Ed Yong Profile picture
16 Nov, 10 tweets, 5 min read
🚨During surges, much is written about healthcare workers burning out. But they often get by on adrenaline only to find, once ICUs are empty, that so are they.

In the US, 1/5 have left. More plan too. I wrote about the hemorrhage happening right now. 1/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
I spoke to so many healthcare workers who’ve been broken by the pandemic—by the traumas they saw, the institutions that failed them, the moral distress of being unable to do their job. Many thought they were in medicine for life. They’ve quit, too. 2/

COVID is hard to treat. It quickly inundates hospitals.
Healthcare workers aren't quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They’re quitting because they can’t handle *being unable to do their jobs*. 3/

COVID patients are getting more belligerent. A nurse said, “We’re at war with a virus & its hosts are at war with us.”

That’s eroding compassion, which is horrible. Being shaken by death comes with the job. Finding yourself *unmoved* is almost worse. 4/
Many HCWs left more because of how their hospitals treated them than because of COVID itself. They were already burned out but "I was willing to stay & be miserable,” one said.

Then they realized that instead of being resigned, they could just resign. 5/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
This creates a crushing downward spiral. People leave, things get harder for those left behind, *they* leave, and so on. 66% of acute/critical care nurses are thinking about leaving--not just their jobs, but *nursing*. 6/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Expertise is hemorrhaging. Many older nurses/docs have left, taking incalculable amounts of know-how with them. Already “things are being missed,” a nurse told me. “The care feels frantic and sloppy even though we’re not overrun with COVID right now.” 7/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Many HCWs told me they’re now more worried about their loved ones needing medical care *for anything*, never mind COVID.

This is the pandemic’s legacy. This is what 2 years of bad policy & individualistic choices have cost us. 8/

This piece is not without hope. But I want to be real here. It's BAD.
I spent the last 2 weeks listening to dozens of people relive their worst 2 years. HCWs are used to bottling things up. When they talk—when they cry—we had better listen. Fin/

These two pieces were written almost exactly a year apart.

A tragedy in two headlines. (Or a how-it-started/how it’s-going meme if you prefer)

13 Nov 2020 theatlantic.com/health/archive…

16 Nov 2021 theatlantic.com/health/archive…

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More from @edyong209

10 Nov
End of an era. Flash Forward was a singular thing.

And no single journalist more heavily influenced my approach to pandemic coverage than Rose.

For years, I've marvelled at how she seamlessly wove science with history, culture, and sociology... 1/3

... how she eschewed easy technocratic solutions to complex problems; how she centered disabled, queer, POC, and other marginalized voices; and perhaps most importantly, how she maintained a core of hope even when talking about the bleakest futures. 2/3
She did all that, and for most of Flash Forward's life, she did it *single-handedly*, without the production crews that many popular podcasts have.

She's an inspiration, and a dear, dear friend. I can't wait to see what she does next. 3/3
Read 6 tweets
3 Nov
The whales killed during the 20th century collectively weighed 2x more than all the wild mammals alive today.

A new study reveals the enormous hole that their slaughter left in the ocean, and suggests a bold path for restoration.

My latest: theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
Pre-industrial whaling, whales ate 2x as much krill as exist today every year. Or 2x the global fisheries catch.

Which was fine because their poop fertilized the same food webs that they gorged upon. When the whales were killed, those webs imploded.
One possible but controversial solution is to add iron to former whaling grounds, jumpstarting food webs that the whales once fuelled themselves.

This plan is essentially humans cosplaying as giant piles of shit, which we should be *amazing* at by now

Read 4 tweets
25 Oct
There's a lot of Facebook coverage out there today, but I want to especially highlight this piece by Adrienne, not just because it's amazing in itself, but because it represents the latest of a deeply incisive series, all of which you should read 1/
Pair it, for example, with this piece from last December about Facebook as a doomsday machine. 2/ theatlantic.com/technology/arc…
And follow those up with this piece from Sept on Facebook as an autocratic state. 3/

Read 5 tweets
23 Oct
🚨I wrote about public health’s history; why it spent the 20thC moving away from broad coalitions, political advocacy, and a crusading spirit that actively pushed for social reforms; and why it must regain those things to be relevant and effective. 1/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Public health is often cast as an underdog, invisible & ignored. That’s not the full story. In the 20thC, it made choices that silenced its voice, reduced its constituency, minimized its power. It “actively participated in its own marginalization.” 2/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Germ theory was a revolution that gave public health license to be less revolutionary. It allowed the field to move away from the social problems that underlie poor health towards a blinkered, individualistic, biomedical model—to its detriment, and ours. theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Read 8 tweets
8 Oct
I wrote about planarian flatworms that reproduce by tearing themselves in two.

Each piece behaves like a full animal; the front of the tail fragment will start acting like a head.

Each piece will regenerate a complete body, regrowing a brain if needed

This piece begins with an animal ripping itself in two. And then it gets weird. theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
It’s an enormous if temporary relief to be writing a weird-nature story again theatlantic.com/science/archiv…
Read 5 tweets
2 Oct
This is the introductory essay that I wrote for the Best American Science & Nature Writing Anthology, which I edited this year. (Out Oct 12)

It’s about what it means to be a science writer, and how the pandemic changed the way I think about the field.

Here’s the anthology, which you can preorder. I’m so proud of this selection and the 26 amazing writers whose pieces are featured. bookshop.org/books/the-best…
Also I wrote this essay in February, while still on book leave. It’s interesting how much it thematically overlaps with the piece I wrote this week, down to the Virchow ref and the germ theory bit. I promise this isn’t suddenly a Virchow stan account.

Read 4 tweets

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