An Artistic Approach

Art has long been a form of expression; political cartoons are no different. How have artists displayed their perspective around the dire need for an increased supply and distribution of masks & vaccines?

Introduction

Art has long been a form of expression; political cartoons are no different. These types of cartoons provide for freedom of speech and of the press while also offering editorial commentary on politics, politicians, and current events. Political cartoons revolving around COVID-19 have addressed society's perspective on the challenges faced. The political cartoons within this exhibit refer to the need for an increased supply of masks & vaccines.

Katrina 2

The political cartoon above regarding New York hospitals compares the situation to Hurricane Katrina. The reference, Katrina 2 implies that the wave of COVID-19 cases can be expressed as the sequel to Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina (which formed on August 23, 2005) struck the Gulf Coast of the U.S. on August 29. The lack of efficient government reaction and preparation led to many unnecessary deaths in Mississippi and Louisiana (New Orleans). Despite concerns about how a hurricane could destroy New Orleans, the federal agency in charge of building better levees and floodwalls was more concerned about money than about building proper protections; thus flawed structures were constructed. Within the political cartoon, frontline workers can be seen on top of a NY Hospital looking for rescue from the rising water. In this image, the water is depicted as covid cases. From what seems like a helicopter view, the top of the building reads "SUPPLIES LOW PLEASE HELP!". Similar to the circumstances of Katrina, the federal government

Figure 1.1: Sack, Steve. “Katrina 2.” The Cagle Post, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., 1 Apr. 2020

Source: Cagle Cartoons

In the early stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic (around late March), New York City’s front-line medical workers were tasked with the challenges of the Coronavirus emergency; New York City was once the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. The situation was desperate as it was predicted that the number of hospitalizations was expected to peak despite hospitals being down to their last weeks of personal protective equipment.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to severe shortages of personal protective equipment for health care workers. For instance, the shortage of government-approved N-95 face masks forced many front-line workers to reuse masks and manufacturers to scramble to produce more. PPE, which is especially essential in order to keep medical professionals from contracting COVID-19, became more difficult to supply hospitals. There is no simple proven method of disinfection for N-95 masks, which present a contamination risk with continued use, yet the severity of the shortage required front-line workers to reuse single-use disposable masks and wipe down face shields with bleach wipes. However, students at the University of Southern California came up with a concept to reduce that contamination by making masks that combine copper within N-95 filtration materials, creating continuously self-disinfecting masks. Copper has long been used for its antimicrobial properties; this design innovation could allow those in the health care system to more safely use and, if necessary, reuse their masks, eliminating the need for routine short-term use and disposal.

NYC Covid19 Ventilators

As the number of COVID-19 cases continued to increase at a rapid rate, the United States hospitals and government were forced to confront the harsh reality: there were not enough lifesaving ventilator machines as needed. New York hospitals, which were also experiencing shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) were desperate to find anywhere to buy the ventilators, which are devices that help patients breathe. The cartoon shows the Statue of Liberty asking for help stating that the COVID-19 “masses” are “yearning to breathe freely.” The coronavirus attacks people’s lungs, in some cases, infection compromises people's ability to breathe. Ventilators deliver air to the lungs through a tube placed in the windpipe; they are a crucial tool to keep patients alive.

However the machines can cost as much as $50,000, and American and European manufacturers were having difficulty speeding up production in order to meet the urgent demand. According to estimates by Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI), an independent nonprofit group that evaluates medical technology, in the United States roughly half of the intensive-care ventilators in use were made by foreign companies (ie. Dräger and Getinge). According to Greg Crist, a spokesman for AdvaMed, the trade group that represents American medical device makers, there are few than a dozen American companies (ie. General Electric and Medtronic) that make ventilators. Companies were scrambling to accelerate production.

Figure 1.2: Granlund, Dave. "NYC Covid19 Ventilators." The Cagle Post, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., 25 Mar. 2020,

Source: lab-training.com

Andreas Wieland, the chief executive of Hamilton Medical in Switzerland, one of the world’s largest makers of ventilators, described how "the reality is there is absolutely not enough." Despite Wieland’s company shipping machines as fast as they can (off of the assembly line) and with an increase in employees, keeping up with the demand was difficult.

Johns Hopkins University’s hospital system bought new ventilators when the leadership saw the coronavirus spreading. Even so, Gabe Kelen, director of Johns Hopkins’ office of critical event preparedness, said “We’re scrounging...We’re looking at every possible place we might get one." The hospital system even considered working with the university’s engineering department to build its own ventilators. Though this was deemed an "extreme option” since they'd never built the complex machines before. The machines are complicated and made up of hundreds of smaller parts produced by companies all over the world. Ultimately, there is no easy way to increase the output to meet the constant increase in demand.

Without an adequate supply of ventilators, doctors were faced with having to make life-or-death decisions about who needs the machines most.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

"Rosie the Riveter" is no doubt a classic american campaign. The poster features a female factory worker flexing her muscles and urging other women to join the World War II effort. The worker declares "We Can Do It!" During World War II American women played important roles at home and in uniform.

The spin-off shown depicts a similar campaign. Instead of encouraging other women to join the World War II effort, "Rosie the Riveter" is strongly encouraging everyone to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.

Engineering can play a key factor in building a system to maintain consistent levels of availability during the time it takes to produce enough COVID-19 vaccines for immunization. Engineering principles such as maximizing throughput by identifying and removing bottlenecks (constraints) in multi-step processes, making efficient use of scarce resources (time, labor, and raw materials), prioritizing completion of urgently-needed output, and adhering to constraints in the relative timing of critical steps to ensure quality and reliability, can be applied to the task of tackling COVID-19.

Figure 1.3: Darkow, John. “Roll Up Your Sleeves.” The Cagle Post, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., 24 Feb. 2021

Source: Cagle Cartoons

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a “vital” role in the fight against COVID-19. AI techniques can boost and complement traditional technologies by reducing the time required in bringing a drug from bench to bed by speeding up lead discovery, virtual screening, and validation processes. AI systems can help in reducing the work burden of medical staff and healthcare workers by automating several processes such as determining the mode of treatment and care by analyzing clinical data using pattern recognition approaches, digitizing patient reports, and also offering solutions that minimize their contact with the patients.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to severe shortages of personal protective equipment for health care workers. For instance, the shortage of government-approved N-95 face masks forced many front-line workers to reuse masks and manufacturers to scramble to produce more. PPE, which is especially essential in order to keep medical professionals from contracting COVID-19, became more difficult to supply hospitals. There is no simple proven method of disinfection for N-95 masks, which present a contamination risk with continued use, yet the severity of the shortage required front-line workers to reuse single-use disposable masks and wipe down face shields with bleach wipes. However, students at the University of Southern California came up with a concept to reduce that contamination by making masks that combine copper within N-95 filtration materials, creating continuously self-disinfecting masks. Copper has long been used for its antimicrobial properties; this design innovation could allow those in the health care system to more safely use and, if necessary, reuse their masks, eliminating the need for routine short-term use and disposal.