When I started working on it, numerous clergy insisted to me (and cited scientific studies in doing so!) that the common cup was actually a safer method of administering communion than some other methods. But many of those same people later discontinued the use of the common cup at their churches, usually under orders from higher authorities within the church. This is the tension of Christianity as churches attempt to prepare for Easter while also keeping their congregants safe. After all, in times of stress and worry, a house of worship is a place to find community and present one’s fears to a higher power. But what happens if the act of gathering itself only causes more stress and worry? Across the country, many churches are curtailing services or canceling them altogether Ezra Acayan/Getty Images A woman wearing a face mask prays at a church in the Philippines on March 11, 2020, as the Covid-19 virus spread through the country. St. Clare’s Episcopal Church in Snoqualmie, Washington, is about 30 miles outside Seattle, where the first major American outbreak of coronavirus to date is centered. As such, the Episcopal diocese St. Clare’s belongs to (based in Seattle) was one of the first in the country faced with the challenge of protecting congregants — and thus one of the first to cancel use of the common cup by anyone but the priests. Rev. Patty Baker, who is the minister for St. Clare’s, says the church — like most other houses of worship throughout the Seattle area — is figuring out precisely what it means to even be a church. “A lot of us are ramping up ways to keep and hold community in the midst of this, either by Facetime, Googling, Zoom calls, Facebook Live, all those forms of media that can help keep and hold a community together,” Baker told me. St. Clare’s most recent service was streamed on Zoom, a videoconferencing application that’s similar to Skype, for anyone who couldn’t attend Mass in person. These changes are being adopted with different levels of rigorousness in different parts of the country. Many churches in the center of the US, where coronavirus is not yet as prevalent, have not taken any such measures, while churches in densely populated areas are already stepping up precautions. “This is a time of high anxiety, and leaders need to show that we are taking seriously the science and the facts of the situation and keeping the best interests of the community in mind, but at the same time we are being faithful and gracious and wise, trusting God, remaining calm, extending compassion to those who are suffering,” says David Gambrell, who works in the office of theology and worship for the Presbyterian Church of the United States. Gambrell’s office has been key in helping individual Presbyterian churches decide how to proceed with services in ways that keep parishioners safe. Since the Presbyterian Church doesn’t have federated governing bishops, as the Catholic and Episcopal churches do, it’s up to individual congregations to decide how they’re going to proceed, something they can do in consultation with the national church. But the heightened precautions around coronavirus are no different from the ones that people who attend church should already be taking to protect themselves during cold and flu season, says Rev. Frank Logue, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. “There are prudent things we should do for cold and flu season. We already should be washing our hands. We already should be staying away from others when we know we could be infectious. This is just a continuation of that,” Logue said. (The coronavirus is believed to be more dangerous than seasonal flu, but good hygiene is still vital in combating it.) Communion, however, remains the part of Christian services that seems especially likely to spread germs. It’s easy to understand concerns about communion, with long lines of people being served by the same small group of ministers, eating from the same loaf of bread or plateful of wafers. Those concerns only increase once the common cup is involved. Yet, Logue points out, the common cup is actually a safer way of taking communion than dipping the bread in the wine (called intinction). (The safest way of taking communion is from individual cups filled with small amounts of wine, but this cuts against numerous denominations’ traditions and creates significant waste.) Intinction is far more likely to spread germs simply because the act of dipping the bread in the wine means that people’s fingers will probably come into contact with the wine. This is even more true in churches where the minister dips the bread in the wine, then places it on the parishioners’ tongues — meaning the minister’s fingers can come into contact with both the wine and multiple people’s tongues. The common cup might seem just as unsanitary, but there is some research backing the idea that it’s safer. Logue points to two peer-reviewedstudies, published in the American Journal of Infection Control in 1988 and 1998, which found that the common cup was not a significant transmitter of disease. In these studies, scientists took a cup straight from the altar after communion to test whether disease-causing bacteria or viruses were present, and found there were such trace amounts as to not be dangerous to those who drank from the cup. “That fits together with a study in England that looked at the health of the clergy who typically drink the last of the common cup. [The study also found that] our population data set is large enough to be significant and finds that they’re generally healthier from communicable disease in the general population,” Logue said. Still, many churches have canceled the use of the common cup at communion, eliminating the distribution of wine to parishioners altogether. And doing so has raised a larger question about what these rituals mean at a time when gathering with other people — the center of most worship services — could mean putting others at risk. How can the church be the church if people cannot gather in the same space? Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images The Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square is closed down to tourists in hopes of curbing the coronavirus outbreak. One paradox at the center of this question is that at times when the news is full of catastrophic headlines, a house of worship feels, to many people, like a natural place to go for comfort and support. But in the midst of a pandemic, gathering with other people in the same physical space is sometimes the worst possible idea. Yet on some level, isn’t overcoming fear to gather in community the point of Christianity? “One of the things that Jesus is most famous for is being a healer and specifically often reaching out to and showing love and compassion for people who had leprosy, which was probably a name for a bunch of different conditions at that time, but something that would cause one to be socially ostracized and marginalized,” the Presbyterian Church’s Gambrell says. “If the church is going to be faithful to that mission and ministry of Jesus, then we absolutely have to figure out ways to extend that healing and compassion without putting others at risk.” Balancing the ritual aspects of the faith with the community-building aspects of her job is something that Baker is actively thinking through as the Seattle area works to slow transmission of the coronavirus. “One of the things that we are trying to do is make sure that the people a lot of our churches serve out in the community — at food banks, soup kitchens, and day care centers, where we are the hands and feet of Christ out in the world — that we are not forgetting those people,” Baker said. “How do we make sure those people are taken care of? The marginalized, the disenfranchised, the people who are terrified of the government, the homeless. ... How do we be church when we can’t gather on Sunday mornings? [By finding answers to these questions,] we are still being the church.” Baker told me that one effort her congregation has undertaken is to make sure the church’s food bank collected 250 bars of soap, to distribute to people who want to maintain good hygiene but might not have ready access to soap. And maybe the churches in the Seattle area will serve as a trial run for the rest of the country, as the coronavirus continues to spread. The questions St. Clare’s is trying to answer are ones that will soon be present in nearly every house of worship around the world. “As more and more churches up here are saying, well, we’re not going to be open on Sunday and 50 to 75 percent of your congregation isn’t going to be here Sunday morning, how do you do communion? How do we gather to offer the promises of the gospel up for each other?” Baker says. “It’s important to remember that, you know, we’re in church for an hour or so, and yes, communion is a high point. But it’s not the only point.”
2020-03-12 14:10:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
Why Wall Street was never really afraid of Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders greets supporters at a Super Tuesday event in Vermont on March 3, 2020. | Alex Wong/Getty Images There’s just “more fear of smart-as-a-whip Aunt Warren than of Crazy Uncle Bernie.” Sen. Bernie Sanders has consistently railed against the millionaire and billionaire class and promised to take on Wall Street throughout his career. But the rich-guy freakout over his candidacy never materialized, even during the period when Sanders was surging in the polls. It might seem strange given how strongly Wall Street reacted to a potential Elizabeth Warren nomination. But there is just “more fear of smart-as-a-whip Aunt Warren than of Crazy Uncle Bernie,” one mid-level hedge fund executive told me. (Some Wall Streeters, of course, were Warren fans.) There was no hedge funder crying on national television over Sanders, and nobody describing the choice between him and Donald Trump as a “decision between sickness and death.” Big donors weren’t pouring money into Biden’s or anyone else’s campaigns to stop the democratic socialist in his path. Sanders has now been eclipsed by Joe Biden as the likelier Democratic nominee, and they’ve got to be feeling smug. When I contacted nearly a dozen finance insiders and analysts in recent weeks to talk about a potential Sanders presidency, they essentially reacted with a shrug. Many on Wall Street don’t think Sanders can win in the general election, even if he did somehow manage to get the nomination. And if he landed in the White House, the Senate would stop him from doing anything dramatic. “If there’s anything that would hold back a lot of people from freaking out about Bernie, it would be that when push comes to shove, it’s just not going to happen,” Tim Anderson, managing director at TJM Investments and a Trump supporter, told me. Plus, the contrast with Warren was clear. “You’d almost have to be in the business to hear the difference in the way they talk — Bernie talks about finance lumped in with all highly profitable and remunerative business, millionaires and billionaires, etc.,” one private equity executive told me. “Warren talks like an insider. Listen to her content for a few minutes as a finance person and you know that she knows all the tricks, all the gray areas, all the loopholes. It lands differently.” That’s not to say Sanders doesn’t have any tension with Wall Street — he’s been engaged in a years-long feud with former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. While there are some nerves, it just doesn’t seem like the financial industry is all that concerned about a self-professed democratic socialist. And it’s not just because they’re banking on Biden. Wall Street doesn’t think Bernie Sanders will be the nominee — and if he is, they don’t think he can beat Donald Trump As prediction markets showed the probability of Sanders winning the Democratic nomination going up earlier this year, the probability of Trump winning reelection in November went up, too. That means people betting on the election don’t think Sanders can win, and it’s a comparable crowd to the Wall Street world. “He is audibly laughed at at work for his repetitive stream of hippie grandpa platitudes that serve as his ‘platform,’” said Emma Johnston, a vice president at asset manager State Street Global Advisors. “Gauging Sanders’s electability has effectively become guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar. Can he break even on the centrists he loses versus those he pulls from Trump’s base? People at my job don’t seem to think he can, and they certainly will not be voting for him.” The electability question has haunted all the candidates this election cycle, and Sanders isn’t immune. Beyond the ins and outs of the broader debate within the Democratic Party, among many on Wall Street, Sanders just seems inherently less electable. A democratic socialist from Vermont becoming the next president of the United States is hard for them to fathom. “Bernie has been incorrectly dismissed for two elections in a row now, so there are some who seem to have a structural predisposition to look past his candidacy,” Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at the research firm Compass Point, told me. Wall Street thinks Sanders would be constrained anyway Wall Streeters don’t think Sanders has a clear vision of what he wants to do in terms of financial regulation. “Bernie likes to complain about billionaires, but he never really accomplished any particular policy or regulation that really got in their way, and I wonder if Wall Street folks kind of think of him as somewhat harmless,” said Charlie O’Donnell, a venture capitalist at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. “It’s not clear that financial regulation is going to be something that he has a leg up on.” “Broadly speaking, yes, I know Sanders loathes investment banks, but his subscription to the entire liberal orthodoxy is baked in, versus Warren who speaks with more precision about what she would do to Wall Street,” Johnston said. Though she also noted that in focusing so much on the details, some in the industry might be missing the point: “Bernie is popular precisely because he is imprecise.” Many in finance can’t imagine a world where Sanders is in the White House, but even if they do, they think there’s a strong chance he’ll be restrained. “It’s a long shot he wins, but even if he does, the odds are very much against him also leading a ticket that takes the Senate. Not impossible, but improbable,” said Barry Ritholtz, a commentator and chief investment officer at Ritholtz Wealth Management, in an email. “Most of his plans require congressional action, which will never pass a Republican Senate. Heck, it’s doubtful some of his plans would pass a 51/49 Democratic Senate.” Sanders has said he doesn’t want to get rid of the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote majority for legislation in the Senate to pass. And if he does get a majority, it will include moderate Democrats such as Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia, and a Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, from New York. His constituency is, in part, Wall Street. “Sanders doesn’t have much history of co-sponsoring legislation that has become law either across the aisle or with his fellow Democrats,” Ritholtz said. Wall Street might be underestimating the popularity of Sanders’s ideas The thing about Elizabeth Warren is that Wall Street has plenty of reason to fear her, possibly even after she suspended her presidential campaign. She conceived of and set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has spent years in the private and public sector going after the industry, and understands how finance — and the regulatory apparatus around it — works. You think Warren isn’t serious about this? Look at what she did to the Wells Fargo CEO in a Senate hearing or to billionaire Mike Bloomberg in Las Vegas. “While Sanders and Warren share a similar ideological vision, there are a few distinct instances where Warren successfully applied that vision into palpable policy changes for the industry. I don’t think there are as clear a set of examples for Sanders,” Boltansky said. The people I spoke with agreed that there was likely some level of misogyny and sexism embedded into the Wall Street attacks on Warren. Last year as I was reporting for a story on finance professionals who like the Massachusetts Democrat, one private equity associate told me a story of a private equity CEO referring to her as “Pocahontas,” and another told me a story of a defense contractor investment relations director joking about her and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York being strapped to a jet and dying in a plane crash. Sexism aside, there’s just a sense Warren really knows what to do. “She may be more dangerous,” said one hedge fund portfolio manager. But just because some people in finance aren’t setting their hair on fire over Sanders doesn’t mean he’s not having at least some effect. Concerns about him had started to show up in some stocks and sectors, such as health care. And if he were to nab the nomination, the sentiment in the industry might quickly change. “The only way ... he would have a shot is if this coronavirus stuff spiraled completely out of control and we went into a big recession two to three months before the election,” said Anderson, the TJM Investments managing director and Trump supporter. Wall Street might underestimate what Sanders would be able to do if he lands in the Oval Office. He has plenty of proposals and ideas to go after the finance industry and the wealthy, including taxing stock trades and reinstating Glass-Steagall, and it’s not like details can’t be filled in. He has an ability to publicly advocate for change and pressure major companies, as he has with Amazon, and he has a motivated and vocal political base behind him. Plus, a Sanders administration could very well include Warren and others eager to go after hedge funds, private equity, and the banks. Some billionaires may also have realized it doesn’t exactly behoove them to fight with progressive presidential candidates. In all the hypotheses about where Warren’s campaign has gone wrong, her being too mean to some rich guy on CNBC isn’t one of them. “Maybe Wall Street realizes there’s too much self-owning when you see ‘billionaires afraid of Elizabeth Warren’ headlines,” O’Donnell said. Not everyone is staying quiet about Sanders, and if he were to regain momentum, Wall Street might start to openly worry about him more. Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs who has feuded with Sanders for years, seemed quite alarmed about the prospect of a Sanders presidency when he was the frontrunner in February. He has warned that Sanders will “ruin” the economy and said he might “find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump.” Billionaires are only a few votes. The question is what happens with all the others.
2020-03-12 14:00:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
I called out American Dirt’s racism. I won’t be silenced.
Amanda Northrop/Vox As I’ve learned again and again, if you speak out against racism, there are risks you must take on. Less than a month ago, my sheepish face graced the cover of the High Life, the newspaper for the high school where I teach psychology and sociology. I stared at its front page, the headline “Poly Teacher Calls Out ‘Pendeja’ and Sparks Social Movement” hovering above my close-up. The article offered enthusiastic support of my critique of American Dirt, a novel filled with stereotypes of Mexicans, and the movement it inspired to call out racism. Still, I sighed. I recalled the chilliness and aggression some white teachers and administrators had been displaying toward me since I had criticizedthe book’s author, Jeanine Cummins, and the publishing industry’s white gaze, criticisms that were echoed by other writers of color across social media. I looked up from the paper, at the Mexican and American flags sagging above my desk, and thought, “I wonder who will use this paper for target practice.” Little did I know that three days later, I would be escorted off the campus where I teach by several administrators, security guards, and an armed police officer for a different, yet related, incident. As I’ve learned again and again, if you speak out against racism, there are risks you must take on. In December, I wrote an essay that later went viral titled “Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature,” which strongly critiqued the schlock-fest American Dirt, about a middle-class Mexican bookseller who, along with her son, flees from cartoonish cartel violence. Their journey north is so absurdly stereotyped, it surprised me that Cummins didn’t include a scene of a mother and son trotting to the United States on a donkey. In addition to critiquing the novel’s many pendejadas — a word that has no English equivalent but connotes a person with both foolish and cruel characteristics — my essay also held Big Publishing to account for this fiasco. Cummins set the protagonist Lidia’s story in a fantasy version of Mexico meant to satisfy the gringo market for Brown exoticism. Her prose traffics in one-dimensional representations that Flatiron Books, its publisher, claimed it was attempting to dispel. Furthermore, American Dirt reeks of patriarchal white saviorism. It misrepresents the United States as a safe harbor for women fleeing violence. Instead, four women a day are shot by their partners in this country. Femicide is a public health crisis on both sides of the US-Mexico border. As the student who covered my article in the High Life noted, after “seeing [Gurba] express her anger, people were inspired to express their own discontent.” Writers like Roxane Gay and Wendy C. Ortiz spoke up on social media about the erasure of Brown people in the publishing industry and under the hashtag #DignidadLiteraria, a social movement emerged. Dignidad Literaria aims to promote racial dignity within the publishing industry by pushing for systemic change through grassroots organizing. Young people of color, including my students, were also inspired to translate their anger into direct political action as well as the written and spoken word. One of the topics I cover in my classes is the psychology of anger. We feel rage when injustice pricks our conscience, when we feel that circumstances are unjust and that the ability to correct that injustice exists. For these reasons, anger is preferable to despair. Anger produces hope and incites action. Many of my essay’s loudest detractors — a veritable chorus of white men — accuse me of writing with excess anger. When they demand to know why I’m angry, my mind flashes to El Paso, Texas, where a white man perpetrated the largest massacre of Latinos in modern United States history this summer. I think of the white driver in Iowa who hit a teenager with her car because she looked “Mexican.” I think of the white women who beat a mother and daughter in Massachusetts bloody for speaking Spanish in public. I think of the white person who texted me to stop discussing Poly’s problems with racism. She told me that my social media posts regarding a faculty member accused of calling a student the n-word were “blowing things out of proportion,” and to have “respect.” When we hear from students that a teacher calls a student the n-word, it’s a big deal. Racist teachers should be fired, racist administrators should be fired, people who protect racists should be fired. Racism has no place in education. Neither does physical abuse — the teacher accused of racism has also been accused of duct-taping students to their desks. (Chris Eftychiou, spokesperson for the district, told Vox that the teacher who allegedly said the n-word was placed on leave pending their investigation into recent complaints, but “the school district is not at liberty to provide details of such investigations”; the Long Beach Post confirmed the police department was also investigating the alleged abuse, but the police department did not provide Vox a comment. When asked for comment, the teacher in question told Vox her attorney advised her not to because the case is pending. “However, when the truth comes out, it will establish that I am innocent of any misconduct,” she said.) Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire wrote that “the educator has the duty of not being neutral.” Under this reasoning, everyone demanding neutrality in the case of the accused teacher fails as an educator. The job of a teacher overlaps with the job of the cultural critic. What I and my students who reported these incidents wanted was justice and to right the wrongs they were experiencing by “turn[ing] the light of truth upon them,” as Ida B. Wells said. The students believed that their complaints weren’t being treated with sufficient gravitas, and they brought their complaints to the public. They self-published a declaration of abuses they allege their teacher committed and ultimately; their most interesting accusation is that the teacher in question failed to meet the legal standard of “in loco parentis.” I offered my support to their voices. A few days later, I was informed I would be put on administrative leave from campus. I was given no reason whatsoever, but later was sent an official letter saying I had “intentionally disrupted the educational environment.” Given the timing, as well as the lack of reasoning beyond “disruption,” I believe my critique of American Dirt, and my critique of the school district’s poor job of handling the students’ accusations, is the reason the district placed me on administrative leave. "Justice for Gurba!" Poly students yelled during protests today in support of Poly teacher Myriam Gurba. She was placed on paid leave after tweeting sharp critiques of the district. Read more @lbpost : https://t.co/qQ0oFGsdGH: Briana Mendez-Padilla#longbeach #education pic.twitter.com/xN5XopHBmj— VoiceWaves (@LBVoiceWaves) February 24, 2020 (Eftychiou told Vox in an email that “the school district is not at liberty to provide further details [of the leave] because of confidentiality rules affecting personnel matters, but the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our highest priority.”) At the end of the week, once I had finished teaching, an administrator arrived at my classroom. She ordered me to vacate and hand over my keys, stating that I was “disruptive.” The degrading spectacle of being escorted off campus felt like a “perp walk,” and the crew marched me to the curb. A police officer took out her phone and took pictures of me while scowling. An administrator ordered me to stop talking. And thus, I went from cover girl critic to critic on the curb in the span of one week. I believe that the district forced me out of my classroom to demoralize and silence me. It has had the opposite effect. I want to speak more and louder. Black feminist Audre Lorde asked, “What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own ... ?” In spite of the pain, I am committed to purging the numerous tyrannies I’ve been made to swallow rather than allow them to destroy me. Myriam Gurba is a writer. She is the author of two short story collections and the true crime memoir Mean. Along with Roberto Lovato and David Bowles, she is a founding member of Dignidad Literaria.
2020-03-12 13:30:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
How we fell for the Fitbit
Approximately 70 million Americans report wearing a fitness tracker. | Getty Images 1 in 5 Americans wear fitness trackers. Here’s how we embraced wearable tech. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when fitness trackers truly entered the mainstream. Perhaps it was when President Obama was spotted wearing one while hanging out with Jerry Seinfeld in an old Corvette Stingray. Maybe it was when David Sedaris limned cleverly on his experiences sporting one in the English countryside. Maybe that was when the backlash against them began. According to Google Trends, 2015 seems to be the year that we started counting our steps en masse. Whatever the specifics, at some point in the past few years, 10,000 steps supplanted the much less manageable 500 miles mandated by The Proclaimers in 1993 as the cultural standard for measured exertion. Ever since, the capacity to digitally track ourselves with the help of Fitbits, Garmins, Apple Watches, Kate Spade smartwatches, and Xiaomis has become a fixture of modern life. And while plenty of people use these devices to check email, buy scones, and board trains, a recent Gallup survey found that 19 percent of Americans monitor their health stats through fitness trackers and mobile apps. In another recent survey from the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of Americans claimed to have embraced wearable tech — a figure equal to nearly 70 million people. 21 percent of Americans claimed to have embraced wearable tech — a figure equal to nearly 70 million people. But what’s more interesting than the sheer volume of wearable tech users is the breadth of them. Though fitness trackers haven’t proven to be as accessible to lower-income groups — they range from $30 for a Neekfox tracker to $1,500 for a Hermès-branded Apple Watch — Pew and other observers have noted a broad adoption across a slew of demographic categories, from age to ethnicity to geography. Fitness trackers and their high-tech ilk are now the tools of suburban walking groups, mahjong leagues, city-dwelling tech workers, amateur pilots, Crossfit junkies, Quantified Self cultists, and your uncle Howard. Nefarious corporate powers have used them to ruthlessly surveil their employees while nefarious parents have used them to ruthlessly surveil their children. Big insurers have implemented them into health schemes and incorporated them into Orwellian-esque “workplace wellness programs.” In 2018, a surreal-yet-humanizing heat map purported to show the data trails of Korean troops traversing both sides of the DMZ. And last month, seven members of the Senate were seen wearing Apple Watches at President Trump’s impeachment trial, in violation of the ban on electronics. Despite this (slightly goofy) permeation, the rise of semi-obsessive data monitoring wasn’t a given. After all, fitness and technology trends are notoriously fickle and fadist. “It has, essentially, one line of products, with variations on the theme,” Vauhini Vara offered in a story for The New Yorker titled “Will Fitbit Go the Way of the Palm Pilot?” in 2015. Indeed, the story of how we fell in love with our Fitbits is a complicated one, one that centers on informational overload and ambient stress as much as it revolves around technology and the quest for healthy living. One limited, but pretty straightforward explanation for the continued appeal of wearable tech is that, unlike the Thighmaster or 8-Minute Abs before it, the products have evolved from electronic pedometers to reflect the endless curiosities consumers have about their lifestyles. “It’s the diversity of applications that’s attractive to the diversity of the population using them,” says Dr. Walter Thompson, the associate dean for graduate studies and research at Georgia State University. In other words, if a user is interested in digitally tracking their sleep, their heart rate, their menstrual cycle, their caloric intake, their running route or mile pace, or their blood oxygen levels, the possibilities increasingly exist. “I don’t pay attention to my heart rate, I don’t pay attention to my caloric balance,” Thompson says, “but I’m really impacted by my sitting time and when my watch tells me I have to stand up.” “It’s the diversity of applications that’s attractive to the diversity of the population using them.” Each year, Thompson coordinates the publication of the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, a global ranking of the 20 most popular fitness trends as chosen by a consortium of doctors, trainers, kinesiologists, and other health professionals. And since 2015, wearable technology has dominated the field, holding the top spot all but one year. Thompson attributes the staying power to the new wide-ranging features that have staved off the obsolescence that typically accompanies an ordinary fitness fad. “The Apple Watch now can provide for you an electrocardiogram [EKG],” he explains. “I tested it out myself it’s pretty accurate. … My guess is the next thing that they will do is give you the ability to send that to your doctor.” This trajectory hints at another obvious aspect of wearable tech’s popularity: It occupies an unlikely overlap between seeming both cutting edge and highly practical. Beyond the countless hard-data features, consumers can now use trackers to battle everything from subpar intimacy to lousy golf scores. A culturally standardized fascination with fitness data doesn’t just speak volumes about present-day attitudes about health, but offers a peek of what the future of medicine might look like if the trend holds. Wearable tech may one day help a physician know whether a patient secretly counts folding laundry as part of a medically-recommended daily exercise regimen or considers having a Coors Light as basically the same thing as drinking a glass of water. “What I can tell you is that a few years from now, I truly believe that all research studies that involve some behavioral component or behavior-change interventions, most of the studies, if not all, will involve either a smartphone or some of these devices,” says Dr. Spyros Kitsiou, a professor at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “This is the future of research.” Predictions like these are likely to inspire a variety of Luddite appeals for a return to the analog world, especially as wearable tech companies consolidate and get swallowed up by bigger companies. Much to the chagrin of privacy advocates, Google purchased Fitbit in November 2019 for $2.1 billion, roughly the same adjusted-for-inflation amount that it paid for YouTube in 2006. (Notably, by then Fitbit had purchased its competitor Pebble, months before another competitor, Jawbone, was sold off to creditors for parts.) Broader concerns about security, data privacy, and the use of personal information gathered by fitness trackers and third-party apps have been aired by everyone from Redditors to EU consumer privacy watchdogs, and not without good reason. In 2018, for example, an Australian college student on his summer break exposed a security flaw in the fitness app Strava, which revealed extensive user data including the locations of several US military bases in war zones around the world. Critics also point out the consuming nature of fitness tracking itself, which gets lumped into contemporary tech ailments like digital distraction and excessive screen time. And then there are those who view technology’s seep into an already suffocating wellness culture with not-unfounded concern. It’s easy to see the pathologies of the Instagram and Optimization Eras and fret about their potential influence on personal fitness. There are, after all, “If you see me collapse, pause my Garmin” T-shirts out there, a reference to athletic strivers pushing themselves to break their personal records at the risk of keeling over along the way. View this post on Instagram A post shared by GarminFitness (@garminfitness) on Feb 28, 2020 at 6:21am PST But beyond their shiny, wide-ranging possibilities or a high-minded station in the Internet of Things, the fact that wearables are projected to be a $52 billion industry in 2020 may also have to do with a bigger sense of powerlessness among consumers. As Americans contend with lifestyles geared toward inactivity and increasingly blurred lines between work and home, some view fitness trackers as potential correctives. “I think people are looking for ways to integrate more movements into their life considering that we’re so sedentary today,” says Dr. Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and the author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind. “Most of our jobs don’t involve movement or are just staring at a computer and so, we’re looking for the antidote to that.” In assessing the fitness-tracker trend, Yarrow notes a culture where scheduling and socializing are bygone pastimes and where misinformation and anxiety are rampant. Within this paradigm, wearable tech appeals not because of their features, but because they stay consistent in a contemporary life where new diets, superfoods, or exercise fads crash into disrepute as quickly as they rise. We live in an ecosystem in which concrete data about ourselves can seem like the only reliable compass. Even the most minute particulars can create baselines in an environment bent on constantly demanding more from everyone at all times. “We’re just given so much information that scares us and makes us a little paranoid,” Yarrow explains. “We are more craving of reassurance. I think this trend falls more into the category of calming our fears and reinforcing that we’re doing okay and that everything is all right.” Sign up for The Goods newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
2020-03-12 13:00:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
Trump’s Europe travel ban might not do much to stop the coronavirus’s spread in the US
President Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office on March, 11, 2020. | Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP An extraordinary announcement in Trump’s Wednesday night Oval Office address. President Donald Trump announced a sweeping ban on travelers coming to the US from Europe as part of the administration’s plan to combat the coronavirus — a move that experts say distracts from the reality that the virus is already spreading among people within the United States. In a primetime address from the Oval Office Wednesday night, Trump said that the United States will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days, though the United Kingdom will be exempted. The order will go into effect Friday at midnight. Trump also noted that “[t]here will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.” Trump described the measure as a way “to keep new cases from entering our shores.” The problem, experts say, is that the virus has already entered America’s shores, and we’re already seeing “community spreading” of the virus — that is, people with no international travel and no links to known cases are now getting the virus, implying they were exposed locally by an unknown source. Altogether, this was an extraordinary move, but one that may do little to stop or mitigate the spread of coronavirus — while potentially damaging the US’s already somewhat strained relationship with its European allies. “Germs don’t respect borders, and you can’t wall off every place in the world,” Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law School, told me. “There’s a fine line between the president’s pro-US, anti-internationalist position where he thinks that he can restrict his borders on things like trade or immigration,” he added. “That doesn’t work with a germ — particularly with a germ that’s already here.” What we know about Trump’s travel ban In his speech, Trump said that cargo and other trade would also be subject to the ban, immediately sparking fears of further disruptions to the economy — but it turns out Trump seems to have misspoken, as the White House later clarified that the bin did not apply to goods, just people. A sign, perhaps, of the slipshod rollout of this order. The Department of Homeland Security further clarified that the ban will apply to all foreign nationals who have physically been in Europe 14 days before they enter, or try to enter, the United States. It encompasses the 26 countries in the “Schengen Area,” agrouping of countries in Europe that allow their citizens to travel freely across national borders, including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, among others. The order excludes non-Schengen European countries, such as Ireland and Croatia. The ban also exempts UK. Coronavirus cases are spreading in both Schengen and non-Schengen European countries, so the loopholes undercut the effectiveness of any travel restrictions. The order does not apply to legal permanent USresidents, according to DHS. The US can’t bar US citizens from returning, either, though it likely can set up screening or quarantine measures, if necessary. The White House, in its proclamation, described the Schengen countries as having the most cases — more than 17,000 — of the novel coronavirus outside of mainland China. That’s true, although those cases are spread across 26 countries, with some, like Italy facing more acute outbreaks. But other EU countries have much milder outbreaks so far. The UK — which, again, is excluded from the ban — has more than 450 coronavirus cases. Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf justified the travel ban by saying the administration had issued similar travel restrictions on those who had been to China and Iran. That “proved to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus to the U.S., while public health officials prepared,” he said in a statement. The problem, of course, is that coronavirus is already here. A travel ban might miss the point, at this point As of March 11, there are more than 1,300 cases in the United States. This number is expected to go up, but some experts say problems with testing have likely delayed a full accounting of the number of infected. As state and local governments take measures to mitigate community spread — banning large events and encouraging “social distancing” — it’s not all that clear that expending resources on such dramatic travel restrictions will effectively tamp down the outbreak within the US. Public health officials in the US are broadly discouraging travel, especially for older people and those with underlying conditions who are at higher risk of both contracting and experiencing severe consequences from the coronavirus. The State Department is also asking US citizens to “reconsider” travel abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic. Screening of travelers may — or may not — help prevent people from bringing the virus into new communitiesin the US, but the World Health Organization discourages using “unnecessary” travel restrictions as a tool to try to stop the spread of a virus. “It’s not going to do anything to mitigate the spread here, so it makes [Trump] look silly and incompetent at a time when he needs to look well briefed and presidential,” Jim Goldgeier, Robert Bosch Senior Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institute, told Vox. Trump announced the ban late Wednesday evening, which is the middle of the night for much of Europe, so reactions from the continent so far have been a bit muted. It’s also unclear how much notice the US gave to its European partners about the administration’s order. As Georgetown Law’s Gostin said, germs don’t respect borders. And at a time when international cooperation, and coordination, is as necessary as ever, Trump’s travel order may create more tension and distract from the real crisis that’s already here in the United States. Alex Ward contributed reporting.
2020-03-12 05:40:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
Why the coronavirus canceled the NBA
The Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, after the NBA canceled all of its games due to a player testing positive for Covid-19, the disease spread by the coronavirus. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images It’s a scenario that seemed implausible a day ago. Now it looks like one we could see for big sports events around the world. “If even one player comes down with coronavirus, the [NBA] would suspend instantaneously because of the cascading effect of quarantines,” ESPN basketball reporter Brian Windhorst told me on Wednesday afternoon. It only took a few hours for Windhorst’s prediction to pan out: On Wednesday night, the NBA announced that a player for the Utah Jazz had tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, and that the league was suspending its games “until further notice.” The NBA has suspended the season in the wake of the Coronavirus Crisis. Its official statement: pic.twitter.com/x3X6pddmSq— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 12, 2020 That announcement also adds context to a jaw-dropping scene that happened on Wednesday, when fans in Oklahoma City, who had come to see the Thunder play the Jazz, were told, 35 minutes after the game was supposed to start, that they should go home, without explanation: What a scene. Game between Thunder and Jazz postponed with everyone in the stands. “You are all safe,” PA announcer says repeatedly. pic.twitter.com/1FOeLHYYC6— Alex Kantrowitz (@Kantrowitz) March 12, 2020 All of which underscores just how quickly American reactions to the coronavirus are morphing. Things that seemed far-fetched or alarmist a few days or even a few hours ago are becoming realities. And while the way the big-time sports leagues handle the pandemic may ultimately be a footnote to the way this story pans out, I can also see it helping to snap Americans’ focus to attention. It’s one thing to debate among your friends, or strangers online, how worried we ought to be about the threat. It may be another thing to turn on the TV and see athletes playing in an empty arena, or games suspended or canceled entirely. Which is where we are now. A few hours before the NBA announced that it was suspending its games, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that its huge March Madness tournament, which features 63 games played over several weeks in arenas throughout the country, would be closed to the public. Instead, NCAA president Mark Emmert said, attendance would be limited to “essential staff and limited family attendance.” NCAA President Mark Emmert statement on limiting attendance at NCAA events: https://t.co/TIHHJjdse5 pic.twitter.com/8I1HdceDfN— NCAA (@NCAA) March 11, 2020 When I talked to Windhorst on Wednesday for this week’s episode of Recode Media, we discussed the notion that the NBA — which was already being compelled to bar fans from games in cities like San Francisco — might have to suspend its games altogether. Windhorst seemed convinced that the league would end up forgoing its playoffs, which are scheduled to start in mid-April and finish up in early June. At the time — which, again, was a few hours before I started typing this — the idea seemed at the edge of possibility to me. “I think it’s more likely that the NBA suspends,” Windhorst told me. “Specifically for the playoff games. I could see them keeping their head above water, taking some losses on regular season games for a while. But I think eventually if this goes on, they will suspend and try to get all their playoff games in later on.” Windhorst’s logic: Look at the way professional sports leagues in China and Italy, countries ravaged by the pandemic, had handled their games — they initially tried playing in empty stadiums and arenas, and eventually shut down altogether. Windhorst, who has been covering the NBA since 2003, did have one hedge: “If a player gets sick, it’s the league shutting down immediately. But I don’t think it’s going to come to that.” And, in fact, as Windhorst and I were speaking, NBA owners and executives were meeting to discuss their coronavirus strategy. Windhorst’s colleagues at ESPN reported that the initial plan was to play in empty arenas. New story filed to ESPN: The NBA’s Board of Governors shared a consensus on Wednesday to continue the season playing games without fans in arenas amid the coronavirus crisis, and Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to move in that direction with a decision on Thursday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 11, 2020 But now, in retrospect, it’s easy to see why the league would shut down once a single player tested positive for Covid-19. On Wednesday evening, players for both the Jazz and the Thunder were reportedly being quarantined at the Oklahoma City arena, and Windhorst reports that players for five teams that played the Jazz in the past 10 days are being asked to self-quarantine. That is: Seven of the NBA’s 30 teams can’t play right now, regardless of whether fans are watching them. The virus forced the NBA’s hand. And we’ll be very lucky if that’s the most sweeping turn of events in the next few months, weeks, or days. You can listen to my conversation with Windhorst below, at Apple Podcasts, or any other podcast platform:
2020-03-12 05:26:26
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
10 questions about the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, answered
On February 18, 2020, members of a police sanitation team spraying disinfectant as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Bozhou, in China’s eastern Anhui province. | Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images What are the symptoms of this coronavirus? Where did it come from? How will the outbreak end? The coronavirus outbreak, which began in China, keeps evolving at a dizzying speed. With the global case toll rising steeply (reaching over 125,000 on March 11), face masks flying off store shelves, borders around the world closing, and meetings, cruise itineraries, and the global economy upended by the virus, it’s no wonder questions and fears are swirling about Covid-19, as the disease is known. On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic, a new disease that has spread around the world. Many countries have seen reported cases of the virus rise within their borders — and that includes the US. “We will see more cases, and things will get worse,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told members of the House Oversight Committee on March 11. “How much worse … will depend on our ability to do two things: to contain the influx in people who are infected coming from the outside and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.” There are now more than 1,300 cases, and more than 30 deaths, across the US. Meanwhile, outbreaks have been surging in South Korea, Italy, and Iran. With the new virus continuing its tour around the world, here are answers to your most burning questions. 1) What is this new coronavirus, and where did it come from? Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that typically attack the respiratory system. The name comes from the Latin word corona, for crown,and the ancient Greek korōnè, meaning garland or wreath, because of the spiky fringe encircling these viruses. Most coronaviruses infect animals, such as bats, cats, and birds. Only seven, including Covid-19, SARS, and MERS, are known to infect humans. Universal Images Group via Getty Images Coronaviruses owe their name to the crown-like projections, visible here under a microscope, that encircle the capsid. SARS is thought to have evolved from infecting bats to civet cats to humans in China; MERS evolved from bats to camels to humans in the Middle East. No one knows precisely where Covid-19 came from, though a leading hypothesis is that bats were once again the original source: They spread the virus to another animal species, possibly a pangolin, where it jumped to humans. 2) What are the symptoms? Two of the seven coronaviruses that infect humans, SARS and MERS, can cause severe pneumonia and even death in 10 and more than 30 percent of cases, respectively. But others lead to milder symptoms, like a common cold. At the moment, we know Covid-19 can cause pneumonia and that it too can kill — but while it seems to be less deadly than SARS and MERS, it’s not yet clear by precisely how much. Some of the best evidence on the question comes from a February 16 China Center for Disease Control report looking at the outcomes of the first 72,314 patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in mainland China. It’s the largest such analysis to date, and it found an overall case fatality rate of 2.3 percent — lower than both SARS and MERS. (The case fatality rate, or CFR, is the proportion of deaths a disease causes within a group of people who have the disease.) The researchers also discovered a huge variation in the case fatality rate by age group. In short, the virus appears to be deadlier in people with each passing decade. You can see the trend in this graph: Christina Aminashaun/Vox Overall, the researchers characterized 81 percent of the cases as mild and 19 percent as severe or critical. One major caveat, though: This data comes from mainland China, where most of the 2,012 deaths have occurred. And the case fatality rate has been different outside of China. Christina Animashaun/Vox At the same time, there’s also evidence of asymptomatic cases. And it’s possible that as we discover more of these cases, Covid-19 will look less deadly. That’s because infectious diseases typically look more severe when they’re first discovered since the people showing up in hospitals tend to be the sickest. Disease modelers who account for this under-counting of cases currently estimate an overall case fatality rate of 1 percent. As for symptoms: Fever, dry cough, and fatigue are most common, while mucus, shortness of breath, sore throat, and headache are less common, according to China’s data. Christina Animashaun/Vox But the picture might change as data on symptoms emerge from other countries. For example, a yet-to-be published German paper looked at some of the country’s earliest confirmed Covid-19 patients. Researchers found symptoms in this small sample resembled a cold. So only two of the nine patients had a fever, and seven had a cough, but just as common were symptoms like stuffy nose, runny nose, and sneezing. No one knows the precise incubation period for the virus, but symptoms can show up anywhere from one day to two weeks after exposure, according to a WHO report on China’s response. 3) How do coronaviruses spread? We don’t yet know exactly how SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease — spreads, but we do have a lot of data on how MERS, SARS, and other respiratory viruses move from person to person. And that’s mainly throughexposure to dropletsfrom coughing or sneezing. So when an infected person coughs or sneezes, they let out a spray, and if these droplets reach the nose, eyes, or mouth of another person, they can pass on the virus, said Jennifer Nuzzo, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. In rarer cases, a person might catch a respiratory disease indirectly, “via touching droplets on surfaces — and then touching mucosal membranes” in the mouth, eyes, and nose, she added. There’s also emerging evidence showing that SARS-CoV-2 may spread through poop — known as the “fecal-oral” route of disease transmission. Researchers are on the lookout for potential airborne transmission, too, and there’s a lot of speculation about whether inanimate objects — like door handles — can pass on the virus. In the case of airborne transmission, a person would get infected by directly inhaling droplets suspended in the air from an infected individual. With “fomites” — objects that can transmit infections — droplets from an infected person would end up on surfaces another person touches. “So far, there is no conclusive evidence of that,” wrote Megan Murray, a Harvard Infectious Disease specialist, in a coronavirus explainer, “although that is challenging to prove one way or the other.” What we do know: More and more research is piling up to suggest people who have only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all, can test positive for Covid-19 disease. The virus also appears to be present in the body at very high levels early on in an illness. Javier Zarracina and Christina Animashaun/Vox “We still don’t know to what extent people without symptoms can infect,” Nuzzo cautioned. And Isaac Bogoch, a professor at the University of Toronto told Vox, “even if there have been cases of asymptomatic transmission of this infection, those will be typically rare cases, and with just about every other respiratory tract infection known to humankind, those are not the people who are driving an epidemic.” Even so, if this virus can spread from people with no or mild symptoms, it might help explain why it’s so contagious. Researchers currently believe one person with Covid-19 generally infects two to more than three others, which would make the new coronavirus more transmissible than seasonal flu, SARS, and MERS. 4) Arethere any places I shouldn’t go during this outbreak? The CDC has issued its highest-level travel alerts for Italy, Iran, South Korea, and China, advising Americans to avoid traveling in these places for the moment. These are the countries with the largest known coronavirus outbreaks. On March 11, President Donald Trump issued a ban on travel from most of Europe for 30 days. But just because a country you plan to visit isn’t on the list right now doesn’t mean it won’t be there tomorrow. The outbreak is evolving rapidly, and these advisories are likely to change in the coming days, so keep checking in with the CDC. This map and list of travel restrictions from the Council on Foreign Relations is another good resource. Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images Tourists wearing protective masks take a selfie in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Italy, on March 8, 2020. Also keep in mind: The travel warnings are not entirely driven by the risk of catching this new virus. Airlines have been canceling or scaling back flights, trains have been halted, and countries have been imposing sometimes arbitrary quarantines on travelers and citizens. As Nuzzo told Vox: “I’m more concerned about the unpredictability of the [outbreak] response at this point. It would not be fun to go to China and get stuck there somehow. And coming back, you’ll be subject to additional screening” or quarantines. What if you decide to travel and you’re seated near someone who is coughing or sneezing? That’s not very reassuring, but it’s not time to panic, either. “The risk of acquiring a respiratory infection through air travel is still extraordinarily low,” Bogoch, who studies how air travel influences the dynamics of outbreaks — including the new coronavirus infection. The risk does go up if you happen to be seated within six feet of a person with a respiratory infection. But even there, simple proximity doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll catch anything. Instead, the more infectious the person is, and the longer you sit near them, the higher your risk. If you’re not near the person for very long or they’re not very infectious, the risk is lower. 5) I’m still worried about the new coronavirus. What should I do to protect myself? Buy a face mask? In the US, just about every health expert Vox has spoken to has said there’s little evidence to support the use of face masks for preventing disease in the general population. Masks are only useful if you have a respiratory infection already and want to minimize the risk of spread to others, or if you’re caring for someone who is sick or working in a hospital in direct contact with people who have respiratory illnesses. (Plus, there are reports of runs on masks and other supplies that health workers need to stay safe. If they can’t get them and start walking off the job, we’re all in trouble.) That’s why the CDC advises against the use of masks for regular Americans. The best thing you can do to prevent all sorts of illnesses, CDC’s Nancy Messonnier said, is “wash your hands, cover your cough, take care of yourself, and keep alert to the information that we’re providing.” Individuals at a higher risk of developing severe disease — the elderly, people with underlying health conditions — should take additional precautions: avoiding crowds and contact with people who are sick, and stocking up on medicines and groceries, Messonnier said. 6) What should I do if I think I have Covid-19? If you’re in a high-risk group — over the age of 60 with an underlying health condition — seek medical treatment immediately, and let your hospital or health care provider know you suspect Covid-19. Otherwise, stay at home and call a health professional, Vox’s Umair Irfan explained. “They will work with your local health department and figure out whether you need to get tested or get treatment. Doctors and health officials advise not to go to the emergency room if your symptoms do not appear to be life-threatening.” There’s a good chance you’ll recover with nothing more than rest and fluids. 7) Is this a deadly pandemic? The WHO has officially declared the outbreak a pandemic, with the disease in more than 100 countries and major epidemics in several regions of the world. That means containing the virus — fully halting its spread — is no longer the goal but rather mitigation and harm reducing. Keep in mind, the p-word doesn’t say anything about the severity of Covid-19. A disease can spread widely and become a pandemic without being particularly severe. And no one knows yet what the ultimate effects of a this pandemic will look like — mostly because we don’t yet know precisely how lethal this disease is. 8) Is containment still possible? There was a time when it seemed possible that China might contain the virus and the outbreaks outside of China would fizzle out, spelling the end of this public health emergency. But there are now so many around the world, and the very real possibility that the virus is circulating, undetected, in even more countries — especially those with weak health systems — that containment appears impossible. This means we’re likely to see more sickness and death in many countries as cases grow from one-off travelers or small clusters to full-blown outbreaks. In this scenario, the NIH’s Fauci said, “you don’t try to control [the virus] because it’s already everywhere.” Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images The governor of New York announced a state of emergency as the coronavirus continued to spread on March 7, 2020. Above, Times Square. Health officials are now in the mitigation phase of the response strategy. This involves a focus on social distancing, slowing the speed of the outbreak, and caring for the very sick. So hospitals need to be ready with Covid-19 protocols, health care workers need to be protected with access to protective equipment such as face masks, and countries need plans in place for maintaining supply chains and carrying on with travel and trade. In the best-case scenario, which has become less likely, this outbreak might look more like H1N1 swine flu. When H1N1 was first recognized in 2009 and spread around the world, there were major concerns about its lethality. US schools closed, people from North America were quarantined when they arrived in other countries, flights were canceled. Not only did those measures fail to contain the virus, Nuzzo said, but it also turned out H1N1 wasn’t all that deadly. “Now we’re still living with that virus — it’s one that circulates with every flu season,” Nuzzo explained. 9) How is the world responding to this crisis? On January 30, the WHO declared the outbreak a global public health emergency, and in March, said it had become a pandemic. A dramatic — and unprecedented — response played out in China, the country with the most Covid-19 cases. “China has implemented the most extensive cordon sanitaire [or quarantine] in the history of humankind,” Gostin told Vox. “They’ve restricted movements, caused fear and panic. They’ve violated human rights.” But they also managed to get more control over the outbreak, and cases are now declining. Italy has adopted quarantine measures that are similar to China — first locking down some 16 million people in the country’s north, where the virus has been spreading, and then extending restrictions on movement to the entire country. Some governments have so far been able to halt the spread of coronavirus within their borders through quick action. In Taiwan, a small island close to mainland China, testing for Covid-19 began in late December, even as China was just beginning to discover cases and ramp up its response, and the government emphasized public education about the disease’s spread. Taiwan has only reported one death for the virus, as of March 11. In recent weeks, the US government dramatically escalated its response: issuing its highest-level travel advisories, quarantining citizens evacuated from China, and banning foreign nationals who have recently been to China from coming in, as well as travelers from Iran. On March 11, Trump announced a 30-day travel ban from most of Europe to the US (excluding the UK). On February 25, the CDC warned there may be a lot more to come; “disruption to everyday life might be severe.” This means Americans can expect more cancellations, quarantines, and social distancing efforts. (To read more about those, see this explainer.) Al Bello/Getty Images The BNP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, was canceled when a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the area, on March 8, 2020. The severe measures can be explained by the fact that there’s still a lot we don’t know about this new virus and health officials are taking drastic actions. There’s also no enforceable international law governing outbreak responses, so countries can basically do what they want in response to pandemic threats without getting penalized, even if those actions are proportional or science-based, and the WHO is advising against them. 10) How might this end? There are a few ways this outbreak could end, as Vox’s Brian Resnick explained. Perhaps public health measures — identifying cases fast, putting infected people in isolation — will slow the spread of this coronavirus. (That’s what stopped the spread of SARS in 2003.) “If we slow it so that infections happen over 10 or 12 months instead of over one month, that’s going to make a big difference as far as how many people seriously infected, how many people may end up hospitalized, and how many they end up dying,” said Tara Smith, a Kent State University epidemiologist. “We talk about it as ‘flattening the epidemic curve’ — so that it’s not a big, sudden peak in cases, but it’s a more moderate plateau over time.” Because this is a zoonotic disease, meaning it came from an animal, finding and eliminating that source would also help. Or maybe a vaccine or antiviral will be invented quickly to curb a broader epidemic (though a vaccine is expected to take at least a year). The coming seasons of warmer weather could also play a role in at least slowing down the virus. “Coronaviruses are winter viruses,” Fauci said. “When the weather is warm and moist, these viruses don’t spread as well as when the weather is cold and dry.” Covid-19 could also keep spreading at a high rate and become endemic — regularly infecting humans, like the common cold. Either way, “it’s going to have tremendous — really negative and lasting effects — for the most vulnerable people who are either medically or economically vulnerable in our society,” Angela Rasmussen, a Columbia virologist, told Vox. Correction March 3: A graphic in this piece previously misstated the percentage of cases in China that were not linked back to the Wuhan area. The graphic has been updated with the correct figure, 14 percent. Ask Vox What else do you want to know about the coronavirus outbreak and the surrounding news? Fill out the survey below (or head over to this Google form) to let us know. Loading…
2020-03-12 05:20:56
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vox.com
Trump’s coronavirus speech was laced with xenophobia
Trump’s speeches have long played on xenophobic fears. | Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images World leaders have long linked germs and immigrants to stoke fear in moments of crisis. Americans generally expect that when regularly scheduled programming is interrupted to cut to the president sitting in the Oval Office, they will hear an important, sober, and universal message — a message almost always of unity, often a call for shared responsibility and even sacrifice. President Trump just used the powerful symbol of his office to attempt to divide us. Seated behind his desk in the White House Wednesday, Trump looked into the camera and warned Americans of an enemy who has infiltrated our borders. We are at war, he said, with a “foreign virus.” It’s a tactic meant to distract from what his administration has and hasn’t done, in this case to combat the coronavirus pandemic. “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said of his administration’s work. The pandemic, of course, isn’t a spy. It’s not an infiltrator. It’s a health crisis that’s been long predicted. The way we’ll fight it is through mechanisms like social distancing, a technique that requires clear, direct information so everyone knows it’s important to participate and how to do so. It’s a shared responsibility. We are in this together. That is not the language of the Trump era. Trump rode into office on a message of division, of fear and hate and xenophobia. He announced his campaign in 2015 by smearing Mexicans. Even his inaugural address was laced with dark notes. “From this day forward,” he said during his address, “it’s going to be only America first.”Xenophobia isn’t a bug in the system for him; it’s a feature. Throughout his time in office, again and again, he’s rallied his supporters through fear of outsiders — whether it was fear of travelers from Muslim-majority countries or asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. He’s portrayed foreigners as filthy and derided others’ homelands as “shithole countries.” Now, faced with explaining his government’s response to an outbreak that’s getting worse, he’s relying on the same tropes. On Wednesday night, when he should have been calling on Americans to come together, he attempted to make us afraid of all of Europe. “To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” Trump said (excluding the UK for some reason). This isn’t the first time in history a leader has stoked fears among the public by linking outsiders to germs, of course. It’s been part of many dark chapters in world history. Researchers have found repeated connections between germs and immigrants throughout the 20th century. In a moment of crisis, it’s particularly jarring and dangerous. In this case, though perhaps predictable, it also happens to be dubious. Experts pointed out that full-scale travel bans haven’t been effective. Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, was the first European country to ban travel to and from China, where the outbreak originated, and it didn’t help. Trump plans travel restrictions to Europe @StateDept level 3 warning. How enforced? Quarantine returning citizens? @POTUS conflates closed border & #COVID19 response To be clear, germs don't respect borders. Most of Europe has = or < cases than US. Travel bans won't make US safer— Lawrence Gostin (@LawrenceGostin) March 12, 2020 And Trump’s big announcement ignores the fact that the virus is already in the United States, spreading locally. The big threat isn’t the virus coming to the United States. It’s already here. “A large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe,” Trump said — without explaining how the virus is spreading now or even highlighting some of the best science-based measures to test for it or stop it from spreading. Medical experts reacted critically to Trump’s ban by pointing out that it ignores the work that really needs to be done, such as testing to assess the full scale of the crisis and mass communication with the public about how to prevent the spread. The US President has banned all travel from Europe for 30 days, excluding UK.This is a distraction:- US has local transmission already- we’re struggling to even conduct surveillance to know our burden- ignores vital mitigation steps we know we need to do now#COVID19— Dr Alexandra Phelan (@alexandraphelan) March 12, 2020 Trump did tell Americans to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze. He did finally say it was best to stay home if you are sick. But his message wasn’t the sober, direct statement Americans might expect from the president in the Oval Office. More worrisome, maybe a xenophobic speech designed to distract is what we we actually should have expected.
2020-03-12 05:10:00
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vox.com
The NBA has suspended its season due to coronavirus
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended the season due to Covid-19. | Elsa/Getty Images The announcement comes after an NBA player tested positive Wednesday night. The NBA has suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In a statement, the league said, “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.” The league made the announcement Wednesday night after a game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was abruptly stopped by officials following opening player introductions. The #NBA is suspending its season. pic.twitter.com/78gChFJJLy— Raul Martinez (@RaulNBCBoston) March 12, 2020 The player, center Rudy Gobert, had been listened as questionable for Wednesday’s matchup due to illness. All Jazz and Thunder players were being tested for the virus in their locker rooms as of Wednesday night. A member of the Thunder medical staff ran onto the court just before the game began to confer with referees, who then sent players and coaches to their respective locker rooms. Following a public announcement of the postponement due to “unforeseen circumstances,” fans were asked to leave Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City police then closed the facility. The NBA is the most prominent sports league to suspend or postpone events, but it’s far from the only league impacted by the pandemic. Earlier Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the upcoming men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be played without fans following a recommendation by its Covid-19 advisory panel. Ironically, Gobert had jokingly touched every microphone and recorder during his media availability on Tuesday evening following a game to make a point about the NBA’s reaction to the virus. The league had banned media from locker rooms and were in the middle of discussions about potentially closing games to fans (though some players, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, objected). As part of the Jazz’s COVID-19 response, shootaround availability was done in the ZBBC media room today rather than on the court. As Rudy Gobert got finished discussing the situation, he stood up, leaned over and made it a point to touch every mic and recorder in front of him. — Eric Walden (@tribjazz) March 9, 2020
2020-03-12 04:23:38
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vox.com
What Trump actually proposed in his coronavirus speech
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images The president announced a travel ban for Europe and three new economic policies. President Donald Trump proposed a slew of policies to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in an Oval Office address on Wednesday night — announcing that travel to the US from most of Europe would be banned for 30 days and calling for new efforts to stimulate the economy at home. It was the first time Trump really acknowledged the depth of the outbreak of Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, citing the World Health Organization’s declaration that it’s now a pandemic. But he also cast coronavirus as a foreign threat — literally calling it “a foreign virus” — and focused largely on economic measures instead of public health ones, while repeatedly trying to reassure Americans that his administration has things under control. “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said. “I’m confident that by … continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat our citizens and we’ll ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.” Despite Trump’s assurances, the virus has continued to spread in America, with the total number of confirmed cases in the US topping 1,300 as of March 11, according to the Johns Hopkins interactive map. Due to coronavirus fears, the NBA announced it was suspending games shortly after Trump spoke. Trump announced a travel ban for most of Europe Trump’s biggest announcement was a travel ban, which will prohibit people from coming to the US from Europe for 30 days beginning on Friday at midnight. Trump said there will be exceptions, particularly “for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings.” The restrictions also won’t apply to the United Kingdom, which has fewer reported coronavirus cases than its continental peers but still nearly 500 confirmed cases. The administration previously put in place restrictions on travel from China. It’s unclear how this will affect trade with Europe, which could potentially hurt the economy. Trump promised more economic stimulus Trump also promised several measures to stimulate the economy, after a week in which coronavirus scares contributed to the stock market plummeting. He called for tax breaks and aid to small businesses, but didn’t promise paid sick leave or any other help for hourly workers and others without those benefits who might need to stay home — a key demand of Democrats in Congress in any coronavirus relief bill. He called on Congress to increase funding for the Small Business Administration by $50 billion to help boost economic loans to impacted regions. (So far, Washington state, New York, and California are the places most affected, but it’s unclear how or if aid will go there.) He also promised to take executive action that will “provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy” through deferments on tax payments and penalties for people and businesses negatively impacted by the outbreak. And he asked Congress to cut the payroll tax. Trump argues this would put money into the economy quickly, including for individuals and corporations, but some experts are skeptical that tax cuts could have an impact quickly since they can take a while to trickle out into the hands of consumers and businesses. What Trump didn’t say much about: testing In the rest of the speech, Trump tried to reassure Americans about his administration’s response to the outbreak so far. He pointed out he signed a bill into law that added $8.3 billion in funding for federal agencies to fight the coronavirus and support related efforts, and claimed he’s cut “massive amounts of red tape to make anti-viral therapy available in record time.” He also said health insurers have agreed to eliminate copayments (but only for testing — not treatment, as Trump claimed), stop surprise medical billing, and help expand coverage related to the coronavirus. “The virus will not have a chance against us,” Trump said. “No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced health care, and the most talented doctors, scientists and researchers anywhere in the world. We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.” He didn’t do much to address the ongoing problems with federally provided test kits. States, counties, cities, and medical providers have complained that there are simply not enough test kits available, forcing them to ration tests and turn people away. Experts say testing is crucial to finding out who is infected so they can be isolated and those they came in contact with can be put in quarantine. On that issue, Trump merely stated “testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day,” providing few new details.
2020-03-12 04:18:00
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vox.com
Read the full text of Trump’s Oval Office address on the coronavirus
President Donald Trump gives an address from the Oval Office on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. | Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office Wednesday night. President Donald Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday night to outline his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the US. The World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic earlier Wednesday, and the number of confirmed cases in the US topped 1,200 this week as more states implemented states of emergency in response to the outbreak. A rush transcript of the president’s remarks is below. Details of his proposals can be found here, or you can watch the full address. President Donald Trump gives an address from the Oval Office on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world. Today the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic. We have been in frequent contact with our allies and we are marshaling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I’m confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat our citizens and we’ll ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus. From the beginning of time nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges including large scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism. Our team is the best anywhere in the world. At the very start of the outbreak we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection. And taking early, intense action, we’ve seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe. The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. After consulting with our top government health professionals I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans. To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. [Editor’s note: The White House has since clarified that the ban “only applies to human beings, not goods and cargo.”]Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom. At the same time, we’re monitoring the situation in China and South Korea and as their situation improves, we will re-evaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening. Earlier this week I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who have agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing. We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make anti-viral therapy available in record time. These treatments will significantly reduce the impact and reach of the virus. Additionally, last week I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to help CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other government agencies fight the virus and support vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day, we’re moving very quickly. The vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low. Young and healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get the virus. The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful. In particular, we’re strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans should avoid all nonessential travel in crowded areas. My administration is coordinated directly with communities with largest outbreaks and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing, and reducing large gatherings. Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow. Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our federal health experts and they are the best. For all Americans it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this virus. Wash your hands, clean often used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home. To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus. I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief. Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world by far. Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility reserves and resources to handle any threat that comes our way. This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time that will overcome together as a nation and as a world. However, to provide extra support for America workers, families, and businesses, tonight I am announcing the following additional actions. I am instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the coronavirus. Effective immediately the SBA will begin providing economic loans in affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To this end I’m asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an additional $50 billion. Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy. Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly. We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary steps to protect the lives, health and safety of the American people. I will always put the well-being of America first. If we are vigilant, and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we will, we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We have the best economy, the most advanced health care, and the most talented doctors, scientists and researchers anywhere in the world. We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family. As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the challenge and overcome adversity. Our future remains brighter than anyone could imagine. Acting with compassion and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than ever before. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.
2020-03-12 04:16:28
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vox.com
Tom Hanks tests positive for coronavirus
Tom Hanks has tested positive for coronavirus. | Lacey Terrell/TIFF The actor played cool about the diagnosis on social media. On March 11, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Tom Hanks, announced that he and his wife Rita Wilson had contracted the novel coronavirus while shooting Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley film in Australia. In a message posted publicly on March 11, Hanks was his typical upbeat self. ”Hello, folks,” he wrote. “Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.” Well, now. What to do next?” the star continued: The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves! Hanks, who was most recently nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, was slated to play Col. Tom Parker, the Dutch-born manager of Elvis Presley in a biopic directed by Luhrmann, perhaps best known for the 2001 smash hit Moulin Rouge. According to the Australian government’s Department of Health on Wednesday, March 11, there were more than 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, including three deaths. Luhrmann’s film is currently slated for a fall 2021 release. Austin Butler, who appears in The Carrie Diaries and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is set to star as Presley. This article will be updated as we learn more about Hanks’s condition.
2020-03-12 04:09:33
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
Biden and Sanders are canceling rallies over coronavirus. Why won’t Trump?
A supporter films President Donald Trump as he speaks during a rally on March 2, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina. | Brian Blanco/Getty Images The president canceled a three-day bus tour featuring his daughter-in-law, but campaign officials said it was not because of Covid-19. The campaigns for the two Democratic candidates have started to heed public health officials’ warnings about the dangers of campaigning during the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump has taken a more muddled approach. A week ago, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign told Vox it wasn’t planning on canceling rallies or other public events but was monitoring the outbreak. Now his campaign, along with that of Sen.Bernie Sanders have begun canceling events. Both candidates canceled rallies in Cleveland, Ohio, last night after being warned off by local public health officials. Sanders was scheduled to hold an event at a Cleveland convention center as primary election results were set to begin coming in from several states Tuesday evening. “Out of concern for public health and safety, we are canceling tonight’s rally in Cleveland. We are heeding the public warnings from Ohio state officials, who have communicated concern about holding large, indoor events during the coronavirus outbreak,” Sanders campaign spokesperson Mike Casca said in a statement. After initially saying that their own campaign event would go on, the Biden campaign ended up canceling a similar event in Cleveland after local health officials discouraged large gatherings in the area. As of March 11, 1,050 people in the US have tested positive for Covid-19, the disease stemming from novel coronavirus, and 29 people have died from it, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. Public health officials have warned people from attending large gatherings of people where germs could be easily spread among many people quickly, in order to prevent transmission of the virus. “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in the United States,” Nancy Messonnier, an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters on February 25. “It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.” Many states and localities have ordered cancellation of large gatherings and events, and numerous conferences, including SXSW in Austin, Texas and Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington, have either canceled or postponed. And concern over spreading Covid-19 finally hit the political world after several elected officials at an annual conservative conference were notified that an attendee they had come intocontact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Trump’s reelection campaign, however, doesn’t seem to be taking the situation as seriously. Presidential campaign officials have a responsibility to protect rally attendees Central to political campaigning is human contact. Canvassers knock on thousands of doors every day; candidates shake hands with voters and donors at a myriad of events;and supporters gather inlarge (and often raucous) crowds at rallies — all things that public health experts would advise against in the middle of an outbreak. For public health officials, it all comes down to whether community spread is affecting an area hosting a campaign event. “If you’re talking about a campaign rally tomorrow in a place where there is no community spread, I think the judgment to have it might be a good judgement,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, at a press conference Monday. “If you want to talk about large gatherings in a place where you have community spread, I think that’s a judgement call. And if someone decides they want to cancel it, I wouldn’t publicly criticize it.” So far, presidential campaign events had mostly gone on as usual — until Tuesday evening. After listening to local health officials, thecampaigns for both of the two major remaining Democratic presidential candidatescanceled their Cleveland rallies out of an abundance of caution. When campaigns were still hosting events, the Biden campaign had posted staffers at the doors for several events Monday to provide squirts of hand sanitizer to everybody attending. People walking into the @JoeBiden rally in Detroit are being given hand sanitizer upon entry. Same was offered to the press corps. pic.twitter.com/sWLPbm8vxs— Sarah Mucha (@sarahmucha) March 9, 2020 Hand sanitizer —for all that it only goes so far, especially if an infected person is in attendance and spreading germs to others — has become a prerequisite for taking photos with Trump during fundraisers. The Trump campaign did not return comment for a previous story on how campaign officials were planning contingencies for a coronavirus outbreak, but Trump himself has been adamant that he would continue holding rallies. He defended holding a rally last Monday evening in Charlotte on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries early last week. “These were set up a long time ago,” Trump told reporters during his White House meeting last week with Colombian President Ivan Duque. “And you could ask that to the Democrats, because they’re having a lot of rallies, they’re all having rallies, they’re campaigning. I think it’s safe, I think it’s very safe.” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told the Washington Post Tuesday, “The campaign is proceeding as normal.” The campaign has dialed back on some public events, and currently does not have any big rallies featuring the president currently planned. First lady Melania Trump canceled a fundraiser in Beverly Hills due to a “scheduling conflict,” and the Trump campaign canceled a three-day bus tour through Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania featuring Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump that was supposed to start Monday. However, the campaign maintains that none of the cancelations were related to fears over coronavirus. In fact, on Tuesday the campaign announced a new event: one launching “Catholics for Trump” in Milwaukee on March 19. The Wisconsin event doesn’t appear to be a regular campaign rally, which often draws thousands of people in attendance, but it’s unclear how many are expected to attend. His campaign announced the event shortly after the White House coronavirus task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, encouraged people to “avoid crowding.” At this point, with the World Health Organization declaring novel coronavirus a pandemic, campaigns have a duty to protect their supporters, staff, and the candidates themselves. It remains to be seen what modern campaigning during a global pandemic will look like.
2020-03-11 23:30:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
Italy’s coronavirus crisis could be America’s
Italy has imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people to control the spread of the coronavirus. | Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images “Get ready!” doctors in Italy warn. Three weeks ago, Italy barely had a coronavirus problem. Back then, when there were just three confirmed cases, shops and cafes were open, tourists flowed in and out of the country’s magnificent holiday destinations, and quarantines were relegated to history: 14th-century Venice during the Black Death. Now, Italy has the highest number of reported Covid-19 cases and deaths outside China: more than 12,000 and 800, respectively, as of March 11. Those figures are higher than that of two other coronavirus hot zones — Iran and South Korea — and higher than for any other country in Europe. In an effort to slow the spread of infection, the government on Monday announced an extraordinary measure for a Western democracy — one that hasn’t been tried in modern times at the country level: The entire peninsula was put under quarantine orders until at least April 3. Some 60 million Italians were asked to stay home. Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images An Italian state police officer processes passengers in Milan on March 10, 2020. By Wednesday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte added new coronavirus restrictions, ordering most businesses — except grocery stores and pharmacies — closed. One big reason for the extreme response: The coronavirus has overwhelmed the country’s health system, particularly in the north. More than 80 percent of the hospital beds in Lombardy, the hardest-hit province, are being occupied by coronavirus patients, according to Bloomberg. Intensive care units are overloaded while elective surgeries have been canceled in the process to free up beds. Stories abound on social media about doctors struggling to meet their patients’ needs, even rationing care. But hidden behind the official Covid-19 numbers is a much broader health crisis, rapidly accumulating across the country. Even greater than the official coronavirus toll may be the collateral damage wrought by an overstretched health system: the pregnant women and babies, cancer and HIV patients, and children in need of vaccines who are now less likely to get the health care they need. “Most health systems are pretty streamlined and ... so an excessive increase [in patients] rapidly strains resources,” said Richard Neher, a University of Basel researcher who has been modeling how Covid-19 could stress hospital demand. “If you react too late, you’re in trouble.” “What is very clear,” Neher added: “Without a drastic reduction in transmission of the virus, health systems will be overwhelmed.” In other words, Italy’s situation today could be any country’s situation tomorrow. Lombardy — one of the wealthiest regions in Europe — shows how an outbreak, almost overnight, can spiral into a full-fledged crisis when officials don’t prepare and react too slowly. And that surge, many believe, is coming to the US and other countries in Europe very soon. It’s not clear why Italy’s cases ramped up so fast At the beginning of February, Italy had only a few identified Covid-19 cases. By February 23, Italian officials reported 76 confirmed cases to the World Health Organization. Two days later, that number grew to 229. The case and death toll rose exponentially from there while people with the virus who’d come from Italy were identified in countries as far and wide as Nigeria, Switzerland, and Brazil. At that time, the rapid rise in coronavirus cases — both within the country and among travelers — was so concerning, a joint WHO and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control mission went to Italy to figure out what was going on. Authorities, meanwhile, scrambled to impose severe measures to try to stop the virus. In the country’s north, sporting, religious, and cultural events were canceled along with university classes. Anyone who tried to enter or leave the areas in Lombardy where the outbreak was occurring faced fines. The severity of the response rivaled only that of China. On Monday, the response escalated even further. The government effectively stopped movement across the country, asking people to leave home only for essential work and necessities, like food. All public gatherings and meeting places — theaters, gyms, ski resorts, clubs, schools, sporting events, even weddings and funerals — were also shut down. On Wednesday, Conte announced all shops, except for grocery stores and pharmacies, would be shuttered. It’s not clear why Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak spiraled so quickly relative to other European countries, but there are several competing theories. One is that an aggressive testing campaign centered in wealthy Lombardy has inflated the problem at a time when other countries have lagged in detecting cases. So Italy is more of a harbinger of what’s to come across Europe than a unique hot zone. Another is that intense spread of the virus in the hospital system, before doctors realized there was a problem, may have amplified the outbreak. Some 10 percent of medical workers in Lombardy have been infected, according to a March 3 Washington Post report, and health workers account for 5 percent of those infected in the country. (Bolstering this explanation: The WHO-ECDC joint mission report suggests Italy should work on its infection prevention and control measures in hospitals.) There’s also speculation about whether Italy’s burden is particularly severe because of the country’s aging population. Covid-19 is known to hit older adults particularly hard. That, along with the fast rise in confirmed cases, has tested the limits of the health system. Matteo Renzi, a former Italian prime minister, pointed out that the virus had been spreading in Italy for 10 days before the government caught on. So Italy was forced into reaction mode — something other countries should avoid, Renzi told the New York Times. “Today the red zone is Italy,” he warned. In 10 days, Madrid, Paris, and Berlin may be in the same situation. In a public letter, Italian doctors had a similar warning for the world: “We are seeing a high percentage of positive cases being admitted to our intensive care units (ICUs), in the range of 10 per cent of all positive patient[s]. “We wish to convey a strong message: Get ready!” Covid-19 projections suggest the disease is on track to spike in the US In many countries, perhaps including Italy, once officials have started testing more broadly for Covid-19, they find more cases. And testing so far in the US has been painfully inept and sluggish. As it ramps up, experts expect an uptick in Covid-19 cases in America. For evidence, look at the projections coming out of America’s largest outbreak, in Washington state, where there are 179 cases to date. According to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center computational biologist Trevor Bedford, Covid-19 may have been spreading in Seattle since at least mid-January, long before any spread was officially confirmed there, as Stat’s Helen Branswell first reported. Bedford has been working with Nextstrain, an open source project that tracks the spread of pathogens around the world, including Covid-19. He also used data from specimens collected to monitor flu activity in Seattle, which were then repurposed to look for coronavirus cases. As of March 10, he and his colleagues estimated, there were as many as 1,100 cases in Seattle alone. Karen Ducey/Getty Images Students at the University of Washington are on campus for the last day of in-person classes on March 6, 2020, in Seattle. “The Seattle data implies there’s undetected community transmission,” said Bedford’s colleague Emma Hodcroft, co-developer of Nextstrain. “It tells us [Covid-19] is circulating widely enough that random people who don’t think they have coronavirus have it.” That’s just Washington, though. To date, the entire country is severely lagging in its testing capacity. As of March 8, only 1,700 Americans had been checked for the virus — a number that pales in comparison to the 50,000 who have been tested in Italy or the 23,000 tested in the UK, according to an analysis by Business Insider. A new preprint on the scale of US spread estimated that, by March 1, there were already 9,484 Covid-19 cases in the US. That’s about nine times the 1,034 cases reported nationally. “Looking at all the signs, and there are many, it would be shocking to me if we didn’t have large numbers of cases undetected, silently transmitting in the community, in multiple countries and regions,” said Lawrence Gostin, the director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. If cases more than double every week — as they appear to be doing in Italy — the US may soon be facing its own crisis. “I don’t think [what happened in Italy is] something specific to what Italy did. It’s just that if the virus had a chance to spread undetected, it’s hard to make up that time,” said Hodcroft. “The Italian situation should be a big wake-up call to the rest of Europe and the US.” What America and other countries need to do now While Italy’s economy is already in a nosedive, we don’t yet know the extent of the damage stemming from the country’s overwhelmed health system. We can expect, however, it’ll be significant, said Gostin. “What we’ve learned from all past outbreaks is that when you have a stressed health system, many more people die of other diseases than they do of the actual outbreak disease.” This is the "Italy's in trouble because they are have a national health system" nonsenseTo be clear: MDs per 1,000: Italy 4.0, USA 2.6Hosp beds per 1,000: Italy 3.2, USA 2.8The problem is surge of COVID19 has overwhelmed northern Italian hospitalsThis can happen here https://t.co/kp3IqxIbJu— Ashish K. Jha (@ashishkjha) March 9, 2020 During the Ebola epidemic of 2014-’16, for example, people living in the countries at the center of the outbreak failed to have their basic medical needs met. In the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, interruptions in routine vaccinations helped spark a massive measles outbreak. In China’s Covid-19 epidemic, numerous stories have already emerged about cancer patients awaiting treatments who were turned away, and HIV patients who ran short on their drugs. That’s not to mention the economic and psychological toll outbreaks can have. So what should America and other countries do now to prevent this kind of collateral damage? First, health officials need to find ways to flatten the epidemic curve of the outbreak. And this starts with social distancing measures, like canceling mass public gatherings, encouraging employees to work from home, and even shutting schools and universities, if necessary. Christina Animashaun/Vox “What’s dangerous about an outbreak is when everyone gets [the disease] at the same time and a health system can’t react,” explained Steven Hoffman, the director of York University’s Global Strategy Lab. “The whole goal of social distancing measures is to decrease the epidemic’s peak” and take that pressure off the health system. In Italy, those measures weren’t implemented proactively — only as a desperate countermeasure after health officials started to see coronavirus cases climb. And other countries that haven’t yet recorded a spike in cases have time to be proactive. Besides slowing transmission of the virus, though, there are many other things health officials should be doing right now to prepare for a surge. And they go far beyond the basics, such as making sure hospital beds and intensive care units are freed up to meet patient demand, that health professionals have access to personal protective equipment (including masks), and that there are enough ventilators to support the 10 percent of the potential Covid-19 patients who will need help breathing to stay alive. In China, a vast effort to test and identify people with the virus, trace all their contacts, and quarantine the potentially exposed was key to tamping down the epidemic there, according to Bruce Aylward, the director of a World Health Organization mission to China. Chinese officials also reduced barriers to people seeking Covid-19 tests by offering them for free, and in some cases, sent health professionals into people’s homes to swab potentially infected individuals for the virus. Last but not least, China enhanced its digital health care capacity to keep people from showing up at pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals, Aylward explained: Normally a prescription in China can’t last for more than a month. But they increased it to three months to make sure people didn’t run out [when they had to close a lot of their hospitals]. Another thing: Prescriptions could be done online and through WeChat [instead of requiring a doctor appointment]. And they set up a delivery system for medications for affected populations. This kind of approach is long overdue in America, even outside of a pandemic threat, said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There are over 100 million Americans with chronic conditions and people need to be on their medications for diabetes, seizure disorder, and high blood pressure. That [care] needs to not get interrupted.” And that means states and the federal government should be looking at how to deliver services to patients online right now, he added. Another even more basic step is making sure patients know when to show up in clinics, when to get tested, and when to stay home, said Jennifer Nuzzo, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Stringer/Getty Images A discharged coronavirus patient bows to doctors while leaving Wuchang Fang Cang makeshift hospital, which is the latest temporary hospital being shut down, on March 10, 2020, in Wuhan, China. “My first worry is about people rushing to the ER because they are seeking information or testing,” she said. “That happened in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. And that alone is going to put a strain on health systems.” I don’t see this data supporting mass quarantines at all, in fact, the opposite, with evidence based public health measures we know work: isolation of infected people, robust tracing & testing of their contacts, self-quarantine, and prepared and protected healthcare workers. https://t.co/rzprvu1NeW— Dr Alexandra Phelan (@alexandraphelan) March 10, 2020 These measures should go further than the mass quarantine Italy is currently trying out. “This ... resembles methods used in medieval times,” said Hoffman. “Once you institute that, not only are you putting the people within that [quarantine] at risk — you’re also encouraging a lot of other people who might not have left the area to flee.” A preliminary modeling study focused on Wuhan — the city at the center of China’s outbreak — showed the lockdown there only delayed the epidemic’s progression by three to five days. “Yes, three days is better than nothing but not when it comes at the expense we saw [in China] and the expense that will continue to be incurred for decades to come,” Hoffman added. “Think of the psychological trauma on those people who were bolted into their homes, who had to explain the situation to their children. “That will leave a lasting impression— all for three days’ delay.” When people are socially isolated, when they don’t feel safe or dignified, “they are going to react and take actions that are not helpful for public health,” Hoffman added. That counterreaction is something Italy may soon have to contend with — and other countries too, if they don’t prepare now.
2020-03-11 23:27:46
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vox.com
Want to do something about coronavirus? Here are 5 ideas.
Shelves where disinfectant wipes are usually displayed were nearly empty at a Target in Novato, California, on March 2, 2020. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images It’s easy to feel powerless. Instead, help the most vulnerable. Right now, more than 109,000 people around the world have contracted the novel coronavirus, and more than 3,800 have died. Meanwhile, much of the world is waiting anxiously, wondering how bad the pandemic threat will get and whether it will affect those they love. It’s easy to feel powerless in a time like this — there’s not yet a vaccine or drug for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. And Americans are watching their government scramble to implement measures to keep them safe — something it may not be entirely prepared to do. But while individuals may not be able to halt the spread of coronavirus, there are some steps we can take to help protect the most vulnerable — and to combat some of the social ills exacerbated by the virus, like racism and age discrimination. From washing our hands regularly to calling out racism to checking on elderly neighbors, we can do a lot to support each other. And while one of the effects of coronavirus can bephysical isolation — either because of quarantine or “social distancing” measures imposed by public health officials to reduce viral spread — experts say that staying connected with others, at least in some way, is more important than ever. As Stacy Torres, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, San Francisco, told Vox, “You don’t want to isolate yourself to the point where you’re not also supporting others.” Take basic precautions — not just for yourself but for others At this point, many people are probably aware of some of the precautions you can take to help reduce your risk of getting sick. But the same precautions can also help reduce the spread of coronavirus, in turn reducing its toll on elderly people and those with other health conditions, who are most likely to become severely ill. That’s why even if you’re young and healthy, medical experts agree it’s important to follow certain simple steps. First of all, wash your hands. As Vox’s German Lopez and Julia Belluz report, it’s “one of the easiest ways to avoid the spread of infectious disease,” capable of reducing respiratory infections by 15 to 20 percent. You should wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or caring for a sick person, and before eating. Other precautions include avoiding touching your face, staying home when you’re sick, and cleaning surfaces that you touch a lot, like your phone, as James Hamblin writes at the Atlantic. These simple steps can help protect you and those around you, and they can also reduce feelings of powerlessness. “Anytime there’s something new, particularly when we can’t see it or feel it or taste it, [it] can create increased anxiety,” Robin Gurwitch, a psychologist and professor at Duke University School of Medicine, told Vox. But it can help reduce people’s worries to know that “there are things we can do.” “We can really mitigate the impact of this disease,” Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on Monday. “There are personal responsibilities that we’re asking everyone in the United States to take.” If you do feel sick, here’s some guidance from public health experts on seeking medical information and help. If you’re not in a high-risk group and have symptoms, you should call a health professional — a doctor, a nurse, or a public health official. Prepare — but don’t over-stockpile Like washing your hands, having some necessities on hand in your home — if you’re in an economic position to buy them — is something that can help you and others. If you’re quarantined, or if the place where you live asks people to stay home to reduce spread, you and your family will need to have things like food, toiletries, and medications on hand (though as some have pointed out, not everyone is able to get a supply of medications in advance, one of the many shortcomings of the American health care system that have been highlighted by coronavirus). But it’s not just about the people in your home. Isolation measures will cause more people to depend on delivery, as Zeynep Tufekci writes at Scientific American. “But there are only so many delivery workers and while deliveries are better than people going shopping, it’s still a risk to everyone involved,” Tufekci writes. “So if fewer people need deliveries, then fewer people will get sick, and more people who need help such as the elderly can still get deliveries as the services will be less overwhelmed.” Justin Sullivan/Getty Images As fears of the coronavirus are spreading, people are emptying store shelves of cleaning supplies, protective masks, and bottled water in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is especially important since many delivery workers lack paid sick time and, if they make a lot of deliveries to sick people, risk getting an illness they can’t afford. Tufekci recommends enough nonperishable food for two to three weeks, along with some bottled water in case of a disruption in access (though, she notes, this is less likely than community isolation measures), any prescriptions you need, and basic over-the-counter medications. But she and others also warn people not to buy too much. As she points out, masks are not necessary for most healthy people, and are also running out in many places, making it harder for those who do need them, like health care workers, to get them. And if you have the ability to purchase what you need, Torres says, “don’t go overboard with stockpiling,” since that could make it harder for low-income people — who may not be able to afford to order online or go to lots of different stores — to get what they need. In other words, buy just a few hand sanitizers (if you can even find one), Torres says, not a case. Don’t join in racism and xenophobia People have been using the coronavirus, which first sickened people in Wuhan, China, as an opportunity to revive racist stereotypes for months now. As Jenny G. Zhang wrote at Eater in January, “the outbreak has had a decidedly dehumanizing effect, reigniting old strains of racism and xenophobia that frame Chinese people as uncivilized, barbaric ‘others’ who bring with them dangerous, contagious diseases and an appetite for dogs, cats, and other animals outside the norms of Occidental diets.” Media outlets have at times played into stereotypes, often using people in Asia or of Asian descent as the “face” of the coronavirus crisis, as Vox’s Nylah Burton reports, even though “the outbreak is not confined to — nor can be blamed on — Asian people.” In fact, there have been numerous reports of discrimination and even assault against people of Asian descent, perpetrated by people who have used coronavirus as an excuse for racism. And Chinatowns across the country have lost business as people have avoided restaurants and other public places there. Even health officials have sometimes enabled racism — as Torres and Xuemei Cao wrote in a recent USA Today op-ed, the University of California Berkeley health center was recently criticized for an Instagram post that referred to fear of interacting with Asian people as a “common reaction” to coronavirus news. The school apologized after widespread condemnation, and for people who feel safe and able to do so, calling out racism around coronavirus can be an appropriate response, Torres said: “It may take, in some instances, bravery and dealing with awkwardness, but I think it’s important to say something.” Asian American communities have begun to organize and speak up about the racism some are experiencing, Cao told Vox in an email. For instance, Jason Oliver Chang, an associate professor of history and Asian American studies at the University of Connecticut, started a crowdsourced document with resources for fighting racism around coronavirus. The document notes that many are using the hashtag #IAmNotAVirus (started in France as #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus) to share anti-racist messages during the outbreak. Meanwhile, some people may need to check their own biases, Torres said, making sure that their behavior during this time is informed by science and not racism. That means following recommendations from health officials, “not avoiding whole areas just because a certain ethnic or racial group lives there.” If businesses owned by people of Asian descent in your area are struggling, you can help by buying from them — a point city officials around the country have made by visiting Chinatowns in recent weeks. Don’t write off the people most vulnerable to the virus — reach out to them The fact that coronavirus appears most deadly in older people and those with underlying medical conditions has been reassuring for some who are young and relatively healthy. But some have gone beyond reassurance and into dismissing coronavirus as unimportant because it “only” kills the old and sick. This attitude is “really dangerous because it sort of relegates people who have a chronic illness, people who have disabilities, and older adults” to a category of people who somehow don’t matter, Torres said, sending the message that “we don’t have to care about this group as much.” Combating such narratives as a society is about “reaffirming our commitment that every life is valuable,” Torres said. “These are not just, oh, those people over there. These are our neighbors, these are people in our communities, these are people in our families.” And on an individual level, for people who are young and currently healthy, pushing back against ageism can be as simple as making a point to check in on older relatives, neighbors, and people in your community, Torres said. “We need to be aware of the emotional needs of older adults,” said Cao, who also studies older people’s social connections. “Take some time to talk to our parents, extended family members or friends who may be self-isolating at home.” The National Council on Aging has some basic tips for helping older people during this time, including making sure they have plenty of food and medical supplies on hand, including anything needed for dialysis or wound care. If you are caring for older relatives, health officials also recommend identifying a backup caregiver who can step in if you get sick. The CDC has recommended that people over 60 stay home if possible and avoid crowds, and officials note that if you are sick, you should not visit an older adult or someone with a chronic condition that puts them at risk. However, you can always check in on loved ones and community members with a call or FaceTime. “During the outbreak, we can still cultivate our support network online while maintaining social distancing in a physical sense,” Cao said. Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images Charlie Campbell a retired nurse accompanies his mom Dorothy, 88, to see her husband Gene, 89, through his room window at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington where multiple cases of coronavirus have been linked and some patients have died, on March 5, 2020. While some groups of people may be most vulnerable to the virus itself, others, including those who experience anxiety and depression, may be feeling the mental health impact of living in fear of a global pandemic. For those experiencing mental health challenges during this time, Gurwitch, the Duke psychologist, recommends resources like the Disaster Distress Helpline — as well as, if possible, taking a break from the news. To support others who are having a hard time right now, Gurwitch says that just dismissing their worries can be counterproductive. “If I tell you, don’t worry about it, everything’s fine,” she said, “that really discounts my concerns.” Instead, “with our friends and families that are feeling distressed, we can empathize and we can validate that this can be a really scary, anxiety-provoking time.” Rather than telling someone not to worry, consider asking what they are doing for self-care, Gurwitch said. And stay in touch if you can, “because when we sit with our thoughts all by ourselves, they can spiral,” she said. With ever-changing restrictions and recommendations, meeting in person isn’t always possible. But Gurwitch advises people to plan ahead for how they might stay connected with friends, loved ones, and community members if they are quarantined or isolated, whether that’s FaceTiming with relatives or finding a way to stream a church service online. Be informed and mindful of those most impacted Misinformation about coronavirus, whether it comes from social media users or, troublingly, President Trump, can feed xenophobia and make people less safe. Experts agree that ordinary people should be getting their information from trusted sources like the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We really need to make sure that the information that we are basing our actions upon is coming from a trusted messenger,” Gurwitch said. But being informed isn’t just about understanding the virus and appropriate precautions. It’s also about understanding the policy environment in which the virus occurs, and advocating for the changes you want to see to that environment. As Vox’s Dylan Scott points out, the spread of coronavirus is an excellent case, if anyone still needed one, for paid sick leave in the United States. It’s also a reminder of the millions of people in America who are uninsured or underinsured in America, and how vulnerable they are, both medically and financially, to a variety of public health threats beyond just this one. Not everyone has the luxury of thinking about public policy right now, but if you do, there are a lot of places to start. Meanwhile, those in positions of power need to understand what those with less privilege are going through right now. People who work in food service, elder care, or cleaning likely interact with a lot of people every day and may be especially vulnerable to getting sick, Torres said. “These workers are largely women of color, immigrants, making really low wages, stitching together a number of jobs.” Employers — including anyone who employs a nanny or a house cleaner — need to be “working with people who may be sick to be able to rest and recover” as well as making sure they have time off to care for family members who are sick or children whose schools are closed. People with the means to do so can also donate to help those most affected by coronavirus. In the Seattle area, for example, a group of nonprofits and businesses has started the Covid-19 Response Fund, which aims to help people without health insurance, gig economy workers, and others, according to the Seattle Times — the fund is now accepting donations. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy also has a dedicated fund for coronavirus response, as well as general recommendations for donations: the center advises donating to organizations working in places with poor access to medical care, as well as organizations that focus on clean water and general sanitation and hygiene. People can also donate to local food banks. In Washington, a statewide network of food banks is asking for hygiene products, like hand sanitizer. Houston is seeking volunteers to pack meal kits, and in Stamford, Connecticut, a food bank is having a hard time keeping items on its shelves. Food banks are vital to feeding low-income communities and the elderly, so finding out and fulfilling what local food banks need can go a long way during the crisis. Overall, there can be a temptation during times of crisis to think of oneself and one’s family first — and depending on your situation, you may not have the resources to do more. But for people who do have the ability to support others, it’s a crucial time to do so.
2020-03-11 23:27:08
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
Did the coronavirus get more deadly? The death rate, explained.
Ambulance staff wearing protective masks and suits bring in a patient to a hospital in Tehran, Iran, on March 2, 2020. | Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Trump says Covid-19 isn’t that deadly. Here’s what we know. In early march, before the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak had climbed to more than 4,500 people (as of March 11), the World Health Organization — for the first time — released a Covid-19 case fatality rate (CFR). It was not a modest estimate. “Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing last Tuesday. The rate describes the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases. It wasgreater than the previous coronavirus CFR estimate (2 percent in China), far higher than the seasonal flu (which kills 0.1 percent of those infected on average), and even worse than the Spanish flu pandemic (which killed an estimated 2 to 3 percent of those infected). It’s no surprise that, very quickly, media around the world interpreted the news as evidence that the disease is deadlier than feared, and Twitter was buzzing with speculation about Covid-19’s real death rate. The number spread so far so fast, even President Trump took to Fox News on March 5 to try and tamp down the worry: “I think the 3.4 percent number is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations ... personally, I’d say the number is way under 1 percent.” In the end, the 3.4 percent figure appears to have sowed more confusion than clarity. While a WHO spokesperson called the number “the current global ‘snapshot,’” it misled some: It was delivered without context, omitting key factors that determine a disease’s severity. In reality, we still don’t know Covid-19’s precise death rate — but we do have some guesses based on models that are more sophisticated than just dividing the deaths by cases. Epidemiologists and disease modelers studying Covid-19 told Vox a more reliable global case fatality rate is about 1 percent — but there’s still a lot we have to learn about the disease. And even when we better understand how deadly this virus is, it’s likely to look pretty different country to country. What we know about how deadly the coronavirus is One key piece of information we still need is how many people in a population have the virus. That’s the denominator in the CFR equation. When Tedros made his remarks, the WHO had recorded 3,112 deaths and 90,869 cases. Dividing the deaths by the cases, you get 3.4 percent. But that denominator is actually pretty fuzzy. So far, many countries — even those with sophisticated health systems, like the US — have struggled to get adequate testing up and running. And, to date, much of the focus has been on checking people who traveled to affected countries, not the broader population. That means, in many places, health authorities are only picking up a subset of the sick — and perhaps the most severe cases, given that roughly 80 percent of people with Covid-19 have a mild case. (Remember: The sickest are usually the ones who show up at doctor’s offices and hospitals, while there may be hundreds or thousands of others with the virus who never show symptoms or don’t bother going to see a doctor. That’s why the CFR can often look much worse in the early days of an outbreak.) Some of the countries that have done more widespread testing appear to have relatively fewer deaths in the case mix. In South Korea, for example, where thousands of people are tested every day, they’ve picked up more than 7,500 people with the virus. Among those, 54 have died. If we use the WHO’s method of calculating the CFR — and don’t take into account the potential problem of underestimating the number of mild cases out there — a crude case fatality estimate hovers under 1 percent. Contrast that with the US: At least 26 people have died and there are currently more than 750 known cases. That’s a crude CFR of 3.4 percent. This doesn’t mean the virus is deadlier in the US; it’s more likely, once again, an artifact of undertesting or some other factor simply dividing deaths by cases doesn’t account for. (We know that, before CDC removed its testing numbers from its website on March 2, fewer than 500 Americans had been checked for the virus.) “When we see systems that are able to account for not only the really sick, but also those who have infection and are outpatients, the CFR is more accurate and drops considerably,” said Isaac Bogoch, a professor at the University of Toronto. There are other problems with the 3.4 percent CFR: Global estimates hide regional variation that’ll likely emerge because of variations in health system capacity. Consider the death rate of the 2014-’16 Ebola epidemic. The disease was far deadlier in West Africa, where it hit some of the poorest countries, than it was in America, where nearly every person who fell ill had access to state-of-the-art treatment. As of February 20, the WHO also reported lots of regional disparities in the disease’s deadliness even within China: 3.8 percent on average but 5.8 percent in Wuhan, Hubei province (where the virus first emerged), and 0.7 percent in other areas in China. (A WHO spokesperson acknowledged these regional differences and said we’re likely to see something similar “in different countries and outbreaks.”) One final consideration: CFRs do change over time. That’s exactly what happened in China, as you can see in this figure from the WHO. Even the first and hardest-hit province, Hubei, saw its death rate tumble as public health measures were strengthened and clinicians got better at identifying and treating people with the disease: WHO Case fatality ratio (reported deaths among total cases) for Covid-19 in China over time and by location, as of February 20, 2020. As this pandemic threat wears on, we may also see more deaths — which could cause the CFR to increase if those mild cases don’t appear. “It takes a long time to die” from Covid-19, said University of Toronto epidemiologist David Fisman. “We estimate the length of stay in cases who died in ICU in China to be 28 days on average — three days in hospital and 25 days in ICU.” But most experts anticipate the more we test for Covid-19, the more mild cases we’ll find. “To get a [true] rate, you need the deaths — which you can more reliably pick up — and you need cases, which you can less reliably pick up,” Lawrence Gostin, a global health law professor at Georgetown University, summed up. “It’s not irresponsible to come out with that [3.4 percent] number, but it should have been more clearly interpreted as not being reliable, or at least mention it’ll vary in regions.” A better way to calculate the Covid-19 death rate NEJM Visualization of Covid-19 with transmission electron microscopy. The ideal way to arrive at an accurate CFR involves a survey of the populations affected to find out who has antibodies for the virus, including folks who didn’t even know they had it, said Maia Majumder of Boston Children’s Hospital. That’ll give experts the denominator, or the real case toll, in the CFR equation. “Until we’ve done [that] — and I’m sure it’ll happen sometime in the future — there are going to be some people that have mild infections or are asymptomatic infections that we’re not picking up.” Case fatality rate (CFR) is time- & population-varying. Given that mild cases of #COVID19 are generally identified at a slower pace than severe cases AND that care standards (& demographics) vary across affected countries, responsible discussions about CFR *must* include context. https://t.co/ddqFt2P6Nv— Dr. Maia Majumder (@maiamajumder) March 4, 2020 As it stands, no such serology test has been completed, though China has approved at least two, and Singapore says it’s already using an experimental test to check for antibodies in patients there. In the meantime, we have disease modelers that can give us a provisional portrait of Covid-19’s deadliness, accounting for things like the delay in the reporting of deaths and potential uncounted cases. In a new but not-yet-peer-reviewed preprint out of Switzerland’s University of Bern, researchers did just that, using data on the outbreak from China’s CDC. They came up with an overall CFR of 1.6 percent — suggesting Covid-19 is less deadly than SARS, which had a CFR of around 10 percent. It’s also less than the WHO’s estimate. Importantly, the researchers also found a wide variation across the age spectrum: Less than 1 percent of people in their 20s die from the virus, they estimated, while the rate shoots up to 18 percent for 80-year-olds. Christina Aminashaun/Vox “This 1.6 percent [figure] is based on a lot of assumptions we feel comfortable with, but it’s not hard data,” Julien Riou, a Bern research fellow and author on the paper, emphasized. “It’s more [an attempt] to correct the biases we know about.” It’s also based solely on China’s data — and, again, the outbreaks in other countries will likely play out differently. So these figures are not only likely to change within China and outside over time — once we have better data, they’re going to look different depending on how strong a country’s health system is. But it’ll be a while before we know the true number of cases and have a better understanding of the deaths. Until then, when you see case fatality rates floating around, ask what they’re based on.
2020-03-11 23:11:32
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
Why the new coronavirus is so hard to cure
Despite decades of research and centuries of experience, viruses like those that cause Covid-19 remain major health threats. | Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images Viruses like the one causing Covid-19 are a tricky target for medicine. In the race to develop a treatment for the rapidly spreading illness Covid-19, dozens of drugs are being tested around the world.It’s an urgent mission because the latest data suggests that some 20 percent of people infected have serious illness, and around 1 percent may die. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress on Wednesday that Covid-19 is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. The danger stems from the pathogen itself: a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Teeny tiny viruses are one of the biggest threats that humanity has ever faced. They are behind some of the most devastating pandemics ever known. Even with all of modern medicine, we have only eradicated one virus, smallpox, which required a decades-long global mass vaccination effort. SARS-CoV-2, the brand new foe, is spreading fast even as entire countries, like Italy, are locking down to prevent its transmission. Estimates of its potential impact vary, but Brian Monahan,the attending physician of the US Congress, told lawmakers Wednesday he expects between 70 million and 150 million people in the US to get infected with the virus over time. Right now, doctors are using general treatment measures to control the symptoms of Covid-19, but there’s not yet a specific vaccine or cure. Several factors make viruses like SARS-CoV-2 a particularly pernicious threat to humans. And we now know more about viruses like this one than we ever have. Scientists have learned more about how they attack and have developed countermeasures. They’ve also come up with ways to keep some of the deadliest of these tiny germs in check and are slowly inching toward cures. The question now is whether that research will bear fruit in time toblunt the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic and help us get ahead of the next outbreak. Why viruses are such a tricky target for medicine Viruses are the most bizarre germs. Using just a handful of molecules, they assemble into all kinds of tiny shapes, and with just a small set of instructions, they can wreak havoc across entire ecosystems and threaten crop harvests. They can travel between hosts through the air, water, soil, and droplets. They mutate rapidly. And they are truly everywhere, from the oceans to the skies. Compared to infectious agents like bacteria and fungi, viruses are much smaller and simpler. In fact, viruses can even make other germs sick. Yet they’re so simple that most scientists don’t even consider them to be living organisms. For instance, the poliovirus is just 30 nanometers wide. The SARS-CoV-2 virus behind Covid-19 is about 120 nanometers. Meanwhile, the E. coli bacterium is more than 16 times larger than SARS-CoV-2, and the human red blood cell is 64 times larger. A human cell uses 20,000 different types of proteins. HIV uses just 15. SARS-CoV-2 uses 33. With all that extra space, larger pathogens like bacteria store the molecular tools they need to make copies of themselves and to fight off infections of their own. These tools are also what make bacteria vulnerable to antibiotics, drugs that interfere with molecular mechanisms in bacteria but not those of human cells, so they have a targeted effect. But antibiotics don’t work on viruses. That’s because viruses don’t reproduce on their own. Rather, they invade cells and hijack their host’s machinery to make copies of themselves. “Bacteria are very different from us, so there’s a lot of different targets for drugs. Viruses replicate in cells, so they use a lot of the same mechanisms that our cells do,” said Diane Griffin, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. “So it’s been harder to find drugs that target the virus but don’t damage the cell as well.” There’s also a huge variety of viruses, and they mutate quickly, so tailored treatments and vaccines against a virus can lose effectiveness over time. Another factor that makes viruses so difficult to treat is how our bodies respond to them. Once the immune system detects a virus, it makes antibodies. These are proteins that attach to a virus or a virus-infected cell, marking it for destruction or preventing it from infecting new cells. The problem is that a virus can cause a lot of damage and infect other people before the immune system readies its defenses. When those defenses kick in, they can cause other problems like fever and inflammation. And by the time these symptoms show up, the virus may already be in decline, or it may be too late to act. “Often at the time that virus diseases present themselves, it’s fairly far into the replication of that virus in that person,” Griffin said. “Many symptoms of the virus disease are actually manifestations of the immune response to the disease, so often things are sort of starting to get better at the time that you actually even figure out somebody has a virus infection.” How doctors and scientists currently fight viral infections Researchers use two broad strategies to combat viral infections: slowing down the damage from the virus, and speeding up and strengthening the body’s countermeasures. Antiviral drugs are one approach to slowing down viruses. Like antibiotics, these are drugs that hamper the virus without causing much collateral damage. “The majority of antivirals are targeting the viruses [themselves]. That means the components of the viruses, the viral enzymes, the surface proteins,” said Pei-Yong Shi, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. By attacking different parts of the virus, antiviral compounds can prevent a virus from entering cells or they can interfere with its reproduction. For example, remdesivir, under development by Gilead Sciences, is being studied as a way to treat Covid-19. It works by blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus from copying its genetic material, RNA, the instructions the virus uses to replicate itself. Remdesivir resembles a component of RNA, but when it’s taken up by the virus, it causes the copying process to stop. Crucially, remdesivir fools the virus, but not human cells. Protease inhibitors are another class of antiviral drugs, like lopinavir and ritonavir used to treat HIV (the -vir suffix is used to denote an antiviral drug, similar to how -cillin denotes an antibiotic). These compounds block an enzyme in the virus that normally trims proteins down, allowing the virus to infect other cells. When the enzyme is blocked, the virus doesn’t mature properly, rendering it inert. Researchers are also studying how to use antibodies to a given virus collected from engineered animals or from people previously infected with the same virus. By administering antibodies as a treatment, the recipient’s immune system can get a head start on identifying and eliminating the viral threat rather than waiting to build up its own antibodies. There are also drugs like interferons that trigger a general immune response. These are a series of signaling molecules that make cells in the body more resistant to infection, inhibiting the spread of a virus while the rest of the immune system catches up. It’s mainly used to control persistent infections like hepatitis B. But interferons can have severe side effects like inflammation, so it requires fine-tuning to treat a virus without doing more harm than good. Doctors have used interferon with other antiviral drugs to treat Covid-19 in China and researchers are investigating this approach as another potential therapy. Doctors can also use a number of different therapies to limit the immune system’s response to viruses, like fever and inflammation, which can sometimes cause more damage to a patient than the virus itself. Anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids and chloroquine are often used to lessen these symptoms. And there are also vaccines for some viruses and efforts to develop new ones. These are treatments that coach the immune system to detect and fight off a virus before an infection takes place. These are powerful tools for controlling viruses across an entire population, but they’re tricky to optimize for a rapidly changing pathogen, and they require extensive, time-consuming testing to ensure they are safe for a wide segment of the population. However, even if effective treatments enter the market, the virus will likely remain a threat. As we’ve learned with influenza (another respiratory disease caused by viruses), despite updated vaccines, new treatments, and a long history of public health responses, there are still between 12,000 and 60,000 flu deaths each year in the US. Covid-19 could remain a persistent threat, too. The best way to fight a virus is to reduce the spread of infections To be clear, the best way to fight a virus is to prevent infections in the first place. And that depends on public health measures during an outbreak, like quarantines and social distancing, as well as personal tactics like robust, 20-second hand-washing with soap. While there is a large and growing body of research on drugs to control viruses, they are still few and far between. “We don’t have that many antiviral drugs for acute infections,” Griffin said. “You often don’t have any choice except to let it run its course.” Developing new drugs can take years of testing, and by then, an outbreak may have faded, or another more threatening pathogen may have emerged. Even viruses for which we do have antiviral drugs, like influenza, the illness often isn’t detected in time to make it worth the treatment. Other viruses like HIV can be controlled with drugs, but not eliminated, as hidden reservoirs of the virus remain in the body. And within a population, there are always people who are more susceptible to infections, like people with depressed immune systems. For them, treatments and vaccines may not work, so they depend on the people around them to be immunized and to take proper infection control procedures. All of which brings us back to prevention as the most effective way to combat viruses within a population. That means global coordinated action can be one of the best strategies to control the smallest pathogens. And simple tools like soap and water can be more effective at fighting a pandemic than the best drugs.
2020-03-11 23:00:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
Staging West Side Story in 2020 is an act of hubris. Ivo van Hove’s production shows why.
Shereen Pimentel, Isaac Powell, and the cast of West Side Story. | Jan Versweyveld The new West Side Story is led by a brilliant cast. But its reinventions don’t always work. With “indoor kid” the new trend of the season, and New Yorkers and tourists alike opting to stay home with one eye on the coronavirus news, Broadway theaters are staying open — and trying to figure out ways to bring in audience members, too. Stalwarts like The Lion King are seeing their ticket sales drop to post-9/11 levels, and Frozen’s ticket returns dropped by $126,000 last week. Now, Broadway mega-producer Scott Rudin is lowering the price to $50 on the unsold tickets to every show he currently has on the Great White Way, including Ivo van Hove’s controversial new West Side Story revival. Is it immoral for an industry whose customer base is mostly older people, the population most likely to be affected by coronavirus, to try to bring in audiences at the probable expense of public health? I am no bioethicist, but it seems like the answer is probably yes! Should you choose nevertheless to roll the dice and show up to see West Side Story at the Broadway Theatre — which smells so strongly of bleach right now that walking into it islike wading into a swimming pool — here is what you will get. West Side Story is one of those shows that is simultaneously so immortal and so dated that to radically re-stage it in 2020 feels like an act of hubris. Why do we need another version of “Tonight” or “The Dance at the Gym” when the ones we have from the original 1957 Broadway staging and the 1961 movie are already perfect? And what could you possibly do with that script full of daddy-os and buddy-boys and racial caricatures that would feel fresh and urgent today? Traps loom everywhere you turn. Nonetheless, 2020 will see the premiere of two new West Side Stories. In December, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story will hit the big screen. And since its debut on February 20, West Side Story is on Broadway in a new revival directed by Ivo van Hove. The problems of staging West Side Story in 2020 are exactly the kind that would appeal to van Hove. He’s a Belgian director who emerged onto the New York theater scene from the Netherlands in the late ’90s, and he has managed to keep on being described as “avant garde” in reviews like this one, even after he’s mounted multiple successful Broadway shows. Among his fans, van Hove is known for breaking down classic American stories, shows like The Crucible (on Broadway in 2016) and Angels in America (at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2014). He’s known for freeing works from the shackles of naturalism, stripping his shows to their component parts, and revealing new angles to stories we thought we already knew. Van Hove skeptics, meanwhile, argue the director’s aesthetic has begun to calcify into schtick, a collection of tricks and nothing more: empty minimalism, meaningless video projections, and a grinding sense of misery. On one level, van Hove would appear to be a perfect fit for a show as iconic, American, and specifically rooted in time as West Side Story. And on another level, he looks like the worst possible fit. Van Hove’s West Side Story doesn’t prove either camp right about him. It’s an ambitious, only partially coherent production that is disappointing mostly for beingjust a little bit boring. This West Side Story has a mostly great cast. But van Hove’s reinventions let them down. Jan Versweyveld Yesenia Ayala and the cast of West Side Story. Mambo! Removed from van Hove’s West Side Story are the following: the charming and sprightly “I Feel Pretty;” Jerome Robbins’s iconic finger-snapping choreography; the fire escape from the fire escape scene; the all-white Jets; the 1950s setting; and much of Arthur Laurents’s book. Added: A massive video screen backdrop on which is projected intermittently closeups of the onstage action or black-and-white slow motion footage of the actors cavorting down empty streets. Surprisingly conventional new choreography from the iconoclast Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Jets made up mostly of black actors. A few smartphones. So, so many neck tattoos. The videos are what you notice most. As the Jets make their first entrance, staring out of the vast, bare stage in a row, a camera from somewhere in the audience zooms into their faces, which swim up onto the mirrored backdrop behind them. Later, doors will swing open in the mirror to reveal tiny dollhouse sets: Doc’s drugstore, the sweatshop where Maria and her family work. They’re set into the mirror, so we can’t see them fully from our seats. Instead, when the cast goes inside, camera operators slip inside with them, and we see their movements splashed onto the backdrop around the doors, a split second out of sync with the audio. The video is a cinematic effect for this theatrical space, giving us the wide shot and the closeup at the same time. It’s a standard van Hove technique, and here, it’s only partially successful. It’s fantastic at making the stage violence feel real: When a Shark slices open a Jet’s ear, we see the blade lower and the ensuing blood spurt in so much detail that the stakes automatically feel high. But West Side Story lives and dies by its heightened, operatic emotions, but video only ever distances us from them. Whenever the able young cast is projecting to the last row of the theater, the video shows the artifice of their movement, and whenever they scale their reactions down enough for the video to read as naturalistic, they vanish from the stage. Somehow, we are always presented with their worst angles. That’s a particular shame with this West Side Story cast, which is by and large very good. Even van Hove detractors will admit that he can always pull good performances out of his actors, and there’s an earnest sweetness to this young cast — 33 of whom are making their Broadway debuts — that goes a long way inbalancing that stark, empty stage. Particularly strong are the lovers. Shereen Pimentel brings a grounded and earthy presence to her Maria that she contrasts beautifully with a pure operatic soprano; her Maria is young and sheltered, but she isn’t naive. Pimentel’s strength makes the loss of “I Feel Pretty” hurt all the more. Without that showcase, Maria is relegated to duets, but you want to see what Pimentel could do with a solo. As Tony, Isaac Powell runs away with the show. He moves with a nervy, scrappy sincerity: When he spins in ecstatic circles across the stage during “Tonight,” you believe he’s fallen in love, but you also believe him when he launches himself into the rumble between Jets and Sharks. And when he holds himself still during the deceptively simple “Something’s Coming,” nervous energy pours off him in waves. After that setup, you understand exactly why “The Dance at the Gym” turns into a hormonal pressure bomb. But when you turn away from the leads, you run into West Side Story’s casting controversy. Amar Ramasar, who plays Bernardo, was briefly fired from New York City Ballet after trading sexually explicit photos of other dancers without their consent with another company member. (An arbitrator later ruled that Ramasar should have been suspended rather than fired, and he was brought back into the company.) Protesters have demonstrated outside the theater, and they’ve generated an online petition to see Ramasar fired from West Side Story, but producer Scott Rudin has maintained that the show will stand by him. Onstage, Ramasar’s Bernardo seems not remotely worth the trouble. His fake Spanish accent is cheesy, and although he leaps and spins with elegant balletic lines, he tends to fade into the background even during dance numbers. Yesenia Ayala, the triple threat who swishes her ponytail across the stage as Anita, eats him alive. Dating West Side Story most, even more than its frequent and unironic use of the word “daddy-o,” are the racial politics. The Puerto Rican Sharks are written as cartoons, sentimentally and without specificity, and even when they shout, “Mambo!” during “The Dance at the Gym,” the music they dance to is never rooted in actual Latin rhythms. This version of West Side Story, although it ostensibly takes place in modern day, is not particularly interested in fixing that problem. (It’s worth noting that the dance company did succeed in getting De Keersmaeker to let them develop a Latin dance vocabulary for certain numbers.) Van Hove has diversified the traditionally all-white Jets with a majority black cast. But that’s a muddled change: Why do the black Jets seem to feel more solidarity with their white fellows than with the Puerto Rican Sharks? And when the comic vaudeville number “Gee, Officer Krupke” turns into a meditation on police brutality, the choice just feels overlyliteral and didactic. The critique of the police was there in the song all along; we didn’t also need shaky cam video footage of cops arresting disenfranchised youths playing in the background to get that. But Van Hoves has never been all that interested in or good at talking about race in America. What he is supposed to be actually good at — what his special genius as a director is supposed to be — is finding the new and unexplored angles in all the classic stories we thought we already knew. His West Side Story never quite gets there. It offers us a luminous and tender love story on the strength of the performances from Pimentel and Powell, and the videos give us a spectacularly violent landscape of gang warfare. But we already knew that West Side Story was both tender and violent. We also already knew that about Romeo and Juliet, its source material. That is, in fact, what both of these stories are famous for. And Van Hove’s version is not tender or violent in any particularly new, exciting ways. So in the end, all that experimentation, all that stripping away and building back up, ends in a faint sense of anticlimax. Van Hove’s West Side Story is perfectly fine. But it fails to offer us a compelling reason for it to exist.
2020-03-11 22:40:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
How to self-isolate if you think you have coronavirus
Security staff eat at a self-made isolation table in Zhoushan City, China, on February 25, 2020. | Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images Based on the best advice from medical professionals, officials, and experts. The growing awareness of the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the United States means that everyone is going to have to challenge its rise via different measures. If you have a confirmed case of the Covid-19 coronavirus disease but don’t need immediate medical attention, health professionals suggest self-isolation. That means to separating yourself from other people so that you can get better without infecting anyone else. (Experts also recommend self-isolation or quarantine for those who have contacted a health professional and show symptoms of the disease — including fever, dry cough, and fatigue — but haven’t yet been tested yet, and for those who have been in close contact with people known to have the virus.) It’s a highly effective method for slowing the spread of the virus, and one of the ways the 2003 SARS outbreak was contained. That’s why medical professionals insist that anyone showing signs of symptoms stay away from others as best they can while checking in with their health care providers for further advice on how long to stay isolated, which in some cases can be as long as 14 days. Self-isolation might slow the rate of infections, allowing hospitals to treat those require attention without getting overburdened. But it’s a surprisingly involved process requiring a lot of vigilance and dedication, and if possible help from a spouse, partner, friend, or family member. (This is different than self-quarantine, which is when someone who doesn’t have symptoms yet, but came in contact with some who does, keeps away from people as while to see if they’re sick.) Luckily, medical experts and officials from across the globe have listed best practices for when you’re at home keeping away from others because of Covid-19, which might require masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and lots of soap. Here, then, is a quick guide to those practices. How someone with coronavirus can best self-isolate The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) list five main things one should do during self-isolation. Some are extremely simple; the tricky part is fully adhering to them over a potentially two-week period. 1. Stay home Seriously, stay home. That should seem obvious from the term “self-isolation,” but it remains the top best practice. “Don’t go out if ill,” Tom Frieden, the former CDC director, wrote for Think Global Health on Tuesday. Someone with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms shouldn’t leave the house unless it’s for medical care. That means avoiding any public areas like work, buses, schools, taxis, or grocery stores. If there’s someone who can help purchase and deliver food or supplies as necessary — whether a friend or a service like Instacart — have them get what’s needed. In the meantime, if you can’t work, use the time to catch up books, or television. “Let’s encourage our digital streaming services, including Netflix, Disney, Hulu, Apple, Amazon and delivery services to offer free services to people on home quarantine and in places with community transmission in order to make staying at home more pleasant — and therefore increase the chance people will comply,” Frieden also wrote. 2. Separate from other people and pets If you live with someone, say a spouse or a partner, or have animals, it will be a challenge to keep away from them — but it’s precisely what needs to happen. If possible, stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from everyone else. The advice is to only come out of the room to grab food when no one else is in the kitchen, and then disinfect all the areas. That could include countertops, drawer and refrigerator handles, etc. You should take food back to the isolated area, preferably the bedroom. And don’t share plates, cups, or utensils. After use, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water manually or in a dishwasher. As for the pets, it’s out an abundance of caution that the CDC recommends you stay away from animal friends. “Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus,” the CDC explains on its website. If you can’t keep away from your pets, wash hands after every interaction. Of course, you can still tell your furry friends you love them through the closed door. 3. Keep the fluids from coughs and sneezes out of the air or off surfaces Everyone’s been told to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow to stop the spread of the virus through droplets, and the same holds during self-isolation. If you can’t wear a mask to protect others from your particles, either because there’s a shortage or because it causes trouble breathing, “then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room,” says the CDC. The not staying-in-the-same-room part is key. A spouse, partner, or friend shouldn’t use the same bedding as the sick person. It’s recommended that the healthier person sleep elsewhere, either in another room if available or on a couch. 4. Wash hands It’s the best thing a person can do to avoid infection: If there’s a virus on your hand and you touch your nose, mouth, or eyes, you could be infected. But especially if someone is sick, or another person is around trying to care for the sick person, washing for at least 20 seconds and often with soap and water is the best possible thing to do. If you doesn’t have soap and water, medical professionals recommend using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. (No, Tito’s vodka doesn’t count.) There must be at least 60 percent alcohol for that process to work, and all surfaces of the hands must be rubbed until they’re dry. 5. Clean and wash “high-touch” items in the house Cleaning the kitchen, as mentioned above, is paramount, but that’s not all that needs disinfecting. It is unclear how much of a factor spread of the virus from surfaces is, but thorough cleaning is still recommended. Pretty much anything that gets touched in the house should be cleaned thoroughly. That means “counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day,” as the CDC writes. Bathrooms are often overlooked but are important as they may have blood, stool, or other bodily fluids in them that could spread the virus. That’s why it’s best that the sick person use their own bathroom while others in the house use another one, if available. If there’s only one bathroom, the NHS recommends a rotation schedule whereby “the isolated person us[es] the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves.” Everyone should use separate towels if they don’t already. This best practice extends to laundry, too. One should “immediately” remove any clothes or bedding that has blood, stool, or bodily fluids on them, preferably using disposable gloves. The person who removed the items, preferably a partner or friend — not the sick person — should wash their hands afterward. And per the CDC, “place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste.” When to end self-isolation The reason for the focus on self-isolation is that it’s very effective but also very tricky. Understanding the nuances can help keep others safe and possibly one’s own recovery. Still, a sick person may feel antsy to end self-isolation. As the NHS puts it, those isolated tend to find the process “boring or frustrating” with one’s mood getting low, feeling worried, or have trouble sleeping. But self-isolation shouldn’t end until “the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low,” says the CDC. To know when the time is right, the decision should be made “in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.” In other words, seek professional advice before ending the isolation. Hopefully that day comes sooner rather than later after following the recommended best practices.
2020-03-11 22:30:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
The coronavirus is creating weird new business opportunities, from robots to anti-spitting hats
Coronavirus-themed products have become a micromarket in recent weeks. | AFP via Getty Images Many companies are coming up with creative ways to profit from the coronavirus outbreak. Some are stranger than others. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is crashing global markets and affecting everything from air travel to the film industry to local businesses. Still, some companies stand to benefit somehow from this outbreak, which has now spread to scores of countries and infected more than 100,000 people. They include firms that sell deep-cleaning products, remote services like Peloton and Zoom, and, of course, Purell, the brand of a popular hand sanitizer. But the sellers of some lesser-known products also seem to view the coronavirus as a unique business opportunity. These companies are pushing the idea that gadgets like air purifiers, robots, and even spit-shielding hats could be helpful in combating the virus. While some of these vendors are actively promoting the link between their products and Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, other companies say consumers are making the connection themselves and seeking out their products. Like face masks, some unusual products might be useful for health care workers on the front lines of this outbreak but probably aren’t meant for the average healthy person. So, in the interest of making sense of this reality, we rounded up some of the weirdest ways companies are seeking to benefit from the novel coronavirus. Robot sellers see the coronavirus as a chance to broadcast their bots’ abilities Some robots are lending a helping hand in the battle against the coronavirus, facilitating conversation between infected patients and hospital staff and delivering necessities, including medication. But at least one robot vendor has used the outbreak to push the abilities of its “service robot,” an automaton that can be programmed to answer questions, quiz people on their health, and give tours. Recently, Philadelphia-based Promobot deployed one of its robots in Times Square, as Reuters reported. The robot, which has also been seen in New York City’s Bryant Park, essentially quizzes people to see if they have the symptoms of the coronavirus. At one point, the robot was also, apparently, handing out face masks, even though health authorities have urged healthy people not to use them. The robot was eventually kicked out of Bryant Park, though the company says as many as 30 people a day still interact with the device, which is now sitting in a New York-based office (Promobot didn’t say how those people actually get to the robot). Still, the company says it has since received interest in the robot from an airport, a museum, and other “crowded places.” Interacting with the robot appears to require using a tablet, which means lots of people touching a surface that could potentially transmit a virus. That’s less than optimal during the outbreak of a highly contagious disease. The coronavirus may also be motivating some companies to move toward automation faster than expected. CNBC reported that some companies appear less susceptible to coronavirus setbacks because they’re already significantly automated, while the Israel-based warehouse automation company Caja Robotics told Recode it has seen a 25-30 percent increase in inbound inquiries about its technology in the past month. According to the company, many potential customers are looking to make their production capabilities more immune to disruption caused by events like the novel coronavirus outbreak. Some air purifier companies are making misleading claims about their products Back in 2003, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about websites selling personal air purifiers, among other products, that claimed to prevent the spread of SARS. Now, history seems to be repeating itself with some air purifier manufacturers floating the idea their systems can neutralize the novel coronavirus. Others say they’ve started tests to see if their devices might be useful against the virus. The air purifier manufacturer Airpura, for instance, has been advertising that at least one of its devices can “remove the coronavirus from your airstream.” (The company did not respond to a request for comment.) At least one online platform, the air treatment e-commerce site Sylvane, has also promoted the idea that such purifiers might be useful. One of the founders of the air purifier company Molekule made some lofty claims about his technology to a local news outlet. “I am very confident that this technology will destroy coronavirus,” Dr. Yogi Goswami told a Tampa Bay CBS affiliate. “Although we have not tested it on that virus itself, we have tested it on viruses of that type,” At the same time, Molekule’s $800 air purifier has been flagged by advertising watchdogs for making unsubstantiated claims about its product. Wirecutter called the Molekule “the worst air purifier [it’s] ever tested.” Air purifiers can certainly be useful for health care facilities, but their utility for the average person in fighting the coronavirus is probably low, according to a BuzzFeed report. But even if this technology does work, these devices are still much more expensive that the CDC’s very simple recommendations for preventing the spread of the coronavirus: Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, and avoid crowded spaces if you’re sick. Companies want to cash in on putting thermal scanning everywhere In response to the coronavirus outbreak, some companies are moving quickly to integrate or advertise their existing thermal imaging capabilities. The technology scans a person from afar and estimates what their temperature is, so some think these systems could spot fevers and ultimately infected persons. We’ve already seen this integrated into facial recognition cameras in China, but now it’s showing up elsewhere. ThirdEye claims its augmented reality glasses can be fitted with thermal imaging to make this process more seamless. The company says it has received about 2,000 orders related to the coronavirus outbreak and will ship the devices within the next month and a half. Some of ThirdEye’s recent orders are meant to be used by airport workers at Hong Kong International Airport. The idea is that the AR glasses equipped with the thermal scanning feature could automatically tell airport officials if someone has an elevated temperature. The glasses could also broadcast those imaging feeds directly to doctors who can advise those workers. “They’re moving thousands of people every day, and our glasses provide a hands-free use case for them where previously they were using this really expensive medical machine that provided an accurate thermal scan,” ThirdEye’s chief executive Nick Cherukuri told Recode. “Our glasses provide both telehealth presence as well as thermal scanning.” Thermal imaging tech is also being explored by transportation companies. Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur, a Chinese car service company, is adding infrared thermal imaging technology inside some of its vehicles. The company explained in a press release that the cameras can track the temperatures of drivers and passengers. If an observed temperature is high, a warning is generated, and that’s fed into a system that makes a “judgment based on big data and AI algorithms.” Shouqi Limousine The list of companies pushing thermal imaging products goes on, although it’s sometimes unclear how effective any of these products might be at combating the outbreak. Hawkeye Systems, for example, sells an AI-powered bodycam tool with thermal imaging, and its chief operating officer Colby Marshall told Recode that the company has asked for feedback from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see if such tech might be useful. Marshall did not specify exactly what those discussions involved. The coronavirus is motivating a surge in high-tech disinfectant devices The novel coronavirus has had some consumers looking for tools to disinfect their surrounding areas, including high-tech electrostatic spray guns. While you might normally have disinfectant sprayed from a bottle, these types of guns make use of charged particles to ensure that a substance fully covers a surface. Some companies are now marketing these guns in response to the coronavirus. A couple of them — one called Emist and another called EFS Clean — are being used in health care facilities in Singapore and by school officials in Utah. One person on LinkedIn showed how he used one to disinfect his seat on an airplane. Jeremiah Gray, the COO of EarthSafe, a biodegradable chemicals company selling one of these systems, told Recode that demand right now is 100 times greater than it normally is during flu season, and explained that these devices are usually purchased by offices, schools, and transit authorities. Gray says the company is also getting interest from people looking for these devices for their own homes, including parents at preschools and those who see that the sprayers being used at places like LegoLand. “They’re finding us everywhere, right now,” he told Recode. “It’s become now a national dialogue, both within peoples’ homes as well as within peoples’ offices and businesses.” E-commerce sellers are pushing “anti-spitting” hats and other weird products to block the coronavirus Aside from the growing number of gadgets being marketed during the coronavirus outbreak, there are also some strange low-tech products drawing attention. On Amazon, for example, you’ll find a slew of new listings for hats that come fitted with protective “screens” that are meant to block someone spitting or sneezing into your face. There are baseball hats with screens, sun hats with screens, and even visors with screens. The premise seems to be that the coronavirus, which can spread through droplets, will be blocked by the device. Some of these hat listings, however, are being taken down. Amazon has removed more than a million products that claim to be effective against the coronavirus. This listing for an “anti drool anti COVID-19 virus cap,” for instance, is no longer active. Some listings that don’t mention the coronavirus still appear to work: This coronavirus anti-spitting “protective hat” is a “2020 Trend Hat.” On Etsy, coronavirus-themed products have also become a weird micromarket. Several sellers are now marketing T-shirts with coronavirus-related images, while some are plastered with reminders to “wash your hands.” Many of these listings remain up despite Etsy also cracking down on products being sold related to Covid-19. This morning, Recode found an “I Survived Coronavirus” cuff, merchandise tagged with “Don’t Cough on Me,” and a coronavirus-themed mug all available for purchase. “I survived Coronavirus” bracelet that’s available on Esty. Meanwhile on Craigslist, you can find sellers pushing products that are meant to deal with the outbreak, including a seller of an air purifier that can help “fight and trap coronavirus,” and another offering a Covid-19-inspired “emergency bug-out bag[s].” Some Craiglist sellers are also using coronavirus as a marketing opportunity. There are people selling shipping containers, a resistance bike-pedal exercise machine, and someone selling a car that they say allows you to “[k]eep the Coronavirus out with windows up and sunroof closed but moonroof engaged.” A shipping container that a Craiglist poster suggests might be useful during a “coronavirus quarantine.” And, of course, you’ll find lots and lots of masks. Why not buy a mask? Well, according to the CDC, masks are primarily helpful for sick people who are exhibiting symptoms and don’t want to risk spreading the illness. There’s also serious concern that mass demand could create a shortage of masks, which are desperately needed by health care workers who must frequently interact with sick people, including those diagnosed with Covid-19. Coronavirus-inspired products are a reminder that some companies always stand to benefit during a global crisis. In the case of this current pandemic, Netflix will entertain people stuck at home, and video platforms like Zoom will power businesses whose work can be done remotely. Meanwhile, all sort of disinfectant brands, like Clorox and Purell, will benefit from companies and customers eager to stay clean and cut down on the spread of the virus. But we must also keep in mind that people eager to protect themselves from the coronavirus will search for other products to help, regardless of whether or not those products are actually useful. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember that some companies pushing these goods are just hoping to make a quick buck by exploiting people’s fears. Open Sourced is made possible by the Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.
2020-03-11 21:40:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
The Supreme Court just allowed Trump to continue sending migrants back to Mexico
A woman cooks at a camp at Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico, on November 1, 2019. | Lexie Harrison-Cripps/AFP via Getty Images The policy is a major barrier to asylum seekers arriving at the southern border. The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed President Donald Trump to continue sending migrants back to Mexico while they await decisions on their asylum applications in the US for the foreseeable future, setting up yet another high-stakes legal battle over one of the administration’s core immigration policies. Without explaining their reasoning, the justices decided to allow the policy to remain in effect while the government appeals a lower court ruling that would have blocked the policy in California and Arizona, but kept it in place across all other areas of the southern border. If the Supreme Court decides to take up that case — the most likely outcome — the policy will remain in effect until the justices issue a final ruling. If not, then the lower court’s block will stand. The policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or the “Remain in Mexico” program, went into effect in January 2019. Since then, more than 60,000 asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico, where they’re under threat from drug cartels and kidnappers and are dependent on volunteers for basic supplies. The Ninth Circuit had blocked MPP earlier this month, allowing migrants to present themselves at ports of entry and to be admitted to the US to pursue their asylum claims, rather than being forced to stay in Mexico. But it delayed implementing the block on the policy for a week to give the high court time to intervene. “The Court of Appeals unequivocally declared this policy to be illegal,” Judy Rabinovitz, special counsel in the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement Wednesday. “The Supreme Court should as well. Asylum seekers face grave danger and irreversible harm every day this depraved policy remains in effect.” It’s the third time that the justices have prevented lower courts from blocking Trump’s immigration policies. They also allowed the administration to implement a rule that prevents migrants from applying for asylum if they passed through another country other than their own before arriving in the US and a policy that imposes a wealth test on immigrant applying to enter the US, extend their visa, or convert their temporary immigration status into a green card. The Trump administration had warned in court filings that blocking the policy would create a “substantial risk of immediate chaos on the border, threatening irreparable harm to the government, migrants, and the United States public.” The administration has credited the policy for the recent 75 percent drop in arrests at the southern border as well as for helping to all but end the practice of detaining families — since most have instead been sent back to Mexico under the program. A Department of Justice spokesperson reiterated the importance of MPP to the administration’s efforts to improve border security in a statement on Wednesday. “The Migrant Protection Protocols ... have been critical to restoring the government’s ability to manage the Southwest border and to work cooperatively with the Mexican government toaddress illegal immigration,” they said. In its decision blocking the policy, the Ninth Circuit found that the government had no authority to send asylum applicants to a neighboring country under immigration statute, or even based on longstanding practice. The courtalso found that the program violated the US’s international obligations, codified in the Refugee Act, to not return asylum seekers to countries where they would likely face persecution. “[U]ncontested evidence in the record establishes that non-Mexicans returned to Mexico under the MPP risk substantial harm, even death, while they await adjudication of their applications for asylum,” the opinion states. The humanitarian crisis MPP has created Before MPP, both migrants who waited in line at the border and those who were apprehended between ports of entry would have been held at a US Customs and Border Protection processing facility until a border agent determined whether they should be released, transferred to immigration detention, or deported. But under MPP, they are mostly being sent back to Mexico and allowed to enter the US only to attend their immigration court hearings. They have been waiting in Mexican border cities, where some migrants are lucky to find housing in shelters, hotels, or rooms for rent. But for more than 5,000 others, only colorful tents and tarps, some held up by sticks and stones, stand between them and the elements, even as temperatures drop below freezing. The encampments are clustered around bridges linked to US ports of entry along the Rio Grande, where they rely on volunteers for basic necessities like clean drinking water and warm clothes. In the camps, migrants remain at risk for extortion, kidnapping, and rape at the hands of cartels and other criminal actors. The advocacy group Human Rights First has identified more than 1,000 public reports of murder, torture, rape, kidnapping, and other violent attacks against migrants sent back to Mexico under MPP. In Matamoros,a city of about 500,000 people across the border from Brownsville, Texas, about 2,000 migrants had moved into makeshift tent encampments along the Rio Grande — so close to the US border that they can show up at the port for processing whenever their names are called. Matamoros is a dangerous place:The US State Department has issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for the region due to high rates of violent crime, kidnapping, and robbery. The encampment has grown to house several thousand people. Some tents have been erected on land contaminated with feces due to a lack of public toilets, raising concerns about E. coli infections. Migrants have no access to running water, leading to poor hygiene and the spread of rashes and funguses. There are concerns the flu will spread throughout the camps, too. Basic health care services come from US-based nonprofits, including Global Response Management, which are stretched thin. Other volunteers cross the border daily, bringing supplies like bedding and food. Sometimes, parents try to send their children to the port of entry alone so that US officials will be forced to process them, believing they will be safer in the US than in the camps, Yael Schacher, a senior US advocate at Refugees International, said. Their settlements are so close to the port that they can wave to their children as they cross the border. Trump administration officials have dismissed media reports ofthe dangers facing migrants waiting in Mexico. The US has continued to send aid to Mexico — $139 million in 2018 — but otherwise, advocates haven’t seen any evidence of a US presence on the Mexican side of the border administering aid to migrants. Had the Ninth Circuit’s block on MPP gone into effect, it would have raised concerns that migrants could have overwhelmed the ports of entry. Processing could have taken a long time if asylum seekers decided to rush the ports and line up by the thousands, especially since the administration limits the number of migrants it screens each day. And those admitted to the US could have potentially been detained in US facilities while they wait for their immigration court hearings, Anwen Hughes and Kennji Kizuka, both attorneys at Human Rights First, told Vox. Indeed, at least hundreds of migrants showed up at the ports after the Ninth Circuit’s initial ruling, some of them carrying copies of the Ninth Circuit’s decision blocking the policy. But they were later turned away by border agents wearing riot gear.
2020-03-11 20:59:24
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
If you can stay home now, you make things safer for the people who can’t
A customer sits inside a nearly empty restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 11, 2020. Harvard announced it would be sending students home for the rest of the semester due to coronavirus concerns. | Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Some mild inconveniences this month could save the lives of vulnerable people. There are now more than 1,100 identified coronavirus cases in the US, up from500 just a couple of days ago.The outbreak is getting worse, what’s happening inother countries tells us it will soon get worse still, and public health experts have started asking people to practice social distancing —more isolation from each other, more holing up in your place for days, much less physical contact with the world. Those measures have some people who are in low-risk groups — young, in good health, not living with anyone more vulnerable — asking an uncomfortable question: Wait, is this all worth it? Maybe I’d rather risk getting the coronavirus and have a bad flu for a couple of weeks instead of dealing with all this disruption to my life? That’s not a bad question. But one reason so many people are asking it is because of a big failure in communication about the coronavirus. From the White House on down, most communication has been about how to reduce yourpersonalrisk of gettingthe coronavirus. The virus, which is much more dangerous than the flu even for young, healthy people, does warrant strong precautions for your own sake. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Empty streets, restaurants, and cafes make up the business area in the one-mile containment zone in New Rochelle, New York, on March 11, 2020. But that’s not the whole story. The fact is that social distancing and other preparations that are being recommended aren’t just about protecting yourself. They’re about protecting the people in your community, especially the vulnerable ones. Here’s another way to think about this: If you are young and healthy, you ought to take precautions because doing so can end up saving someone’s life. In fact, taking precautions like social distancingis likely one of the more important things you can do to protect sick and older people in your community, and to shield our society from the kind of catastrophic effects the virus has had in countries where it hasoverwhelmed first responders, hospitals, and morgues. In the US, we’re unaccustomed to framing individual choices in this kind of language. It would be jarring (for many reasons) to hear Trump appear on TV pleading with us to work from home and cancel parties as an act of patriotism, as an act of altruism, as a sacrifice the healthy need to make for the sake of the less healthy and uninsured. But that’s exactly what taking these precautions is: an act of altruism. As Zeynep Tufekci argued in Scientific American in February, “We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone. We should prepare not because we are facing a doomsday scenario out of our control, but because we can alter every aspect of this risk we face as a society.” The crisis in front of us isn’t just one of practical inconveniences; it has a moral dimension we can no longer look away from. Yes, it’s really inconvenient. Yes, it’s not yet mandated by law — and if all goes well, we might improve things before it has to be. And yes, it may get a bit embarrassing and socially awkward to take such precautions if the people around you haven’t realized yet that it’s necessary. But those inconveniences should pale beside what we stand to lose if we keep spreading coronavirus: our grandparents, our parents, the doctors and nurses who’ll care for them, our friends who are fighting cancer or recovering from surgery or immunosuppressed or dependent on someone who is. If you’re young and healthy, social distancing might be a pain for you. But it’s a chance, in the midst of the one of greatest pandemiccrises in a century, to be a hero for other people. We need to make it easier for vulnerablepeople toavoid getting sick One aim of public health experts now that containment is largely out of reach in much of the US should be to ensure that people for whom it is more dangerous to get sick have the ability to stay healthy. The Centers forDisease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified persons who are over 60 years old or immunocompromised as a high-risk group. The agency recommends this grouplargely stay home, but some of them will need to leave the house at some point — for groceries that can’t be delivered in their area, for necessary doctor’s appointments, for jobs they cannot quit. The more the virus spreads, the riskier these unavoidable activities become. A trip that brings you into contact with 10 people is pretty safe if only a few people in your metropolitan area have the virus — butpotentially deadly if many more of them do. On top of that, some people with virus may be asymptomatic, so it’s possible you could spread the virus without knowing you are sick. At least 20 percent of the population is in an at-risk group for getting coronavirus, which includes older adults, but alsopeople who are undergoing chemotherapy, are living with HIV/AIDS, have preexisting respiratory issues, or are just recovering from another serious illness. That means that if you get coronavirus and spread it to three other people — and statistically, the average personwho catches it and doesn’t take any social distancing measures does spread it to two or three people — there’s a scarily decentchance that you will spread it to someone for whom it might be deadly. That’s a risk you would hopefully never take casually. Javier Zarracina and Christina Animashaun/Vox But that’s not the only consideration. There’s also the risk that the people you spread it to will thenspread it to at-risk people. Overall, one way to think about what happens when you get and spread the coronavirus is that the epidemic’s doubling time in your region shortens. And that faster spread can cost lives. We need to slow down coronavirus cases If you get the coronavirus right now, even if you require hospitalization — and evidence suggests as many as 15 percent of infected people might — you will probably survive. From events like the Diamond Princess cruise ship disaster and from reporting from countries that have contained their outbreaks well (see Taiwan and Singapore), we have reason to believe the mortality rate from coronavirus may be below 1 percent when there’s adequate health care available. But what about when there isn’t? In Wuhan, China, when the crisis got severe, patients were turned away from hospitals because there were no beds for them. In Iran, scenes of hundreds of people desperately trying to reach the hospital were shared online. In Italy, doctors are warning that they’re setting up critical care services in hallways and that ICUs are so overwhelmed thatmany patients are dying needlessly. Could problems like these happen in the US? Yes. A paper released last month by the Center for Health Security examined the burden on hospitals should the coronavirus spread widely here. Even if you aren’t among the 38 million Americans who will need medical care if the virus spreads undisrupted throughout our population, you likely know someone who will. And if things get this bad, the pace at which the virus spreads through the population will determine whether our medical system is overloaded. “It’s impossible to avoid an epidemic here in the US,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told USA Today on Monday in an interview where he called for much more comprehensive social distancing measures nationwide. “We do have the potential to limit the scope of the epidemic, but we need to be taking more aggressive steps. If you implement mitigation steps, you slow the rate at which people get the virus. You end up extending the epidemic, it lasts longer, but it doesn’t peak as high. You want to slow the rate of infection here so that you can manage it with the health care system.” That point is illustrated in this adaptation of a chart from the CDC: Taking steps to make the outbreak happen slower — like taking precautions yourself as a healthy person — will reduce the odds that we overwhelm our hospital system, which increases the likelihoodthat everyone who needs hospitalization gets it. Delaying the peak of the epidemic by even a few weeks can save lives by ensuring that a greater percentage of the cases have access to medical care. There’s historical data to back up this graph. In 2018, researchers compared the effects of the 1918 influenza in St. Louis, which implemented social distancing measures, and Philadelphia, which didn’t. From “Public health interventions and epidemic intensity during the 1918 influenza pandemic,” PNAS.Richard J. Hatchett, Carter E. Mecher, and Marc Lipsitch You can see that the measures taken in St Louis saved lives, and also delayed and smoothed the peak of the outbreak. That’s what we’re aiming for, and it’s something you can personally help achieve by taking precautions. We aren’t often asked to help other people Many public health announcements about the virus have assured people that their personal risk is likely low. This is, of course, true — if you are young and healthy. But this may be interpreted by some people that because their personal risk might be low, they don’t need to take any precautions. Here’s a better message: Coronavirus is a high-risk threat to too many of our family members, friends, and neighbors. The risk to our country and to our communities is high. The risk to our parents and grandparents is high. The risk to those of us undergoing chemotherapy or immunocompromised for other reasons or with underlying health conditions is high. And the rest of us can help. Rarely does the normal person have the opportunity to, with small sacrifices, save the lives of their friends, neighbors, and relatives. But right now, we do have that opportunity. By taking strong social distancing measures before they’re mandated in your community — by canceling or not attending parties and large events; by changing religious services to reduce disease-transmitting activities; by, if you are lucky enough to be in a job that permits it, working from home or letting your employees work from home — you can save people’s lives. If you don’t have reason to be scared individually, that’s great, but our fellow citizens who are vulnerable matter too, and we can help save them. Take measures for people who are sick or weak or old and build a country that’ll be there for you when you’re sick or weak or old, because someday you will be. Sign up for the Future Perfect newsletter and we’ll send you a roundup of ideas and solutions for tackling the world’s biggest challenges — and how to get better at doing good. Future Perfect is funded in part by individual contributions, grants, and sponsorships. Learn more here.
2020-03-11 20:50:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
The controversy over 2 Trump allies getting tested for coronavirus, explained
Reps. Matt Gaetz, right, and Mark Meadows, seen before the House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on December 11, 2019. | Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who wore a gas mask on the House floor, has gotten tested for the coronavirus. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) wore a gas mask on the House floor on March 4 ahead of voting on a bill to fund the response to the novel coronavirus, a public health crisis President Donald Trump has repeatedly downplayed. The stunt led to Gaetz being accused of making light of the coronavirus crisis — he claimed, however, that he was trying to make a point about lawmakers’ risk of coronavirus exposure given their public profiles: “We fly through the dirtiest airports, we touch everyone we meet, so if anyone’s gonna get coronavirus, it’s totally gonna be Congress.” And, in fact, Gaetz may have been exposed to the virus: This week, he got tested for Covid-19, as American health care providers struggle to provide testing to everyone who needs it. Gaetz, along with incoming White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, received the test after coming into contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. Both Gaetz and Meadows tested negative, according to statements from both Tuesday. Gaetz and Meadows followed a sound response: They’ve been under self-quarantine since learning of their exposure; in fact, Gaetz told the Pensacola News Journal that he slept in a Walmart parking lot “somewhere off of [Interstate] 85” in order to avoid checking into a hotel. And then they sought testing, even though they did not exhibit symptoms. (Experts say that infected people may not show signs of the illness for five days.) But their access to the test has sparked a controversy. Nationwide, stories are cropping up of people who have symptoms of coronavirus being unable to get a test. The fact that two of Donald Trump allies who do not meet the criteria for most-at risk — which includes the elderly and those exhibiting symptoms — has struck many people as unfair. And the fact that Gaetz, specifically, seemingly made light of the outbreak, and then got a coveted test has also been called hypocritical by some Democrats — and even some Republicans. “I find it interesting that when my colleagues were in contact with someone who later tested positive [they] were able to get tested almost immediately and quickly receive their results while folks in my district and across Washington state are unable to get their testing results back,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) told Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, at a House Appropriations Committee hearing. Tests are in high demand and seemingly short supply As of Wednesday, more than 1,050 people have tested positive for the virus in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. But state and local health officials say that the number is likely much higher, as they have struggled to obtain enough kits to test people presenting with symptoms. Anecdotal stories of people displaying coronavirus symptoms and being refused a test have begun popping up on social media, and there have been a number of reports of those who were later found to be infected being denied access to tests. Redfield confirmed at a hearing that public health organizations were struggling to meet testing requirements. “The truth is, we’re underinvested in the public health labs,” he said in the hearing. “There’s not enough equipment. There’s not enough people. There’s not enough internal capacity. There’s no surge capacity.” Federal officials have said that 75,000 testing kits have been distributed to public health labs as of March 6, with more going to other places, including hospitals and commercial labs. Even with the number of available tests increasing, there’s no guarantee that patients presenting with Covid-19 symptoms will have access to testing, even if their doctors recommend it. In addition, there could be a delay in the reporting of results as there’s a limit to the number of tests that many state, federal, and commercial labs can process each day. And Politico reports the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has voiced concern about a shortage in a material needed to do that processing. Given these limitations, the CDC recommends that doctors and hospitals prioritize testing for people who are hospitalized and showing symptoms of the virus, elderly people, and other immunocompromised patients. Neither Gaetz nor Meadows meet those guidelines, but were able to access testing anyway. According to a Washington Post report, both sought out testing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The facility often treats federal lawmakers and is associated with both the White House physician’s office and the congressional attending physician. Should lawmakers get priority? There is some disagreement in Congress, including among Democrats, over whether lawmakers and high-level government officials should have easier access to testing than the general population. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said it was important for Congress to continue operating as normally as possible. “Look, we want to have all Americans have tests,” he said Monday. “But we also want to make sure that the Congress can respond to this crisis so we can protect all Americans.” But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed, saying that members of Congress should receive the same treatment as everyone else. “I think we have to take care of the people first,” she said Tuesday. Trump told reporters Tuesday that he had not yet been tested, despite being exposed to Gaetz and Meadows. He said that White House physician Sean Conley “sees no reason to do it — there’s no symptoms, no anything.” “I don’t think it’s a big deal. I would do it,” he said, adding “it’s not a big deal to get tested.” Great meeting on Capitol Hill with the @SenateGOP! pic.twitter.com/eNB8zMRCup— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 10, 2020 As more tests become available, those in the general public concerned but not yet exhibiting symptoms may be able to receive Covid-19 tests. But for now — despite Gaetz and Meadows being tested — it would seem access to testing will continue to be based on symptoms, rather than risk of exposure.
2020-03-11 20:40:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
1 y
vox.com
E3, the biggest video game event of the year, is canceled because of coronavirus
People wait in line at the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, in Los Angeles, California, on June 11, 2019. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images The 25-year-old annual trade show was set to return to Los Angeles in June. The 2020 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — the single biggest trade show in the video game industry — has been canceled. The Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the event, announced that it would not go forward with the annual event due to coronavirus fears in California, where E3 takes place. “After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry — our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners — we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles,” the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) said in a statement. The organization added that it will contact exhibitors and attendees about providing full refunds for passes, and that it is considering ways to “coordinate an online experience” in lieu of the in-person event. It also maintained that E3 will return in 2021. Cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Northern California, and the World Health Organization has classified it as a pandemic. With E3 attracting people from around the world, it’s logical that the ESA would choose to cancel the event. Although E3 has evolved over the years from a private to a public event, it has run uninterrupted since 1995. It’s renowned for being the occasion where important video game publishers and console-makers announce their plans for upcoming projects and hardware. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft typically preview their marquee titles for the year and beyond at E3, and the media are often given the chance to try out these and other video games for the first time. It’s the buzziest time of year for the gaming industry. But companies have also increasingly turned to their direct channels to provide news to consumers. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft frequently host live-streamed events to announce games and consoles, making E3 seem less relevant. Both Sony and Nintendo have also moved their traditional E3 press conferences fully online in recent years. The ESA opened up the event to the public in 2016 in an attempt to drum up more revenue and interest, but many companies continue to skip the event in favor of hosting their own. It’s hard to imagine the video game industry news cycle without E3, however, especially after 25 years of its existence. In 2020, we’ll have to. Several other video game and tech events have been upended by the spread of the coronavirus. The Game Developers Conference, another major gaming event, has been postponed until later this year; it was initially set to run March 16 to 20 in San Francisco, but the organizers have not yet announced a new date. The company behind many cities’ Comic Cons, Reedpop, said last week that it would reschedule Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con event to later this year as well. The decision raises questions as to how Reedpop’s most visible convention, San Diego Comic-Con, could be affected come its planned July dates. South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, which was to begin on March 13, was similarly canceled just a week before its start date by the mayor of Austin. All public gatherings have been prohibited in the city due to coronavirus fears. The decision has left the many local businesses in Austin that benefit from the music, film, and technology festival’s crowd feeling the financial impact.
2020-03-11 20:20:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
Bernie Sanders’s failure to win over black voters on Tuesday could doom his campaign
Sen. Bernie Sanders joins others to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee April 4, 2018. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images Sanders said Wednesday that he’s staying in the race, but he’ll face an uphill battle without black voters. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders once admitted that his 2016 campaign was “too white.” But despite his attempts to build a diverse coalition of supporters in 2020, it was clear on Tuesday that he hasn’t been able to bring black voters, a core constituency for the Democratic party, into the fold. Former Vice President Joe Biden won big with black voters in Michigan, the state with the largest delegate trove on Tuesday, and in Missouri and Mississippi, according to CNN exit polls. Black voters supported Biden at rates of 66 percent in Michigan and 72 percent in Missouri — states where he reaped double-digit victories over Sanders. And in Mississippi, where black voters made up 69 percent of the electorate, they backed Biden over Sanders nearly 9 to 1. Sanders has relied on young voters and Latinos of all age groups for his strong performances in states like Nevada and California. And on Wednesday afternoon, he announced he was staying in the race. But the South Carolina primary on February 29 served as a wake-up call that Sanders’s outreach to the black community was failing: Biden won 61 percent of black Democratic primary voters there, who made up more than half of the state electorate, propelling his unexpected comeback. And on Super Tuesday, Biden won eight states where black voters made up a large share of the electorate. Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images Sen. Bernie Sanders await his arrival for a rally in El Paso, Texas, on February 22, 2020. The Sanders campaign has since scrambled to make a last-minute push among black voters. He began airing TV ads touting instances in which former President Barack Obama praised the senator and paid for spots on radio stations primarily catering to black communities in states that were set to vote on Tuesday. He also picked up an endorsement from the civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson. But his campaign openly admitted that he wasn’t performing as well as he needed to among black voters. “We need to redouble our outreach effort,” Rep. Ro Khanna, co-chair of the campaign, told Politico. “We need to sit down with as many Congressional Black Caucus members as we can, whether they endorsed us or not. We need to be sitting down with the NAACP, with civil rights organizations.” It’s not clear whether the Sanders campaign actually went through with that plan. (A spokesperson for the campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.) He was slated to deliver a speech in Flint, Michigan, on Sunday that would have made the case to black voters on why they should elect him over Biden, but he changed course at the last minute and just delivered a stump speech. The New York Times reported that his surrogates, many of whom are people of color, determined that it would be better for them to address the black community instead. Given Sanders’s performance among black voters on Tuesday night, it’s clear that strategy didn’t work. And given that no Democrat has won the nomination without the support of a majority of black voters in three decades, this lack of support could well have cost him the election — for the second time. Sanders also struggled to connect with black voters in 2016. He lost South Carolina that year, as well, when 86 percent of black voters chose Hillary Clinton over him. He consistently came under fire from black activists, in particular from Black Lives Matter, who criticized his lack of attention to criminal justice and racial issues. Even internally in his campaign, black staffers told Fusion at the time they weren’t prioritized. Sanders has made efforts to hire more people of color this time around and integrate them across the campaign, beyond the community outreach typically seen in Democratic campaigns. He has, for example, brought in Nina Turner, a former state senator from Ohio, as a campaign co-chair, and she has proved a powerful surrogate for Sanders among black voters. Some in his campaign have attributed Sanders’s lack of support among black voters overall to his difficulty connecting with older voters more generally. It’s true that Sanders narrowly won black voters under 30 in 2016, but they just didn’t vote in the kinds of large numbers he needed. The same trend has held true this election cycle as young, black voters have again backed him overwhelmingly. But it appears that just wasn’t enough to insulate him from Biden’s sweeping wins on Tuesday.
2020-03-11 20:10:00
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
With E3 and SXSW canceled, the direct losses from major tech events soars beyond $1 billion
After the Mobile World Congress got canceled in February, several more companies are shutting down their own conferences. | David McNew/Getty Images Some of the industry’s biggest events have been postponed, moved online, or canceled altogether. As the novel coronavirus continues to take a human and economic toll across the world, the lucrative business of tech conferences is not immune. The direct economic loss from the cancellation of more than 10 major tech conferences — including Google I/O, Facebook’s F8 event, Mobile World Congress, SXSW, and now the massive video gaming conference Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — due to the coronavirus outbreak has surpassed $1 billion, according to estimates the data intelligence company PredictHQ pulled for Recode. That number doesn’t even include the amount of money that the respective companies would have made from hosting the events. The figure simply covers the losses to airlines, hotels, restaurants, and transportation providers that would normally make money from attendees’ purchases. Some $480 million — the biggest loss — came from the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, which was supposed to host more than 100,000 attendees in Barcelona in February. That’s followed by SXSW, an Austin tech, music, and movie conference that had approximately 280,000 attendees last year and whose announced cancellation could result in $350 million in direct losses, according to PredictHQ. The Game Developers Conference, a 30,000-person event that was scheduled for March but has been postponed, could incur $129 million in losses. Google I/O, a 5,000-person developer conference, has a direct loss estimate of nearly $20 million. Estimates for losses from E3 are not yet available. While a number of events, including Facebook F8 and Adobe Summit, will still have an online component, that effort does not stave off the significant economic loss from canceling the physical event. PredictHQ looks at losses from four categories: airfare, lodging, food, and transportation. That means this is a very conservative estimate since it doesn’t include losses incurred from, say, event sponsors, purchases that employees might have made, or ancillary impacts to the local economy. PredictHQ said there was a 500 percent increase in major event cancellations and postponements last month, and the International Air Transport Association this month increased previous estimates for airline travel losses due to the coronavirus outbreak to as much as $113 billion. Oxford Economics estimates that business conferences generate more than a trillion dollars in direct spending annually. So far these canceled tech conferences haven’t put a major dent in that. Still, both tech companies and consumers will be responsible for bearing the brunt of these conference-related losses, as most major insurance companies exclude communicable disease losses from reimbursement. These cancellations come as more than 4,000 people have died and more than 121,000 have been diagnosed with coronavirus. Numerous tech companies — including Google, Twitter, and Square — have told their employees to work from home. Several other major companies, like Amazon, have canceled nonessential travel, especially internationally, and are advising some workers to stay home. Accordingly, mentions of working from home skyrocketed last month in public company transcripts. If more companies follow these tech companies’ lead, the response to the coronavirus outbreak could result in a test of people’s ability to work at home en masse rather than in the office. Meanwhile, Apple is still expected to hold its giant developer conferences later this spring. Recode’s own Code Conference is still scheduled for the end of May. As the threat of coronavirus grows, it’s likely more companies big and small will decide to cancel their conferences. It remains to be seen how big those losses will be. Update, March 11, 2020, 1:55 pm ET: This post has been updated to include additional information about canceled conferences.
2020-03-11 19:55:46
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
How the coronavirus outbreak is roiling the film and entertainment industries
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway has delayed its release date until August amid fears of the coronavirus. | Columbia Pictures Most recently, Coachella has been delayed and SXSW has been canceled. The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, which was first identifiedin China in December, has had sweeping effects in the public health, business, and travel sectors, among others. And while the repercussions for the entertainment industry may seem to pale in comparison to the clear threat the virus poses to human life, the ripple effects do have implications for thepeople around the world who make a living producing and distributing movies, music, and more. The immense and lucrative Chinese film industry was almost immediately hit as movie theaters across the country were closed and major releases were delayed. Hollywood soon began to feel the effects too, and as time passes, the impact of the coronavirus on the global film and entertainment industries will certainly grow. Consequences of the outbreak on these industries could range from lowered attendance at film festivals and disruptions in film distribution, to delayed or canceled movie releases and concert dates, to curtailed on-location film shoots. Financial ramifications will likely be felt by studios, filmmakers, theater owners, and more for months, or even years. Here are the biggest and most significant developments in the entertainment industry in response to the outbreak. Most recently, several movies (including the upcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die and Peter Rabbit 2) have beendelayed, and major culturalevents have been postponed or canceled, including SXSW and Coachella. Major entertainment festival cancellations and postponements K-pop concerts canceled, including BTS shows: On February 28, the hugely popular K-pop group BTS canceled a series of planned concerts in Seoul. The shows werescheduled for April 11 and 12 and April 18 and 19 at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium. The group’s management agency said that the decision was made due to the impossibility of predicting the scale of the outbreak in South Korea come April and cited the health and safety of the musicians themselves, workers, and concertgoers. Two hundred thousand fans were expected to attend. Days earlier, BTS had asked fans to avoid a series of TV appearances scheduled to promote their newest album, Map Of The Soul: 7, which had originally been planned to include studio audiences. The group also appealed to fans via a streamed press conference. “Health is always on our minds these days, and our messages of facing your inner self and loving yourself are ultimately only possible when you’re healthy, especially since it is very risky outside these days,” one of the singers, Jimin, said. ”I hope you take care of yourself.” The entire Korean entertainment sector has been affected by the outbreak, and K-pop has been hit particularly hard, with groups including GOT7, WINNER, Sechs Kies, (G) I-DLE, and others canceling scheduled tour dates. Variety reported that box office revenue in South Korea was down 30-40 percent in January 2020 compared to previous years. SXSW canceled: On March 6, the city of Austin declared a state of disaster, requiring the cancellation of public gatherings and events for the near future. The most notable of those is the cancellation of South by Southwest, the annual music, film, TV, and technology festival that serves as a significant financial powerhouse for the city. The announcement came after a week full of major companies — including Netflix, Apple, Amazon, WarnerMedia, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Mashable, Intel, and more — dropping out of the well-attended event, canceling panels, premieres, and other appearances. Days later, SXSW organizersannounced that they had laid offone-third of the festival’s employees in what they called “a necessary, but heartbreaking, step.” Emerald City Comic Con delayed: The organizing body behind Emerald City Comic Con, the largest convention of its kind in Seattle, Washington, announced on March 6 that itwill postpone the event until sometime this summer. The event was to run March 12-16. “We did everything that we could to run the event as planned, but ultimately, we are following the guidance of the local public health officials indicating that conventions should now be postponed,” convention organizers Reedpop said in a statement published on the Emerald City Comic Con website. Cannes Film Festival remains in question: The 2020 edition of the Cannes Film Festival, arguably the most prestigious film festival in the world, is still in question following the French government’s ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people through at least the end of May. (The festival is slated to take place May 12-23 and draws thousands of industries and press from around the globe each year.) The Festival issued a statement on February 28 after the first case of coronavirus in nearby Nice, France, was confirmed by the city’s mayor, saying that organizers were monitoring the situation but planned for the festival to go forward. (Cannes is a seaside resort town located on the French Riviera, about 30 km from Nice.) Variety reported on March 10 that the festival’s organizers had previously elected not to carry a buy-back option on its insurance, meaning that if the event is canceled, the festival will not be able to rely on an insurance claim to recoup its costs. Meanwhile, on March 10, the UK sales outfit GFM became the first film industry company to confirm that it would not be traveling to Cannes in May. Coachella delayed: Goldenvoice, the organizers of Coachella, one of the largest annual music festivals in the US, announced on March 10 that the festival would be postponed due to concerns about the outbreak. Another Goldenvoice festival, the country music-oriented Stagecoach, has also been postponed. The Indio, California-based event was originally set to run for two weekends, April 10-12 and April 17-19, with the same talent lineups performing both weekends. It will now run October 9-11 and October 16-18. Stagecoach 2020 has been pushed back from April to October 23-25. Major film release dates postponed or canceled Chinese movies scrapped theatrical release and premiere online: The biggest films of China’s year are usuallyscheduled to release during the Lunar New Year holiday, near the end of January, but mounting fears of the coronavirus and public reticence to be in crowded spaces caused distributors to voluntarily cancel or postpone several film releases. Huanxi, distributor of the Chinese blockbuster Lost in Russia, announced on January 22 that the film would premiere online for free. Promotional materials encouraged audiences to “stay safely at home and watch Lost in Russia with your mom.” On January 31, Enter the Fat Dragon became the second major Chinese film to premiere online, as theaters are closed by order of the government. Mulan Chinese release delayed: Disney’s live-action version of Mulan was set for worldwide release on March 27, but on February 4, Disney’s (now-outgoing) CEO Bob Iger confirmed to CNBC that the film was unlikely to be released in China that day since theaters remain closed by order of the government. The movie — which is set in China, stars Chinese American actress Liu Yifei, and features Chinese superstars like Gong Li, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen — was expected to rake in substantial revenue at the Chinese box office. It’s unclear when the film will be released in China. Other high-profile American releases, such as Oscar Best Picture nominees Jojo Rabbit and 1917, also saw their planned Chinese February release dates canceled. No Time to Die: On February 16, MGM announced that it would cancel the Chinese premiere and publicity tour planned for the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die, which was scheduled for April. On March 4, the studio announced that it had delayed the film’s release until late November, making the film the first major tentpole release to be delayed worldwide. Sonic the Hedgehog: On February 24, Paramount Pictures announced that it would delay the release of Sonic the Hedgehog in China, with a new release date to be determined. Peter Rabbit 2:On March 10, Sony announced that it would push the globalrelease of Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway from late March/early April to August. Film and TV productions halted, altered, or shut down Jia Zhangke project delayed: At the Berlin Film Festival in February, famed Chinese director Jia Zhangke (Ash Is Purest White, A Touch of Sin) told Indiewire that production on his new film, which was slated to begin in April, was delayed indefinitely. Jia spoke with Indiewire at the Berlin Film Festival, where his documentary Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue premiered. But he said that before he left, he’d feared his flight to Berlin would be canceled, and that some of his collaborators chose not to make the trip. Regarding his next film, he said: For some film companies and studios involved in pre-production, a lot of costs are going down the drain, and those that already started production have to be somehow cut short or suspended. Some of them are already in the process of distributing films and they’ve paid for a lot of promotion and PR costs. The economy is now taking a huge hit, and I think the investment side will be hugely impacted as well.” Mission: Impossible production paused: On February 26, Paramount Pictures announced that it had halted a planned three-week shoot in Venice forthe seventh installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise. “Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our cast and crew, and efforts of the local Venetian government to halt public gatherings in response to the threat of coronavirus, we are altering the production plan for our three-week shoot in Venice, the scheduled first leg of an extensive production for Mission: Impossible 7,”a Paramount spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. “During this hiatus we want to be mindful of the concerns of the crew and are allowing them to return home until production starts. We will continue to monitor this situation, and work alongside health and government officials as it evolves.” The Amazing Race production halted: On February 28, CBS had only filmed three episodes of the reality show The Amazing Race’s 33rd season, located in the UK, when the network announced that the show would be suspending production until further notice. “Due to increased concerns and uncertainty regarding the coronavirus around the world, CBS and the producers of The Amazing Race have taken the precautionary measure of temporarily suspending production on the 33rd season of the series,” the network said in a statement. “All contestants and production staff are in the process of returning home.” Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune tape without a studio audience: Though Sony declined to comment, sources told the Hollywood Reporter on March 9 that scheduledtapings of the shows would go forward without a live studio audience. The measure was taken partly as a precaution for the health of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who is fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Entertainment venues and attractions shut down Chinese movie theaters shut down: Hoping to contain the coronavirus outbreak, on January 23 the Chinese government decided to temporarily shut down movie theaters throughout the country until further notice. A totalfilm production shutdown soon followed. Loss of revenue over the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, during which movie theaters typically see an uptick in ticket sales, amounted to a staggering $1 billion, according to analysts. Chinese cultural attractions closed: Other cultural attractions and institutions in China that have been closed to the publicinclude Tiananmen Square’s National Museum of China, the Forbidden City, and a section of the Great Wall of China located near Beijing. Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland parks shut down: On January 25, Disney shut down its Shanghai Disneyland park over fears of the coronavirus. The park is a major revenue generator, with 11.8 million guests in 2018, 50 percent from outside the Shanghai region, and an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue and $50 million in operating profit. A day after Shanghai Disneyland’s closure, Hong Kong Disneyland shut down. Italian cultural sites closed: In February, a number of major museums in Venice, Milan, Turin, and other northern Italian cities were closed as part of the government’s aggressive attempt to contain the virus, and annual Carnivale celebrations stopped early. By early March, with the country under complete lockdown, cultural sites across Italy were closed, including the Colosseum and Pompeii. We will continue to update this article as the story develops.
2020-03-11 16:51:51
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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vox.com
Coronavirus in the US: Tracking cases and deaths
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Tony Fauci (left) speaks to President Trump during a tour of the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on March 3, 2020. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images The number of Covid-19 cases is expected to increase significantly due to better testing. Follow the numbers here. Since December 31, when China first reported cases of the novel coronavirus disease to the World Health Organization, it has spread to dozens of countries around the world, including the United States. As of March 11, there are more than 121,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide, with major outbreaks in mainland China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea. Covid-19 initially arrived in the US in two ways. First, infected people returned to the US from China, where the virus originated and where the vast majority of cases have been reported. Second, people came into contact with someone who had been to China or to another country with Covid-19. Since February 28, new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the US with no link to travel, which means the disease has been spreading inside the country. In February, there was little testing done by the US, and many of the original test kits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out could not be validated by testing labs. Another problem was that the testing was focused only on people who’d been to China. On February 28, the CDC said the problem with the kits was fixed, and it was sending kits to labs around the country along with new, expanded testing criteria. All state and local public health labs as well as qualified private labs are expected to be able to test by the end of this week, USA Today reports. Health experts say this means the number of cases will rise in the coming weeks. It doesn’t mean the virus is spreading any faster. Trevor Bradford, an associate member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, tweeted that case numbers are rising because there is “likely a backlog of cases to be detected”: Because of the lack of national testing that had been going on, there is likely a backlog of cases to be detected. As this backlog gets cleared, case counts are going to rise quickly. But please remember that reported cases aren’t newly acquired infections. 3/4— Trevor Bedford (@trvrb) March 2, 2020 Including those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, more than 1,000cases have been reported across the United States as of March 11. We’ll update this post as more cases are reported and more information becomes available. Reported cases, reported deaths, and recovered cases (as of March 11, 10:31am Eastern): Washington state: 273 cases 23 deaths 1 out of 273 recovered California: 157cases 2 deaths 2 out of 157 recovered New York: 176cases Massachusetts: 92 cases 1 out of 92 recovered Grand Princess cruise ship: 21 cases Florida: 28cases 2 deaths Georgia: 22 cases Illinois: 19 cases 2 out of 19 recovered Colorado 18cases Oregon: 15 cases New Jersey: 15 cases 1 death Pennsylvania: 14 cases Texas: 13 cases Iowa 13 cases Maryland: 9 cases South Carolina: 9 cases Virginia 9 cases Kentucky 8 cases Tennessee 7 cases North Carolina 7 cases Arizona: 6 cases 1 out of 6 recovered Indiana 6 cases Louisiana 6 cases New Hampshire: 5 cases Rhode Island: 5 cases Nebraska 5 cases South Dakota 5 cases 1 death District of Colombia 4 cases Nevada 4 cases Wisconsin: 3 cases 1 out of 3 recovered Ohio 3 cases Minnesota 3 cases Connecticut: 2 cases Utah 2 cases Oklahoma 2 cases Michigan 2 cases Kansas 1 case Missouri 1 case Vermont 1 case This data is based on reports from Johns Hopkins and the CDC. The numbers reported may vary depending on the source. These numbers don’t include the 46 repatriated cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
2020-03-11 16:50:14
2021-05-12T07:11:52.000000
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