Archive for the ‘Pandemic’ Category

Pandemic Desktop

I have been working from my home office now for over 7 months solid. I spend a lot of time at this desk, and I found that having some fresh flowers behind my laptop brightens up my mood.

On July 30th I posted about growing sunflowers from seeds. Here is that post. Now, the sunflower plants line our fence, some of them eight feet tall. Here are a few sunflower blossoms grown in our own yard, from those seeds.

It’s a bright spot in my day.

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Another Report from a COVID-19 Case

President Trump actually said at a rally yesterday that “Covid affects virtually nobody.”

Tell that to the parents and siblings of Adeline Marie Fagan, a 28-year-old Medical Doctor in her 2nd year of residency, treating COVID patients. She died on September 19th.

From Facebook:

Adeline was doing wonderfully for the last few days. Last night was no different. Around 10:00 we called and got a good report. As we settled down for the night 30 minutes later, the phone rang – Houston, TX. There was a problem and we needed to decide about performing a procedure to relieve the pressure of a massive brain bleed. The nurse came into her room for a routine task and noticed Adeline was not responsive. They immediately rushed her for a CT scan which showed the extent of the damage. The neurosurgeon said it was a “1 in a million” chance she would even survive the procedure, but that Adeline would have several severe cognitive and sensory limitations if she did survive. Of that the doctor was sure. Everyone was crushed by the events, the nurses, the doctors, and, of course, us. The doctor said they have seen this type of event in COVID patients that spend time on ECMO. The vascular system is also compromised by the virus, resulting in bleeds. We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting, and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped…***

Check the GoFundMe page for more details.

Covid affects virtually nobody.

— Donald Trump


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This is a report from a friend of my daughter in New York City. She is mid-thirties. I have redacted her husband’s name to XXXX for privacy. These are her words:

Back in March XXXX and I were both sick for 2+ weeks each with what is presumed to be Covid-19. While our cases are considered mild (meaning we did not go to the hospital, we were not able to get tested due to extreme shortages, and were advised via telehealth appointments) it was still the scariest time of my life. Taking care of XXXX while the world reeled and the city fell totally silent, riddled with this mystery illness and mounting deaths, was isolating and awful. Although we did not go to the hospital, this was the sickest I had seen XXXX and our symptoms were beyond the kind we are familiar with caring for at home-like recurring circulation issues and chest pain bad enough to wake me up at night.

We have recovered but up until last month, five whole months later (almost half a year!), we continued to have days of extreme fatigue and recurring lung and chest pain. We would walk the dogs or unload the dishwasher and have that pinching feeling in our lungs, like we had just gone for a marathon run. In May we ventured out for a meandering 3 mile walk. We stopping half way to sit down. It was a sunny WARM day and when we got home, we were both so cold and fatigued we began to shiver and had to take long hot showers just to warm up.

Despite clear sinuses, I completely lost my sense of smell at the start of April. It took nearly two months for it to faintly return and even today it’s still not the same. Today I read this article and it was so comforting to know it wasn’t just me. For me the phantom smell is akin to a disgusting, slightly sweet, stale garlic breath. Like a bad practical joke, mint smells like this, as do many cleaning products, laundry detergents, and some foods. I smell it everyday, multiple times a day. For a while I even thought it was me that smelled. Just last week I started to really lose my patience and complained about it to XXXX, telling him it was as though a spectrum of scents have fallen off in my brain and they now register as old garlic breath. I wasn’t totally wrong.

I am thankful this is all we have to report but I worry for those who are hit harder and I try not to think too much about the unknowns, such as any future health complications that may surface as a result….

It is possible to find comfort in uniting against this and doing the right thing by others. The virus is real. It’s worse than the flu. I know it’s hard and we are all suffering from fatigue (or much much worse) but please wear a mask, practice caution, and be mindful.

And this is why I remain in quarantine.

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So many deaths. We have the most deaths of all countries. Some of these people were great people, terrific people – on both sides. We have a 9/11 every four or five days now. Horrific numbers. In America, we like big numbers, tremendous numbers. No country has numbers like we do. Of course, people tell me that not all of these deaths are virus deaths. Some of these people were old and would have died anyway. That makes them fake deaths. It’s not our fault that they died, some of them. Nobody could have expected this. It’s not our fault.

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We here in the United States are upset because we need to wear facemasks when shopping for groceries. Read this excerpt from an article in Time Magazine of August 31, 2020 – Losing Hope in India, page 47:

Other migrant workers weren’t so enthusiastic. For those whose daily wages paid for their evening meals, the lockdown had an immediate and devastating effect. When factories and construction sites closed because of the pandemic, many bosses – who often provide their temporary employees with food and board – threw everyone out onto the streets. And because welfare is administered at the state level in India, migrant workers are ineligible for benefits like food rations anywhere other than in their home state. With no food or money, and with train and bus travel suspended, millions had no choice but to immediately set off on foot for their villages, some hundreds of miles away. By mid-May, 3,000 people had died from COVID-19, but at least 500 more had died “distress deaths,” including those due to hunger, road accidents and lack of access to medical facilities, according to a study by the Delhi-based Society for Economic Research.

India is on course to eventually surpass Brazil and the United States in numbers of infections and deaths due to COVID-19.

When I am not happy about having to wear a mask in public for the 6th month already, I think about how lucky I actually am, having been born in a rich country. I could just as soon be in a rural village in India, barefoot, a hundred miles from home, with no money, no shelter, no food, no healthcare and no transportation.

I think a mask is bad?

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Source: Reddit

Whoever said one person can’t change the world never ate an undercooked bat!

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If I had been Donald Trump in January 2020 and wanted to get re-elected, I believe I would have had the sure-fire method to succeed.

This is what I would have done:

As soon as I had heard about the problems in China, I would have contacted my ambassador in China and pulled out all the stops to investigate with the Chinese about what they knew, what they were doing about it, and what the United States could learn from them.

I would have immediately gone to the shelf where Obama’s pandemic response manual was lingering, pulled it out, and read through it personally.

Call every one of the “Obama Pandemic Response Team” that worked in the White House that was fired in 2018 and brought back as many of those as possible, if available.

Call Dr. Fauci and asked him to pull together the nation’s 20 (or more) top epidemic experts as a special White House advisory board. I would have directed Dr. Fauci to expeditiously establish an emergency plan and act on it.

Invoke the 1950 Defense Production Act and started creating PPE.

Establish a national strategy and response team, not consisting of my relatives, but the best logistical minds in the CDC and give them carte-blanche to establish a response plan and execute it.

Ordered the response team to give daily briefings from the White House. I would have sat in the sidelines just being there reassuring everyone I was supporting the effort.

Not have tolerated any misinformation, hiding information, and making things look good. I would simply have responded to the facts at hand as they occurred, as quickly and as transparently as possible.

Not have blamed the Chinese, even though the virus originated there. I would have realized that the next virus could come from the United States or any other nation.

Worked with the WHO to help educate nations about how to detect and contain initial outbreaks for future diseases.

Asked Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell to come up with working proposals to help the American unemployed, businesses, and the health care community.

Shown empathy for the dead and reassured the public that I cared and that every life mattered.

Stayed out of the way and let all the experts do their work.

I would have asked the country to help me get this done and definitely not made this about me.

My re-election would have been assured. Sorry, Joe Biden, but I got this.


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I always thought Trump was in over his head. He just acts like a person who is. I held that opinion when he first took office, and it has only gotten worse as time passed.

My view is the schools should open. This thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away.

— Donald Trump, August 4, 2020

This is what Trump said yesterday, and there is more here than meets the eye on the literal sense.

Trump has governed – or not governed – for 3.5 years now by obfuscating matters, piling scandals upon scandals, so the public, which can only focus on one thing at a time, forgets about the old stuff.

In that way, the Russian election meddling, which was a huge deal to all of us, which eventually caused him to get impeached, is now distant history. It’s there, it’s severe, but we don’t have the emotional energy to worry about it anymore.

In that way, the Russian bounty scandal, which Obama or any other president would have been impeached for had it happened to him, is already dimming. I am outraged that our commander-in-chief isn’t defending our country and our troops, and isn’t standing up for us, but I don’t have the emotional energy to keep it up, and thus the Russian bounty scandal has indeed “gone away.”

To use Trump’s words: “It went away, like things go away.”

Being sufficiently calloused and corrupt, you can indeed create enough obfuscation to make many things go away.

But this time, possibly the first time in his life, Trump is dealing with a disease. It does not tire. Its emotional energy does not wane. It will keep killing. And since it spreads – I hate to use the trite Internet term – virally, it will keep killing exponentially more people. This is reality for a change that can’t be explained away.

Trump is in over his head, and this time, the fact that the emperor has no clothes is glaringly obvious.

Can you imagine if this had been Ebola rather than the coronavirus? With the inept handling of the crisis by our president, the world would be a plague-stricken wasteland now. In a way we got lucky it’s a virus that can be stopped by simple social distancing.

But unlike the naked emperor, this reality is still killing 1000 Americans a day, relentlessly.

It’s not going to go away, and Trump – as scary as that sounds – does not seem to grasp that.

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This is a photograph of people at a football game circa 1918.

Everyone is wearing a mask.

Everyone in this picture is dead now.

Conclusion: Wearing a mask causes death.

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  • February 7 – <10 cases: “He (Xi) will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”
  • February 10 – <10 cases: “a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April.”
  • February 25 – 15 cases: “So I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.”
  • February 26 – 15 cases: “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
  • February 27 – 60 cases: “It’s going to disappear…One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
  • March 6 – 319 cases: Trump again stated the virus would “go away.”
  • March 10 – 994 cases: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away,”
  • March 12 – 1,631 cases: “It’s going away. We want it to go away with very, very few deaths.”
  • March 30 – 168,680 cases: “It will go away. You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away.”
  • March 31 – 193,954 cases: “It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that.”
  • April 3 – 284,504 cases: “It is going to go away. It is going away.…I said it’s going away, and it is going away.”
  • April 7 – 410,788 cases: “It will go away” “the cases really didn’t build up for a while.” “I think what happens is it’s going to go away. This is going to go away”.
  • April 29 – 1,068,111 cases: “It’s gonna go. It’s gonna leave. It’s gonna be gone. It’s going to be eradicated and – uh – it might take longer. It might be in smaller sections. It won’t be what we had”
  • May 8 – 1,326,579 cases: “It’s going to go away. And we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”
  • May 15 – 1,517,723 cases: “It’ll go away at some point, It’ll go away. It may flare up and it may not flare up.”
  • June 16 – 2,211,406 cases: “I always say, even without it [a vaccine], it goes away.”
  • June 17 – 2,237,660 cases: Coronavirus would “fade away”.
  • June 23 – 2,246,338 cases: “We did so well before the plague and we’re doing so well after the plague. It’s going away.”
  • July 1 – 2,778,452 cases: “We’re headed back in a very strong fashion. … And I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear. I hope.”
  • July 19 – 3,836,674 cases: “I will be right eventually. You know, I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again. … It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right,”
  •  August 1 – 4,620,239 cases, 154,360 deaths: ” Wrong! We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases. How did Italy, France & Spain do? Now Europe sadly has flare ups. Most of our governors worked hard & smart. We will come back STRONG!”

Now I get it. All these cases, and these new infections, are only there because we have done more testing. If we did less testing, there’d be less cases. Does that mean that if we had stopped testing completely on June 17, when we had 2.2 million cases, the spread would have stopped, instead of the number of infections doubling in the ensuing six weeks?

This is obviously a flawed conclusion and meant simply to confuse people, rather than educate them with useful information and facts.

If you do less testing, you KNOW ABOUT LESS cases. The cases are still there. The testing itself hasn’t infected people. The virus has. Doing less testing will simply give us a false sense of security, and more people will die, and the death count will go up. The government apparently is only interested in how bad things LOOK, not in how bad things really ARE. Unfortunately, our citizens are dying based on how things ARE, not how they LOOK for the government.

It’s not about the numbers and recording the numbers. This is not like ratings on TV shows. Real people are dying every day, one 9/11’s worth every three days! Yet, our government is concerned with how the numbers look.

Even Trump’s claim that we have done far more tests than any other country is not accurate. We may have done more actual tests, but our test counts per capita are not first in the world.  Googling for 10 seconds yields this information for anyone to access: Our World in Data: Testing for Covid-19.

I can’t wait for getting back a government that gives its people useful and actionable information, rather than political propaganda.

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I Want a Reliable Government

Our government is telling us that the Covid-19 virus is “going to go away” magically.

The government is trying to hide the real figures, distort what we can see, and avoid giving any advice.

This is what the infection curve in the U.S looks like as of today, July 20, 2020:

The slope is now steeper than ever. There was a gentle attempt at bending the curve in the middle of May, but that’s long gone.

In the face of that, we’re not getting solid information, our medical community is not getting coordinated support, and the general public is encouraged to ignore the whole thing and wait for it to go away.

Those who speak out are called alarmists, and the thousands of doctors who tell us that there are no ICU beds left, are called liars. Everyone in the world suddenly lies, except our government – it is telling the truth?

What good is the government when it does not take responsibility for the most severe crisis we have yet faced? 140,000 Americans dead, with no end in sight. Remember when we thought 9/11 was bad with 3,000 dead? Right now we have that many people die every three days. And the government acts like this isn’t even happening.

Our government obviously does not care about it, whether we get sick, lose our jobs, or die.

Government by the people, for the people?

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I keep hearing everywhere: It’s just a virus and eventually we will all get it.

I never got Herpes. I never got HIV. Those are just viruses, and I took steps to never get them. I am glad I did.

The following summary is apparently attributed to Amy Wright on Facebook, even though it was later attributed to Dr. Fauci, and many re-posters, including myself, did that. I cannot tell if Amy was the first to post this as her original text, but I’ll give her attribution here:

Chickenpox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don’t think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you’re older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don’t just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it’s been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they’re going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you’re going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don’t just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it’s been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.
So far the symptoms may include:

Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Liver damage
Kidney damage
COVID toes (weird, right?)

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity:

How dare you?

How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as “getting it over with”, when literally no one knows who will be the lucky “mild symptoms” case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30-year-olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.

How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don’t yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:

Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren’t immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it’s “just a virus” and we’ll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.

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If you had shown me this chart six months ago, and asked me to guess what it means, I would have had no idea.

If you had urged me to just guess, the word “yesterday” in the title notwithstanding, I would have said it must be the number of deaths due to gun violence last year, but I would have been suspicious that the numbers for Japan and Germany were as high as they were.

If you had then told me that the numbers reflected daily infections of a new and highly contagious disease, I would not have believed it.

I would not have been able to reconcile that our country, with a medical establishment (science, research, medical schools) second to none in the world, would have an infection rate of 250 times as bad as Germany or Japan.

With our population being about four times as large as Germany and three times as large as Japan, we can safely divide the rate again by a third and state that we’re about 100 times as bad as those countries.

Then I hear arguments that this is still not real, since we’re testing so much more than other countries right now (which I actually don’t believe and see no evidence of, but that’s another matter to investigate). So let’s say we’re testing twice as much per capita as Germany and Japan. This would reduce the factor from 100 times to about 10 times the rate.

[I really should be using an equation like the Drake equation to show this in more scientific terms, but this ‘back of the napkin calculation’ makes my points]. We’re still off by a factor of 10.

Something is very wrong in Denmark… ahem …in the United States.

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There are voices out there now that claim that “wearing a mask is living in fear” and similar assertions. Others proclaim their rights are being infringed upon. Whatever happened to the old “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” policy we had no problem with in grocery stores in the olden days? If I ran a store, I’d put up a sign that says “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service” and be done with it.

I wear a helmet when I ride a motorcycle. Heck, I wear a helmet when I ride my bicycle. I wear a helmet when I go rock climbing. I wear a seatbelt when I drive a car. None of those self-protection measures have ever had me cry that my freedom is lost. Of course, I still freak out when I travel in Ohio and people ride motorcycles without a helmet. Any old idiot on the road can not see you on the motorcycle, and hitting your head on the pavement at 60 miles an hour with just your jaw and teeth to protect you is not a pleasant thought.

In our country, we now have 2.4 million people identified positive for Covid-19. We have 125,000 people dead due to Covid-19. That is a horrifically high death rate of 5% for a disease if you catch it. Since older people are much more vulnerable, the death rate is even much higher. I am over 60.

I have done rock climbing. I have done skydiving. I have ridden motorcycles on the highway. None of these activities are even within a factor of 1000 close to the death rate of Covid-19.

And worse, if you survive the disease after weeks in ICU, you have a 7-figures hospital bill.

So if I can wear a mask at the grocery store and give myself a slightly better chance not to catch this bug, I will take it.

I am not living in fear, but I am not very interested in dying, or having a million dollar hospital bill ruin the rest of my life.

Interestingly, we had a slight bending of the curve that gave me some hope, but it looks like the fear of living in fear and the aversion to lack of freedom with a mask is turning it the other way again:

This graph does not show the infection rate of a country that is conquering this virus.

Darwinian effects will quickly take care of this “living in fear” argument, but in the meantime, we’re prolonging the agony of a country shut down, we’re burning out our doctors and nurses, and we’re keeping the economy on a life support system.

If you think living in fear is bad, try going on like this for another few months, after the hospitals finally do run out of capacity.

Where do you go?


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Covid-19 Hospital Bills

If you catch this nasty virus, and you need to be hospitalized, if it’s serious and you survive, you’re financially ruined.

This survivor in Seattle had a 181-page hospital bill for $1.1 million.

Here are the risk levels related to activities:

You sure you still want to go to that political rally?

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