Coronavirus Reads, Digest 29
PM Modi announces 20 lakh crore stimulus package, as public health experts warn the US against reopening too quickly.
It’s Tuesday, May 12th
As more countries slowly reopen, many areas are starting to see a resurgence or growth in infections. Globally, from parts of the U.S (Texas, Georgia) to South Korea and even Wuhan, China. Dr. Fauci warns that there could be deathly repercussions to reopening the U.S. too quickly. Other scientists agree, and warn of a more widespread second wave of infections.
As India’s confirmed cases cross 70,000, Prime Minister Modi tonight announced a 20 lakh crore (10% of India’s GDP) economic stimulus package. He also said that the 4th stage of the lockdown would be different, details will be given in a few days.
Vidya Krishnan reports in The Caravan on how data has been withheld from India’s CDC and epidemiologists, hindering the country’s pandemic response.
Joanna Slater, Niha Masih and Parth MN in The Washington Post on the challenges of social distancing without a financial safety net in the Dharavi area of Mumbai, where they report about a family of 7 living in one room during the lockdown. Dharavi is the site of an outbreak that the city is struggling to contain.
Is the pandemic being used as cover to punish dissenters? BBC’s Geeta Pandey on how a pregnant Jamia University student, Safoora Zargar, who helped organize peaceful anti-CAA protests has been arrested, kept in a crowded jail for over a month, and denied access to lawyer visits.
While India is conducting repatriation flights for stranded Indian nationals, the decision to suspend OCI visas across the board is leaving some stuck neither here nor there. Many Indians working in the U.S. (especially on H1B visas) have minor children that are American citizens, but Indian visas in the form of the OCI. However, minors as young as 3 months old have been disallowed on the Air India flights returning to India, citing the rule that suspends OCI’s from coming into India.
U.S. and International
The White House is struggling to contain an outbreak amidst the West Wing staff, as new safety measures are being announced, including requiring staff to wear masks at work. However, this doesn’t include President Trump or Vice President Trump. They are reportedly being tested every day for the virus.
A lot was being made about how the heat and warm weather was going to stop the coronavirus spread. Well, the heat is here and it shows no signs of going. Studies are mixed over whether humidity and summer weather will slow the spread, so scientists say social distancing continues to be the way to go.
Not going back to the office till 2021? A lot of American companies (including Google and Amazon) are announcing that they will, at minimum, continue working from home policies till September. Some go even further, through the end of the year.
White-Collar Companies Race to Be Last to Return to the Office, by David Streitfield.
As more people work from home through the pandemic, Adam Satariano reports on how “demand has surged for software that can monitor employees,” by testing out some of this software himself. He notes that this kind of work surveillance is raising lots of privacy concerns and uncomfortability on both sides.
How My Boss Monitors Me While I Work From Home, Adam Satariano, The New York Times
Surviving is not enough. Italians who recover from the coronavirus report debilitating symptoms like shortness of breath and muscle aches even weeks after recovering. The road to recovery will be long, say medical experts.
Surviving Covid-19 May Not Feel Like Recovery for Some, Jason Horowitz
Adam Serwer explores how the US policy on reopening is connected to how minorities are disproportionately affected, groups whose health outcomes are routinely ignored.
America's Racial Contract Is Showing, The Atlantic. An excerpt:
The coronavirus epidemic has rendered the racial contract visible in multiple ways. Once the disproportionate impact of the epidemic was revealed to the American political and financial elite, many began to regard the rising death toll less as a national emergency than as an inconvenience. Temporary measures meant to prevent the spread of the disease by restricting movement, mandating the wearing of masks, or barring large social gatherings have become the foulest tyranny. The lives of workers at the front lines of the pandemic—such as meatpackers, transportation workers, and grocery clerks—have been deemed so worthless that legislators want to immunize their employers from liability even as they force them to work under unsafe conditions. In East New York, police assault black residents for violating social-distancing rules; in Lower Manhattan, they dole out masks and smiles to white pedestrians.
An in-depth read from Rolling Stone Magazine on the 4 men responsible for America’s “terrible” response to the pandemic. An excerpt:
The government leaders who failed to safeguard the nation are CDC Director Redfield; FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn; Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar; and of course, President Trump. Together, these men had the power to change the direction of this pandemic, to lessen its impact on the economy, and constrain the death toll from COVID-19. Each failed, in a series of errors and mismanagement that grew into a singular catastrophe — or as Jared Kushner described it on Fox & Friends, “a great success story.”
Defeating an invisible enemy like the coronavirus requires working diagnostics. But when the CDC’s original test kit failed, there was no Plan B. The nation’s private-sector biomedical establishment is world-class, but the administration kept these resources cordoned behind red tape as the CDC foundered. Precious weeks slipped by — amid infighting, ass covering, and wasted effort — and the virus slipped through the nation’s crippled surveillance apparatus, taking root in hot spots across the country, and in particular, New York City.
Blind to the virus’s penetration and unable to target mitigation where it was needed, the administration and state governors had to resort to the blunt instrument of shuttering the economy, says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. And the lack of testing kept us in limbo. “Our economy is shut down because we still do not have adequate testing,” Jha says. “We have been woefully behind from the beginning of this pandemic.”
How Trump and the CDC Failed the COVID-19 Test, by Tim Dickinson
Coping with the Pandemic
A photo essay from the Swiss-German border in Europe, where couples who have been divided by the sealing of borders, meet across barriers and fences.
Cross-border love - a photo essay, by by Roland Schmid
Anvit Srivastava reports in the Hindustan Times on a German national who was living in the transit area of the Delhi airport for more than 6 weeks after flights out of the country were suspended, echoing the plot of the Tom Hanks film “The Terminal”. (He has now left for Amsterdam on a repatriation flight).
In Bangkok, Thailand, as restrictions ease and some businesses are allowed to reopen, a unique but special industry that’s been among the first to reopen are pet grooming salons. The city’s residents are very particular about their purebred dogs and their nails, hair and clothing. Some great photos in this dispatch as well.
Bangkok Opens Up as Virus Caseloads Drop, and Pretty Pups Benefit, by Hannah Beech, Photos by Amanda Mustard
And a little PSA on how to disinfect your phone. Your Phone is Filthy. Here's How to Clean it, The New York Times