I Reported on Covid for Two Years. Then I Got It. – The New York Times
Apoorva Mandavilli has covered the coronavirus since the pandemic started. But contracting the virus herself taught her something no research paper could.
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Two years after the coronavirus became the focus of all of my coverage as a science reporter for The Times (and all of my thoughts every waking hour), it happened: I tested positive for the virus.
My case was mostly mild, as the virus generally is for any healthy 40-something individual. But the experience nevertheless gave me perspective I would not have gained from reading scientific papers or interviewing experts.
Over the past two years, I have written hundreds of articles about the coronavirus — about asymptomatic infections, tests, our body’s immune defenses, breakthrough infections and boosters. I was interviewed myself dozens of times to answer questions about the disease, the pandemic and the U.S. response to the virus.
But all along, my relationship with the virus stayed academic, impersonal. Even when the Delta variant swept through India and I lay sleepless, worrying about my parents, it was still not quite at my door.
To be honest, I’m surprised it took as long as it did for me to catch Covid. As someone who covers infectious diseases, I’m not squeamish about pathogens, and my family and I have taken some risks during the pandemic. My husband teaches squash indoors, often without a mask, my children have been attending school in person — albeit masked — since the fall of 2020 and I’ve traveled on airplanes, including on a 20-hour journey to India in the thick of the Omicron surge.
But we are all vaccinated and boosted (except for my 10-year-old daughter, who doesn’t yet qualify for a booster) and relatively healthy, so we knew that while we might develop some symptoms if we were to get Covid, we would most likely recover quickly. We were careful, especially around vulnerable people, such as my mother-in-law and friends who have young children.
Over an (indoor) dinner in early March, a friend and I marveled at how our families had escaped Covid. The virus seemed to be in retreat and cases in New York City were lower than they had been for months. We thought we were in the clear.
I should have known I was tempting fate.
Three days later, I found an email in my spam folder from the city’s school testing program alerting me that my son had tested positive for the virus. I immediately informed the school. That evening, a friendly man working for the city called to give me some information. He began with “Covid is a disease caused by a virus called the coronavirus.” It was nearly dinnertime, and I was still finishing up my story — on the science of the coronavirus, of course — so I asked if we could skip ahead. But he was required to go through every bit of detail about the disease, the symptoms and the quarantine protocol.
After 16 minutes of this one-sided discourse, he asked me if I had any questions. I didn’t, and I am fortunate enough not to need the city’s quarantine accommodation or free supplies.
That was Thursday, March 10. Looking back, my husband felt under the weather earlier that week, but a rapid test said he was virus free. My son, too, had had a scratchy throat, but had chalked it up to seasonal allergies. Just like the experts I have interviewed have said, the symptoms were indistinguishable.
Though my rapid test turned up negative, I decided to act as if I had Covid. I alerted my co-workers. I bailed on an outing with friends. My children canceled all their activities. I eventually did test positive.
On Friday night, my daughter developed a low-grade fever but was full of bounce again by the next morning. As expected, we adults were the most affected. I was taken over by a heavy cold and an unrelenting malaise. By the following Wednesday, I was too sick to work. I learned that even those with a mild case can experience serious symptoms.
I am privileged to have the luxury to work from home when I feel able and to take time off when I don’t. And I am lucky, too, that my children are old enough not to need constant care and that they attend a school that accommodates remote learning. I knew even before I had Covid that the disease has a hugely disproportionate impact on underserved communities, but as I said on the Times podcast “The Daily,” becoming sick with the virus put that knowledge into sharp perspective.
I’ve written about many diseases — H.I.V., tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, polio — that I’ve never had. I could have done without this experience of getting Covid. I’m not worried about these symptoms persisting for too long — vaccination significantly cuts the risk of so-called long Covid — but I’m still inordinately fond of naps.
I’m thankful to have gained a richer, broader immune defense to the virus. But mostly, I am glad to have a deeper understanding of what our readers have been experiencing.
Former Trump AG Bill Barr joins new business lobbying group that aims to target Biden regulations
Former Attorney General Bill Barr will help to lead a new group formed by a business lobbying organization that aims to be an alternative to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the massive advocacy group that has fallen out of favor with some Republicans.
Barr will be chair of an advisory board for a project called the Center for Legal Action, he told CNBC in an interview. The group is part of the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, the business lobbying group that launched last year as a possible rival to the chamber.
The American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce boasts of being a business lobbying group that fights “against outdated regulations, future-killing tax policies, and the corporate cronyism and backroom DC deal making that close down our economic future,” according to a memo pitch to potential members.
Barr’s decision to join with the new group comes as some Republicans on Capitol Hill have turned their backs on the Chamber of Commerce after it started to favor endorsing Democrats running for House seats. The business lobbying behemoth moved away from predominantly supporting Republicans in recent years after former president Donald Trump embraced trade protectionism, bashed certain companies for their social stances and tried to overturn the 2020 election.
Barr, for his part, drew the ire of the former president and many of his GOP allies when he said evidence did not back Trump’s claims that fraud cost him the presidential election.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., are among the powerful GOP members who have distanced themselves from the original chamber.
In a statement to CNBC provided by the new group, McCarthy said it “is an important tool to ensure regulators operate fairly, efficiently, and without burdening America’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
Scalise in a separate statement to CNBC provided by the business lobbying organization said, “The American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce creating the Center for Legal Action is welcome news to House Republicans.”
The new group aims aims to challenge — at times in court — regulations put in place by the Biden administration. Barr will chair the project’s advisory board, in support of the chairman Terry Branstad and CEO Gentry Collins.
Branstad was a longtime Iowa governor and Trump’s U.S. ambassador to China. Collins was once a political director for the Republican National Committee.
In his role, Barr will advise the Center for Legal Action on the best litigators to hire, he explained to CNBC. He will also help to develop the organization’s overall legal strategy.
The “CLA will provide congressional testimony, initiate litigation, file amicus briefs, and support lawsuits brought by other parties in important regulatory and constitutional cases,” the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
Barr would not say who he aims to recruit from the legal community.
He noted that the newly formed project would engage on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate-risk disclosure rule. If the rule is enacted, public companies would have to disclose the carbon emissions that are part of their operations, as well as the climate risks their businesses face.
Collins would not say how much the organization is investing into the new project. But he told CNBC that the group has been recruiting business members “at a rate of more than 1,000 a month for almost a year now.”
“As we’ve done that, one of the principal challenges that we hear from businesses of all sizes around the country is regulatory overreach threatening our business, threatening our industries and threatening our overall economy,” Collins said.
Trump faces deposition in New York AG Letitia James’ fraud lawsuit
Donald Trump said he is being deposed Thursday in New York City as part of the state attorney general’s $250 million civil lawsuit alleging widespread fraud by the former president and his company.
Trump announced on social media overnight that he had “just arrived in Manhattan for a deposition in front of” New York Attorney General Letitia James as part of the sweeping lawsuit.
In another post Thursday morning, Trump said he was “heading downtown” to be deposed. He accused James of leaking that the appointment was scheduled at 9:30 a.m. ET.
His trip marks the second time in less than two weeks that he has traveled to the Empire State to respond to court actions against him. The ex-president faces multiple criminal and civil proceedings as he makes a third bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Trump previously flew from his home state of Florida to New York to surrender to authorities following his indictment in a separate criminal case centered on hush money payments made before the 2016 presidential election. The former president pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in that case, which is being prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump is “not only willing but also eager to testify before the Attorney General today,” his attorney, Alina Habba, told CNBC in a statement. “He remains resolute in his stance that he has nothing to conceal, and he looks forward to educating the Attorney General about the immense success of his multi-billion dollar company.”
James’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
James filed the civil fraud lawsuit last September against Trump, three of his adult children, the Trump Organization and others. The suit accuses Trump of repeatedly overstating the values of his assets in statements to banks, insurance companies and the IRS in order to obtain better loan and tax terms.
No shield for Trump in rape accuser’s case as court declines to rule
A Washington, D.C., appeals court on Thursday declined to shield Donald Trump from the first of two civil defamation lawsuits by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who said the former U.S. president raped her nearly three decades ago.
The district’s highest local court, the Court of Appeals, said it did not have enough facts to decide whether Trump deserved immunity, after he accused the former Elle magazine columnist in June 2019 of lying about the alleged encounter.
A ruling that Trump was acting as president, and not in his personal capacity, would have immunized him and doomed Carroll’s first lawsuit because the government could substitute itself as the defendant, and the government cannot be sued for defamation.
The court sent the case back to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, which had last September asked the Washington court for guidance on local law.
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