COVID-19 Week # Too Many

Bring on summer!

Will there be baseball?

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is confident owners and players will agree to return to work and play an 82-game regular-season schedule.

But the commissioner cautioned any and all plans are dependent upon the coronavirus pandemic and global health crisis still rocking the United States.

Manfred said it’s still not clear that it’s safe for players and employees to return to work.

Manfred made the comments as part of a townhall meeting on CNN discussing COVID-19 and the domestic efforts to contain the spread of the virus while rebuilding a shattered economy.

He said he is “hopeful we will have some Major League Baseball this summer” and outlined the measures the league is taking to make it as safe as possible when games are played.

Financial discussions are looming. Manfred said there is no “fight” about splitting revenues regardless of what is being portrayed. He said that discussion is still to come, and expects a quick resolution for the better.

“Whenever there’s a discussion about economics, people characterize it as a fight,” he said. “I have great confidence we’ll reach agreement with the players association ... on making it safe to come back to work and the economic issues involved.”

A lab in Utah will handle multiple tests per week for every player in a deal made directly with MLB. If a player tests positive, MLB will not shut down, Manfred said. Instead, the player will be quarantined until he tests negative for COVID-19 twice in 24 hours.

Navajo Nation:

Doctors Without Borders is best known for sending medical professionals into international conflict zones in the midst of medical crises. The organization has teams in Afghanistan, Iran, Sierra Leone, Venezuela and 66 other countries. It did not, however, have a medical presence in the U.S. — until now.

Jean Stowell, head of the organization's U.S. COVID-19 Response Team, told CBS News that Doctors Without Borders has dispatched a team of nine to the hard-hit Navajo Nation in the southwest U.S. because of the crisis unfolding there. The team consists of two physicians, three nurse/midwives, a water sanitation specialist, two logisticians and a health promoter who specializes in community health education.

"There are many situations in which we do not intervene in the United States, but this has a particular risk profile," Stowell said. "Situationally, the Native American communities are at a much higher risk for complications from COVID-19 and also from community spread because they don't have access to the variety of things that make it possible to self-isolate… You can't expect people to isolate if they have to drive 100 miles to get food and water. "

Navajo Nation, home to roughly 170,000 people, now has more coronavirus cases per capita than any state in America. Due to a shortage in nursing and specialized medical staff the most critical patients have to be airlifted to hospitals outside of the reservation. On top of that, Navajo people carry a high rate of diabetes and hypertension, rendering them more susceptible to infection. And as of early May, the region has a higher coronavirus death rate than that of 46 states. The new CBSN Originals documentary, “Coronavirus in Navajo Nation,” explores the community's plight.

"I think it's difficult for Americans to realize how big this country is and how the needs are so different in each place," Stowell said. "You know, urban needs are very different than rural needs. And the needs of the Native American community are challenging because they look so different than the needs elsewhere, so they require a pretty significant coordinated effort."

The fact that Navajo Nation is a food desert, dependent on the U.S. government for nutritious commodity foods, has only intensified the situation. What's more, an estimated 1 in 3 residents lack access to running water.

Mary Pratt:

Trailblazing female athlete Mary Pratt has died. She was 101.

The baseball player is believed to have been the last surviving member of the 1943 Rockford Peaches, the team that was part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the sports movie A League of Their Own in 1992.

According to the league, which confirmed her death on Twitter, Pratt died on Wednesday, May 6.

"We are terribly sad to report that former Rockford Peaches and Kenosha Comets pitcher, Mary Pratt passed away on May 6th. She was 101 years old," tweeted the league. "Mary was the last known original Peaches player that played on the 1943 team. Her stories, her energy will be missed for a long time."

Julie Moore explains the sad state at Cedarville University:

Suffice it to say, in 2012, CU set off on a trajectory of purging perceived liberalism from its school. Of course, such a mission rests solely on perceptions.

After teaching at CU for 18 years, I left to escape the toxic environment and to pursue the idea of a real university. (I didn’t leave CU because White hired Anthony Moore—that happened a month later—and covered up Moore’s sexual assault. I do believe White’s decision was unethical and rooted in cronyism, however; he should be fired.)

Cardinal John Henry Newman’s The Idea of the University written in 1852, imagined the university as a place where students would discover the connections and relationships between disparate fields of knowledge because of their common Creator. Newman’s work resonates with me because, as a CU student, I’d been taught that all truth is God’s truth, so discovering it anywhere we could find it is as necessary and invigorating as, say, reading our Bibles or attending church. Though Jesus and the Bible are God’s “special revelation,” the rest of the world’s knowledge, when true, is God’s “general revelation.” One Creator of all truth.

Yet, under Pres. White, there was a massive shift away from this understanding. This shift has not really been visible to parents, prospective students, or even present students (they don’t know what they don’t know), but those students who endured the transition between Brown and White saw it clearly. Many professors suffer under it. White has elevated the Bible Department above all else. Now that the vast majority of professors there are his chosen people (he forced out a dozen of the professors he inherited), and the long-time veterans have been demoted to teaching mostly general education classes, that department is the crown jewel. It’s what White values most and admires most.

Science and math are necessary, but not profitable, thus the reason the physics major was also cut. They don’t make money like engineering, nursing, and pharmacy, which are also non-suspect. White and his Vice President of Academics are suspicious of psychology and social work as well as all the liberal arts: literature and philosophy (the latter, a major CU also got rid of), film and creative writing, art and theatre.

Indeed, under White’s administration, all the liberal arts must now be “pure,” a la [the policy] which was foisted upon faculty in 2017. Then VPA Reno, who is now the acting president in the wake of White’s administrative leave, wrote the policy. Reno resigned as VPA immediately after enacting the policy against faculty opposition—no faculty vote was allowed, by the way. The present VPA, Tom Mach, now enforces the policy.

Supposedly based upon Philippians 4:8, the policy requires faculty to choose materials that balance the pure with the noble, the true with the lovely, and the admirable with the just, but should not merely focus on what is “just.” …

Safe in Israel:

BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (Reuters) - Arrive four hours early, in a mask and without any escort. Get checked for a fever, disinfect your hands, watch out for the fleet of robotic cleaners, and again disinfect your hands.

This is what passengers leaving Israel should expect to encounter, according to a pilot programme launched on Thursday, as air travel slowly returns to normal after weeks of very few flights.

The idea, Israel’s airport authority said, is to create a “coronavirus-free area” at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, which is already well-known for its rigid security.

Similar measures aimed at preventing contagion could be adopted by airports around the world, and Israel has been conferring about them with authorities in Europe and the United States, said Shmuel Zakai, Ben Gurion’s managing director.

Representatives from the French embassy, for example, were checking documents of French passengers at check-in so they would not have to enter quarantine after returning home.

“This kind of process we will see more and more,” Zakai said.

He’s hoping for the humanities:

Last night word spread that one of the nation’s two largest Christian universities had eliminated its entire Philosophy department, giving those seven professors just a few weeks’ notice for a June 30 end to their employment. Sad as that news is, neither the decision nor the means of announcing and implementing it can be all that surprising for anyone who pays much attention to Liberty University. And this is just a particularly egregious case of a larger trend: humanities fields like philosophy, history, literature, languages, and rhetoric seem to be in decline almost everywhere.

I’m afraid the humanities were hit hard by the faculty cuts announced last month at my own Christian university. But given the sheer scale of the cuts they were charged with making, I want to credit our administrators: not only did they structure that process so that everyone affected still has a job for the next academic year, but they resisted the temptation to wipe out entire major programs in humanities.

I’m obviously biased, but I do think that’s an admirable decision. I’m sure it seems baffling to those constituents who think that we should deemphasize fields that fewer students are majoring in and invest more in those professional “pathways” that seem to respond more directly to the needs and preferences of a market economy. But I suspect that preserving meaningful humanities programs and departments will ultimately set up Bethel well in the long run.

Unfortunately, lots of humanities professors — at Bethel, Liberty, and many other institutions — will still suffer the kinds of loss that I lamented last month. Some of them are my friends. (One of them could be me, before it’s all said and done.) In no way is the future immediately bright. Part of me feels like I can’t give those colleagues enough time to grieve before being so bold as to look for light on the horizon.

But if I was right in that earlier post to “believe that the dying of the status quo can bring forth new life,” then I think there are at least three reasons to hope that the humanities will experience revival during the second fifteen-year act of my career.

The COVID concentration challenge:

Something I’ve heard quite often during the pandemic is, “I can’t read anymore.” That’s mostly because I write a recommendations column where I match people with books to suit their moods, and the mood a lot of people are in right now is “terrified, angry, and sad,” which makes it hard for them to focus on anything, even a book.

For people who are used to self-soothing with a favorite novel, the inability to read is a loss. A small loss, given the scale of tragedy we are all dealing with right now, but a loss nonetheless. So I wanted to find out more about why the state of constant anxiety so many people are living in has left a lot of us unable to read.

I called up Oliver J. Robinson, a neuroscientist and psychologist based at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. Robinson studies the neuroscience of anxiety and depression, and he agreed to walk me through what we know about how anxiety affects the way our brains work. Our conversation covered the difference between fear and anxiety, why uncertainty is so unpleasant to us, and why the coronavirus pandemic is the most uncertain thing imaginable. …

The pandemic that we’re in is the most uncertain thing possible. You don’t know when it’s going to end, whether you’re going to get it. You don’t even know what it is, really. And all of a sudden, everything in your environment is dangerous. Door handles are dangerous. Other people are dangerous. It’s the most uncertain thing.

It’s also completely uncontrollable. I can’t control whether another person’s going to jog at me on the other side of the street.

But what I can do is seek information. I can go on Twitter, I can go on the internet, I can search nonstop, trying to resolve this uncertainty.

The problem is that you’re never going to actually resolve it. It’s not like tomorrow someone’s going to go, “Here’s the solution to coronavirus. Here’s the vaccine.” What we’re doing is trying to resolve this uncertainty that is unresolvable.

And in the end, you’re just promoting this anxiety. You’re trying to find the answer; you can’t find the answer; you hear about this conspiracy theory, that conspiracy theory. It just gets worse and worse and worse.

So why are people having difficulty concentrating? That’s part of the explanation: They’re trying to resolve an uncertainty that is unresolvable.