What Invisible Killer?

Not since the July 4th, 2020 holiday weekend have I posted about COVID-19, unless we count my Oct. 8 blog-post Totally Under Control. But that post was more about Presidential lies and diversions while the same man, coronavirus’ biggest fan and ally was himself infected with COVID-19 that was supposedly “totally under control.” Two words: poetic justice.

Despite our White House occupant 1) pronouncing wild promises he could never keep, or 2) even in January and February was blatantly oblivious to the risks and dangers to all Americans this pandemic would devastate, and 3) the United States leads all countries in the world with the highest cases of COVID-19 despite being the wealthiest, spending more by comparison on healthcare, and one of the most advanced industrialized nations on the planet, yet this pandemic could’ve had a significantly reduced impact. Remarkably, none of that matters. And after two major resurges of new infections nationwide, and a third clearly on its way, it still doesn’t seem to matter. Why has the USA become the poster-child for the world of “What Not To Do in a Global Pandemic”?

How the country and the Electoral College have voted over recent decades

Yes, the obvious and simple answer is NO INTELLIGENT FEDERAL LEADERSHIP. That’s a no brainer. But the ignorance and apathy trickles down to the state levels as well, particularly those states aligned with the White House’s politics. Considering more than just population-sizes, the highest number of cases and new cases are in the states with the most relaxed restrictions employed or they relax them very prematurely. Hence, those U.S. states have higher COVID-19 cases which over the last few decades have typically been dominated by Republican officials (see illustration above). Don’t believe me? Examine closely the coronavirus data and numbers since Jan. 21, 2020.

In July this year health agencies and organizations began tracking and using the metric “daily new cases per 100K population,” also referred to by epidemiologists as “incidence.” Incidence corresponds to a person’s actual chances of being infected and suggests how many people will likely be infected in the near future. This metric is a more accurate indicator of probable infection rates independent of a state’s land-size or that have multiple metropolitan areas with high population densities. In other words, it’s a good indicator of how a state’s protocols and restrictions are performing and have performed. With this fifth metric added (slideshow below) this is how more accurate COVID-19 rates can be tracked and managed:

Therefore, based on these current data-tables, twenty-three (23) Republican states have case rates greater than 2,000 per 100k people. There are only ten (10) Democrat states with case rates greater than 2,000 per 100k people and all but 3 or 4 of those states are at the bottom of the table of Incidence rates. Republican states dominate the highest COVID-19 incidence rates in the nation right now, no debate whatsoever. These are simply the viral facts and trends: Republican governing fuels this pandemic more than any other political party in the U.S.

Yet, in the bigger scheme of things and aside from U.S. politics it is not just Republican ideology that is causing the “Most Infected Nation in the World” to begin its third (3rd) major COVID-19 spike and increased deaths. The problem is bigger and worse. This is why I am compelled to blog about COVID-19 yet again. 😡

Florida State University football fans Sept. 12, 2020. Students and fans were required to wear masks and maintain social-distancing according to the SEC

American sports fans, sports leagues, commissioners, owners, city and state officials for public events, stadium directors, and anyone else associated with America’s biggest sports—primarily pro, collegiate, and high school football and MLB baseball—apparently do not get it. They do not seem to comprehend the various modes the deadly COVID-19 virus travels and how far aerosol particles of the invisible killer can float then infect. Sadly, this is not only a rising sports problem causing our third nationwide surge of new infections and cases. One huge problem is Americans are not recognizing or understanding that this deadly pandemic is novel, i.e. unknown and little-known other than it’s part of the family of acute respiratory syndromes like SARS and MERS. The global medical community is learning more every day, every hour. As of today, however, there is no cure or vaccine against the virus. After 11-months of the pandemic worldwide, doctors and scientist have also learned two disheartening facts: 1) age nor “underlying health-risks” necessarily reduce infection chances or death, and 2) patients previously infected can be infected again. It begs the question Why take multiple unnecessary risks of infection or reinfection, for yourself, family, or dear friends?

The idea that the virus is spread by either droplets or aerosols is an oversimplification, said Dr. Shruti Gohil, associate medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine. Gohil said it’s more of a spectrum, with the virus being transmitted by some droplets and some large aerosol particles as well.

One metric people in the hospital infection-control field focus on, though, is how many people one sick person infects. For COVID-19, research has shown that the number is about two—similar to a cold or the flu. For an unequivocally airborne disease like measles, the number is closer to 12 to 18.

Measles is “what airborne [transmission] looks like,” Gohil said. “If this was truly a primary aerosol-transmissible disease, we’d be in a world of hurt.”

Dr. Shruti Gohil,A new debate: Does COVID-19 spread via tiny particles or larger droplets?” Tampa Bay Times, Sept. 23, 2020

With well over 1.12-million deaths worldwide by COVID-19, 220-million in the U.S. and rising (quicker), I think it is safe and sad to say “we are in a world of hurt.” There is no vaccine, no cure. The only effective steps today are 100% unity to prevent spreading, to quarantine, or to follow strict precautions while infrequently in public and not gathering in confined large numbers of generally 10 or more people! This has always been the warning and message from the real experts for the last 11+ months.

Having said this and known this since March 2020, many trigger-happy state Governors and city Mayors have opened up bars, restaurants, casino/gaming establishments, theme parks, and other leisure sectors and have had 3-6 weeks or more of increasingly relaxed COVID-19 restrictions. To add insult to injury, lax indifferent (non-existent?) enforcement of critical restrictions (let alone business owners abiding by required and suggested protocols) makes for over-worked hospital staffs, and higher increased death-rates. Then finally, add all that ignorance and disregard with America’s sports venues/leagues itching to return to normalcy too soon, football in particular, when it is all said and done the trend is going in the wrong direction and gaining momentum again. This isn’t more true than in the nation’s biggest college conferences and high school footballing towns.

From Sports Illustrated NCAAF, Sept. 11, 2020

According to data from the CDC, seven of the top eight states in the highest infection rates are home to at least one SEC team, and nine of the league’s 14 college towns are producing enough cases daily to be deemed sites with “uncontrollable spread,” according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. Harvard’s metric uses a seven-day rolling average of daily new virus cases per 100,000 people. Anything over 25 cases is considered uncontrollable.

If the SEC is bad, the Big 12 is worse. Four of the 10 Big 12 college towns are generating a daily infection rate of at least 50 cases. In data collected from Sept. 1-8, Big 12 college towns have a combined average of 35.8 new cases a day to the SEC’s 35.6, dwarfing all other leagues.

What are the two conferences planning to allow the most fans for home games this fall? The SEC and the Big 12.

“It’s really dangerous,” says Thomas Huard, chief clinical laboratory advisor at the Texas-based Campus Health Project. “It’s going to create spread. People don’t social distance even though the seats are spread apart. You go to the bathrooms, hot dog stand, beer stand. I think it is a disaster.”

Sports Illustrated NCAAF, Inside the Correlation Between College-Town Infection Rates and Football Fan Attendance,” by Ross Dellenger, Sept. 11, 2020

High school football districts across the same 23 Republican states and college towns in the SEC and Big 12 are seeing the same uncontrollable spreading rates due to near non-existent enforcement of COVID-19 preventions at high school football games. Widespread confusion, contradictions, state-wide disunity of procedures, and very relaxed suggestions for crowds have further exacerbated the spread-rates. Examine the social-distancing and number of worn masks in the following slide-show:

I wonder, are there some correlations between major sports, sports leagues, and rabid fans… to political party affiliations? As a matter of fact, that leads my curious brain to another question: How many athletes, coaches, staff, sports owners, and rabid fans freely beseech and praise (or decry?) their God, Lord, or Allah before, during, or post-game, or post-season? Is there a correlation there as well?

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Update: CNN Health – 1:27pm, Oct. 20, 2020:

Daily Coronavirus Case Numbers in the US Are At Levels Not Seen Since the Summer, and 14 States Recently Have Set Hospitalization Records

It is just not safe to take that kind of chance with people coming from different parts of the country of uncertain status,” Dr. Francis Collins told National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” on Tuesday. “The problem with this disease is it is so easy for people to be infected and not know it, and then spread it to the ones next to them without realizing it.

All of this, I’m afraid, happens because we have not succeeded in this country in introducing really effective public health measures,” Collins said.

Simple things that we all could be doing: Wear your mask, keep that six foot distance, and don’t congregate indoors, whatever you do, and wash your hands. And yet people are tired of it and yet the virus is not tired of us,” Collins said.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

23 thoughts on “What Invisible Killer?

  1. Excellent post! And while I’m sure many would agree with all you wrote, we also know, regrettably, that things are going to get worse instead of better.

    Side question — if Biden is elected, do you think anything will change so far as restrictions and/or participation in risky events/activities?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A very good question Nan. Maybe a little bit will change for the safer due to better leadership experience, organization, and better collaboration across political aisles. However, as you and I know too well, it ultimately falls to the American people to better and wiser combat this pandemic so that it doesn’t continue well into the Fall of 2021! 😬

      There is still a sizable number of divisive, radicalized ultra-Republicans in this country who have influential and wealthy connections to intoxicate this country.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently posted about this as well. Red states where people refuse to follow precautions are being hit harder, despite having the advantage of low population density which should make them less vulnerable. It’s natural selection in action.

    I know a lot of Americans are sports fans, but — risking death to attend a game?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was astounded to read here that some US states have case rates of over 2,000 per 100,000 population. That is really, really high. I live in a Canadian province that is notoriously right-wing politically, but the response to Covid-19 has been mostly to grudgingly accept the restrictions. As a consequence, our case rate is now at about 500 per 100,000 population. So, now I’m wondering why there is so much resistance to the precautions there. Is it still the belief in herd immunity?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the important additional blog entry on Covid, Professor. As the third peak looms, the denial disconnect increases. I wince at each of the many tightly crowded venues, the belief that wishing or praying it away is the most effective remedy. The loudest voices in the Catholic media stand as one to insist that it all comes down to personal responsibility and the power of prayer, they claim to be apolitical while blaring their approval of their pro-life heroes: Trump and the party without a platform.
    Here is an intriguing graphic on Covid cases per million since June, following 7-day averages from very Democratic to very Republican, most and fewest cases:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The orange idiot got it right when he mistakenly said “herd mentality.”

    The only way that moron can get it right is quite by accident.

    Hopefully Biden wins this thing in a landslide. If that happens I can only assume another lockdown is coming, along with a mask mandate. Unfortunately that’s the only feasible way to slow the pandemic. We have to get a handle on this thing. Herd immunity is likely not even possible with covid. At least not in a reasonable sense. There is evidence people can and do get reinfected. So herd immunity is just saying “we have no intention of doing anything to curb covid.” At this point I expect no less from this administration.

    I’m also dubious of the long term effectiveness of a vaccine. I have a hunch we will need booster shots, similar to getting a flu shot every year, from now on. If and when we actually get a vaccine…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shell, I am pretty much in complete agreement with you: “lockdown, mandated masks (with serious enforcement by authorities & business owners!!!), people MUST take serious the (bare) minimum 6-ft distancing which I feel is not enough, and people MUST stop gathering in numbers greater than 10 persons!!! This 3rd resurgence is proof that relaxed or non-existent protocols DO NOT get an adequate handle on spreading! Hell, we all should’ve figured that out back in July with the 2nd spike! 🤦‍♂️

      And has everyone who gets out at sports games or events (regularly?) forgotten about the 14-day incubation period or symptoms of infection may not surface for as many as 2-14 days!? How many others does an ignorant sports fan (the ones in my images above) unknowingly infects in 2-14 days? And some fans attend games every weekend or a game during the week as well!!! How many people are infected by that ONE fan at 3-4 or more outings? 😠

      Your outlook on a vaccine is by no means dismal, simply realistic. :/ Shell, you stay safe and healthy; avoid imbeciles who think they’re Superman or Wonder Woman, okay?

      Like

      • Well if Wonder Woman looks like Gal Gadot I’ll take my chances! 😉 Don’t mention to the wife I said that!

        I’m of the opinion that dumbasses just don’t think that the invisible monster can hurt them. Doesn’t matter how much they get told to social distance and wear masks, it’s still an invisible threat. It is difficult for a dumbass to assess an invisible threat. But if they see the bus coming right at them, that is a real, three dimensional, visible, threat and they respond accordingly.

        You can’t convince stoopid that this covid problem is real, because they can’t see the fucking thing…

        I guess. I can’t think of another rational explanation except they are all Darwin Award attemptees.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. A complete lockdown may not be necessary. In some places (e.g. California and the UK) they are viewing the situation in counties rather than the whole state or country. In addition, restrictions are tiered; in California there are four tiers and three in the UK. The distinctions are based on the number of cases and those are tied to the extent to which the population abides by the restrictions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, those are very good, very wise tiered-restrictions based on the number of cases/incidence(?). You might be surprised that my home county of Dallas has protocols/restrictions similar to that. In fact, many counties in Texas have this Colored-coded Alert system. I blogged about its new implementation in May this year (Color-coded Alerts?). Dallas County still uses it today. We’ve been in the red code alert since at least the last week of September.

      Is this Color-coded Alert system effective in Texas, in states, in the U.S.? Now that’s the question, isn’t it? How INeffective is it in Republican counties and states? Another question that must be asked then answered.

      Liked by 1 person

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