Monday, May 8, 2023

PBS NewsHour explains 'What to know about the COVID pandemic as public health emergencies end'

It's time for a pandemic update, which I haven't done since PBS NewsHour describes 'The state of COVID in the U.S. three years into pandemic' nearly a month-and-a-half ago. Watch as PBS NewsHour explains What to know about the COVID pandemic as public health emergencies end.

This week, the World Health Organization ended the global public health emergency it declared three years ago as COVID-19 spread around the world. Meanwhile, the U.S. public health emergency is set to end on Thursday, May 11. Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas, joins John Yang to discuss where the pandemic stands now and what we should be doing about it.
In case Katelyn Jetelina AKA Your Local Epidemiologist looks familiar, PBS NewsHour interviewed her in the video I featured in the previous update. I'm glad to see her again, even though the subject matter is distressing. One of the distressing subjects is long COVID, which PBS NewsHour covered in Long COVID symptoms keeping many Americans from returning to work two weeks ago.

Three years after the start of the pandemic, some 16 million Americans have long COVID, meaning their symptoms continue well after the initial infection. An estimated 4 million people say long COVID has significantly reduced their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. For many of them, that includes their jobs. Economics Correspondent Paul Solman has the story.
I'm being a good environmentalist by recycling my reactions beginning with one from CNBC explains 'Why Long Covid Could Cost The U.S. $3.7 Trillion'.
COVID is not over and won't be even if the virus stops circulating. The effects may be with us for decades, just like the effects of polio were and still are. My neighbor growing up had a limp from polio that she contracted as a young child in Iraq and she's probably still alive and living with that limp. The same will be true of the people disabled from COVID-19; they could be impoverished for the rest of their lives unless the disability system recognizes their condition.
Next from the footnote to Vox asks 'Why is everything getting so expensive?'
I acknowledge there are limits to increasing the labor force. The pandemic has killed more than one million Americans, disabled many more, and prompted a lot of retirements.
Seeing and hearing about the economic effects of the pandemic reminds me that I never asked the question about PBS that I asked in Who watches Cable News? (Teaser) and Time for some newspaper humor: Who watches PBS? My guess is educated people, including professionals, managers, and employers. They'd be concerned about a labor shortage in the way the video depicts. Now I have to turn that into a punchline.

I conclude with one last bit of pandemic-related news from the Los Angeles Times: CDC's Rochelle Walensky resigns, citing pandemic transition.

Walensky sent a resignation letter to President Biden and announced the decision at a CDC staff meeting and her last day will be June 30.
That last item, that Walensky had never run a government public health agency before her appointment, explains a lot of things. She tried to balance science, society, and economy and didn't quite pull it off. I'm not sorry to see her go and I hope President Biden appoints someone with more public health experience to run the agency to replace her — maybe someone with experience in reducing overdose deaths, a major contributor to accidents passing COVID-19 as a cause of death last year. The opioid epidemic was with us long before the COVID-19 pandemic, never went away, and will remain with us now that the pandemic is (officially) over.

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