Longer Looks: The Debate Over Bats; Other Catastrophes Lurking In Wings; A Medical Safety Net; And More
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
Covid-19 Reignites A Contentious Debate Over Bats And Disease
In the past few months, Arinjay Banerjee has gotten an unexpected taste of Internet fame. Since December, when news of Covid-19 began to shudder across the world, Banerjee — who studies the immune systems of bats at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada — has pivoted his research to focus on SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus behind the pandemic. Now among the small minority of scientists still regularly doing laboratory experiments, he’s watched his Twitter following grow and his email inbox fill, often with words of encouragement and queries about how and when the virus will be stopped. (Wu, 5/5)
Experts Knew A Pandemic Was Coming. Here’s What They’re Worried About Next.
You might feel blindsided by the coronavirus, but warnings about a looming pandemic have been there for decades. Government briefings, science journals and even popular fiction projected the spread of a novel virus and the economic impacts it would bring, complete often with details about the specific challenges the U.S. is now facing. It makes you wonder: What else are we missing? What other catastrophes are coming that we aren’t planning for, but that could disrupt our lives, homes, jobs or our broader society in the next few years or decades? (Graff, 5/7)
How The Coronavirus Affects The Rural South
This spring as the coronavirus tore through New York City and spread to places like New Orleans, Marcus Campbell knew his home of Sumter County, Alabama, was particularly vulnerable. Rural residents die at higher rates from heart disease, cancer, and stroke than those in cities, and black people in rural areas die at especially high rates. Roughly 75 percent of the areas most vulnerable to the coronavirus are in the South, according to the Surgo Foundation, a research group that built an index to survey COVID-19 vulnerability. Likewise, 75 percent of the people in Sumter County, in the rural Black Belt of West Alabama, are black. The county’s residents expect to live 74 years; five years less than the national average. Forty-five percent of the people who have died of the virus in Alabama have been black. The numbers simply weren’t on their side. (Harris, 5/7)
The New York Times:
A Shadow Medical Safety Net, Stretched To The Limit
In March, New York City began moving homeless shelter residents believed to have Covid-19 to “isolation units” within existing facilities. In April, it began using the city’s inventory of empty hotels, which were supposed to be for residents who weren’t yet sick enough to need hospital care. There was plenty of space available; the problem was how to staff it. For one hotel, the city contracted with Housing Works, a nonprofit focused on homelessness and H.I.V./AIDS. Housing Works brought in Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which serves L.G.B.T.Q. New Yorkers. Callen-Lorde’s staff learned the hotel’s exact location, in Queens, late in the morning on Friday, April 3. There were 133 rooms, expected to hold more than 170 patients. They had only a few hours to get the place ready: The first patients would begin arriving that night. (Schwartz, 5/6)
The New York Times:
Will Americans Lose Their Right To Vote In The Pandemic?
In March, as a wave of states began delaying their spring primaries because of the coronavirus, Wisconsin’s election, scheduled for April 7, loomed. The ballot for that day included the presidential primary, thousands of local offices and four statewide judgeships, including a key seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. On March 17, the day after Ohio postponed its spring election, voting rights groups asked Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, to do the same. “No one wanted the election to happen more than us, but it felt like this wave was about to hit our communities,” Angela Lang, the founder and executive director of the Milwaukee group Black Leaders Organizing for Community, a nonprofit organization, told me. (Bazelon, 5/5)