Showing: 1 - 3 of 3 RESULTS

Families of coronavirus victims are organizing online to push politicians for more strict health measures

Angela Kender saw it just before bed, and right then made a plan to confront her state’s lawmakers with pictures of local virus victims, including her mother. An old friend sent it to Fiana Tulip. She was furious about her mom’s death; maybe she could channel her rage like Urquiza had. And Rosemary Rangel Gutierrez’s sisters told her about the obituary after their father died. She sounds like you, they said.

“This man is the most dangerous person on the planet,” Urquiza said this week after Trump told Americans on video not to be afraid of covid-19. “I’m counting down the minutes until his referendum comes on November 3rd and we can end this nightmare and protect ourselves and our families.”

The loose support group Urquiza formed has tightened into organized activism. They have pushed politicians, especially Republicans, to enact more serious public health measures. This week, across the country, they have led vigils, memorials and funeral processions to grieve the more than 213,000 lives lost in the United States. The national week of mourning is likely the largest collective recognition of the country’s coronavirus toll.

Powerful grass-roots groups often have started this way, even before the days of organizing through social media. They began with personal anguish, with individuals grieving their dead alone, trying to transform their anger into action, policy or change. It’s the story of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, of the Sandy Hook Promise and Never Again MSD, of Black Lives Matter and Mothers of the Movement.

Urquiza named her group Marked by Covid. She founded it in the days after her father died, with some of his last words to her reverberating. He said he felt betrayed by Arizona’s governor and Trump, politicians he once supported. Urquiza, 39 and a recent graduate of a master’s program in public policy, decided then she would be the voice of a constituency that grows larger by the day: Americans who have lost loved ones to the pandemic and who are fed up with their elected officials.

“I hope that my small actions can start a movement,” she said in July, less than two weeks after her dad died.

It’s too early to know how influential the group, or others like it, will become. Some of Urquiza’s fellow organizers joined her as a way to process loss, and it’s unclear how Marked by Covid will define itself when the pandemic ends. But part of Urquiza’s ambitious vision is to advocate for policies that address the racial and economic inequalities exacerbated by the virus.

Urquiza and Marked by Covid have attracted national attention and more than 50,000 followers across their social media accounts. More than 1,000 people have donated $30,000 to the group, Urquiza said, and they’re using the money to place more honest obituaries online and in newspapers.

The Joe Biden campaign has taken notice. Urquiza spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August, appears in anti-Trump ads and sat in the

‘Dangerously incompetent’ politicians must go

The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, on Wednesday broke with a nearly two-century tradition of avoiding politics to lambast U.S. politicians for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a first for the journal, the editors called for Americans to vote out leaders who have not done enough to address the pandemic.

“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editors wrote. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

While the 35 editors who signed the editorial did not call out President Donald Trump by name, the article is filled with allusions to his actions.

“The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate,” they wrote. “The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls.”

The editorial is the latest condemnation of the Trump administration from a respected scientific publication. Last month, Scientific American endorsed Joe Biden for president, the first time the venerable publication has backed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history.

The New England Journal of Medicine editorial, titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” does not endorse Biden, it offers an unsparing critique of Trump and his administration.

The editors wrote that while Covid-19 is a global crisis, the United States government has “failed at almost every step” to contain the pathogen’s spread.

“This crisis has produced a test of leadership,” they wrote. “With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The U.S. leads the world in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths. The country has recorded over 7.3 million infections and more than 208,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The editorial points to early blunders such as testing shortages and a lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers, but adds that the country continues to fall short today.

“While the absolute numbers of tests have increased substantially, the more useful metric is the number of tests performed per infected person, a rate that puts us far down the international list, below such places as Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, countries that cannot boast the biomedical infrastructure or the manufacturing capacity that we have,” they wrote.

The editors called other public health interventions, such as social distancing measures, “lackadaisical at best,” and criticized moves to lift restrictions before the virus’ spread was brought under control.

The editorial also pointed out that mask wearing has been inconsistent across the country, “largely because our leaders have

Trump Antigen Testing Fail; COVID Stimulus Waste; Politicians vs Public Health

Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, highlighting some of the best investigative reporting on healthcare each week.

Trump’s Antigen Testing Fail

Eschewing evidence, the White House has favored antigen testing for COVID-19 over the more reliable PCR tests, Kaiser Health News reported, citing one potential reason for the disease outbreak there.

Antigen tests do not need to be processed in traditional labs and yield results more quickly, making them more favorable to the Trump administration. But BinaxNOW, the new antigen test now used in the White House, has not been independently verified for accuracy and reliability. BinaxNOW received an FDA emergency use authorization in August.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently inked a $760-million contract with Abbott, which makes BinaxNOW, to distribute 150 million tests to places including historically black colleges and universities, state governors (to help them potentially reopen schools), and nursing homes. The Big Ten football conference also decided to play this fall — after originally punting on the season — in part because of the availability of the more rapid antigen tests, “following Trump’s political pressure,” KHN reported.

The White House does not report antigen test results to the Washington, D.C., health department — “a potential violation of federal law under the CARES Act, which says any institution performing tests to diagnose COVID-19 must report all results to local or state public health departments,” the article stated.

Why the COVID Stimulus Was a ‘Waste’

Much of the $4 trillion handed out by the federal government during the pandemic went to large companies that didn’t need the help, rather than struggling medical practices, public health departments, and other healthcare entities, according to a Washington Post analysis.

“The legislation bestowed billions in benefits on companies and wealthy individuals largely unscathed by the pandemic, leaving some local public health efforts struggling for money to conduct testing and other prevention efforts,” according to the analysis, which was based on data from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

More than half of the aid ($2.3 trillion) went to businesses that weren’t required to show that they were hurt by the pandemic, or that they kept workers on the job, the Post reported.

Only $25 billion was earmarked for coronavirus testing via the most recent relief bill on April 24. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer and bipartisan groups of experts have called for $100 billion or more for testing.

Many public companies received CARES Act tax breaks, including Tenet Healthcare, as did companies unaffected by the pandemic. Medical equipment maker Owens & Minor, for example, plans to claim $13 million in tax breaks while personal protective equipment demand has sent its stock price soaring.

The healthcare and social services sector received 12.9% of the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program loans while accounting for 10% of job losses. Construction and manufacturing, by comparison, received 12.4% and 10.3%, while accounting for just 4.7% and 6.4% of job losses, respectively.

By following traditional methods of propping up businesses instead of addressing