Category Archives: Health Issues

How We Can Achieve Social Unity, With Social Distancing

“To combat the coronavirus, Americans need to do more than secure their own safety.” E. Klinenberg, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A discarded medical glove on a subway grate in midtown Manhattan in New York City on Tuesday.Credit…Damon Winter:The New York Times

Excerpt: We Need Social Solidarity…By Dr. Eric Klinenberg, The New York Times

“Social distancing — canceling large gatherings, closing schools and offices, quarantining individuals and even sequestering entire cities or neighborhoods — seems to be the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.

Some of the homeless people who camp near Washington’s Union Station feel isolated as foot traffic has decreased. (Michael S. Williamson:The Post)

Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.  What’s more, it’s insufficient to protect the older, sick, homeless and isolated people who are most vulnerable to the virus. They need extra care and attention to survive, not society’s back.

I learned this firsthand while studying another recent health crisis, the great Chicago heat wave of 1995. In that event, as in so many other American disasters, social isolation was a leading risk factor and social connections made the difference between life and death.

Tents of one of the many homeless men and women are set up at Dupont Circle in Washington. (Astrid Riecken for The Post)

In Chicago, social isolation among older people in poor, segregated and abandoned neighborhoods made the heat wave far more lethal than it should have been. Some 739 people died during one deadly week in July, even though saving them required little more than a cold bath or exposure to air-conditioning. There was plenty of water and artificial cooling available in the city that week. For the truly disadvantaged, however, social contact was in short supply. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises by communicating clearly and honestly with the public and providing extra service and support to those in need…It’s chilling, how familiar this seems. And it’s disturbing, how little we’ve heard about helping the people and places most threatened by the coronavirus, about the ways in which, amid so much isolation, we can offer a hand.

Coronavirus concerns empty public spaces around the world-Boston Globe

In addition to social distancing, societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity, or the interdependence between individuals and across groups.

A Flowershop Offeres Free Flowers To everyone.

This an essential tool for combating infectious diseases and other collective threats.

Solidarity motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school…Social solidarity leads to policies that benefit public well-being, even if it costs some individuals more. Consider paid sick leave.

A Brookline Principal reads bedtime stories to her young students

When governments guarantee it (as most developed democracies do), it can be a burden for employers and businesses. The United States does not guarantee it, and as a consequence many low-wage American workers, even in the food service industry, are on the job when they’re contagiously ill.”

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Help Your Community Combat Coronavirus (While Still Social Distancing)

“Instead of isolating, you can help your neighbors and community in these ways.” By Ria Misra, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the Coronavirus.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Many people are kept in quarantine.
  2. Entire cities or neighborhoods are being sequestered.
  3. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.
  4. Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.
  5. What’s more, it’s insufficient to protect the older, sick, homeless.
  6. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises.
  7. Amid so much isolation, we can offer a hand.
  8. Societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity.
  9. Societie have also drawn upon the interdependence between individuals and across groups.
  10. We should not be hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Social distancing  seems to be the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.
  3. We need to protect the older, sick, homeless and isolated people.

II

  1. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises.
  2. Its chilling, how familiar this seems.
  3. It’s disturbing, how little we’ve heard about helping the people.

III

  1. Societies have often drawn on social solidarity to survive disasters.
  2. Solidarity motivates us to promote public health.
  3. Solidarity is a essential tool for combating infectious disease

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.Ifa statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false theymarkit F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The Coronavirus is only in China and the U.S.
  2. Social distancing and canceling large gatherings,  is not the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  3. Keeping people separated seems to be a crude and costly public health strategy.
  4. Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.
  5. Young people who are most vulnerable to the virus.
  6. The author references  another health crisis that occurred in New York.
  7. According to the author, solidarity is an essential tool for combating infectious diseases.
  8. Social solidarity leads to people being lonely.
  9. The scientists expect the coronavirus to be over in 3 months.
  10. The United States does not guarantee paid sick leave, and as a consequence many low-wage American workers, even in the food service industry, are on the job when they’re contagiously ill.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

 

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you, your friends, family and community?
  2. Do you feel that we need more compassion and solidarity during this crises?
  3. Name several  good things that solidarity motivates us to do for others.
  4. According to the article who are the most vulnerable people?
  5. It’s stated that, “As Covid-19 spreads, we’ll continue to see more people asked to work remotely or from home, more school closings, more canceled events, and other measures associated with social distancing.”
  6. Do you have  plans of how you intend to remain in touch with family and friends. In addition, make a list of things you, your friends and family could do to help others in need.
  7. After reading this article name at least one thing new that you’ve learned about the Coronavirus situation. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Students Around the World

“The global scale and speed of the educational disruption from the coronavirus epidemic is unparalleled.” The United Nations

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image-13abc

 

Excerpt: ‘When Can We Go to School?’By Vivian Wang and Makiko Inoue, The New York Times

“The coronavirus epidemic has reached deeper into daily life across the world, with a sweeping shutdown of all schools in Italy, a suspension of classes in India’s capital and warnings of school closures in the United States, intensifying the educational upheaval of nearly 300 million students globally.

Only a few weeks ago, China, where the outbreak began, was the only country to suspend classes. But the virus has spread so quickly that by Wednesday, 22 countries on three continents had announced school closures of varying degrees… Students are now out of school in South Korea, Iran, Japan, France, Pakistan and elsewhere — some for only a few days, others for weeks on end…On the West Coast of the United States, the region with the most American infections so far, Los Angeles declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, advising parents to steel themselves for school closures in the nation’s second-largest public school district. Washington State, which has reported at least 10 deaths from the outbreak, has closed some schools, while on the other side of the country in New York, newly diagnosed cases have led to the closure of several schools as well. 

The speed and scale of the educational tumult — which now affects 290.5 million students worldwide, the United Nations says — has little parallel in modern history, educators and economists contend…In some countries, older students have missed crucial study sessions for college admissions exams, while younger ones have risked falling behind in reading and math. Parents have lost wages, tried to work at home or scrambled to find child care… In Hong Kong, families like Ms. Gao’s have struggled to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Ms. Gao, 48, stopped working to watch her daughters and started scrimping on household expenses. She ventures outside just once a week and spends the most time helping her girls, 10 and 8, with online classes, fumbling through technology that leaves her confused and her daughters frustrated.

Governments are trying to help. Japan is offering subsidies to help companies offset the cost of parents’ taking time off. France has promised 14 days of paid sick leave to parents of children who must self-isolate, if they have no choice but to watch their children. But the burdens are widespread, touching corners of society seemingly unconnected to education. In Japan, schools have canceled bulk food deliveries for lunches they will no longer serve, hurting farmers and suppliers. In Hong Kong, an army of domestic helpers has been left unemployed after wealthy families enrolled their children in schools overseas.

Julia Bossard, a 39-year-old mother of two in France, said she had been forced to rethink her entire routine since her older son’s school was closed for two weeks for disinfection. Her days now consist of helping her children with homework and scouring supermarkets for fast-disappearing pasta, rice and canned food. ‘We had to reorganize ourselves,’ she said.

Online Help for Schools

School and government officials have sought to keep children learning — and occupied — at home.  The Italian government created a web page to give teachers access to videoconference tools and ready-made lesson plans. Mongolian television stations are airing classes. Iran’s government has made all children’s internet content free…The offline reality, though, is challenging.Technological hurdles and unavoidable distractionspop up when children and teenagers are left to their own devices — literally. Thira Pang, a 17-year-old high school student in Hong Kong, has been repeatedly late for class because her internet connection is slow… With the closings, families must rethink how they support themselves and split household responsibilities.

The burden has fallen particularly hard on women, who across the world are still largely responsible for child care… Working from home was never an option for Ms. Lee…Ms. Lee’s son spends each weekday alone, eating lunchboxes of sausage and kimchi fried rice premade by Ms. Lee.  ‘I think I would have quit my job if my son were younger, because I wouldn’t have been able to leave him alone at home,’ Ms. Lee said.

Beyond the Classroom

The epidemic has shaken entire industries that rely on the rituals of students in school and parents at work…Kazuo Tanaka, deputy director of the Yachimata School Lunch Center in central Japan, said it scrapped orders for ingredients to make about 5,000 lunches for 13 schools. It would cost the center about 20 million yen, nearly $200,000, each month that school was out, he said…’Dairy farmers and vegetable farmers will be hit. The workers at the school lunch centers cannot work.’

In Hong Kong, many among its sizable population of domestic helpers have been jobless as affluent parents have enrolled children overseas…Felix Choi, the director of Babysitter.hk, a nanny service. Now some expatriate families have left the city rather than wait out the closings.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the Coronavirus.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

K-W-L Chart from Creately.com

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The coronavirus epidemic has reached deeper into daily life across the world.
  2. China, where the outbreak began, was the only country to suspend classes.
  3. Parents were advised  to steel themselves for school closures.
  4. The speed and scale of the educational tumult has little parallel  in modern history.
  5. Closing schools for weeks or even months could have untold repercussions for children.
  6. Ms. Gao, 48, started scrimping on household expenses.
  7. She ventures outside just once a week to shop.
  8. Japan is offering subsidies to help companies offset the cost of parents’ taking time off.
  9. Many  schools were closed for disinfection.
  10. One family in Inner Mongolia packed up its yurt and migrated elsewhere.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Some interruptions/interruption are unavoidable. Posts on Chinese social media show teacher/teachers and students/student climbing into/onto rooftops or hovering over/outside neighbors’ homes in/on search of a stronger internet signal. Onefamily/families in Inner Mongolia packed up its yurtand migrated elsewhere in the grasslands for a/an better web connection, a/an Chinese magazine reported.

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Ruby Tan, a___ in Chongqing, a ___in southwestern China that___ school last month, said many ___were helping with child care so that the ___can go to work.But the ___do not always know the___.

They don’t have any way of ___the children’s learning, and instead let them develop bad ___of not being able to focus during___time, Ms. Tan said.

WORD LIST: study, habits, technology, grandparents, parents, grandparents, suspended, city, teacher, supervising,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Has the outbreak of the coronavirus affected you and your family? If yes explain in what way.
  2. Is your school closed or is planning to close?
  3. Will your school hold online classes? How do you feel about this?
  4. The article states, “Schools provide structure and support for families, communities and entire economies. The effect of closing them for days, weeks and sometimes even months could have untold repercussions for children and societies at large.” What kind of  effects might children suffer if kept out of class for too long? How might this effect societies?
  5. What are some of the things governments are doing to help teachers and students keep up with their studies?
  6. What are some of the problems with children left to study on their own or with grandparents?
  7. How are some of the world’s  governments helping families financially?
  8. The article mentions that women particularly have felt the burden of school closings. Why is this?
  9. List 3 questions that you  would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Exchange questions with other groups and try to come up with answers.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to also write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Robots Caring for the Elderly Bring Increasing Questions of Concern

“Robotic companions are being promoted as an antidote to the burden of longer, lonelier human lives. At stake is the future of what it means to be human.” M. Jackson, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Mojo Wang, The New York Times

Excerpt: Would You Let a Robot Take Care of Your Mother? By Maggie Jackson, The New York Times

“After Constance Gemson moved her mother to an assisted living facility, the 92-year-old became more confused, lonely and inarticulate. Two full-time private aides, kind and attentive as they were, couldn’t possibly meet all their patient’s needs for connection.

Credit- ABC Radio Perth – Gian de Poloni

So on a visit one day, Ms. Gemson brought her mom a new helper: a purring, nuzzling robot cat designed as a companion for older adults. “It’s not a substitute for care,” says Ms. Gemson, whose mother died last June at age 95. “But this was someone my mother could hug and embrace and be accepted by. This became a reliable friend.” When her mom was upset, her family or helpers brought her the cat to stroke and sing to, and she grew calmer. In her last days “what she could give, she gave to the cat,” says Ms. Gemson.

Photo- Next Avenue

An aging population is fueling the rise of the robot caregiver, as the devices moving into the homes and hearts of the aging and sick offer new forms of friendship and aid…Winsome tabletop robots now remind elders to take their medications and a walk, while others in research prototype can fetch a snack or offer consoling words to a dying patient… Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use. At stake is the future of what it means to be human, and what it means to care.

Issues of freedom and dignity are most urgently raised by robots that are built to befriend, advise and monitor seniors. This is Artificial Intelligence with wide, blinking eyes and a level of sociability that is both the source of its power to help and its greatest moral hazard

When do a robot assistant’s prompts to a senior to call a friend become coercion of the cognitively frail? Will Grandma’s robot pet inspire more family conversation or allow her kin to turn away from the demanding work of supporting someone who is ill or in pain? ‘Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity,’ says Matthias Scheutz, a roboticist who directs Tufts University’s Human-Robot Interaction Lab. ‘What I find morally dubious is to push the social aspect of these machines when it’s just a facade, a puppet. It’s deception technology.’

For that is where the ethical dilemmas begin — with our remarkable willingness to banter with a soulless algorithm, to return a steel and plastic wink. It is a well-proven finding in the science of robotics: add a bit of movement, language, and ‘smart’ responses to a bundle of software and wires and humans see an intentionality and sentience that simply isn’t there. Such ‘agency’ is designed to prime people to engage in an eerie seeming reciprocity of care.

Credit- The Star Online

Social robots ideally inspire humans to empathize with them, writes Maartje de Graaf of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who studies ethics in human-robot interactions. Even robots not designed to be social can elicit such reactions: some owners of the robot vacuum Roomba grieve when theirs gets ‘sick’ (broken) or count them as family when listing members of their household.

Many in the field see the tensions and dilemmas in robot care, yet believe the benefits can outweigh the risks. The technology is ‘intended to help older adults carry out their daily lives,’ says Richard Pak, a Clemson University scientist who studies the intersection of human psychology and technology design, including robots…

We know little about robot care’s long-term impact or possible indirect effects. And that is why it is crucial at this early juncture to heed both the field’s success stories and the public’s apprehensions.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The 92-year-old became more confused, lonely and inarticulate.
  2. The pet robots are not a substitute for care.
  3. The robot became a reliable friend.
  4. Care robots are increasly seen as an antidote to the burden of longer, lonelier human lives.
  5. Winsome tabletop robots now remind elders to take their medications and a walk.
  6. Others in research prototype can fetch a snack or offer consoling words to a dying patient.
  7. Since their 2016 debut, sales of robots to assist older adultsare expected to rise 25 percent annually through 2022.
  8. Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use.
  9. This is Artificial Intelligence with wide, blinking eyes and a level of sociability that is both the source of its power to help and its greatest moral hazard. 
  10. Some worry robot care would carry a stigma the potential of being seen as not worth human company.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Constance Gemson moved her mother to a assisted living facility.
  2. Two full-time private aides were also hired.
  3. Ms. Gemson brought her mom a new helper: a purring, nuzzling robot cat.

II

  1. A aging population is fueling the rise of the robot caregiver.
  2. Thousands of robotic cats and dogs designed as companions for older people have been sold in the U.S. since 2016.
  3. Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use.

III

  1. Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity.
  2. Social robots ideally inspire humans to empathize  with them.
  3. The robot is designed to stress that it’s not an doctor or nurse but part of someone’s care team.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity. “What I find morally dubious is to push the social aspect of these machines when it’s just a facade, a puppet. It’s deception technology.”
  2. “Even robots not designed to be social can elicit such reactions: some owners of the robot vacuum Roomba grieve when theirs gets “sick” (broken) or count them as family when listing members of their household.”
  3. “The technology is intended to help older adults carry out their daily lives.   If the cost is sort of tricking people in a sense, I think, without knowing what the future holds, that might be a worthy trade-off. Still he wonders, “Is this the right thing to do?”
  4. “The robot is one thing, but you still need interaction that’s not programmed.”
  5. It’s not a substitute for care,”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

  1. Who or What is the article about?
  2. Where does the action/event take place?
  3. When does the action/event take place?
  4. Why did the action/event occur?
  5. How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you interact with any robots in your home (e.g., the  Roomba vacuum), school,  job, public facilities (e.g., restrooms, recreation areas ) or institutions such as banks, museums or libraries? If yes, describe them and how you interact with them.
  2. Have you ever interacted with an actual  robot pet? what was your experience like?
  3. Is there a senior member in your family who has a robotic companion? If yes, how do they interact with the pet?
  4. Do you think robotic pets are a good idea for seniors? Why or why not?
  5. According to the article what are the benefits of seniors having robot companions?
  6. The article raises two issues of concern with the robots programmed to befriend and advise seniors. What are the issues and why do they cause concern?
  7. There are new “soft-law” guidelines that professionals state the robots need to have. What are they?
  8. In your opinion, are there certain tasks we should not allow robots to do because they would be considered unethical?
  9. List something  new that you have learned from this article. List something that you did not understand in this article. List something that you would like to add to this article. Share your responses with the class.

ANSWER KEY

The Coronavirus: What We Need to Know

“Wuhan Coronavirus: A respiratory virus has spread from China to at least a dozen other countries, including the U.S. Here’s what you need to know.” R. C. Rabin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Travelers at a train station in Yichang, China, about 200 miles from Wuhan. Credit- CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

 

Excerpt: What Is the Coronavirus? Symptoms, Treatment and Risks By Roni C. Rabin the New York Times

“An international outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000, according to the Chinese health authorities. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, apparently at a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals.

A woman checks her son’s forehead in Wuhan, China, on January 27, 2020:The Atlantic

Now the virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries, including Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and the United States. Investigators in still other nations, and in several American states, are evaluating possible cases…Schools have been closed in affected regions. Major attractions, festivals and movie theaters have been closed down, and sales of tourist packages from China to other countries have been halted. Federal health officials are telling Americans not to visit the Wuhan area, and to avoid traveling to any part of China unless necessary. Some airlines are cutting back on flights to China because of low demand.

Spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in China- CNN

Five cases have been confirmed in the United States: one in Washington State; one in Chicago; one in Arizona; and two in California. All patients had recently traveled to China. More than 100 other patients are being tested.

But much is still unknown about the newly identified virus, including how easily it is transmitted and how often it causes severe disease that can lead to death…Here’s what we have learned so far about the virus and the outbreak.

What is a coronavirus?

model of a coronavirus -Credit NativeAntigen

Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona. They can infect both animals and people, and can cause illnesses of the respiratory tract, ranging from the common cold to dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which sickened thousands of people around the world — and killed nearly 800 — during an outbreak in 2003.

How dangerous is it?

police officer takes the temperature of a driver at a checkpoint on a street on the outskirts of Wuhan on January 27, 2020. :The Atlantic

Health officials around the world are alarmed, but it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus. On Thursday, the World Health Organization declined to declare the outbreak a global health emergency…’When we get a new infectious disease, we learn about the most severe cases first, the top of the pyramid as it were,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center…By comparison, roughly 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu each year in the United States, and about 35,000 people die. But while some scientists say the new virus appears to be less severe than other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, it is not clear whether the Chinese authorities have been fully transparent about the number of infections and deaths, or even whether these figures are being carefully tracked.

How is it transmitted?

Photo- Forbes

The Wuhan coronavirus is most likely transmitted through coughing and sneezing, as is the case with influenza and other respiratory viruses, Dr. Vaishampayan said…The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 198 confirmed cases in Wuhan. Researchers found that 22 percent had direct exposure to the meat market, and 32 percent had contact with people who had a fever or respiratory disease. But roughly half had neither been to the market nor had contact with anyone who was sick… Researchers at Imperial College London estimated that in the current outbreak, each infected person has passed the virus to 2.6 other people, on average.

What treatment is available?

People wearing face masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus wait inside the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on January 25, 2020. The Atlantic

The main treatment is supportive care, including making sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and using a ventilator to push air into the lungs if necessary, Dr. Vaishampayan said. Patients should rest and drink plenty of fluids ‘while the immune system does its job and heals itself,’ she said.

No drugs have been approved for any coronavirus diseases, including the Wuhan coronavirus, though an antiviral medication called remdesivir appears to be effective in animals… Chinese officials are experimenting with at least one other H.I.V. drug to treat the infection.

What is the source of the outbreak?

Animals are the most likely primary source of the outbreak, but it is still not clear which animals. Past outbreaks of similar illnesses, including SARS, also are believed to have emerged from live animal markets.

But though the first patients sickened by the Wuhan coronavirus were thought to have contracted the disease at the market, the illness can also be transmitted from person to person.

What are the health authorities doing to contain the virus?

The Chinese authorities have closed off transportation links from and within Wuhan and other affected cities, encircling roughly 50 million people.

Large public gatherings and performances were banned in Wuhan, and the government announced that all residents were required to wear masks in public to help prevent the disease from spreading.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Source- Center for Disease Control and Prevention:USA Today

Symptoms include fever, severe cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold, making detection difficult. The incubation period — the time from exposure to the onset of symptoms — is believed to be about two weeks.

I’m traveling to China. What can I do to protect myself?

A fully protected man checks out at the self-help machine of a supermarket in Wuhan on January 25, 2020. The Atlantic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against all nonessential travel to China…Dr. Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said travelers should practice ‘good hand hygiene’ — washing hands frequently and avoiding touching their faces — and maintain a distance from anyone who is coughing and sneezing. Travelers should monitor their health upon their return. If a cough or fever develops, call health providers before going in, so they can prepare and put protective measures in place.

Should I wear a mask?

People wearing masks in China. Londonpost

Wearing a surgical mask may somewhat protect you from infection in a crowd if there is an outbreak, but, generally, surgical masks are not close fitting enough to filter all the air you are breathing in.

Roads remain empty in Wuhan on January 27, 2020.

At the moment, the risk of infection with the new coronavirus in the United States — where there are only five confirmed cases so far — ‘is way too low to start wearing a face mask,’ Dr. Rabinowitz said. The risk is very, very low to the general public.”

RELATED: Fears of coronavirus fuel anti-Chinese racism. By Deanna Pan, Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. An international outbreak of respiratory illness has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000.
  2. Now the virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries.
  3. Investigators in still other nations, and in several American states, are evaluating possible cases.
  4. Five cases have been confirmed in the United States.
  5. One of the key questions is whether it can be transmitted by patients who have not yet shown any symptoms of illness themselves.
  6. Health officials around the world are alarmed, but it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus.
  7. When we get a new infectious disease, we learn about the most severe cases first.
  8. Some scientists say the new virus appears to be less severe than other coronaviruses.
  9. A close examination of one family, suggested that the virus was passed from one ill relative to six others.
  10. Epidemics caused by other members of the viral family, SARS and MERS, have had high death rates.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

An international outbreak___respiratory illness caused___ a novel coronavirus has killed ___least 132 people.

The outbreak began___ Wuhan, China, apparently ___a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals.

Investigators ___still other nations, and___ several American states, are evaluating possible cases.

Federal health officials are telling Americans not___visit the Wuhan area, and ___avoid traveling ___any part___China unless necessary.

Coronaviruses are named ___the spikes that protrude___ their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The outbreak began in Japan
  2. The coronavirus has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000 so far.
  3. It appears that the outbreak started in a large crowed village.
  4. The virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries, including Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and the United States.
  5. Federal health officials are telling Americans not to visit the Wuhan area, but it’s ok to visit other parts of China.
  6. Ten cases have been confirmed in the United States: one in Washington State; one in Chicago; one in Arizona; and two in California.
  7. The virus can only infect people.
  8. There are less severely infected people, and people who are infected who don’t get sick at all.
  9. The Wuhan coronavirus is most likely transmitted through coughing and sneezing.
  10. The main treatment is making sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and using a ventilator to push air into the lungs if necessary.

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the subjects mentioned.

  1. Before reading this article how much did you know about the coronavirus?
  2. Why do you think people are beginning to panic?
  3. According to the article, where exactly in Wuhan China did the coronavirus start?
  4. The article mentions an incident involving a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, in 2015, where one man with MERS transmitted it to 82 patients. Why is this a major concern today with the coronavirus?
  5. How is the coronavirus similar and different from other epidemics like SARS and MERS?
  6. How is the coronavirus transmitted?
  7. What precautions can people take to avoid getting the virus?
  8. Can you think of any additional ways people might protect themselves from contacting the virus?
  9. So far is there any treatment that can cure the virus?
  10. According to doctors, what are patients advised to do if they contact the virus?
  11. Do you think people in the U.S. and other countries  will act negatively towards  Chinese students or people from China? Why or why not?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

5 People Who Made Positive World Changes in 2019

“In a year of many dispiriting headlines, Fixes still found the better angels of human nature at work.” T. Rosenberg, The New York Times

Note: Fixes is a column from the New York Times that looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: Five Who Spread Hope in 2019-By Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times

“O.K. so Time magazine has Greta Thunberg. But many other individuals also changed the world for the better in 2019. Here, for a second year, is a list of five whose contributions Fixes wrote about.

Scott O’Neill fights tropical disease.

Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, with a cage of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in his Melbourne laboratory. Credit- Shaney Cameron

There’s a new weapon in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever. Now, the disease is endemic in 100 countries, infects 400 million people a year and is intensifying rapidly.

Like Zika and chikungunya, dengue is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and no workable vaccine or cure has been found.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide, eliminate breeding grounds and help people ward off their bites. But these strategies have failed to control dengue. The world is desperate for something new. Scott O’Neill leads a team that is doing just the opposite — adding millions of mosquitoes to areas affected by disease. Professor O’Neill directs the World Mosquito Program, which is based at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which block their ability to transmit disease. Wolbachia occurs naturally in most insect species and is harmless to vertebrates and humans. When enough Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are released, they take over the whole population…In Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wolbachia zones had 76 percent fewer cases of dengue than other areas. Wolbachia has also led to reductions in disease in Brazil and Vietnam.

Kimberly McGrath heals trafficked children.

Kimberly McGrath coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in Hialeah, Fla. Credit- Maria A. Cardona for The New York Times

What happens to a child who is exploited commercially for sex? Kimberly McGrath is changing the answer to that question. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation and sent to juvenile court…’The core understanding was that these were defiant, rebellious youth who would rebel in a family,’ Dr. McGrath said. In 2013, Florida officials asked Dr. McGrath, who coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in South Florida, to come up with a different response.

She started from the premise that these children were not defiant criminals. A vast majority had been abused, which made them more susceptible to the manipulations of traffickers. And they had never gotten help to recover from that abuse.

Dr. McGrath and her colleagues looked at what had worked for other traumatized children and adapted it to trafficked children. They educated not just therapists and social workers, but also foster parents…’When foster parents are equipped and prepared to deal with their special needs, children thrive in family-based environments,’ she said. “They really are just traumatized kids.’

Dr. Dixon Chibanda transforms global mental health care.

Dr. Dixon Chibanda turned benches into destinations for therapy. Credit- Markus Schreiber:Associated Press

Depression occurs everywhere. By some measures, it’s the world’s most debilitating disease. But treatment is not everywhere. Even in New York City, less than 40 percent of people with depression get treatment. In poor countries, it’s closer to zero percent.

So what can be done in places with no public mental health care and only a tiny number of mental health professionals? As with medical care, the answer is training nonprofessionals. Every health clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, has a ‘friendship bench‘ in its yard. It’s an ordinary wooden bench. Seated on it is a community health worker with a few weeks’ training in problem-solving therapy. Patients go to the bench, talk to the health worker about their problems and come up with possible solutions. They go home and try them, and return.

The friendship bench was invented in 2006 by a psychiatrist, Dixon Chibanda, after a patient committed suicide. He had asked her to come see him at Harare Central Hospital, but she lived in another city and didn’t have bus fare.

Dr. Chibanda decided to bring treatment for depression to Harare’s health clinics. At first he wanted to train nurses and put offices inside the buildings, but the nurses had not enough  time and clinics had not enough space. But what seemed like a setback is what has allowed the program to spread.

Now, there’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare, and the practice is spreading throughout Zimbabwe and to other African countries. In a different form, the strategy has also reached New York. Research shows that friendship benches are effective at treating depression.

Dr. Rebekah Gee makes medicines affordable.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s health secretary. Credit- Tom Williams:CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press

Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C, which kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined. One is that the state is suddenly treating more people.

Hep C is curable — but the drugs are astronomically expensive. Even the cheapest generic version in the United States costs $24,000 for a course of treatment. (In India, the same drug is $550.) Because of the price, state Medicaid programs ration the drugs. In 2018, Louisiana treated 1,200 people… Louisiana could do that because of the second innovation: The drugs were made a lot less expensive. In July, the state began buying hep C medicines in a new way. Just as you pay Netflix a flat fee for all you want to watch, Louisiana now pays Asegua Therapeutics $58 million per year for all the hep C medicine the state can use.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s secretary of health, adopted the scheme from Australia, where it has allowed Australia to treat seven times as many patients for the same money. Louisiana is the first state in America to do the same. The State of Washington is about to start as well. Other states are likely to follow.

Phil Keisling deepens democracy.

Illustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales; photographs by Marcin Jastrzebski and Digiphoto:iStock, via Getty Images

There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting. But there’s also a movement in both parties to expand voting. It abandons the traditional polling booth in favor of voting at home

It’s one of the most effective ways to increase turnout — possibly the best way.

Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot. Voters fill it out at their leisure and mail it in or drop it off at a ballot center.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home. California will soon follow. Large parts of North Dakota and Nebraska vote at home. In last year’s midterms, 69 percent of all votes in the West were cast by voters who received ballots in the mail.

Phil Keisling was Oregon’s secretary of state, in charge of elections, when Oregon began home voting in 1998. Now he leads the Vote at Home Institute.

The institute asserts that it saves taxpayers money (some election officials disagree). It argues that because the approach uses paper ballots, it’s secure against hacking… Home voting probably doesn’t affect turnout in big elections. But it does in local elections, races at the end of the ballot, ballot propositions and judicial elections.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

Pre-reading Exercises

 

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever.
  2. The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide.
  3. What happens to a child who is exploited?
  4. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation.
  5. Depression occurs everywhere.
  6. So what can be done in places with no public mental health care?
  7. Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C.
  8. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined.
  9. There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting.
  10. Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary   

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

Many other individual also changed the world for the better in 2019.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria.

II

The friendship bench was invented in 2006.

There’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare.

Louisiana is treating more people for hepatitis C.

III

Because of an price, state Medicaid programs ration their drugs.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home.

Turnout for these elections can be in the single digits.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctlyidentify all of the speakers wins.

  1. “People who understand dengue and live in transmission areas are horrified and scared.”
  2. “Now we know they really are just extremely traumatized youth.”
  3. I started to realize that psychiatry in an institution is not the way to go. We have to take it to the community.”
  4. “Why couldn’t we change health care in this country?”
  5. “For millions of citizens, especially those with uncertain work schedules, family obligations and other daily demands, the traditional polling place has now become the most powerful voter suppression tool of all.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Which of the profiles do you find most inspiring or heartwarming? Why?
  2. Do they make you more hopeful and optimistic about the world?
  3. Do they inspire you to make a difference? How?
  4. Have you observed other ordinary heroes of 2019 in the news?In your community? Describe them.
  5. What qualities make it possible for individuals to affect change?
  6. Do you think you made a positive difference in the lives of others in 2019? Explain how.
  7. Has anyone made a difference in your life this past year? 

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY