Coronavirus Briefing: The future, our feelings and crime stats

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,237 words and will take you five minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Today let’s celebrate your ninja work skills — muting barking dogs, deftly handling your disruptive kids and persuasively pretending to have heard every word your co-workers said on the 9 a.m. Zoom debriefing. We’re learning new skills — that’s the good news. The bad news? Nearly everything else. 

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,237 words and will take you five minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.


Just the hits

  • Statistical models revealed to the public during last night’s White House briefing confirmed that the U.S. should brace for 100,000 minimum/240,000 maximum deaths (this up from topping off at 200,000 deaths projected just yesterday).

  • A U.S. Health Weather Map powered by public-health company Kinsa and its more than 1 million smart thermometers shows the number of people with fevers declining in states across the country as people disappear inside. It warns though: “This does not mean COVID-19 cases are declining.”

  • General Electric workers in its Lynn, Massachusetts, aviation facility and union members at the company’s Boston headquarters held protests Monday, demanding their locations switch to ventilator production to reverse the planned 10% aviation worker layoffs. 

The Takeaway:

We have a way to go until we reach the tipping point. Some manufacturing behemoths can’t see the forest for the trees. Stock market? We should all be watching Black Monday.


Future perfect

Human beings make plans because it gives them a sense of autonomy over their lives, which so often feel untenable, to paraphrase Stanford Professor Michael Bratman. In his research, Bratman identified three norms that encourage rational planning: consistency, coherence and stability. Today, we lack all three. How do you plan for a future when the present is so changeable? 

  • Infectious Disease Advisor details recent findings, published in The Lancet, that COVID-19 mortality rates may be underestimated in symptomatic patients. To amend, researchers re-estimated mortality rates based on the total number of patients infected at the same time as those who died. However, because asymptomatic cases and/or untested patients cannot be identified, the full denominator remains unknown.  

  • Mark your calendars for a McKnight’s Senior Living webinar next Thursday, April 9 at 1 p.m. ET. Jack York and Kristi Stoglin from iN2L (It’s Never 2 Late) discuss the importance of keeping residents active and engaged while social distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 precautions present challenges to senior living communities.

  • A scrappage scheme may sound alliterative, but it could potentially save the garden sector, as Matthew Appleby reports in Horticulture Week U.K. Appleby spoke to a number of industry luminaries hoping the government will step in to save them. One bright spot? Mail order.

The Takeaway:

We’re finding more accurate ways to track the virus, which will create more accurate models with which to study the spread. If someone you love lives in a senior living facility, FaceTime them. Show off the new plant you ordered online.


Where is my mind?

Every person reacts differently in a crisis — some run, some freeze, some seek solace, some retreat into themselves. But in a crisis without end, we need sustainable management tools that support both our bodies and our brains.

  • In Psychiatry Advisor, Dibash Kumar Das cites a new report from BMC Psychiatry that claims bouldering may reduce depressive symptoms. The randomized study consisted of 10 weekly, two-hour bouldering sessions that incorporated mindfulness, psychoeducation, experience exchange between participants and body-related relaxation exercises. Now may be a good time to stick a few anchors in your wall.

  • Maggie Baska for People Management U.K. reports that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has called on employers to help prevent mental ill-health among staff during the coronavirus outbreak. Trust and flexibility are key.

  • Since California deemed cannabis an “essential business,” Driven Deliveries, California’s fastest growing online cannabis retailer and direct-to-consumer delivery company, has experienced record demand and a more than 100% increase in sales. In an effort to comply with government orders to stay home, Driven expects further growth as people continue to incorporate delivery services into their new routines.

  • On the opposite coast, Mindbloom is meeting the moment by offering remote, psychedelic ketamine therapy to residents of New York State. Due to our current health crisis, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is now allowing telehealth companies to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person consultation. So now, you can enjoy guided sessions from the comfort and safety of your home, “diving inward for a rewarding, profound experience.” 

The Takeaway:

Turn on. Tune in. Drop out. Enjoy it while you can. 


Crime 4.0

With fewer people on the streets there’s a lot less crime, but what’s going to happen when more shops, bars and restaurants are shuttered and our collective energy reaches boiling point — will there be looting? And how are jails faring during the crisis? Will the criminal justice system be irrevocably altered by the pandemic as well? These are all issues we’ll be taking a look at in the coming days. For now, some reports on how things stand at the moment:

  • Coronavirus restrictions have had unexpected consequences. According to a Marshall Project analysis, some big cities in the U.S. have seen a drop in crime. John MacDonald, a criminologist at the University of Pennsylvania, cautioned against reading too much into the data, calling it “episodic,” rather than a long-term trend. But these days, we’ll take any positive news, wherever we can.

  • And now forget all that with this report on COVID-19-specific crimes: The World Health Organization is working to debunk spurious claims about cures, the U.K.’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reports more than 100 virus-related scams, and U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent insistence on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” may have contributed to a rise in bullying and assaults of people of Asian descent.

  • And speaking of crimes... prisons, which are often “dirty and have really very little in the way of infection control,” according to Homer Venters, former chief medical officer at Rikers Island jail complex in NYC, are veritable petri dishes for spreading disease. Across the U.S. jails and prisons are reporting an accelerating spread of coronavirus, and are taking varied approaches to protection, including proposing large-scale releases of minor offenders.

The Takeaway:

While the “usual kinda crime” seems to have decreased, there’s no end to ingenuity. And are you still getting robo calls? That really needs to stop.


Job reallocation

For those out of work, there are a number of places that could use help.

  • In McKnight’s Senior Living, Amy Novotney reports that senior housing and care facilities are getting out in front of potential staffing shortages by seeking out-of-work restaurant, hotel and retail workers as staff.

  • For People Management U.K., Siobhan Palmer takes a fascinating look at the challenges of out-of-work and furloughed employees seeking salaries.

  • Also in the U.K., EasyJet and Virgin airline staff are being offered work at the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in east London. Furloughed staff are also invited to volunteer at sites planned for Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and the Manchester Central conference center.

The Takeaway:

As desperate as those who are out of work must feel, there are places out there, just as desperate for their help. How can we better connect the dots?


And now, a dance break  

As this alleged quote by Keith Richards so eloquently puts it: “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” Here are some songs for your bones.


March was a long, long month that we’re all glad to leave behind, but there is no room for April Fools’ Day jokes this year. Stay safe out there.

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