This dispatch is proud to be service-y from time to time. In that spirit, I offer the following advice: If you happen to receive your annual flu vaccine ahead of schedule – say, at a Walgreens clinic in suburban Jer-Z on a Friday morning in August – you might want to reconsider sharing this information with anyone, especially your mother-in-law.
Turns out that people have exceedingly strong opinions about pre-October flu vaccination. Some believe early doses are weaker than later ones. Some believe that, if administered too early, the vaccine’s effectiveness will wane during the worst months of flu season (there is evidence suggesting this could be the case). Some are, ahem, vaccine-skeptical.
Me, I just wandered into Walgreens looking for some junk for the kids. When I saw the vaccine was available and there was no line, I got the shot. I’m not worried about diminishing effectiveness because, let’s face it, we’re all gonna be tucked away at home again come flu season.
Getting the flu shot = the important part. Do this, for yourself and for everyone with whom you come in contact for the next six months and for the overburdened care providers who could do without a winter COVID/flu “twindemic.” There are many things worth overthinking amid this continued insanity; slightly premature flu vaccine administration is not one of them. And while we’re in checklist mode, confirm your voter registration deadline, register to vote, sign up to volunteer at your local polling place and mask up. Okay? Good.
This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,515 words and will take you seven minutes to read.
The numbers redux
Every week sees more and more research around the rippling effects of COVID-19 on every aspect of our lives. That’s good! Most of the data suggests that, in our efforts to get out from under it, we’re traveling from point A to point B via points L, E, M, Q, Z and R. That’s not so good!
- As of Tuesday afternoon, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts the coronavirus death total will reach 309,918 by December 1. The predicted sum rises to 421,242 if current mandates are relaxed; it dips to 240,891 if universal masking is enacted (and, presumably, followed).
- The COVID Monitor school reporting and surveillance project is tracking infections in every school in the United States.
- Statistically speaking, you’re quite unlikely to become infected with the coronavirus on a plane flight. Good to know, but still: Hard pass.
- According to The Economist, the overarching economic value of a face mask is $56.14. Given my track record as a math student, I’m going to take their word for it.
- Forsman & Bodenfors’ Cameron Fleming outlines a study in Campaign revealing that nearly 50% of marketers are unhappy with their brand’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
- A potential K-shaped economic recovery would be good for professionals and bad for everyone else. Not sure there’s another interpretation here beyond that even more pronounced inequality is likely to be the new norm.
The more information, the better, no matter how it reflects on our approach to pandemic management and alleviation.
The virus and the vaccine and the vote
If it wasn’t clear before the revelations of the last two weeks, it is now: They’re inextricably intertwined.
- Mail ballot drop boxes are safe and easy to use, plus it seems likely that Americans are familiar with slot-based box technology. Also safe and easy: voting by mail. And here’s what the post office needs to survive a COVID-era election, according to ProPublica.
- PRWeek’s Chris Daniels recaps the highs and the lows from the Democrats’ “unconventional convention.” I can’t lie: I missed the event-capping confetti cyclone.
- The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has released an “ethics framework” for deciding who will receive a potential coronavirus vaccine first. As of now, the Department of Health and Human Services anticipates a “tiered approach” to distribution.
- Thousands of votes from nursing-home residents could be at risk due to changing procedures amid the pandemic, Danielle Brown reports in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
- Former MM&M cover subject Zubin “ZDoggMD” Damania has turned his focus to countering the anti-vax movement. Anyone want to start up a GoFundMe for his mentions?
It’s encouraging we’re having a lot of these conversations now, as opposed to on Halloween. Does it make me an optimist to think that the U.S. Postal Service will rise to the occasion? It almost always does.
I’m not saying there’s a piece of good news to counterbalance every bad one. But if you seek it out and tilt your head just so, you can usually find a semi-related silver lining. To wit:
- A person from Hong Kong has been infected with COVID a second time. But… the World Health Organization has declared that Africa is polio-free.
- Those treating-COVID-patients-with-convalescent-plasma-can-totally-save-lives remarks from FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn? Never mind. But… COVID-19 isn’t triggering asthma exacerbations in hospitalized patients, Pulmonology Advisor’s Bryant Moeller reports.
- McKnight’s Senior Living’s Kimberly Bonvissuto reports that assisted-living facilities might be next in line for COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government and that even those funds might not be enough. But… location tracking has helped public health authorities better understand how COVID-19 can spread from one nursing home to the next, Alicia Lasek notes in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
- As offices prepare to reopen for business, UK workers are uneasy about the safety of their commutes, according to People Management’s Elizabeth Howlett. But… when Rapp’s London team returns to the office, they’ll find desks replaced with armchairs, stools, sofas and whiteboard walls, agency CEO Gabby Ludzker reveals in Campaign UK. Is it too ambitious to ask for bean bags?
You can only dwell on the myriad miseries and disruptions so much without doing harm to your mental wellbeing. Any mitigation is good mitigation.
The messengers and the messages
Every person who works in or around the media is a COVID-19 reporter to a certain extent, because there’s nothing the pandemic doesn’t touch. This explains, if not excuses, the inconsistency of tone and approach.
- The independent Daily Tar Heel student newspaper has pretty much destroyed any plausible deniability University of North Carolina administrators might have around the predictability of the school’s recent COVID-19 outbreak. Also check out “Don’t Make Us Write Obituaries,” a throat punch of an editorial that ran on the cover of The Observer, an independent student-run paper serving the University of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College.
- Dr. Zeynep Tufekci, who should be a unanimous first-team selection to any COVID-19-era Media All-Star squad, gets the full New York Times profile treatment.
- In this week’s MM&M Podcast, longtime media exec John Kenyon, leader of Meredith’s Targeted Media Health unit, discusses his company’s point-of-care pivot amid the pandemic.
- Students who attend colleges that have gone virtual for the fall semester are struggling to find affordable housing and Wi-Fi. Also, states and schools are hoping that contact-tracing apps, a dud so far, will catch on among college students. We’ve failed these kids on multiple levels, and they’re the ones who should accept the blame when they behave like something other than line-toeing adults? Not cool.
- Mathematica Policy Research has compiled an interim report at the behest of Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont that includes preparation advice for a potential second wave of coronavirus infection, Kimberly Bonvissuto notes in McKnight’s Senior Living.
- “Low mortgage rates and the emerging COVID-era lifestyle” are fueling a suburban housing boom in the United States, Bloomberg reports. If you’re a betting person, put a few bucks on a surge of “sales of heat lamps surge in the suburbs” trend pieces three weeks from now.
Everybody’s doing the best she/he can. I believe this.
- This one hits home: Infectious Disease Advisor’s Emily Pond reports on study data published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggesting that male baldness may be a risk factor for symptomatic coronavirus infection.
- The shutdown-era home cooking and baking bubble may have burst, according to research from CivicScience. Big Flour won’t take this lying down.
- Ozzy Osbourne: “People who are locked up and worried about this pandemic and whatever need to unload, because if you don’t unload, you are going to get depressed. And if you get depressed, who knows what’s going to happen?” Also: “Wear a mask, wash hands, social distance.” Elect that man.
- The mayor of Los Angeles is cutting the power at TikTok houses in order to stop people who live there from throwing huge, mask-free bacchanals. We’re in Mad Libs territory now.
…and some songs.
That’s it for this week. We’ll be back with the next Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing on Wednesday, September(!) 2. Enjoy the fleeting moments of summer, and stay well.