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Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio pledges $50 million for new health justice initiative

Ray Dalio, billionaire and founder of Bridgewater Associates LP, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio is giving $50 million to NewYork-Presbyterian to fight health inequality at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the disproportionate access to health care in the U.S.

The grant, which is from Dalio Philanthropies, will establish the Dalio Center for Health Justice. The center will “address health disparities and health justice through research, education, advocacy and investment in communities,” a statement said. Other initiatives include tackling unconscious bias in medicine, including when it comes to clinical trials.

“Our goal is to contribute to equal healthcare and equal education because we believe that these are the most fundamental building blocks of equal opportunity and a just society,” Dalio said in a statement.

Covid-19 has hit communities of color the hardest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black and Hispanic Americans have been hospitalized at roughly 4.7 times the rate of White Americans. The death rate is also higher for minorities, with Black individuals 2.6 times as likely to succumb to the virus as White individuals.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed enduring health inequities in a new and alarming way, and the importance of health justice has never been clearer,” said Dr. Julia Iyasere, who will head the Dalio Center for Health Justice. “We are committed to improving the health and well-being of our patients and communities through research, dialogue and education, equity in our clinical operations, investment in our communities and advocacy for national change.”

According to Forbes Bridgewater oversees around $140 billion in assets, while Dalio has a personal net worth of roughly $16.9 billion. Since its founding in 2003, Dalio Philanthropies has given away more than $5 billion.

Dalio is a trustee of NewYork-Presbyterian.

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A healthy dose of justice: When the vaccine comes, a COVID vulnerability index can help achieve both

There’s been lively discussion about whether people will be willing to take a vaccine for COVID-19 when it becomes available. It’s a question each of us will have to answer for ourselves sooner or later. But the debate obscures a more complex reality: when an effective and safe vaccine finally arrives, it will initially be in scarce supply. No country or business has the manufacturing capacity to quickly provide enough doses for an entire population.

The big question we should be considering, therefore, is who should get vaccinated first, and who should be next in line thereafter? Do certain groups within the population deserve priority over others? And if so, what considerations should influence these decisions?

This is not the first time we’ve been faced with this type of “allocation problem.” Typically, vaccine allocation decisions are made with a view toward maximizing the overall health benefit: to achieve the greatest good for the most people, such as the total number of lives saved. For reasons of epidemiology, that doesn’t always mean that people most vulnerable to a disease are the first ones to receive a vaccine. The worst-off groups are prioritized only insofar as it aligns with maximizing the benefits of the vaccine.

But COVID-19 is an exceptional disease — not just because of the rapidity and extent of its spread, but because of the way it has highlighted and heightened the inequities that exist in the United States. It has a disproportionate impact on communities who are disadvantaged by their race and ethnicity, by underlying comorbidities and lack of access to good health care, by their living conditions, or even by the kind of work they do. In the United States, rates of COVID-19 infection among Black, Latinx, and Native American people are more than two-and-a-half times as high as among white people — while hospitalization rates are approaching five times as high, and Black people are dying at twice the rate of white people. Historically, it’s precisely non-white populations that have lower coverage of vaccination for common diseases.

This is why we developed the COVID Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) — to identify the communities impacted most negligibly by the virus, so we can plan and respond accordingly. It builds on the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to take into account additional vulnerability factors that come into play with a pandemic disease like COVID-19 — from minority populations and foreign languages spoken, to the amount of household crowding or limited transportation access in a community.

It’s therefore exciting to see that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has just launched a set of vaccine allocation recommendations for the United States that make an important departure from the traditional vaccine allocation framework. NASEM aims to achieve not only impact, but also social justice, by taking into account that ethnic minority groups are worse affected by COVID-19.

NASEM proposes a vaccine allocation framework with the goal of reducing severe illness, death, and societal consequences due to COVID-19. Its

Barr Plans to Return to Justice Dept. After Negative Coronavirus Test Results

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr did not plan to get a coronavirus test on Monday after receiving negative results from four tests and was likely to return to work at the Justice Department this week, his spokeswoman said.

Mr. Barr, who had attended an event at the White House on Sept. 26 linked to the outbreak, quarantined himself over the weekend and was at home on Monday with no symptoms, said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec.

She said that Mr. Barr would get tested​ on Tuesday and was likely to return to the office on Wednesday. That would be before the end of the 14-day quarantine period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Justice Department guidelines, but Ms. Kupec said the attorney general was considered a critical worker exempt from the C.D.C. guidelines.

Ms. Kupec said Mr. Barr, 70, “routinely wears masks and takes a variety of precautions” at the office.

Some department employees expressed anger at Mr. Barr’s decisions, saying that his leadership example indicated that he did not take the threat of the virus seriously, according to five employees who would not be named discussing Mr. Barr’s approach to the virus for fear of retribution.

Asked about the criticism, Ms. Kupec said that as the nation’s chief federal law enforcement officer, Mr. Barr was considered a critical worker under the C.D.C. guidance. It says that essential workers “may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to Covid-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.”

Precautions include wearing a mask at all times in the workplace, social distancing, regular temperature checks and continued testing.

“​Even with this flexibility, out of an abundance of caution, he has remained home since Friday other than to get tested and attend the meeting at ​the Justice Department​ on Friday morning​,” Ms. Kupec said.

In President Trump’s own battle with the coronavirus, his oxygen levels have dropped and he has taken experimental drugs and a steroid. He left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday.

After Mr. Trump revealed early on Friday that he had tested positive for the virus, Mr. Barr took a rapid test each day and took an additional diagnostic test called a PCR test, and made their results public. Through the weekend, his tests came back negative, Ms. Kupec said.

Mr. Barr also decided to reduce his schedule to one meeting on Friday and to self-quarantine at home over the weekend, she said.

Ms. Kupec said on Monday that Mr. Barr had not had any contact with Mr. Trump for nine days, when both men attended a reception at the White House for the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Several Republican leaders and others who attended the reception have since learned they have the virus, including Mr. Trump; the first lady, Melania Trump; Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina; John I. Jenkins, the president of