#stopasianhate

Japanese, New York-based street artist DRAGON76 has just completed a mural in East Village, Manhattan, supporting the “STOP ASIAN HATE” movement.

Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, backlash against Asian Americans have reached an all-time high, with around a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders this last year. Part of this stems from Wuhan, China, being the supposed epicenter of the coronavirus, but it is also the actions of our world leaders that invigorate fear and hatred against Asian Americans. During his second election campaign in 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump referred to Covid-19 as the “Kung Flu” at two of his rallies, once in Oklahoma and again in Arizona. The president also frequented his Twitter account with racist tweets about the “Chinese virus.” This is in direct violation of the World Health Organization’s guidelines for the naming of diseases, which state that since 2015, infectious diseases should not include geographic locations in order to avoid backlash against certain people. Others have since followed his example, tweeting out floods of anti-Asian rhetoric with the hashtag #chinesevirus.

            The resentment against Asian Americans doesn’t just stop with harassment online. It also takes the form of twisted mouths screaming racist comments, clenched fists beating down elderly men and women, bullets tearing through wives and mothers just because of their ethnicity. In New York City, Brandon Elliot violently assaulted a 65-year-old Asian American woman outside of an apartment building. In Georgia, Robert Aaron Long murdered 8 people, 6 being of Asian descent, in Atlanta spas. These aren’t just isolated circumstances. Incidents like these are plastered all over the news and some days it seems hopeless; life feels overwhelming in the face of hate.

            However, the actions of a few can and will make a difference. In spite of the massive wave of backlash against Asian Americans, people like Jacob Azevedo have banded together to protect victims of violence. Azevedo created Compassion in Oakland after hearing about the swell of anti-Asian attacks and exists to chaperone people in the Oakland Chinatown area in order to help them feel safe. The organization has over 400 volunteers and a working hotline to call whenever you need a walking friend. The name Compassion in Oakland comes from their mission statement, which reads, “We promote compassion not indifference, unity as opposed to divisiveness.” This is why you should care about what’s happening in the world right now, because we can’t just ignore it. Just like Jacob Azevedo, a Latino man who demands the unification of all minorities, we cannot just stand by while our family and friends are threatened and injured. We must call attention to the upheaval of hate against Asian Americans, and we have to say it loud.

By Callum Lee

Why People are Scared of the Covid Vaccination

from: My Shot ll Hamilton Animatic YouTube

There are some valid reasons people have to the Covid -19 vaccinations, getting the most information might be our best shot.

We now have three vaccines to fight COVID19. Moderna, Pfitzer and Johnson & Johnson’s versions have proven to be effective. Nature Medicine surveyed 19 countries and only 71% of the population surveyed said they would take the vaccine.  As Americans hit drive-throughs, pharmacies and hospitals, people are excited that relief is on the way but not everyone is getting the vaccine. Why not?

It came quick. For some, there is the fear that the vaccine was rushed. In the past, a vaccine would have taken years to develop, test and bring to the market. Because of the global pandemic, the trials and tests were placed at the front of the line.

There is always an overall phobia of doctors and needles. Let us not pretend that everyone is comfortable going to the doctor’s office. It probably goes back to when we were kids, and the only good thing about the physician experience was the occasional lollypop and Spider-man band aid that we could show to our other siblings.  

We are also dealing with the sentiments of the anti-vaxx movement as seen in a 2019 April 19th   interview with Insider.Com, where Dr. Peter Hotez outlines the views of the movement,  “It’s this massive propaganda campaign and by some estimates there are almost 500 anti-vaccine websites on Facebook. They weaponize Amazon… we are seeing real public health damage being done.” That was the kind of disinformation we had before the worldwide pandemic. What are we going to face next?

We take the wait and see approach. There are those who are awaiting to see what happens to everyone else, which is not a bad stance. People over the age of 65 years and those with underlying conditions are vulnerable, so we need to be mindful that our refusal to vaccinate could affect them, especially those in daily interactions with the public.

“If we can get to 80% population immunity by the end of the summer, then we won’t see a surge next winter because this is basically a winter respiratory virus and it’ll be back unless a significant percentage of the population get vaccinated,” said Dr. Paul Offit. Can we get to herd immunity if we take the wait and see approach?

It is a personal decision, but let us make it a smart one. If we ado or do not get the vaccine, let us reach out to valued healthcare professionals and ask them to help. Our doctors have more medical history than we do personally looking at any random article found on the internet.  There are vaccine-educated practitioners in every hospital. Let’s get us get the most information possible and make the best decisions. 

CDC Information on Covid -19 inoculations

by Dane Flanigan

ultraHealth Agency

Too Fast Too Soon

Mentally Leaving the Pandemic

Photo by USA Today

There have been five hundred and fifty thousand deaths from COVID-19 in the United States and 2.81 million worldwide, according to the (New York Times March 31, 2021). When we address the issues, let us remember that it is global disease and the measures taken by governments in many countries have largely been to prevent more deaths.

There is a mental fatigue from the pandemic, affecting overall health.  It is from staying indoors and not seeing friends or family no matter where you live or what country you are in.  There is also the loss of work and income, and the impact on long-term financial stability while trying to pay one’s current bills.

We should also remember that the younger generation facing social issues and the difficulty of hanging out with friends. Now we have family or at home schooling. To be at home with one’s parents and siblings must be frustrating at times, and our youth, like some adults, are not able to hold part-time jobs.

What do we do?

COVID-19 has not gone anywhere. If we compare this pandemic to the Spanish Flu from 1918 – 1920, we see that the number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States (from CDC.org). We understand the gravity of the pandemic, but can we afford mentally, physically, and financially to remain in the pandemic mindset?

If we look at the recent Spring Break in Miami, it’s been hard for young people. The parties, the drinking, and the having fun are things we all miss. Yes, there is also the destruction, fights, and recklessness that we cannot condone nor can we overlook the transmission of the virus it may have caused.  YouTube Video Should we have totally canceled Spring Break and closed our bars and restaurants?

Let’s go back to the debate on mental health and leaving the pandemic. There is a physical leaving and a mental staying in place.  Traveling, vacations, getting out with people and going to our usual places help maintain our mental health. It is also about the planning and the anticipation. If we take that away, then mentally we lock ourselves indoors.

As we ponder the situation in America, we are seeing a rise in COVID Cases. Some European countries are already looking at their fourth wave and we are seeing the lockdowns begin. Let’s not forget the direct impact of the disease – the rampant death – but also what has been done to us on global level both mentally and physically.

by Dane Flanigan ultraHealth Agency

How Politicizing the Fight Against COVID Makes Both Parties Losers

In the U.S., many aspects of the fight against COVID have been politicized. From mask-wearing to vaccine approval, actions have been labeled as liberal or conservative rather than scientifically proven or not. States’ early responses and current situations are judged according to party affiliation. Following this line of reasoning, all blue states should fare better than red states. However, comparing California, Texas, and Vermont, two liberal states and one conservative, the results do not support this assumption. A closer look at the actions of each reveals what has really led to successes and failures. 

California was the first state to issue stay-at-home orders back in mid-March. It also took steps to increase testing and tracing capacity and had strong public messaging. However, economic concerns, public restlessness, and seemingly plateauing cases put more pressure on state officials to re-open. As restrictions eased in May, county and city officials gained more regulating power. The decentralized structure made it difficult to enforce measures consistently throughout the state, especially when officials clashed with each other. Sheriffs in four counties said they would not enforce the governor’s order to wear masks in public places. Many people were anxious to get back to normal and not as likely to follow recommendations like mask-wearing and social distancing. 

Cases and deaths spiked in the summer following months of holidays and parties. Some attributed the increase to Black Lives Matter protests, but the data did not support this. The suggestion was dismissed as many participants wore masks and the protests were largely outdoors. Additionally, major outbreaks occurred in nursing homes, prisons, and among migrant workers. Experts say the state re-opened too quickly and focused too heavily on regulating outdoor spaces like beaches and parks as opposed to restaurants and bars. The spike among migrant workers, particularly the Latinx population, supports this. Latinx people are 2.9 times more likely to test positive than whites. They make up a large portion of California’s essential workforce in foodservice and hospitality. Those in these industries are less likely to be able to work from home or stay home if they are sick. Currently, California has one of the highest case counts in the nation, with cases doubling about every 56 days. However, when adjusted for population, California’s rank is lower. The state accounts for 9% of the nation’s cases and 7% of deaths. And increased testing does account for some of the rise.      

Despite some people’s belief that the state is turning purple, Texas is still decisively conservative. The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won was 1976. This past election, Trump won the state by 6 points, the Republican incumbent kept his spot in the senate, and 60% of the house seats went to Republicans. While opposites politically, Texas and California share many struggles. Disagreements at the local level, between judges and mayors, over shutting down businesses and enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing played a large role in why Texas’s case count is the highest in the country and the first to surpass one million. Like California, premature opening of businesses and fatigue from staying at home led many to take liberties when policies relaxed. Additionally, Texas also has a large Latinx population who face similar challenges as those in California. 

Although Vermont is often thought of as one of the most liberal states in the union, the high profile of its Democratic Socialist senator, Bernie Sanders, contributing to this, it actually has a mixed government. Republican, Phil Scott, has been the governor since 2016 and won the most recent election with 66% of the vote. This makes Vermont an interesting comparison to California and Texas when examining why the state has the lowest infection rate in the country. Some argue its small size and ruralness explain this but, officials in Vermont are quick to dismiss that, pointing to the state’s targeted use of resources for vulnerable populations as the foundation of its success. 

Dr. Mark Levine, the state health commissioner, says three things have helped. First, having a healthy population before the pandemic. People there place health high on their list of priorities, making them likely to follow orders like washing hands and wearing masks. The second contributor, shutting down the state quickly. But California did this also, so what made the difference? Vermont did not re-open until officials felt the virus was at a better level as opposed to bowing to public pressure about the economy or isolation fatigue. And when the state did ease restrictions, it did so gradually. 

The third and most unique point in Vermont’s plan focused efforts like testing and contact tracing on the most vulnerable populations, including those experiencing homelessness and those living in nursing homes. Vermont paid to move some people living in shelters into motels to avoid overcrowding. It also made meal deliveries, gave hazard pay for essential workers, offered free pop-up testing to vulnerable communities, and Governor Scott has even proposed a $1,000 stipend for those asked to self-isolate. Instead of focusing on curfews or stay-at-home orders, which apply to people that work, it looked at high-risk populations and created policies centered around them and their needs.  


While some, including President Trump, have tried to make mask-wearing and case counts political, the science does not support this. COVID does not distinguish between red and blue states. Instead, what made the difference between states’ successes and failures is how unified they are within themselves and how they met the needs of high-risk groups. Although California and Vermont initially had similar plans, the patchwork of policies California attempted to enforce after re-opening led to spikes it hasn’t fully recovered from. Texas also suffered because lawmakers and enforcers could not agree on a proper course of action. And both states failed to meet the needs of vulnerable groups like the elderly, those experiencing homelessness, and essential workers. To prevent higher case count and death toll, states must allocate resources to those that need it most and strongly enforce scientifically proven preventative measures. 

How Countries’ COVID Measures Stack Up

Whether out of fear of repeating the past, the virus, economic trouble, or public criticism, nations have responded differently to the pandemic. Although it’s not over, and it’s still too early to determine the long-term effects of each strategy, the data thus far does suggest which measures have worked best and why. 

Two methods for containing the spread of coronavirus are herd immunity and lockdowns. The Mayo Clinic states that herd immunity occurs when a large portion of the community becomes immune to a disease making the spread of it unlikely. Ideally, herd immunity is achieved through vaccinations. Vaccines have a low risk of complications and illness, they protect vulnerable populations that cannot receive vaccinations, and they have a strong history of controlling the spread of highly infectious diseases.  

At the beginning of the pandemic, vaccines were a hopeful but distant solution. Now, the first shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine will arrive in the U.S. on December 15. The U.K. became the first to approve it for use with their announcement on December 2. The shortened approval process, 10 months as compared to 10 years, as well as the U.K.’s reliance on Pfizer’s data instead of independent analysis, has made some hesitant to follow Britain’s lead. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, took the opportunity to praise the Food and Drug Administration’s slower regulation process and offer support for the agency which has been under pressure by the White House to approve the vaccine. 

Achieving herd immunity can be difficult when people refuse to take the vaccine. Additionally, the effectiveness of vaccines can wane over time. If multiple vaccines are necessary to inoculate against a certain disease, it’s not guaranteed people will complete the series lessening the effectiveness. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticized the other, widely used approach, lockdowns. Lockdowns, or large scale physical distancing measures, slow the spread by limiting contact. They harm social and economic life and disproportionately affect people living in poverty, internally displaced people, and refugees. 

In Europe, both Italy and Greece have utilized lockdowns with different results. Originally, Italy was the hotspot of Europe, while Greece initially had a low number of cases. Italy declared a state of emergency and placed a strict lockdown. Greece acted similarly but did not declare a state of emergency. With such similar methods, the two nations should have yielded similar results. However, one key factor that separates them is timing. Italy began suspending events and closing schools nine days after the third confirmed death from coronavirus. It closed non-essential shops and banned non-essential movement after two weeks. In comparison, Greece suspended events and closed schools before the third confirmed death, closed non-essential shops one day after, and banned all non-essential movement only eight days after the third death. 

Timing also played a key role as to why Taiwan and South Korea have both had continued success with their efforts. Taiwan went into a strict lockdown very early, like Greece. However, it did not last long. Instead, they moved to closing borders, banning the export of surgical masks, contact tracing, and mobile SIM tracking. They kept businesses open by requiring temperature checks and offering sanitizer before each person entered. These efforts have resulted in just seven deaths. South Korea responded similarly and has not only low death rates but also a low case count. Their early and aggressive response included and still includes extensive testing, isolation, contact tracing, and tracking COVID patients in real-time. They have also managed to keep businesses open, and a sizable government stimulus helped citizens financially.       

Both nations had experience with epidemics in recent history, Taiwan with SARS 20 years ago and South Korea with MERS in 2015. This may have made them better prepared and primed citizens to comply with strict and invasive measures early on. While some question the privacy violations associated with SIM contact tracing and patient tracking, the low case and death count, as well as the public’s willingness to follow such measures, highlight that people are willing to make the tradeoff between personal freedoms and restrictions to avoid disastrous outcomes.       

Rather than focusing on limiting the spread of COVID and protecting citizens, Turkey has focused on restricting the spread of information. Starting in March, officials have investigated doctors and healthcare workers commenting on the government’s actions and coronavirus in the media. In one instance, after a health expert talked about underreporting of cases with local media, a governor claimed they were “misinforming the public” and “causing panic.” The investigation brought against them was dropped only after multiple rights groups condemned it. 

But public support for Turkish doctors and nurses is waning. Increases in resignations led some to liken them to soldiers fleeing a battlefield. However, many that left public hospitals did not leave medicine altogether but moved to private care facilities that have better working conditions. Doctors were even prohibited from retiring between March 28 and June 8 and starting again on October 27. 

Turkey has continued to declare the situation is under control and lift partial lockdowns even when independent doctors and medical associations warn against it. In addition to keeping information from its people, Turkey has also not followed WHO’s recommendation of regularly releasing case and death numbers by city or include probable causes in their counts. 

While many countries took action at the beginning of outbreaks, the strength and continued enforcement of their policies have differentiated the success of their efforts. Time will tell if Italy and Greece’s regional measures and extended lockdowns save them from further spikes. Countries like Taiwan and South Korea have managed to not only protect most of their people but also protect their economies. This has improved their governments’ images both among their people and around the world. Turkey inverted its approach, starting with appearances and putting science second, leading to discontent among its people and healthcare force, arguably making their efforts a failure.