Unwavering Kindness As Our Pandemic Response (With Dr. Michael Osterholm)

Show Description

Baratunde reflects on Election Day and contemplates the record set this week for positive COVID cases recorded in a single day. He speaks to his trusted source for all things pandemic response, Dr. Michael Osterholm, and learns about the "pandemic of kindness" that Dr. Osterholm hopes will be more contagious than the virus in the coming weeks. Dr. Osterholm shares how he keeps moving forward despite the dire facts, and he wrestles with the injustice of people of color being disproportionately impacted by the disease. Listen to his weekly COVID podcast, The Osterholm Update, here.

Show Notes & Actions

Show Transcript

Baratunde Thurston  0:06  

Welcome to How to Citizen with Baratunde, a show where we reimagine the word citizen as a verb, and remind ourselves how to wield our collective power. I'm Baratunde.

I'm recording this on Wednesday, the fourth of November 2020. at roughly 3:30pm, Pacific Time, 6:30pm Eastern time. We don't yet have a confirmed winner of the presidential election. But we know the direction that things are moving toward. We expected this. They literally told us it's election season, not Election Day. Michelle Obama told us to bring lunch and dinner to the polls. We knew it could take days, possibly weeks, not hours, to know the results. And that's because we had record votes submitted by mail and those votes take time to count. So let them count. I am tired. I put a lot of energy into this election. And I am excited in part and hopeful. I am disappointed in part an angry I am tired. But just edging out my fatigue is pride. I am proud of you. I'm proud of us. We voted in record numbers. We demonstrated that first pillar of what it means to sit isn't what we talk about in this show. So much. We showed up. We participated we stood together for each other despite so many difficulties in an already too difficult year. We the People claimed our power. And it's a beautiful thing. democracy was on the ballot. And democracy though challenged, is rising. Thank you, citizen. And thank you local election officials who made this possible seriously. Thank you Your local election official find them on the internet, send them cupcakes or pizzas, or cupcake pizzas or pizzas made out of cupcakes, whatever it is they deserve. Some praise and some gratitude for making something so rough run relatively smooth. Joe Biden has received more votes for president than any person in US history. Every demographic group turned out the US experience record turnout from everyone. This happened in a season of lawsuits and moves to restrict voting, a season of hurricanes and fires a season of threats to the postal service. And above all, a season of COVID. That's right. The pandemic isn't over just because you're over it. Regardless of the outcomes of the various elections in the United States. COVID-19 is here and stronger than ever. We are near 100,000 average new cases every day. And that number is climbing. Our hospitals across the nation are reaching their limits again. Things will get worse before they get better. That's real y'all. Things will get worse before they get better. Our guests in this episode said if you don't know someone who has died from COVID, you will. Our guest is literally the one person I trust above all others on COVID matters. And it was my dream, an almost literal dream that he would agree to be on this show. And thanks to one of you. A listener thanks, Michelle. Two weeks ago we've recorded with him and our live zoom audience. As we start to emerge from the intensity of a difficult election. We are landing right in the middle of the most intense version yet of a difficult pandemic. There is no one in this world. I would rather talk to and have you learned from than Dr. Michael Osterholm

I literally trust this man with my life and our lives. So I'm gonna pass the mic to myself from two weeks ago, a little bit of audio time travel. And I'll meet you on the other side of this interview with one of the nation's premier and longest serving disease detectives. And you'll see as I do, that, he's not just that he's also a stellar citizen.

This pandemic is not over. As far from it. In the United States, we're well past 200,000 people who are dead hundreds dying each day up to 1000. Even COVID-19 was supposed to bring us all together supposed to come for us all equally supposed to unite us. But in so many ways, it feels like it hasn't. Yet there are voices out there, there are people out there, including probably you who have helped who have stepped up who have citizens hard in this hard moment. And we have been looking for that good information. In this time. I found that information at a very fortunate time in my life, I will never forget the date, March 11 2020. My flight back from New York City with Elizabeth the last flight of the year, it seems like it will end up being in the waiting area for the plane, I believe it's called a gate. See, I almost forgot what you call those areas of airports because it's been so long. We're in the gate area. And I come across a friend who was on the same flight. And he said, Have you listened to this guy holster home on Joe Rogan? And I said, No, I'd never heard of it. And I hadn't listened to Joe Rogan in a while actually. And so we downloaded the YouTube video version, just a little clip, and the whole podcast to listen to to chill for the flight home. It was not a chill flight home. It was a very alertness raising moment. And we landed as different people than the ones we took off as because Dr. Osterholm presented pure information with humility but with confidence at the same time. And I have been following him ever since as my primary source of trusted information. In this time. If you've been listening to me on any platform, you know that Dr. O is my go to guy. It has been really beautiful to hear his podcast, the Ulster home update, which I encourage everyone to subscribe to what's the once a week must listen on this subject. And to give a little meat on the bones of this introduction. Dr. Michaels, their home is an American epidemiologist. He's the region's Professor and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He served as a science envoy for health security on behalf of the US State Department. He's the author of The New York Times best selling 2017 book, deadliest enemy, our war against killer germs. And in my opinion he is citizen so hard on behalf of all of us right now. So welcome Dr. Michael Osterholm. And thank you as you do with your show. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to spend time with us.

Dr. Michael Osterholm  8:14  

Well, thank you. And I want to be really clear about this. You know, anytime you're on a program, you're supposed to be polite, and thank the individual inviting you all those kinds of things. This is not what these words are about this as a true, sincere and very honest, thank you to you for the message you've been bringing to this topic. Because what you've added is something so much more important than just the facts. It's the context. It's the way we're going to get through this. So I can tell you at our Center at the University of Minnesota, you're one of our heroes. We've listened to you, we follow you and I've learned a great deal from you. So I just want to thank you for that. And it takes a bit to teach an old man but you've been doing a pretty good job. So thank you.

Baratunde Thurston  8:59  

Thank you for that in the beginning. Dr. Osterholm of this pandemic hitting the United States. What was your hope for how the people and the government of this country would react? Give me your best case scenario that you were hoping we'd step into?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  9:16  

Yeah, well, maybe if I could just even take a step back from that to give you some context where we got into that, you know, our center began following the situation the last week of December. And you know, we have our ears and eyes open all the time for what is going on around the world caused by an infectious disease. And we recognized that last week of December, something very unusual and very alarming was happening in Wuhan, China. Within the first week of January, it became clear that it was not being caused by an influenza virus, and then likely it was being caused by a Coronavirus, which actually believe it or not temporarily gave me some hope in a way that I otherwise might not have. And that is because I've been quite involved. With working on Coronavirus, infections, having been quite involved with the SARS response that this country had, as well as the world back in 2003, that severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, and we learned in that pandemic almost kind of event was the fact that we could control this virus because it is one that you did not become highly infectious till the second week of your infection. So if we get identify you early, we can get you isolated in a hospital makes you trade in transplant Anyone else? So based on that when we saw warhound, we thought, Well, you know, what, if this is a Coronavirus, we just have to identify all the clinical ill patients as soon as possible, isolate them. And then once we do, we will be able to stop this and we'll find the animal reservoir. Well, by January 10, it became clear to us wait a minute, something is very different here. This is not just another Coronavirus, infection like that. People were getting infected look like from having contact with people who weren't sick, people who were transmitting the virus with minimal symptoms, not later on. And by January 20, it would be abundantly clear to us was transmission now it occurred in multiple Asian countries. And that we were seeing this pattern emerge, we went Oh my, this is now going to cause the next pandemic in the world is not going to be good. It's going to be a serious challenge. And so we tried to get the world to wake up at that point, we put a statement out saying on January 20, this was going to cause the next worldwide pandemic. And my first reaction is you were asking about was why over the course of the next month that it takes so long for people to actually buy into this, because it really postponed are coming to grips with what we needed to do. On February 20, I published an op ed in the New York Times, again, saying this is a pandemic is coming, get ready, we have to start dealing with it. And I caught so much negative feedback from people saying you're just scaring the hell out of us don't do that. Okay, this flu is much worse. And it wasn't really until several weeks later that we finally started to see the body of public health and medicine and the general public start to understand this. And it was at that point, I went from despair that we weren't understanding as to one of the things, okay, now we get it. Now we're going to do something about this. And we're going to develop and you know, plants are what we need to do to detect it in our communities, how to treat patients how to limit its transmission. And that's what I did have a great hope that we're going to do much more than ultimately we ever did.

Baratunde Thurston  12:39  

Thank you for the first the background, they take us all the way back to December, which it feels like 50 years ago, when when you rewind just not even quite a year. I have been very frustrated by the months since March, since everyone knew and publicly knew what needed to happen. And I think a lot of us have been drowning in the bad news. And I want to know from you, what have you seen during this time, especially even now, that gives you hope that we can still rise to the occasion? What are you proud of in the response? Because I'm searching and it's very hard to find?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  13:15  

Well, and thank you. And let me add context to those because I'm like you in the sense that, you know, I approach this as someone who has had a role in the last five presidential administrations, I serve two Republican governors, two in democratic governors, one independent governor and Minnesota, as a state epidemiologist over the years, you know, the public and close contacts have little understanding of my partisan politics of irony. My job is just to be an umpire and calls balls and strikes. So today, I'll do that for you. Also, you know, it's not partisan. But I have to say that as we talk about this, the one thing that has given me so much hope is something you've experienced, and that is with our podcast, where we now have had many hundreds of 1000s of listeners and the communications we hear from them. People still believe in their heart of hearts, that as bad as this virus is and what it's doing kindness, empathy, understanding will win the day. And they just want that type of context, will take the facts will take the heart information. But how can we do this with understanding? How can we reach out and you know, I've been working now for the better part of 2526 weeks on these podcasts to actually build a whole movement of what I call the kindness pandemic, to take on the terrible virus pandemic. And so I think that there are many, many people who want to help however they can. They will take the scientific information, they will take the medicine of what we need to do, but they don't want to miss out on the understanding No, if there was ever a time now, it should be humankind versus a virus, not humans versus humans it is now. And I think that has been so encouraging to me, the number of emails, a number of follow ups we get from the people who listen, have just given my hope, such a strong backing. And, and that's why I said coming on the show today was really important for me, and for our group, because you to understand that how important that whole concept is. And that's why I'm here. Let the

Baratunde Thurston  15:32  

kindness pandemic wash across the land.

How do you stay connected to the human part of this story? A lot of us are inundated with numbers and trailing seven day moving averages and the death rate for the day. That's on the homepage that so many of our news organizations, and you've been in this work for decades. So how do you stay connected to the people behind all these numbers?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  16:09  

Well, first, I work with an incredible team of people who, every day remind us that these are not numbers, these are people. These are loved ones. These are someone's very special person in their life. And so you know, I we try never forget that. And it's not like you have to try, it's just a reminder of put it in context. And then, you know, it's just reaching out to people because, you know, kindness is so much easier to do. It's like love, the more you give away, the more you have. And I think that you know, in this time, this is what sustains me, you know, this is what keeps me from going to bed at night and saying to myself, I can't get up in the morning and do this one more time. It's just the opposite. I got to get up. I want to get up. I got to be there. You know, yesterday, I recorded a podcast live. And we started a new part of the podcast where we're now each week detailing and living in Morley, you might say someone who has died recently of COVID-19. And just telling their story, because there are so many stories to tell. And so I took the prerogative to tell a story about somebody from my own small hometown in Iowa, an individual who had a distinguished career in the Air Force, retired as Lieutenant Colonel came back to my little hometown in Iowa, and took over the family greenhouse. And over the course of several decades, he was responsible for the flowers that lit up our town, where they were for funerals, where they were for weddings, whether they were for any other special occasions. But what I remember most about him, was the fact that my mother, and I come from a family of very little means was a very proud, good Irish Catholic woman, Abby Ryan. And you know, every Easter, I would save up my money from my paper out to go and buy a corsage for her to go to Eastern mass. And she was so proud to wear that it could have been 20 below zero, and she would have made sure her dress had no coat on. So that curbside was standing out there. And I used to go up and get that corsage every Easter Friday, from Jim, the gentleman who died on September 20, being able to tell that story again last night being able to actually share. This was not a man that died from COVID. This was my friend, this was my somebody who had a major influence in my life who brought something. And I think if we just don't forget that if we don't forget that there are so many people and if you don't know somebody who's died at COVID already, I'm sorry to tell you, but you will, we're going to see an increasing number of people are we becoming what we call long haulers, people who are not necessarily that Ill early in their illness with COVID-19. In fact, many have very mild symptoms, they're often otherwise previously healthy young adults. And unfortunately, 10 to 20% of these people are going on and developing a very, very severe syndrome, a collection of signs and symptoms. fifth or sixth week, they're almost disabled, they're on oxygen, in some cases, their x rays or their hearts and their lungs look terrible. And they have what is in essence, a severe chronic fatigue syndrome like picture. You know, we need to be there for these people. It's not just the people who are in our hospitals in intensive care units. And so I think now's the time, where if we let kind of shine. You know, like I said a moment ago, the more you give away, the more you have, the better you feel. And so that's how I stay connected, is just understanding these people and that knowing that every one of these numbers is someone's loved one. Every one of these numbers is somebody who made a difference. And that's we can never forget.

Baratunde Thurston  19:52  

You said something there about if you don't know someone who's died of COVID you will that feel Like a very depressing forecast for the path of this disease. Can you expand on that a little bit in terms of what you see over the next year that we should all be preparing ourselves for?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  20:12  

Well, first of all, here's your opportunity. Let me I'll cover that. I hope no one in your life does die from coke. But the chances are increasing with increasing numbers they will. So you know, treat everybody around you, as if today was the day before they die. And you know what? Almost none of them will. But boy, everyone will be better for it. Now, the reason I say the dying part is because in fact, we're seeing the case numbers go up precipitously right now, what's happening? Well, first of all, pandemic fatigue has set in, people are saying, I've been doing this for long enough, I need to be out, I need to be with people. And I understand that. That's not to say that that's not a reality, but also understand the consequences, some of those behaviors, we see college students coming back to school, that's great. But they're socializing means that transmission is sometimes pretty dramatic. And the challenges many of these people won't go on to be hospitalized or serious illnesses, they will go on potentially develop this long haul or condition. But what really also is important is they transmit this virus to their mom and dad, to their Grandpa and Grandma, to the older colleagues they work with. And so that's a challenge. And then finally, this category that I call pandemic anger, it's up to a third of the people in this country right now believe that this pandemic is a hoax, they believe it's some kind of politically motivated action to impact negatively on someone. And I don't understand that you don't have to look far to see the pain and suffering. But if you add this all up, that means we're going to see a lot of additional transmission. Today, we estimate that about 10% of the US population has been infected by this virus. That's all we're all the pain and suffering economic disruption and death, only 10% we won't see this virus slowed down transmission till it gets to 50 to 70% of the population, and then only then it slows down transmission. That doesn't stop. Yeah. And so we've got a long ways to go. Now our hope is that we can keep people from becoming infected having to develop their immunity that way, and that we can see vaccines coming forward early next year into mid summer, that can actually be administered that will help protect us. And that's the way we want to find ourselves becoming immune to this virus, not through some illness. And the one thing I covered in my recent podcast, as we get closer and closer to the holidays, think about that for yourself. You don't want to be the reason mom or dad or grandpa and grandma get infected, because you came home not knowing that you were carrying the virus, and they died. We have far too many examples just like that.

Baratunde Thurston  22:55  

I want to pick up on this thread of it doesn't have to be this way that there are things we can do. And you've been clear and proactive. And I appreciate that about the disproportionate impact. So you know more than most, how this isn't fair. What can we do? What are you calling on us to do collectively, to improve this situation? beyond what you've already said?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  23:18  

Well, you know, and I don't mean to sound trite by saying this. But we will be held accountable if we don't take advantage of this crisis, to understand the lack of what I would call just human decency, when it comes to life, and who we want to be as a society, racial disparities, socio economic issues, are by themselves, I think such an under appreciated issue. By far too many. We're seeing more and more understanding of that. And unfortunately, it happens through painful events. But I think this diseases is putting a spotlight on this. You know, why and how can we have such disproportionate impact? Well, you know, first of all, we have to understand that this pandemic is not only cruel, but in some ways is so unfair. And what I mean by that is it has been shouldered by the Black, brown and indigenous communities in ways that so many others haven't had to know. You know, when you're an essential worker, and you don't have a choice, whether you can go to work or not, you have to go to work. When you're in a living condition, where you have three generational families live in a two bedroom apartment, and you're supposed to isolate yourself from mom and dad or grandpa and grandma and your kids when you get infected. You know, I could go through a litany of these kinds of experiences that I think have been so challenging, because they really have created this racial and and ethical barrier that I think is such a problem. You know, I must say, you know, I was very challenged. My emotions were on the boiling edge when we saw large outbreaks and meatpacking plants in this country in the early part of the pandemic, and for which, if you know who is working shoulder to shoulder, incredible hours, very, very tough work. It was communities of Black, brown and indigenous populations. And when they were forced to go back to work as essential workers, even though transmission was widely spreading in that meatpacking facility as they work, shoulder to shoulder, and then for some states to not only just declare them essential workers, but that if they were to not go back to work out of fear of contracting the virus, and then possibly bringing it home to a loved one, that could be having risk factors for serious disease, they didn't get their unemployment. That was just wrong, wrong. And so I think that what we need to do is understand the lessons that this pandemic has taught us about the goodness of being human. And that, you know, if there is anyone in our country who is suffering from disparities, we all suffer. And I hope that we can shine a positive light and how to change this, you know, this isn't us versus them. We are all together in this. And so if there's a silver lining to this very dark cloud is one of them is just that, let's shine this light on it, let's make it loud and clear what happened and why. And what can we do about it? You know, imagine if this is your child, or your aunt or uncle, who are living in that two bedroom apartment with three generations of people. And because you did go to your job every day, and you took public transit, and you're an essential worker, and now you're coming home infected? How do you bubble protect them? You can't in that setting, in a meaningful way, you can't, that shouldn't happen like that. So I hope that that we take this opportunity to take a step back and look not just as our bodies as something that can get infected with a virus, we look at our souls as something about how do we right the wrongs that I think our society continues to suffer? Hmm.

Baratunde Thurston  27:09  

I thought you were gonna say wear masks that was way more impressive and deeper, deeper work?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  27:14  

Well, I think you should do that, too. But I think, you know, we can't hide behind the mask, as you well know, we have to start looking at our souls and asking ourselves, you know, as citizens, what does this mean?

Baratunde Thurston  27:26  

The work that you do when your team does depends on the rest of us listening, and, and doing our part as citizens as well. I wanted to ask you, how do you think about our power as citizens? And what do you want to see more of from us?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  27:48  

You know, the longest journey starts with the first step. So how do we help educate the public about what you can do simply to protect yourself, you know, if you're going to spend a lot of time, in large social gatherings, together indoors, you put yourself in real risk for getting the virus. Now you say, but I can't not do that. You know, I look back on generations before us and think about some of the wars World War Two and others where people sacrifice for years in major ways, putting their life on the line to get us somewhere, we're not asking you to do that. But if you can just wait and minimize the risk, you have Intel, we have vaccines, that's going to be everything in terms of preventing transmission. If you can never forget about the kindness, you know, we're asking so many people to bubble themselves up. So they don't put themselves at risk. Because if they did get infected, they have a great likelihood of having a very severe case. But think how lonely that can be. Reach out to these people. Even if you can't physically hug them, go to their house, stand outside their door, have a conversation, spend time on the phone with them, help them out, however you can, maybe you're the one that can go deliver some product or something that they need. You know, our democracy is critical. It is so critical. In today, we know the poll workers are some of the bravest people we have out there working, go help out with that. That's the kind of thing if we do that, that's feeds our soul that doesn't let the virus defeat us. And then finally, we have to as a society address head on racial inequality, and disparities. And let's use this as a positive example. To shine light on a terrible thing to actually make a difference. I'm an old man, you know, I don't have a lot of years left in this business, okay. But I want a world where my kids and grandkids grow up where the things that we have had to experience now don't occur in the future, whether they be pandemics or whether they be some of the other social ills. And so I think all of that is what we need to be doing right now. You I asked you to be a part of each one, reduce the risk of the transmission virus, reach out to others who are hurting. And think now how we'll get actively involved, so that we can deal with racial disparities, and move us to a higher place in the world.

Baratunde Thurston  30:16  

As you are a doctor, I will infer that as a prescription, and encourage us all to take that medicine, it's very sound, there's a question we like to ask all of our guests. And it comes back to the title of this show. And this word citizen, we interpret this word citizen, less about legal status, or any kind of status, to be honest, and more as a verb, as actions. If you were to interpret the word citizen, as a verb in that way, what is your definition of what it means to citizen?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  30:47  

Well, first of all, is to open your heart to whatever the cause is that we need to address. The fact that you're even on this webinar today, by itself is a very substantial commitment to listening and understanding and thinking about this issue. Second of all, it's action. You have to be there with action. It's wonderful to intellectualize and to, you know, basically take all this information in, you know, in kind of form thoughts and feelings, but act on whether it's being kind, whether it's, you know, being safe, whether it's helping to organize communities around certain issues that will bring all of us to a better place, particularly when it comes to the issues of inequality. So I think citizenship in my mind, and citizens in general, is about action. And none of us are going to necessarily ever change the world. But collectively, we can do a lot. And so I also say, Don't ever think you can't make a contribution, you know, our little group, etc. You know, we're just a small little center in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota, and we're trying to make a difference. And we're not gonna let anybody tell us we can't. And I think that's what citizens have to feel as a citizen feel like you can make a difference. And don't anybody tell you you can't. And back it up, not only with commitment with action,

Baratunde Thurston  32:08  

you knocked that out of the park? Dr. osterholm? That was really,

Dr. Michael Osterholm  32:11  

yeah. I've been listening to you, man. I've been

Baratunde Thurston  32:14  

listening to you tell. But that was your words. Were there you say it was

Dr. Michael Osterholm  32:18  

but you know, but I think this is the collective feeling. I mean, I think this is what's important here, we have a collective feeling here that we all can understand or resonate with. Let's grow that. Let's grow that. Let's take that out and planted just like we're planting seeds, and let's grow it and let this pandemic not just be a painful experience, but let it be a reason why we can do these things. And I believe in my heart of hearts, we can do this. I do believe

Baratunde Thurston  32:52  

I'm gonna grow this moment in the show to encompass voices beyond mine. We like to involve a live audience before the podcast goes out to those who listen on demand. And we have a live question from Priya.

Priya Kumar  33:06  

Hi, thank you so much, Dr. osterholm, for your work. And for being here with us today. I love the kindness pandemic idea. I am Priya Kumar. I'm from Portland, Oregon. I am a psychiatrist. So I wanted to ask about kind of the mental health secondary pandemic that we have been seeing. I'm a psychiatrist. So I have seen the depression, the anxiety, the PTSD symptoms, I've seen depression with people who are struggling with the kind of chronic fatigue that they have gotten from COVID-19. And it's gotten to the point, I think, where even some people have questioned lockdown measures, whether that's good or bad, given how it's affecting our mental health, which I think is misguided. And I think we can work around that. But I would love to kind of get your thoughts as people who are listening to this podcast, we're probably all doing what we need to do in terms of lessening the risk of virus transmission. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on taking care of our mental health as well as lowering that pandemic.

Dr. Michael Osterholm  34:16  

Well, thank you. And I could not be a stronger supporter of the sense that we have to deal with both the virus itself and the mental health aspects of it. That is what it's all about being human. Let me just back up and say, you know, a lot of people I think have a misconception there are these lockdowns that are occurring. But you know, we really have gotten away from any of the kinds of You can't leave your home or you can't do these things. And what it is, is the actual occurrence of the pandemic that has us afraid. If you're afraid to go into a public place, if you're afraid to go to church, if you're afraid to do a lot of things you don't, you can't. And so this is where controlling the virus transmission is really, really important. Now Having said that there are things we need to do, for example, like I think bars and restaurants have been a place for major transmission. I've not been to a bar restaurant since March, I miss it immensely. But what I also understand are the people whose lives have been adversely impacted the owners of the restaurants and bars, the people who work there, I wrote an op ed piece in The New York Times in August 2 was Neel Kashkari, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, in which we made the strong argument that to really get this virus better under control. And to reduce it where people were much less afraid to go into public places, was the fact that we needed to drive down transmission that was going to require us to be distance for several weeks. And if we had done that back, then we would be in a very different place today. And at the same time, we need to take care of people. This is where the part that gets missed, the savings rate in the United States has gone from 8% to 22%, during the course of this pandemic, absolutely unheard of. We could borrow the money our government could from ourselves, and pay us back ourselves with interest to pay for all these people whose lives have been impacted in such a negative way. And I know today, if you don't have enough money to pay for the roof over your head or food on your table, you've got kids you have to deal with, you know, you're struggling, that just adds to the mental health problem. So our whole plan was if it is a bar, or a restaurant or a business like that this adversely affected, pay the people for what's happening, keep them whole, keep our governments whole, keep our colleges and universities whole is borrowing an investment in ourselves. And if you look at the economic models, we actually do much better over the long run in recovering that money back by bringing society back up in a hopeful manner. So I would just say this is part of the plan that I talked about a compassionate, kind, caring response to this actually turns out to be the financially best response to this. And that's what we've missed. And so while we've seen them debate in in Washington, DC, about, you know, getting relief back out to the public, what a missed opportunity to help us through, imagine if you own your clients, and I only making an assumption, one of the challenges they have besides loneliness, is the fear of financial ruin, in the fact that they don't have money to pay for the food on their table, measure if we could take that off the table. And we should be able to do that as a nation. And I want to end by saying thank you, you know, I dedicated one of my podcasts to the mental health support in our communities, is people like you that are more critical now than ever. And you know, it's funny, because it I made a comment of this thing about the fact you know, thank God, I'd had my therapist for 30 years, she's amazing. And I had more men contact me. So you actually said that in public that you see a therapist, I see one and oh, my God, I'm embarrassed, let anybody know. And I'm sad to say why we all need that help. You know, we all need to be there. So all the men I'm here who have seen a therapist, don't be afraid to acknowledge it. And you know, really make the case that this is a good thing. This is mental health, just like we want to have our fiscal health and probably want to improve our mental health. So thank you very, very much for the question. And I I hope that gives you a sense of why I think you're right on the mark.

Baratunde Thurston  38:28  

Thank you, Priya. For that, Eve, you're up.

Unknown Speaker  38:31  

All right. Yes, I'm Eve blossom. And I'm in San Francisco and I focus on digital health in startups. in Silicon Valley. Yeah, I've been following your weekly updates. Thank goodness, it's refreshing to have someone like you do weekly updates. And I'm just wanted to ask if you're committed to doing it throughout the whole pandemic, or longer, no matter how long that will be. And also, I just wanted to mention how I love I'm a big Springsteen fan. And so I really loved how you brought in Bruce, Bruce Springsteen's new music into one of your podcasts.

Dr. Michael Osterholm  39:08  

Oh, thank you for your very, very kind comedy. First of all, I love music. Okay, so I'm committed to these. Okay. And so that's great. I think that one of the reasons I can't let this virus get me, you know, myself, it's at all aligned, don't look back, they might begin in on you, you know, kind of thing. I got to do these podcasts on purpose, you know, so, so I'm going to keep doing this as long as I possibly can. And for as long as it's helpful to the public. And I work with the most amazing team of people at Cid rap, who co produced this thing. They make it possible for me to do what they may be possible to be here. So yeah, I'll keep doing it for as long as people find it useful. And you know, I want to be here to celebrate when we get over this virus I want to be at that celebration. I invite you all to it. Okay. We'll get you all there. We'll have one heck of a time. It's our beat the virus party. Okay, we're gonna do it. So thank you and and we'll keep we'll keep plugging away.

Baratunde Thurston  40:08  

Thank you for that Eve and I look forward to that party. I already know what it looks like. It's that scene from the matrix when they're all underground. And it's like a rave and they're way too close to each other. It's just like so many shared the droplet.

Dr. Michael Osterholm  40:21  

Can I tell a very brief story here. I give you hope in the fact that my niece who I'm very close to in her husband lost their house in Santa the Santa Clara fire. almost seven weeks ago. It was tragic. They barely got out. They had their dog they couldn't find their cat. They had to leave it. The daughters the three grand nieces were traumatized by it. I can tell you make a long story short, two weeks ago somebody thought they saw it up there. Last week they actually captured in the live trap with food how it survived for six weeks after that severe fire is under incredible in her name is mama kitty. And mama kitty should give us all hope that if a cat can do that, survive that fire and live for six weeks though food and water. Amen. Anything's possible. So I have hope.

Baratunde Thurston  41:09  

Awesome. Mama Kitty, or we have one more live question came in under the wire. This is a family member of mine, my uncle, Dana Robinson. Okay,

Unknown Speaker  41:21  

I'm back in the gym now. area, Washington, DC. My name is Dana Robinson. They've just allowed the gyms in the hospitals to initiate social distancing in the gym. I've been waiting for that I didn't think it was going to come until 2021. It looks very, very different. you're used to seeing 50 people in the gym Now you only see 10. Do you think that safe? Are you think I should wait to 2021? Until we get that vaccine?

Dr. Michael Osterholm  41:50  

Well, first of all, let me say that we do know that you can get indoor air transmission in a relatively smaller room setting. And so I would say that, you know, if you are at high risk of having a very serious case of COVID-19, I might still take a pass for a while on this. But I think the idea in the gym is a good thing. Physically, you want to be active. And that's a very good thing to be out and about. So what I would do is add a little twist to that and find out the time of the day, that least number of people are there, and then go there. And then that's your way of accommodating and making it as safe for yourself as possible. So But the big thing is, you know, you're taking care of yourself, you're thinking about it in the right way. This is the smart decisions that are going to allow a lot of people to avoid getting infected. So congratulations. And some other time. We love to hear a lot of stories about your relative here. Okay, but we'll wait and see where I'm at one. Okay.

Baratunde Thurston  42:46  

Once they will definitely save that one. Thank you again, I heard a lot of good things from you. I'd summarize it as be safe, be kind and be active is one way to put it.

Dr. Michael Osterholm  42:58  

Thank you. Just thank you for having me. And thank you for what you do. Let's hang together. Okay. And let's get through this with a pandemic of kindness. And again, thank you so much for having me and for all what you're doing out there. Appreciate.

Baratunde Thurston  43:10  

We appreciate you too. Good luck and we're rooting for you're rooting for us all appreciate you Dr. Mike Auster home from Sid rap in the great state of Minnesota. That was something I'm not sure if I should call him Dr. osterholm. Or Dr. Wolk stir home. Yeah, I did it. Yeah, I'm corny. What are you going to do about it? Nothing because it's already recorded. So just accept it. Dr. Michael works their home. hosts privilege. Okay, settle down Barrington de the way that Dr. osterholm weaved in our opportunity and obligation to deal with racial disparities and inequality. That was impressive and honestly, a bit unexpected. Major thanks to Dr. Michael osterholm and his team at Sid Rapp, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Thanks for joining and reminding us to be safe, be kind and be active. You can follow Dr. oldster home on Twitter m. t. Oster home o s t r h o lm or follow at Cid rap ci d r a p on the socials and visit the website Cid rap dot u m in as in University of like we always do, we're going to post this episode of transcripts, show notes and more at how to I'm going to ask a special favor on this one because I think this is a public health value to everyone. Please share this episode with everyone you know, they don't have to dig the whole series but let them listen to this one and listen to Dr. All Star home. He's been such a straight shooter throughout this whole thing. And I think if more people heard him and followed what he said, more of us would make it through this hole. Now, Tom for some action. On the internal front, I want you to subscribe to the osterholm update COVID-19 Michael Lister homes podcast, you can find it wherever podcasts are found, search for it online, the URL is a mess. So I'm not going to say it out loud. But if you see the show notes on your podcast app, you should just be able to click the link there. I want you to think about the worst and the best for you in this pandemic. Like what's the worst thing you've experienced? Maybe you lost a job, maybe you lost a person, make a little space to grieve and acknowledge that. And on the flip side, what's the best thing that's happened to you, during this pandemic? Have you had more quality time with your friends? Did you finally clean your garage, I don't care how big or small The thing is. Embrace it. Embrace the positives and the negatives of this COVID year we are in without guilt without shame. And know that you are not alone in that. I want you to recommit to suppressing this virus. We can do this. But we all need to show up to this. We know what's hard. We're tired, and we're angry. But I want us to remember why we are making these sacrifices. It's not to satisfy a public health bureaucrat. We make these sacrifices to save lives. We make them to keep our healthcare system from being overrun, which we all need, whether we have COVID or not. Keep physical distance, wear masks, wash hands. Let's dig deep and rediscover the spirit of shared sacrifice that has enabled us to rise to other difficult moments in our past. I'm not asking you to go overseas to enlist in the armed services. I'm not asking you to melt down all your spare copper. I'm asking you to work with each other, to help each other. And recommit to that because I'm tired too. I'm not sitting up here just like adhering to everything easily. It is exhausting. But we can do this, we must do this.

Right on the external action front. If you can support a local COVID Relief Fund, Dr. Osterholm talked about the increased savings rate. Many of us are suffering extraordinarily financially, some of us are doing much better, or good enough, and can spare something. So I want you to search in your search engine of choice for donate COVID Relief Fund, and then the name of your city. Find a way to support someone who needs it right now, and make it easier for them. To help us all. Stay safe. Reach out to someone who's isolated. This comes right from Dr. Osterholm. There are so many of us who've had to retreat from company from each other for our health. check in on those people. Give them a call a video chat, stop by safely distantly, to let them know that they're not in fact alone, because you're there. And finally, be kind and spread that pandemic of kindness to counter the pandemic of fear the pandemic of COVID do something nice and unexpected for someone today. Anyone? Small is okay. Just do it. And then do something else for someone else tomorrow and repeat that. And tell us about it. Hit us up tell someone about to put it on the hashtag, email us stretch beyond your comfort zone that we're struggling through in these unprecedented times? We're in a hard moment. And I acknowledge that. But we're here. So we can still do and we must we must show up and invest in each other, know our power and serve the many not the few. Let's do this for each other. Thank you. As always we welcome your contributions your thoughts, comments and how to you can visit the website find me online wherever baritone de the username is found that is me. patreon Instagram everywhere I got them all and you can text me 202894844 put the word citizen in there so I know how you found me. Congratulations. We made it through another election and we are going to make it through this pandemic. If we do it together how does that isn't with veriton Day is a production of IHeartRadio Podcast. executive produced by miles gray next dump Elizabeth Stewart, and Baratunde Thurston. Produced by Joelle Smith, edited by Justin Smith powered by you


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