Different Takes: Prisons Are No Place For COVID Patients; Appetite For Meat Puts Everyone At Risk Of Disease
Editorial pages focus on these pandemic issues and others.
The Washington Post:
The Last Days Of A Covid-19 Prisoner
It isn’t clear why Charles Hobbs was arrested in January. More than 20 years ago, a judge gave him five years probation for a crime that required him to register as a sex offender in one of the most restrictive counties in the country. He had no criminal record prior to that, and until January, his only subsequent arrests were for failing to register in 2007 and 2014. An attorney for his family says those arrests occurred when Hobbs temporarily moved in with a girlfriend and failed to notify the county where she lived. When the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep the country, a judge ordered him released from jail and placed in home confinement, given his multiple underlying conditions of congenital heart failure, kidney failure and hypertension. But for reasons that also aren’t clear, that never happened. (Radley Balko, 5/20)
The Global Appetite For Meat Increases The Risk Of Future Pandemics
I was a pandemic specialist for 15 years, leading projects under the emerging pandemic threats program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Now I am sheltering in place in semi-rural Maryland and wondering how to reduce the risk of future global outbreaks. The answer is a long way from my journey stealthily following pickup trucks full of live chickens through narrow alleys in Jakarta to locate illegal slaughtering operations in neighborhood basements during the avian influenza outbreaks in the mid-to late 2000s... But it is surprisingly close to the meat counter at my local supermarket, because the risk of pandemic threats has a great deal to do with human’s demand for animal protein, whether that meat is raised on a farm or comes from the wild. (Jerry Martin, 5/21)
Meats Vs. Worker Safety — It's A False Dichotomy
This past week the U.S. meatpacking industry hit grim milestones in the American COVID-19 epidemic with over 15,000 infections and 60 deaths tied to meatpacking facilities, and the nation has now turned its attention to this largely forgotten industry. We now know that meatpacking companies had plenty of warning that airborne pathogens could pose workplace risks and yet they did little to protect their workers. In addition, it is clear that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has failed to enforce infection control requirements in these plants. If Americans want to continue to rely on a safe and continuous supply of meat, Congress must make sure workers are protected and further outbreaks are prevented. (Dr. Melissa Perry, 5/20)
Dietary Guidelines Should Include A Bacon Warning
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans should not continue to recommend that people eat processed meat, including bacon and hot dogs, especially when evidence shows that it increases the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions that have helped make COVID-19 so deadly. When the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee holds its June 8 meeting on the scientific report that will influence the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, I hope it discusses the overwhelming evidence showing the consequences of consuming processed meat. (Susan Levin, 5/19)
The New York Times:
I Was Supposed To Eat At A Restaurant. I Bailed.
We were in our driveway, car keys in hand, 10 minutes before our reservation time, when I chickened out.I was supposed to dine at a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic — for the purpose of journalism, of course. Montana, where I live, is opening up. ... My partner and I never got in the car. Instead, we stood by our front porch and debated. Six new cases had just been announced an hour earlier in the county 30 minutes down the road — an unusual spike. (Charlie Warzel, 5/20)
Trump's Washington Is Failing Badly With No End In Sight To Coronavirus Pandemic Battle
Two months into the pandemic battle, national politics have hardened into an ugly, dispiriting limbo amid a sense that during a generational crisis, there is no one in charge. Haunted by an invisible pathogen that has drained trademark energy and optimism from American life, the ordeal has clearly not drawn the country together -- it's tearing it further apart. And there is still no clear path out of the darkness. (Stephen Collinson, 5/21)
The Washington Post:
Trump’s Medical Judgment Is Wrong. The Example He’s Setting Is Worse.
Once again, President Trump is playing doctor in chief. Once again, his medical judgment is wrong, and the example he is setting by his behavior is worse. Trump announced that he began taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc to prevent covid-19 after a White House staffer tested positive for Sars-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus. Simultaneously, he and Vice President Pence have consistently ignored the advice of their own experts to wear face masks. (Vinay Prasad and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 5/20)
Congress Forgets Children Of Heroes And Childcare Centers Serving Them
Child care and early childhood education centers will also need assistance once they reopen. Economic recovery will happen in waves with families returning over time as states loosen restrictions. Child care centers will need to operate at less than full capacity to accommodate families who return to work during the early stages of economic recovery. This means that many will not break even for months and recovery funding will be critical to help centers pay their bills. (Downey, 5/18)