Neil Patrick Harris and his family are “feeling good” months after they tested positive for COVID-19 early in the pandemic.
The former “How I Met Your Mother” star shared on the 3rd hour of TODAY Tuesday that he and his husband, David Burtka, along with their 9-year-old twins, Gideon and Harper, all weathered the illness about six months ago.
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“We feel great,” Harris said. “It happened very early (in the pandemic), like late March, early April. We were doing our best before, and I thought I had the flu, and I didn’t want to be paranoid about it. And then I lost my sense of taste and smell, which was a big indicator, so we holed up.”
The loss of the sense of taste and smell is a common symptom of COVID-19, with most people recovering from it within weeks after enduring the illness while others have had the issue linger much longer.
“There are people who were infected at the beginning of the pandemic, and they still haven’t regained their sense of smell,” Dr. Sandeep Robert Datta, a Harvard neuroscientist, told TODAY last month.
Harris, 47, and his family appear to have made a full recovery.
“It was not pleasant, but we got through it and have antibodies and are feeling good,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone’s doing their best to slow this down every way possible, for sure.”
Harris also weighed in on the newest iteration of the role that first brought him to fame in the early 1990s as child doctor “Doogie Howser, M.D.” A reboot is in the works from Disney+ in which the character is now a multiracial 16-year-old girl named Lahela “Doogie” Kameāloha, the company announced last week.
“I’m just following all of the news that’s being released like everyone else is, so I was excited to hear about it,” Harris said. “I don’t know other than what’s been reported, but I do know that it’s to be on Disney+, which is a super great channel. Anything that can promote Imagineers and Disney theme parks I’m all about, because I love that stuff.”
The reboot is being helmed by Kourtney Kang, who was a writer and executive producer on “How I Met Your Mother,” which Harris said means it’s “in good hands.”
“I love the Hawaiian vibe, it’s a great idea, so it has all the aspects of making it a success, and I wish them nothing but the best,” he said.
While Harris is not part of the Doogie Howser project, he is involved with “The Matrix 4,” the latest installment of the blockbuster sci-fi movie series, which is currently filming in Berlin.
Harris also celebrated the release of the fourth book in his children’s series called “The Magic Misfits: The Fourth Suit” on Tuesday.
“I wanted to write books that my kids would like, but I also wanted to write books that other types of kids would like, so for me, I wanted diversity of families of all kinds to be a part of the book, but not the part of the book,” he said.
“Diversity in families is important,” he continued. “Everyone in the books have different families, whether it be their actual families or adopted families or their friends who are their family. I think right now in a divisive world it’s nice to have things that kids especially can relate to, and read, and regardless of their circumstances, feel like they have an in.”
Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett puts years of gun safety progress at risk
In the years since I founded Moms Demand Action at my kitchen table, the gun safety movement has made unmistakable progress at the ballot box, in statehouses and in Congress. We’ve elected thousands of gun-sense candidates, passed background check and red flag laws in states across the country, and beat back 90% of the National Rifle Association’s priority bills — five years in a row.
But now, after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill her seat, all of that progress is at risk.
The president’s decision to try to ram through a new Supreme Court justice while early voting in the most important election of our lifetimes is already underway — and his selection of a judge with an alarming interpretation of the Second Amendment — lay bare just how high the stakes are for the gun safety movement.
Supreme Court is best NRA hope
If we don’t stop President Donald Trump and his Senate Republican allies, the coming years could bring legal decisions that threaten to undo decades of progress for public safety. Over 145,000 Americans have been killed by guns with President Trump in office, and if he succeeds in appointing another opponent of gun safety laws to the court, even more Americans will die.
After years of losing in the courts and at the ballot box, it’s not surprising that the beleaguered NRA and other opponents of strong gun safety laws see the Supreme Court as one of the last venues where they can try to turn the tide. That’s why President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leading Republicans in the Senate are attempting a bold-faced, hypocritical power grab to reject the will of the American people. The president has made it clear that when it comes to choosing judges — just as when it comes to laws — he’s committed to letting the gun lobby take control.
We see this clearly in his selection of Judge Barrett, who has already expressed extreme views from the bench on the Second Amendment. “There is no doubt that Barrett would dramatically expand the Second Amendment, invalidating gun control measures around the country,” concluded lawyer Mark Joseph Stern, Slate’s courts and law writer.
Judge Barrett’s dangerous views were on full display just last year, when she and two other judges heard an appeal from a man who claimed his serious felony conviction should not have prohibited him from possessing firearms. Dissenting from her two colleagues — both appointed by President Ronald Reagan — Judge Barrett sided with the plaintiff, taking an outlier approach to Second Amendment analysis that no federal appeals court has ever adopted. She even went out of her way to endorse a gun lobby-backed interpretation of a 14th century English firearms law — a law unrelated to the case at hand but central to many recent and ongoing challenges to public safety laws regulating the carrying of guns in public.
SCOTUS open seat: Will Democrats grow backbones amid Trump-Republican rush to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Judge Barrett’s striking dissent, and the expansive view of the Second Amendment she laid out, sent an unmistakable signal of where she stands. And the signal has not gone unnoticed by those working to gut lifesaving gun laws: Within minutes of Saturday’s announcement, the NRA praised Judge Barrett’s record and urged the Senate to “act swiftly to confirm her.”
Barrett record shows threat to safety
As far as what’s at stake for our gun laws if Judge Barrett is confirmed, we need only look to this past Supreme Court term. In a closely watched case, the NRA and its New York affiliate — represented by Paul Clement, who (not coincidentally) “earned” his way onto President Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist — tried to bait the court into issuing a wide-reaching ruling that would have endangered commonsense gun safety laws across America.
Fortunately, Justice Ginsburg was there to tear through these weak arguments. Just as she had done throughout her inspiring career, she stood up for public safety and for what was right –– and the NRA lost.
But in that same case, we saw the threat to gun safety from President Trump’s Supreme Court appointees. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined a 31-page dissent against the court’s decision, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh indicated that he was ready — eager, even — to constrain gun safety laws in a future case. In Judge Barrett, they’ll likely have a willing partner.
Gun safety push: If Democrats take charge next year, will COVID push gun violence down their to-do list?
What does that mean for gun safety? Nothing good. Background checks on all gun sales, a lifesaving policy supported in polls by over 90% of American voters and gun owners, could be at risk of being ruled unconstitutional. Red flag laws, which also have broad support, are also in danger.
Each of these lifesaving policies has repeatedly withstood legal challenges in the lower courts –– but that isn’t stopping President Trump, Senate Republicans and the NRA from trying to ignore the will of the people and undo decades of progress by stealing a Supreme Court while votes are already being cast in a presidential election.
Over the past few years, Moms Demand Action volunteers have taken on the NRA at the ballot box, in statehouses and in Congress. Our movement is winning. But our progress on this public health crisis, and on racial justice and so many critical issues, can be halted — and even reversed — with one more Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice. Every one of our nearly 6 million supporters will fight like hell to make sure that the American people –– not President Trump and Sen. McConnell –– get to decide who picks Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement.
Justice Ginsburg fought for us for decades. Now, it’s our turn.
Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action and a board member of the Supreme Court Voter project. Follow her on Twitter: @shannonrwatts
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump Supreme Court nominee Amy Barrett threatens gun safety progress
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Inside the JPMorgan Trading Desk the U.S. Called a Crime Ring
(Bloomberg) — Billionaires have Davos. For filmmakers, there’s Sundance. For the people who mine and trade and ship everything from iron ore to platinum, there’s London Metal Exchange Week. It’s a blur of symposiums and drinks, with a reliably lavish lunch thrown by JPMorgan Chase & Co. On a balmy October day in 2018, hundreds of guests crossed a courtyard in the shadow of the Bank of England to a medieval guild hall for champagne and sashimi courtesy of the bank and its top metals trader, Mike Nowak.Nowak had plenty to celebrate. His global trading desk at JPMorgan was the powerhouse in futures contracts for gold, silver, platinum and palladium that account for tens of trillions of dollars in transactions annually. In his mid-40s, Nowak had run the precious metals desk for more than a decade. He had a young family, a house outside Manhattan and a seven-bedroom vacation home a few blocks from the beach in New Jersey.But that world was unraveling. Unbeknown to Nowak, one of his former employees was turning on him.That same day, the sun was barely up in Brooklyn when a trader named John Edmonds set off for a meeting with federal prosecutors. Edmonds, who’d worked for years on Nowak’s desk, took a four-hour car trip to Hartford, Connecticut, where he told authorities that Nowak’s crew wasn’t just buying and selling precious metals, but systematically cheating to help themselves and their top clients. Edmonds admitted to fraudulent trades that day in a sealed guilty plea. Soon, others from the precious metals desk provided accounts, setting off events leading to criminal charges against Nowak and four others from the bank.Testimony by Edmonds and others also underpins a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation into the bank itself that people familiar with the matter say will be resolved in coming days. They said the bank is expected to pay around $1 billion to settle with the Justice Department and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Among the alleged misdeeds is so-called spoofing, or planting fake orders into the market to steer others into buying or selling at prices that favor the bank. In authorities’ years-long crackdown on spoofing — which has included the conviction of two former Deutsche Bank metals traders in Chicago late last week — the expected JPMorgan penalty would be several times the size of previous settlements.Read More: JPMorgan Is Set to Pay $1 Billion in Record Spoofing PenaltyNowak and three others have pleaded not guilty and are seeking to have the charges against them dismissed. Lawyers for Nowak and Edmonds declined to comment. JPMorgan, which has said it’s cooperating with the investigation, declined to comment through a spokesman. The Justice Department and CFTC also declined to comment.In charging Nowak and others, prosecutors are testing an unusual application of a law formulated to battle mobsters, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Prosecutors say Nowak’s trading desk was a criminal racketeering operation within the confines of America’s biggest bank. Traders on Nowak’s desk engaged in spoofing as a core business practice, doing it more than 50,000 times over nearly a decade, they said. The Justice Department has famously used the RICO statute to bring down mafia bosses and drug gangs. It has used other statutes to extract penalties and guilty pleas from big banks accused of market manipulation. But it’s been decades since the government has attempted to apply the anti-racketeering law to members of a major bank’s trading desk, placing Nowak and others in crosshairs once trained on the likes of the Latin Kings and the Gambino crime family.This account is based on court filings, public records and interviews with more than a dozen current traders, former traders and others familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified speaking about an ongoing legal matter.Bear Stearns MarriageThe troubles at Nowak’s operation started in the depths of the financial crisis, arriving in the form of a novel trading strategy from a knot of new colleagues.Nowak had just completed a swift climb at JPMorgan. He’d joined the bank straight from Duke University in 1996 and traded natural gas options for a few years. Then he made his way to the precious metals desk. It was an influential spot. JPMorgan owns and stores tens of billions of dollars of gold and silver in its vaults. It’s also one of the top traders in markets where investors and speculators exchange tens of billions of dollars in futures contracts daily — sending price signals that are picked up by gold funds, pawn shops and Indian jewelry bazaars. Nowak rose to the top of the New York trading desk, and then, in 2006, he took over the London and Singapore operations as well. He was 32 years old.The financial crisis expanded Nowak’s brief further. JPMorgan’s takeover of the teetering Bear Stearns Cos. meant Nowak’s group would absorb Bear’s precious metals desk and some of its traders. Bear’s traders worked in midtown Manhattan, just across Madison Avenue from Nowak’s office.On May 27, 2008, the Bear deal was two days from closing. Nowak was still getting to know his future employees and their culture. That day’s Wall Street Journal ran the first of a three-day series about what went wrong at Bear: It was a brokerage, the paper wrote, “whose culture and fortune were rooted in the trading floor’s steely manipulation of risk.”That morning, across the street from Nowak, a Bear trader named Gregg Smith executed a 15-second series of keystrokes.8:39:56 a.m.: Smith enters an offer to sell seven contracts for silver futures. He asks $17.575 an ounce.8:40:06 a.m.: Smith places 13 more offers — not to sell, but to buy 91 contracts. They were at prices from $17.555 to $17.565, just below Smith’s unfilled sell offer.8:40:09 a.m.: Within less than seven-tenths of a second, Smith begins to get buyers for his seven contracts and starts canceling the 13 buy offers. Just then, Nowak received an instant message from a Bear Stearns manager across the street: “Smith just bid it up to … sell.”The timeline of that sale, in which about $600,000 worth of silver futures changed hands, is described in charging documents. The filings don’t say whether Nowak read the message or otherwise acknowledged the trade. But more than a decade later, the sequence was singled out by prosecutors as the beginning of what they described as an eight-year conspiracy.In the following months, Nowak brought over several of the Bear traders, including Smith and the manager who had written him the instant message. Smith’s trade was a preview of a technique that prosecutors say became widespread at JPMorgan.The 15-second sequence was also a response, prosecutors say, to an issue that had been vexing the JPMorgan crew — an upswing in pesky high-frequency traders.Troubles With AlgosFor generations, metals changed hands in open-outcry pits where hundreds of traders screamed prices and obscenities. Nowak, introverted and brainy, came along in time for electronic trading and the problems it posed. Firms and individuals with fast internet connections and proprietary algorithms were swarming in and out of positions to profit on small daily price moves.Traders at big operations like JPMorgan’s found that within a second of placing a bid, their price was often countered by high-frequency traders who would match and close a position before the traders had a chance to complete their deal. These algos not only snapped up trades but also created momentum in the market that pushed prices away from the traders’ targets.One way to outsmart them, current and former brokers and traders say, was to put up and remove an offer on the opposite side of the market. That would cause the algorithms to recalculate market supply and demand, leaving an opening for the traders to get the deal done at the price they wanted.Read More: Bloomberg’s QuickTake on SpoofingEarly on, some of Nowak’s traders were attempting to counter the algos by placing a single large order opposite the one they wanted filled, according to prosecutors. The Bear traders’ twist was to place multiple orders, at different prices, that in aggregate were substantially larger than the genuine order — a technique the government calls layering. The orders, made in rapid succession after the genuine order, would be canceled as soon as the genuine order was filled. Think of it like trying to sell a hamburger. You conjure a mob in front of your burger joint, creating the perception of demand. Once a real customer steps up and buys the burger, you make the mob vanish.The layering worked in futures markets in part because participants see a second-by-second barrage of offers to buy and sell, but not who’s making them. And whereas one big order might stand out, a lot of small ones might not. That made it important to warn colleagues when layering was in progress. One of the former Bear traders did just that for a new JPMorgan colleague in early 2009, according to prosecutors.“So you know its gregg bidding up on the futures trying to get some off,” the Bear alum wrote. “Incase you were watching some large bids come into market.”At that moment, Smith placed an order to sell seven gold futures while placing offers to buy 77. The activity was viewable for 59 seconds before Smith sold three of his contracts and canceled his swarm of buy orders.“Appreesh,” the colleague responded, “that worked!”Smith, a lead gold trader, executed some 38,000 layering sequences over the years, or about 20 a day, prosecutors said in filings. (Smith pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer didn’t respond to requests for comment.) Nowak himself primarily traded options, but he would dip into the futures market to hedge those positions. He tried his hand at layering in September 2009, according to filings, and went on to use the technique some 3,600 times.The government says the traders caused tens of millions of dollars in losses for those on the other side of the transactions and harmed market integrity. It says JPMorgan’s precious metals trading desk — which brings in as much as $250 million in annual profit — generated millions of dollars in unlawful gains.Lawyers for Nowak and Smith declined to comment about their defense strategies. But lawyers in other spoofing and manipulation cases have argued that the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between traders and algos is understood across the market and that the gains are small on minuscule market moves. In this month’s trial of the former Deutsche Bank AG traders, defense lawyers compared high-speed trading on futures markets to a competitive card game, saying canceling orders isn’t spoofing but rather a legal bluffing strategy. They also claimed the government cherry-picked trades, providing too little market context to establish manipulation. Nowak’s AcolyteNowak was an even-tempered manager who was hands-off yet approachable, several people familiar with his work said. When he saw his traders outside the office, they said, it was unlikely to be at a late-night bar. One trader, in an instant message cited in filings, noted that Nowak had come to his kids’ birthday parties. One of Nowak’s acolytes on the desk was Edmonds, a Brooklyn native with a degree from St. Johns University in Queens, New York. Edmonds started in JPMorgan’s back office and was brought to the desk in 2009. He sat next to a former pit trader who would often ask Edmonds to execute his trades, according to Edmonds’s testimony in a civil lawsuit. That trader, identified as a co-conspirator in the indictment, isn’t named or charged in the criminal case. Edmonds’s supervisors and more senior members on the desk showed him how to layer trades, he later told prosecutors, adding that it was understood on the desk that this was the way to trade precious metals futures.For as long as Nowak was on the desk, scrutiny was a constant. Gold and silver bugs — many of them individual investors who bought futures or physical gold and silver as a conservative investment play — claimed the bank was unfairly moving prices in spot and futures markets to benefit itself. Similar allegations were raised in civil lawsuits by people or firms that traded silver futures, such as the suit in which Edmonds provided testimony about the trading desk. For years, those cases went nowhere. And three times, starting in 2004, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also looked into allegations of market manipulation of the silver market by JPMorgan. Nowak, who held leadership roles on the LME and the London Bullion Market Association, was asked to explain the bank’s trading. In 2010, he sat for two days of interviews with CFTC investigators, explaining the bank’s trading strategies.“To your knowledge, have traders at JPMorgan in the metals group put up bids and offers to the market which they didn’t intend to execute and then pulled them before they got hit or lifted?” one CFTC investigator asked.“No,” Nowak responded.The CFTC closed the third of those three inquiries in 2013 without taking action. JPMorgan has cited those CFTC investigations while defending against civil lawsuits, accusing plaintiffs of rehashing “implausible theories” of silver futures manipulation that were rejected by regulators.Screening for SpoofsFive years passed before Nowak’s operation came under the federal spotlight again. That was thanks to a federal prosecutor with a trove of data and, in Edmonds, a key cooperator.The prosecutor was Avi Perry, an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut with a Yale law degree. Perry didn’t set out to target JPMorgan’s operation so much as JPMorgan’s trading found him.Perry started hunting for market manipulation around 2018, as the Justice Department was upping its game in the area. For years, prosecutors had built market manipulation cases by following up on tips and pulling trading data on suspects. Now they were doing deep dives into raw data to uncover targets, parsing records filed directly with the exchanges.In the real-time scrum of futures markets, where offers are made and pulled all day long, it’s nearly impossible to discern potential manipulation. But the government had an edge. The data feed of the trades includes each trader’s exchange credentials, allowing investigators to sort for suspicious patterns and attribute it to individuals.Perry also had a valuable guide to the market. His lead FBI investigator, Jonathan Luca, previously worked as a gold and silver futures trader at Morgan Stanley. Together, they created a screen for precious metals trading data. The idea, according to two people familiar with the analysis, was to turn up sequences in which a trader placed and canceled a profusion of orders on one side of the market while executing a trade on the other. The bigger the mismatch between genuine and pulled offers, and the more a given trader did it, they said, the more it would be considered a red flag for potential spoofing.When they ran the screen, traders at JPMorgan stood out.Grappling With a LossPerry, at the time, was coming off a stinging loss in a spoofing case. In late 2017, his bosses at the Justice Department added him to the team preparing to try an indicted UBS Group AG metals trader. In his mid-30s, Perry hadn’t handled a spoofing prosecution. The case was already speeding to trial, and cracks were showing. The trader was indicted in Connecticut even though his trading occurred on exchanges in Chicago. Most of the charges were dismissed and the trader was acquitted. Defense lawyers and even some fraud prosecutors wondered if the government’s spoofing initiative was waning.But Perry’s bosses had him keep digging. In 2018 they recruited him for a job at the Justice Department’s fraud section in Washington, whose prosecutors have built some of the biggest U.S. corporate crime cases. With the trading analysis in hand, he went looking for individuals who might talk.Edmonds was notable even among the JPMorgan traders. At times he had placed orders with as many as 400 contracts on the opposite side of a genuine one.It’s unclear how Perry and the FBI approached Edmonds. But they could have done so without raising alarms inside JPMorgan. Edmonds had left JPMorgan in 2017 after declining the bank’s offer to relocate to Singapore, and by the fall of 2018 was working at another bank.Perry and his team talked to Edmonds at least twice in the weeks before he traveled to Connecticut to enter his secret guilty plea on Oct. 9, 2018, the day of the London party.Several months later, Perry secured the cooperation of one of the Bear traders who moved to JPMorgan. Pleading guilty, that trader said he personally manipulated trades while working from offices in New York, London and Singapore, and said spoofed trades were a fixture at the bank for nearly a decade.Even so, at Nowak’s office there was little sign of dark clouds. Although banks often place individuals on leave when legal action may be pending, Nowak and Smith remained at their desks well after the charges against Edmonds were made public in November 2018.Green Light for RICOTo prosecutors, the evidence fit the template for a racketeering conspiracy — a pattern of illegality over time, with individuals working together to further the goals of the allegedly criminal enterprise. There was limited precedent applying the RICO law to trading and finance, though. Racketeering charges were leveled against Michael Milken in 1989 but dropped when he reached a settlement with authorities. The statute was successfully applied in the early 1990s against eight traders in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange soybean pits.To guard against overuse or abuse of the statute, the Justice Department keeps a tight handle on RICO charges. The department’s organized crime and gang section gave Perry the green light.In 2019, Edmonds’s plea began to recede into the rear-view mirror. In May, Nowak and Smith hosted an intern, the quarterback for Nowak’s alma mater, Duke. That summer, Perry secured the government’s indictment of Nowak, Smith and a third trader. It was filed under seal in federal court in Chicago, where the trades took place.The charges were made public in September, and Nowak appeared in handcuffs in federal court in Newark, New Jersey — accused of conspiracy to participate in or conduct a criminal racketeering enterprise, attempted price manipulation, bank fraud, wire fraud, commodities fraud and spoofing. In addition to the half-dozen people who’ve been charged, the government documents referred to seven more individuals as unindicted co-conspirators. It’s not clear whether any of them have cooperated or what additional information they may have provided in the year since.Nowak’s arrest sent a shockwave through the the metals and proprietary trading world, several people in the industry said. On paper and by reputation, he was as clean as they came, they said, asking: If he could come under scrutiny, couldn’t anyone?Nowak’s trial is on pace for next year, according to filings in the case. The government should be able to use a JPMorgan settlement to its favor, said Michael Koenig, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a partner at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder and isn’t involved in the Nowak matter. The bank could be required to offer witnesses and testimony, he said.“The company — and all its information and all of its personnel — is now sitting at the prosecutors’ table,” Koenig said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
How Covid has affected Asian American multigenerational homes
Chelsey Gao’s grandmother is 84, has myriad health issues, speaks no English and has not left home at all since the pandemic revved up.
Mother and daughter, then, are the designated emissaries to the outside world. Gao, 23, headed to Ohio in January for a new job as a data analyst, and had big plans to travel internationally with friends on her “new adult income.” But after the coronavirus tightened its grip on the U.S., she moved back home to live with her mother and octogenarian grandmother in the Atlanta suburbs.
“I just figured it would be a lot easier to be able to be back home with a support system,” Gao said. “Being isolated was not an ideal situation.”
Her 53-year-old mother, who was born and raised in China, received unemployment after being furloughed in March. That cushioned the blow, but she still worried: “If the unemployment lasted for longer, or perhaps she was laid off from her job, she [felt] comfortable knowing that I could provide [financial] support for our family,” Gao said.
They are among the ranks of Asian Americans who live in multigenerational homes — a tradition in some cultures and one increasingly complicated by the threat of a pandemic that’s taken a unique and multifaceted toll on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
A Pew Research study found 29 percent of Asian Americans lived in a home with two or more adult generations or grandparents and grandkids under 25 in 2016 — more than other ethnic groups. By comparison, 27 percent of Hispanics, 26 percent of Blacks and just 16 percent of whites had that kind of setup.
Living in crowded quarters can be difficult enough in normal times. Throw in a deadly virus, and the situation gets even more demanding.
“When you live in a mixed-generation household, or even a household with folks who are considered higher risk, [it’s] very different than if you are just social distancing, being careful, but you don’t have a grandma who could die if she caught the virus. So there’s a lot more at stake,” says Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, a nonprofit focused on policies to help women and girls.
The numbers tell a painful story: Data analyzed by The Marshall Project shows Covid-19 has had a disproportionate effect on the mortality rate among Asian Americans: From January to July, deaths increased 35 percent over the 2015-19 average, compared to a 9 percent rise for whites. (Other ethnic groups have also seen dramatic jumps, including a 44 percent increase among Hispanics, 31 percent among Blacks, and 22 percent spike for Native Americans.)
A high mortality rate
Why is the mortality rate from the coronavirus so high for Asian Americans? Lots of reasons, says Grace Ma, a professor and founding director of the Center for Asian Health at Temple University.
AAPI undertesting for Covid-19 is a real problem, Ma says. She points to a roster of issues: Inability to social distance in crowded multigenerational homes. High-exposure jobs in sectors such as health care. Underlying chronic illness, language barriers and a debunked “model minority” myth that continues to mean a lack of attention to the community’s disadvantaged status. There’s also anti-Asian discrimination that fosters distrust of reporting and contact tracing.
“I think there are a lot of barriers in access to care, and people just don’t talk about it. When the system [does] not have the languages, they can’t even get across the point of making appointments — let alone to get testing and treatment — unless they’re so sick and they end up in the emergency room,” Ma says.
Asian Americans aren’t even mentioned in some recent discussions of equitable distribution of a future coronavirus vaccine, Ma said that the bottom line is that “Asians oftentimes are neglected, and we have to fight for it.”
Barriers exacerbated by Covid-19 extend to getting by in the battered U.S. economy, Choimorrow said — and again, the challenges can be tougher for AAPI, including immigrants living in multigenerational households.
In May, according to a Pew study, the adjusted unemployment rate for Asians was 20.3 percent — higher than for whites and Blacks and on par with that of Hispanics. The problem may be even worse: “When you think about the fact that 29 percent of Asian Americans live in [an] at least two-adult-generation households, not everybody is bringing in income,” Choimorrow says, “and so there are more people whose livelihoods depend on your income than a standard nuclear family.”
Some AAPI families have members with different immigration statuses. That brings some people real pause when they consider asking for government help, because benefits may not always be available to mixed-status households. Heated and confusing rhetoric surrounding immigration adds a fear factor: “At a time where people really need [to] lean on public benefits,” Choimorrow says, “they’re not — because they’re afraid of either losing their chances of becoming a citizen, or that their family member might get deported because of them.”
When Asian Americans do choose to reach out for help, language barriers can complicate everything from signing up for business loans and unemployment benefits to getting basic news and educational support, Choimorrow says: If government forms confound the native English speaker, how much do nonspeakers struggle? If parents must work and kids are cared for by a grandparent with limited English, how do they help with homeschooling assignments — or even talk to customer service if the internet goes down — when help in Asian languages is limited?
“In Asian American households, not [to] generalize, but I think many of us come from cultures where putting family and community before yourself is highly valued,” South Korea-born Choimorrow said. “We come [from] very communal cultures. And so those things are expected of young people right now.”
Family, social and economic fears
When the coronavirus pandemic heated up in the spring, Christy Wang of Brooklyn took action to protect her family: She limited grocery runs to once a week, enforced constant hand washing and sanitizing, and switched to working from home. She started buying portable alarms as security against Covid-19-related racist attacks on Asian Americans
Stocking up on these items meant buying for her husband, teenage daughter and her mother.
“There is so much to worry about… Every time you go out, you worry,” Wang told NBC Asian America — and that concern extends to the older and younger generations of her family, even as she continues her own work as an accountant: Is her daughter keeping her mask on when she’s at the park with friends? Is her mom taking precautions against exposure to the virus when she rides the subway to Chinatown to see her doctor?
Wang’s daughter, Catrina, will study online this fall while her parents work from home and her Cantonese-speaking grandmother helps with the cooking and chores. Having everyone together 24/7 during the pandemic, she says, means tight quarters and less privacy.
With a child’s innocence, Catrina’s take on pandemic life sums up what many families like hers are facing in a broader sense.
“Sometimes it’s a little chaotic,” she said. “A lot of things all just happen at once.”
For Gao, her role as translator even before the onset of the pandemic took on heightened importance. Although her mother can communicate in English, Gao says she’s still acted as family interpreter in dealing with utilities or doctors: “I think the biggest help I have [been] is just helping with language barriers.”
Her family, including her grandmother are aware of the incidents of anti-Asian bias.
“She’s also very scared,” Gao said. “We basically go to the Chinese grocery stores every weekend and we pick her up the newspaper, so she is also very aware of how serious the situation is.”
Gao and her mother stick together on shopping trips and walks, and remain concerned by reports of rising anti-Asian harassment and violence amid the pandemic.
“We live in a relatively white area, [and] so I think we do feel a little anxious… Thankfully, everyone has been friendly, but we’re just never sure what could ever happen, because [my] mom and I both read the news,” Gao said. “I [have] other AAPI friends who are in Tennessee, and I have another friend who has a mother living in a more rural area of Georgia, and I know we all shared concerns about our parents going out … We do a lot of our shopping at Asian grocery stores, so I think that’s also kind of made us feel more safe.”
Women disproportionately affected
Choimorrow pointed out women carry more of the mental and physical caretaking load. “There are various reasons why women bear a larger burden, and people were talking about it pre-pandemic.”
And within multigenerational homes, women are often sandwiched in between guarding both kids and parents against the coronavirus.
“If you think about [it] in the context of multigenerational families … the parents are having to carry this burden of deciding that they have to go back to work and put their elderly parents at risk,” Choimorrow said.
Women are also sacrificing more with regard to child care specifically.
“I’ve heard from eight different people that they’re quitting their jobs to help the kids learn online. Yeah. In the last two weeks,” Choimorrow said.
Mothers have reduced their work hours four to five times more than fathers amid the pandemic, according to a recent study in the journal Gender, Work and Organization. And about 17 percent of working moms have quit their job during the pandemic, compared to 10 percent of working dads, according to a recent survey by the career website FlexJobs.
“The country is asking people to make decisions that no one should really have to be making,” Choimorrow said. “But that’s that’s a reality for so many Americans — and over 30 percent of Asian American families living in the U.S.”
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