COVID

In the Navajo Nation, Fighting COVID and Years of Neglect

The scene is familiar: A hospital bed, a respirator, medical personnel in full PPE. But while the attending doctor is from San Francisco, California, the hospital is located 1,000 miles away, in the middle of 27,000 miles of vast, desert land.

Vaccine Passports: Are They Legal—Or Even a Good Idea?

Even as California inches toward economic and social reopening, the virus is running rampant in other states—most notably, Michigan—and outside the U.S., in countries that have received little or no vaccine. There is increasing concern that the highly contagious variants now circulating could fuel a nationwide surge this summer.

A Bug’s Life: Surviving Disease in the Colonies

It’s a warm, spring day. You’re sitting under a tree snacking on a bag of potato chips, when a breeze tickles your nose. You sneeze, sending a soggy crumb into the grass where it bonks an unsuspecting ant on the head. Unfazed, she nibbles the chip, then heaves it over her shoulder and carries it back to the colony. Little does she know that, during its brief flight from your mouth, this sticky glob picked up a fungal spore that is deadly to ants. Within a day she’ll be sick, within two she’ll be dead.

From the Spring 2021 issue of California.

Smooth Sailing? A Public Health Expert Is Hopeful About the Vaccine Rollout

California periodically touches base on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley Public Health Clinical Professor Emeritus and an international authority on infectious diseases and vaccinology. In October, Dr. Swartzberg was hopeful that forthcoming vaccines would be at least 70 percent effective; as it turned out, they far surpassed that figure, with both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines approaching 95 percent efficacy.

Shutdowns Hurt. They Also Save Lives.

What would have happened if large-scale policies like shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions, and business closures were not implemented early in the COVID-19 pandemic?

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

In the Age of Information, Can We Weed Out the Fake News?

In mid-April, the United Nations Secretary-General formally identified a parallel “pandemic” to COVID-19: a “misinfo-demic” or false news about the virus. Conspiracy theories, dangerous fake health advice, and discrimination and stigma related to the virus—from its origin to how it can be prevented or cured—have all spread like wildfire.

What Comes After the Pandemic?

“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.” 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

A “Killer-Type Virus” Ends the World!

LATELY, I’VE BEEN COLLECTING NEWS of wildlife appearing in deserted towns and cities around the world: Wild goats roaming shuttered Welsh villages, jackals skulking in the streets of Tel Aviv, Indian bison ambling along vacant highways in New Delhi, coyotes howling in North Beach. As we shelter in place, the animals are rushing into the void. And not just the charismatic megafauna, either. Witness the legions of dumpster-deprived rats battling nightly on Bourbon Street. 

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

A (Virtual) Day in the Life of A Berkeley Student

Under shelter-in-place our lives have gone digital: distance learning, virtual conferences, online cocktail hours, and more. As Internet usage is up, bandwidth has been strained. According to BroadbandNow, which provides comparison data about Internet service providers, average download speeds in Berkeley dropped 15 percent between February and March. At least we have ways of staying connected while remaining physically distant—even if it means some buffering. Here we imagine a day in the life of a Berkeley student.

From the Summer 2020 issue of California.

Housing Insecure Students Face an Uncertain Future

Rebecca Alturk would have graduated from UC Berkeley in May. As she crossed the stage to retrieve her diploma, cheered on by her mother and 6-year-old son, she might have reflected on her childhood living in motel rooms between evictions, or her rocky start at Cal, trying to balance raising an infant with a full course-load.

Quarantine Culture: Essential Recipes for Desperate Times

Cooking has taken on new significance as we shelter in place. As always, we turn to the kitchen for comfort, creativity and sustenance but now also with renewed gratitude for the people who grow, harvest, prepare and sell us our food. For this installment of Quarantine Culture, we asked esteemed chefs and cookbook authors from the Cal community to share with us some simple recipes for these times, when runs to the grocery store are kept few and far between and the pantry staples are calling our attention. Give thanks and bon appetit!

Alice Waters Talks Food and Hope in Hard Times

Restaurateur and food activist Alice Waters is holed up in her Berkeley home amidst shelter-in-place orders, but she is hopeful about the future. Waters discovered her passion for the culinary arts in the late 60s when she left UC Berkeley to study abroad in France.

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