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, 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.

Moreover, 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 increase 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 a big dose of 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, once 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?

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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

“Totally Under Control”

This is a dual anecdotal blog-post; one to follow-up my previous post on this new WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor and its immense learning curve for paying subscribers/members like myself, and a blog-post regarding our current political/Presidential and VP campaigns… or rather what I have always considered in election years super hyped-up rhetoric and sensationalizing lip-service by most all elected officials. Therefore, regarding the first anecdote, I began this simple, quick blog-draft at 7:45pm CST. I completely finished this super basic post with no bells and whistles, then published it at 1:05am—over FIVE HOURS LATER—with no interruptions! The bulk of those 5-hours were spent trying to learn and perfect an incredibly sophisticated Editor. That is crazy, stupid, required (wasted?) time with this new Editor for so little catching-presentation and final product! Ridiculous WordPress. Way too complicated for Users who use WordPress as a hobby!

Regarding the second anecdote, our Presidential and VP campaigns and debates would like to tell all Americans that this race between our two parties is about three issues: 1) COVID-19, 2) healthcare, and 3) the consequences of #1 on our economy. No, I say all three combine into ONE: how horribly shitty our nation’s highest leadership had prepared for and managed #1 that directly affected #2 and #3. It is that simple and don’t let political propaganda and typical lip-service rhetoric of our current national leadership deceive you or divert you from that fact! Let’s review.

On January 6, 2020, after many infections, deaths, and signs from Wuhan, China, worldwide and domestic virologists, epidemiologists, scientists, and the CDC informed and forewarned the President of the United States, his administration, and all federal health agencies that the COVID-19 pandemic was coming to America. On January 21, 2020, the very first case of coronavirus arrived near Seattle, WA. This was our President’s reaction:

We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.

President Trump, interview with CNBC, asked about the first diagnosed U.S. case. He said he was not worried about a lethal pandemic.

Unfortunately for thousands and thousands of At Risk Americans, 210,000 deaths and counting, this egotistical indifference by the President is utterly misleading and a catastrophic mistake. And Dr. Taison Bell, M.D. at University of Virginia Health and Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine, puts all the historical facts in place today and what was not done when warned and warned repeatedly in December 2019, January 2020, again in February 2020, and over and over still from March 2020 to the present day. Watch this excellent 30-second portrayal of factual federal apathy and denial (for political reasons) to protect the American public:

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/tV6w/future-forward-usa-action-taison-bell

Now, back to my first anecdote, this damn new Block Editor. I am essentially done here… at least as far as I am concerned. There is more for me to say that Dr. Taison Bell doesn’t poignantly nail in those 30-seconds. It’s now almost 1:10am CST and I have spent way too much time here just trying to post this! Geeezzz. 🤬


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

From Rope to Threads

Well, as much as I’d rather post something more comical, scientific, or spell-bounding intriguing… this quick post will be simply a matter-of-fact report (rant) on current goings-on with me, those around me, and stuff in the U.S. If you were wanting/needing a lift-me-up blog-post, best you go somewhere else this time. I’m a realist as well as a hopeful optimistic realist. 😉

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Dallas, TX has very recently experienced over one week of triple-digit temperatures. Today’s expected high (yesterday’s) was a cool frigid 93º Fahrenheit. A happy respite from the 103-106 temps the other week. Most of those days we were also under National Weather Service “Excessive Heat Warnings” and “Air Quality Alerts.” The latter is basically a warning of high levels of ozone air pollution from man-made machines, factories, and refineries to go along with methane and CO² up there. This also includes dust/dirt in lower strata from heavy construction equipment, state-sanctioned (roads & highways) and/or private-sector contractors everywhere in the DFW Metroplex. That pollution is distinctly worse during windy days.

I watched this afternoon, about 1 or 2pm, out my front window three (3) Dallas Police Officers (all white), in two squad-cars, and one of the onsite property managers remove two different residents from my building who were apparently delinquent on their (daily?) monthly rent. One resident, a male perhaps in his late 30’s, packed up everything he could into his massive backpack and rolling suitcase, more things in bags under one arm, and walk out to the street. He then walked down the street until he was out of sight. He may have continued on to the busy 6-lane intersection a half-mile away, under a state highway bridge, with some 6-8 other homeless people (6-8 on a daily basis that is) holding cardboard signs walking out into and around stopped vehicles.

The other residents, a couple perhaps in their late 20’s, began packing up their little beat up used compact car—which was already quite full with tons of other belongings—eventually evacuated the property under watchful eyes of police and property management. As they left, their vehicle’s exhaust was visibly blue smoke; oil leak(s). I doubt their car would pass the state inspection laws in order to obtain liability insurance, required by law to own and operate a vehicle, assuming of course they owned it and possessed current, valid liability insurance minimums. The last 6-8 months I’ve witnessed these sorts of evictions take place. What is glaringly obvious are the vast numbers of homeless people everywhere on our busy street corners and intersections the last 12-24 months. It’s impossible to not notice.

This past week I’ve tried to help this neighbor three doors down. About 2-weeks ago his compact vehicle had a major breakdown. Jumper cables didn’t help. A tow-truck came to haul it off to some repair shop. His only source of income is his job as a Lift/Uber driver. He pays his rent week to week, for obvious reasons. Yesterday I drove him 8-miles to the shop his car was being worked on. It’s in a “sketchy” part of town at a very rundown business building of many old used vehicles scattered everywhere outside. They fill-up the make-shift parking lot.

When he returns to my car where I’m waiting—to make sure his car REALLY IS fixed/ready—with an obvious down-trodden face he tells me There’s a snag, a hangup. Can you wait a bit longer? I tell him of course. Ten minutes later he returns with all of his belongings to go straight to work, and tells me the part that was sent to them had stripped threads. He soon told me with an upset tone that he’s sure THEY (the shop) fucked-up the refurbished replacement part. I must take him back home… without his vehicle (for income). This foul-up has now cost him another full-day of income, making it the 5th day without making money. Today, to help him out at least a tiny bit, I go to the management office and pay for one night on his room/place. That’s all I could afford given my own strapped situation.

I literally just received the THIRD Amber Alert in as much as 7-9 days! This doesn’t count the significant increase in Amber Alerts we’ve had in Texas so far just these last 7.5 months! They’ve been going off noticeably more ever since COVID-19 quarantines and businesses and schools shutdown. By the way, that also includes most daycares for working Moms or Dads.

As many of you know, I am a sports fan, particularly a soccer/football fanatic. If any of you in the U.S. are sports fans as well, you know painfully that ALL of our professional and collegiate sports seasons have either been cancelled, postponed, or undetermined. As a result and for the first time in my entire life, I have become a semi-fan of the South Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), watching a few games at 4:35am… because most of this spring and summer there has not really been any other sports viewing-choices right now or there hasn’t been in the U.S. for several months! And I’ve NEVER liked baseball until my son got into it seriously at age 10 over nine years ago. Pfffft, KBO? Seriously!?

If any of you have followed the current American MLB shortened season going on, its season and teams are an organized mess because of COVID-19 infections popping up in at least 4-5 different team’s club houses at different times. The New York Yankees just had 1-2 games postponed because of positive CV-19 tests. More postponements or cancellations might be happening. The entire league’s 60-game season it is said will have a HUGE asterisk attached to it and its October World Series (if it happens?) because of this unprecedented time America and Americans are going through.

I watched two interviews over the past 2-3 weeks that I thought were poignantly revealing summaries of what our country has been put through. Sadly, it did not need to be this bad, not even close! Had our federal leadership heeded all the warnings coming from all the domestic and global experts back in Dec. 2019 thru mid-February 2020, this continuing crisis could have been shortened SIGNIFICANTLY and with much less economic tragedy. But then it happened again this past May over Memorial Day weekend and in another spike July… over 4th of July celebrations and holidays. Here’s what wealthy mogul and former Microsoft owner Bill Gates said about the handling of this pandemic by our federal government and leadership:  Bill Gates on GPS: “Testing insanity” is unique to U.S.

The other interview was by Christiane Amanpour of PBS with former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. It is well worth the 3-minute watch, I promise.

Personally, I have been COVID-tested twice now because both times I was experiencing 6 of the 11 symptoms for the lethal virus. Fortunately, both results were negative. But my last CV-19 test, inside Dallas County (one of the worst hot spots in Texas) took almost 5-weeks to return a result. The only reason my two results have been negative is because #1) I stay at home alone as much as possible. #2) because since early March I have social-distanced like an OCD MoFo, I wear a mask anytime I go out in public, I wear rubber gloves when I go into any places of business doing my BASIC shopping for essential items and/or grocery store items. And #3), if I don’t get out of my vehicle, that’s because I’ve shopped online for curbside delivery done by only ONE worker to my car… that is, a car parked over 8-10 feet away from any other vehicle!

And yet, after near 7-months of this consistent distancing, preparation, and wise, considered caution anywhere I go… this has become a change from “doing well enough” in April 2020, to making things tighter and stretching out longer in July 2020—going from a stabilized ship in a horrible storm at sea—to grasping for ropes to cling to as the HMS Titanic goes down, and to now desperately seeking THREADS that might hold me above the surface of a self-created (by my nation & its leaders) Level-5 hurricane I and everyone around me are getting sucked into. And yet there’s more.

Day before yesterday I ran out of one of my two high blood-pressure meds. When I requested the pharmacy to contact my primary care physician’s office for the refill, the next day they called back stating his office denied my request. I know why. I haven’t gone to have my blood lab-work done yet. It costs me $135 (no insurance) to have it all done, plus the tele-visit or video-visit with the doctor to initiate it. Plus on top of that the cost of the generic prescriptions. It’s money I do not currently have because of several other pressing priorities due to COVID-19 affects and consequences on businesses.

Oh well, hopefully life gets better for everyone and reduces hypertension and high blood-pressure—that if chronic, inevitably leads to heart disease and other medical problems. HAH! 😆 That’s a subject Dr. Sanjay Gupta covered in his extensive 1-hour documentary on HBO called One Nation Under StressIn the documentary Dr. Gupta uncovers the root causes of why American life expectancy, that is primarily Caucasian’s life expectancy, is falling and is now shorter than all other major developed countries. It is a disturbing revelation of our nation’s true health. Here’s the trailer:

So what’s the rub? Can we Americans make it until November 4-5? Can we survive with minimal casualties in this raging, unforgiving storm/hurricane of a crisis that could’ve been lessened significantly, probably avoided in many ways? Because this pandemic virus has affected and infected so many socioeconomic and healthcare sectors and lives, that not even I could’ve anticipated, it could get much worse and last much longer! And I am a HUGE nerdy science guy who tries his utmost to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But this shit is going to outlast even my own predictions back in February. I told everyone then this pandemic and its ripple-effects would last till late-August or early-September before a downward trend and gradual respite occurs. It appears my prediction is coming up wrong and well short. 😔😷

I wonder… how in THA HELL did our Greatest Generation (of America) do it for well over 5-6 years during World War II  on top of coming out of the Great Depression!? Holy crap they must of been truly “E plurabus unum” (like superhero MoFos)… like we stamp on all of our coinage. HAH! Is it really a United States of America rather than a DISunited States of America, “One nation, under stress, and very divided!” as our new revised Pledge of Allegiance the last 4-years might be uttered today? Other nations around the world handled and managed the pandemic SO MUCH BETTER than the U.S.! That’s undeniably true.

Ugh, my rant is done. Tired I am. Everyone keep being safe, being well, and safely distanced. Try to keep going and hang in there! I hope I can too. 🙄

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P.S. One last thing. Have I ever expressed my rising annoyance with most everything electronic, internet, streaming, or WiFi-based over the last decade or more? And with that near boiling-point annoyance of said electronics I am quickly approaching the brink of ‘going postal.’ Have I expressed that? And how many times all my electronic devices I have ever owned (especially the last 10-12 years!) get overly spammed, hacked, and breakdown into some cyber-neurotic psychotic tantrums after ONLY 24-months from their purchase? Then I am forced to purchase a new cutting-edge “newer” device. Imagine that!

Does anyone else experience this incredibly frustrating, cyclical consumer entrapment on a society addicted to an electronic-everything world? Just a passing thought.

I really miss those days (in the 80’s and 90’s) when items, machines purchased would last a good 10-15 years, easily. Now, most mega-corporate business models are structured to generate what they call “perpetual revenue” and repeat consumers that appease, gratify share-holders for many quarterly P&L reports. Ugh, I so love hyper-capitalism.

That last sentence was extreme satirical sarcasm by the way. 😠

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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