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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.


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I have many personal stories about healthcare deferred, issues postponed, obvious problems sidelined until they (hopefully) resolve themselves, but the lump in my neck couldn’t be ignored.

I noticed it about a year ago, right before the pandemic was picking up steam — a small pea-sized bump on the right side of my neck, right near my jaw.

I mentioned it to my doctor at my annual physical in December. She probed it and declared that it was superficial, nothing to worry about.

“It’s been there for a while,” I said. …

Academic medical centers in the U.S. didn’t do enough to combat Ebola in West Africa — that cost us when Covid hit.

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

I only vaguely remember the frenzied activity as they rushed me from the ambulance to the isolation ward. But I vividly recall the nurse trying to start an intravenous line in my left arm. I watched as she missed three times, hitting a nerve on her last attempt.

Later I learned the nurse had worked in the intensive care unit for over 20 years. And she was part of the team that hours before my arrival ran a drill simulating care for a mock Ebola patient. By any measure, she was the most qualified person to start my IV. …

The U.S. vowed to be an ‘arsenal of vaccines’ for the world. What are we waiting for?

Dodge ambulances lined up for delivery to the Army. Detroit, Michigan, August 1942. Photo: polkbritton

I recently started seeing friends indoors and unmasked for the first time in over a year. I rarely see severe Covid-19 patients anymore in the ER where I work as a doctor. And I can’t remember the last time I saw a patient die, something that happened many times on every shift early in the pandemic. Things are feeling so positive lately, I even bought tickets for Broadway shows this fall.

We are witnessing the last gasps of the pandemic in the U.S. thanks to an incredible vaccination campaign. Around the world, however, Covid-19 rages on. …

As pandemic mask requirements ease, the culture war rages on

Photo: Sebastian Condrea / Getty Images

Late last week, the Centers for Disease Control released updated Covid-19 mask recommendations, telling the public that vaccinated people can safely go without a mask in both indoor and outdoor settings.

The White House welcomed the news, with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris holding a joint address where Biden ceremoniously ripped off his mask.

“Today is a great day for America,” he said.

Despite the CDC recommendation, however, many people still aren’t comfortable taking off their masks. Firstly, there’s a huge overlap between Americans opposed to getting the vaccine and those opposed to wearing masks. …

What goes on inside the minds of those who treat “vaccination” as a dirty word? A reformed zealot opens up

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

“Subconsciously, I think my thinking was motivated by not wanting to be like the ‘sheeple,’” admits Karina*, a New York City-based mother and recovering addict, who was once ardently opposed to vaccinations.

To those of us who trust science, and who agree that COVID-19 was not the product of some elitist conspiracy, it can be hard to imagine what strange alchemy exists inside the brain of anti-vaxxers (or, as they often prefer to identify, members of the “vaccine risk awareness movement”). Not long ago, I was among the contingent of Americans who regard paranoid New Age beliefs as a hobby…

A doctor in Texas is the latest to be charged for skipping the line to give out expiring vaccine doses

Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

After a very rocky rollout, the effort to vaccinate Americans against the coronavirus has steadily picked up pace, and relative to other countries, the U.S. has so far done a surprisingly good job of distributing and administering vaccines. But it’s still going to be months before most — let alone all — Americans have been vaccinated, which is one of the many things that makes what recently happened to a Texas doctor named Hasan Gokal utterly enraging. Gokal was until recently the medical director for the Covid-response team for Harris County (which is where Houston is). That is, he had…

The Way We Work Now

We don’t have many doses yet. Giving them out fairly is a challenge.

Photo illustration; Image source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Leia, a thirtysomething pharmacy student in Texas, volunteers in administering the Covid-19 vaccine. She spoke with Mai Tran about the uneven distribution of vaccines across various regions.

I’m a doctoral student doing rural pharmacy rotations, and unfortunately, the majority of vaccines are going to large cities. Sometimes it’s hard to get our community to drive two or three hours to the nearest city that has vaccines. …

No, political interests have not warped the vaccine approval process. Over at Elemental, journalist Tara Haelle spoke with medical experts about the coming Covid vaccine and why we should feel…

How I Got Radicalized

It’s been 25 years since the medical drama premiered, and little has changed about American health care.

Photo illustration; source: NBC/Getty Images

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a new series at GEN that tells a story about a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

When I was nine years old, I was riding a horse in my suburban town’s Fourth of July parade when another horse spooked, causing mine to rear and send me tumbling backward. I smacked my head on the pavement, blacking out. I regained consciousness a few minutes later and was rushed to the emergency room. …

In the face of so much death, mass-market decorations cut close to the heart of the pandemic

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Not since April have the streets of New York City been piled high with so many corpses. This October, though, it is not the refrigeration trucks outside of hospitals, stacked with an overflow of corpses that the morgues and funeral parlors cannot handle. This time it’s the Grave & Bones Collection from Home Depot: A line of posable skeletons and ersatz tombstones, capped off by the towering, 12-foot Big Skeleton with flashing LED eyes ($299, sold out). A stroll through my Brooklyn neighborhood (or really, any neighborhood this time of year) turns up house after house bedecked with skeletons sitting…


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