COVID Bits

#AloneTogether

* Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has tested positive for the coronavirus.

* That was a proactively smart–not just humane–move by City Hall to send nurse-inspectors to the largest construction sites to do spot checks and help keep workers healthy as well as employed. More than 50 construction sites are involved, accounting for nearly 12,000 workers in a $2 billion-a-year-Tampa industry. “We wanted to give clear guidance to large construction sites in ways that could help their workers and those they might interact with after their work was over,” explained Carole Post, Tampa’s administrator for development and economic activity. She said developers and contractors helped organize the program (and are paying for it), most notably Nick Haines, CEO for The Bromley Companies, the developer of Midtown Tampa, and Charlie Rollins, the Water Street Tampa head of development.

The city is working with Rasmussen College to bring in about 20 nurses, most from its faculty, to visit each of the sites two to three times a week to check everything from screening everyone on site and verifying portable hand-washing facilities to not allowing food trucks onto job sites.

Sending nurses to construction sites is really about enlightened self-interest. Those still working on projects that will move Tampa ahead–despite the pandemic–need help. Carelessness because of short cuts or habitual behavior could be deadly for vulnerable construction workers. This program helps thousands of workers–and prods builders to toe the line on on-site, worker safety like never before.  

But it’s also in the big-picture interest of Tampa. The economic stakes of revitalizing parts of Tampa speak for itself. Moreover, there is nothing more noticeable and psychologically impactful than a dramatically altered skyline suddenly devoid of construction cranes and edifice ambience. Some could see that as a chilling, post-COVID metaphor for what might lie ahead. That can’t be.

Occupational medicine is, indeed, a preventative–on more than one level.

* “No mask, no work, no service, no exception.” The policy instituted in Ohio by republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

* The U.S. Gross Domestic Product shrank at an annual rate of 4.8 percent in the first quarter. According to the Congressional Budget Office, GDP will plunge at a 40 percent annual rate during the second quarter.

* “Once you reopen, it’s difficult to have a time out. It creates a serious concern about people’s trust in their leadership. And if you’re incorrect, the consequences could be catastrophic.”–So, yes, the potential downsides to reopening too soon are scary, reminds Dr. Les Beitsch, Florida’s former Deputy Secretary of Health.

* New normal: There are fewer vehicles on the road, but more of those vehicles are speeding.

* The Trump Administration has barred Dr. Anthony Fauci, the coronavirus-response leader, from testifying before a congressional hearing this week. His input had been sought by the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee looking into America’s pandemic response.

* VP Mike Pence didn’t know there was a Mayo Clinic policy about wearing masks? Everyone else–physicians, nurses and a patient–were wearing masks but him? The media-priority optics, which are of paramount importance to the Administration, simply doubled down on cluelessness. Or maybe it was a less-than-nuanced Pence signal to unmasked, anti-lockdown protestors?

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