Longer Looks: Public Housing, Small Pox Experts, Climate Change In The Time Of Coronavirus, And More
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
In Public Housing, A Battle Against Mold And Rising Seas
When splotches of mold surfaced on Brandy Cabrera’s shower wall in September 2019, the 37-year-old bus attendant began to worry about her teenage son, who is autistic. “He has got to breathe in all that mold while he is taking a bath,” Cabrera says, referring to his longstanding morning routine. To fix the leak causing the mold, Cabrera followed protocol, contacting the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which owns the Red Hook Houses, the public housing complex in Brooklyn where she has lived for the past 13 years. But Cabrera says that workers just plastered over her wall. The next month, she contacted them again to stop the spreading mold, but no one came.Finally, she decided to sue the agency in one of the city’s housing courts. (Pike, 3/25)
The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What's Coming
Larry Brilliant says he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick," he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.” (Levy, 3/19)
What The Coronavirus Curve Teaches Us About Climate Change
The coronavirus pandemic—sadly—has introduced or reintroduced many people to the concept of an exponential curve, in which a quantity grows at an increasing rate over time, as the number of people contracting the virus currently is doing. It is this curve that so many of us are trying to “flatten” through social distancing and other mitigating measures, small and large. It’s easy to project a pattern of smooth, linear growth: one person gets the coronavirus today, another person contracts it tomorrow, a third person gets it on the third day, and the process continues in this manner, the cases simply adding. But most people, including leaders and policymakers, have a harder time imagining exponential growth, which means you can have two cases of coronavirus tomorrow, four on the third day, hundreds after the seventh day and thousands soon after—a situation that’s challenging to anticipate and manage. That’s the nature of pandemics. (Kunreuther and Slovic, 3/26)
The New York Times:
His Immune System Went Out Of Whack. The Usual Treatment Didn’t Work. Why?
“Have you read this?” the 61-year-old man asked his newest doctor, Madan Jagasia, as they sat in an exam room in the cancer center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The book, titled “Dying Well,” prompted a concerned look from the oncologist. You know we’re not there yet, he said he told the patient. Jagasia had only recently taken over the patient’s care, but he knew the man had been through an awful 14 months. Just a few weeks before Christmas in 2016, the athletic and active lawyer discovered he had an aggressive leukemia. (Sanders, 3/18)
The New York Times:
Haunted By A Gene
Year after year for two decades, Nancy Wexler led medical teams into remote villages in Venezuela, where huge extended families lived in stilt houses on Lake Maracaibo and for generations, had suffered from a terrible hereditary disease that causes brain degeneration, disability and death. Neighbors shunned the sick, fearing they were contagious. “Doctors wouldn’t treat them,” Dr. Wexler said. “Priests wouldn’t touch them.” She began to think of the villagers as her family, and started a clinic to care for them. (Grady, 3/10)