Newsfeed: Ethics in the Time of Corona(virus)

Healthcare and Public Health

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine: The Unequal Cost of Social Distancing
“Right now, we must recognize that we cannot expect the most marginalized among us to bear the greatest costs of social distancing for weeks or months on end. If we devise policy based on the assumption that families who cannot put food on the table will stay home indefinitely, we are fooling ourselves.”

Los Angeles Times: Who lives and who dies? With ventilators limited amid coronavirus, doctors might face hard choices
Dwindling supplies in hospitals under strain at maximum capacity means a once-hypothetical thought experiment is becoming a regular real-life dilemma for doctors, as they are forced to choose between which patients to save.

NBC Chicago: Pritzker Says Illinois Is ‘Competing’ for Ventilators, Masks in Coronavirus Crisis
Providing a snapshot of the difficulties faced by states with shortages of medical supplies, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker detailed how states are having to compete with each other to secure vital equipment.

“And so what’s happening too, not just on ventilators but on all the PPE that we need, prices are being ratcheted up and we’re competing against each other on what should be a national crisis where we should be coming together and the federal government should be leading, helping us.’”

TIME: The Ethics of Wearing (or Not Wearing) a Face Mask During the Coronavirus Pandemic
“Then there’s the ethical question of hoarding—which is really not a question at all. The universally accepted ethical rule is: Just don’t. In times of crisis, hoarding food, water, batteries, diapers, toilet paper and more is a natural impulse, but one that is both selfish and misguided—with the amount bought often exceeding actual need. That applies too to masks.”

Vox: What it takes to get an abortion during the coronavirus pandemic
As businesses deemed nonessential are being forced to close nationwide, some states are taking the opportunity to close abortion clinics. Anna North discusses what these states are doing, and what clinics are doing to fight back.

NPR: As Coronavirus Cases Rise, Navajo Nation Tries To Get Ahead Of Pandemic
In 2009, American Indians and Alaska Natives died from H1N1 flu at four times the rates of all other racial and ethnic groups combined, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health. But Navajo President Jonathan Nez has tried to get out in front of this pandemic.


The New York Times: For Autorats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power
“Governments and rights groups agree that these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. States need new powers to shut their borders, enforce quarantines and track infected people. Many of these actions are protected under international rules, constitutional lawyers say. But critics say some governments are using the public health crisis as cover to seize new powers that have little to do with the outbreak, with few safeguards to ensure that their new authority will not be abused.”

The Guardian: ‘Coughing while Asian’: living in fear as racism feeds off coronavirus panic
“Across the US, Chinese Americans, and other Asians, are increasingly living in fear as the coronavirus spreads across the country amid racial prejudice that the outbreak is somehow the fault of China. It is a fear grounded in racism, but also promoted from the White House as Donald Trump – and his close advisers – insist on calling it ‘the Chinese virus.’”

The New York Times: As Coronavirus Deepens Inequality, Inequality Worsens Its Spread
“In societies where the virus hits, it is deepening the consequences of inequality, pushing many of the burdens onto the losers of today’s polarized economies and labor markets. Research suggests that those in lower economic strata are likelier to catch the disease.”

FiveThirtyEight: What Explains The Bump In Trump’s Approval Ratings?
Despite regular media criticism of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump’s approval ratings have jumped to their highest point since 2017. FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich examines what is driving this increase, and how sustainable it might be.

Business and Labor

Independent: Coronavirus: Spain to become first country in Europe to roll out universal basic income
“Minister for economic affairs Nadia Calvino told Spanish broadcaster La Sexta on Sunday night that the move was intended to help families during the pandemic. But Ms Calvino, who is also deputy prime minister, said the government’s ambition was that UBI could become something that “stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument.””

Bloomberg: Coronavirus Hazard Pay Sought by Federal Workers Suing U.S.
“In a proposed class action filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the American Federation of Government Employees asked for a 25% hazardous-duty pay differential for each day federal workers are required to work near infected objects or people ‘without protective devices that afford complete protection.’”

The New York Times: Strikes at Instacart and Amazon Over Coronavirus Health Concerns
As online delivery becomes an increasingly vital sector during a nationwide quarantine, workers at Amazon and Instacart seek greater protections and wages as they continue to work and put themselves at risk of catching COVID-19.

Los Angeles Times: Newsletter: Are we bad people for outsourcing pandemic risk to Instacart?
“To be sure, the history of capitalism is the history of paying people to do tasks others don’t want to do. It can be argued that as long as people take on such work willingly, and are treated well and compensated fairly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this.”


Vox: The missing piece in the coronavirus stimulus bill: Relief for immigrants
“While many immigrants are continuing to work in essential fields, ranging from medical care to cleaning to grocery stores, they may take an economic hit like many other workers who are facing layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts. And absent financial relief for the population of unauthorized immigrants workers in particular, many may try to continue going to work despite public health warnings to stay home, which could further spread the virus and pose a risk to public health.”

Criminal Justice

Daily Beast: New York Prison Labor Makes Hand Sanitizer, Prepares to Dig Graves if Coronavirus Worsens
“If New York City has a plague year, there’s a plan for its prisoners—not to protect them from infection in their tight quarters, but to use convicts to make New York State branded hand sanitizers and, if it comes to that, prisoners at Rikers to bury the dead.”

The New York Times: ‘We’re Left for Dead’: Fears of Virus Catastrophe at Rikers Jail
“Public officials have been working to release hundreds of people in jail, but while that effort is moving forward, law enforcement officials concerned about public safety have urged caution. Inside the jails, meanwhile, inmates — including some of those waiting to be released — have been struggling to protect themselves from the virus.”

Climate Change

Yale Environment 360: Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change
“When the COVID-19 pandemic is past, societies may adopt some important measures that would lower emissions, from more teleconferencing to shortening global supply chains. But the most lasting lesson may be what the coronavirus teaches us about the urgency of taking swift action.”

The New York Times: Coronavirus Could Trigger Biggest Fall in Carbon Emissions Since World War Two
“Experts warn that without structural change, the emissions declines caused by coronavirus could be short-lived and have little impact on the concentrations of carbon dioxide that have accumulated in the atmosphere over decades.”


The Intercept: Zoom Meetings Aren’t End-to-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing
The video conferencing app, Zoom, which has gained massive popularity as video conference calls become the new norm for quarantined students and white-collar workers, has boasted its protection of privacy during calls. However, as the Intercept reports, Zoom’s encryption is not as secure as it claims.

Vox: Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean your boss isn’t watching you
“If you ignore employees’ right to privacy, you will risk legal ramifications, not to mention cultural rifts, loss of trust, and many other issues that will outweigh any security benefits you can achieve,” Kohen told Recode. “It can cause employees to feel spied on or untrusted, two things that can erode a flourishing company culture. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”


Politico: The Lost School Year
The transition to online learning has raised worries regarding the well-being of students of various walks of life across the country, from prospective college students hoping for another shot at a higher GPA or SAT score to children already struggling with math and reading comprehension skills.

“The closures could mean students who are struggling to read at their grade level are promoted anyway and could struggle for years to come. Plans for college could be upended for high school seniors counting on their final semester to rack up credits and take one more stab at the SAT. For students from low-income families, who could have trouble getting to the free or subsidized food many of them rely on, the gap between them and their wealthier counterparts is all but sure to grow.”

ProPublica: Not All Schools Can #KeepLearning
While online learning has become the norm for most Americans living under quarantine, the lack of reliable internet across the country means learning is on hold for many students.

“A Chicago Tribune-ProPublica Illinois analysis found digital inequities across the state, the effects of which will be exacerbated as families are isolated inside their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. In more than 500 of the state’s roughly 3,100 census tracts, there were fewer than 600 quality connections per 1,000 residents, accounting for a significant portion of Illinois geography. At least 54 census tracts had even lower rates of connectivity as of the end of 2017, the analysis showed.”

CNBC: Many college students and other adult dependents are not eligible to receive a stimulus relief check
“Experts predict that coronavirus will have profound impacts on the financial futures of young Americans. Not only are some left out of receiving stimulus relief checks, but young people, ages 16 to 24, will also be disproportionately affected by coronavirus layoffs, according to the Pew Research Center, since nearly half work in service-sector jobs, and make up 24% of workers in higher-risk industries overall.”


“In a situation like the present, solidarity with the vulnerable should be freely chosen.  It should not take mandates from elected officials to stop the risky socializing that some people are still engaging in.”

Human Rights Watch: Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response
“The scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly rises to the level of a public health threat that could justify restrictions on certain rights, such as those that result from the imposition of quarantine or isolation limiting freedom of movement.

At the same time, careful attention to human rights such as non-discrimination and human rights principles such as transparency and respect for human dignity can foster an effective response amidst the turmoil and disruption that inevitably results in times of crisis and limit the harms that can come from the imposition of overly broad measures that do not meet the above criteria.”

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