Nearing Coronavirus Capacity #49

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Deepnews Digest #49

Nearing Coronavirus Capacity

As the numbers of cases continue to rise, coronavirus has begun to stress the medical systems of countries around the world. This Digest focuses on the hospitals trying to manage resources and the doctors and nurses who are not sitting on their couches but attending to beds of those who need them. The result is a selection of deeply reported journalism, found with the Deepnews Scoring Model, on the struggle to save lives from the small towns to the big cities.


Editor’s Note: Deepnews is trying to help sort through good and bad information on coronavirus as much as we can, with many of our weekly Distill newsletters now highlighting important pieces on what is happening. To follow everything related to coronavirus, take a look at our dedicated page. On it you can see all our newsletters on the disease, as well as information about how we have cut the prices for our Distills during the crisis.
Story Source
The Atlantic
Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends. It has disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Soon, most everyone in the United States will know someone who has been infected. Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche.

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AP
A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.

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USA Today
Even under normal circumstances – before the spread of the new coronavirus – Clifton Wallace struggled to get reliable home health care on a fixed income. The Indiana resident, a quadriplegic who is gradually regaining use of his arms and legs, relies on a tightly choreographed routine of four home health workers to get him through each day.

Editor’s Note: More than 10 million Americans rely on home healthcare workers for help with tasks such as getting out of bed. Here USA Today looks into the industry and the difficulties for patients when “the very thing they need is the very thing that could also put them at risk.”

TIME
Last Tuesday, everything changed for Abdul Rashid Dadabhoy. That day, Orange County prohibited public gatherings and announced that all non-essential businesses should close to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Dadabhoy turned on CNN and saw Chris Cuomo interviewing doctors about the shortage of face masks and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, that health care workers need fight the virus. “I have all these employees. How do I keep them afloat and employed?” Dadabhoy recalls thinking to himself. “I said, ‘No, I’ve gotta do something.”

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London Evening Standard
As London’s medical staff prepare for an influx of cases, Investigations Editor David Cohen meets those at the sharp end

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CBS News
As the coronavirus threatens the capacity of the nation’s hospitals, the Defense Production Act seems to be the buzzword in daily Coronavirus Task Force press conferences at the White House, on talk shows and in the halls of Congress. The president has announced he would be invoking the act, but says he doesn’t want to have to use it. “The concept of nationalizing our businesses is not a good concept,” he said last week.

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The Lancet
First of its kind modelling study in Singapore indicates that quarantining of people infected with the new coronavirus and their family members, school closures plus quarantine, and workplace distancing plus quarantine, in that order, are effective at reducing the number of COVID-19 cases, with a combination of all three being most effective in reducing cases

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CNET
Gov. Andy Beshear’s rapid response to the coronavirus has drawn national attention and turned him into a social media meme.

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New Humanitarian
“We won’t be able to stock up on food and hide in our homes for a month like they do in Europe.”

Editor’s Note: While much of the coverage on this list focuses on developed countries, coronavirus does not know borders. Here Jaclynn Ashly reports from Arusha on the precautions taken and the worries now that the virus has arrived.

NJ.com
Holy Name is filling with COVID-19 patients. Supplies are running low. Doctors and nurses — already at risk of exposure — could be put in further danger if they run out of protective equipment, while some already have gotten sick, medical workers said. The Bergen County hospital — located at the epicenter of New Jersey’s coronavirus outbreak — is on the brink, nearing its capacity and supply stock. And it’s not alone in this deepening crisis as hospitals throughout the state face diminishing supplies and equipment.

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Foreign Policy ($)
U.N. and relief agencies warn the coronavirus pandemic could leave an even bigger path of destruction in the world’s most vulnerable and conflict-riven countries.

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The New York Times
Across the nation, medical students are graduating directly into the path of an epic health crisis.

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Bloomberg
Andrew Rehder, manager of 3M Co.’s respirator mask factory in Aberdeen, S.D., got the call from headquarters on Tuesday, Jan. 21. He gathered about 20 managers and supervisors into a conference room, where they sat, unworried, less than 6 feet apart. Rehder told them that a new virus was spreading rapidly in China and that 3M was expecting demand for protective gear to jump.

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Al Jazeera
Montreal, Canada – It is like the feeling you get just before a rollercoaster makes it first drop, said Dr Nadia Alam, of preparing for a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus. “It’s that moment where you’re breathless and just before you get that sick stomach feeling – where you know something big is about to happen,” said Alam, a family doctor in Georgetown, Ontario, a town about 60km (37 miles) west of downtown Toronto.

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Mail & Guardian
Covid-19 has now hit more than 40 African countries, with almost 2 000 confirmed cases as of March 23. So far, the coronavirus has been slow to spread across Africa, but there are several factors unique to the continent that could make it difficult to reduce the rate of infections — and make the pandemic more deadly for Africa than for other continents.

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Texas Tribune
Public health precautions undertaken to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as the cancellation of more lucrative elective surgeries, will hit rural hospitals especially hard, administrators say.

Editor’s Note: Hotspots in countries such as the U.S. have been found around cities, though healthcare in less urban settings could also be challenging. Here the Texas Tribune reports on the struggles of rural hospitals.

NY Mag
From the moment he wakes up, Dr. Peter Shearer, the chief medical officer at Mount Sinai hospital in Brooklyn, spends his day thinking about coronavirus. As one of the hospital’s leaders, his job entails coordinating with the doctors, nurses, and technicians on the front lines of patient care, something that has gotten increasingly difficult as Mount Sinai tries to contain the spread among its own employees

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Scroll.in
It is the world’s largest lockdown ever: 1.2 billion Indians have been ordered to stay at home for 21 days. The government has said the extreme measure is necessary to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus, though public health experts point out that all this does is give the country some time to build capacity to fight the virus in the coming months.

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LA Times
SACRAMENTO — Amid a frantic scramble to open hospitals and increase the number of healthcare workers, California nursing schools are warning state officials that an estimated 10,000 nursing students are in jeopardy of not graduating, meaning they will be unable help evaluate and treat patients amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Vox
March 26 marked an unhappy milestone for the United States: We’re now No. 1 in confirmed coronavirus cases.

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The New York Times
Hospitals in the city are facing the kind of harrowing increases in cases that overwhelmed health care systems in China and Italy.

Editor’s Note: Several of the articles on this list have reporting from inside affected hospitals themselves. This article about Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, N.Y., was widely shared on social media and was a wake-up call to many about what doctors are facing on the front line.

Washington Post
On Dec. 20, 2019, Deborah Birx’s annual holiday party was in full swing, and Birx, in a baby-blue Christmas sweater with sequined snowflakes circling the heads of polar bears, would not stop restocking the bar. She stood at her white kitchen island, piling bottles of seltzer and cans of soda into buckets of ice, then cracking open bottles of wine. “You know, you could hire a millennial to do this,” I noted. I’d wedged myself into a corner between the flat-screen TV and Birx’s husband, former Clinton advance man Paige Reffe. The world was simpler then. The gig economy was in swing, parties were still thrown, and Birx’s current job as the White House coronavirus coordinator didn’t yet exist. She was only the United States global AIDS coordinator, in charge of the American fight to try to end HIV.

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WSJ ($)
Italy has exempted its ports from lockdowns to keep supply lines for essential medical goods and food intact. Some 70% of the country’s total trade is moved on ships, according to the Center for Economic Studies and Research, an independent data research group in Italy

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The Atlantic
As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics.

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Macleans
Doctors across Canada are calling on dental clinics, veterinarians, nail salons, artists—everyone—to contribute supplies to help the people treating and testing for COVID-19

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