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(Dis)solving the “Problem” of Immigration

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 6:41am in

Photo Credit: Beatrice Puddu Italian food is venerated by Italians and tourists alike. Being Italian, I am frequently told by...

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“Stay safe, stay away, and put face masks on” – the hygienic-sanitary borders of Covid-19

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/09/2020 - 8:19pm in

The crisis of the pandemic is clearly enabling a new era of state surveillance. But it is also facilitating new means of establishing and justifying borders and divisions within populations.

The lockdowns enforced across the world in response to Covid-19 have been a terrain of experimentation of digital technologies, modes of control and strategies for gaining citizens’ consensus. Tracing-apps, drones and immunity certificates have gained centre stage in the media during the lockdowns to monitor citizens’ movements and their access to public services. The hypothesis that these technologies might remain in place and be normalised after the end of the pandemic is not just a worry but, rather, a very likely scenario. These concerns are fully shared here. Nevertheless, I suggest, an exclusive attention to surveillance partly overshadows political technologies for governing the national population and, together, racialised mechanisms of confinement that have proliferated during the pandemic and in the name of protecting both citizens and migrants.

But are surveillance and direct control the only modes of power we should critically interrogate and challenge? How to formulate a critical discourse about the governing of populations during Covid-19 without falling in the binary opposition between individual freedoms and collective responsibility? This intervention argues for shifting the focus from a debate centred on obligations and restrictions – e.g. on saying “yes” or “no” to face masks – towards an analysis of the incorporation of sanitary measures for justifying differential confinement. The measures and obligations enforced by states against Covid-19 (face masks, social distance measures, physical distance and hand washing), I argue, should be situated in a hygienic-sanitary rationale of governing. Relatedly, I suggest that claims around public health have been progressively emptied in favour of hygienic-sanitary logics, and the former has been conflated with the latter.

Hygienic-sanitary borders

The enforcement of hygienic-sanitary borders needs to be closely scrutinised not only due to the control these exercise on people’s movements but, more broadly, for the discriminatory containment measures they legitimise on some sub-populations and for preventing that they become unquestionable interventions. By speaking of “hygienic-sanitary borders” I refer to bordering mechanisms which enact forms of racialised containment (towards migrants) and which fix rules of citizens’ good behaviours in opposition to “irresponsible conducts”, in the name citizens’ common good.

Scholars have engaged with the biopolitics of public health in relation to health diseases (Elbe, 2008) and, more recently, by focusing on the management of Covid-19 (Esposito, 2020). As Daniele Lorenzini has pointed out, “biopolitics is always a politics of differential vulnerability” (Lorenzini, 2020) and, therefore, far from exposing anyone to the same risk, the pandemic has rather worked as an accelerator of inequalities.. More broadly, Foucault’s understanding of biopolitics has been mobilised for highlighting the ways in which during the pandemic populations managed “in depth, in all its fine points and details” (Foucault, 2007: 58) and are targeted by health policies on the basis of calculation of vulnerability and risks.

Yet, little has been said about the public hygiene[1] rationale which is at stake in the spectrum of anti-Covid measures; and, in fact, unlike analyses on biopolitics, Foucault’s reflections on public hygiene are surprisingly marginalised in the debate on global health issues and on Covid-19.  In the Course at the College de France Abnormal (1974-1975) Foucault stresses that in the nineteenth century “psychiatry was institutionalized as social safety, as hygiene of the whole social body” (Foucault, 2003a: 118), which means it was legitimised to function for social protection purposes and for detecting “a certain danger, even when it is not yet visible to anyone else” (120). In fact, public hygiene is about preventing all factors that might “endangering public safety” (141).

In the Course Society Must be Defended (1976-1977) Foucault reiterates this point by arguing that from the late eighteenth century on, the main function of medicine was to enforce and teach public hygiene (Foucault, 2003b: 244). The notion of public hygiene is clearly distinguished from health by Foucault in The Birth of Social Medicine (1977) where he defines the former as “a technology for controlling and modifying those elements of the environment which might promote the health or, on the contrary, harm it” and connects it to the notion of salubrity (Foucault, 2000: 151).

A similar analysis was conducted by the sociologist Robert Castel who in The Psychiatric Society (1976) retraced the genealogy of the social medicine and explains that in the nineteenth century it was legitimised for providing the national population with a “frame of hygienic and rational  existence” and for controlling life’s milieu (Castel, 1976: 140). Instead of subsuming public hygiene under the homogenising label of biopolitics, a critical understanding of anti-Covid measures requires grasping the racialised differences through which confinement is enacted. For instance, this happens by containing migrants in the name of their own good and of citizens’ safety, and by moralising citizens who act “irresponsibly”, that is without complying with the compulsory or recommended hygienic measures.

Overall, the governing of the pandemic reveals that biopolitical mechanisms are inflected in hygienic-sanitary terms, which means that first, claims about health become coextensive with hygienic standards and practices; and, second, hygienic measures become ways for enacting internal differentiations (e.g. among good and bad citizens’ conducts) and for subjecting sub-populations to racialised unequal  treatments. In which ways are Foucault’s and Castel’s insights on public hygiene helpful for understanding our present? In fact, their works refer to specific historical moments and are not directly related to global health diseases. However, we can mobilise their analyses on public hygiene as analytics for disentangling public health, hygienic-sanitary borders and differential forms of confinement. Such a focus on hygienic-sanitary measures enables grasping nuances of power which are not simply about top-down control nor only about pervasive surveillance but, I suggest, about rules of conducts and racialised confinement in the name of public good.

Contain (some) to protect

A few weeks after the start of the lockdown in Italy, on April 7 the Italian government declared its ports “unsafe” for letting migrants disembark: “due to the emergency situation triggered by the pandemic […] the Italian state cannot guarantee safe spaces” to the migrants rescued at sea and that, therefore, “for the entire duration of the national sanitary emergency, the Italian ports do not match the necessary criteria to be considered a Place of Safety ”. In so doing, a measure of sheer containment was officially taken in the name of migrants’ own safety, as long as Italy stated to be unable to take care of people seeking asylum due to the pandemic.

A few months later, in summer 2020, the link between migrants’ arrivals and Covid-19 was crafted by the right wing but also by some members of the government: “the virus is mainly spread through people’s movements: tourists, businessmen, commuters, but also migrants. Yet, migrants who come by the sea come illegally, and while legality fosters health, illegality enhances the pandemic”, the former Italian Minister of the Interior, Marco Minniti declared.

Along similar lines, on the Greek islands asylum seekers had been subject to discriminatory and protracted lockdowns, being confined in the hotspots for months – while tourists and Greek citizens could freely circulate from May onward: this differential measure were taken with the twofold official goal of preventing migrants from becoming vehicles of contagion and, at the same time, not exposing them to the infection. For months, in the name of Covid-19, asylum seekers have been obstructed in accessing humanitarian services and legal support, and their mobility was substantially restricted even if this paradoxically meant that they were forced to stay in a cramped space. Also, face masks became compulsory even in the premises of the hotspots, while this was not the case in other public space in Greece. Thus, “confine to protect” appears to be the formula which encapsulates the politics of containment in Covid times and, in practice, this means that instead of being protected from exposure to the virus, asylum-seekers have been forced to share a cramped space.

The production of the “irresponsible citizen”

Hygienic-sanitary measures have been addressed and imposed on national populations at large. Some of these – wearing a face mask on public transports and in the shops – have become compulsory in many countries, while some others – wash your hands, keep social distancing – are expected to be enforced in the best way by everyone.

In Italy, which was notably the first European country to go into lockdown, this expectation was shared among citizens: even when they were not compulsory, the compliance with hygienic-measures became the yardstick of the responsible citizen. Wearing face masks even where it is not compulsory – e.g. in an empty street – appeared as a marker of virtuosity and responsibility: “I sacrifice myself for the good of the collectivity”. Conversely, people were turned into irresponsible citizens not only if they violated the law but also if, more broadly, their behaviours appear as deviant with respect with the recommended hygienic-sanitary standards, including social distance. The increasing moralisation of the “irresponsible citizens” generated a hierarchical distribution of guilt: if a new wave of Covid-19 would come, the discourse goes, the fault is of both collective and individual irresponsible behaviours.

Thus, hygienic-sanitary measures turn into borders, as long as they produce internal differences among citizens and citizens’ mutual perception. Unlike the state’s medicine that Foucault and Castel spoke about, hygienic-sanitary measures have been mobilised by citizens themselves, as a yardstick to distinguish between responsible and irresponsible citizens. Citizens’ peer-to-peer policing has been by far more effective and persistent across the country than every top-down initiative. Actually, the very notion of common good, that has been repeatedly mentioned for justifying the multiplication of hygienic-sanitary measures, should be unpacked in light of the recursive blaming of “irresponsible citizens”: in fact, instead of generating a common ground for claims and struggles about public health, the generalised compliance with hygienic-sanitary measures ended up in an individualisation of responsibility and guilt.

Hence, coming to grips with hygienic-sanitary borders enables shifting the attention from an exclusive focus on surveillance and control towards political technologies for shaping conducts and multiplying racialised differences in times of Covid-19. In this respect, analyses which centre the critique on the paradigm of exception do not bring us far in understanding the emergence of new configuration of power and the reasons of the wide consensus around it.

Of course, we should not downplay the persistence of pervasive surveillance that might likely be on place also after the end of the lockdown. Rather, it is a matter of grasping how the pandemic contributed to shape people’s conducts, their relationships to the others – to other citizens as well as to those who are racialised as “migrants” – and demands about public health. Ultimately, Covid-19 is much more than a biopolitical struggle over life and death.  Questioning of hygienic-sanitary borders does not involve refusing hygienic measures as such but, rather, it entails not flattening of health claims onto hygienic interventions. That is, the pandemic has multiplied racialised differences and inequalities across the globe as well as within countries. Yet, as the Black Lives Matter movement foregrounded, at the same time it can be seized as an opportunity for opening up a common ground to build coalitions and collective claims about public health; and, together, to rethink what “health” might means nowadays.


Cited works:

Castel, R. (1976). L’ordre psychiatrique. L’âge d’or de l’aliénisme. Paris, Éditions de Minuit.

Esposito, R. (2020) The Biopolitics of Immunity in Times of COVID-19: An Interview with Roberto Esposito. Antipode. Available at: https://antipodeonline.org/2020/06/16/interview-with-roberto-esposito/

Foucault, M. (2003a). Abnormal: lectures at the Collège de France, 1974-1975 (Vol. 2). Macmillan.

Foucault, M., & Ewald, F. (2003b). “Society Must Be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976 (Vol. 1). Macmillan.

Foucault, M. (2000). The birth of social medicine. Power, 3, 1954-1984.

Lorenzini, D. (2020). Biopolitics in the time of coronavirus. Critical Inquiry blog. Available at:




[1] As defined by Marc and Esquirol in 1829 , public hygiene “is the art of preserving the health of people gathered together in society and which is destined to be very greatly developed and to provide numerous applications for the improvement of our institutions” (Marc, Esquirol, 1829: 116-17).

The post “Stay safe, stay away, and put face masks on” – the hygienic-sanitary borders of Covid-19 appeared first on Political Economy Research Centre.

Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on population forecasts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 10:39am in



If you have visited our publicly accessible population forecasts recently, you may have wondered if these forecasts account for the impacts of COVID-19. Andrew Rossiter, one of our forecasters and consultants, explains how you can identify the challenges (and opportunities) in your area with a new page the team have added to our population forecasting tool.

The impact assessment series

How COVID-19 will impact the future population of…

  1. Major Regional Cities
  2. Peri-Urban areas
  3. Growth areas
  4. Suburban areas
  5. Rural areas

Subscribe to our blog to be notified when we publish the next blog in this series.

COVID-19 is causing major social and economic disruption which is evolving rapidly around the world. In Australia, the impacts on the size and distribution of future population growth are significant.

The goal of our population forecasts is to help you make informed decisions when planning for the future. To make this possible in a rapidly evolving and fluid situation like COVID-19, the team have developed an assessment of how the pandemic is likely to impact the key drivers of population change in your area, so you can consider the challenges and opportunities in your community and respond accordingly.

Do the current forecasts capture COVID-19 impacts?

Our current forecasts represent an important view of your place prior to the COVID-19 shock. Therefore, they do not consider or reflect the potential changes to forecast assumptions stemming from the pandemic.

They do, however, provide an excellent baseline by which to understand where the population may have been without this external shock.

In the future, the baseline can be used to benchmark against “the world that was”, meaning that current local area forecasts are highly relevant to informing a number of decisions to respond to the changing needs of current and future communities.

How do we know what the impacts of COVID-19 will be?

We don’t yet have all the answers, but we do have an excellent framework for understanding how COVID-19 is likely to impact the different drivers of population change.

We have also modelled the impacts at a national level. We anticipate that due to COVID-19, Australia will have close to 900,000 fewer residents than we previously forecast. Put another way, this is larger than the current populations of Tasmania and the Northern Territory, combined!

So how could this national impact play out for local government area population forecasts, particularly as it’s so evolving quickly? The simple answer is we don’t exactly know… yet! But we have an excellent framework for discussing and sharing our thinking.

Local area forecast impact assessments

We have developed COVID-19 impact assessments for local government population forecasts. This ‘place-based’ assessment outlines our thinking on how COVID-19 may influence a number of population drivers locally, including:

Components of population change

  • Migration – who will move into an area as well as who is leaving the area.
  • Natural increase – the number of births and deaths we have forecast.

Demand drivers (push/pull factors)

  • Economic resilience – availability of a range of jobs.
  • Resident vulnerability – unmet social and economic needs, and how this could increase the likelihood of moving house or changing who you live with.
  • Local amenity – factors that make an area an enjoyable place to live.

The COVID-19 impact assessment draws on data from across .id tools, to understand the potential impact COVID-19 could have on a range of factors which influence these population drivers. It is designed to help you understand and interpret the likely impact on population change at a local level.

Will these impacts be felt the same everywhere?

While we know that COVID-19 will play out differently in different places, we are also asking ourselves if there are any COVID-19 impact similarities between places. Every Loval Government Area (LGA) has unique population characteristics, but the challenges and opportunities they experience will have some similarities when viewed by typology.

A typology is a framework which simply groups LGAs with like characteristics. For example, is a place a city, is it rural, is it coastal, or is it suburban? When viewed through the lens of “what is the role and function of this place?”, we can start to tell a narrative of the likely impacts, the challenges and opportunities for that type of place.

The COVID-19 impact assessment provides a nuanced view of these similarities by typology. It allows us to identify similar impacts by typology, but also allows us to pinpoint differences in the magnitude of these impacts on population drivers between different places.

Subscribe to our product updates to be notified as we roll out our analysis, based on typology. Major regional cities (of which there are 30 in Australia) is the first group to be released.

For Migrant Labourers An Amnesty with Capitalism Is a Mockery

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/07/2020 - 5:56am in

image/jpeg iconcaporalato.jpg

Which is worse? The hypocrisy of an Italian Minister of Agriculture shedding tears in public over the supposed end to the maltreatment of cheap migrant field workers in Italy or the hypocrisy of Johnson’s Brexit government sanctioning the airlifting of workers from the poorer parts of Europe to work in British fields during the lockdown? This is an outline of what’s been going on recently in Italy.

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From 1998: Times Speculates on the Resurgence of New Plagues

Here’s another old article, this time from the Times, Monday, August 4 1997. Written by Anjana Ahuja, ‘Are We Ready for the Next Plague’ argues that the world has been mistaken in scaling back its defences against global disease, leaving us seriously unprepared. Subtitled ‘We are dropping our defences against disease’, the article runs

In the Middle Ages, one would not have lingered by the marshes of eastern England, particularly those in Kent and Essex. Nowhere in the country, which was falling prey to plagues, was more hospitable to the malaria parasite.

The menace of malaria hung over British shores until the mid-19th century, when it mysteriously declined. By 1940, the disease was no longer a threat to humans, because of rising standards of hygiene, the falling price of the anti-malarial drug quinine and the lessening availability of cattle, on which mosquitoes prefer to dine. But there is no guarantee, says a leading parasitologist, that malaria will not haunt the nation again.

The warning has been issued by Robert Desowitz, Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, who has spent many of his 71 years studying insect-borne diseases in places such as Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Burma, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, India, Laos, Vietnam and Sir Lanka. His view, expressed in his book, Tropical Diseases, is that the “golden age of antibiotics is waning”. As a result, he says, it is not impossible that the nightmares once vanquished by modern science will recur. Isolated outbreaks of Ebola and Lassa fever are, like the rise of HIV, a sign to him that we should be on our guard. However, he does not wish to seem apocalyptic. ” It may be true thyat there are diseases coming out of the jungle to kill us,” he says. “My response is that we don’t know that, but we ought to stay alert.”

His book is an eloquent, and sometimes alarming, history of how diseases have hitched their way around the world. The subtext is that humans, particularly in the colder climes (this includes the British), live in a fool’s paradise. Our defences are further weakened by mass migration and global change, leading to great changes in epidemiology. He expresses incredulity that worldwide efforts to combat infectious disease are being would down.

“I was listening on the radio this morning to America’s new military chief of staff, who was saying that we cannot demilitarise against old enemies,” he says. “The symmetry with disease struck me. We are not properly prepared.”

“The science budget is shrinking. My opinion is that the World Health Organisation is scientifically bankrupt. We are having problems with infectious disease. If you were going to certain parts of the world, you would be hard pushed to find a really good anti-malarial drug. We have neither cures nor preventions for viral diseases such as Ebola, Lassa and HIV.”

One particular worry is climate change, which he sees as an enormous potential problem. Tropical diseases such as malaria are very temperature-sensitive-higher temperatures allow an influx of alien pests and the warmth encourages the pests to breed more rapidly.

Other researchers have been discovering the effect of climate change on unwelcome visitors. Biologists at Leeds University have set up a simple experiment that shows what happens to insects when faced with temperature changes. Using eight linked cages, and three species of fruit fly adapted to different temperatures, Professor Bryan Shorrocks and Dr Andrew Davis have tried to replicate what would happen to fruit flies if the temperature changed across Europe. the Biotechnology and and Biological Research Council financed the £241,000 project.

The cages were connected by thin tubes through which the flies could migrate. The temperatures in the cages ranged from 10C to 25C; the intention was to mimic average temperatures across a swath of Europe stretching from Leeds to southern Spain. The optimum temperature for the three types of fruit fly – Drosophila subobscura, Drosophila simulans, and Drosophila manogaster – were respective, 15C, 20C and 25C. Fruit flies are easy to use and they breed quickly.

When each species was tested on its owns, and confined to one cage, it became extinct at temperature extremes. The next step was again to treat each species on its own, but to allow it to move through the tubes between cages.

Dr Davis reports: “The flies survived across the whole temperature regime. Where they became extinct, the population was topped up by individuals from other cages looking for more food and space to lay eggs.

The last, and most complex stage, was to populate the cages with different permutations of the three species. This was where the most interesting results began to emerge. For example, when subobscura and simulans were thrown together, the simulans species dominated its familiar temperature climate of 20C., but subobscura was more populous at about 10C, well below its optimum temperature.

Dr Davis says that each species did not necessarily behave according to expectation. He concludes: “We may not be able to predict where a species will occur on the globe purely by knowing its temperature requirements. It’s surprising.

In other words, matching the pest to a temperature zone is not that simple. Dr Davis is keen not be seen as alarmist. “I am not saying these effects will happen, or that they will be important,” he says. “But some of the things that might happen with global warming may need planning, particularly pest problems.

Professor Desowitz does not envisage doom for the human race. Not yet, anyway. “People have survived plagues before, but we are not preparing ourselves properly. Perhaps,” he adds, not without a whiff of menace, “London will become malarious again.”

Meera Senthilingam says much the same thing in her Outbreaks and Epidemics: Battling Infection from Measles to Coronavirus (London: Icon 2020). Climate change, migration and mass travel are leaving us vulnerable to new epidemics, traditional antibiotics are losing their effectiveness. And we still have no cures or treatments for diseases like Lassa fever. or Ebola. But whatever other faults Blair’s government had – and these are legion, like the invasion of Iraq – it did take the threat of a renewed epidemic seriously, especially after Avian and Swin flu. They invested in the NHS, and developed specialist medical and bureaucratic machinery and protocols to combat such an epidemic when it came along. And when the epidemic was wargamed in 2016, the Tories knew that we were seriously underprepared. But they simply didn’t care. They wanted austerity and budget cuts so they could give tax cuts to the super-rich. And as a result, this country has one of the very worst infection rates and mortality from Coronavirus in the world.

They knew the disease was coming. They did nothing.

60,000+ people have died.

The Tories are guilty, and Johnson is responsible for mass manslaughter at least.


Wine Country’s Farmworkers Are Staying Healthy Against All Odds

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/07/2020 - 4:43am in

Santiago Garza Martinez, now 47, was a young man when he started working for Anne Amie Vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1999. He began as an equipment operator, and today, 21 years later, he’s the field manager, overseeing a crew of 38 vineyard workers, all but eight of whom are seasonal employees. They weed, plant vines, and pick Pinot Noir grapes for Anne Amie’s acclaimed bottles. And like many seasonal farmworkers, their access to health care is precarious at best.

“The majority of the farmworkers in my crew don’t have primary care physicians,” Garza Martinez says. Even if they did, paying for the care would be a challenge for many of them. There are 2.5 to 3 million farmworkers in the United States, and many lack access to health insurance, according to Silvia Partida, CEO of the Texas-based National Center for Farmworker Health

saludSince May 7, ¡Salud! has screened 400 farmworkers for Covid-19.

So when America’s first coronavirus cases were reported in January in Seattle, just four hours north of the vineyard, the need to protect the Anne Amie workers was immediately apparent. That’s where ¡Salud! came in. Founded in 1991 by two physicians who loved wine, ¡Salud! is a nonprofit health care service that runs mobile clinics in Oregon vineyards. It is supported by the state’s wine industry, which throws an annual fall gala where winemakers auction off special cases and experiences. (There’s also an online summertime auction — this year’s takes place this week July 14-16.) Last year’s two auctions brought in $1 million. Over the past 29 years, ¡Salud! has raised over $17.2 million. 

“¡Salud! is basically my crew’s primary care for wellness checks, referrals, follow-ups for any conditions they might discover in their health screenings,” says Garza Martinez. 

Over the past several months, it has also become a lifeline amid a national health crisis. Since May 7, ¡Salud! has screened 400 farmworkers for Covid-19, with roughly four percent testing positive. (Only two have been hospitalized thus far and both are recovering at home.) Leda Garside, chief nurse at ¡Salud!, estimates that roughly 70 percent of the vineyard workers she sees do not have any other healthcare.

saludA health care worker waits by the ¡Salud! van.

Garza Martinez himself, even though he has been on Anne Amie’s health insurance plan since 2008, has relied on ¡Salud! over the years for everything from basic physicals to vaccines. Recently, he’s availed himself of a flu vaccine, a tetanus shot and a Covid-19 nasal swab test, which he says was like having a pipe cleaner shoved up his nose until it hit the back of his tongue. “I cried!” he says, laughing at it now. (He tested negative.)

¡Salud! was excellent at educating farmworkers about Covid-19, says Garza Martinez. Not only did it send Spanish-language email and text updates from the CDC and the Oregon Health Authority on the importance of social distancing and wearing masks, it provided masks to farmworkers starting at the end of February.

In the beginning, when masks were in short supply, Garside sent out an information sheet from the CDC on how to make cloth masks. But before long, Garside’s friend, a retired nurse named Maria Michalczyk, launched the Pandemic Volunteer Mask Makers of Oregon, a group of over 500 volunteers from across the state who sewed masks for vineyard workers, donating a bunch to ¡Salud! In late April, when Governor Kate Brown received a donation of N-95 masks from China’s Fujian Province, ¡Salud! alerted field managers at all the wineries, and Garza Martinez retrieved boxes of them for his crew at Anne Amie.

“¡Salud! is really the soul of the Willamette Valley,” says Cooper Mountain Vineyard co-owner Barbara Gross, whose parents were founding members of the organization.

saludLeda Garside, chief nurse at ¡Salud!, estimates that roughly 70 percent of the vineyard workers she sees do not have any other healthcare.

Gross was impressed by how early ¡Salud! began testing for Covid-19 — in late March and early April, a time when many states were still struggling to implement comprehensive testing infrastructure. “I think my crew had access to testing before you, as a regular consumer, had access,” she says. “Leda and her crew proactively got out there and tested. That was 100 percent ¡Salud!”

“It’s really hard work”

Farmworkers regularly do back-breaking labor, often in harsh weather conditions. They’re out in the fields every day, picking berries, kale, asparagus and citrus — or pruning, thinning, training vines and weeding. When the Covid-19 crisis hit in mid-March, it disproportionately impacted Latinos, who comprise 72 percent of farmworkers in the U.S.

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“It’s really hard work,” says Garside. “You’re exposed to the elements: cold, wind, rain — you name it.” Luckily, because most Willamette Valley vineyards farm organically or biodynamically, pesticide exposure is not a big factor. But laboring in the fields for years on end can cause health issues that accumulate over time. “And we do have workers who are in their seventies and eighties!” Garside says. A network of 174 federally funded community health centers across the country serves farmworkers, but these clinics only reach one million farmworkers and their family members, says Partida, from the National Center for Farmworker Health, leaving a big gap.

¡Salud! aims to fill that gap — at least in Oregon’s vineyards — providing healthcare to vineyard workers year-round. Spring through fall is the organization’s busiest season.

saludBefore the pandemic, many medical procedures were conducted in the ¡Salud! van. Now, more often, they happen in the field.

“This time of year, we’re out in the vineyards every week, three to four times a week,” Garside says.

Garside, who has been working for ¡Salud! for 23 years, is its beating heart. Raptor Ridge Winery proprietor Annie Shull fondly calls her “the good witch of the Valley.” 

Garside and her team of bilingual nurses roll into vineyards in a retrofitted Sprinter Van that contains a reception area and a full examination room. Before the pandemic, they would see a patient in the van, where they’d do blood pressure checks, basic bloodwork, vision exams and vaccinations. But now, due to strict Covid protocols, the nurses set up outdoor service stations separated by dividers to maintain privacy. (They can still do basic tests and health education in the vineyard, but for other medical tests, they’re steering farmworkers to their clinic at OHSU Hillsboro Medical Center.) 

In 2019, over 900 farmworkers received wellness exams via ¡Salud! and over 500 received flu shots. Some 68 workers received free vision exams via a partnership with Oregon Health Sciences University’s Casey Eye Institute and Pacific School of Optometry. And 114 received dental services through ¡Salud!’s partnership with local dental hygiene science programs, Medical Teams International and community health centers. Until recently, most of this dental work was done in the ¡Salud! van, but that’s also on hold during the pandemic. 

saludSeveral farmworkers have tested positive for diabetes or pre-diabetes and with diet and lifestyle changes recommended by ¡Salud! nurses, have been able to manage and even reverse the condition.

Since diabetes is so prevalent in the migrant seasonal farmworker community, a blood sugar test is always done as part of routine bloodwork. Results are immediate, which allows ¡Salud! nurses to give advice on how to make diet and lifestyle changes, even if the patient is just pre-diabetic. If blood sugar levels are very high, they make an immediate referral to a primary care doctor. Garza Martinez says several of his crew have tested positive for diabetes or pre-diabetes and with diet and lifestyle changes recommended by ¡Salud! nurses, have been able to manage and even reverse the condition.

The day I spoke to Garside, she had seen 25 farmworkers on the picturesque grounds of Stoller Family Estate in Dayton. She made a dental referral for a worker whose bridge work, done in his native Guatemala a decade ago, had broken. “So he is walking around with these little stubs from four teeth and it’s super uncomfortable,” Garside says. 

salud“There’s a lot of conscientiousness about the land and how to maintain it and treat it well. It’s the same philosophy with health care.”

She called a local community health clinic that could squeeze him in the following day. (¡Salud! provides a dental grant if the patient cannot afford even the lower price that the health clinic charges.) Another patient had extremely high blood pressure and Garside was able to connect with his primary care doctor, who ordered a prescription he could pick up the next day. 

“We are a safety net service,” Garside says. She is grateful to the Oregon winemaking community for coming up with the idea of delivering these vital healthcare services 29 years ago. “There’s a lot of conscientiousness about the land and how to maintain it and treat it well. It’s the same philosophy with health care,” she says. “We are very fortunate that the industry has proven itself — how to take care of the land and do something for the seasonal agricultural workers.”

The post Wine Country’s Farmworkers Are Staying Healthy Against All Odds appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Deep-Red City that Elected a Trans Woman

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/07/2020 - 11:17pm in

Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

Migration mastery

As political violence and economic collapse have shaken Nicaragua, tens of thousands of migrants have flowed into neighboring Costa Rica. But this refugee crisis has differed from others. Effective and empathetic leadership, from the grassroots all the way up to the presidency, has helped the new arrivals find genuine refuge.

For one thing, Costa Rica already had a lot of Nicaraguan refugees who fled there during previous waves of political discord. These already-settled migrants have emerged as impromptu leaders, helping newly arriving refugees find their way. And because many of the people fleeing Nicaragua are being driven out because of their activism, many of them are natural leaders themselves. There’s also the fact that Costa Rica’s president, elected on a progressive platform in 2018, has been particularly welcoming. 

nicaraguaA Nicaraguan refugee living in Costa Rica. Credit: J. Arguedas / Flickr

On top of that, the demographics of the arriving Nicaraguans, many of whom are young and able-bodied, are a good fit for Costa Rica’s aging population. “To combat [our aging] problem, we need a significant increase in productivity, which appears unlikely… or an increase in the workforce,” one Costa Rican researcher told Yes! magazine. “Migration becomes part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Read more at Yes!

Against the stream

Many of the 12,000 members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota are particularly susceptible to Covid-19 due to age and health issues. Yet the tribe has reported only six cases of coronavirus so far, and zero deaths, due to its aggressive measures to keep the virus from spreading. 

The tribe has fared far better than South Dakota as a whole, which has over 7,000 cases. Why? Tribal leaders acted early, imposing crisis measures days before the rest of the state reacted. A mandatory nightly curfew, restrictions on how people shop, free masks and gloves, and food sharing programs have all helped to keep numbers low. So has a 24/7 health hotline that was set up almost immediately, and checkpoints that strictly regulate who can come on and off the reservation. Voluntary compliance with these measures has been impressive. “If the rest of the world had been taking some of these actions, we wouldn’t have to,” said Remi Bald Eagle, the tribe’s intergovernmental affairs coordinator.

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Indeed, part of the reason the tribe has taken such stringent measures is because its health care system might not be able to handle a severe outbreak. There’s also the fact that members of the tribe revere their elders, who are at particular risk for Covid-19. “We want all our elderly to be home, and not have to be home worrying,” said Bald Eagle.

Read more at South Dakota News Watch

Red-letter day

West Virginia is one of the most conservative states in the U.S. — it delivered President Trump a higher share of the vote than any other state in the country. So perhaps it’s a sign of the times that Wheeling, West Virginia recently elected Rosemary Ketchum, a transgender woman, to its city council on June 9.

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I’ve always believed in the phrase – “You teach people how to treat you.” When you emit self respect, wear courage, set boundaries, and practice perseverance the world opens its arms to help you thrive. Respect comes from the inside out.

A post shared by Rosemary (@rosemaryketchum) on Jan 3, 2020 at 6:21pm PST

Ketchum is the first transgender person to win elected office anywhere in the state, and is one of just 27 out trans elected officials in the U.S. Her campaign focused on increasing social services in mental health, homelessness and addiction — since she took office on July 1, she’s created a task force to tackle these issues. Despite the state’s deep conservativism, she says she’s not surprised she won. “When folks say, ‘I cannot believe a trans person could win in a place like West Virginia,’ I think, ‘This is the very place I believe a trans person could win elected office. I completely understand what it’s like to feel unwelcome in a place that feels like my home — in the United States, the state I live in, sometimes the city that I live in.”

Read more at 100 Days in Appalachia

The post The Deep-Red City that Elected a Trans Woman appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Supreme Court’s DACA Ruling & Me

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/07/2020 - 6:00am in

New York City, 2016: Protestors march against President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration policies. Photo credit: a katz / Shutterstock.com. When...

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Trump Rallies for Reopening as Biden Strengthens His Position

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/06/2020 - 10:55am in

Donald Trump held his first campaign rally in months on June 20 in an indoor arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma where speaking to a smaller than expected crowd of only 13,000 he minimized the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic still spreading across the country and failed to address the police racism and violence that have led to protests by hundreds of thousands.

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The post Trump Rallies for Reopening as Biden Strengthens His Position appeared first on New Politics.