Malawista: A ‘Category 5’ mental health crisis is coming

Whenever a hurricane nears our shores, the government implements a system to track the disaster, including assigning a score on a scale of one to five to assess its severity and to guide disaster preparedness efforts. A storm reaching a magnitude of 3 or higher has the potential for devastating damage and loss of life. No such scale exists to warn us of the psychological dangers of our current crisis. (Balt Sun)

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King: Are Washington’s covid-19 policies as fair as they can be?

“Yes, but is it fair?” Chief Justice Earl Warren, known for his innate sense of justice, would lean forward and put that question to lawyers who laid out well-reasoned legal cases in oral argument. The same question occurred to me in light of two covid-19-related actions taking place in our nation’s capital. First, the recently announced decisions regarding who in Washington will be given priority access to the scarce coronavirus vaccine. (Wash Post)

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Editorial: Brandon Scott’s afro: Hair does not make the mayor

Mayor Brandon Scott’s perfectly round and combed out Afro has caught the attention of many and caused a buzz around town — and even a bit nationally. The style is certainly distinct in the suited-up world of politics, and, at first glance, indicative of a COVID world, where lots of us are wearing our hair a little longer than normal. Except this afro isn’t just reflective of somebody skipping the barbershop. It is deliberate, with expertly-shaped edges. A statement. (Balt Sun)

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Bernstein: Resolve to sing Baltimore’s praises in the new year

Everyone who loves Baltimore is well aware of the problems and challenges facing her citizens. We understand the terrible legacy that structural racism has inflicted on families and the social fabric. We are aware of the crime, the grime, the public schools struggling to meet kids’ multi-faceted needs. We know our taxes are higher than surrounding jurisdictions — and we know why, too. (Balt Sun)

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Editorial: Pandemic underscores need to release more elderly prisoners

The pandemic has once again shined light on the debate of whether housing prisoners into their advanced years is the best use of resources. In normal times, elderly inmates pose a strain on the state’s prison system. They tend to be more costly to care for because of age-related medical conditions, and research has found that many older incarcerated people could be released with little threat to public safety. (Balt Sun)

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McArdle: Half-measures won’t protect us from the new covid-19 variant

As bad as covid-19 has been, you can imagine it being worse. What if each sick person had infected an average of 15 others, as measles does, rather than two or three? What if it had killed more young people than old people, like the 1918 influenza? Or simply killed a much higher percentage of its victims — 10 percent, like SARS, or 34 percent, like MERS? If we ever run into such a bug, covid-19 may prove to have been our training exercise, preparing us for the next round just as SARS prepared the Pacific Rim to weather covid-19 with relative aplomb. (Wash Post)

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Editorial: Zoom is complicit in Chinese repression

Many in this country know Zoom as a venue for mundane mid-pandemic work meetings, or check-ins with Grandma. For others, however, the video-conferencing app has been a critical tool for political organizing, including across borders — or it would be, if the company’s adherence to the dictates of the authoritarian Chinese regime weren’t getting in the way. Justice Department officials brought criminal charges on Friday against a Zoom executive for allegedly working with President Xi Jinping’s government to shut down calls as well as accounts that ran afoul of stringent censorship requirements, including commemorations of the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square. (Wash Post)

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Boot: No vaccine can end America’s pandemic of ignorance and irrationality

Earlier this year, experts tried to dampen enthusiasm about a potential coronavirus vaccine by noting that the fastest development time for any previous vaccine had been four years for the mumps vaccine in the 1960s. Most vaccines take 10 to 15 years to create, and many infectious diseases have no vaccine at all. So it is nothing short of astonishing that less than a year after the coronavirus pandemic began, two vaccines that are roughly 95 percent effective have already been approved, with more in the pipeline. (Wash Post)

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