Editorial pages focus on public health issues surrounding the coronavirus

The New York Times:
The Coronavirus Story Is Too Big For China To Spin

Reactions to Li Wenliang’s death last Friday filled the timelines of my social media accounts almost immediately. Post after post on my WeChat. Grief, frustration, anger.A week later, the groundswell of emotions seems unabated. Dr. Li, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, was one of the first doctors to try to warn about the disease, and then to die from it. The story of how the authorities muzzled Dr. Li became an instant parable for their trampling on the Chinese public’s right to know. (Kiki Zhao, 2/14)

The Washington Post:
The Coronavirus And The Long History Of Blaming ‘The Other’ In Public Health Crises

Dirty looks, deserted restaurants, bullied children — this is the reality for many Asian Americans after the outbreak of the coronavirus six weeks ago. Although the epicenter of the illness is in China, where tens of thousands have been affected, there have been only 15 cases in the United States as of Thursday. Still, Asians in America have been subjected to suspicion and ridicule, and not for the first time in this country’s history. (Marian Liu, 2/14)

US Emergency Legal Responses To Novel Coronavirus: Balancing Public Health And Civil Liberties

With increasing numbers of cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) globally and in the United States, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar declared a national public health emergency on January 31. The emergency declaration of the HHS authorizes additional resources, enhanced federal powers, interjurisdictional coordination, and waivers of specific regulations. State and local public health emergency declarations are also likely. During crises, government has a special responsibility to thoughtfully balance public health protections and civil liberties. (Lawrence O. Gostin and James G. Hodge Jr., 2/13)

The Washington Post:
Health-Care Workers Are The Front-Line Warriors Against Coronavirus. We Must Protect Them.

Of all our endless wars, the most protracted is our war against dangerous microbes, of which the covid-19 coronavirus is the latest battle. Just as we honor our fallen warriors on the battlefield, we should honor 34-year-old Li Wenliang, the Wuhan physician who died of the disease last week after defying Chinese authorities by trying to get the word out about the growing outbreak. Hospitals themselves are amplification points for the virus’s spread, as evidenced by the more than 500 confirmed cases (and an additional 600 suspected) of health-care workers stricken in Wuhan hospitals through mid-January, including at least two more deaths. (Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker, 2/13)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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