Coronavirus Briefing: Mask mandates, vaccine distribution chaos, information everywhere

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,418 words and will take you seven minutes to read.

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.


The list

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.


Source: Getty

The logistics

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.

The takeaway: Whoever wrestles the logistical challenges around vaccine distribution and administration down to size deserves Nobel consideration. For real. 


Source: Getty

The information overload

Anyone who’s able to keep track of every recent dispatch around COVID is a compartmentalization savant. Please share your secrets.

The takeaway: It’s all too much. And you ignore it at your own peril, literally, in many cases.

The rest

…and some songs.

Better Days, Bruce Springsteen

Higher Ground, Stevie Wonder

Slow Coming, Benjamin Booker

Right in Time, Lucinda Williams

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.

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