Trump admin. pauses privatization of veterans health care during outbreak

Here’s our weekly analysis of privatization in the news and in communities nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.

This week’s highlights

  • The Trump administration has paused privatization of veterans health care citing coronavirus concerns. (Now they’ve appeared to have walked it back.)
  • Harvard Kennedy School Professor Steve Kelman spotlights a tale of smart acquisition hidden behind a doom-and-gloom New York Times headline about the ventilator shortage.
  • Historian and retired Oklahoma City teacher John Thompson exposes the unregulated world of online charter schools.

 

Governing for the Common Good

1) National: “Even when government gets it right, it gets no credit—a ventilator story.” Harvard Kennedy School Professor Steve Kelman spotlights a tale of smart acquisition hidden behind a doom-and-gloom New York Times headline. “In April 2012, a senior HHS official testified before Congress that the program was ‘on schedule to file for market approval in September 2013.’ After that, the machines would go into production. Then, sadly, the effort went south—but not because of anything the agency did wrong. Only a month after the testimony, Covidien, a large medical equipment supplier, bought Newport. Covidien soon demanded additional funding and a higher sales price for the ventilators. ‘Government officials and executives at rival ventilator companies said they suspected that Covidien had acquired Newport to prevent it from building a cheaper product that would undermine Covidien’s profits from its existing ventilator business.’”

2) National: AFSCME leaders from New York, California and Oregon joined AFSCME President Lee Saunders to deliver a frank assessment of the dire conditions facing frontline health care workers on the ground. Saunders called for an expansion of aid to state and local governments to preserve and expand critical services that will save lives and soften the economic fallout; the provision of fiscal relief for workers and protections, including directing OSHA to develop an infectious disease standard to protect our front-line workers to the greatest extent possible; and protections like permanent paid sick leave for all workers. 

3) NationalAward-winning investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones says “I never want to hear that government should be run like a business. This crisis has laid bare the dangers of gutting our public institutions & services, of depending on companies dedicated to profit rather than government mandated to work for the common good. Death is the result.”

4) NationalState attorneys general are moving to protect workers during the COVID-19 crisis. “These efforts come in the midst of a general increase over the past several years in state attorney general activity to enforce labor laws and advocate for workers. Five years ago, only three state AG offices had dedicated workers’ rights units: California, Massachusetts, and New York. Since then, six other AGs have created workers’ rights units: the AGs of the District of ColumbiaIllinoisMichiganMinnesotaNew Jersey, and Pennsylvania). Other state AG offices, even without dedicated bureaus or divisions, have also become more involved in worker issues in recent years. With or without dedicated worker rights units, state AGs have a range of powers that enable them to advance workplace protections.”

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has a resource page to support workers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

5) National: As the impact of COVID-19 spreads through communities across the U.S., public libraries are responding with a range of resources. “Across the country, shuttered libraries have acted quickly—and creatively—to continue engaging their communities. In Illinois, the Oak Park Public Library launched an online ‘Book Madness’ tournament, while the Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina, created a Facebook group for caregivers and educators to share tips and activities to keep kids engaged and entertained at home. The Brooklyn Public Library launched an extensive catalog of virtual programming, ranging from virtual craft circles, to drag queen story hour and video game tournaments. Virtual programming isn’t new for libraries, but many have rapidly expanded their online offerings and gotten creative with new initiatives as residents—and librarians—hunker down at home, said Curtis Rogers, a spokesman for the Urban Libraries Council.”

6) National: 132 organizations have signed a statement on government coronavirus emergency transparency and public access. (PDF) “Government bodies should not opportunistically take advantage of the public’s inability to attend large gatherings to make critical decisions affecting the public’s interest if those decisions can reasonably be postponed. Just as citizens are being asked to defer nonessential travel and errands, so should government agencies defer noncritical policy-making decisions until full and meaningful public involvement can be guaranteed. Where postponement is not realistic, every available measure should be taken to (1) notify the public of meetings of government bodies and how to participate in those meetings remotely, (2) use widely available technologies to maximize real-time public engagement, and (3) preserve a viewable record of proceedings that is promptly made accessible online.” 

7) California: The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor says “thank you @MayorOfLA for recognizing the ongoing relief efforts of our union members. @LALabor will always stand behind our community and the working people of Los Angeles. Union members, join our COVID-19 Volunteer Corps. Los Angeles needs you.”

8) California: UFCW 770 reports that the LA County Board of Supervisors has advanced a motion to protect grocery retail, drug store and food delivery workers. “We are demanding access to protective gear and training on how to use it properly to keep us safe,” said Deandre Williams, a cashier at Ralphs. “The big grocery companies are not stepping up and making sure every single grocery and pharmacy worker is safe. We need action from our elected leaders to respond to this crisis immediately and with urgency. I am not a trained health professional, I need to know we are safe.” 

9) Wisconsin: Local governments around the country are providing a wide variety of needed healthcare options on a daily basis. Sauk County Board candidate John Miller says, “Sauk [county] has well organized working programs for: drug, alcohol prevention; farmer stresses; mental illness; housing; elder care; young mother mentoring; birth to age three care; court diversion to lessen jail time; child dental needs; county/hospital cooperatives. These programs are safety nets, often unnoticed, that result from good government.”

10) Think Tanks: EARN has made available multiple resources for state and local policy advocates and researchers on effective responses to the Coronavirus pandemic.

11) Think Tanks: The Brookings Institution has published a paper on state policies to promote shared prosperity in citiesby  Solomon Greene, Alan Berube, John D. Ratliff, and Aaron Shroyer. “”

Education

12) National: Writing in The Progressive, historian and retired Oklahoma City teacher John Thompson exposes the unregulated world of online charter schools. “As schools remain closed due to COVID-19, parents and policy leaders may be tempted to think of online charter schools as a solution,” Thompson writes. “But an ongoing scandal in Oklahoma focused on the academic and regulatory problems posed by these schools presents a cautionary story. After years of failing to regulate charters, especially online and for-profit charters, Oklahoma is just one state that illustrates how hard it is to catch up and hold virtual schools accountable for either education outcomes or financial transactions.”

13) National: NEA President Lily Eskelsen García has denounced a Trump administration proposal “that sounds eerily similar to private school vouchers.” Eskelsen García said “it is shameful that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would use a pandemic like the coronavirus to, once again, push her failed privatization agenda to defund public schools. Students, parents and educators are grappling with a global crisis. They do not need the ridiculous over-reach of the Education Secretary to do now what she has been unable to do for three and a half years: Convince Congress and the country to implement vouchers that will do nothing but siphon scarce public funding for private schools.”

14) National: In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans and the gulf coast, the right wing Heritage Foundation jumped in with a quick wish list of privatization measures, including an expansive proposal to privatize the city’s schools (which happened). “Private entrepreneurial activity and vision, not bureaucratic government, must be the engine to rebuild,” Heritage said. “New approaches to public policy issues such as enhanced choice in public school education should be the norm, not the exception.” 

Heritage was flanked by the right wing Indiana congressman Mike Pence, then chair of the Republican Study Committee, who said “the desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot. We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was.” As we track how the Trump administration pursues a “shock doctrine” strategy during the        COVID-19 crisis and recovery, we should remember that Mike Pence, now chair of the Coronavirus Task Force, has been there before. And of course, so is Heritage, which is now plugging online charter school companies such as K12 Inc.

15) California: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, a big charter school backer, isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste. “Hastings has been on something of a California donation frenzy in the first quarter of 2020, doling out $4.1 million to state candidates and causes over the first three months of the year. The largest donation was $3,807,200 to Charter Public Schools Political Action Committee.” 

16) National: The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the association of the school system technology community (basically school district CTOs), is pushing for more federal dollars for edtech infrastructure. They have produced a “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Edtech Guidance” document that says “CoSN is working with its corporate partners and vendors to provide members with the most up-to-date access and guidance on what they’re doing to help alleviate the technology strain school systems nationwide are feeling as they prepare for distance learning.” CoSN CEO Keith Krueger says, “Education Secretary DeVos is now permitted to allow school districts to use a larger portion of the existing Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant (SSAEG) program funding on technology for children. This is an important step, as many lack at-home devices. Edtech leaders are also in desperate need of mobile Wi-Fi hotspots to help students and teachers connect online at home. This stimulus package will enable districts to begin to meet this urgent demand for e-learning, but investments in E-Rate, and programmatic flexibility, are needed to complete the job for all learners and their teachers.”

17) National: The Wall Street Journal says that the liquidity crisis in the municipal bond market has been precipitated by the coronavirus crisis, but “the volatility that resulted has been brewing for a decade. Desperate sellers across most markets sold assets at deep discounts last month as the spreading new coronavirus left investors fearful and hungry for cash. Perhaps no investment flipped from coveted haven to spurned hot potato as quickly as municipal bonds.” What helped fuel the frothy boom that has now turned into a bust? “To help satisfy investors’ hunger for yield, some funds piled into risky debt, financing projects such as charter schools and nursing homes. As of February, five money managers control more than half of the assets in high-yield funds, according to Morningstar data.” [Sub required]

18) National: The U.S. Department of Labor has put up a webpage on “Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID-19 Outbreak” to go along with its resource page on COVID-19.

19) Illinois: Danville School District 118 met to consider how to provide financial support to the district’s school bus drivers while schools statewide are closed due to COVID-19. The drivers are employed by First Student. “Due to the closure of schools statewide, the state has directed school districts to financially support school bus drivers for the time being. ‘The Illinois State Board of Education has asked us to work out how to pay our bus drivers,’ Geddis said Monday. ‘We’re supposed to enter into an addendum.’”

20) New York: One of Long Island’s biggest school bus companies, Baumann & Sons, is laying off about 900 drivers and other employees. “Affected bus drivers and bus monitors had worked in at least 10 districts in the region, including William Floyd, Commack, Northport-East Northport and South Huntington. Dan Decrotie, head of a Teamsters union representing the workers, said Baumann’s action was particularly disappointing in light of the fact that two other bus firms, WE Towne Bus and First Student, had retained their drivers. ‘Baumann didn’t,’ said Decrotie, who is president of Local 1205 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. ‘We need to force Baumann to do the right thing. These people [drivers and monitors] are good, hardworking people.’”

21) International: Education International (EI), the global union federation, has published some guiding principles on the COVID-19 pandemic. “An appropriate response to COVID -19 in the education sector should take into account the rights and best interests of students, teachers and education support personnel and involve education unions in developing the containment and recovery measures,” EI says. Among the principles: “Technology can be an important tool to facilitate distance learning in the short term, however, it is essential to understand that it is a temporary solution that can never replace classroom teaching and learning and the invaluable face-to-face interaction between the teacher and student and among students.”

22) Useful Resource: Ballotpedia has a running timeline of actions taken by state and local governments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes some excellent graphics, clickable maps, etc.

Infrastructure

23) National: Bond Dealers of America is urging the federal government to support the longer-term municipal securities market. “‘The municipal securities market is a vital national asset because it is the means by which states and localities raise capital to finance infrastructure,’ BDA CEO Mike Nicholas wrote in the letter. ‘The market has suffered significantly over the last several weeks, with the cancellation or postponement of new issuance, price volatility of historic proportions, and a significant deterioration of liquidity.’” [Sub required]

24) National: MarketWatch asks, As the Fed steps into the municipal bond market, will it be enough? “But it’s important to note that bonds issued by states and localities are only part of the muni market. About two-thirds of the market is ‘revenue’ bonds—those issued by everything from hospitals to transportation providers to colleges and universities, all of which are about to take a serious hit from a shuddering economy. ‘You could draw a dotted line from the economic impact of coronavirus to any facet of muni finance,’ [Eric] Kazatsky said. ‘Investors have to brace for systemic downgrades across states, cities, hospitals, transportation, even essential service utilities,’ [Matt] Fabian said. ‘You can think some pretty grim things these days. The economic data is going to turn terrible.’” 

25) National: Trump has proposed spending $2 trillion on infrastructure. “Pelosi, a California Democrat, last week raised the prospect of infrastructure legislation as part of the next round of fiscal stimulus. “Our next bill will lean toward recovery, how we can create good-paying jobs as we go forward, perhaps building the infrastructure of America,” she said. In an MSNBC interview Tuesday, Pelosi specifically mentioned broadband and water projects as examples of infrastructure works that would be relevant to the coronavirus response.” Pelosi is proposing a $760 billion infrastructure plan packed with help for the public finance sector, the Bond Buyer reports. “Democrats also are seeking two other items that Republicans objected to in the $2 trillion CARES Act: pension relief and financial assistance for the U.S. Postal Service.” [Sub required]

26) National: EDF says there is an opportunity for public comment on regulations tightening lead leaching standards for new drinking water fixtures. “As we all grapple with the grave global health challenge from COVID-19, we want to acknowledge the essential service that the public health professionals at water utilities provide in delivering safe water not only for drinking but for washing our hands and our surroundings. In the meantime, we are continuing to work towards improved health and environmental protections—including reducing lead in drinking water.”

27) California: The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) says, “we are grateful for the leadership of #HealthyLA advocates and the LA County Board of Supervisors for taking urgent action to ensure all County residents will continue to have access to water during this public health crisis.” 

28) MissouriProponents of the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport haven’t given up despite Mayor Lyda Krewson’s having rejected the idea three months ago. In recent days Virginia-based Issues and Answers Network Inc. has been conducting telephone polls on the issue. But it is unclear who has commissioned it. “Among [the recipients] was Alderman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, an opponent of leasing Lambert to private operators. Green said the call, on the night of March 23, lasted 23 minutes and asked how she would vote on a potential city charter amendment that would authorize spending $1 billion that the city could reap from a lease deal. The questioner, she said, also detailed possible uses for the money and asked her which would make it more or less likely that she would support leasing the airport.” 

Green “speculated that retired financier Rex Sinquefield might have been behind the poll. Grow Missouri, a nonprofit funded by Sinquefield, paid for the city’s application to the federal government to be allowed to consider privatization and covered millions of dollars in fees to the consultants advising a city working group that considered privatization.” Adolphus Pruitt, the head of the city’s NAACP chapter, “reiterated that he is looking into the idea of a petition drive to try to put a pro-privatization charter amendment before voters. But he said no committee has been formed at this point to do that.”

With the airline industry in virtual collapse and poised for a major shakeout it is unclear how financing for a fire sale airport privatization deal could be secured. Would the public be expected to underwrite it?

29) OhioThe St. Clairsville water privatization battle is on again. “Aqua Ohio gave the new administration until April to accept or reject its proposal. In recognition of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this has been extended to May 1. As many as 30 people were listening in, not counting council and city employees, but the number dropped off as the meeting continued. After more than three hours, there were about 10 listeners remaining. Velas said city officials considered a town hall meeting to further discuss options, but the pandemic has stymied such plans. ‘We are still looking into finding a way to somehow see if we can address a town hall meeting to get some input from the citizens,’ he said.” The next city council meeting is tonight at 7:30.

Criminal Justice and Immigration

30) National: 400 women locked up in ICE’s South Louisiana Processing Center, which is run for profit by GEO Group, are expressing grave concern about being exposed to COVID-19. “At least four ICE employees at detention facilities used by ICE in New Jersey, Texas, and Colorado have tested positive for Covid-19. On March 24, ICE announced the first detainee case. ICE later confirmed a second case, a 52-year-old detainee held in Newark. (…) Pino Hidalgo said that the dorm the sick woman lived in, which holds 72 women, was locked down in quarantine. ‘They pass the food under the door. The guards are wearing a medical gown and other protection. They’re saying this quarantine is for the flu. We don’t believe them.’”

31) National: Writing in The American Prospect, Chris May reports that prison telecom giant Global Tel Link (GTL) is offering aid to prisoners—at a price. “If Oregon’s 14,500 prisoners in state custody each ‘rounded up’ deposits by $10 to receive ten extra minutes to talk to their families, GTL could earn an additional $121,800. That amount doesn’t include taxes and other fees, which the company claims ‘are passed through to the end user without markup.’ Nationwide profits from such arrangements during the crisis could end up being much higher, as state prisons and county jails across the country have similar offers in place with GTL, which serves approximately 2,300 facilities and 1.8 million inmates in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.” 

32) NationalCoreCivic has withdrawn its recently announced financial guidance for 2020, citing “uncertainties related to the potential impact of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” On Friday the company released its proxy statement, which reported that its president and CEO Damon Hininger’s compensation has increased by $1.2 million, from $4,117,669 in 2018 to $5,348,926 in 2019. Compensation for the five highest paid CoreCivic executives in 2019 totaled $14,073,559. [page 64].

Hininger says “we have been closely coordinating with our government partners, and remain in contact with local and national health authorities.  No one yet knows the full scale of health and economic impacts, so we have taken prudent action to strengthen our liquidity position to maintain our financial flexibility.  We have also offered idle bed capacity at no cost to communities where we operate for their use to help them combat COVID-19.” The company’s stock has gone down 55.83% over the past year, and is now at a lower level than it was after a slump created when the Obama administration said it wanted to phase out private prisons.

33) ColoradoDenver’s halfway houses are in crisis. “The majority of offenders who go through the program end up in a facility run by one of a small number of private prison operators, whose names have become antithetical to criminal justice reforms that seek to reduce prison populations, like The GEO Group and CoreCivic. (…) Colorado’s criminal justice reforms are delivering a more violent mix of offenders to the state’s troubled community corrections system, filling up local halfway houses already struggling with violence, staff sexual misconduct, rampant drug use and health and safety concerns, a new Gazette investigation shows. The beleaguered system is increasingly failing to rehabilitate offenders, according to state audits, data and incident reports. The recidivism rate has grown worse. Escapes are rising. Risk assessment, a formal process attached to each offender as they make their way out into the community seeking employment, is lagging. Instead of fulfilling their role as a safe alternative to prison, the community facilities have become ravaged by drug trafficking so severe that one El Paso County judge reports defendants have begged him for prison instead.”

34) KentuckyLouisville coronavirus patients and a family member have been ordered by circuit judges to isolate and wear tracking devices. The Louisville Courier Journal reports that Tracy Dotson, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 77, “questioned the ethics of using tracking devices on Louisville residents who have not been charged with a crime. It is a judge’s order, he acknowledged, but ‘our mandate is once people are charged with a crime, we’re to do whatever it is we do with them.’ ‘These people aren’t charged with a crime,’ he said. ‘For my people on the ground, that’s a concern for them.’” Media stories so far have not specified whether private companies are providing the devices. Here is the December 2018 RFP that went out. Responses to the RFP were due on December 27, 2019.

35) New YorkInmates are facing fear over COVID-19 in New York City’s only private jail. “The AC is on full blast, kitchen staff are under quarantine and an eight-cell restrictive housing unit is being used to separate the growing number of sick inmates from their peers in wide-open dormitories.” The Queens Eagle reports that “at least three staff members at the Queens Detention Facility have COVID-19, but no inmates had yet tested positive for the illness, GEO Group said Wednesday. Defense attorneys and an inmate who contacted the Eagle Thursday painted a grim picture of conditions and the spread of illness inside the jail, however.” 

Public Services

36) National: As the coronavirus epidemic spreads across the nation, the U.S. Postal Service is facing collapse. USPS has warned that since the federal rescue package contained no money for the service, it might have to close down by June, deepening the U.S. economic collapse. “First class and commercial mail volume, which brought in about $41 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2019, has dropped at a rapid clip since the virus spread across the U.S., according to the Postal Service. This downward trajectory is expected to continue, with mail volume falling lower than it did during the 1930s Depression. USPS estimates total revenue losses between $8 billion and $17 billion between now and the end of fiscal year 2020 as a result of the crisis.”

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Dr. Algernon Austin writes, “the death of the Postal Service would be a major crisis for the country on top of the COVID-19 crisis. The Postal Service is an important part of the country’s infrastructure. Many people rely on the Postal Service for the delivery of medical supplies, checks, and other important items like Census forms. Plans to move to voting by mail will have to be scrapped without the Postal Service. Rural communities will be especially hurt. It is not likely that conservatives in Congress and the White House have fully thought through the consequences of their death sentence for the Postal Service. The U.S Postal Service provides good jobs to many, especially Black and Asian American workers. A majority of Postal Service workers are white, but workers of all races and ethnic backgrounds work in the Postal Service. The Postal Service is particularly important to black and Asian American workers because these groups are over-represented in these good jobs.”

Historian Mike Davis has some suggestions on how to save the USPS. Writing in The Nation, Davis says “The coronavirus pandemic has produced a profiteer whose power to exploit the emergency far exceeds that of the steel industry or munitions makers during the past century’s world wars. His name is Jeff Bezos. (…) Today’s progressive Democrats should be at least as bold as Wilson, Roosevelt, and Harry Truman and draft a new excess profits tax bill in the House, with Amazon particularly in mind. Here’s a revenue stream that could not only save the Postal Service but rebuild it after years of budget cuts and unfair competition with FedEx and UPS.” [Mike Davis, How To Save The Postal Service, The Nation, 4/20/2020]

Daily Kos labor reporter Laura Clawson says the crisis “was manufactured by Republicans. Congress imposed a mandate on the USPS to prepay retiree health benefits decades into the future and does not allow the postal service to compete with private business—and then USPS comes under attack for not being profitable.”

Congress had better act quickly. The privatizers are determined to use the crisis to achieve a decades-long goal.

37) National: So it seems that Koch-fueled, Republican plans to privatize the Veterans Administration, which were worked into the VA’s funding bill last time, are in a crisis. Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon explain in Counterpunch. “As the current pandemic spread, however, even a cabinet secretary with no healthcare background was bound to notice that lines are getting longer and hospital wards more crowded and hazardous in the private sector. Getting a quick appointment with your primary care provider, dentist, or eye doctor is not easy for anyone at the moment, much less new patients from the VA. In addition, veterans are generally older and already less healthy than the patient population of most private healthcare systems. In order to be eligible for VA care, they must be low-income or have some service-related condition. Many have ailments that make them more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 in the community or being hospitalized with a severe case of it. So, not surprisingly, Wilkie informed the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees that the VA was proposing ‘a temporary strategic pause in the MISSION Act access standards for 90 days, or until the soonest possible time that routine care resumes.’”

All this as homeless vets confront a new enemy: COVID-19.

38) National/New York: American Medical Response (AMR), the private ambulance company, has deployed hundreds of AMR personnel and ambulances to the greater New York area, which has become the epicenter of the U.S. COVID-19 crisis. “AMR has also contracted other EMS providers to assist with its deployment and to support the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic response. The deployed crews will work under the guidance of FEMA and state and local agencies, and will remain in the area for as long as they are needed, according to GMR.”

39) California: WorkWeek has published an interview with SEIU 1021 SF DPH Community Healthcare Center Chapter VP Cheryl Thornton. She lays out an on-the-ground view of what it’s like on the front lines of the COVID battle. “San Francisco Department of Public Health community center health center front line workers are not getting protection from being contaminated by COVID-19.” Thornton speaks “about the dangerous conditions they are being put in, which threatens them, their families and the public. They are calling on the union to buy PPE and bill the City & County of San Francisco. She also discusses the racist practices and the use of the COVID epidemic to violate union rights and also push privatization.” [Video, about 17 minutes]

40) New YorkFitch has downgraded the debt of the MTA, making it more expensive for the public transit system to borrow. The system is around $45 billion in debt, and ridership is down 90% on the New York City subway. The Federal Transit Administration is allocating $25 billion in emergency funding to public transportation systems. [Sub required]. 

Regarding that 90% number cited by The Bond Buyer, Margaret Kimberley provides some class and race context: “As higher paid individuals work at home, people who don’t have that luxury risk their lives just getting to their jobs. In New York City subways are largely empty, but not in poorer neighborhoods. Subway travel has dropped 90% overall in recent weeks, but at subway stations in the Bronx, the poorest of the five boroughs, ridership levels are unchanged for people who work as home health aides, grocery store employees and construction workers. Their plight is exacerbated as subway trains now operate less frequently and passengers are crowded together in defiance of all ‘social distancing’ rules required to prevent corona virus infection.”

Everything Else 

41) Think Tanks: Laurie Garrett, author of Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, and The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance joined Andrew Revkin of the Earth Institute at Columbiaand veteran journalist Alexis Jetter for a two hour discussion on how journalists and student journalists can cover the COVID-19 pandemic better. [Video, about two hours and 15 minutes]