Longer Looks: Interesting Reads You Might Have Missed
Each week, KHN finds longer stories for you to sit back and enjoy. This week's selections include stories on COVID, health insurance, therapy, conspiracy theories and vibrio.
Inside The Fall Of The CDC
At 7:47 a.m. on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Dr. Jay Butler pounded out a grim email to colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Butler, then the head of the agency’s coronavirus response, and his team had been trying to craft guidance to help Americans return safely to worship amid worries that two of its greatest comforts — the chanting of prayers and singing of hymns — could launch a deadly virus into the air with each breath. The week before, the CDC had published its investigation of an outbreak at an Arkansas church that had resulted in four deaths. The agency’s scientific journal recently had detailed a superspreader event in which 52 of the 61 singers at a 2½-hour choir practice developed COVID-19. Two died. (Bandler, Callahan, Rotella and Berg, 10/15)
Could The Third Amendment Protect Against Infection?
Ever since state governors began implementing stay-at-home orders to contain the coronavirus pandemic, protesters have resisted such safety measures under the belief that they violate constitutionally guaranteed liberties. Proposals to mandate mask wearing have collided with allegations of First Amendment violations. Orders to close gun stores have clashed with concerns about Second Amendment freedoms. But a profound historical counter-vision to these ideas about “individual liberty” can be found in one of the most neglected and underappreciated corners of the Bill of Rights: the Third Amendment. (Zhang, 10/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
Oxford Developed Covid Vaccine, Then Scholars Clashed Over Money
Just weeks before the University of Oxford announced a mega-deal aimed at rolling out a Covid-19 vaccine world-wide, university leaders had a revolt on their hands. Publicly, Oxford scientists were touting progress in the laboratory. But behind the scenes, two renowned vaccinologists leading the effort were fighting a proposed deal with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. The scientists’ small biotech company—a spinout partially funded by Oxford—was refusing to hand over intellectual-property rights. To outflank their bosses, the scientists asked a London investment banker to help explore other potential deals. (Strasburg and Woo, 10/21)
How To Change The Mind Of An Anti-Vaxxer
Sometime in the coming months, our prayers will have been answered. The researchers will have pulled their all-nighters, mountains will have been moved, glass vials will have been shipped, and a vaccine that protects us from the novel coronavirus will be here. We will all clamber to get it so we can go back to school, work, restaurants, and life. All of us, that is, except for people like Marcus Nel-Jamal Hamm. Hamm, a Black actor and professional wrestler, is what some might call an “anti-vaxxer,” though he finds that term derogatory and reductive. Since about 2013, he’s been running a Facebook page called “Over Vaccination Nation,” which now has more than 3,000 followers. One recent post is a video by the anti-vaccinationist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., wrongly suggesting that mercury-laced vaccines are shipped to predominantly Black communities. (Khazan, 10/16)
The New York Times:
5 Ways Families Can Prepare As Coronavirus Cases Surge
As if parents didn’t have enough to worry about, here’s a new cause for alarm: Coronavirus cases in the United States are climbing toward a third peak, troubling epidemiologists. Cases are rising to record levels in nearly half the states in the country, driven by uncontrolled outbreaks in the Midwest and Mountain West, where hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. (Caron, 10/19)
The COVID-19 Documentary All Americans Need to See
Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, it may seem senseless to make a two-hour film that looks back on how the coronavirus ran rampant in the U.S. And yet, Totally Under Control—from the Oscar-winning writer-director Alex Gibney and his co-directors, Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger—not only documents the chaos of 2020 with clear-eyed precision, but also successfully argues for its own existence. (Li, 10/19)
The New York Times:
Where Have All The Hospital Patients Gone?
Weathered, wiry and in his early 60s, the man stumbled into clinic, trailing cigarette smoke and clutching his chest. Over the previous week, he had had fleeting episodes of chest pressure but stayed away from the hospital. “I didn’t want to get the coronavirus,” he gasped as the nurses unbuttoned his shirt to get an EKG. Only when his pain had become relentless did he feel he had no choice but to come in. In pre-pandemic times, patients like him were routine at my Boston-area hospital; we saw them almost every day. But for much of the spring and summer, the halls and parking lots were eerily empty. (Chen, 10/20)
The Wall Street Journal:
I Married Him For Love—And So He Could Be On My Health Insurance
You could call my marriage untraditional––at least the way it started. I was newly 25, and my 30-year-old boyfriend, Ryan Brady, was finishing his morning coffee when I told him I loved him, and I wanted to spend my life with him. And I wanted him to have my health insurance. This was last December. There had been no plans, no rings or photographers. I did get down on one knee, but only so I could meet his eye; our two cats took up the neighboring armchair. (Fontana, 10/16)
The Wall Street Journal:
What If Your Therapist’s Tell-All Is All About You?
Catherine Gildiner’s new book about her life as a psychotherapist stars her former patients, some of whom experienced strong reactions after seeing their lives exposed on the page. Ms. Gildiner said one patient, a woman who had been abused as a child, told her that reading the book brought up repressed memories of her sadistic father and briefly sank her into a depression. Another patient, a wealthy antiques collector, was mortified by the thought of anyone ever knowing the patient was her and vowed not to tell a soul about her literary turn, the author said. A third, Ms. Gildiner added, was a musician who felt so vindicated by the book’s portrayal of him that he showed the hardcover to everyone in his family.“ All of them were happy to be in it,” said Ms. Gildiner, whose memoir “Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery” came out last month. (Gamerman, 10/19)
The Washington Post:
Conspiracy Theories: Protect Yourself From Being Sucked In
Conspiracy theories such as these swirl around us like noxious germs, targeting the mind instead of the body. And in the same way that our immune system can leave us more vulnerable to pathogens, our emotional state can make us more open to false — and potentially harmful — beliefs. People who feel scared, confused, alone and under siege are especially at risk of coming under the sway of conspiracy theories, experts say. But there are steps we can take to protect ourselves from these dangerous ideas. (Haupt, 10/19)
Center For Public Integrity and McClatchy:
Deadly Bacteria Lurk In Coastal Waters. Climate Change Increases The Risks.
Vibrio is a group of rod-shaped bacteria found in brackish and balmy coastal waters. It has many species but only about a dozen make people sick. (Raj, Penney, Lombardi, Moutinho and Fretwell, 10/20)