Opinion writers weigh in on these pandemic topics and others.
The Washington Post: Putin Can Have His Vaccine. I’ll Be Waiting For The Vetted One.
A while back, when many Americans read not one but two newspapers — morning and afternoon — a saying emerged in my first newsroom: The afternoon paper gets the story, the morning paper gets it right. Having worked for two (now dead) afternoon papers, I could argue for swapping the order, but the message endures: Hurrying to beat competitors and get the story first often meant essential revisions, if not corrections, later. It takes time to properly report a story. My memory of this essential truth was jarred by the news that Russia has announced the development of an effective covid-19 vaccine, which President Vladimir Putin has named Sputnik V. Bless his heart. (Kathleen Parker, 8/11)
The Wall Street Journal: The Putin Vaccine Gambit
Remember when Vladimir Putin showed a video to visiting filmmaker Oliver Stone of a Russian helicopter firing on Islamic State fighters in Syria? When the segment aired on U.S. television, the video was quickly identified as having been lifted from YouTube and showing a U.S. helicopter combating militants in Afghanistan. Mr. Putin likely spends much of his time sorting out disinformation, flattery and manipulation from those around him. (Holman W. Jenkins, 8/11)
The Wall Street Journal: Lockdowns And School Shutdowns May Make Youngsters Sicker
Parents and public officials have been asking if it’s safe to send children to school this fall. They should also ask if it’s safe not to. A large body of medical literature suggests that stress and its symptoms, including mental illness, tend to weaken the immune system, leading to inflammation and greater susceptibility to infectious diseases. Lockdowns combined with school closures have been hugely stressful for families. Today’s stressed children could be more vulnerable to disease later in life—or to Covid-19 now. (Allysia Finley, 8/11)
NBC News: Lois Shepherd: COVID-19 State Mask Mandates Can’t Be Avoided Using HIPAA Or Constitutional ‘Exemptions’
At the end of July, a bowling alley in Wisconsin reportedly posted a picture letting prospective bowlers know they could go mask-less — without being asked why. Despite frequent fact checks, there have been several viral examples this summer of businesses informing customers via social media or storefront signs that while states may mandate masks, such intrusive questions are prohibited by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Lois Shepherd, 8/11)
Bloomberg: France Battles Coronavirus With Confusing Paris Mask Rules
Now at the height of the summer tourism season, with people moving around more and Covid-19 cases rising to levels reminiscent of the early stages of the pandemic — albeit with a fraction of the hospitalizations and deaths — the bureaucratic impulse is back (in France). Prime Minister Jean Castex pledged new measures on Tuesday, from broader adoption of face-masks to more testing and information campaigns, saying the infection curve was going “the wrong way.” You could hardly call it a second wave, with confirmed daily deaths averaging at 7 compared with almost 1,000 during the peak, but politicians have understandably thinner skins these days. (Lionel Laurent, 8/12)
Stat: We Need New Drugs To Prevent The Looming Superbug Crisis
Imagine if scientists had seen Covid-19 coming years in advance yet did little to prepare. Unthinkable, right? Yet that’s exactly what’s happening with another infectious disease crisis — the one caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi. So-called superbugs already kill more than 700,000 people each year. And the World Health Organization warns that by 2050 the annual death toll could reach 10 million if we don’t use the time to get prepared. (Kevin Outterson and John Rex, 8/12)
Boston Globe: Payroll Tax Cuts Miss The Mark
With Congress unable to reach a deal on the next coronavirus relief package, Donald Trump decided to take matters into his own hands and signed an executive order to address unemployment aid, looming evictions, student loans, and payroll taxes. But on top of being legally questionable, the president’s action is unambitious and misses the mark on stimulating the economy and providing relief to the households suffering most from the current economic crisis. And when it comes to payroll taxes, which fund Social Security and Medicare, the executive order is just about as effective as fighting a building fire with a garden hose. For starters, Trump didn’t actually cut the federal payroll tax, the 6.2 percent levy that wage-earners pay on income up to about $138,000; he deferred it. What that means is that, for the time being, workers’ take-home pay might increase, but the taxes will have to be paid later unless the government eventually forgives them. (8/12)
Boston Globe: Trump’s National Plan Is To Sabotage The Election, Not To Stop COVID-19
Ignoring COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, has been Trump’s scheme all along. It’s wrong to say he’s done nothing. If a house is in flames and no one moves to put it out, that is doing something — allowing it to burn to the ground. And that’s where we are regarding the pandemic. It’s not just Trump’s incompetence that has allowed America, with about 5 percent of the world’s population, to amass 25 percent of its coronavirus cases. It’s also been his vindictive willfulness to let this fire consume lives and livelihoods mostly unchecked. Trump isn’t only overlooking the virus because he believes focusing on it may hurt his reelection chances. From the beginning, he’s also accepted it as a malevolent gift, an election-year disruptor of the democracy he so despises. (Renée Graham, 8/11)
Bloomberg: Diseased Chicken For Dinner? The USDA Is Considering It
Here’s one unexpected consequence of the Defense Production Act: Your food is less safe.When President Trump invoked the act three months ago, as a means to bolster American food security, it marked the beginning of a campaign to deregulate the meat industry. (Amanda Little, 8/11)
Des Moines Register: Rural Hospitals Need COVID-19 Legislation From Congress
Iowa’s health care system is working through one of the most significant challenges of our lifetimes. Even before the onset of the current pandemic, rural hospitals in particular were already under extreme pressure. As a recently retired rural hospital CEO in Iowa who’s worked in health care for 30 years, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to keep hospitals open in a normal setting. Now, looming federal deadlines and unprecedented cash flow difficulties are leaving many rural health care facilities on the brink of closure. Congress can’t allow that to happen. (Todd Linden, 8/12)
Sacramento Bee: Why Did Sacramento County Sheriff Get Most Of COVID-19 Funds?
Did Sacramento County just turn the “defund the police” slogan on its head? County officials appear to have given the vast majority of the county’s federal coronavirus emergency funding to the office of Sheriff Scott Jones. It’s a bad look, especially at a time when the death of George Floyd has inspired a protest movement that questions the role law enforcement plays in our society and in our public budgets. But is there a logic in how Sacramento County CEO Nav Gill decided to use the federal aid? That’s a question that needs to be answered during today’s meeting of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Sacramento County has received a total of $181 million in federal aid funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), but it appears these emergency funds have mostly funded law enforcement. (8/11)
The Houston Chronicle: We Need More Spanish-Speaking Doctors To Treat COVID-19
Mariana blinked at me, her messy braids coming undone on the crinkly hospital pillow. She was just waking up from having spent a month with a tube in her throat in the ICU due to COVID-19. Mariana wasn’t just dazed from the medically induced coma: she didn’t understand English and the doctor didn’t speak Spanish. There were no face-to-face interpreters as there usually would have been. They had been sent home. Without interpreters, Mariana had no idea where she was or why she was there, nor could her care team tailor her treatment appropriately.I t should go without saying that one needs to be able to communicate with doctors in order to get good health care. (Carolina Abuelo, 8/12)
Dallas Morning News: COVID-19 Is Hitting Latinos Hardest, So It’s Crucial Ensure Test Results Are Available In Spanish
In February, when we became aware of the threat COVID-19 posed to the U.S., our lab Ipsum Diagnostics started work on developing our tests for the virus. We received Food and Drug Administration authorization on April 1. We also set up an online patient portal where patients would get their lab reports and information about what the results meant. We were soon getting calls from thousands of people who wanted their reports. That’s when I noticed a problem. Many of the callers didn’t speak English. And like all other laboratory companies, we weren’t set up to deliver results in other languages. While we had been focusing on delivering swift results, we’d forgotten to ensure that all of our patients could understand them. (Lauren Bricks, 8/12)
Bangor Daily News: Want To Protect Those With Pre-Existing Conditions? Stop Undermining The ACA.
The Affordable Care Act, the landmark health law that Republicans in Congress tried to repeal for years and that Trump has long pledged to replace, requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. It also prohibits insurers from charging more to cover these conditions, which include diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, mental health. In other words, it’s such a big thing, and such a good idea, that it is already the law. However, it is a law that the Trump administration is currently trying to have invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court. So, if the president really wants to make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered, he’d drop his administration’s support for a lawsuit that is seeking to have the entire law declared unconstitutional. (8/11)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.