When a crew member fell seriously ill, the vessel returned to port, and almost everyone was tested for the virus again. The before-and-after results for 120 of the crew members were made available to Bloom and colleagues, who published a study about them in The Journal of Clinical Microbiology in August. In addition to the P.C.R. tests, the pre-voyage screenings also looked for neutralizing antibodies, or proteins generated by the immune system after exposure to the virus, which suggest that a person has been infected previously. Three crew members, it turned out, had those antibodies at the start of the trip. Of the 117 crew members who did not, 103 tested positive for the virus when they got back to shore — an 88 percent infection rate. If you were to randomly select three names from the ship’s manifest, the odds that all three would have tested negative are about 0.2 percent. Yet all three sailors with antibodies were spared.
How do we take care of people who care for us?
Chang, one of Breen’s Central Park West mourners, had been working with her for several years when she brought up clinician burnout. An emergency physician with a doctorate in psychology, Chang regularly worked under Breen’s direction at the Allen Hospital. He also studies how stress plays out in hospital environments. Breen theorized that if groups of doctors, nurses, and technicians at the Allen worked together in consistent teams—instead of different permutations of coworkers for different cases—their well-being would improve. “Her personal belief was that we’re stronger together,” said Chang. When Breen implemented the team-based care plan in the ER, she worked with Chang and two other colleagues to study the outcome. Breen’s intuition was correct: Working together reduced burnout.
For many, the pandemic is merely an annoyance. But some groups face a particular risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd), the symptoms of which include nightmares, flashbacks and feelings of guilt, anxiety or isolation. The most vulnerable are those who have been very ill, or lost relatives, as well as victims of previous traumas (such as refugees), and those with front-line jobs, such as doctors and nurses. In Spain nearly a sixth of those infected are health-care workers, and most of them show signs of ptsd. In Bangladesh, where the incomes of poor people briefly fell by 80% when lockdowns were tight, 86% of people in one poll reported covid-19-related stress.
The rise in mental illness among students reflects a broader trend across society. Long-term mental health issues in children and young people are up sixfold in England since 1995, and they more than doubled in Scotland between 2003 and 2014. Exactly what’s behind the increase isn’t clear, though “studies have looked at the impact of social media, or lack of sleep caused by electronic devices, as well as the effects of an uncertain job market, personal debt or constricted public services,” writes Samira Shackle in the Guardian. In England and Wales, suicide is the leading cause of death between the ages of 20 and 34.
Unemployment is particularly high for performing artists, of whom 27.4 percent report being unemployed, roughly twice the fraction of non-performing artists (14.5 percent) and higher even than those working in retail (18 percent). By contrast, at 11.4 percent, the unemployment rate for architects, librarians, and archivists is about the same as for the rest of the economy. The difference is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that performing artists are much more likely to be self-employed. But it also may be that performing artists have more trouble earning money by working from home, whereas designers, writers, and even visual artists may be able to continue working, publishing, or selling their art remotely.
“The skyscrapers and office buildings in the city centers that used to be our most valued real estate have become places people avoid out of fear of infection,” Bloom said. “I don’t see people growing comfortable with packed subway trains and elevators, and firms aren’t going to want to open and close every time there’s a wave.” “It’s the fear of the virus that keeps people at home,” said Sven Smit, senior partner at McKinsey & Company and co-chair of the McKinsey Global Institute. He added that while it was too early to be certain the shift would stick, “the tendency [for longer-term change] is there.”
Start with the coronaverse, which people everywhere now inhabit, or the quarantimes, the era in which they now live. Early fears of the total breakdown of society in a coronapocalypse have proved, thankfully, too pessimistic. But viral anxiety reigns, as do complaints of Zoom fatigue. Participants appear on screen for meetings with a quaransheen of unwashed sweat on their faces. Feelings seem to be on an emotional coronacoaster. Meanwhile, covidiots are spurning lockdown restrictions in ways likely to make the pandemic worse, amid an infodemic of dodgy news and half-informed coronasplaining. At least there is a locktail hour at the end of the week (or, for many, at the end of most days).
SII head Adar Poonawalla, 39, is planning to begin production of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine now. By autumn, he hopes to have produced 40 million doses, at which time it will become clear if it is granted approval – or not.
If it is approved, Poonawalla intends to make at least half of the doses available to India, with the rest going to countries that don’t have their own vaccine. If approval is not forthcoming, it will all be discarded.
Poonawalla’s company joined the project at its own risk. In the worst-case scenario, he might lose a few million euros of his multi-billion-euro nest egg. But should everything go well, he’ll be a hero by the end of the year – and have the reputation for being a visionary businessman.
The remoteness of the risk is always the hardest part to get our heads around. Our past moments of calm or our current nightmare, like the last coin flip or turn of the roulette wheel, tell us nothing about when the next one might arrive. One in 500 years isn’t a prophesy, just a probability. If anything, as Wolfe pointed out when I first met him over a decade ago, global warming, urbanization, and destruction of species habitats are only accelerating the speed at which the next pandemic may arrive.
In The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, Olivia Laing tells the stories of a number of artists who led isolated lives and found meaning in their work even if their relationships couldn’t fulfill them. While she focuses specifically on visual artists in New York over the last seventy years, their methods of using their loneliness and transmitting it into their art carry wide resonance. These particular artists tapped into sentiments many of us will experience at least once in our lives. They found beauty in loneliness and showed it to be something worth considering, not just something to run from.