Viewpoints: Lessons On Public Gatherings Protesting Lethal Public Health Issues; Academic Medical Centers Need To Take To The Streets
Opinion writers weigh in on these health care issues and others.
The Washington Post:
Public Health Pits Covid Against Protest But There Are Ways To Lessen Risk
As a professor of public health, I am conflicted. The dangerous and contagious coronavirus means we need to stay at home to protect ourselves and the vulnerable. At the same time, an enormous public health problem is propelling people shoulder-to-shoulder onto the streets — deep rooted racism that requires an outcry. The anger and violence being played out on the streets is intensely personal for me as a doctor. One of my patients died in Oakland on May 29, shot by an unknown assailant while on duty guarding a federal courthouse. He was a kind and soft-spoken man whom I had cared for since 2018. (Scott Lee, 6/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Doctors For Lockdown Discrimination
Democratic politicians can’t explain why they let peaceful protesters and even rioters march in tight crowds in their streets but continue to ban other gatherings and maintain strict lockdowns on the rest of the public. Now some public-health progressives are offering a rationalization: “COVID-19 among Black patients is yet another lethal manifestation of white supremacy.” Public-health researchers from the University of Washington last week circulated a letter—which received 1,300 signatures from health-care providers, epidemiologists and medical students around the country—that seeks to justify the disparate treatment by politicians of demonstrations in response to George Floyd’s killing and those by conservatives who have protested stay-at-home orders. (6/7)
Beyond Words: Medical Institutions Must Act To Support Black Lives
Oleoresin capsicum spray, better known as pepper spray, is a chemical weapon made from concentrated chili pepper extracts... UpToDate, the clinical practice bible for doctors, nurses, and other health care workers, delivers just three hits for the search terms “pepper spray” and “oleoresin capsicum.” None of them provides information on treating patients exposed to pepper spray; one even recommends its use in controlling agitated patients. The omission of this treatment information, as well as a recommendation to use chemical warfare agents on patients, reflects the apathy of the medical community toward police violence in the United States, if not its tacit approval. (Carrie Flynn and Chinye Ijeli, 6/6)
BJC HealthCare CEO On Healthcare And Racial Disparities During COVID-19 Pandemic
The tragic events the last week of May, the 100,000-plus COVID-19 deaths, and the continued healthcare and racial disparities in our nation highlight the stark realities of our public health crisis. This crisis is not the result of COVID-19, poverty, gun violence or underfunding of our public health system. I firmly believe it is the result of structural, institutionalized racism in America that privileged white men have perpetuated for far too long. (Rich Liekweg, 6/5)
Los Angeles Times:
My Mother Has Alzheimer's. The Coronavirus Only Makes It Harder To Care For Her.
My 83-year-old mother was scheduled to move into a skilled nursing facility near our home in Birmingham, Ala., on March 23. The global pandemic put a wrench in those plans.As things open up in our state, my family wonders how to continue to protect Mom amid so much uncertainty. While many questions remain about COVID-19’s trajectory and the preparedness of nursing homes to shield residents from infection, our confidence in caring for her — Mom suffers from numerous physical limitations and late Alzheimer’s disease — is wavering. (Cynthia Ryan, 6/8)
The New York Times:
Anger Benefits Some Americans Much More Than Others
The protests against police brutality gripping the nation are a study in contrast — notably, the contrast between the government response to the current unrest and its response to last month’s demonstrations. When an armed makeshift militia showed up at the Michigan State Capitol to demand the state be reopened — even as coronavirus cases were growing — President Trump hailed them as “very good people.” As thousands of people descended upon city streets in mostly peaceful yet forceful calls for an end to extrajudicial police killings of black people, the president denigrated them as “thugs,” demanded that state governors “dominate” them and called for the U.S. military to be activated against its own citizenry. This contrast is nothing new. (Davin Phoenix, 6/6)
College Students Raising Kids Were In Crisis Before Coronavirus. Lockdown Made It Worse.
Emily R. is a first-generation college student at Northern Virginia Community College. Outside of school, she works in the hospitality industry while raising her 4-year-old son and rents a two-bedroom apartment with five other people. Emily's carefully balanced world began to topple as COVID-19 changed the world: In March, her son's day care closed, her work hours were cut and her classes were moved online. Struggling to pay rent, Emily applied for emergency funds from her school but was denied. (Nicole Lynn Lewis and Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, 6/8)
Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Georgia Can’t Afford To Delay Medicaid Expansion
In the face of a dual crisis — the COVID-19 public health emergency and the resulting economic downturn — it is more important than ever that the 14 states that haven’t implemented the Medicaid expansion, including Georgia, act to extend eligibility to the almost 5 million uninsured people who could gain coverage. Medicaid expansion will help ensure those who need care have access to it. Uninsured adults may face higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 because of the types of jobs they are more likely to hold. (Laura Harker, 6/6)
Protesters Deserve COVID-19 Test Access
Many of the hundreds of thousands who joined recent protests in Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma and across America disregarded precautions against catching coronavirus. The determination to speak out took precedence over social-distancing principles in packed streets. Many skipped wearing masks. These protests are righteous, to be sure, but they could have sweeping consequences for public health. State officials need to ensure that the state’s testing supplies are adequate. Many public-health officials here and elsewhere support the protests; an open letter signed by 1,288 health professionals and leaders correctly defines white supremacy as “a lethal public health issue.” (6/7)
Is Gov. Doug Ducey Ignoring The COVID-19 ‘Check Engine’ Light?
Gov. Doug Ducey needs to draw a line in the sand and show us where it is. He needs to announce the tipping point.He needs to tell the citizens of Arizona what must happen, exactly, for him to reinstitute the restrictions lifted in May. In other words, when will the governor put people over profits and politics? The spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU cases and deaths is pretty clear. Arizona now has more than 26,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths. The numbers are going up and up. Banner Health told the state that it can't take any more patients needing an external lung machine. It's designed for patients that even ventilators can't help. (EJ Montini, 6/7)
Massachusetts, Let’s Get More Ambitious With Coronavirus Testing
Judging by the current status of the outbreak, notably the declining numbers of deaths and hospital admissions related to COVID-19, the state’s overall strategy of testing, social distancing, and using masks is working — for now. But if Massachusetts is to sustain this trend even as more people travel and return to work or school, public-health officials would benefit from substantially more test data, because that would increase the chances of stopping infected people from spreading the virus. Without the insights that could come from many more tests, strategically deployed, the reopening that’s underway could be more restrained than necessary. It also could be a prelude to a second shutdown in the fall. (6/7)