The Weekly Pulse, August 2-7: In the Fight Against COVID, Trump is Failing Us

For The Weekly Pulse (a revisit of an old Ms. column!), we’ve scoured the most trusted journalistic sources—and, of course, our Twitter feeds—to bring you this week’s most important news stories related to health and wellness.


In this edition of The Weekly Pulse, we:

  • run down recent updates on reproductive health care and policy;
  • address the presence of coronavirus risks in reopened-schools and prisons; and
  • provide updates on the coronavirus with a closer look at how exactly leadership is failing us in the global fight against COVID.

Repro Rundown

+ Today, California’s Assembly of Business and Professions Committee will discuss a bill allowing certified nurse-midwifes to perform abortions on their own, without doctor supervision. 

Authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Senate Bill 1237 “would also require written permission of a patient before such a midwife-only abortion is performed, with the midwife getting the required training and certification to perform an abortion by themselves before any solo abortions. Certification itself would come from a board to be comprised of other certified midwifes and certified doctors.”

Last month, Sen. Dodd said

“I appreciate the support for this proposal, which will improve access to high-quality maternity care and help resolve inequities in treatment for women of color.

“The current gap is completely unacceptable. By increasing access to nurse-midwives, we can improve outcomes for mothers and babies, especially those in rural or inner-city settings.”

(Kate Ausburn / Flickr)

+ As a result of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 paycheck protection program (PPP), anti-abortion “pregnancy-crisis centers” have collected “at least $4m and possibly more than $10m in forgivable federal loans”—as estimated by the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

These centers operate under the ruse that they offer comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care; however, they often advocate for and “provide ‘sham’ medical treatments such as abortion “reversal” pillsoppose modern birth control methods and exaggerate medical risks of abortion to persuade women not to have them.” 

+ A new study highlights a link between certain types of birth control pills, pregnancy and estrogen-based hormone therapies and their potential to increase risk of deadly blood clots in COVID-19 patients.

COVID exacerbates the risks for such clots; and when combined with higher levels of estrogen, “may amplify the risk, doctors hypothesize.”

Effects of the first two coronavirus vaccines entering into large-scale U.S. trials will not be tested in pregnant people. (Frank de Kleine / Flickr)

+ Effects of the first two coronavirus vaccines entering into large-scale U.S. trials will not be tested in pregnant people. Drugmakers say that their first priority is to test the vaccines’ general effectiveness; however, this gap in potential virus-protection raises the question—just how will this vulnerable population be protected from potential exposure? 

Coronavirus: Newsflash—The U.S. Is Not Handling the Pandemic Well

Jared Kushner—who is both the president’s son-in-law and a White House special advisor—oversaw the creation of a plan in March to both ramp up and coordinate COVID-19 testing on a national level. Yet, no such plan was ever announced. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

+ Three in five Americans disapprove of the way President Trump is handling the coronavirus pandemic. What’s more concerning is the discovery that there was a national testing strategy in the works until it was scrapped inexplicably. Jared Kushner—who is both the president’s son-in-law and a White House special advisor—oversaw the creation of a plan in March to both ramp up and coordinate COVID-19 testing on a national level

Yet, no such plan was ever announced. Instead, states were left to scramble for test kits and other medical equipment, while President Trump downplayed the threat of the virus and made false claims about the number of people being tested in the U.S. 


Here at Ms., our team is continuing to report through this global health crisis—doing what we can to keep you informed and up-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of this pandemic. We ask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, unique reporting—we can’t do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.


+ The lack of a national testing strategy has led seven state governors to create their own purchasing agreement. The seven states—Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Maryland—will collectively request 3.5 million newly-approved antigen tests, which can procure results in as little as thirty-minutes. By combining their purchasing power, the coalition of states hope to be able to deliver testing to communities more quickly. 

+ In a recent op-ed, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and documentary film-maker Mark Olshaker argue we should be treating this pandemic like a “wildfire” not like a “wave.”

“Like a wildfire, the virus relentlessly seeks out fuel (human hosts), devastating some areas while sparing others”

Perhaps Americans are starting to get on board with treating this pandemic like a wildfire: Since June, there has been a nineteen percent increase in the number of Americans supporting “aggressive social distancing.” Additionally, nearly four in five Americans support mask mandates. Still, the shifting tides of public opinion are unfortunately coming too late for the 159,000 Americans who’ve died as a result of the pandemic. 

School Reopenings Forge Ahead

+ With the new school year rapidly approaching, school administrators, teachers, parents, students and public health officials are weighing the risks and rewards of returning to school in-person. While Trump pressures schools to reopen in the fall, many teachers are concerned for their health and safety—with some teachers’ unions threatening to hold strikes if their school districts do not take “sufficient precautions” against the coronavirus.

+ A school in Indiana—just hours after reopening—was forced to quarantine those who had come in contact with a student who had tested positive. We’ll be keeping an eye on the outcomes as other schools reopen.

+ In Georgia, two public high school students were suspended after posting photos to Twitter showing students—many without masks—in a crowded hallway. 

In response to criticism and outrage over the photos, Brian Ottot, superintendent of the Paulding County School District, released a letter stating “the situation complies with Georgia Department of Education’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools,” which was developed in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

As for the lack of masks, the superintendent called masks “a personal choice” with “no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.” Isn’t it interesting how schools can enforce sexist dress codes, yet not enforce an effective public health measure during a global pandemic?

Coronavirus Outbreaks in Prisons

About half of the prison population at Arizona State Prison Complex Tucson Whetstone Unit tested positive for COVID-19. (Raffaella / Flickr)

+ Prisons are proving to be a hotspot for coronavirus outbreaks, due to the lack of ability to social distance. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with nearly one percent of the population in prison. 

About half of the prison population at Arizona State Prison Complex Tucson Whetstone Unit tested positive for COVID-19. Local advocacy groups are criticizing the prison for not doing more to protect inmates, and called for a stop to new admissions. Advocates are also calling for the prison to allow inmates who are near the end of their sentence, immunocompromised, or pregnant to be released to home confinement.


The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-movingDuring this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

About and

Giselle Hengst recently graduated from Vanderbilt University with degrees in Women's & Gender Studies and Medicine, Health, & Society. She is currently an editorial and social media intern at Ms. magazine.
Corinne Ahrens is an undergraduate student at American University studying Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as Political Science with a specialization in Gender, Race, and Politics. Corinne has been writing for Ms. since October 2019 and is a Ms. Editorial and Social Media intern. She is also working as the Digital Campaign Communications Director for "Vote No On 1 Louisiana"—a campaign to defeat the predatory "No Right to Abortion" amendment.