Detroit, Jonathan Cohn, FLU discussed on Daily Detroit
Stranger things about this diseases that patients could go from being relatively okay to on a ventilator in a matter of hours that's Jonathan Cohn senior national correspondent and Huffpost. And he's our guest talking about what they're reporting has learned from a package of stories on the corona virus crisis even better. It was written by a number of great local journalists Patricia. An Stack Anna Clark. Tom Perkins in cone with the support of Type. Investigations has been telling the stories of what's been happening here in Detroit. An epicenter of the pandemic that suffered nearly eight thousand cases and more than seven thousand deaths as of this recording after all crises. Like this expose the often ignored. But very real gaps. In our national fabric whether it's healthcare income inequality or a ton of other issues then on your daily for Tuesday April Twenty first twenty twenty. I'll share a few things. You should know around Southeast Michigan. I'm jair stays and let's jump into that conversation with Jonathan Cohn along with Sven Gusts right now. Joining US via skype is Jonathan Cohn. He's the senior national correspondent for Huffington. Post his byline appears among others on a recent story. Headlined DETROIT'S HEALTHCARE WORKERS ASK. How many lives can we save Jonathan? Welcome to daily Detroit. Thanks for having me on your show. Yeah absolutely you've done a lot of work on the Cova. Nineteen outbreak as a lot of us are pretty well consumed with this nowadays. Can you talk a little bit about why you wanted to focus in on Detroit and kind of you mentioned? You're one of four reporters on this particular story which will link to in our show notes. You know how how the kind of project came together like pretty much. I think every news organization you know some time a few weeks ago. I think it hit all of us at this was going to be the story of the year. Maybe beyond a year and something that we were going to be covering for a while and as you said I do. I do national coverage so you know I had been writing already going back to late February about some of the issues that were coming up at cover healthcare policy normally as might beat. So you know I was writing a lot about what's going happen the hospitals and do they have enough ventilators and if they don't where do you get the ventilators but we were very interested in capturing obviously more human side of this and you know? I'm a national right. If I happen to live here in southeastern Michigan on the Arbor and One of my editors can't tune said. Hey you know. We're hearing a lot and I've been talking about this a lot about how Detroit is really looking like they could get hit really hard by this and maybe this is a place to tell a story of what is like on the ground but in a really comprehensive way and you know my first thought was. I live here in southeastern Michigan but I don't actually cover local news that much and there's a lot to cover. Were probably better off. An at. You Know Discusses Thought you know we should get a team of reporters and get some people who really have really strong local ties. So people like Pat Answer debt who you know longtime residents who read the Detroit. Free press will recognize her. You know. She's like the dean of medical reporters down here. Anna Clark who wrote a fantastic book on the flint water crisis and lives in Detroit and so her and Tom Perkins. Who's based in Detroit in the four of us? Basically we sort of became a reporting team and the band was go out and report on. What's going on in Detroit and start writing stories? And at some point we're going to put together one big long piece on what this means and maybe we can be there right when this surges hitting not just to you know tell people what this is about and get their attention but we were very conscious of the fact that this is a wave going to kind of crust across the country. Maybe there will be lessons here that the people on the front lines will learn. That will help people in other communities either. Avoid this sort of surge or if it comes you figure out how to deal with it. Yeah WanNa come back to that lessons for other communities across the country but I wanted to read this. You know maybe this is sort of like your your nut. Graph to use a wonky insider term. But you're right this enduring city just five years out from the largest municipal bankruptcy in. Us history is framed as a comeback town ready for revival but in a cruel twist. The Corona virus turned the city's greatest strengths. It's connectedness and its network of mutual aid into a deadly threat. Can you elaborate a little bit on that? How those things sort of turned into a threat? Yeah one thing. We thought a lot about as we were sitting down and thinking about how to tell the story we thought a lot about. How did this begin right? How did Kovic Nineteen Start in Detroit? And we don't really know for sure Audino. Maybe someday they'll figure out how it got here but we do know one way in the very beginning that it spread very quickly was there is a A community meeting police in pancakes meeting in Was the ninth precinct. I want to say I'm doing that from memory. Mom where there was community. Get together with police officers in neighborhood residents in community activists you know and I think partly to improve police citizen relations in you know in you know which are which are obviously up down and so on one hand you had this this example of this community coming together people getting together you know Detroit pulling itself together and it turns out that somehow cove it was there and it spread. We're fairly certain you know several people. Got It at that Meeting at that event. And then of course spread it from there. And you know to me I think you know that sort of an example of what was the city coming together. What HAS GIVEN DETROIT? It's resolve its ability to climb out of the basement and now being turned against it in effect by this virus which exploits that fact to spread. And you know and particularly to first responders to community leaders and it's one of the tragedies of this pandemic are you know the lives that it is taking the lives that it is affecting our in many respects. You know the people who rely upon to rescue us to help us to lead us and that was an example of it so one of the things interest me as you say that you're you know have background doing health policy. How has this exposed some of the problems that have been going on for a long time in Detroit because at least it seems to me on the ground that yes? There are new problems being created by the corona virus but really exposes a lot of cracks and giant gaps in the system. I'm thinking specifically of places like DMC Sinai and I live in the city and I see like the health disparities. And what have you seen compared to the national? And what is it kind of exposed for you the pandemic? It's really been able to find all of the vulnerabilities in our society and we have a lot of those vulnerabilities here in Detroit. So when we think about why is Detroit particularly vulnerable to this? Well you know you start with the high. You know high number of people who don't have good access to healthcare right because either. Maybe they don't have health insurance or maybe they have health insurance but they they don't have easy access to a doctor or a clinic because there aren't as many in the city of Detroit because private providers have mostly left for the suburbs. Because it's hard to harder you know they don't make as much money here on Weei. In addition to that we know that when we have large numbers of people in poverty when we have racial disparities like we do in Detroit. We're going to see a higher incidence of hypertension high blood pressure of diabetes of us for Asthma Run DOWN The list of diseases that we know conditions that we know are very disproportionately present here in Detroit and then you kind of match that up with the list of what are called. Co Morbidity is no conditions that make you more susceptible to the really severe complications. Kogo the ones that are likely to land you in the hospital may be on a ventilator and ultimately less likely to survive and they match up almost perfectly You know and and so I think that's one reason you see that here in Detroit. It's like a wildfire because it's just there's tinder everywhere so it's really exposed those underlying problems and then you get to the sort of side of healthcare delivery as you said you know you look at a place like DMC which has had a lot of controversy around right. There's been a lot of questions about is owned by Tenet which is a for profit company based in Texas and a lot of people say look at the not invested enough that the hospital is not living up to its historic commitment to be the number one safety net hospital of Detroit and I will certainly say that in our reporting in looking at the different hospitals around Detroit you know we heard a lot of stories from EMC from people working at DMC who were really struggling and they really seem to be having a hard time. That's not to say you didn't see them at other hospitals and you know who knows. Maybe there's just a function of who we spoke to but certainly nothing. We heard a give us any reason to sort of question the narrative that's out there about DNC. Yeah and talking about the the healthcare workers in these hospitals to their facing real shortages of equipment that they need especially personal protective equipment. What sort of things did you find that? They're doing into sorta cope with these shortages. Yeah and this is one where it was really interesting to follow the story over the course of a couple of weeks because the story changed as time moves forward. So originally you know. P. p. e. was just nobody had enough of you know especially The all important n ninety five masks which we've all heard about these are these special masks that are more protective and ninety five because they blocked ninety five percent of them terio coming in. Nobody had enough and you had people who were on effectively. What we would consider the frontlines of this you know dealing with Kovic positive patients in very close interactions not having these masks and potentially getting exposed and of course as we've already heard there are a lot of healthcare workers who've gotten sick and you have to presume some of them in some cases that was because there was not enough. Pcp E as that reality set in everyone went on a mad scramble to do two things number one to find more right than that was something that involved not just the hospitals but also involved the hassles ation involved the state government working with the national government. We talked about it in the second. If you want but In addition than you know why improvising. So you know. You had hospitals experimenting. We find ways to sterilize. These masks we ration the mask and we say all right well normally you know under normal procedure you use a mass for patient encounter and you describe it. Well now you're going to keep it for the day all the now you're gonNA keep it for the week and you know things like that and and and none of these were ideal solutions. But when you're facing shortages have to make the best of what you can one of the things that has gained steam in Michigan among some. Is this idea that this is like the flu or this. Isn't that big of a deal? Even in our twitter mentions or listener feedback. People go well. This hasn't hit me yet. You know and so they don't have a personal attachment to this story. One of the things I enjoy or I think is valuable about your series. Is Those personal stories to you and also with your background with having a longer health health care perspective. What is so insidious about this and why it's different than other things we faced. I will say I remember when this first popped up on the radar screen back in January and February and I remember hearing it was like who I think. I said it was like the flu like a lot of people. I did not take it that seriously. This is more semi so as a medical matter is more dangerous than the flu. I mean in the numbers bear that it is threatening people who normally would be fine with the flu. I mean they're you know it tends to be most serious for the elderly. It tends to be most serious for people with underlying medical conditions. But you can talk any healthcare worker. Here they will tell you they are. Seeing young people come in they are seeing seemingly healthy people. Come in and the you know. There's a lot of things in cities but I think one of the hardest. I know this is something we we saw in our reporting in heard about..