Tag: Public Health

About Those Other Immunocompromised People?


While much is being made of the course of COVID-19 in Italy, it is worth remembering a couple of things as we focus our efforts in the United States. It appears that the same disease which we are now encountering found a very different population and medical readiness in Italy.

1. Italy has been committing demographic suicide for decades. Italy is down to 1.3 live births per woman. A major author wrote a decade ago that the big Italian family was a myth today, that an Italian child is most likely to grow up with no siblings and only one first cousin. So, it should be no surprise that Italy’s median age is already over 47. That is, Italy was already vulnerable to a disease that especially threatens the elderly because that is where their population has been shifting. The same holds for much of Europe.

President Trump’s Efforts to Protect American Workers from Coronavirus [Update 11 March]


President Trump made a preparatory announcement Monday evening that he would have a major address tomorrow on dramatic steps to support hourly wage earners, to ensure no one will have to choose between earning food and rent versus practicing good public health by staying home if they start to get sick. This, and the rest of the presentation led by Vice President Pence, conveyed seriousness and competence.

We were reminded again that young, healthy people are at greater risk of death by flu than coronavirus. AND. Young people need to be good family and friends, protecting their vulnerable elders by proper basic public health discipline. The task force promised clear, simple, specific written guidance for every American.

Physician Joel Zinberg joins Brian Anderson to discuss the global coronavirus epidemic, public-health efforts to contain the virus’s spread, America’s medical supply-chain vulnerabilities, and more.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, have been identified in more than half of U.S. states. Globally, the number of coronavirus cases exceeds 100,000. “The New York experience to date suggests,” writes Zinberg, “that the disruptions this new virus causes—particularly to the availability of medical care, for any condition—may be more dangerous than the illness that it causes.”

John Tierney joins Brian Anderson to discuss the campaign to ban the use of plastic products and the flawed logic behind the recycling movement—the subjects of Tierney’s story, “The Perverse Panic over Plastic,” from the Winter 2020 Issue of City Journal.

Hundreds of cities and eight states have outlawed or regulated single-use plastic bags. But according to Tierney, the plastic panic doesn’t make sense. Plastic bags are the best environmental choice at the supermarket, not the worst, and cities that built expensive recycling programs—in the hopes of turning a profit on recycled products—have instead paid extra to get rid of their plastic waste, mostly by shipping it to Asian countries with low labor costs. However, the bans will likely continue as political leaders and private companies seek a renewed sense of moral superiority.

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Mark Davis, DFW area Salem Radio host, has been interviewing, via Skype, an American couple who were honeymooning on the Diamond Princess. Tyler and Rachel Torres are still doing well, and starting their new quarantine on one of the military bases in the San Antonio area. Tyler Torres has been updating a Reddit post, providing […]

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Coronavirus Update


President Trump’s team has come out with an initial briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, offering facts, cautions, and pushing back against panic. Johns Hopkins University has an excellent data visualization tool, constantly updating data on maps: “2019-nC0V Global Cases (by Johns Hopkins CSSE). CNET has a fact-based story, with lots of links, that is being regularly updated; it is now titled: “Coronavirus cases pass 11,000, US declares emergency: Everything we know.”

This was a display of competent communication to the American public, treated as adults. Dr. Redfield gave the numbers. Dr. Fauci then explained the question posed by people on Ricochet, including me: why is this different from the well-known annual deaths from the seasonal flu?* With the numbers and the differentiation in place, the briefers laid out a series of screening and quarantine steps that will go into full effect Sunday. Anyone who has been in the province where the outbreak started will be quarantined for 14 days, while those coming from other areas with known infections would be screened and then go into “self-quarantine.” They were also careful to speak of sympathy and compassion for the Chinese people who have been affected, directly or with family losses.

Here is the video and the whole transcript, of the press briefing, followed by the text of the presidential proclamation. Both the transcript and the proclamation are posted on the White House website.

Hold My Corona: Popping the Top on Preparedness


A brief dip into Twitter prompted a brief bit of research, and the results seemed worth sharing in the current news or hype cycle. Now I know, why on earth would I be on Twitter when there is talk of a new virus and we all know avian flu is supposed to be quite nasty? I was there for entirely other reasons when I stumbled upon a retweet of a professional pundit thinking he was offering a hot take. Hot tweet? More like steaming hot bird droppings.

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July 1st was National Wine Cooler Day. This called to mind Bartles & Jaymes. Others hear “wine cooler” and think Bruce Willis for Seagrams Golden Wine Coolers. “Cooler” led to “cool” and then to “Kool,” and therein lies a policy puzzle. Reflecting on where the market has gone since those days, an apparent contradiction emerges […]

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Remembering the Fluoridated Water Wars


Flyer used by opponents to water fluoridation in Seattle 1952

If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the fluoridated water controversy of the 1950s and early 1960s. I’m old enough to remember it and the other day I came across a brief discussion of the controversy in the book I was reading which whetted my appetite to see how accurate my memory of the issue was. What I found, I think, is that my memory of the controversy was only partially correct and incomplete. I thought I’d write about here at Ricochet because the actual story is 1) more interesting than the cartoon version I remembered, 2) I believe the story has been somewhat mythologized and distorted, and 3) the fluoridated water wars continued long after the early 1960’s and to a certain extent still exists.

Veneration and Vulnerability: Suicide in the Midst of Prosperity


Man does not live by bread alone. As bread was being earned at a record clip, and more people got off the dole, more people in their prime years cut their own lives short. Reflecting back on the U.S. military’s Herculean effort to end suicide in the service, an unwon battle, I am painfully aware there is no clear solution, no magic pill or words. And. I wonder if our changing societal habits and beliefs make vulnerable people more vulnerable.

2017 brought unbroken good economic news, and not just for stockholders. President Trump repeated at every occasion the good news for everyone, including demographic groups who had been lagging in employment. Wages started to rise. And in the midst of all this, the suicide rate increased to a 50-year peak.

[I]t’s deaths in younger age groups — particularly middle-aged people — that have had the largest impact on calculations of life expectancy, experts said.

Caution: Using This Product Against Armed Citizens Might Result in Injury or Death


A video showing an armed plainclothes Brazilian police woman fighting back against an armed attacked has gone viral and is popping up all over my social media feed. My friend John Corriea breaks down the video from a tactical perspective on his YouTube channel, but caution: There is no blood shown, however, someone does wind up assuming room temperature. The video itself and how’s it’s gone viral, though, have some interesting implications for the larger efforts to fight back against gun control and keep and expand our right to self-defense.

One of the methods currently used by those opposed to the right of self defense is the proven strategy of making guns “uncool,” and holding gun manufacturers liable for their misuse, which is essentially the same methods used against the tobacco companies to limit the use of their products.

One of the examples of this strategy in the fight against private ownership of guns is the efforts to repeal the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, (PLCAA) which shields firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits designed to drive them out of business, such as the lawsuit brought against online ammo seller Lucky Gunner by the parents of a victim of the Aurora theater shooter, implying somehow that Lucky Gunner was liable because they somehow knew beforehand that their ammo was going to used in such a horrific manner. Due in part to the PLCAA, the suit was dismissed by Judge Richard P. Matsch, who also order the plaintiffs to pay a healthy chunk of Lucky Gunner’s legal fees (which Lucky Gunner later earmarked for use by gun rights organizations (*sniff*… I love a happy ending…).*

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the hobby horse issues of various identity politics groups—Black Lives Matter, LGBT advocates, modern feminists, and Hispanic activists—and explains how each of them are overlooking more dire threats facing their communities.

John Tierney joins Aaron M. Renn to discuss the federal government’s efforts to limit electronic cigarettes (vaping), and the corruption of the public health profession more generally.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, public health officials combatted epidemics of cholera and dysentery through improvements in water and sewage systems. In its modern form, however, this once-noble profession acts largely as an advocate for progressive causes, with trivial priorities including taxes on soda, calorie counts for restaurants, and free condoms.

DJ Jaffe joins Stephen Eide and Howard Husock to discuss severe mental illness and the deficiencies in mental-health services in New York City and across the country.

DJ Jaffe is the author of an important new book, Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. He is executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org., a nonpartisan think tank that creates detailed policy analysis for legislators, the media, and advocates.

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Filling glass of water from stainless steel kitchen faucet   A week or so ago @susanquinn wrote an excellent post regarding the purifying power of water. And it’s true that water does have the ability to cleanse, heal and sustain life. Indeed, it is essential to life. Such powers have been much discussed by both […]

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet.  Seawriter Book Review ‘The Next Pandemic’ follows former CDC ‘disease detective’ Posted: Saturday, May […]

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Chipotle and the Cult of Secular-Kosher



Is it important to you that the coffee you drink be fair trade and shade-grown? That the grapes from which your wine is made be locally-sourced? That the food you eat contain not a whiff of genetically-engineered ingredients? Welcome to the world of secular-kosher, where Judaism’s ancient dietary code for ethical eating is discarded in favor of a New Age preoccupation with feeling good about yourself and a healthy dollop of anti-Big Ag posturing.

The embodiment of secular kosher is Chipotle, which, in 2015, would seem to be hell-bent on poisoning as many of its customers as possible: a norovirus outbreak in California over the summer and another in Boston earlier this month; several cases of salmonella poisoning in Minnesota; an outbreak of E. coli in the Pacific Northwest. All three pathogens are unrelated. States which have reported food poisoning from eating at Chipotle read like a particularly grueling NBA road trip: Illinois (1), New York (1), Ohio (3), Minnesota (2), California (3) Pennsylvania (2). Bastions of progressivism Oregon (13) and Washington (27) lead the the list. The Center for Disease Control has been working overtime keeping score. As of December 18, 2015, 53 people have been infected with the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O26 bacteria.

Vapor Madness!


Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.02.45 PM

In the bad old days, Big Tobacco would have used all the means at its disposal to thwart a new technology that threatened to disrupt the market for inhalable nicotine. But instead of using its relationship with (and leverage over) regulators to throw obstacles into the path of its early-worm competitors, Big Tobacco has read the writing on the wall and begun to supply the demand for e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

One should expect a politically-connected colossus like R.J. Reynolds to arrive late to the e-cigarette game. But R.J. is downright nimble compared to a Ticonderoga-class bureaucracy like the California Department Of Public Health, which recently kicked-off a campaign to confuse low-information consumers (principally Millenials, liberals, and the poor). A website promoted by the state is called, tellingly, StillBlowingSmoke.org.

What’s Wrong With Public Health?


shutterstock_99777395The Ebola infections in Texas have shown a bright light on fundamental flaws in our public health establishment. The Centers for Disease Control tells us that they have been fighting Ebola for 20 years, know what is needed to stop its spread, yet evidently never anticipated the entirely predictable crisis we now face. We are learning that hospital workers in Dallas were ill prepared, poorly trained and badly equipped to protect themselves when caring for a man sick with Ebola. Now a second first responder is threatened with a miserable death.

Public health, as a discipline, traces its roots to the famous London cholera outbreak of 1854 that John Snow interrupted by removing the handle from a community water pump that was the source of the bacteria. Snow was a physician, surgeon, and scientist. He didn’t hold much with the then popular “miasma” theory of disease. He looked for a germ.

Since those early days the scope of public health practice has expanded to the point of being almost unrecognizable. It has become a mind boggling array of — shall we kindly say — “miasmic” activities: funds given by taxpayers to treat AIDS patients are spent on gender empowerment initiative; stigma elimination programs and are channeled through politically controlled planning mechanisms that pit physicians against the “community” ensuring that medical science usually looses; etc.