The Guardian warns that inequalities in US society and the US healthcare system will likely exacerbate coronavirus spread, including lack of access to paid sick leave, exposure of low-wage workers, immigration enforcement fears, and lack of access to affordable healthcare. “For many Americans who have insurance and have a good job with an understanding employer, and I’m not an expert on the labor market, those recommendations are plausible,” David Blumenthal, president of the global health thinktank the Commonwealth Fund, told the Guardian. “They are not necessarily workable for people who have no health insurance or poor health insurance – so that’s about a fifth of the American population.” … More Americans were afraid of paying for healthcare if they became seriously ill (40%) than were afraid of getting seriously ill (33%), according to a 2018 poll by the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute… In countries with universal healthcare, people do not always go to the doctor when they are sick. But the deterrent is never the threat of high medical bills. “This is almost a uniquely American problem when it comes to the developed world,” Blumenthal said… Even the most basic recommendation: to wash your hands more frequently with soap and water, was challenged by the writer Talia Jane on Twitter. “‘Wash your hands’ is great advice to folks who don’t engage with hundreds of people a day,” she said. “I can’t leave the floor to wash my hands after each customer whose money and food I touched while bagging their groceries. We also can’t wear gloves or masks.”” In an interview with the New York Times, Alex Baptiste, policy counsel for workplace programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families, said, “It’s definitely an equity issue… You have not just an economic disparity but also a racial disparity between who has that access and can take care of themselves and their families.”
Anne Applebaum writes in The Atlantic about how epidemics “reveal the truth about the societies they hit… Here is a rule of thumb to use in the coming weeks: Judge politicians by how much and how clearly they defer to the people who give the sum of two and two as four. What you want is accurate information, not politicized information. And the more the better. After four years of hearing, in the words of a British politician, that “we’ve had enough of experts,” this is the moment when the value of expertise has suddenly become crystal clear. Suddenly, facts matter.” National Public Radio also looks at how epidemics can spark xenophobic reactions, including harassment and acts of violence. “We asked our listeners whether they had experienced this kind of coronavirus-related racism and xenophobia firsthand. And judging by the volume of emails, comments and tweets we got in response, the harassment has been intense for Asian Americans across the country — regardless of ethnicity, location or age. A common theme across our responses: Public transit has been really hostile. Roger Chiang, who works in San Francisco, recalled a white woman glaring at him on the train to work, covering her nose and mouth. When he told her in a joking tone that he didn't have the coronavirus, she replied that she "wasn't racist — she just didn't want to get sick."
New research published in The Lancet Psychiatry finds that even “light activity — and a corresponding decrease in the amount of time that kids spent being sedentary — was linked to better mental health as they got older… There was a clear association between more frequent physical activity and lower levels of depression and anxiety, but the most significant difference was between the least active group (active for 60 minutes or more on zero to three of the past 14 days) and the somewhat active group (four to seven of the past 14 days). The most active group (eight to 14 of the past 14 days) had the highest levels of well-being and the lowest levels of depression and anxiety, though within that group, daily activity conferred no special benefit. The study also found that being on a sports team was associated with an extra improvement in mental health, beyond what was associated with the physical activity — and it was particularly strong for girls.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has revised a proposal to restrict what kind of research can be used to inform environmental and public health regulations. The New York Times reports that “the revisions made public Tuesday evening mean the Environmental Protection Agency would give preference to studies in which all underlying data is publicly available. That slightly relaxed restrictions in an earlier draft that would have flatly excluded any research that did not offer up its raw data, even if that data included medical information protected by privacy laws or confidentiality agreements. Even with the latest changes, scientists warned that the regulation would let the federal government dismiss or downplay some of the most important environmental research of the past decades. That includes research that definitively linked air pollution to premature deaths but relied on the personal health information of thousands of study subjects who had been guaranteed confidentiality. The proposal is one of dozens of environmental protection rollbacks that the Trump administration is scrambling to finalize before the presidential election in November. It caps more than three years of efforts to dilute scientific research, especially on climate change and air pollution, which has underpinned rules that the fossil fuel industry calls burdensome.”