I’m proud to announce “An American Odyssey,” a book I’m writing based on the experience of signing up a relative for a COVID vaccine shot. It tells the story of a not-quite-young man who surveils three web browsers for 11 hours over two days, before discovering a back door into a registration site via one of the seven hospital-system portals with which the relative is actively engaged.
Gasp as he navigates a web of passwords (“‘grandma’ has a capital G”). Delight as he scores an appointment for Monday, January 25 (“nothing sooner?”). Sigh as a scheduling snafu endangers the entire operation (“9 a.m. seems a little early. Can they do 10?”).
Movie rights remain unsold. I’d like to retain some say in casting but am otherwise open to ideas. Hit me up, Hollywood.
This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,418 words and will take you seven minutes to read.
“Better late than never”
There sure seems to have been a lot of activity around combatting the pandemic in the last day or so.
The White House put into effect a mask mandate.
The U.S. has rejoined the World Health Organization.
Dr. Anthony Fauci will appear at Thursday’s White House press briefing.
The Food and Drug Administration has purged “junk science” from its diet.
The takeaway: The first COVID case in the U.S. was identified on January 21, 2020. Today is January 21, 2021. More than 400,000 Americans have died of COVID in the past year.
Okay, let’s form a line. Anyone who’s 75 or older, come up to the front. Anyone who’s immunocompromised, step right up. Frontline healthcare workers, too – check that, all frontline workers. Smokers. People with a BMI of more than 25. Redheads? Sure, why not.
- Smokers have been bumped up the vaccine distribution priority line in New Jersey and Mississippi, a development which is going over about as well as you’d expect. New Jersey is reportedly operating on the honor system when it comes to confirming eligibility, so the ethically limber among us are probably perfecting their faux smoker’s rasps as we speak.
- In a New York Times op-ed, MM+M/PRWeek Health Influencer 50 honoree Zeynep Tufekci stressed the need to prioritize speed and access in the ongoing vaccine distribution effort. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good, etc.
- In order to remedy a huge criminal case backlog, Massachusetts has bumped judges and attorneys up the vaccine priority list. According to a letter signed by the state bar association president and a leader of its public defenders group, Massachusetts has not conducted a criminal jury trial since last March.
- Thankfully, The Onion is here to make sense of it all.
The takeaway: The rules are elastic and vary from one municipality to the next. This is a recipe for sustained disaster.
It remains challenging to wrap one’s head around the scope of the vaccination effort, never mind the myriad places it can veer off track. It’s almost better not to think about it at all – but then, that’s kind of why we’re here in the first place.
- Senior housing providers have plenty of advice to share with government entities setting up vaccination clinics in their midst, Kimberly Bonvissuto reports in McKnight’s Senior Living. “What you really need to do is be extremely organized, play everything you can out ahead of time [and] be prepared and be flexible, because it can all change on a dime,” one expert said.
- The Department of Health and Human Services’ Project SPEED (Special Projects for Equitable and Efficient Distribution) is planning to get monoclonal treatments to COVID patients in non-hospital settings with priority populations, Kimberly Marselas reports in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
- High winds forced the closure of the Disneyland vaccination supersite, which can accommodate 3,000 people per day, on Tuesday. I imagine the “sorry, too windy” text and email postponement notices were not warmly received.
- Can Team Biden meet its goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days? The answer: Dr. Fauci and members of the administration’s COVID task force seem to think it’s doable. Meanwhile, newly appointed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky anticipates as many as 500,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. by the middle of February. The 1918 flu pandemic’s death toll of 675,000 no longer seems out of reach.
- Is a “smell test” for COVID workable? Or maybe smart watches can do the trick?
- Team Biden hasn’t been able to come to a consensus on a pick for FDA commissioner. In MM+M, Lecia Bushak surveys key health policy appointments that have already been made and weighs in on the ones likely to follow.
- In a new spot, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores says local pharmacies are able to administer 100 million vaccinations per month. We’ve said it before, but delivering on this goal will do more to position pharmacies as trusted health oases (which is how they want to be perceived) than anything their marketers and brand minions can dream up.
The takeaway: Whoever wrestles the logistical challenges around vaccine distribution and administration down to size deserves Nobel consideration. For real.
The information overload
Anyone who’s able to keep track of every recent dispatch around COVID is a compartmentalization savant. Please share your secrets.
- McKnight’s Long-Term Care News’ Danielle Brown reports on a LeadingAge survey of care providers, which found that most have used some sort of educational tool to inform residents and staff at care facilities.
- In PRWeek, Surekha Ragavan shares tips from science journalists on how to most accurately and effectively parse the complicated and dense verbiage in scientific journals.
- Campaign’s Mariah Cooper unpacks an Omnicom Media Group study which found that brand loyalty has declined during the pandemic, from 65% in March to 49% in November.
- In McKnight’s Senior Living, Lois M. Bowers characterizes January 20 as “a new day in the battle against COVID.” She quotes LeadingAge president and CEO Katie Smith Sloan, who said it is “heartening to hear that the new administration acknowledges the severity of the pandemic and is focused on a national approach to the next phase of relief.”
- There is a huge and worsening vaccination gap between rich (read: lots of vaccine) and poor (not as much) countries, a situation exacerbated “by the absence of a global coordinated effort,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. To that point, World Health Organization leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he believes a failure to address the vaccination gap would amount to a “catastrophic moral failure.”
- Writing in Campaign, Huge’s executive creative director, EMEA Wayne Deakin argues that brands hoping to thrive during the COVID era must embrace “human-centric visual identities.”
- This week’s dispatches from CivicScience, the unofficial pollster of the Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing: We’re getting slightly more comfortable in public spaces; most of us are on board with employers incentivizing their workers to receive the COVID vaccine; and the pandemic hasn’t had an appreciable effect on our sex lives.
The takeaway: It’s all too much. And you ignore it at your own peril, literally, in many cases.
- A California man, who says that he was “scared to go home due to COVID,” was arrested after spending three months in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
- Defector is not sticking to sports and the internet is better for it. Here are the site’s non-Stephen-A.-Smithian takes on serving as a paramedic during the pandemic and first-wave receipt of the coronavirus vaccine.
- The recipes for busy physicians shared by former Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni in Medical Bag, like this week’s peanut butter and kimchi noodles, are easy to make and tasty. Also, he appears to be enjoying himself tremendously in the “Walk of Life” video. I’m a fan.
- Today is National Hugging Day. Is everyone cool with exchanging waves from a respectful distance?
- Wednesday night’s inaugural celebration broadcast shined a spotlight on the essential workers – nurses, UPS drivers, teachers and more – who kept the world spinning during the pandemic. It was, in every way that matters and some that do not, a Lovely Day.
…and some songs.
Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pete Townshend
Thanks for spending a few minutes with the Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing and The Vaccine Project Newsletter, especially during a week when there have been one or two other things going on. We’ll be back next Wednesday with the first of our two regular dispatches. Be good and be well.