May 16, 2020 - Health

Art by doctors: a glimpse of the front lines

The first panel of "The COVID-19 Playlist" comic. Courtesy of Dr. Grace Farris.

Art made by health care workers offers a rare look — through very personal lenses — at how the fight against coronavirus is unfolding in hospitals.

Why it matters: These can be the best glimpses of what happens behind hospital doors because patient privacy issues make it difficult for journalists to capture what is happening on the front lines.

What they're saying: Dr. Grace Farris is a hospitalist at Mount Sinai, and she's also a cartoonist. One of her recent cartoons, which ran on NPR's site, shows how hospitals around New York are using songs like U2's "Beautiful Day" to "sing patients home" when they were discharged.

  • "I have gotten a lot of messages from people saying that they loved this idea that they're playing songs," Dr. Farris tells Axios.
  • Dr. Shirlene Obuobi, a second year internal medicine resident in Chicago and a cartoonist, has been treating patients with coronavirus. She says, "I do have a viewpoint that is different and valuable right now and I want people to see this from a human perspective and not from a statistics perspective."
  • Dr. Sophie Chung is a surgery intern at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She volunteered to work with COVID-19 patients and following her very first shift, she was moved to illustrate the protective gear she helped her colleague don, which she described as "a hood reminiscent of a medieval knight.”

Between the lines: Tensions between optimism and tragedy, and between dark humor and seriousness, run through many of these comics.

  • "I wanted to remember how it felt to have that [music] alternating with overhead announcements where you realize that someone's about to die," Dr. Farris says.

The bottom line: The images shared by doctors like Dr. Farris, Dr. Obuobi, Dr. Chung, and also Dr. Mike Natter, and Dr. Nathan Gray, help make visible the work they are doing.

  • I've been thinking a lot about how I want to reflect on [these experiences] and I don't want to forget them," Farris says. "So I think of these as mostly for reflection, and for bearing witness."
Courtesy of Dr. Grace Farris
Courtesy of Dr. Grace Farris
Courtesy of Dr. Shirlene Obuobi
Courtesy of Dr. Shirlene Obuobi
Courtesy of Dr. Sophie Chung

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has only eight active novel coronavirus cases no COVID-19 patients in hospital after reporting another day of zero cases. However, the death toll rose to 22.

Zoom in: A top health official told a briefing a 96-year-old woman "was regarded to having recovered from COVID-19 at the time of her death, and COVID-19 is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate." But health officials decided to include her death in the overall tally of deaths related to the virus.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,690,951 — Total deaths: 355,575 — Total recoveries — 2,350,071Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,699,073 — Total deaths: 100,396 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.