The best thing I read this week, pandemic-related or otherwise, was the most recent of Dr. Julia Marcus’ essays in The Atlantic. In it, she argued that shaming vaccinated people into acting like they haven’t been vaccinated is likely to blow up in our faces.
Her point, at least as I interpret it, is basically: Let’s cut each other some slack. The After is in sight. For some people, it’s already flowing through their veins. That doesn’t mean they should burn their masks or attempt to break the Guinness World Record for long-distance sneezing, but it also doesn’t mean they should have to politely endure another few months of stern finger-wagging.
Me? When I get the shot, whether tomorrow or eight months from now, I am going to hug everyone – family, friends, co-workers, train conductors, Starbucks baristas, you name it. I am going to arrive too early and stay too late. If there’s an eventual need for restraining orders, so be it.
Everyone will need some such similar depressurization. Let’s feel happy for the people who are almost there. Let’s not rain on their outpouring of relief. They have received a blessing. Let’s let them enjoy it.
This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,290 words and will take you six minutes to read.
The pressure points
Schools, restaurants, nursing homes, gyms, airports, supermarkets, salons, libraries, doctor’s offices, trains, community centers – nearly 11 months into this thing, they’re all choked and staggering.
- In several states, vaccines going unused at nursing homes are being redirected to other healthcare providers, Danielle Brown reports in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. In McKnight’s Senior Living, Kimberly Bonvissuto explains why this is a big deal.
- More than 40% of Americans live in areas that have less than 15% of ICU beds available.
- ProPublica’s reporting alternately depresses and enrages me – which, I suppose, is the reaction it’s supposed to prompt. “How the CARES Act Forgot America’s Most Vulnerable Hospitals” is yet another sad chronicle of our public health failures.
- Hundreds of Holocaust survivors received COVID vaccines on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
- MM+M assembled a panel of some 15 health media experts and asked them to weigh in on whether journalists and publishers rose to the occasion of the pandemic. Spoiler: They did, in spots.
- Good on Sanofi for agreeing to help Pfizer fill and pack millions of vaccine doses.
- In that same spirit of internecine cooperation: At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Defense may deploy up to 10,000 members of the military to support the administration of COVID vaccines at sites across the country.
- Everyone’s pitching in: Seattle’s firefighters are going door-to-door as part of the city’s mobile vaccination push.
- MM+M’s Lecia Bushak analyzes the challenges that come with upgrading the Biden administration’s 100-million-doses-in-100-days goal to 200 or even 300 million doses.
- Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, schools can reopen and operate safely if appropriate precautions are taken. Hear that, Superintendent Fitts? The CDC said it, not the guy who looks and sounds like me who’s been camped out on your lawn. Please. I need this.
The takeaway: Vaccines may be our collective release valve, but they’re a slow-motion panacea. And the pressure continues to build.
It doesn’t matter who’s in charge: Every day still brings with it a host of headlines that exist at the place where outrage meets incredulity. It’s exhausting.
- “A Marquee Super Bowl Is the NFL’s Reward for Cutting Corners.”
- The Miami Heat plan to use COVID-sniffing dogs to screen fans when American Airlines Arena reopens its doors on Thursday night. Gotta love bringing a bit of the charm and allure of the airport security line experience to event attendance.
- In PRWeek, Sabrina Sanchez unpacks a study from risk intelligence firm Crisp that shows how COVID-19 anti-vaccination campaigns differ from “regular” anti-vaccination efforts. The upshot: Be wary of brand-specific attacks.
- The Pentagon spent around $70 million last year for ventilators that weren’t fit for use on COVID patients and nobody seems sure who authorized the no-bid contract. Then there’s the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an agency whose mission is combating Ebola, coronaviruses and the like, which was allegedly treated like a “slush fund” during the Obama and Trump administrations. Swamp, drain thyself.
- Flight attendants have been left off most lists of essential workers, which seems even more unjust after one considers the abuses they’ve endured during the last 10 months.
- The Doomsday Clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight, just as it was in 2020. Yay, I guess?
The takeaway: Some day in the far-off future, you will open your most trusted news source to find that the lead story is “utility announces 2% increase in water rates.” You will momentarily ponder that piece of information and blissfully go about your business.
The comms infrastructure
Here’s a not-so-random question: Collectively, have we become better communicators during the pandemic? The circumstances forced everyone’s hand, clearly, but there seems to be a degree of transparency and commitment that didn’t exist before last March.
- Jeff Forster, a guy who knows a thing or two about putting together a must-read newsletter, writes in Medical Bag about a potential “Fauci Effect” among medical students who might not otherwise be inclined to pursue careers in the realm of infectious disease.
- Since the pandemic hit, pharma sales reps have had almost no access to healthcare providers. In MM+M, Marc Iskowitz details their shift to virtual selling.
- OKCupid communications lead Michael Kaye sits down with PRWeek’s Steve Barrett for a “Coffee Break” conversation about pandemic-era romance and about how “vaccinated” is trending on online dating profiles.
- In Campaign, Rahul Sachitanand notes that marketing and communications M&A activity fell during 2020 as companies hoarded cash during the pandemic.
- There was something different about the first briefing from the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 response team: the actual and transparent transmission of information. It’s a sign of how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone that a dry briefing grounded in reality and science felt almost revelatory.
The takeaway: Let’s continue to make messaging matter.
- For the few of you who reached out for an update on the vaccination adventure story shared at the top of last week’s newsletter: The shot, happily, went into the relative’s arm on Monday morning, but not before a random email from the New Jersey Department of Health led her to believe that her appointment had been canceled. This prompted the following missive sent my way: “Does this infer I am NOT already confirmed-ALSO, JANWE TOLSD ME I SHOULD Have received a baR C ODXE-BUT I DID NOT HELP” (multiple sics). All’s well, etc.
- Two from The Onion: “‘Home Gym Equipment Is Still Sold Out Everywhere,’ Man Hopes” and “YouTube Removes Thousands of Underperforming Covid Misinformation Videos.”
- The Flaming Lips staged a space bubble concert a few nights ago. No description I can give will do it justice, so just check out some footage.
- Unofficial HM Coronavirus Briefing pollster CivicScience found that intent to dine in at a restaurant during the next week jumped nine percentage points – from 19% of respondents to 28% - between the weeks of January 10 and January 17. Here’s a question I’d like them to ask: How long will it be until you’re comfortable selecting your own food from a salad bar or similar communal spread? My answer to that would be measured in centuries. CivicScience also notes that, so far, virtual veterinary care is a – wait for it – dog.
…and some songs.
Most experts said January would be the toughest month of the pandemic. Well, it’s January 28. Stay strong, y’all. See you back here next week.