The U.S. suffered half a million preventable Covid deaths — what happened?

Photo: Vince Gx/Unsplash

We can compare the effects of Covid 19 on the health of nations by examining their rates of Covid death; while there are reporting problems and reporting differences among nations, reports of deaths from Covid 19 are a better measure of a nation’s success in dealing with the pandemic than reports of cases. Information on Covid deaths combines information on the nation’s success/failure in preventing infection with information on its success/failure in treating Covid disease and preventing death. Rates of death — as opposed to numbers of deaths — take into account the size of the population.

As of May…


The vaccine rollout is too slow, and has resulted in the deaths of health care workers and nursing home residents

Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

While the speed of Covid-19 vaccine development is unprecedented, the delivery of the vaccine to the United States population — promised by the Trump Administration at “Warp Speed” — has been remarkably slow.

On October 26, President Trump announced that the administration “will deliver 100 million doses of a safe vaccine before the end of the year, and maybe quite a bit sooner than that.” On Nov. 13, Moncef Slaoui, director of the administration’s Warp Speed program, announced the plan to vaccinate 20 million Americans by December. The FDA granted emergency use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on December 11…


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Education, housing, employment, law and justice, civic participation, and health care are among the powerful social determinants of long term health and mortality. Access to these determinants is, in turn, partly determined by both federal and state laws, policies, and programs. This analysis examines the distribution among U.S. states of Black people’s access to social determinants and of Black-White inequity in access to social determinants.

Determinants were selected to cover diverse facets of social life from data available by race at the state level: high school non-completion, incarceration, unemployment, poverty, non homeownership, and voter non-registration. Inequity in each state was…


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“Self-taught, are you?” Julian Castle asked Newt.

“Isn’t everybody?” Newt inquired.

“Very good answer.” Castle was respectful.

— Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle, 1963

No matter the outcome of current struggles over control of our educational system, it is critical to recall a fundamental objective. The current educational system focuses on teaching facts and skills that are quickly forgotten. It fails to teach a crucial lifetime skill, how to learn, how to teach yourself. You are your most important teacher.

A predominant view of learning — referred to as “empiricist” — holds that learning is essentially the gathering and compilation of information…


If we want to use testing to effectively control this pandemic, this is what we need (now)

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many media outlets report the daily number of “new cases of Covid-19 infection in the United States.” They also regularly report infection rates—that is, the proportion of those tested who are positive. Such reporting occurs in other nations as well. But these statistics are misleading.

Testing for Covid-19 infection in the population serves three critical purposes in pandemic control:

  1. With the antigen test for Covid-19, the purpose is finding people who are currently infected and, if needed, recommending treatment or quarantine.
  2. Contact tracing, and then, if needed, recommending quarantine or…

Robert A. Hahn

Anthropologist/epidemiologist, recently retired, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Author: Sickness and Healing; An Anthropological Perspective

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