Category : America/U.S.A.

(The State) Identified coronavirus cases in South Carolina reaches 2,417

South Carolina health officials identified 187 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the statewide total of known cases to 2,417.

Three additional South Carolinians have died as a result of the disease, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. All three were 60 years old or older, and had underlying health conditions. Two were from Lexington County and one was from Greenville County, according to DHEC.

Statewide, the death toll is now 51.

The actual number of S.C. cases is likely higher than what is being reported. As of Sunday evening, DHEC estimated the state had more than 15,000 cases of COVID-19, meaning about 85% of cases have not been tested or identified.

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Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, State Government

(Sightings) Lijia Xie–Patience in the Pandemic: Hurrying to wait in the time of COVID-19

“For time is the essential ingredient; but in the modern world, there is no time.”
–Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Less than four months after the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported, public warnings and action have escalated quickly past their previously steady crescendo. Though early reports were uncertain about the extent of the contagion’s threat, the number of cases in the United States has since skyrocketed, and organizations around the country have responded urgently and dramatically. A wave of schools across the country—including the University of Chicago—asked students not to return following spring break, and students and teachers alike have been required to adapt quickly to online formats for the foreseeable future. Local, state, and even national governments have declared states of emergency or ordered lockdowns.

These large scale efforts at “social distancing” are grounded in sound epidemiology: slowing the rate of transmission is necessary in order to avoid overburdening healthcare systems and leaving doctors in the impossible dilemma of choosing which patients to treat and not treat, as is currently the case in Italy. History also offers its proof: public health experts note that in the 1918 flu pandemic, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), like the ones currently being enacted, implemented at an early phase of the epidemic, drastically lowered peak mortality rates and total mortality. Moreover, given a new virus with even higher rates of transmission, each day that passes without intervention can result in magnitudes of difference in outcomes of infection. The urgency of this moment has required collective hurrying and quick response.

But now we must wait.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(CC) The coronavirus pandemic is exposing the myth of self-reliance

I’m writing from home, where I am blessed and forced to be, sitting in the same chair where this morning I led worship and preached over Face­book Live to a congregation that encouraged me as I became a televangelist before their eyes, taking breaks from the gospel to wave to my four-year-old and my husband as they ran in and out of the screen.

Church looks different. Family looks different. Home looks different. School looks different. I am not homeschooling, despite having downloaded about 200 lists of “fun learning activities for kids to do at home.” Mostly I am refereeing fights in between Zoom calls and trying to figure out where God is in the midst of coronavirus haze and anxiety. I can no longer take daily life for granted, even as I can’t take toilet paper for granted, even as my dear friend who’s a nurse in California can’t take having proper protection in the ICU for granted.

Our capitalist system and our individualistic society have long rendered faith as cheap and acts of selfless love as obsolete or even stupid. Now we are asked to sacrifice for one another. We need Easter more than ever, and we are stuck in a Lent where sometimes it seems like no one wants to carry their cross.

We’ve mistreated valuable people and made them invisible. Home health care and hospice workers are easily discarded in America, while stock traders are cherished and protected. Our prized possessions arrive in a box on our doorstep from halfway around the world, and only now that they might be carrying a virus do we care about the low-wage worker in Asia who sewed our new sweatpants or the Amazon worker who raced to get back from his three-minute bathroom break to tape the box together on time.

A gift of this pandemic is that we can no longer make each other invisible….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine

(NYT) How Will We Know When It’s Time to Reopen the Nation?

Gregg Gonsalves, a professor of epidemiology and law at Yale, said: “I’d feel better if we had serological testing, and could preferentially allow those who are antibody positive and no longer infectious to return to work first. The point is, though, that we are nowhere even near accomplishing any of these criteria. Opening up before then will be met with a resurgence of the virus.”
He added, “That’s the thing that keeps me up every night.”

Until we get a vaccine or effective drug treatments, focusing on these major criteria, and directing efforts toward them, should help us determine how we are progressing locally, and how we might achieve each goal.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(NYT) The New Jersey Nurse Was Holding Up. Then Her 3 Close Relatives Were Brought In.

Twelve doctors at her hospital and the chief executive were sickened with the coronavirus. A colleague had died. Patients as young as 19 were being placed on ventilators.

But Michele Acito, the director of nursing at Holy Name Medical Center, in the hardest-hit town in New Jersey’s hardest-hit county, felt like she was holding up.

Then her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law arrived.

The disease that has crippled New York City is now enveloping New Jersey’s densely packed cities and suburbs. The state’s governor said on Friday that New Jersey was about a week behind New York, where scenes of panicked doctors have gripped the nation.

Hospitals in the state are scrambling to convert cafeterias and pediatric wings into intensive care units. Ventilators are running low. One in three nursing homes has at least one resident with the virus.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(NYT) Holdout States Resist Calls for Stay-at-Home Orders: ‘What Are You Waiting For?’

A stretch of Interstate 40, which runs from downtown Memphis across the Mississippi River into Arkansas, has come to illustrate the patchwork of rules restricting movement in the United States. On the Arkansas side of the river, where the governor has resisted a statewide mandate, some “nonessential” businesses remain open. On the Tennessee side, a stay-at-home order went into effect this week, closing stores.

Now, the owner of a chain of clothing stores called Deep South located on both sides of the Mississippi is operating under two different sets of rules. The company’s owner, Munther Awad, a 47-year-old immigrant from the Middle East, said he owned two stores in Arkansas, which are open, one in West Memphis and another in Little Rock. And he owns a third store in Memphis, which is now closed because of a local mandate last week.

“I feel like if you would have just went ahead and put the whole nation at the same time on a lockdown, we could have got some control over it,” said Lavanda Mayfield, 33, who was waiting to serve takeout to customers at the Iron Skillet restaurant at a truck stop near I-40 in West Memphis on Friday.

“But now it’s just out of control,” she said, “because you did state-to-state.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government

(NYT) Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury

It has been about two weeks since the Illinois governor ordered residents to stay at home, but nothing has changed about Adarra Benjamin’s responsibilities. She gets on a bus nearly every morning in Chicago, traveling 20 miles round trip some days to cook, clean and shop for her clients, who are older or have health problems that make such tasks difficult.

Ms. Benjamin knows the dangers, but she needs her job, which pays about $13 an hour. She also cannot imagine leaving her clients to fend for themselves. “They’ve become my family,” she said.

In cities across America, many lower-income workers continue to move around, while those who make more money are staying home and limiting their exposure to the coronavirus, according to smartphone location data analyzed by The New York Times.

Although people in all income groups are moving less than they did before the crisis, wealthier people are staying home the most, especially during the workweek. Not only that, but in nearly every state, they began doing so days before the poor, giving them a head start on social distancing as the virus spread, according to aggregated data from the location analysis company Cuebiq, which tracks about 15 million cellphone users nationwide daily.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing

Nearly 315 million Americans are in the midst of some kind of stay-at-home order as of today

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Health & Medicine

(CNN) Experts tell White House coronavirus can spread through talking or even just breathing

A prestigious scientific panel told the White House Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing.

“While the current [coronavirus] specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” according to the letter, written by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, chairman of a committee with the National Academy of Sciences.

Fineberg told CNN that he will wear start wearing a mask when he goes to the grocery store.

“I’m not going to wear a surgical mask, because clinicians need those,” said Fineberg, former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. “But I have a nice western-style bandana I might wear. Or I have a balaclava. I have some pretty nice options.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(Stat News) Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic: We’re just clambering into a life raft. Dry land is far away

Imagine you are in a small boat far, far from shore. A surprise storm capsizes the boat and tosses you into the sea. You try to tame your panic, somehow find the boat’s flimsy but still floating life raft, and struggle into it. You catch your breath, look around, and try to think what to do next. Thinking clearly is hard to do after a near-drowning experience.

You do, though, realize two important things: First, the raft is saving your life for the moment and you need to stay in it until you have a better plan. Second, the raft is not a viable long-term option and you need to get to land.

In April 2020, the storm is the Covid-19 pandemic, the life raft is the combination of intense measures we are using to slow the spread of the virus, and dry land is the end to the pandemic.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(9 Marks) Colton Corter–4 Reflections after Listening to 18 Hours of Sermons in America’s Biggest Churches

1. The gospel at best assumed; most of the time, it’s entirely absent.

Let me begin with the most important observation: in 36 sermons, the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was unclear 36 times. Often, some or all of these facets of the Christian gospel were left out. “No gospel” became a common note. (Here’s an answer to the question you’re probably asking: What content is necessary in order to communicate the gospel?)

I don’t mean to say various elements of the gospel weren’t occasionally mentioned; they were. Todd Mullins (Christ Fellowship Church) mentions in his sermon series, “What Do You See Next?, that faith is believing in what Jesus did for you—carrying the cross, rising from the dead, etc. But none of those elements are articulated or explained. It’s unclear exactly why we need Jesus to do anything for us. Furthermore, it’s unclear exactly what he did by doing the things Mullins mentions. Isolated phrases here and there without much reference to how the Bible puts them together was the norm.

In his sermon, “The Robe of Righteousness,” Robert Morris (Gateway Church) provides a happy exception. He mentions the doctrine of imputation, stating that we aren’t worthy of God and are in need of a “balancing (of our) . . . account.” Morris goes on to say that in the gospel we get Jesus’ assets while Jesus receives our debts. That’s as close to the gospel that any of these sermons gets—and even in this instance, the true things Morris mentions are isolated from the rest of the truths that make up the gospel message. (Neither God’s holy judgment, sin, nor repentance is mentioned.)

But here’s what’s even more disheartening: in his next sermon, Morris says the Jesus who accomplished all this for us “lays down all his divinity” (“The Ring of Authority). Conspicuously missing from Morris’ explanation of what he calls “substitutionary, propitiatory, blood-bought salvation” is the response one must have to this message in order to be saved, which leads us to our next observation.

2. Repentance rarely comes across as something urgent and necessary; instead, it’s either optional or not worth mentioning at all.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Restrictions Are Slowing Coronavirus Infections, New Data Suggest

Harsh measures, including stay-at-home orders and restaurant closures, are contributing to rapid drops in the numbers of fevers — a signal symptom of most coronavirus infections — recorded in states across the country, according to intriguing new data produced by a medical technology firm.

At least 248 million Americans in at least 29 states have been told to stay at home. It had seemed nearly impossible for public health officials to know how effective this measure and others have been in slowing the coronavirus.

But the new data offer evidence, in real time, that tight social-distancing restrictions may be working, potentially reducing hospital overcrowding and lowering death rates, experts said.

The company, Kinsa Health, which produces internet-connected thermometers, first created a national map of fever levels on March 22 and was able to spot the trend within a day. Since then, data from the health departments of New York State and Washington State have buttressed the finding, making it clear that social distancing is saving lives.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(Stat News) Biotech VC Bob Nelsen called it right on the coronavirus. Now he has thoughts on therapeutics — and masks

How do we get through this pandemic?

Social distancing is number one; contact tracing and antibody testing are number two; and therapeutics in the fall are number three. And then vaccines. We’re going to be fine. And I know this because the Chinese are asking me all kinds of questions about business stuff that I don’t want to answer because we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine

(60 minutes) “Beyond Anything I’ve Seen In My Career”: Doctors On The Front Lines Describe Surge In Coronavirus Patients

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan is chief of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, one of 23 hospitals in the Northwell Health System.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: I have 18 beds in one ICU full of people on ventilators, completely sedated unable to open their eyes or interact or talk to their families. And we are feeding them through tubes, and we are completely keeping them paralyzed so that we can properly ventilate them. It’s our sickest patients, and they’re in every single room of our ICU.

The pictures in our story were shot for us by hospital staff. By the end of this past week, New York City hospitals admitted more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients. At Northwell Health hospitals, about a third of COVID-19 patients go to intensive care, often suddenly.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Very quickly, within hours. They walk into the hospital, talking, or into an urgent care. And 12 hours later they’re on a ventilator, fighting for their life.

Scott Pelley: Is that unusual?

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Very unusual. Very unusual. We don’t see that course in progression like this with any other disease that we deal with.

Scott Pelley: How long are they staying in the ICU?

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Much longer than our normal patients are. Normal patients, we have three or four days of ICU stay and they leave. These patients, and this is consistent with China and with what Italy is seeing, take about two weeks on a ventilator before they can come off, if they come off.

Read or watch it all (video highly recommended as it will have more impact).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) Coronavirus Slowdown in Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working

The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now.

Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington State suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days.

While each infected person was spreading the virus to an average of 2.7 other people earlier in March, that number appears to have dropped, with one projection suggesting that it was now down to 1.4.

The researchers who are preparing the latest projections, led by the Institute for Disease Modeling, a private research group in Bellevue, Wash., have been watching a variety of data points since the onset of the outbreak. They include tens of thousands of coronavirus test results, deaths, and mobility information — including traffic patterns and the movements of anonymous Facebook users — to estimate the rate at which coronavirus patients are spreading the disease to others.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CBS) Scott Gottlieb discusses coronavirus on “Face the Nation” This Morning

GOTTLIEB: Well, we’ve said in a report that we put out today that you should wait until you see sustained reduction in the number of cases for 14 days. So 14 days after you start to see a sustained reduction in the number of daily cases, that’s the point at which you can contemplate lifting some of these measures that we have in place right now, some of these very aggressive social distancing measures. But you need to do it very gradually. You need to substitute in other things. There’s other conditions that need to be met. You need to have the ability to test the population widely so you can determine who has the infection, who doesn’t, and use case-based interventions, where you isolate individual people. You also want good information about where the virus is spreading. You need to be testing very widely to know where the virus is spreading. So those tools need to be in place. Now those tools are getting in place. I think by the end of the week, we’ll have the capacity to screen maybe as close to- close to 750,000 people a week. And in going into the week after that, maybe close to a million. The limitation on our ability to screen isn’t going to be the screening platforms themselves. We’ve now deployed a lot of sophisticated platforms, including plat- platforms into doctors’ offices. The limitation is going to be the low commodity components of testing, like the swabs or the plastic components used to actually run the tests. The manufacturing supply chain for those components is very limited right now.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) ‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide

In other cases, the rich aren’t going east or west, but down. Gary Lynch, general manager of Rising S, a Texas maker of safe rooms and bunkers that range in price from $40,000 to several million dollars, said he had added a second shift of 15 workers to handle the flood of new orders, mostly for underground bunkers.

“I’ve never seen interest like there is now,” said Mr. Lynch, who has taken to turning his phone off at night so he can get some sleep. “It has not let up.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing

(WSJ) Robert Nicholson–A Coronavirus Great Awakening?

Could a plague of biblical proportions be America’s best hope for religious revival? As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, there is reason to think so.

Three-quarters of a century has dimmed the memory of that gruesome conflict and its terrible consequences: tens of millions killed, great cities bombed to rubble, Europe and Asia stricken by hunger and poverty. Those who survived the war had to grapple with the kinds of profound questions that only arise in the aftermath of calamity. Gazing at the ruins from his window at Cambridge University, British historian Herbert Butterfield chose to make sense of it by turning to the Hebrew Bible.

“The power of the Old Testament teaching on history—perhaps the point at which the ancient Jews were most original, breaking away from the religious thought of the other peoples around them—lay precisely in the region of truths which sprang from a reflection on catastrophe and cataclysm,” Butterfield wrote in “Christianity and History” (1949). “It is almost impossible properly to appreciate the higher developments in the historical reflection of the Old Testament except in another age which has experienced (or has found itself confronted with) colossal cataclysm.”

Americans, chastened by the horrors of war, turned to faith in search of truth and meaning….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Eschatology, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(Gallup) Most U.S. Adults Expect Long-Term COVID19 Disruption

As COVID-19 ravages the U.S., more state and local officials are placing stringent restrictions on residents’ activities in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Two-thirds of Americans say they are following news stories about the pandemic “very closely,” with the same percentage saying the situation has disrupted their lives — either a great deal (30%) or a fair amount (36%). Nearly as many expect it to take a few more months (51%) or longer (12%) for the level of disruption to travel, work, school and public events to improve, while 36% say it will only be a few more weeks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Sociology

(WSJ) China’s Progress Against Coronavirus Used Draconian Tactics Not Deployed in the West

U. S. and European leaders are looking at China’s progress in curbing the coronavirus pandemic to guide them on how to beat the virus within their own borders.

They may be drawing the wrong lessons, doctors and health experts say.

The cordon sanitaire that began around Wuhan and two nearby cities on Jan. 23 helped slow the virus’s transmission to other parts of China, but didn’t really stop it in Wuhan itself, these experts say. Instead, the virus kept spreading among family members in homes, in large part because hospitals were too overwhelmed to handle all the patients, according to doctors and patients there.

What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers.

The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings. It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February.

The steps went beyond what’s envisioned in many hard-hit Western cities. As a result, many doctors and experts say the recent lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe may slow the rise in new infections—if properly enforced—but still won’t be enough to stop it or prevent many hospitals from being overwhelmed, as they were initially in Wuhan.

“A lot of the lessons have been lost,” said Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh. “A lockdown helps buy time: The only way it will work is if you actually backtrack and start figuring out who has the virus.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Jessica Lustig–What I Learned When My Husband Got Sick With Coronavirus

We both wear disposable gloves. I put my hand through the crook of his arm, and we slowly start for the clinic. The day before was one of the harder ones, with T lightheaded and nauseated most of the day, eating only if I spoon-fed him, coughing more and using his albuterol inhaler more, then coughing more again. He was soaked in sweat in the morning and by evening was lying curled up, looking apprehensive. “I coughed up blood just now,” he told me quietly.

We talked to his doctor on speakerphone. “We are all kind of working blind,” he told us. Many patients, he said, seem to begin to feel better after a week. But others, the more serious and severe cases, take a downturn, and the risks rise as the virus targets the lungs. Pneumonia is a common next step in that downward progression. We read about it in the patients admitted to the hospital. Now the doctor called in a prescription for antibiotics to the CVS pharmacy that would close in less than an hour. I texted T’s friend down the block, and he texted back that he would pick up the medicine. I asked if he would get oranges too; T has been accepting a little fresh-squeezed juice or cut-up pieces, and we were down to one last orange. They suddenly seemed an unimaginably exotic treat.

The doctor told us to go back to the clinic for a chest X-ray first thing in the morning. Now we slowly walk the three blocks, T coughing behind his mask. As we move along the street, we see some other people too — fewer than a few days ago, before Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed New Yorkers to stay indoors as much as possible. Some joggers go by. Just over a week ago, that was still me. Now I point out the buds about to bloom on the branches we pass, drawing T’s attention away from the few passers-by so we won’t see if they start or turn around. A few are wearing their own masks, but they are walking upright, striding along, using them as protection for themselves. Not like us….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NPR) When The President will see a time to reopen the economy remains a very difficult decision with many dimensions

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing the decision would ultimately be data-driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

His previous comments about reopening the economy prompted alarm among public health experts across the country, who said it’s far too early. Trump seemed to much more carefully toe the line during his briefing as he talked about “carefully and responsibly reopening the country.”

“I want to assure Americans that we have a team of public health experts … also economists and other professionals working to develop a sophisticated plan to reopen the economy as soon as the time is right, one based on the best science, the best modeling and the best medical research there is anywhere on earth,” he said.

Trump stressed that this is a “medical crisis, this isn’t a financial crisis.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, President Donald Trump

(Science Mag) ‘I’m going to keep pushing.’ Anthony Fauci tries to make the White House listen to facts of the pandemic

Q: I’m curious about some things that aren’t happening on a national scale. One is, why are shelter in place orders happening state by state? Why are we doing this sequentially? Is that a mistake?

A: No, I don’t think we could say it’s a mistake or not a mistake. There is a discussion and a delicate balance about what’s the overall impact of shutting everything down completely for an indefinite period of time. So, there’s a compromise. If you knock down the economy completely and disrupt infrastructure, you may be causing health issues, unintended consequences, for people who need to be able to get to places and can’t. You do the best you can. I’ve emphasized very emphatically at every press conference, that everybody in the country, at a minimum, should be following the fundamental guidelines. Elderly, stay out of society in self isolation. Don’t go to work if you don’t have to. Yada, yada, yada. No bars, no restaurants, no nothing. Only essential services. When you get a place like New York or Washington or California, you have got to ratchet it up. But it is felt—and it isn’t me only speaking, it’s a bunch of people who make the decisions—that if you lock down everything now, you’re going to crash the whole society. So, you do what you can do, as best as you can. Do as much physical separation as you can and ratchet it up at the places you know are at highest risk.

Q: But I heard a guy say, if you think you’re doing too much, you’re probably doing the right amount.

A: That’s me.

Q: I know it’s you. The “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign doesn’t mention religious gatherings. I know Pence mentioned them yesterday. But why aren’t they on the 15 days recommendations? All these other places are mentioned.

A: It was implied in no crowds of more than 10 people. But you’re right, crowds in church are important and every time I get a chance to say it, I mention it. I can’t really criticize them strongly for that at all. When you say less than 10, it makes common sense that it involves the church. I say it publicly and even the vice president has said it publicly.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(AP) As offerings dwindle, some churches fear for their future

As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff.

One church leader, Bishop Paul Egensteiner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan New York Synod, said some of the 190 churches in his region were unlikely to survive because of a two-pronged financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as preschools which can no longer afford to rent church venues.

“As much as I’d like to help them, everybody’s reserves are taking a hit because of the stock market,” Egensteiner said,

At Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, a mostly African American congregation of about 1,100, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. bucked the cancellation trend by holding services last Sunday. But attendance was down by about 50%, and Gwynn said the day’s offering netted about $5,000 compared to a normal intake of about $15,000.

“It cuts into our ministry,” he said. “If this keeps up, we can’t fund all our outreach to help other people.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(WSJ) Tevi Troy–A Minyan in the Time of Social Distancing

Losing a parent is always difficult, especially as important financial and religious arrangements must be made during a time of intense grief. A global pandemic doesn’t help. But when my mother died on March 3, my family still had no idea how difficult it would be to stay safe while still honoring her in the Jewish tradition.

The Jewish response to death is communal. The local community comes together to support the mourners, who open up their home for a week of shiva. During this time the kaddish, or Jewish prayer for the dead, is recited at services three times a day. The mourner then may leave the home but remains obligated to say the kaddish three times daily for 11 months. According to Jewish law, these obligations must be fulfilled in the presence of a minyan, or prayer quorum of 10 men over the age of 13.

The current coronavirus crisis creates a challenge for those wishing to adhere to these Jewish mourning customs, especially in light of Judaism’s prioritization of public and individual health over ritual obligation. In Maryland, where I live, synagogues closed their doors last weekend to services and other community activities. In New Jersey, communities could not have communal prayer services in the home or even outdoors. In the interest of safety, similar changes are occurring throughout the country.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(New Republic) Alex Shephard–The Pandemic Movie of Our Time Isn’t Contagion. It’s Jaws.

There is nothing fast-paced about the coronavirus. For months, dread has slowly accumulated in my midsection. Every day brings a succession of new anxieties about the virus and the economy; about my family and friends; about my hands and the many, many things they touch, particularly my face. Above all, there is the sense that everything that is bad today will be worse tomorrow. And the movie that best reflects that reality is not Contagion but Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.

It is notable that the shark is barely in the movie, appearing for all of four minutes. This was not by design. Initially, Spielberg had three mechanical sharks made, but they looked hokey and frequently broke down. He was forced to embrace his inner Hitchcock, rarely showing the movie’s titular villain. As a result, the shark was more of an invisible threat, which turned out to be even scarier. “The visual ellipsis,” Molly Haskell wrote in her critical biography of Spielberg, “created far greater menace and terror, as the shark is nowhere and everywhere.” Sound familiar? If Jaws had been made only a few years later, we would have almost certainly been burdened with a CGI shark. Forty years after its release, the movie’s great white works as a metaphor as well as it does as a shark.

One of the strangest things about the coronavirus panic is how normal everything seems. Even with few people going out, my neighborhood looks the way it does on a Sunday morning. The difference is that I’m bombarded by a constant stream of push alerts and texts. That is a key part of what makes Jaws work. Even when everything appears fine, you know that terror is lurking just beneath the surface.

Our world is also divided between the types that Jaws establishes. There is Roy Scheider’s Sheriff Brody: apprehensive, well-meaning, but out of his depth. Then there is Richard Dreyfuss’s chatty Spielberg stand-in, Dr. Hooper: jittery, neurotic, a sudden expert on whatever topic is in front of him. The scene in which Brody, a transplanted New York cop who is afraid of boats and open water, comes home to spend the evening reading about sharks, feels particularly relevant. Set in 2020, he would be scrolling Twitter for updates—or, for that matter, watching Contagion.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, History, Movies & Television

(WSJ) Coronavirus Cases Strain New York City Hospitals: ‘We’re Getting Pounded’

In recent days, the number of confirmed cases in New York City more than doubled to 4,408 as a blitz of testing began to reveal the rapid march of the disease, officials said. New York City alone now makes up 42% of total U.S. confirmed cases. Across the entire state, there have been 7,102 total cases and 35 deaths, making up a quarter of nationwide deaths from the illness.

With the onslaught has come a surprise for many health-care workers: Far more young people than they expected are falling very ill. According to data published Friday morning by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 56% of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city at the time involved patients under the age of 50.

At the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, several coronavirus patients under 40, including a few in their 20s, were on ventilators in the intensive-care unit as of Thursday. All were healthy before getting the virus, said Dr. Narasimhan.

The Wall Street Journal talked to about 20 medical workers on the front lines of the outbreak at New York area hospitals.

About 90% of Long Island Jewish Medical Center beds were full Thursday after Northwell Health hospitals in recent days sent home about 2,500 patients scheduled for release and canceled elective procedures, said Terry Lynam, a Northwell Health spokesman.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Atlantic) Aaron Caroll+Ajith Jha–This Is How We Can Beat the Coronavirus

But all of that assumes that we can’t change. It’s based on the assumption that the only two choices are millions of deaths or a wrecked society.

That’s not true. We can create a third path. We can decide to meet this challenge head-on. It is absolutely within our capacity to do so. We could develop tests that are fast, reliable, and ubiquitous. If we screen everyone, and do so regularly, we can let most people return to a more normal life. We can reopen schools and places where people gather. If we can be assured that the people who congregate aren’t infectious, they can socialize.

We can build health-care facilities that do rapid screening and care for people who are infected, apart from those who are not. This will prevent transmission from one sick person to another in hospitals and other health-care facilities. We can even commit to housing infected people apart from their healthy family members, to prevent transmission in households.

These steps alone still won’t be enough.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(NYT) Nearly half of U.S. coronavirus patients in intensive care are under 65, CDC reports

American adults of all ages — not just those in their 70s, 80s and 90s — are being seriously sickened by the coronavirus, according to a report on nearly 2,500 of the first recorded cases in the United States.

The report, issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that — as in other countries — the oldest patients had the greatest likelihood of dying and of being hospitalized. But of the 508 patients known to have been hospitalized, 38 percent were notably younger — between 20 and 54. And nearly half of the 121 patients who were admitted to intensive care units were adults under 65, the C.D.C. reported.

“I think everyone should be paying attention to this,” said Stephen S. Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It’s not just going to be the elderly. There will be people age 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy.”

The findings served to underscore an appeal issued Wednesday at a White House briefing by Dr. Deborah Birx, a physician and State Department official who is a leader of the administration’s coronavirus task force. Citing similar reports of young adults in Italy and in France being hospitalized and needing intensive care, Dr. Birx implored the millennial generation to stop socializing in groups and to take care to protect themselves and others.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(NBC) Americans come together through faith while far apart

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology