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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Napolitano on CARES Act

UC Office of the President
Friday, March 27, 2020

University of California President Janet Napolitano issued today (March 27) the following statement on the $2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act:

Congress has passed and the President has signed into law an unprecedented spending bill that will allow the University of California to begin to meet extraordinary challenges during this pandemic. 

The CARES Act provides much-needed fiscal relief and funding to our health centers treating COVID-19 patients so that they will be able to purchase additional masks, gloves and other equipment desperately needed to protect the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals on the frontlines of this fight.

The law will also help ensure that UC students receive the necessary financial support to continue pursuing their education, while providing our researchers additional resources to combat this virus by further exploring possible treatments and a vaccine.

I would like to recognize Congress for working together to pass this emergency spending package, but acknowledge that more will need to be done before this global health crisis passes. I want to applaud Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, our California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, as well as all the members of the California Congressional delegation for working across party lines to come together and support legislation that will help Californians during this time of incredible need. 

I would also like to thank all of UC’s dedicated medical and clinical professionals, researchers, and those who are keeping our education enterprise running at this very difficult juncture. Though it will take time, we will weather this storm and come out much stronger on the other side.

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-statement-cares-act

UCLA Total at 7

Updates on confirmed cases among the UCLA campus community

Last Updated 

Currently, seven people among the UCLA campus community have been confirmed by medical professionals to have COVID-19 and have reported their diagnoses to UCLA.
Consistent with the protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified within our campus community as being at risk of exposure from these individuals will be notified if they need to be isolated or tested.
The increased availability of testing for COVID-19 will reveal more cases in our campus and local communities. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, maintain a safe distance from others, wash your hands regularly, and cough or sneeze into tissues or your sleeve. 
Information on confirmed cases:
  • March 28: A staff member who lives in an on-campus apartment.
  • March 28: A student who lives in off-campus, non–university-owned housing.
  • March 26: A staff member who has not worked on campus since March 13.
  • March 25: A student who lived on campus but has been at home since March 12.
  • March 19: A staff member who works on campus.
  • March 17: A student who lives in off-campus, non–university-owned housing.
  • March 16: A staff member who works off campus.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Santa Monica UCLA Hospital Reportedly Short of Equipment

Santa Monica hospitals tell nurses to reuse protective masks amid nationwide shortage

Madeleine Pauker, 3-27-20, Santa Monica Daily Press

UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and Providence St. John’s Health Center nurses said they feel unsafe while treating coronavirus patients because they lack the equipment necessary to shield themselves and their families from the virus, echoing concerns raised by medical professionals across the country as hospitals run out of masks and President Trump refuses to order private companies to produce more.

Andrea Peregrin, an emergency room nurse at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, said as the hospital admits an increasing number of patients who have tested positive or are presumed positive for coronavirus — including some hospital staff — nurses are being asked to bring masks home in paper bags and rewear them the next day. 

“Up until this point, we have never been told to reuse equipment because of the huge risk of infection to patients, our families and other staff,” she said.

Peregrin said the hospital is operating under new Centers for Disease Control standards that say medical personnel can protect themselves from coronavirus with surgical masks or even bandanas, which block large droplets but cannot filter out virus particles. While CDC officials have said that coronavirus is spread primarily through large droplets and is not airborne, Peregrin said nurses must be provided with equipment that prevents all possible transmission. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration has adopted the same guidelines, she said.

“Nobody is 100% sure how it’s transmitted, so we should be held at the highest standards until we know exactly what we’re dealing with,” she said. “The hospital has the responsibility to make sure we’re safe, and we need the state and the federal government to step in and give us the gear we need.”

A UCLA Health spokesperson said the health system is asking staff to conserve protective equipment and is exploring how to sterilize equipment in case reuse becomes necessary. Additionally, management have communicated daily with staff about changes in protocols and information about coronavirus. Peregrin said the California Nurses Association tried to work with UCLA Health in January to prepare for the outbreak and believes the hospital should have had a plan in place before Los Angeles County declared an emergency in early March. Peregrin said hospitals now need to plan for a shortage of staff in the near future as more and more medical personnel get sick. “We had the time and didn’t utilize it, and that’s a shame,” she said. “We wanted any kind of plan and we didn’t get it.”

Jacob Childs, a nurse in the COVID-19 unit of Providence St. John’s Health Center, said hospital management is telling nurses the facility has an ample supply of protective equipment, even though nurses have been asked to use surgical masks for as long as 12 hours when they are supposed to be in use for up to an hour. Nurses are then told to recycle surgical masks into a bin for sterilization and reuse, he said.

Childs said Providence St. John’s management has said the hospital has a sufficient quantity of N95 masks but is not allowing nurses to use them. Nurses are being told to bring their own N95 masks to wear in hallways but not inside patients’ rooms, even though CDC guidelines state that nurses may wear their own masks in the event of a shortage, he said.

Nurses are also being directed to reuse single-use goggles because the hospital doesn’t have enough face shields, he added. Childs said nurses have repeatedly asked Providence St. John’s management to clarify how many surgical and N95 masks the hospital has available, but the hospital refuses to provide information. “Other hospitals are in the know about how much they have,” he said. “We don’t know anything. We’re completely in the dark.”

Source: https://www.smdp.com/santa-monica-hospitals-tell-nurses-to-reuse-protective-masks-amid-nationwide-shortage/188409

And if you really want to be concerned:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/magazine/coronavirus-family.html

Friday, March 27, 2020

Law School Pass/Fail Controversy

'People Are Pissed': Pass/Fail Grading Controversy Roils Law Schools

The University of Chicago Law School on Tuesday became the first top law school to say it will retain traditional grading for the spring semester, while many peer schools have moved to pass/fail grading.


By Karen Sloan | March 25, 2020 at 01:10 PM | The original version of this story was published on Law.com

Grading has emerged as a flash point of discord at law schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, with students and faculty pushing administrators to choose between traditional grades and a pass/fail system.

The University of Chicago Law School on Tuesday became the first among the top 10 schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, to tell students that it plans to stick with its traditional grading scale for the spring semester, instead of moving to pass/fail grading. That decision comes in contrast to a growing number of elite schools that have already committed to pass/fail grades for the spring semester or winter quarters, including Yale Law School, Stanford Law School; Harvard Law School; Columbia Law School; the University of Virginia School of Law; the University of Pennsylvania School of Law; the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and the University of Michigan, which is allowing students to choose whether they want to stick with the traditional grading scale or go pass/fail.

Meanwhile, law professors have taken to blogs and other outlets to debate the issue. Some are arguing that pass/fail grading is the most humane approach during this deeply unsettling time, while others say that students must learn to prevail amid adverse conditions. The issue is particularly fraught given that grades and class ranking play a huge role in law students’ employment and co-curricular opportunities, such as law review eligibility.

“As we approach the new quarter, I and our faculty and administrators have given a great deal of thought to how to approach grading in a world where it is critically important that we continue to deliver excellent education,” wrote Chicago Law Dean Thomas Miles in an email to students Tuesday. “To that end, we intend at this time to maintain the status quo on grades at the Law School for the spring quarter. We will continue to watch developments in the next few weeks, and will make adjustments if the situation warrants.”

Miles wrote that student input at Chicago and other law schools was “sharply divided” over grading this semester, and that he took their comments and feedback from the faculty into consideration when making the decision to maintain letter grades. Chicago is in a better position to maintain its grading system than many other schools because of its small size, because it will begin a new quarter next week, and because its faculty has had more time than most to prepare for online classes, Miles wrote.

That decision has angered many Chicago law students, who argue that the coronavirus pandemic will impact students differently. Those caring for children, for instance, won’t have the same bandwidth as childless classmates to study. And students who are at risk of major complications from COVID-19 face more complications and stressors than classmates with no preexisting conditions. More than 200 Chicago law students signed an open letter to Miles  asking the school to adopt a pass/fail grading system for the upcoming semester.

“People are very pissed,” said a third-year Chicago law student Wednesday, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern that she would face retribution from the school for speaking out. “Mainly, people are pissed at Chicago because the administration doesn’t seem to really care about how this is going to disparately impact people—whether it’s lower socio-economic classes, those caring for loved ones, or those who just don’t have reliable Internet.”

Chicago students are also worried about their school acting out of step with its peers, and how that might influence the job market, the 3L said. If all the top schools adopt pass/fail grading systems, then all students would be on an even playing field on the summer associate hiring front, they noted.

A much smaller group of Chicago law students signed a counterpetition in favor of maintaining some form of the traditional grading system, citing a desire to have letter grades for 2L summer employment purposes and to ensure high-quality class participation.

“Many students chose to attend the law school due to the balance struck between collaboration and incentives for personal academic growth,” the counterpetition reads. “We worry a mandatory pass/fail grading system would disrupt that balance by reducing class participation and lowering the quality of discussion.”

But a growing push to move the summer associate interview cycle back from late July and early August into January 2021 may relieve some of the pressure law schools feel to maintain their traditional grading systems. Columbia Law School—the school that traditionally sends the highest percentage of graduates into associate jobs at large firms—earlier this week told students that its on-campus interview program will now take place in January. Chicago has also told students that OCI has been pushed back from this summer, though it has not specified the new timeline. Columbia administrators said law firms asked for the delay in summer associate hiring, which will allow them to look at two semesters of traditional grades for candidates. Additionally, it will give firms more time to assess their upcoming hiring needs, as the pandemic has upended their operations.

And at least one major law firm—Hogan Lovells—has released a statement reassuring law students that pass/fail grades will not be held against them in the summer associate hiring process.

Harvard Law School saw firsthand how sensitive the grading issue is. Less than a week after announcing that students would be able to opt for traditional grades or pass/fail grading, the school reversed course and made grades mandatory pass/fail. Harvard law students advocated for the mandatory system, arguing that faculty were advising them behind closed doors to not take the pass/fail option. Forcing students to choose puts the students who are struggling the most with coronavirus-related challenges in an unenviable position, they argued.

Some students at the University of Michigan Law School are now making similar arguments, as the school has adopted an optional pass/fail system.

“Academic performance this semester will be based on an inequitable and unpredictable playing field, dictated by COVID-19 and its asymmetrical effects on our student body,” reads a student petition in favor of a mandatory pass/fail system. “Many students reasonably want the ‘opportunity to succeed’ this semester, a chance to demonstrate academic improvement through their grades. However, the material conditions of our learning have unfortunately become too disparate; it would be wrong to rely on and trust in a letter grading system this semester.”

But the student body is split on the matter, with some preferring to have a choice on how they are graded. They have circulated a counterpetition arguing in favor of sticking with the grading scheme that has been announced.

Meanwhile, law professors also are at odds over the right way to handle grades among the pandemic. Noah Zatz, a professor at the University of California at [sic] Los Angeles School of Law, posted a letter on Facebook that he sent to his faculty colleagues about grading, which advocates for a mandatory pass/fail scheme.

“I have heard from students struggling with mental health difficulties exacerbated by stress, isolation, and worry,” Zatz wrote. “I have heard from students relocating across the country to be with family members who are extremely vulnerable, for whom they are terrified, and with whom they confess they will find it very difficult to live in close proximity, despite their love. I have heard from students in precarious economic circumstances whose ability to study has been seriously disrupted by loss of access to the library, both as a physical space in which to study relative to their marginal housing situation and as a way to access books, and who lack reliable internet access from home.”

At the same time, some students have told Zatz that they have been relatively insulated from the effects of COVID-19. Assessing students facing such drastically different circumstances with letter grades will only exacerbate the stress and anxiety of the students who are already struggling, he wrote. (As of Wednesday morning, UCLA Law had not announced how it will handle grades this semester.)

Others have argued that law schools should maintain their grading curve. Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law—Houston, wrote on the Volokh Conspiracy blog that grades help identify which students are struggling and need more academic support or are in danger of failing the bar exam. This is particularly true at non-elite schools, he noted. And law students should learn that lawyers cannot abandon their responsibilities, even amid a pandemic.

Blackman said in a subsequent post that other law professors have reached out to say that they agree with his arguments.

Still, it’s looking more likely that Chicago and other law schools that do not adopt new grading systems will be outliers, as each day brings more announcements of law schools moving to pass/fail.

Duke law professor James Coleman last week sought to reassure students in his criminal law class, noting that many universities canceled the spring semester or went pass/fail during his senior year of college, in 1970, due to protests over the Vietnam War. (Duke is among the law schools that have moved to pass/fail grading.) That change had little long-term impact on him and his classmates, beyond turning some into life-long activists, he noted.

“I don’t know how you feel about the law school’s decision to grade all courses credit/no credit,” Coleman wrote. “But I hope none of you agonizes over it. In the long run, it will have no effect on your career.”


Source: https://www.law.com/therecorder/2020/03/25/people-are-pissed-pass-fail-grading-controversy-roils-law-schools/

Return of the Straight Lecture?

With all the effort to move to online education due to the coronavirus situation, it's worth noting that back in the day, you could take college-credit courses on TV - if you were willing to get up early in the morning to watch Sunrise Semester. It was straight lecture with low "production values." It was a simple approach with no bells and whistles. To see the lecture above, go to:
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2lq2p6

Here is another:

or direct to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfsmxK0viLQ
Just saying...

From Wikipedia:
Sunrise Semester is an American educational television series that aired on WCBS-TV from September 1957 to October 1982 and was at first syndicated by CBS Television Film Sales. It was produced in conjunction with the College of Arts and Science at New York University (when the program started, the Washington Square and University College of Arts and Science). During June, July and August, the program was known as Summer Semester. It was one of the first examples of distance learning, telecourses, or MOOCs. Lecturers presented NYU credit courses in studio on a wide range of academic subjects, and these broadcast courses were offered for credit to anyone who paid the course fees. The program earned five Emmy Awards during its lifetime. The program was so named because it was broadcast in the early morning, in New York at 6:30 a.m.

Full article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunrise_Semester

Seven years ago, a post on this blog related to online education noted that there were radio college course lectures as early as the 1920s:
https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2013/02/more-on-new-idea-of-distance-now-online.html

5 at UCLA

Updates on confirmed cases among the UCLA campus community

Last Updated 

Currently, five people among the UCLA campus community have been confirmed by medical professionals to have COVID-19 and have reported their diagnoses to UCLA.
Consistent with the protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified within our campus community as being at risk of exposure from these individuals will be notified if they need to be isolated or tested.
The increased availability of testing for COVID-19 will reveal more cases in our campus and local communities. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, maintain a safe distance from others, wash your hands regularly, and cough or sneeze into tissues or your sleeve. 
Information on confirmed cases:
  • March 26: A staff member who has not worked on campus since March 13.
  • March 25: A student who lived on campus but has been at home since March 12.
  • March 19: A staff member who works on campus.
  • March 17: A student who lives in off-campus, non–university-owned housing.
  • March 16: A staff member who works off campus.

History While You Self-Isolate

Source: https://www.registrar.ucla.edu/Calendars/Annual-Academic-Calendar

So while you are self-isolating, you can listen to some history:

or direct to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlLs_fVBWzM

Grading & Related: From the Senate

Email circulated yesterday afternoon:

To the Campus Community:

The Academic Senate wishes to express its appreciation to all the faculty, staff, and students who have put in such extraordinary efforts to complete the winter quarter under the stress of moving final assessments to alternative modes in response to COVID-19. We also recognize that the necessity to move to remote instruction for spring quarter will continue to pose new challenges and stresses for the campus community. We wish to acknowledge that our current situation presents considerable hardships for our students and that those hardships may fall unequally on different students.
Under the university’s system of shared governance, the UCLA Academic Senate has purview over certain aspects of UCLA, distinct from the administration overseen by the chancellor. In particular, the Senate makes decisions on such matters as degree and enrollment requirements, grading policy and program establishment, disestablishment, and review.
In order to support faculty, staff, and students in their efforts to sustain instructional continuity and do their best work productively under these circumstances, the Undergraduate and Graduate Councils of the Senate have exercised their purview and taken steps to increase flexibility and reduce stress for all those involved with the instructional effort. These steps are listed below.
The Undergraduate Council has voted:
  1. To suspend UCLA Senate Regulation A-310 (A) and (E) for spring quarter 2020, and to empower undergraduate students in good standing to take more than one course in a term on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) basis.
  2. To extend the deadline for changing the grading basis on an optionally graded course using MyUCLA without need for petition to the last day of instruction for spring quarter 2020.
  3. To recommend that the campus eliminate the fees to drop a course and to change the grading basis on an optionally graded course after Friday of Week 2 for spring quarter 2020.
The Graduate Council has voted:
  1. To temporarily delegate authority to departments, Interdepartmental Degree Programs (IDPs), or schools to allow graduate students in good academic standing to enroll in more than one course graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) basis for spring quarter 2020, including courses within the degree program, with the stipulation that departments, IDPs, or schools must accept these courses towards fulfilling degree requirements if taken for an S/U grade.
  2. To recommend that the campus eliminate the fees to drop a course and to change the grading basis on an optionally graded course after Friday of Week 2 for spring quarter 2020.
It is also worth noting that graduate students are already permitted to change the grading basis on an optionally graded course using MyUCLA without need for petition to the last day of instruction.
These suspensions and delegations should provide both graduate and undergraduate students with the capacity to choose a course of study that will enable them to continue their progress to degree and also to adjust their academic burdens in accord with their own personal needs at this time. We recognize that these actions will not solve all of the challenges associated with remote education. But after careful consideration and review of all options, we are confident that they will best support the efforts of faculty, staff, and students as we work together to address the challenges of spring quarter.
Reminder for Instructors
The Academic Senate would also like to remind all instructors that the partial suspensions of Senate Regulations 332 and 505 (PDF) continue in force. These suspensions empower you to have greater flexibility both in the forms of assessment you plan to use and also in the distribution of points among different assessments. As with this past quarter, we urge instructors to use this flexibility to take into account the special challenges that will accompany remote instruction. Given the uncertainties surrounding technical issues and the possibilities of disrupted connections, as well as the closure of libraries and study spaces, we urge everyone to approach spring quarter with mutual compassion and openness to the challenges faced by all.
Reminders for Undergraduate and Graduate Students
We also want to point out several issues that students should consider as they chart their course for spring quarter:
  • The capacity to declare P/NP or S/U in multiple courses is not presently available through MyUCLA. The Registrar is working diligently on this issue and expects it to be available by mid-quarter. As a result, you do not have to make any changes in your grading choices at this time. You will be able to do that later in the quarter.
  • We do recommend, however, that you check to make certain that any courses you might wish to take P/NP or S/U offer that option to students.
  • Please be aware that this change in grading policy does not override any requirements that colleges, departments, or programs may have that courses be taken for a letter grade in order to receive major or program credit. Please check with your advisers and counselors before you consider courses in your home program or major.
  • Certain forms of financial aid require that you enroll for a minimum number of credits with letter grades. Please consult with Financial Aid about your particular situation.
  • We have moved the deadline for changing your grade option in undergraduate courses from letter to P/NP until Friday of the 10th week of classes. This will allow you to evaluate your standing in a class before making a final grade option selection.
  • Please be aware that systemwide regulations require that undergraduate students receive a C or better in order to earn a Pass in a P/NP. Similarly at UCLA, undergraduate students who take a course P/NP must achieve a C in order to receive a Pass. Undergraduate students who take a course for a letter grade will receive credit if they receive a C- or a D. So, the threshold for receiving course credit is higher for an undergraduate student taking a course P/NP.
  • Please be aware that systemwide regulations require that graduate students receive a B or better in order to earn a Satisfactory in a S/U. At UCLA, graduate students may receive course credit for C- and above grades unless otherwise prohibited by program requirements. So, the threshold for receiving course credit is higher for a graduate student taking a course S/U than is required to receive credit when taking under a letter grade.
  • The minimum GPA for a graduate degree is 3.0, so graduate students should carefully consider whether to use the S/U option depending on their individual situation, as S/U courses are not used in GPA calculations.
We recognize the large challenges facing the campus and its faculty, students, and staff during spring quarter. We remain confident in the resilience of the UCLA community to work together in a spirit of patience and empathy as we pursue our educational goals during an uncertain time.
Sincerely,
Michael Meranze
Professor of History
Chair, UCLA Academic Senate

Thursday, March 26, 2020

4 at UCLA

Updates on confirmed cases among the UCLA campus community

Last Updated 

Currently, four people among the UCLA campus community have been confirmed by medical professionals to have COVID-19 and have reported their diagnoses to UCLA.
Consistent with the protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified within our campus community as being at risk of exposure from these individuals will be notified if they need to be isolated or tested.
The increased availability of testing for COVID-19 will reveal more cases in our campus and local communities. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, maintain a safe distance from others, wash your hands regularly, and cough or sneeze into tissues or your sleeve. 
Information on confirmed cases:
  • March 25: A student who lived on campus but has been at home since March 12.
  • March 19: A staff member who works on campus.
  • March 17: A student who lives in off-campus, non–university-owned housing.
  • March 16: A staff member who works off campus.

Avoiding Zoombombing of Courses & Meetings

The Anderson School's IT group has provided suggestions for keeping Zoom classes and meetings secure from malicious so-called "Zoombombing":

  • To protect against meeting interruptions and to ensure the privacy of your meetings/classes, please enable and require a meeting password for all Zoom sessions. This is a setting available to you as you schedule the meeting.
  • Add an additional level of protection by configuring your meetings to allow only authenticated users to join. This will require all meeting participants to sign-in to their Zoom client first, not just enter the meeting ID. This will require an extra step for your attendees
  • For faculty and classes, we also recommend adding your Zoom class session link directly via CCLE for additional protection.

For examples of Zoombombing:

‘Zoombombing’: When Video Conferences Go Wrong

As its user base rapidly expands, the videoconference app Zoom is seeing a rise in trolling and graphic content.

Taylor Lorenz, March 20, 2020, Updated March 22, 2020, NY Times

Zoom has become the default social platform for millions of people looking to connect with friends, family, students and colleagues while practicing social distancing during the new coronavirus pandemic.

But the trolls of the internet are under quarantine, too, and they’re looking for Zooms to disrupt.

They are jumping into public Zoom calls and using the platform’s screen-sharing feature to project graphic content to unwitting conference participants, forcing hosts to shut down their events.

On Tuesday, Chipotle was forced to end a public Zoom chat that the brand had co-hosted with the musician Lauv after one participant began broadcasting pornography to hundreds of attendees.

“The Zoom meeting app felt like an appropriate place to host Chipotle Together, our new virtual hangout series,” Tressie Lieberman, the vice president of digital at Chipotle, wrote in an email. “We did encounter an unwanted ‘Zoombomb’ during one of our sessions so we moved our latest performances to a different platform.”

Earlier this week, TechCrunch reported that the venture capitalist Hunter Walk and the journalist Casey Newton were forced to shut down their “work from home happy hour” twice this week after getting “Zoombombed,” as these disruptive screen-shares are called.

“Clearly Zoom is being used in ways it was never intended to be, so people are finding ways to make mischief,” said Mr. Newton, who reports on technology for The Verge.

On Friday, the journalists Kara Swisher (a contributing writer for the Opinion section of The New York Times) and Jessica Lessin hosted a Zoom event focused on the challenges women tech founders face. They were forced to abruptly end the event after just 15 minutes of conversation because a participant began broadcasting the shock video “2 Girls 1 Cup.”

“Our video call was just attacked by someone who kept sharing pornography + switching between different user accounts so we could not block them,” Ms. Lessin tweeted, adding that she and Ms. Swisher would reschedule an audio-only version of the event.

On Zoom, there is a default setting that allows any meeting participant to share their screen without permission from an event’s host. Anyone who has a link to a public meeting can join. Links to public Zooms are traded in Facebook Groups and Discord chats, and are easily discoverable on Twitter and public event pages.

“We have been deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack. For those hosting large, public group meetings, we strongly encourage hosts to change their settings so that only they can share their screen. For those hosting private meetings, password protections are on by default and we recommend that users keep those protections on to prevent uninvited users from joining,” said a spokesperson for Zoom Video Communications in a statement.

The post included tips for users seeking to “keep the party crashers” out of their videoconferences, including limiting screen-sharing to certain participants and making events invitation-only.

Zoom has seen a sharp rise in use over the past few weeks. On Sunday nearly 600,000 people downloaded the app, its biggest day ever, according to Apptopia, which tracks mobile apps. The company is currently valued at $29 billion.

But the platform was built as an enterprise technology tool, not a consumer social tool. As such, the company was not prepared to moderate user behavior as other social networks do.

“With much broader adoption, abuse and misuse will follow, so Zoom should be getting ready to handle reports and complaints,” Jules Polonetsky, the chief executive of the Future of Privacy Forum, recently told The Times.

Jennifer St Sume, a Ph.D. student in Washington, D.C., said a book club she attended on Thursday night only lasted 30 minutes before someone began blasting graphic content on the screen.

“It makes us all feel pretty helpless in an already unstable time,” she said. “It’s hard to manage how to communicate with other people knowing something like this could happen.”

Zoom has become integral to Ms. St Sume’s school and social life, and she doesn’t think she’ll stop attending classes or happy hours there. But “as we move our physical lives to a digital world,” she said, she hopes the company can crack down on Zoombombers fast.

“If I’m going to be asked to live in Zoom University or Zoom Tavern, then I want to know that it’s secure for everyone,” she said.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/style/zoombombing-zoom-trolling.html
===
Life used to be simpler, back in the day:

How bad is it? Bad, really bad - Part 3

Click on image above to enlarge and clarify.
We previously noted that our first indicator of what was happening in the labor market - new claims for unemployment insurance (a proxy for layoffs) for last week - would be off the chart.* We thought the national new claims - based on advance California data - might be on the order of 2.4 million (without seasonal adjustment). In fact, the latest number is 2.9 million (3.3 million seasonally-adjusted).

Our underestimate was due to the fact that California accounted last week for only 6.4% of national new claims. (California is roughly 12% of the workforce.) The previous week, California accounted for over one fifth of new claims. Essentially, the data tell us that the coronavirus-related layoff have spread across the country which is now following the California pattern with a lag.

As we have noted, the economic decline the chart above represents is bound to affect the state budget adversely (and, therefore, the UC budget).

Below are links to recent coronavirus-related announcements:
===
Gov. Newsom: 3-25-2020 (starts at about minute 3)

or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/newsom3252020
===
Gov. Newsom: 3-24-2020 (starts at minute 6:05)

or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/newsom3242020
===
Gov. Newsom: 3-19-2020 (starts at about minute 1:25)

or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/newsomshutdown31920
===
*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/03/how-bad-is-it-bad-really-bad.html

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Warning on State Budget

Implications for UC are evident in the item below:

California governor says virus likely to curb state spending

By ADAM BEAM  3-25-20  AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With nearly 40 million people stuck at home because of the coronavirus, California’s governor on Tuesday warned state agencies to prepare for less money from the government that will likely postpone many of the state’s ambitious spending plans.

Citing a “severe drop in economic activity,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget director wrote in a letter to all state agencies that they “should have no expectation of full funding for either new or existing proposals.”

That means some of Newsom’s plans aided by a projected multi-billion dollar surplus could be on hold. His January budget proposal included plans for California to manufacture and sell its own generic drugs, create at least four new state agencies and give government-funded health insurance to low-income seniors living in the country illegally.

“We will review everything,” Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said.

California is the latest state to signal budget troubles because of the coronavirus. Arkansas is facing a $353 million shortfall while states such as New York, New Jersey and Oregon have all warned about shrinking revenue.

California is particularly vulnerable because it depends so much on capital gains taxes from the wealthy. Nearly half of the state’s personal income tax collections come from the top 1% of earners, whose income depends on the health of the stock market.

Through the month of February, California had collected $88.8 billion in taxes, more than $1.2 billion more than state officials had planned. But earlier this month, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office reported a preliminary analysis indicates “a very high likelihood” that California’s capital gains tax collections “will be several billion dollars lower” than what state officials had planned.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco who is chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said Tuesday he expects most state agencies to get the same amount of money next year as they got this year, with some exceptions. But he expects lawmakers to increase spending on three of the state’s biggest problems: coronavirus, homelessness and wildfires.

“There really won’t be a whole lot of room for much else,” Ting said.

Lawmakers have already dipped into California’s reserves to give Newsom up to $1 billion to fight the coronavirus outbreak, money the governor has used to lease hospitals that were at risk of closing and give local governments money to prevent the spread of the virus among their homeless populations.

But Ting said lawmakers could go further, possibly passing their own version of an economic stimulus that would give money to Californians impacted by the virus. What California does will likely depend on what type of aid Congress passes, if any.

Newsom’s letter signals a likely end to bountiful surpluses the state has enjoyed in recent years, buoyed by a strong economy marked by 10 consecutive years of job growth. Monday, Newsom said the state had been averaging about 2,500 claims a week for unemployment benefits. Now, the state averages more than 106,000 claims a week.

Specific details of Newsom’s updated budget proposal won’t be available until May. But advocacy groups are digging in, preparing for much tougher funding fights. Anthony Wright, executive director for the consumer health care advocacy group Health Access, said he will be pushing for Newsom to keep his plan to extend government-funded health benefits for low-income people 65 and older who are living in the country illegally.

It would cover about 27,000 people and cost up to $350 million when fully implemented.

“Expanding coverage to the most at-risk group that is currently excluded from coverage was prescient in the January budget and continues to be urgent now,” Wright said.

Source: https://apnews.com/c058a9f7f40b9ac698346e7a4d5ce75c

How bad is it? Bad, really bad - Part 2

We earlier posted about the potential negative effects of the coronavirus crisis on the general economy, the state budget, and the UC budget. Below is a transcript of "The Daily," a podcast service of the New York Times, which was published and broadcast yesterday. Links to the audio version are below the transcript.

The podcast deals with the health issues related to the crisis rather than the economic. We note that the Regents have a meeting scheduled for April 15 of the Health Services Committee. That meeting might be an opportunity for a focus on emergency planning. Unlike what occurred in the unfocused recently-concluded general Regents meetings, all non-emergency matters should be postponed.

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Why the American Approach Is Failing

Hosted by Michael Barbaro, produced by Clare Toeniskoetter, Rachel Quester and Kelly Prime, and edited by M.J. Davis Lin, Lisa Tobin and Lisa Chow

“Shelter in place” orders and the closing of businesses are a reaction to the failure to act earlier to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Michael Barbaro
From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”
Today: So far, the United States is losing the battle against the coronavirus. Donald G. McNeil Jr. on what it would take to turn the corner.
It’s Tuesday, March 24.
Donald, it is now about 4:20 on Monday. Where are we in this pandemic in the United States? How would you characterize it at this moment?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
I would say it’s wildly out of control, but we have not recognized it yet.
Certainly wildly out of control in New York State.
Archived Recording (News Anchor)
The epicenter in the U.S. is now clearly New York, with more than 12,000 cases, most of them here in New York City.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
In Washington.
Archived Recording (News Anchor)
The state of Washington has the second highest number, with almost 1,000 cases. And then there’s California. We have the third highest number.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
In northern California, in South Florida.
Archived Recording (News Anchor)
We saw pictures of Disney World jam-packed with people, aerial photos of beaches in Florida jammed with people. There are still so many Americans that don’t understand they are spreading the virus.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
We’ve just begun to do tests, really. We’ve got 42,000 positive cases. We’ve got 513 deaths.
Michael Barbaro
Mm-hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
You know, some people have said this is like a war. And it’s as if your army has been marching forward, and the enemy has been shooting at you for two to three weeks now, and nobody has yet looked down to see whether or not they’re bleeding.
Michael Barbaro
Mm-hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
But very soon, we will see how many people have been hit.
Because, you know, you get sick within four, five, six, seven days of getting infected. But usually you don’t need hospitalization — if you’re going to need hospitalization — until about 10 days to two weeks in. It’s known as the second week crash. And some people crash even after they thought they were starting to get better. So we’re facing something like that. A lot of people are sick, huge numbers of people are about to fall seriously ill.
Michael Barbaro
Mm-hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
But it just hasn’t happened yet.
Michael Barbaro
Well, I want to talk about what the U.S. government and states have done so far. How would you describe what has been done to try to mitigate this?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
It’s a giant patchwork across the country.
Archived Recording (Gavin Newsom)
This is a moment we need to make tough decisions. This is a moment where we need some straight talk, and we need to tell people the truth.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
I mean, you see California ordering people to stay inside their houses.
Michael Barbaro
Mm-hm.
Archived Recording (Andrew Cuomo)
So we’re going to put out an executive order today, New York State on pause.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
New York requesting that people stay inside their houses and closing down all nonessential businesses.
Archived Recording (News Anchor)
A stay at home order for all of Ohio.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
You have Ohio and Louisiana —
Archived Recording (John Bel Edwards)
Today, I’m issuing a stay-at-home at home water for the entire state of Louisiana.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
— moving in the same direction.
Archived Recording (John Bel Edwards)
Which will become effective tomorrow Monday, March 23 at 5 p.m.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
The federal government has recommended no gatherings of more than 10 people. Some states are enforcing that even more harshly than that, like California. Other states are setting their own policies.
Michael Barbaro
Right, and as patchy and inconsistent as this approach may be, there is beginning to be real blowback to this government-mandated social distancing and shutting down our society, given that it is putting people out of work. It’s closing businesses. The president has said just in the past few hours —
Archived Recording (Donald Trump)
We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not gonna let the cure be worse than the problem.
Michael Barbaro
He doesn’t want the cure to be worse than the illness itself. So I want to understand why we’re pursuing this approach rather than a variety of alternatives. And let’s start with the South Korean approach, right? Not closing all businesses, not closing all restaurants, focusing instead on aggressively tracking the sick and testing as many people as possible. And it seems to be working, right? So why can’t we do that here? Why isn’t that a viable alternative to shutting things down?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Well, we could do that here, if we had a time machine and we could travel back in time to about January 20, because January 15 is where we know one of the first cases arrived in the United States and started spreading. That was the case in Washington. The idea that we could try to start cracking down now, when we have over 40,000 cases and 500 deaths, it’s just utterly impossible. It’s not close to anything that South Korea faced. I mean, South Korea, they were doing this kind of crackdown when they first saw cases arriving, before there was a single death. So we’re just behind the eight ball on that kind of thinking. And mostly they had small scattered cases, and then they had this gigantic explosion inside one church. I think it was more than 500 cases inside that church. All right, they managed to do contact tracing on 210,000 members of that church. Los Angeles just gave up contact tracing today.
Michael Barbaro
Wow.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Just knowing that they don’t have the tests to do it.
Michael Barbaro
Meaning, tracing those who were in contact with somebody who has tested positive.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Tracing everybody who was in contact with somebody who was tested positive. Not only everybody they’ve been in contact with since they knew they were infected, but everybody even 48 hours before that.
Michael Barbaro
So not only is it too late to follow the South Korean model, you’re saying, as an alternative in the U.S., we just don’t have the capacity or the resources to follow it.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Correct.
Michael Barbaro
OK, so we can dispense with that. Another possible alternative to just shutting everything down is isolating the most vulnerable in American society to the coronavirus. So the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, underlying medical problems, rather than asking everyone to isolate in some form or another. And in that scenario, most Americans would be treated as we treat most Americans during the regular flu season, right? Take some precautions, be careful but don’t fundamentally alter your life. And there are doctors who seem to be advocating for this “isolate the most vulnerable” scenario. And one of our colleagues, columnist Tom Friedman, gave voice to their views over the weekend. And it seems President Trump is interested in this kind of a concept. What do the experts that you have talked to say about the viability of that?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
This was an idea that was floated for a while in the Netherlands, and was floated for a while in the U.K., and dropped because they realized that it was ridiculous. Why is it ridiculous? One, how do you only isolate the elderly?
Michael Barbaro
Hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Elderly people in this country very often live with their families. Elderly people need services, which people deliver to them in their houses. Or they go to community centers, or to their relatives houses for services they absolutely need, from everything from food to company. How do you isolate the vulnerable? How do you isolate everybody who’s obese in this country?
Michael Barbaro
Why do you mention obese?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Because many have diabetes. And diabetes is one of the conditions that renders you more susceptible to dying of this disease. Everybody who’s got high blood pressure, not all high blood pressure but uncontrolled high blood pressure, which a lot of people do in this country, is more susceptible to this disease. Anybody who’s taken any sort of immunosuppressive drugs or is fairly recently beyond cancer treatment may be more susceptible to this disease.
Michael Barbaro
Hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
There’s some data suggesting now that people who vape may be more susceptible to developing pneumonia from this disease. Vaping is not something that’s common among the elderly in this country.
Michael Barbaro
So you’re saying, there are just too many vulnerable populations for this to be practical?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yes. So the idea that you can just isolate all the most vulnerable people in the U.S. is simply wishful thinking.
Michael Barbaro
So given that, Donald, I want to talk through another possible alternative, one that President Trump seems to be talking up a lot in the past couple of days.
Archived Recording (Donald Trump)
It’s a common malaria drug. It’s been available, so therefore the safety level we understand very well. It’s been relatively safe.
Michael Barbaro
Which is the idea that we are close to a treatment to the coronavirus, something that would reliably combat it, and mean that we don’t need to shut down societies.
Archived Recording (Donald Trump)
We’re also studying this and other promising therapies, which is a therapy produced by Gilead. And that would be rems — it’s called remdesivir, remdesivir — and it shows great promise.
Michael Barbaro
So tell me about these drugs that President Trump has been referring to and whether he is right to suggest that they might be a solution here.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
OK. The drugs that President Trump has mentioned over the past week are chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are two versions of a longstanding malaria drug. Goes back 70 years. And the other drug is called remdesivir, and it’s a drug made by Gilead, and it doesn’t actually have any use. I think they may have hoped it would work against H.I.V., and it didn’t. It definitely did not work against Ebola when they tried it. Now they’re hoping it works against coronavirus. There’s some evidence to suggest it does. I mean, there’s evidence in animal testing to suggest that both of these drugs might possibly work.
Michael Barbaro
OK.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Those drugs have been used in China. But this was by doctors who were desperate, who were basically throwing everything they had at patients.
Michael Barbaro
Hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
And in some cases, where doctors had a certain number of patients that said, gee, these patients seemed to do better when I gave them that drug. Now, that doesn’t mean this was some sort of Lazarus-like rise from your hospital bed and walk away smiling miracle drug. This was a drug that seemed to let these patients have better outcomes. But they weren’t able to do, for several reasons, real clinical trials, where you have two groups of patients who are basically exactly equal to each other and half of them get the drug and half don’t. That’s what you need in order to be sure that a drug really works. Once you license a drug, then doctors start giving it all over the place. Actually, chloroquine is already licensed, so doctors are giving it in the hopes that it will work, and patients are demanding it in the belief that it will work, the belief partially spread by the president. And we don’t really know how well it works. And these drugs are not completely safe. They shouldn’t be taken, especially by children, without medical supervision. And the fear is that false hopes will be raised. And that also people get so excited about it that some may start taking the drugs to protect themselves out of fear, if they’ve managed to get a hold of a bottle, and they may end up poisoning their kids. These are bad outcomes. There is a case where the cure is worse than the disease.
Michael Barbaro
So beyond the fact that there’s not yet enough medical evidence that this is a legitimate set of treatments, there’s potentially real medical risk in people starting to take them, because they might actually make people sick.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yes.
Michael Barbaro
OK, so with all those options basically deemed impractical, that would seem to bring us back to social isolation. But is that working? Because my sense is, so far in the United States, it is not working.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
No, it’s not working. And that’s because we’re not doing it right.
And, you know, to write the articles I’ve been writing recently, I talked to a dozen top experts, not just at the World Health Organization, but people who run medical schools, people who have fought pandemics, people who fought Ebola, people fought SARS, people who fought MERS. And they say that if we’re going to get a grip on our epidemic, we have to imitate China, because we’ve got China-like spread. We’re not going to be able to catch it up with a South Korea-like program, and we’re going to have to do a whole lot better than Italy and Iran did. And we’re not on that track right now.
Michael Barbaro
We’ll be right back.
So if the U.S. is failing at social isolation, what would the ideal version of social isolation look like right now? What would it entail?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
So in an ideal world, if you could wave a magic wand and make everybody in the United States freeze in place, sitting six feet apart from each other for two weeks —
Michael Barbaro
Mm-hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
— we could stop the epidemic in two weeks. If we had enough —
Michael Barbaro
Really?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yeah, because within two weeks, the virus would die out on every surface that it was. People wouldn’t be interacting, so they wouldn’t transmit it. And everybody who has symptoms, the symptoms turn up in two weeks at the most. So you’d know who was sick. And even for the few asymptomatics, you’d be able to find them by doing tests. And so that’d be it. Epidemic over. I mean, you’d have a lot of people in the hospitals, but that would be the end of it.
Michael Barbaro
Knowing that we don’t have a magic wand but wish we did, what do we do? What’s the playbook for how to keep people away from each other in the United States, given where the virus is?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
As much as possible, we have to stop everything in places where we know the virus is. That is what China did. They knew the virus was incredibly hot in Wuhan and the surrounding province, and so they put that entire province on lockdown. Unfortunately, that means not just stopping all air travel, it means basically stopping all travel.
Michael Barbaro
Hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
I mean, people can’t be together on buses. People can’t be together on planes. People can’t be together in cars, unless it’s just them and they’re going to socially isolate together when they get to the end of their journey, and stay in place for, unfortunately, an indefinite amount of time. The loosey goosier the freeze is, the longer it lasts. And the longer it’s going to take us to get our economy started again. Because the looser it is, the more transmission there is. The more transmission there is, the more people end up overcrowding hospitals. The more people overcrowd hospitals, the more people die.
Michael Barbaro
OK, so that’s transportation. And you’re suggesting that, in many ways, we have to further restrict that. What about businesses? What about restaurants all over the country? Do they need to be shut down?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yes, all of these things. Transportation, restaurants all over the country, schools all over the country, workplaces all over the country, bars and restaurants all over the country. And different places are turning into hotspots spots even as we speak, because people are now traveling all over the country and still spreading the virus, starting new clusters. The only way to get on top of this disease is to stop the clusters.
Michael Barbaro
In this scenario that you’re describing, what can be open? What’s an acceptable reason for anyone to be out and about?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Doctors, nurses, people who work in the health care field. Police, fire, the people who keep the water mains open and the electrical grid running and Wi-Fi reaching houses. And food delivery and medicine delivery. That’s the ideal. Those are the only people who are allowed out and that keep the country functioning. We need people to freeze in place, and we need to make sure they have enough calories and water and medicine to stay alive.
Michael Barbaro
Hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
You know, not that they are worried about how their business is running and how their investments are going or whether or not they’re collecting their rents. And we have to do things like tell landlords that they can’t collect their rents, tell banks that they can’t collect their mortgages. The idea is to keep the country alive until the virus slows down. It may be impossible, but if you want to try to use any sort of social distancing tactic, it has to be much more intense than it is now, because we’re not slowing the virus. It’s still spreading wildly.
Michael Barbaro
And this slowdown, how would it be enforced in a place like the United States? Let’s say that suddenly every state, every mayor locks down a community along the lines of what experts say needs to be done now to freeze this in place. How does it actually get enforced? Who is in charge of punishing those who violate it, roaming the streets and making sure it actually happens?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Well, I mean, legally you can do it. The governor and the health commissioner have the power to use the police to enforce these laws. In Italy, as in China, they went to roadblocks everywhere. You couldn’t drive down a street without a permit that had been issued by the government that said, I’m an emergency worker. I am allowed to drive down the street. That’s what will have to happen if people don’t do it voluntarily, and I fully expect that Americans are not going to do this voluntarily. But then we’re going to suffer the consequences.
Michael Barbaro
So what happens if we don’t do all the things that experts are saying we must do, the social isolation, the lockdowns? I mean, it doesn’t seem we’re headed there. So what happens if we don’t implement any of these measures?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
If we don’t implement these measures, we will have a Wuhan in New York, and a Wuhan in Seattle, and a Wuhan in South Florida, and a Wuhan in Wheeling West, Virginia, and a Wuhan in Helena, Montana, and so on.
Michael Barbaro
Hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Because hospitals will get overwhelmed everywhere. And in Wuhan, in the early weeks of the epidemic, the death rate was 4 percent to 6 percent. It’s a little unclear, because there were people who couldn’t make it to the hospitals and just died at home. But if you go on the South China Morning Post site and you look for the videos that were shot then, you’ll see hospitals with people crowded in the corridors and literally dead bodies lying in the halls, that nobody’s had time to take away. You’ll see nurses and doctors screaming, having breakdowns, screaming in frustration, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t take it anymore. You will see lines of coffins outside the crematories, just sitting there waiting for their turn to go into the furnace, because there’s too many coffins for the flames to burn fast enough. I mean, we have seen that in Wuhan and we’ve seen it in Italy, where they were having to stack coffins on the pews of the churches that had been closed down, because there was no place to put the coffins and they couldn’t dig graves fast enough. So that’s what we’re headed for.
Michael Barbaro
I mean, it’s horrific.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we’ve — I’ve been looking at this stuff since late January, early February, and frightened by it. The visions are nightmarish, and I don’t see anybody taking it seriously. But that’s what we’re headed for.
Michael Barbaro
It’s kind of hard to process this, because what you’re suggesting is that a short term, essentially, shutdown down of much of our life in the U.S. would potentially bring this whole pandemic to an end. And yet there are a lot of practical reasons why that would be very, very hard to imagine. But for those who are very skeptical of it, and who think, as the president said, that the cure may be worse than the illness, it would seem like a short-term version of this would be kind of ideal, right? Because it would happen —
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Who said short-term? I said if there were a magic wand, you could do a short-term shutdown. I think for the shutdown to be effective, given how lax Americans are about staying in the shutdown, we have got to have a shutdown that lasts for months and months.
Michael Barbaro
So there’s no short-term version of this, given the way the U.S. operates.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
There’s no magic wand. There’s no 15-day cure.
Michael Barbaro
That’s pretty depressing, because it means that there’s almost nothing we can do right now. That the genie is out of the bottle, the horses have left the barn, the pandemic is too deeply in our system.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
In New York, I think that’s true. We don’t know exactly how many people have been infected, but we know that it’s been incredibly hot with virus out there for awhile now. And yet people are really struggling, because, you know, they haven’t had their Rock Hudson, ‘here’s somebody I know who’s got the disease, so now I believe in it,’ moments. People are still — they’re beginning to hear about colleagues who were sick, colleagues who were infected and stuff, but that only began four or five days ago. People beginning to need to be hospitalized in large numbers is usually 10 days, and the deaths don’t usually take place until three to six weeks. So we have a lot more pain in the future.
Michael Barbaro
But is it possible for other cities in the U.S. — smaller cities, maybe even mid-sized cities, not New York, not Seattle, maybe not Los Angeles — to do these things and spare themselves?
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yes. And it will take those Bruegelesque visions of New York to convince them that this is what’s headed their way.
Michael Barbaro
Mm-hm.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
And maybe they’ll take the actions they need to. And maybe they won’t.
Michael Barbaro
I’m thinking back to the phrase you used to describe the way the United States is handling this right now — as a patchwork. Do you think, Donald, that we are going to be ending up in a kind of awful middle place, where many of us are at home, we are isolating in lots of big parts of the country, but it’s not enforced significantly enough and uniformly enough to have meaningful impact? And so rather than having the magic wand version of this, we have the worst version of this, which is, there’s a lot of burdens, social and economic, and still the virus keeps spreading and spreading.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Yes, I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. There’s going to be a great deal of economic impact, but we’re not going to be able to find the political will or the fear as a people to shut down the spread of the virus. I don’t see us flattening the curve, as everybody has talked about. Maybe some other cities will be able to flatten the curve later. Once they see what’s going to happen in New York, they’ll begin to believe that they have to flatten the curve, and they’ll go in. But then you’ll find out how many people were infected in the meantime. I mean, we’re going to come out of this as a different nation, a different people. If we essentially don’t shut down so that the chain of transmissions don’t stop, we’re going to be looking at hundreds of thousands of dead, I think, unless some drug turns out to be a miracle preventive. And that’s the high hope for the chloroquine, but we don’t really know that yet. And we know there’s not going to be a vaccine for a year. So short of that, we may have to shelter in place for a year until a vaccine rolls out. Look, I hope for better.
[Music]
But I’m not trying to sugarcoat it. I’m trying to explain what the worst case scenario is. I hope we don’t reach the worst case scenario, but I fear that we are a long way down the road towards it.
Michael Barbaro
Well, I would like to say thank you, Donald, but it just doesn’t seem like that kind of a conversation. Thank you, anyway. We appreciate it.
Donald G. Mcneil Jr.
Thank you. Sorry.
I’d love to be proved wrong.
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Audio links to the podcast:
We again end with the general theme: Plan for the worst; hope for the best.