COVID-19 Studies Bring Some Good News

Lab                              Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

COVID-19 studies done in CA, MA and NY are starting to confirm what’s long been suspected, that there are vastly more asymptomatic or mild cases of the virus than the official confirmed case counts.

This sounds like bad news, but if the studies hold up and results can be replicated it’s actually very good.  Mostly.

Key Take Aways: 

  • Getting the virus does not mean a death sentence or hospitalization for most people. Many will get it and not even realize it.
  • We are looking at a much lower and more manageable death rate than initially feared.
  • Protection for vulnerable populations should be reinforced as the more asymptomatic carriers there are, the more difficult it will be to contain the spread.
  • These studies are not final and still need peer review.  They do offer a good snapshot where eventually more informed and better public policy decisions can be made moving forward.

The Studies:

The University of Southern California partnered with Los Angeles County on a COVID-19 antibody study that concluded 2.8%-5.6% of LA County’s adult population had virus antibodies present, translating to 221,000-422,000 past infected people which far exceeds the confirmed case count at the time of testing of of 8,000.

The study’s lead investigator, USC Professor Neeraj Mood stated, “We haven’t known the true extent of COVID-19 infections in our community because we have only tested people with symptoms, and the availability of tests has been limited.  The estimates also suggest that we might have to recalibrate disease prediction models and rethink public health strategies.”

Study summary can be found here.

Also in California, Stanford University researchers came to similar conclusions with their antibody testing study in Santa Clara County.  Those scientists estimate that between 48,000 to 81,000 people had been infected with the virus in the county by early-April, which is 50-85 times larger than the number of publicly confirmed cases and that they conclude lands the fatality rate at 0.12 to 0.2 percent.

Study summary can be found here.

In Boston something very interesting happened when 297 residents of the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter  were tested for COVID-19 and found 146 were positive and not a single one had symptoms.

“It was like a double knockout punch. The number of positives was shocking, but the fact that 100 percent of the positives had no symptoms was equally shocking,” said Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

And finally, in New York, where according to Governor Cuomo, “We have undertaken the largest, most comprehensive study of New York state to find out what is the infection rate,” massive antibody testing points to 13.9% of the state population having been infected with COVID-19 and having either recovered or were fully asymptomatic.

Cuomo said if the 13.9% statewide infection rate holds true, that would suggest a total amount of infections of around 2.7 million statewide, with a 0.5% death rate.

Pretty interesting stuff.  None of this is to take away from the 217,000 worldwide COVID-19 deaths or say they aren’t tragic.  It’s a serious and deadly virus that warrants proper attention, but so do the calamitous effects of shutting down our economy and keeping healthy people shut up in their homes.

Have we made a catastrophic mistake here that will cause more suffering and death in the long run and take years to overcome?   Or did we dodge The big One by preventing the initially predicted  mass casualties and death?

Only time and more studies like this will tell.

 

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Corona Crazy

Gas·light
/ˈɡaslīt/
verb
  1. To manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

WE MUST FLATTEN THE CURVE so our healthcare system doesn’t get overrun!!  Flatten the curve, flatten the curve, STAY HOME TO FLATTEN THE CURVE!!!  But now that the curve is flattening, can we talk about opening up the economy?  What’s the matter with you??? 500,000 PEOPLE WILL DIE unless you STAY HOME so just STAY HOME!!  But our hospitals are not overrun in most areas and people are really suffering economically, so let’s discuss-WHY DO YOU WANT GRANDMA TO DIE?  WHAT? I don’t Grandma to die, I’m just concerned about the negative impact of massive job loss and self isolation-100,000-200,000 PEOPLE ARE EXPECTED TO DIE and you can’t park yourself on the couch for awhile longer? Stop being SO SELFISH!  I just…wait, didn’t you just say 1/2  a million people would die? Where’s your mask?  For the love of God WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING A MASK??? Because you said they weren’t effective.  Now back to the estimated deaths, you said earlier that-LOOK, 60,000 people are EXPECTED TO DIE all because YOU WON’T WEAR A MASK!! Um, 60,000?  What happened to-WHY DO YOU HATE NURSES? But I don’t hate nurses and now my head is spinning! I’m going for a run on the beach.  THE BEACHES ARE CLOSED!!! Why?  Exercise and fresh air are good for the immune system and I’m not a threat to any-Beaches, Parks and hiking trails ARE ALL CLOSED!!!  Fine, I’ll jog on the sidewalk then.  ONLY IF YOU REMAIN 6 FEET AWAY FROM OTHERS!  But that’s impossible now, as neighborhood streets/sidewalks are teaming with people who have nowhere else to go.  WHY DO YOU WANT GRANDMA TO  DIE?????

I need a drink.

Posted in fear mongering, Humour, Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

A Broken Economy Means Broken People

“It was like a 98% drop in revenue overnight.  All the bills keep coming in, it’s hard to pay those bills.”John Rudolph, co-owner of Harry’s Coffee Shop and Diner.

“As of this afternoon, we’ve been forced to lay off our entire organization. Between all 5 locations that’s approximately 75 fantastic and very hard working people.”~Richard Walker, owner of Richard Walker’s Pancake House

We are estimating that about 60% of all our restaurants have closed. You can imagine how many thousands and thousands of employees have been affected.”~Jeff Rossman, President of the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

The above 3 quotes are taken from a March 26th La Jolla Village News article profiling local restaurants in my area.  Multiply them by 10 million and you get an idea of what the 30 million small  business owners around the country are going through, not to mention the 100’s of millions of people they employ (or used to).

Unemployment

According to this Wall Street Journal article, the total amount of unemployment applications during the three weeks since the economic shutdown began has surged to nearly 17 million.  Behind each of those applications of course is a human being who has suddenly found themselves out of a job, which means a group of people equivalent in size to the population of the Netherlands is now dependent on the government to survive.

This, to put it mildly, is a catastrophe and in a thousand other ways  than just financially.

As insanitybytes22 wrote recently in her fantastic post,  Economies are People!,

People who live paycheck to paycheck can often survive a couple of weeks, but then they find themselves unemployed, out of money for groceries, and the rent is due. People are already hurting under normal circumstances,  but now they’re hurting even more.

Put in the language of social justice and bleeding hearts everywhere, the economy is the difference between whether or not a battered woman can afford to leave an abusive situation. An economy is whether or not a case of child abuse is investigated or a kid is left to die. An economy is the difference between a woman choosing to have a child or choosing to have an abortion. An economy is whether or not you can send a 13 yr old to drug treatment or they just  go on the streets to sex trafficking and eventual overdose.

Yes, yes and yes.  There’s so much more I could add, not least of which are the negative effects of the enormous amount of stress of being out of work, which brings its own nightmares of anxiety, depression, loneliness, addiction and poor physical/mental health.  I cannot imagine having to suffer through any one of these things while isolated away from family, friends, church, therapists and doctors. Powder keg comes to mind.

There are also the compounding effects that occur when the incomes of so many people drop so dramatically overnight.  Lots of folks in this country, whether rich or poor, give significant amounts of money to charity, which in turns goes towards helping those most in need.  As millions of people become those most in need, these donations of course will drop off as well as government tax revenue that also fund programs for the poor.

It’s really just an ugly situation all around.

Let’s be clear, COVID-19 causes extremely harsh symptoms in some people and unfortunately those who succumb to it experience a particularly nasty and brutish death.  While the majority of people appear not to suffer this way, if at all, we must take the quickly spreading virus seriously and do what we can to combat it.

Shutting down the economy until a vaccine is found however is not a viable option and we have to stop pretending like it is.  Unfortunately fighting the coronavirus pandemic and saving the economy are intertwined in a sort of symbiotic relationship in reverse; what’s beneficial for one effort is detrimental to the other.  We need effective ways of doing both at the same time.

This could involve keeping those most vulnerable in quarantine and still enacting existing measures like the 6 foot spacing rule between people, limited social gatherings, practicing good hygiene, wearing masks, etc…while gradually opening up businesses and churches who will find creative ways to meet whatever new strictures get put in place.

I’m not a health or public policy expert by any means, but I do know a strong economy brings with it health, wealth and innovation, all things we desperately need to win the coronavirus battle.  Poverty brings much suffering and death, both physically and spiritually and will put our country in a much weaker condition to continue the fight.

A broken economy means broken people.

 

 

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The Uncertainty Virus

This is an absolutely fascinating interview with Stanford University Professor of Medicine Doctor Jay Bhattacharya.  He discusses why knowing the true lethality rate of COVID-19 is so important, as we cannot know what that rate is without a definitive number on how many people have or have had the virus. Right now we have no idea, yet huge policy decisions with enormous implications are being made as if we do. Massive testing on asymptomatic people is desperately needed.

The video is about 30 minutes long.  Carve out some time to give it a listen, it’s really well done.

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Social Distance ≠ Emotional Distance

Flowers

At least it shouldn’t. I daresay the technology our culture is absurdly blessed with was made for these very strange times, where we’re forced to live life from our living room couches and in person contact with others is vastly limited.

I really worry about what the long term societal effects of such isolation will be, especially with already vulnerable people like seniors and those dealing with existing mental health issues.  We were made to be social creatures, in fact the very act of conversing with someone stretches the mind and increases the feel good chemicals dopamine and oxytocin.

Without human interaction the brain becomes stagnant and a person’s world can shrink down to just their own problems and issues. It’s a really stifling way to live.

Reaching out to others really takes minimal effort. Here are just a few ways:

  • Texting is ok but pick up the phone and call people too, especially those you wouldn’t normally.
  • Use a video calling app like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.  It can be awkward at first but seeing people is a big mood booster.  If my 83 year old mom can be taught how to use “The FaceTime”, anyone can!
  • Drop flowers off for someone who could use a lift.
  • Leave a note with your phone # for a vulnerable person in your neighborhood who you think may need help.
  • Make eye contact and say hi to people when you’re out doing your socially distant appropriate exercise.
  • Make a point of starting up conversations while waiting in line to buy toilet paper.

This post is really written more for myself than anyone else. At times I’ve let the Coronavirus take up so much mental space in my head, that I’m forgetting about the very real people around me who are suffering.

What are some other ways we can connect with others?  Please share if you have ideas.

 

 

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So Call it the Xi Virus Then….

Or call it whatever you wish, COVID-19, China Virus, Beer Virus, or the Wuhan Flu, I really don’t care.  But please do not let the Chinese government off the hook for this and get away with its by now familiar propaganda campaign of blaming America.

It’s now pretty well known that China’s President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party tried to cover up the Coronavirus after it first sprouted in Wuhan, stifled, punished and disappeared those that attempted to sound the alarm and gave an already bad virus a month long head start in becoming the world health and economic disaster it is today.

As National Review Online states in The Other Chinese Virus,

The rulers in Beijing know that they are always one serious recession away from being turned out — and worse — and they so feared economic disruption and damage to their own institutional prestige that they placed a losing bet that the heavy hand of their police state would be heavy enough to quash the coronavirus outbreak.”We are all now paying a price for that corruption and stupidity.”

Yes we are and we should all be furious and united in our response to China. Yet instead another schoolyard fight over whether Trump is a racist erupts on social media and the outrage turns inward towards each other instead of where it needs to be.

We need to be careful with this stuff.  Like a body being pummeled by its own immune system gone haywire, our country can only take so much tension before it collapses.

 

 

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Pandora’s Pandemic

TV Freak Out

 

Stephen King wrote a popular book awhile back called The Stand about a rapidly spreading virus that started as a common cold and ended up killing almost everyone it infected.  I read  it not once, not twice, but three times due to a weird fascination my teenage brain had then with global pandemics and end of world scenarios.

Same thing with Ken Follet’s, Pillars of the Earth. I devoured that book multiple times, hooked from the start by it’s eery portrayal of life during the Black Plague era. Took me awhile after reading it to stop worrying about any dark spots that appeared on my skin, convinced this was the beginning of a painful end for me.

So now along comes this Coronavirus, the culmination of years of nonsensical fears about death crashing head on with my hypochondriac tendencies, now playing out in real time. Oh, have I mentioned that I’ve come down with a cold?

So while my left side brain calmly cautions me “there is nothing to panic about”, the right side is screaming “get thee to Costco ASAP, we need supplies!!”    What I’m trying to say is that even though I know better, this Coronavirus stuff scares the crap out of me!!

In the interest preserving my sanity (or proving my insanity), I decided to do some research.  Here’s what I found.

According to this very helpful John Hopkins website the latest Coronavirus stats are this: 100,645 confirmed cases worldwide, with 55,753 recovered and 3,411 deaths.  Here in the U.S., we have 234 confirmed cases with 8 recovered and 14 deaths.

The WHO estimates the Coronavirus death rate to be about 3.4%, but this also changes dramatically depending on what area of the world you’re talking about and the age and even sex of the patient.  This table from Worldmeter has a good breakdown on the death rate by age:

cov19deathrate.jpeg

It’s still not that simple because pre-existing conditions play a huge factor too. The Coronavirus is a big threat to those with compromised immune systems and/or respiratory problems, no matter how old.  For healthy individuals with the virus, not so much; they are very likely to experience mild symptoms like having a cold or lite flu.

Here is my own view on all this:

  • While any death from Coronavirus is bad, it’s good to keep in mind that for most people the risk of dying from it is pretty small.
  • Older people are definitely at high risk, which is alarming, but this is the case with regular influenza too
  • The numbers of people diagnosed have sky rocketed in the U.S, but that’s because we are finally testing for it properly.
  • As those numbers of diagnosed cases continue to rise, the death rate will come down
  • Many people already have the Coronavirus and don’t know it because the symptoms can be very mild-if these people were all counted as confirmed cases the death rate would go down dramatically.
  • Warm weather tends to inhibit viruses, which is why our “flu season” happens during colder months.  With spring just around the corner, let’s hope the Coronavirus behaves similarly.
  • The more I stay off social media the better I feel about things

Obviously this is a very fluid situation and things can and will change quickly.  The best we can do is stay informed, practice good hand washing hygiene and make sound decisions and stay hime if you’re sick.

At the same time don’t consume too much “news,” as the media has not been reporting on this responsibly.  And why should they?  Their job is not to inform, it’s all about ratings and eyeballs; the more scared you are, the more apt you will be to watch or read their fear mongering stories.

Many of us will probably get the Coronavirus if we haven’t already and most of us will be fine.  Prepare for the worst, expect the best and go on living your life.

That’s all I know

 

Posted in Personal growth, Political, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Racist, Sexist Patients

MedicalInsurance

Credit: photobucket.com

                           

According to this Jerusalem Post article, The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is set to “deny medical services to racist, sexist patients”.  Now, I’m not sticking up for racism or sexism here, but there’s something disturbing about this idea.

Current NHS policy already covers verbal/physical abuse or any sort of aggressive behavior and staff are allowed to withhold treatment if they feel threatened.  As per the JP article, “the new rules will extend these protections to any form of harassment, bullying or discrimination, including homophobic, sexist or racist remarks.”

Nobody outside of a twisted few wants to see healthcare workers treated poorly because of their race, gender or sexual orientation, but if the rules already allow for denial of services for verbal or physical abuse, why are these extra categories needed?

Who is defining what these terms even mean?  Shoot, in today’s world of hidden microaggressions, just telling a woman to smile more can be considered sexist!”  I say “can be” because reality now is defined by what’s inside a person’s head and not necessarily based on what’s really happening. If you think the way I looked at you was offensive, well then it is, no matter that I was actually grimacing at the political talking heads spewing nonsense on the television screen above your head.

Isn’t it a bit troubling then that someone could be denied healthcare because of what someone else assumes about that person?  Please note, I’m not talking about verbal or physical abuse here, because that behavior is already out of bounds according to the NHS policy and rightly so.

It’s that phrase, “any form of harassment, bullying or discrimination, including homophobic, sexist or racist remarks” that gets me with it’s downright Orwelliain subjectiveness.

This is where the collision of political correctness and changing word definitions to suit an agenda collide to the detriment of healthy societies.  Consider that in many circles it’s common to label those who believe in traditional marriage as homophobic, or that being against illegal immigration is xenophobic, or that thinking sex is binary means your anti-transexual, or that throwing a Corona Virus themed party is a hate crime!

Do you see both how ridiculous and serious this is?  People have been brainwashed to believe the most absurd and hateful things about one another, which you can bet the elite policy makers that run the NHS sympathize with.  It’s not a big leap of faith to think that this will somehow be politicized and used against those that don’t think the correct way about things, the non woke so to speak.

And now the world’s largest government run healthcare system in the world has it written in to their policy that medical services can be denied to such people.  Disturbing indeed.

 

 

Posted in identity politics, Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Renewed Through Living Water

Journal Notes

Please excuse the chicken scratch notes above.  I was born a lefty in to a family notorious for bad handwriting and thus I continue the tradition. It’s my journal notes from this morning which read as follows:

“It’s through living water that God renews the mind.  As the heart grows larger and more open to the Holy Spirit, the mind stretches to areas God wants it to.

A healed heart brings healthy, God focused thoughts which prompts righteous actions.  Let God renew your heart, mind and soul!”

I hadn’t realized it but today’s entry was really a continuation of the one above it about an oasis I came across recently while hiking in the desert.  That one actually is entitled Living Water and states:

“Like drinking water when you’re parched, inviting God in to my life quenches a deep thirst in me, as the Holy Spirit seeps in to areas inside me I didn’t even know existed.

This is how God renews us and creates something different.  There we are  plodding along, a bit directionless, confused and perhaps suffering through harsh circumstances, when suddenly His knock comes about.  Open the door to His oasis, eat the mana, drink the living water and watch in awe as life unfolds through His perspective.

I wish you and your loved ones a Happy to start to a New Year full of renewal, hope and joy! Bring it on 2020!

 

Oasis

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Pearl Harbor Must Not Be Forgotten

Omaha Beach

Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which commemorates the Japanese surprise attack on the Hawaiian naval base that killed over 2,400 American servicemen and women and was the tripwire for our entry in to WWII.

This post is actually a reblog of mine from 2014, but I thought it appropriate to share today in honor of the importance of the day.

It’s difficult to fathom the horrific trauma that occurred when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the huge significance of America entering WWII because of it.  9/11 is the only frame of reference for me and though there are many differences between the two, the one constant in my mind are the words, “Never Forget.”

They sound cliche those words, just something easy to say when anniversary dates of infamous  of tragic events come around.  Yet the importance that lies beneath the surface cannot be overstated.

Our world is dangerous and you can be sure there are people who this very minute are plotting ways to destroy us and the freedom centered values we hold dear.  Remembering this is essential to a future of victory and peace.  When our guard is down our enemies will strike.

I know nothing  about geopolitical strategies or military preparedness but I do know we must constantly remain vigilant and keeping the memory of Pearl Harbor alive plays an important role.  Never forget indeed.

Business Insider has some great photos here of Pearl Harbor events, be sure to click on this link check them out.

Also, for a fabulous first person account of what happened during that fateful day, please read my blogger friend Al’s heart pounding post here about his father in law’s experienced while stationed at Pearl Harbor.  It’s a great read!

Posted in Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 15 Comments