Public Health

California’s Spiking Coronavirus Cases

Clearly, it’s not just increased testing. We have a real problem.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in California has risen dramatically.  What’s going on, and what should be done about it? The situation has changed so rapidly that I’ve had to rewrite this story repeatedly since I began work on it last week. Early Last Week When I started work on the story a week …

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The “American family” in crisis: Colonialism, COVID-19 risk, and climate vulnerability

The fight for racial justice must include a reckoning with US imperialism.

The recent spotlight on anti-Black violence has awoken many white Americans to an uncomfortable truth: that underneath its rhetoric of equality, the United States is a fundamentally racist country. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on U.S. communities of color underscores this fact. The pandemic also reveals a lesser known but equally uncomfortable truth: that underneath …

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No, It’s Not Over

The threat of COVID-19 continues to loom over us.

We’re all sick of being locked down, and the economic downturn has been brutal.  There’s a palpable sense that it’s time to put the coronavirus behind us and move on.  Unfortunately, the coronavirus does not agree. People now seem used to the idea of hundreds of new coronavirus deaths a day. Yet, even 500 deaths …

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Another Casualty of US Withdrawal from the WHO: The Environment

Unbeknownst to many, the WHO does important work on pollution problems.

Withdrawing from international cooperation in the midst of global pandemic is an idea that’s just as bad as it sounds.  President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the WOrld Health Organization (WHO) withdrawal will also be harmful in other ways. Notably, a major component of the WHO’s work involves the health impacts of pollution and dangerous …

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Failures of the Heart

Does anyone in the Administration actually care about police killings? Or public health? Or future generations?

“I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?” That slogan embodies much about the Trump Administration. That includes Trump’s response to the death of George Floyd and the ensuing demonstrations. But it includes much else. Including police killings and the coronavirus. “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?” is emblazoned on a jacket of Melania Trump’s. She wore …

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Coronavirus Tests and Their Limits

Eyeballing trends in the epidemic? Proceed with caution!

Many of us anxiously scan coronavirus statistics, looking at trends and cross-country comparisons. Warning: We need to be cautious in interpreting those numbers.  There’s lots of noise in the data, meaning that it’s not always an accurate measure of what we want to know about the disease. Even death counts are not always reliable — …

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Networks of Misinformation

How Anti-Public Health Messages and Activities Spread

Like a virus, misinformation can spread within a population. It has its super-spreaders, just like the coronavirus. It can mutate in ways that make it more contagious. And it can be weaponized. Research into networks of coronavirus-related communication has revealed how both true and false information spread through social media .  Misinformation can spread like …

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Too Many Americans Think the Worst is Over

Alas, that light at the end of the tunnel is still very far away from us.

World War I lasted four years, with millions of deaths. At the start, however, many people thought the war would be quick and easy.  “Home by Christmas,” was what they said about their troops.  A frightening number of Americans now have similar illusions about the coronavirus pandemic. According to a CNN poll a released Tuesday, …

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Free to Be Negligent?

Proposed Tort Liability Protection for Businesses

Sen. Mitch McConnell is demanding that any future coronavirus relief law provide a litigation shield for businesses, and other conservative/business interests have made similar proposals. So far, the supporters of these proposals have engaged in some dramatic handwaving but haven’t begun to make a reasoned argument in support of a litigation shield. In this post, …

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Do Epidemic-Based Business Closures by Government Trigger an Unconstitutional “Taking”?

Longstanding U.S. Supreme Court Precedents Indicate the Answer is an Unequivocal “No”

Lately, an increasing number of public and private voices have been raised in opposition to business closures ordered by state and local governments in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.  In many such cases, that opposition has taken the form of lawsuits filed by business owners, claiming a violation of their constitutional rights.  Gun shops across …

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