Background Briefing: March 24, 2020


An Emergency Physician Who Became Infected With COVID-19 at Work

We begin with an emergency medicine physician, Dr. Dara Kass, who became infected with the COVID-19 virus working with patients at Columbia University Center in New York City where she is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine. Now in quarantine at home before returning to work soon, she is the founder of FeminEM, an organization that provides professional development, resources, and support for women who have been called for a life in emergency medicine. She joins us to discuss how vulnerable those on the front line of this pandemic are as the Trump administration throws out promises and statistics about unseen vital medical supplies every day at the White House briefings which have devolved into an opportunity for the shut-in president to conduct the political rallies the virus is denying him. We get an update on what is needed by medical professionals and how much this urgent need is not being met. And now that President Trump is signaling he will ease restrictive measures of social distancing and lockdowns in a couple of weeks to boost the economy, we assess what the implications will be for a pandemic that is just getting started and will exponentially grow in lethality as the virus spreads across the country. Unfortunately, Trump is unrestrained in issuing reckless and unfounded medical advice which has already killed a man in Arizona, while he lies about where the pandemic is heading and what will happen if he eases the belated and inadequate measures now in place to try to stop the spread of the virus.


The Selfless Dedication of Nurses Who Are Not Getting the Help They Need

Then we speak with Dr. Susan Michaels-Strasser, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center who is a public health professional with over 25 years of experience in nursing and public health. With Manhattan the nation’s worst hit population center under attack by the virus which is being rapidly transmitted to more and more patients who are flooding into the emergency rooms, she describes the selfless dedication of nurses and the risks they take working in intimate contact with their infected patients.

Unemployed Workers Should Be the Senate’s First Priority to Get Relief

Then finally, we get an update on the $2 trillion stimulus package making its way through the U.S. Senate and the measures taken by the Fed to buy corporate debt, and speak with Pavlina Tcherneva, Professor of Economics at Bard College and a research scholar at the Levy Economics Institute whose forthcoming book is The Case for a Job Guarantee. She joins us to discuss her article at Project Syndicate “What Would Roosevelt Do?” and argue that unemployed workers should be the first priority in getting relief as well as having their utility bills and mortgage payments suspended. And in particular since the Internet is becoming an essential tool for locked-in workers and home-schooled students, all workers and students should have guaranteed and free access to the Internet.