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COVID-19

The Plague Of Social Isolation

There is very little to recommend my old gym, other than the low monthly fee, where I worked out nearly every day from 2007 until the pandemic shut it down. The locker rooms were grimy with moldering carpets. There were brown rings around the basins and a thin blackish layer of slime, composed, I suspect, of dead skin, urine, hair, dust, dirt and assorted bacteria on the floor of the shower stalls. To step into the slime without flip flops was to take home athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, at the very least. The sauna in the locker room was reportedly listed on a gay pick-up app and attracted pairs of men looking for anonymous sexual encounters in clouds of steam. The gym management first tried to combat these liaisons by posting a sign on the door that read: “IT IS FORBIDDEN TO HAVE SEX IN THE SAUNA.”

NYSNA 2019-2021: From Contract Sellout To Covid Hell

New York City, New York - Over 10,000 nurses could strike in NYC starting next week. Key among their demands is the fight around safe staffing ratios, which determines the maximum number of patients per on-shift nurse. Nurses are fighting for better working conditions in a setting where staffing has only gotten worse since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of nurses and healthcare workers left the workforce, often from being exhausted, burnt out, and/or traumatized. Many more have also become very ill and/or died from Covid-19, after putting their lives on the line to care for patients. Surveys show large percentages of healthcare workers plan to leave the field in the near future.

China’s Fake Anti-Lockdown Protests, A Failed Color Revolution

Late last November, several fringe group of anti-lockdown protests happened across China, dubbed “the A4 paper protests” hyped by western media; led by western-backed Chinese right-wing violent QAnon anti-lockdown/anti-vaxers, supported by Chinese western-backed medical industrial complex and pro-western elites, together they forced the government to abandon the “dynamic zero-COVID” policy. This has been no more than an orchestrated western-backed color revolution, and a Chinese right-wing riot for their selfish agenda, that does not represent the majority of the Chinese and World’s opinion. Since the Wuhan outbreak on December, 2019, China adopted the “Dynamic Zero-COVID” policy, included: mass testing, contact tracing, lockdown and makeshift hospitals for every patients, that had quelled more than 100 outbreaks across the country for the past three years.

US Life Expectancy Falls To Lowest Level In 25 Years

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday that the average life expectancy in the U.S. today is only 76.4 years, which is lower than it has been since 1996.  The U.S. national public health agency said such a drop was seen last year, noting that in 2020 the average American was expected to live 77 years. The average has dropped by 2.4 years since 2019, according to the CDC.  In this regard, the agency said that in 2021 the U.S. recorded sharp increases in mortality rates for the second consecutive year. The CDC attributed this turn of events in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was declared a WHO public health emergency of international concern in 2020. According to the CDC, case fatality rates increased last year for eight of the ten leading causes of death.

The Pandemic Exacerbated A Long-Standing National Teacher Shortage

For more than a decade, academics and education policy experts have raised concerns about a widespread shortage of teachers in the United States.1 The first wave of warnings came in response to the drastic cuts in state and local spending on education following the Great Recession. But teacher shortages remained a significant challenge for the nation’s public education system long after the immediate effects of the Great Recession wore off. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic ignited a new round of concerns. In this report, we use data from a wide range of sources to document the size and scope of the teacher shortage. The data show that the teacher shortage is both widespread and acute across several dimensions, from subject matter specialties to school poverty status. We also review data that point to the two most important drivers of the shortage.

1,000 Days Of Compassion

Santa Cruz, California - The streets went silent that misty March 14, 2020 morning.  I passed only two other vehicles on my way to prepare the meal at the Veteran’s Hall. News that the indoor food programs had been ordered shuttered meant our unhoused friends would have to go without food if we didn’t step up and fill the void. Eight of us Food Not Bombs volunteers gathered at LuLu Carpenters that cold Saturday to discuss our plans. I think all of us were in a state of shock at the mystery that lay ahead. A medical social worker who had just been trained in the COVID-19 safety protocols at Good Samaritans Hospital detailed what she had learned the day before. We moved our meal to the Town Clock from the Post Office so our line of guests would not be standing near the dozen or so people camping along the Water Street sidewalk.

The Volatility Of US Hegemony In Latin America, Part II

The US has long considered Latin America and the Caribbean to be its “backyard” under the anachronist 1823 Monroe Doctrine. And even though current US President Biden mistakenly thinks that upgrading the region to the “front yard” makes any difference, Yankee hemispheric hegemony is becoming increasingly volatile. A “Pink Tide” of left electoral victories since 2018 have swept Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, Chile, Columbia, and Brazil. At the same time, China has emerged as an economic presence while tumultuously inflationary winds blow in the world economy. In this larger context, the socialist triad of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are addressed below along with the importance of Haiti. Henry Kissinger once quipped: "To be an enemy of the US is dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal."

Zero Covid And The Protests In China

Establishment media have seized on protests over Covid lockdowns to rehearse their favourite anti-China narratives. Ever since the world’s first Covid outbreak in Wuhan, the virus has been used as a stick to beat China. Donald Trump cynically portrayed the pandemic as a Chinese weapon — “the worst attack we’ve ever had on our country … worse than Pearl Harbour.” Trump’s ravings were seldom taken seriously even by US allies. But the resurrection of the “lab leak” conspiracy theory by the Joe Biden administration made it respectable, and the judgement of a World Health Organisation scientific team, that the virus likely evolved in bats and was “extremely unlikely” to have originated in a laboratory, was howled down.

Senate Votes To Overturn Covid-19 National Emergency

Just a week after the midterm elections, the Senate voted to end the National Emergency Declaration on Covid-19. This vote, in which Democrats joined Republicans 62-36, comes after the U.S. handled the Covid-19 pandemic in impressively pitiful fashion, with over 1 million dead and millions more grappling with long Covid-19 symptoms. It also comes as winter months approach and respiratory illnesses are on the rise, particularly among children as pediatric intensive care units reach capacity. Ending the National Covid-19 Emergency declaration could affect anything from the access to medical supplies to helping cover costs of Covid-19 testing. Its end could also help pave the way to restart student loan payments. Ironically, the vote comes with the help of the Democrats, members of the same party who claimed just a week earlier that they needed the public’s support at the ballot box so they that could keep protecting the public interest, from Covid-19 policies to protecting abortion rights.

US Ranks Last Among Peer Nations For COVID-19 Mortality

American citizens pride themselves for living in a country that most of them believe is superlative — freest, most powerful, most entrepreneurial. Yet despite the spheres where it has high standing, the United States ranks dismally among its peer nations when it comes to deaths from COVID-19. “Dismal” might not be a strong enough adjective, actually: the U.S. ranked dead last among its peer nations, with the most deaths per capita. The data comes from a new study published in the medical journal JAMA, which also analyzed state-by-state vaccination and public health data. Alarmingly, researchers noted that if every state in the United States had the same vaccination rates as those states with the highest vaccination rates, more than 100,000 lives would have been saved.

How The Pandemic Changed The Landscape Of US Labor Organizing

The story of essential workers during the pandemic is part of the long unraveling of the New Deal. The destruction of the welfare state, the attack on unions, and the rise of neoliberalism provide the historical backdrop for the pandemic labor unrest. As workers’ fortunes came under renewed attack in the early 1970s, the historic gains of the New Deal were rolled back decades. Inequality became the defining feature of our economy as we arrived at a second Gilded Age. This was more than unfair — during the pandemic it had deadly consequences. A 2020 study found that in over 3,000 U.S. counties, income inequality was associated with more cases and more deaths by the virus.

Doctors Renew Call For Assange’s Release After COVID Infection

Doctors For Assange sent a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland and the United Kingdom Home Secretary Suella Braverman yet again expressing their concern about the deteriorating health of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The coalition of over 300 doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other medical professionals have repeatedly called for Assange’s release from Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh in London and protested “health injustices” that have occurred as a result of the extradition case against him. Worsening matters, as Doctors for Assange notes, is the fact that Assange tested positive for COVID-19 on October 8. “Given his chronic lung ailment, Mr. Assange may be at increased risk of serious illness resulting from COVID infection,” the doctors write.

Students Across The US Urge Biden To Lift Barriers To Global COVID Test

Washington, D.C. - Students on over a dozen campuses across the U.S. are participating in a “Week of Action” calling on the Biden administration to support lifting World Trade Organization (WTO) barriers to global COVID test and treatment access. The tabling, letter writing, educational events and rallies taking place coast-to-coast come as the WTO General Council meets from October 6–7 to discuss proposals that would allow low- and middle-income countries more easily produce low-cost COVID medications. “Billions of people in low- and middle-income countries worldwide still don’t have access to the COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments that many Americans take for granted,” said Kaleigh Flanagan at SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, N.Y. 

Despite What Biden Says, The Pandemic Isn’t Over

On Sunday night, Joe Biden declared in an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes that the Covid-19 “pandemic is over.” Not so coincidentally, this statement comes right after existing federal pandemic response funding has run out, and after attempts at approving more money were routinely removed from spending bills in order to designate more money for Ukraine. If the pandemic is “over,” the government can be excused for failing to provide additional support. But while official cases, hospitalization, and death counts are all much lower now compared to the peak of the Omicron wave in January, and while vaccines continue to mitigate the severity of illness, the Covid-19 virus is still wreaking havoc in the United States. The pandemic continues to still not be over.

Life Expectancy: The US And Cuba In The Time Of Covid

Recent data shows that between 2019 and 2021, life expectancy (LE) in the US plunged almost three years while for Cuba it edged up 0.2 years. Yet, in 1960, the year after its revolution, Cuba had a LE of 64.2 years, lower by 5.6 years than that in the US (69.8 years). As I document in Cuban Health Care, the island quickly caught up to the US and, from 1970 through 2016, the two countries were nip and tuck, with some years Cuba and other years the US, having a longer LE. But neither country was ever as much as one year of LE ahead of the other. This continued through the beginning of Covid, which sharply changed the pattern. LE in the US suddenly dropped behind that in Cuba. Bernd Debusmann Jr.of BBC News wrote, "LE in the US fell “to the lowest level seen since 1996. Government data showed LE at birth now stands at 76.1 compared to 79 in 2019. That is the steepest two-year decline in a century.”
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