May 4, 2020 Vox article notes “Canada beat the US on coronavirus because its political system works”; also pleased to know ‘This American Life’ wins a Pulitzer Prize!

I’ve been following news reports and journal articles about COVID-19 since early in March 2020.

Among some of the highly informative articles I’ve read in the past week or so is a May 4, 2020 Vox article entitled: “Canada succeeded on coronavirus where America failed. Why? Canada beat the US on coronavirus because its political system works.”

An excerpt reads:

“We have a federal government that is supporting provinces’ responses,” says David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. “You have a chief executive who is directly undermining the public health response.”

There are a number of factors that have enabled Canada to perform at a higher level than the United States, including more consistent pre-virus funding for public health agencies and a universal health care system. But one of the most important seems to have been a difference in political leadership.

The American response has become infected by partisan politics and shot through with federal incompetence. Meanwhile, Canada’s policies have been efficiently implemented with support from leaders across the political spectrum. The comparison is a case study in how a dysfunctional political system can quite literally cost lives.

The Canadian approach has not been perfect. Its death rate is currently much higher than best-in-class performers like Germany and South Korea; Canadian officials have fallen down, in particular, when it comes to long-term senior care and the [Indigenous – I’ve capitalized the word in keeping with Canadian usage – J.P.] population. But given the interdependence between these two large neighboring economies, Canadians are not only vulnerable as a result of their own government’s choices but also because of their southern neighbors’ failures.

“The biggest public health threat to Canada right now is importing cases from the United States,” says Steven Hoffman, a political scientist who studies global health at York University.

Click here for previous posts quoting David Fisman >

State of Massachusetts compared to province of British Columbia

I am reminded of a May 1, 2020 New York Times article entitled: “Two Medical Systems, Two Pandemic Responses: A health economist who has taught on both sides of the border examines the difference between Canada and the United States.”

An excerpt reads:

I’ll begin the comparison with some numbers. Massachusetts, the previous home of Professor Berman, has a population of 6.8 million and British Columbia has slightly over 5 million residents. But the toll of the pandemic on the two areas has been significantly different. As off Friday afternoon in Massachusetts, there have been more than 62,000 reported cases and 3,562 deaths, or 52 fatalities for every 100,000 people. In B.C., there have been just 2,112 reported cases and 111 deaths or just two victims for every 100,000 residents.,

Mr. Chen goes to Wuhan

On March 7, 2020 I posted an article about a podcast from This American Life that introduced me to the COVID-19 pandemic:

This American Life Episode 695: Everyone’s a Critic – Act Two – “Mr. Chen Goes to Wuhan”

I thought of this podcast for two reasons. First, I was reminded of the podcast because today May 4, 2020 I came across a New York Times article entitled: “Coronavirus Survivors Want Answers, and China Is Silencing Them: In Wuhan, where the pandemic started, the police have threatened and interrogated grieving relatives. Lawyers have been warned not to help them sue.”

An excerpt reads:

The crackdown underscores the party’s fear that any attempt to dwell on what happened in Wuhan, or to hold officials responsible, will undermine the state’s narrative that only China’s authoritarian system saved the country from a devastating health crisis.

Secondly, I was pleased to learn today that This American Life has won a Pulitzer Prize.

A May 4, 2020 Poynter article is entitled: “The iconic ‘This American Life’ won the first-ever ‘Audio Reporting’ Pulitzer: This American Life won with The Los Angeles Times and Vice News for an episode that illuminated Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.”

I look forward to listening to the winning podcast!

Laurie Garrett predicts 36 months of coronavirus

I was interested as well to read a May 2, 2020 New York Times article entitled: “She Predicted the Coronavirus. What Does She Foresee Next? Laurie Garrett, the prophet of this pandemic, expects years of death and ‘collective rage.'”

An excerpt reads:

“This is history right in front of us,” Garrett said. “Did we go ‘back to normal’ after 9/11? No. We created a whole new normal. We securitized the United States. We turned into an antiterror state. And it affected everything. We couldn’t go into a building without showing ID and walking through a metal detector, and couldn’t get on airplanes the same way ever again. That’s what’s going to happen with this.”

So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?

Finally, I was interested to read an April 27, 2020 Grist article entitled: “The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?”

An excerpt reads:

“I think the main issue is that people focus way, way too much on people’s personal footprints, and whether they fly or not, without really dealing with the structural things that really cause carbon dioxide levels to go up,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

The article is sobering. All of the articles at this post are worth a close read.

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