For the first time since COVID descended on us, we might’ve tipped the scales on the side of risk. The occasion was, predictably, our son’s birthday party.
We mandated masks. We pared down the guest list to his soccer teammates, with whom he’s been congregating four times a week since late August, and a trio of classmates. We found a company willing to set up gaming consoles and flat screens in our (open! with fans spinning!) garage. We even arranged to drive most of the kids to the soccer game that followed the party, so as to minimize the number of parents milling about.
And yet. There were still more than 10 people congregated in a quasi-indoor setting. Distancing dropped below six feet at times. The masks came off for pizza and cupcakes.
I realize that this is a far cry from the what-pandemic? mentality that will infect the country, literally, on Thanksgiving Day. At the same time, rules are rules and we cherry-picked. Not entirely cool.
This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,406 words and will take you seven minutes to read.
Here’s a hopeful thought: That the COVID-era heroism of the scientific and research communities will prompt more young people to pursue careers in related disciplines. One senses that the other potential career option boosted by the events of the last nine months – aesthetic curation of Zoom backgrounds – might fade before too long.
- Wired makes a case – an interesting, statistical case, rather than a troll-ish one – for vaccinating super-spreaders ahead of the vulnerable. Come for the pushback against conventional wisdom, stay for the cameo by the chairman of the board of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, who makes a push for bumping mall Santas to the front of the line.
- MM+M’s Marc Iskowitz unpacks Moderna’s announcement about the potential efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine and distinguishes it from the Pfizer/BioNTech candidate. The good news: Both vaccines are potentially more than 90% effective. The bad news: None at all. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.
- Related: Pfizer may file its request for an emergency use authorization within days.
- And wouldn’t you know it: Per preferred HM Coronavirus Briefing pollster CivicScience, willingness to receive a COVID vaccine ticked up as soon as news of the positive trials results was made public. Still, 16% of adults say they won’t get the vaccine and another 15% are “not sure.”
Vaccines: They’re real, and they’re spectacular.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines leadership as “the act or an instance of leading.” Biden Administration, physicians and scientists, do your thing.
- In Medical Bag, Rachel Nuwer examines how President-Elect Joe Biden could shape healthcare during the first 100 days of his administration, whether or not Republicans maintain control of the Senate.
- The second wave – or is it the third? I’ve lost track – of COVID infection is breaking healthcare professionals, the great Ed Yong reports in The Atlantic.
- Remember that proposed $250 million “defeat despair” public education program around COVID-19, as outlined by Marc Iskowitz in MM+M? It turns out that the Department of Health and Human Services will go ahead with it, minus the A-list celebrities it courted to participate, per PRWeek’s Thomas Moore. Will Taylor Swift’s loss be Scott Baio’s gain? Stay tuned.
- Medical Bag’s Lina Zeldovich goes inside a Johns Hopkins program in which physicians are doing double-duty as COVID educators.
- “Doctors Are Calling It Quits Under Stress of the Pandemic.” Frankly, it’s amazing that they’ve managed to keep it together as long as they have.
- The executive of New York’s Nassau County, formerly a reporter for the New York Daily News, shares a first-person narrative on her region’s battle against the first wave of COVID. There are many takeaways here, notably that coordinating a large-scale virus response is slightly harder than arranging nouns and verbs in a coherent working order.
The front line will remain a dangerous, demanding place to work.
The action items
The pandemic has forced us to raise our time-management game. In case you haven’t already, add “prioritizing” to your list of must-have skills for every person with whom you spend a non-zero amount of time.
- In PRWeek, Diana Bradley confirms with the good folks at Listerine that, no, its mouthwashes are not a cure for COVID. That such pronouncements need to be made at all speaks to our collective desperation to get out from under this thing.
- Campaign’s Alison Weissbrot reveals how BBDO Worldwide upped its remote training game during the pandemic. It was more involved than just “sticking some videos together,” BBDO president and CEO Andrew Robertson tells her.
- The U.S. government is sending 421,000 of Abbott’s rapid-result antigen COVID tests to assisted living communities this week, Lois A. Bowers reports in McKnight’s Senior Living. The test stockpile now numbers more than eight million. Better late than never.
- Still, results of slower PCR tests are backlogged due to surging demand all over the country, Alicia Lasek notes in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. Among the nursing homes that have shared testing-speed data with the government, 29% are waiting an average of three days or longer for results.
- Here’s your lockdown-now-or-regret-it-later argument. In theory, it makes all the sense in the world. In practice, we’re out of patience for this kind of grand intervention. This is why it’d have been swell if we’d gotten our act together back when we did have the collective appetite for such measures. The genie’s out of the bottle, literally and metaphorically.
Keep your eyes on the prize and ignore as much of the noise as possible. The mute button is your friend.
The giving of thanks
I love Thanksgiving, because it is all about family and self-engorgement via foodstuffs. This year, alas, we’ll be home eating at our own table, sleeping in our own beds, trading in the early wakeup/packed parkways for a leisurely stroll down the stairs… Wait, where was I going with this?
- In McKnight’s Senior Living, Kimberly Bonvissuto reports on LeadingAge’s Community Holiday Planning Survey, which found that 81% of senior-living and -care providers are encouraging residents not to travel during the holiday season. My question: What on earth are the other 19% recommending?
- A survey conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center revealed that nearly 40% of Americans plan to host more than 10 people at their homes on Thanksgiving. A third of Americans said they didn’t plan to ask guests to wear a mask. COVID: both a virus and an exemplar of Social Darwinism.
- Zoom is eliminating its 40-minute call limit for non-paying users on Thanksgiving Day. Given the amount of sequestered celebration that will take place, this is a lovely and generous gesture. Maybe they could roll back the limit to 20 minutes during the work week? I kid, I kid.
Thanksgiving won’t be what it usually is. That doesn’t mean it will be a letdown or that the disappointment will linger. It’ll be back, and probably a lot faster than the two teams playing in the late-afternoon game (zing!).
- Are we planning to stock up on butter and toilet paper once anew? Indeed we are.
- Looks like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be bubbling in Indianapolis. Cool choice.
- Axios breaks down coronavirus risk tolerance by political affiliation. Happily, people on both sides of the aisle seem to be adapting their behavior in the wake of the ongoing surge.
- Dolly Parton helped fund Moderna’s COVID vaccine, via a $1 million donation to research efforts at Vanderbilt University. Who’s gonna be first to replace “Jolene” with “Vaccine” in a song parody? Just to be safe, let’s slap restraining orders on every morning-radio DJ.
Stuff you can do
Send a responsible if perhaps indelicately stated message by wearing a t-shirt. STEVE – THE SHIRT SAYS “WEAR A MASK, DUMBASS!”
…and some songs.
- Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, The Temptations
- Nothing Left to Borrow, The Jayhawks
- The Card Cheat, The Clash
- Steal Away, Robbie Dupree
- Coal Train Robberies, Elvis Costello
That’s all for this week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing. We’ll be back with a holiday-week, non-pumpkin-spiced edition on Wednesday, November 25. Be safe and well, everyone.