I spent 8 months investigating how exploitation, poverty & discrimination drove COVID—and why scientists haven’t really addressed these issues, despite studying them for 150 years.

“Where is the urgency?” asks @Arrianna_Planey.

My latest #longform + 🧵 nature.com/immersive/d415…
In October, I went to Cali's San Joaquin Valley as it surged with COVID.

Many people impacted by the virus were immigrants who worked at farms & in meat plants. They felt their work was of value to society but not their lives. Low wages, no protection & blatant discrimination.
What I heard from agriculture workers reminded me of an investigation by Rudolf Virchow, 1848:

“The plutocracy…did not recognize Upper Silesians as human beings, but only as tools.” His radical solution was that “the worker must have part in the yield of the whole.”
It reminded me of WEB Du Bois, 1889. He surveyed Philly & found that death rates correlated with living conditions, not biological insufficiencies, as racist hypotheses supposed. And so

“It should spur increased effort...not passive indifference or increased discrimination.”
It reminded me of Sir Douglas Black,1980. The 'Black Report' finds that death rates correlate with occupational class.

Solution? “A fairer distribution of resources."

But what happened in the 80s was the opposite. Tax cuts for the wealthy & corporations. Social services, public education & public health were slashed.

Inequality & poverty rose, so did health disparities. Life expectancy in the US plateaued relative to other rich countries.
Low wages for decades + no universal healthcare + weak labor protections + unassured sick-leave + poor education + disinvestment set the US up for a BAD epidemic, @DrMaryTBassett says.

& Black & Latinx people disproportionately hold low-wage jobs that can’t be done at home.
In the San Joaquin Valley, community organizations led the fight to address inequities. But it was a battle, and the wins are temporary.

Oralia Mendez @CBDIO told me what her community goes through: “This is what we have lived…But the pandemic has brought it up to the front.”
Some researchers are documenting how hard agriculture workers are hit—they collect data that is otherwise obscured because that’s what’s best for corporate interests.

eg thefern.org/2020/04/mappin… or covid19farmworkerstudy.org or medrxiv.org/content/10.110…
Some speak out.

“Many workers have few rights, are underpaid & face hazards that would be unacceptable to the corporate leaders who profit from their work.” says @DrDavidMichaels
If public health can’t push back against corporate interests, it fails—despite so much hard work by committed folks.

@GeorgesBenjami7 @APHA says the time for scientists to call for social reform is now. He recalled 1930s labor strikes & the New Deal.
Scientists have ushered in vaccines, drugs & genetic sequencing. Technologies don’t have as much profit & politics didn’t standing in the way of progress.

As a new editorial @NatureNews says, it’s time to get political.

Please check out my latest piece on the toll of inequality. It was a labor of love.

Impossible without my wonderful editors @naturenews & support from @pulitzercenter & @ksjatmit. I couldn’t ask for better company.
& Shout out to the MANY community orgs in the San Joaquin Valley & institutes I talked to: Central Valley Health Policy Institute @CVHPI Cultiva La Salud @CultivaLaSalud Jakara Movement @JakaraMovement Lideres Campesinas @LCampesinas African American Coalition...
Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability @LCJandA Centro Binacional para el Desarollo Indígena Oaxaqueño @CBDIO Central California Environmental Justice Network @CCEJN California Institute for Rural Studies @CARuralStudies Alianza Nacional de Campesinas @campesinasunite
Western Center for Ag Worker Health and Safety @AgHealthUCD United Farm Workers @UFWupdates
Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries @FIRMunity_ Fresno Building Health Communities @FresnoBHC Centro La Familia @CentroLaFamilia The Immigrant Refugee Coalition…
California Latino Legislative Caucus @LatinoCaucus
Friends Committee on National Legislation @FCNL National Employment Law Project @NelpNews California Endowment @CalEndow @WarehouseWorker American Public Health Association @APHA Public Health Institute @PHIdotorg
Pew Research @pewresearch Economic Policy Institute @EconomicPolicy Milken Institute @MilkenInstitute Brookings Institute @BrookingsInst Food & Environment Reporting Network @FRENnews and @UCSFFresno @UCMerced 🙏🏼
(Typo in this tweet 🙄 Technologies don't have as much profit & politics standing in the way of progress...)

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Amy Maxmen, PhD

Amy Maxmen, PhD Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @amymaxmen

6 Apr
Media: Stop freaking people out with scary variant headlines! They're frazzled & we want the public to know when a variant *ACTUALLY* escapes vaccines regularly.

Questions to ask when you see a press release 🧵:
-Why do scientists think it's deadlier, etc?
("Double mutant"👇🏼🙄)
-If scientists think a variant is contagious because cases are up, ask about the correlation. At UC Berkeley, @staciakwyman found that outbreaks on campus were from parties, not B117.

-Behavioral reasons for surges are less newsy than Scary Mutant, but people can change behavior
-If scientists think variants evade an immune response because of studies in petri dishes or in mice, put that in the headline. eg biorxiv.org/content/10.110… This isn't the same as finding that vaccinated people get COVID.
Read 5 tweets
30 Mar
I read this 320-page investigation into COVID origins so you don't have to!

The undercurrent here is that the market-origin hypothesis is back.

The flashpoint is that even @DrTedros isn't happy that his team didn't have more access to the Wuhan lab.
The team dug deep into data to figure out when the outbreak started spreading in earnest: Conclusion is December 2019.

They spent a lot of time on data from the Huanan market, finding that people w/Covid had visited the same stalls where positive samples were found.
They also went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology & asked a ton of questions. The list of rumors they confronted there are listed in the Appendix. eg
Read 7 tweets
10 Feb
So many stories on reaching vaccine herd immunity! But there's a massive dilemma. Here's a 🧵on what I mean...

About 50 countries have fewer than one nurse per 1000 people. Israel has 6x that rate. UK has 10x. US has 15x. Belgium has 20x. Guess which countries want it all?
Have you seen what 1 nurse/1000 looks like?

Picture people hurt in car accidents who die by the road when wounds could have been stemmed; women dying in childbirth; untreated diabetes; children dying from infected wounds, burns, stomachs. A lack of healthcare is palpable.
What do most countries few nurses have in common?

Many are former colonies, where colonizers subsidized just enough medical care to ensure that people were healthy enough for labor, but they didn't invest in national health systems. Slave traders did less.
Read 8 tweets
24 Jan
There's a persistent myth that pathogens become less deadly over time.

@rkhamsi & @dylanhmorris just reminded me of this since people are apparently acting assured that SARS2 can't become more deadly? Psh.

Short 🧵of history beginning w/hopes of an end to infectious disease
According to Frank Snowden's "Epidemics & Society", 'eradicationists' of the 60s & 70s foretold the end of infectious disease. We had some cures, and they said the bugs become less deadly over time. But like evolutionary psychologists(dis!), they didn't study evolutionary biology
If they had, they'd realize that evolution doesn't have directionality. Anyways, time proved them wrong. eg New strains of dengue evolved, and a second infection with a new strain can be deadly. The HIV epidemic showed that unknown viruses emerge from nature fairly regularly.
Read 4 tweets
15 Jan
Azar just released a delusional, alternative history of Covid testing in the US. I’m mad because our testing failures allowed this outbreak to blow-up. We can’t fix our system if we ignore where it is broken. I suspect @PublicHealth agrees.

My fact-check on remarks @HHSGov 🧵
“It is indisputable that the United States has built the most extensive testing system and strategy of any major country,” says Azar.

False. Several countries have had percent positivity ~1% whereas US has never been below 5% and is >10% today. Refs KCDC & USA @JohnsHopkins
"The federal government got out of the way of test development in safe and sensible ways,” says Azar.

False. In Feb, CDC & FDA blocked labs from testing as the disease spread exponentially. I broke this story👇🏼& wrote more like it as the year wore on. nature.com/articles/d4158…
Read 12 tweets
14 Jan
First 20 min of this delusional evaluation of the Trump Admin's response to Covid is all about blaming China, with some vitriol for WHO. "If a novel virus like this emerged in a Democratic nation, this epidemic would have never happened," says Azar.

So much for lessons learned.
As Covid spread in March, Azar says the government acted swiftly to control spread (they definitely did not). He says the key driver of the pandemic -- ready for it -- was thousands of Chinese workers flying to Italy.
Azar says it's a myth to say that if we had a better testing and surveillance system we could have curbed the virus in February.

(Why is this session even called 'lessons learned'?)
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!