Coronavirus Briefing: Slogs, empathy, pushback

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,910 words and will take you eight minutes to read.

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Okay, hear me out on a quick elevator pitch for a limited-run series that I’m tentatively calling Vaccine Hunters. It will chronicle the e-escapades of a diverse team of plucky hackers, armed with Red Bull and headphones that block out most external stimuli, who pound away at their computers for hours on end in search of elusive vaccination opportunities.

Will they manage to seize that stray slot at the local megasite? Will they hit refresh on their 324 open browsers at the very moment Rite Aid liberates another fortnight’s worth of appointments? Tune in and find out! Or just give in to the despair that comes with your own frustratingly fruitless efforts.

Meanwhile, think of all the obvious brand extensions: Vaccine Hunters-branded Wi-Fi extenders, a Young Vaccine Hunters of America tie-in with the Girl and Boy Scouts, Vaccine Hunters: The Musical! This stuff writes itself. Potential investors, hit me up.

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,910 words and will take you eight minutes to read. 

The slog

Maybe it was the weather – sending good thoughts your way, Texas – or maybe it was just the natural snapback after a few cycles of moderately uplifting news. But recent days have brought with them an abundance of reminders that this thing ain’t going away anytime soon.

The takeaway: Every morning, I read the reports chronicling our ongoing COVID failures before chasing them down with the downward-trending case data and skyrocketing vaccination numbers. I long for the day when the latter fully drowns out the former.

Source: Getty

The empathy

I really, really, really want to empathize with the vaccine skeptics, the COVID deniers and the other wingnuts – I mean, the other fellow nice people – who view science as an opinion-based discipline. It’s getting harder to do this with every passing day.

The takeaway: Could empathy be a defining value of the post-COVID Roaring Twenties Redux? Here’s hoping.

Source: Getty

The pushback

We’re seeing more two-steps-forward-one-step-back days than one-step-forward-two-steps-back ones. Here’s to a spring of three-steps-forward-and-call-it-an-afternoon.

The takeaway: There are millions of people fighting the good fight every day, deftly balancing their responsibility as community members with their individual wants and needs. Stay the course, y’all.

THREE QUESTIONS WITH… Community Eldercare Services owner and president Doug Wright, Jr.

How would you assess communications and messaging around the vaccine so far?

As with any emerging crisis, there really is no template or hard set of rules to follow when communicating with customers, staff or residents. Our guiding principle is to follow our values, and communicating about vaccination is no exception. For content, we primarily use the educational materials provided by ACHA/NCAL and the CDC. Our team then puts it through a “compassionate lens” by educating—not mandating. The message is about how our team has the opportunity to make a major impact on the lives of those we serve and their own community. We do not brush over the seriousness of the situation. Instead, we hit it head-on.

What are the areas in which those efforts could stand to improve?

Individuals are not a one-size-fits-all audience. By opening a conversation with our employees, we discovered many of our team members were getting information from social media feeds and other sometimes unreliable sources. Misinformation is the number one deterrent in vaccinations. Ask staff if they have been vaccinated for anything previously – 95% of the time, the answer is yes. Ask them why they feel this vaccination is different (it is not). Secondly, we believe better—not more—questions could be asked by CMS on the weekly surveys, which could be disseminated back to providers quicker. As it stands, providers don’t hear enough analysis of global data. The sooner we can communicate positive impacts on our numbers and low adverse outcomes where vaccinations are taking place, the better our penetration rate will be in other communities.

What are the first things you plan to do after you receive the vaccine? And after the pandemic lifts?

The first thing we will do is look at our penetration rates in our communities and do our best to determine when we can increase our connection between the residents and their communities. As it becomes safer to do so, we are working on reconnecting our residents to some of their essential areas of need – spirit, nature, others and work/productivity. Personally, once our residents and staff have had the opportunity, I’m looking forward to having it myself. It will be a great relief to return to those communities without fear of spreading the virus. Also, my first grandchild was born during the pandemic, and I cannot wait to spend quality time with him. We all have our own needs to reconnect.

(Are you smart? Do you know someone who is? If so, please reach out to with nominations for potential “Three Questions With…” respondents)

The rest

…and some songs.

Behind the Wall of Sleep, The Smithereens

Cover Me Up, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Blankets, Craig Finn

Dancing in the Sheets, Shalamar

Breakfast in Bed, Donnie Fritts with Lucinda Williams

Thanks for reading, everybody. Be safe around the snow, on the ice, amid the chill and in the heat (it’s hot somewhere in our readership geography, presumably). We’ll be back next week with another newsletter double-shot.

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