News·5 min read

Daily Skimm: COVID-19: Countries Facing Criticism, Heart Health, and the Return of Elliot Stabler

A street in Brazil
Getty Images
Apr 2, 2020


The Story

Some countries are in the hot seat for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How so?

Yesterday, the UN Secretary-General called the pandemic "the greatest test" humanity has faced since World War II. And called for all nations to help with an "immediate coordinated health response" to combat the virus. But as the number of coronavirus infections keeps growing worldwide, some governments have taken their own approach – which hasn't always been welcome. Here's how some have dealt with the outbreak so far:

The US…as in, President Trump's gotten criticism for the federal gov's early testing issues, as well as seeming to downplay the threat of the virus when it first reached the country. He later came to terms with the crisis and has extended coronavirus restrictions through April. Trump said he's discussed issuing a national stay-at-home order but called it "unlikely" for now. That's as outbreaks vary by state, and governors have the legal authority to issue stay-at-home orders. But as the number of confirmed infections continues to increase, the US is seeing hundreds of Americans die each day. And the federal gov is scrambling to keep up with containment and treatment efforts. in, a US intelligence report accuses China of underreporting its infections and deaths. The country has reported fewer infections since its peak in February. But the report indicates that the real number of infections could be higher as the Chinese gov has apparently changed the way it's counting cases. And has excluded people without symptoms from its infection rate.

Brazil…as in earlier this week, President Jair Bolsonaro said the country cannot quarantine any longer because it's destroying jobs. And told his supporters "we're all going to die one day." The country's reporting over 5,700 infections and more than 200 deaths – the largest known outbreak in Latin America. And some have been calling for Bolsonaro to resign.


As the number of global infections for the coronavirus nears 1 million, some countries seem to be taking this more seriously than others. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said it is "deeply concerned" with the virus's rapid spread and is urging countries to continue making an effort to combat the virus.


Yesterday, Brazil reportedly said an indigenous woman in the Amazon rainforest contracted the virus – the first infected among the country's more than 300 tribes. And in Colombia, two infections were also confirmed earlier this week among the country's indigenous population. It's raising fears that the coronavirus could decimate these vulnerable communities.

Analysts say indigenous peoples are especially at risk as they tend to live in cramped conditions and lack services like running water – which can increase chances of a spread. They may also suffer from underlying conditions which puts them at a higher risk of complications from the virus. Quick history reminder: More than 80% of the indigenous population in the Americas was killed by diseases brought over in the 15th century, like smallpox and measles. And during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, indigenous villages were wiped out. Indigenous groups worldwide are figuring out how to contain COVID-19, doing things like issuing lockdowns and working to keep outsiders away.

Meanwhile in the US, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is grappling with losing its reservation and federal trust status – all while also handling the pandemic. Last week, the Trump admin notified the tribe it will be rescinding its land reservation status, affecting more than 300 acres in Massachusetts. The tribe's chairman called the move "cruel," especially as it struggles with the deadly virus.


What's saying 'you aorta know'...

The FDA. Yesterday, it told manufacturers to pull Zantac (a heartburn medication) from shelves. An ongoing investigation found a major problem: levels of a potential cancer-causing contaminant increase in Zantac over time and when it's stored at higher-than-normal temperatures. The FDA is telling people to stop taking Zantac, throw it out, and talk to their doctors about switching to other options.

This study. It found that taking frequent baths may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers in Japan studied more than 30,000 men and women for nearly 20 years. And found that those who channeled their inner Chandler after a very long, hard day had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular heart disease and 26% lower risk of stroke. If you're wondering, the water temperature does matter – hot water lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease more than warm water. Bath bombs at the ready.

Who people are mourning...

Ellis Marsalis. Yesterday, the jazz pianist and patriarch of New Orleans' great Marsalis musical family died from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 85. Marsalis – born in New Orleans – was known as an iconic teacher, and father to musical legends Wynton and Branford. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell remembered him as "the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz."

Adam Schlesinger. Yesterday, the cofounder and songwriter for Fountains of Wayne died from coronavirus-related complications at age 52. He's best known for "Stacy's Mom," which earned two Grammy noms in 2003. But he also had Oscar noms and Emmy wins under his belt. Tom Hanks, who worked with him on "That Thing You Do," remembered him as "a One-der." RIP.

What's making a splash…

This review. Yesterday, scientists said the structure and function of marine life in the world's oceans could be restored by 2050. And that it's possible through sustainable fishing, pollution control, and continuing efforts to save mangroves and salt marshes – which soak up carbon dioxide. The review said there's already been some success, as the number of humpback whales, sea turtles, and otters have grown in recent decades. Something to shell-ebrate.

What's no longer taking calls...

Sprint. Yesterday, the wireless carrier officially responded to T-Mobile's "Are you with us?" calls – as part of a merger valued at $31.6 billion that's been years in the making. The deal combines the nation's third- and fourth-largest wireless companies and creates a new one with more than 100 million users.

What's not making a racquet this year...

Wimbledon. Yesterday, officials said the tennis championship isn't happening due to the coronavirus outbreak. Wimbledon was last called off during WWII and will resume next year.

When you hear Detective Elliot Stabler is back…

Dun dun.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.