36,000 Lives Lost Because of Lockdown Delays, Data Reveals; Employees Who Reject Work Ineligible for Unemployment; and Florida Removes Top COVID-19 Scientist for Refusing to Manipulate Data.
36,000 Lives Lost Because of Lockdown Delays, Data Reveals
New estimates from Columbia University show that if the United States started social distancing measures just one week earlier, 36,000 people’s lives could have been saved. One week. That’s all it would have taken.
But, that’s not all. Even more amazing is that 83 percent of the nation’s deaths could have been avoided. How? By starting measures two weeks earlier. That’s 54,000 lives saved.
“It’s a big, big difference. That small moment in time, catching it in that growth phase, is incredibly critical in reducing the number of deaths,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist and leader of the research team at Columbia.
However, even as other countries started to respond aggressively to the virus, Americans were told the risk was very low.
“Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” tweeted Trump on March 9. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of the CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
As a result, people lost their lives. America now has more cases and more deaths than any other country in the world.
Employees Who Reject Work Ineligible for Unemployment
There are some employees who have been refusing to go back to work. This is both because they’re afraid of coronavirus exposure and they don’t want to lose unemployment benefits.
However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is leaving these people with little choice in the matter. He said that if people insist on staying home, they will not be eligible for federal unemployment benefits.
“If you offer a person a job and that person does not take the job, then that person would not be allowed to get unemployment,” said Mnuchin.
Mnuchin went on to say that companies should notify unemployment offices if an employee refuses to work.
Jeffrey Hirsch, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s school of law says that the employees are left with a tough decision.
“The vast majority of workers are going to have to face a really tough choice,” said Hirsch to Newsweek. “For most workers dealing with this issue, such as blue workers who are being ordered to return to work, who have a fear of safety, they probably aren’t protected. The employer probably can order them to do that and a state could lawfully say, ‘If you refuse, you are not going to get unemployment benefits,” said Hirsch.
“Even if they have a decent legal claim, they probably don’t have the resources or the time to challenge it. They are stuck,” continued Hirsch. “They really are having to make a choice between whatever risk they feel going to work versus losing their job, in an awful job market.”
Florida Removes Top COVID-19 Scientist for Refusing to Manipulate Data
Recently, a scientist created a dashboard to help monitor Florida’s increasing number of COVID-19 cases. You’d think that’d be a good thing, right? However, Jones told CBS12 News that her superiors fired her for refusing to manipulate the data.
The data portal that Rebekah Jones created provided easily accessible and detailed information about coronavirus cases in the state. She broke the cases down by zip code.
Basic accounting programs for coronavirus cases could not stand up to Jones’ inventive dashboard. Various top officials praised her work, including Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator.
However, last week Jones wrote an email notifying public health researchers that she’d been removed from the project. What changed?
She says the state Department of Health fired her for refusing to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.”
“As a word of caution,” she wrote in her email, “I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months.” After all, my commitment to that is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it.”