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Sonya Korshenboym

Good morning.

A letter from the editor

Tracking the pandemic

How Taiwan is tracking 55,000 people under home quarantine in real time. The country, which acted early and has kept Covid-19 cases low, has set up a monitoring system described as a “digital fence” that uses cellular signals on mobile phones to keep people inside.Quartz

How Taiwan is tracking 55,000 people under home quarantine in real time

If I had $1 for every time a government in history has said “we will relinquish this power after the crisis is averted”. COVID-19 is a serious health safety threat, but governments around the world are using the opportunity to make huge land-grabs around invasion of privacy and control of their local

If I had $1 for every time a government in history has said “we will relinquish this power after the crisis is averted”. COVID-19 is a serious health safety threat, but governments around the world are using the opportunity to make huge land-grabs around invasion of privacy and control of their local economies. The US government swooped in and forced multiple industries to re-tool privately owned factories to make supplies for circulation by the federal gov., Taiwan’s government is tracking citizens in a modern day version of George Orwell’s 1984 telescreen, and citizens across the world are applauding the changes and asking for more.

Strong democracies do, in fact, release restrictions after the threat is over (think US, UK, Canada, etc after WWII). But certainly authoritarian regimes will take advantage (eg repressive regimes claiming “terrorist crackdowns”). The key is an informed and empowered electorate supported by a strong

Strong democracies do, in fact, release restrictions after the threat is over (think US, UK, Canada, etc after WWII). But certainly authoritarian regimes will take advantage (eg repressive regimes claiming “terrorist crackdowns”). The key is an informed and empowered electorate supported by a strong press that is not being demonized.

Cats can be infected, not so much dogs. Don’t despair, cat owners. There’s no real evidence yet that you can pick up coronavirus from your feline.Nature

Coronavirus can infect cats — dogs not so much

Interesting that cats may be a potential vector for Covid-19, but not dogs. Considering that our proximity to animals is largely what causes pandemics, it's important to understand how they may play a role in harboring new viruses.

World vs. coronavirus

Globalization brought us Covid-19—and the tools to fight it. The world faces daunting choices, but solutions are unlikely to come if every country stands on its own. This week’s field guide examines the long-term consequences of the pandemic on work, education, diplomacy, globalization, climate change, and more. ✦Quartz

Globalization brought us Covid-19—and the tools to fight it

COVID-19 is a huge reminder of how interconnected our world is, even despite increased protectionism we've seen of late in policy and trade. The effects of the virus on any particular company or industry may be difficult to predict, but how companies plan, respond and communicate to their stakeholders is proving to be critical.

The world’s financial health

How do you know if layoffs are the right choice? Restaurateur Danny Meyer let go 2,000 employees—80% of his staff—last week. He explains why the tough decision was better than the alternative.Masters of Scale

‎Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman: Special: Danny Meyer on the wrenching decision to do layoffs on Apple Podcasts

If you’ve had to fire someone amid the Covid crisis — or might be on the chopping block yourself—you gotta check out this interview with restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer who had to axe +90%. Pain, reality, compassion, hope.

Our new reality

Abortion access is now up to the states. The pandemic is raising a discussion on whether abortion is an elective or essential medical service. A Texas case may force US Supreme Court justices working from home to rule on abortion rights amidst a health crisis.Quartz

Abortion access is now either elective or essential depending on the state

Sure, it feels like the whole world has changed in mere weeks. But there's one issue in the US that the people reliably can't agree upon—access to abortion—and the language of the pro-choice movement is now being used to prove this is an elective, therefore non-essential, procedure.

The exodus of the wealthy from cities reveals the problems with individualism. It's hard to make people act in the interests of the greater good. It all comes down to one question: In a crisis situation, to whom do you owe the greatest responsibility—yourself and your loved ones, or the wider population?Quartz

The exodus of the wealthy from cities reveals the problems with individualism

I like to use an analogy to help people grasp population health. Public health treats society is a bit like medicine treats the human body. Institutions are a bit like organs; people are a bit like cells. Cells are living systems in their own right- they’re the smallest of such systems, just as humans

I like to use an analogy to help people grasp population health. Public health treats society is a bit like medicine treats the human body. Institutions are a bit like organs; people are a bit like cells. Cells are living systems in their own right- they’re the smallest of such systems, just as humans are the smallest component of society. Ideally, we want every cell to flourish- healthy, down to the last drop. But your health, the overall system’s health, is more than the sum of your cells. Cells are actually pre-programmed to die before they can become unhealthy contributors- a process called apoptosis.

Obviously, this does not imply we should scale apoptosis to the human level. Unlike doctors, our ultimate aim and moral imperative is the health of the individual parts- the health of the whole is a secondary objective. Like doctors, though, we have to consider the health of each “level” in deciding how to help. And, like doctors, we understand that the parts cannot survive long without a healthy whole.

I would contend, then, that the moral dilemma between individualism and collectivism is a false dichotomy borne of incomplete information and short-sightedness. To use an extreme example, cancer is just your own cells with their pre-programmed altruism switched off. In the short term, this works great for them. They aren’t even “causing” harm. They simply soak up resources so quickly that other cells can’t compete. They “allow” harm.

Even cancer, though, brings about its own demise by causing the demise of its “society of cells”- the person. Likewise, individuals cannot long act in self-interest at the expense of collective good without harm, allowed or caused, coming full circle.

In other news

We’re obsessed with auctions

“Think outside the box” by Avery, age 9, remote co-worker of Quartz Director of Accounting & Tax Ashley Akbork