Coronavirus Reads, Digest 33
Heatwave in India and domestic flights resume, over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S.
It’s Thursday, May 28th.
I’m in Delhi, India, where the summer has gotten very intense. The heatwave has hit a record as the city’s temperature reached 47.6 Celsius, or more than 117 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is ever a time for the virus transmission to be affected by the heat, now is it.
There are 3 more days left in the 4th phase of India’s lockdown. The government has not yet clarified what life will look like from June 1.
While India’s cases have crossed 150,000 and continue to rise, a lot of the country’s activity is returning.
Domestic flights resumed on Monday, with new rules but there was a degree of chaos as confusion between states over the new guidelines resulted in the cancellation of half the flights from the Delhi airport.
However, tragic and shocking imagery of poverty-stricken and hungry migrants and other urban dwellers continues to be the defining story of India’s lockdown. Several people have died on the special trains arranged to transport workers to their hometown, after lack of food and water.
A heartbreaking video has surfaced of a baby trying to wake its dead mother on a train platform, the woman reportedly died without food and water.
Is Mumbai the NYC of India? The city of Mumbai continues to be in crisis mode, even as the government is taking over 80% of private beds in the city for Covid-19 patients. Here’s a harrowing report on how ill patients are not able to access medical care due to a shortage of beds, resulting in the death of patients even in their 30s:
Covid-19 surge pushes Mumbai to the brink, Rupsa Chakraborty and Eshanpriya MS, Hindustan Times
KEM hospital, which is run by the city govt, saw a worker die after being denied leave despite being unwell for days. Healthcare workers from the hospital protested, citing inadequate staff as cases rose past the hospital capacity, and continued problems over ways to dispose of the dead.
The state of Gujarat has a Covid-19 mortality rate that is much higher than the national average. The Gujarat HC has issued orders and taken suo moto cognizance of the handling of the pandemic.
Healthcare workers continue to be affected by Covid-19 and a lack of adequate PPE.
Nurses in a Delhi hospital have stated that they were asked to re-use protective equipment risking the spread of infection to others.
Nurse’s death: Colleagues say had to wear used PPEs, Somya Lakhani, Indian Express
U.S. and International
The WHO has warned countries not to become too complacent as cases drop and that social distancing measures should be continued.
In the US, over 100,000 people have died of Covid-19. Earlier this week, the New York Times’ front page listed the names and details of 1,000 of those who have died.
From the Times Insider, here’s the story on how the now-viral front page came about.
The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names, The New York Times
The WHO has also temporarily suspended the trial of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) because little benefit has been found in treating the coronavirus. Meanwhile, results are in from data on a Remdesivir trial of 1,063 severely ill patients. Gina Kolata reports, “Those who received the drug not only recovered faster but also did not have serious adverse events more often than those who were given the placebo.” This is good and promising news, especially as it was equally effective for both men and women.
Remdesivir Coronavirus Trial: Federal Scientists Finally Publish Data, The New York Times
Meanwhile, Wuhan, China has effectively tested 9 million people in 10 days to track new cases and contain a new outbreak. Wenxin Fan from the Wall Street Journal has the details on how they did it, which includes sample-pooling, a mass-testing strategy that has earlier been discussed as an option for India.
Wuhan Tests Nine Million People for Coronavirus in 10 Days, Wall Street Journal.
And in Slate, Elizabeth Shackleford argues that the pandemic reveals a need for a different approach in American foreign policy. The coronavirus disaster is the price of American arrogance. An excerpt:
The real tragedy is that we have that capability but readily squander it. We are seeing that play out today, to tragic consequence. The United States was perfectly capable of an exemplary response to the COVID-19 crisis, not only in how we cared for our own but in the role we could have played in leading a more integrated and effective global approach. We’ve dropped the ball, willfully, and our leadership’s unwillingness to admit that impedes us further still.
I’m certain that if someone else—anyone else—were president, our response would have been better, but America’s culture of arrogance made Trump’s actions, and inactions, possible. This culture is deeply embedded in our political leaders, who rarely prove willing to admit even the most obvious of missteps. Arrogance has enabled our political checks and balances to atrophy and undermined our bureaucratic ones.
Coping with the Pandemic
As lockdowns ease over the summer, if you’re wondering the risks of engaging in outdoor activities, here’s a handy guide from NPR that breaks down several different situations.
Stories of perseverance from writers, artists, musicians and restaurant owners in this beautiful Washington Post presentation.
Baking bread has become a favorite quarantine pastime, from sourdough to focaccia. Emily Dreyfuss writes about what it means. She writes, “We cannot break bread together, but bread photos are everywhere. The loaves are huge and tiny, misshapen and perfect. They are crusty and blobby and braided and strange and every single one is some kind of incantation. A prayer to end uncertainty.”
Kneading Sanity and Stability: Why Break Broke the Internet, The Correspondent.