Back in March when the Covid-19 outbreak was in its early days, I asked my brother Steve to join me on The Vermont Conversation, a radio show and podcast that I host, to talk about what we could expect with this new virus. Steve Goodman, MD, MHS, PhD, is an associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he is also a professor of epidemiology and population health and of medicine. When we spoke in March, Steve described the coronavirus as a tsunami about to overwhelm us. His words were prescient: nine months later, over 350,000 Americans have died from Covid-19…
Back in March, when the Covid-19 outbreak was in its early days, I asked my brother Steve to join me on the public affairs radio show that I host, The Vermont Conversation, to talk about what we could expect with this new virus. Unlike me, he is an expert. Steve Goodman, MD, PhD, is an associate dean at Stanford Medical School, where he is also a professor of epidemiology and population health and medicine. I wondered aloud whether closing schools was an overreaction. He quickly set me straight.
Harvard Prof. Steven Levitsky on two nightmare scenarios for the U.S.
Is our democracy in danger?
So begins How Democracies Die, the 2018 New York Times bestselling book by Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. The authors have studied the collapse of democracies in Latin America and Europe. As they look at the U.S. under Donald Trump, they see ominous warning signs. The book, despite being several years old, reads like an unsettling roadmap to current American politics.
Racism is deadly.
This is apparent when police kill unarmed people of color such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. But the lethality of systemic racism is also evident in the Covid-19 pandemic, which is killing African Americans at a staggering three times the rate of white people.
Nancy Krieger has been shining a light on the health impacts of racism and inequality since she was in college. I first met Krieger when she was a teaching assistant in a groundbreaking college class I took that explored the interplay between sexism, racism, and science. The class, taught by Harvard biologist…
Are they crazy?
That’s my visceral reaction as I watch the evening news and see crowds of people mingling freely in places that are easing their Covid-19 restrictions. I feel as if I’m watching a horror movie and I already know the ending: Protesters shaking their fists, pastors claiming that God will protect them — these will be the first casualties of the inevitable next wave of infections and deaths.
A few days ago, I traveled to Boston to pick up my son from college. School officials had emailed several days earlier ordering all students to leave campus due to the threat of COVID-19. We were informed that classes would be held online for the duration of the school year.
The normally bustling college quad was eerily empty when I arrived. Stray students wandered about looking shell-shocked and disoriented. Cars piloted by parents pulled up to the dorms and students quickly loaded duffels and suitcases containing the contents of their lives. Soon-to-be-ex-roommates hugged, a few elbow-bumped, and some cried softly.
This is an overreaction.
That was my first thought upon receiving an email from my son’s college earlier this week informing me that he had to leave campus within five days due to the threat of Covid-19, or coronavirus. All of his college classes are being moved online, and all students are to leave their dorms for the duration of the school year. His long-anticipated freshman year in college will now be completed in his bedroom — upstairs in my house.
Is this really necessary?