Is the healthcare “free market” working for you?

Journalist Jon Walker published a new piece for The American Prospect titled, “A Guide to the Nightmare of Getting Health Insurance in a Pandemic,” which detailed the absurdity of the U.S. system.

Walker paints a picture of a healthcare system that is perhaps “not working” for those who need it most:



Posted in Coronavirus, Health Care, Trump, trumpcare, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Rampant Asymptomatic COVID-19 in a Homeless Shelter

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I have previously written about “the forgotten” and why Coronavirus infection in these populations affects us all.  I am talking about people in prisons, people in nursing homes and people in homeless shelters.  Outbreaks of COVID-19 in these populations do not remain contained. They spill into the general population by way of prison wardens, nursing home staff and the homeless populate not only the shelters but also the subways and parks.  A similar situation is the captive population on a cruise ship.

To give an idea of the scope of the problem, in the US, 567 715 people were homeless on a single night in January 2019.

In March, 2020, the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) tested all comers from a single large homeless shelter in Boston (excluding those that were already known to have the virus):

Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Residents of a Large Homeless Shelter in Boston

JAMA. Published online April 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6887
147/408 (36.0%) had a positive PCR test, and 87.8% of them were asymptomatic.
The authors correctly conclude that PCR testing of all asymptomatic shelter residents should be performed when an individual with COVID-19 is identified in the same shelter.
The same reasoning applies to outbreaks in prisons, in nursing homes and on cruise ships!


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Is the East End ‘Open for Business’ as Usual?

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Gurney’s Inn, long an iconic resort on Long Island’s eastern tip at Montauk (June 5, 2013) Credit: Doug Kuntz

Some East End resorts are planning to open soon. Contrary to some assertions that misinterpret Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders, resorts are NOT ‘essential businesses’.

Governor Cuomo’s economic recovery policy defines ‘essential infrastructure’ accommodation. This is distinct from seasonal resorts. Please see the following PDF link from the governor’s Empire State Development office, which explains in greater detail what the executive order means in terms of ‘essential business’ and gives guidelines about how essential businesses must operate:

Item #6 of the document defines an essential business:

“6. An Essential Business is any business providing products or services that are required to maintain the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of New York State.” That could include accommodations that provide housing to healthcare workers, COVID-positive individuals who are quarantined, and other vital services.

Our East End resorts are not contributing to the “health, welfare and safety” of New Yorkers. In fact, our local resorts, while critical to our local economy, actually put a substantial burden on our local healthcare systems, even without the added stress of a pandemic, and clearly (and logically) fall squarely within the governor’s phased reopening approach. Hotels and restaurants are in Phase 3 of his plan.

According to Suffolk County’s website (5/10/2020) we are not yet even ready to start Phase 1, as we fulfill only 4 out of 7 reopening requirements.

Here is some more information from Governor Cuomo:

On 4/28, Governor Cuomo was asked whether Saratoga Race Course could reopen. He referred to it as “an attractive nuisance” and stated that it would bring people into the region, hampering local COVID-19 mitigation efforts. According to CBS Channel 2, ‘The governor explained the concept of “attractive nuisance,” saying regions cannot begin opening up businesses that draw hundreds of people from other areas.’ A video of his statements appear in CBS’s link:

In order to open our resort economy in a responsible manner, what sorts of health and safety plans will be required to be implemented (following federal, state, county & town protocols) to protect staff, guests, first responders, and the community at large? Who has input in developing and vetting local plans? Will proposed and adopted plans be made public? Some considerations should include the following:

  1. When resorts do open, how will management know if a guest is positive? What sort of guest screening will the resort employ? Will temperatures be taken upon check-in, at the very least?(What happens if a guest tests positive at a resort? Will they be quarantined at that resort?)
  2. Frequently, seasonal resort staff live in dormitory-style housing (either on- or off-site) with multiple employees per bedroom, with no opportunity to isolate. Will staff be tested regularly? What happens when an employee tests positive? How and where will they be quarantined in that instance? Will there be a ‘duty to report’ for employees and employers?


Local resorts should not be allowed to reopen before a plan is in place that includes testing, contact tracing, and quarantine, especially for businesses that attract large numbers of people from outside our area, be they, guests or employees.

Good policy is driven by good data, and here we face another challenge. The way that COVID cases are reported out by our local hospital, for instance, uses a person’s permanent address as a reporting data point. If a resort guest or employee is hospitalized, it is not shown as a Montauk, or East Hampton statistic, but rather is added to the tally of whatever state and municipality is listed on the patient’s i.d. This makes it difficult to quantify the burden that is placed on local healthcare resources.

We cannot value our economic interests above the safety of our community. I know that our town officials are well-aware of the dedication of our local volunteer first responders. I don’t know if they are aware that a large number of those volunteers are high-risk for COVID disease; often, the most active members of our ambulance corps, for instance, are retirees. To put this group – and the rest of our community – at added risk due to a precipitous opening of our seasonal businesses would be unfortunate.


Jessica James (Montauk)

Posted in Coronavirus, Health Care, public health, Town Board, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Voting in the Pandemic Era: Safety First.

As the officers of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, we wanted to share some thoughts about the controversial decision to cancel the New York State Presidential Primary. We understand that there are Democrats who wished the primary to go forward so that their chosen delegates would have more of a say in the development of the Party Platform. However, there are many circumstances that argue in favor of the decision to cancel the primary.

New York State is constitutionally prohibited from automatically mailing absentee ballots directly to voters. That translates into an onerous process requiring many hands to send out applications, check the applications when returned for validity and then mail out the actual ballots. So, this is a two-step process. Approximately 600,000 applications will be mailed in Suffolk County alone and then, depending on how many completed applications are received back at the Board of Elections, hundreds of thousands of ballots will have to be processed and mailed.

Once ballots are returned, they would be clocked-in, sorted and finally opened after election day, June 23rd. Furthermore, since Suffolk County does not have scanners to do this work, hundreds of thousands of ballots in Suffolk County will have to be read and tabulated by hand at a time when the Board of Elections does not have a full complement of  employees and social distancing rules are in effect.

We do not want any voters to feel disenfranchised, but the reality is that there is no contest for the Democratic candidate for President. This is not the same as canceling the Presidential election on November 3rd. While the party platform is a worthy aspirational statement of our ideals, it has no teeth unless we elect more Democrats to every branch of government who will then have the power to implement those values. Similarly, the United States Constitution is just a piece of paper, unless there is the political will in this country to enforce it. We have already seen tremendous erosion of the rule of law in the past four years. Instead, let us focus on getting our candidates elected.

This is not politics as usual. This is politics in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic. It makes ultimate sense for us to put safety, health and the well-being of our voters and election workers first.

Gordon Herr, Chair, Southampton Town Democratic Committee

Robin Long, 1st Vice-Chair

Andrea Klausner, 2nd Vice-Chair


Posted in Coronavirus, Fair elections, Health Care, Southampton, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Zeldin’s Anti-Vaxxer Donor

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Zeldin’s Anti-Vaxxer Donor Joins Reopen Protests, Opposes Any Future COVID-19 Vaccine

Does Lee Zeldin agree with risking New Yorkers lives?

As Governor Cuomo prepares a statewide plan to reopen safely, Lee Zeldin donor and staunch anti-vaccine advocate Rita Palma joined calls to press Governor Cuomo to end the state’s stay-at-home order early. This comes as COVID continues to ravage New York and especially Long Island where the death toll now exceeds 3,000 with over 70,000 positive cases and rising.

Zeldin’s donor not only attended the dangerous, unpopular protests, but she expressed her total opposition to any future COVID-19 vaccine. In a recent feature, the New York Times pointed out that Palma’s anti-public health rhetoric “could further harm the country’s response to the pandemic.”

Zeldin received $2,000 in contributions from Palma last year alone. And it’s clear why: Zeldin voted against supporting efforts to fight vaccine misinformation last year. And he has not disowned the anti-vaccination movement nor the protests to reopen the state against the advice of health experts.

“While Long Islanders grapple with the ongoing public health and economic crisis, Lee Zeldin’s donor was busy ignoring social distancing guidelines and encouraging New Yorkers to take dangerous public health risks,” said DCCC Spokesperson Christine Bennett. “Given the Congressman’s vote against fighting vaccine misinformation, constituents deserve to know where Zeldin stands on risking New Yorkers lives.”

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2020.  Christine Bennett.


See previous posts on anti-vaxxers:

Posted in Coronavirus, Health Care, science, Uncategorized, vaccines, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


We are all in this together.

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Law and Order: not for Zeldin and Flynn

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Remember when Republicans were known as the “law and order” party?
Seems like a million years ago.
Let’s recap the saga of Mike Flynn:
  • November 2016: Trump announces Flynn as his incoming national security advisor.
  • December 2016: Flynn secretly talks to the Russian ambassador.
  • January 2017: Flynn tells the FBI he didn’t talk to the Russian ambassador.
  • February 2017: Flynn is fired by President Trump. Trump: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”
  • December 2017: Flynn pleads guilty to a felony, saying he “willfully and knowingly” made “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI.
  • 2018-2019: Flynn’s sentencing is repeatedly delayed…
  • April 2020: Lee Zeldin says he’d be “honored” and “proud” to serve with Flynn.
And finally, today: Donald Trump’s Attorney General drops the charges to which Flynn had already pleaded guilty. And Lee Zeldin celebrates on Twitter.
Equally unbelievable is Lee Zeldin’s defense and support of Flynn.
This is unacceptable behavior for a Member of Congress.
This is not the rule of the law.
This is not how a democracy is supposed to work.
If you break the law, you should get prosecuted. If you’re convicted or plead guilty, you should incur punishment. No matter how powerful your friends are.
Posted in Courts, perry gershon, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment