Delta blues

Get ready for a fall season filled with the Delta Blues. I’m not talking about a resurgence in music from Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, or John Lee Hooker either. I’m talking about that one-two combo punch by that one-nine haymaker, CoVID-19.

From the WaPo:

Top Biden administration health officials said the game-changer in the debate over the masking guidance was new data showing that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant carry the same viral load as unvaccinated infected people, according to three people familiar with the data. Vaccinated people are still unlikely to become severely ill, but the data raises questions about how easily they might transmit the disease, the individuals said. Such transmission did not happen in any significant way with earlier strains.

I’m not a scientist, epidemiologist, or even a medical assistant, but I could see flashing red warning indicator a few months ago when the CDC relaxed mask rules for vaccinated people. I wasn’t sure of their reasoning, so I continued to wear masks anyway. Part of my reasoning for continued mask wearing was because of my risk of exposure at work and my selfishness for not wanting to get sick or infect my family. It appears that my intuition was a bit justified.

So, America is at another major crossroad now (been a lot of them on this road, right?). We’re closing in on two years of dealing with CoVID-19, and people are growing tired of it. That said, we can’t let our desire to pretend we have this virus under control just to return to normal override our common sense. We cannot let those who prosper from disinformation continue to prolong this pandemic.

To get back to normal requires the complete and total defeat of this virus. This virus is like an out of control wildfire, and we need to fight it in that manner. No more trying to hope that normal routines will simply materialize if we try to force then. We have to stop the ability for this virus to spread, propagate, and mutate. If we don’t, Delta will soon become the least of our concerns as it is replaced by a variant even worse.

It’s just my view, but mask mandates are the beginning. Don’t be surprised if we end back up in some form of lock down. Even though politicians are trying their damned best to avoid them, I think the virus will eventually force lock down conditions anyway. There is no way to stop the spread of this virus that doesn’t include limiting the ability for the virus to spread through the population.

So, don’t listen to the bs surrounding the virus. Pay attention to the experts, but also be wary of any political or wishful opinion clouding sound scientific analysis. Don’t be a Vector for Jesus, a plague rat, a covidiot, or a willing petri dish working on a new mutation.

Just realize this road and this fight is going to have many more intersections and decisions. Some will be easy, while some will be very difficult and gut wrenching. Remember that nobody ever thinks of getting back to normal when wildfires are burning down their neighborhood. We fight the fire, put it out, and then work on getting back to normal. This fight is no different. The sooner we acknowledge this the better.

I guess mentioning the Delta Blues and crossroads requires this accompanying musical interlude. Enjoy and stay safe.

Lessons learned from tragedy

Nineteen years ago today, America suffered a horrendous terrorist attack on our soil. On that morning, four hijacked aircraft ended up causing billions in damage as well as ending the lives of 3000 people that day.

Responding to the initial crashes, men and women of the NYPD and NYFD went into action like they would in any emergency. That day, over 400 within their combined ranks also lost their lives.

Beyond the initial deaths, thousands of people were injured in the initial attack or in the cleanup process afterwards.  To help take care of them, Congress passed a law to provide health care funding to cover the medical expenses of those who were sicken and suffered medical issues as a result of the attack.

We were fulfilling this obligation in full up until about four years ago. There’s this story that appeared in the NY Daily News yesterday.

The Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses, the Daily News has learned.

The Treasury Department mysteriously started withholding parts of payments — nearly four years ago — meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, documents obtained by The News reveal.

Prezant said he was docked about half a million dollars each year in 2016 and 2017. Then it crept up to about $630,000 in 2018 and 2019. This year, Treasury has nearly tripled its extractions, diverting $1.447 million through late August, according to Prezant.

“Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we’re not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes,” said Prezant, the FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer.

It appears that there’s no bottom to the depths the current president will stoop to when it comes to screwing Americans.  The people who put their lives on the line deserve better, and we should demand it for them.  That money was promised, and it should be paid in full.

I don’t expect Congress to say or do anything because they’ve practically neutered themselves and ceded their constitutional power to Trump.  This will simply be another episode of the Trump Show that we’re living.  Interesting enough, I have not seen any reports on this story outside of this article.

Even nineteen years after, we stop to remember those who died that day and honor the sacrifice of those who died trying to save others.  We’ve adopted a never forget motto for the attack, and we cannot forget those who are suffering long-term medical problems as well.

We’ve seen our military veterans get screwed over their medical care when they’ve returned home damaged from war.  You would think we had learned the lesson to take care of the people who give themselves to keep us safe.

We cannot let this administration continue to shred agreements we’ve already made with ourselves.  This is not his personal empire.  This is our country.  If we allow this to happen, why would we expect anyone to sacrifice themselves for us anymore?  What will happen to the first responders who are currently fighting covid?

Covid, we’re gonna need a bigger boat

CovScreenshots taken at 3pm est today:

Three different sources, and three different counts. This shows that even the experts do not have a complete understanding of the spread of CoVID-19 in the US. Take this info and the stupidly cavalier attitude of many Americans regarding reopening the country, and you have the perfect storm of disaster looming over the horizon.

I haven’t made many CoVID-19 posts, and that’s because I don’t understand it enough to feel comfortable expounding on the effect it has on Americans and the world in general. So, after writing and deleting this, I’m going to take a different course.

Instead of talking about the virus itself, I want to highlight how this virus is like a game of Russian Roulette. Consider this when you see the sights like people partying over the 4th in clubs, at parks, and on the beach. Remember this as well as political rallies are being held indoors with no personal distancing required or enforced.

I previously posted that I lost family to this virus. So far, we know of 4 in total. One was in NY and from my grandfather’s side of the family. The other 3 were from one family group on my grandmother’s side of the tree. I’m not alone in this as we’ve probably long passed the 130,000 total of deaths related to this virus.

For about 50% of those infected, scientists are saying they are asymptomatic, which means they’re feeling okay while spreading the virus to anyone close enough to catch it. For the symptomatic, some have “mild” cases that when described, sound anything like mild.

Here’s one story from where a regular named Znuh posted in detail about his ongoing fight with CoVID-19.

OK! You’ve got a 102 fever, you can’t eat or smell or taste, now you move into the rigors – shaking that you can’t really control. This would alternate from feeling as if you were in an Attic in the middle of July; unbelievable heat. Then you’d switch to as if you were plummeted into an arctic wasteland. Shivers and shakes that were uncontrollable.

At this point I was still trying the OTC medications, and the Acetaminophen was helping. I’d still get the rigors, and I’d curl up into a ball to try and let them pass.

You will not sleep. You’ll wake up every hour, on the hour. This will, unfortunately become the norm for about 1 to 1.5 months.

Once I was mostly done with the flu symptoms, I noticed that my energy levels were, shockingly, not really coming back. I barely made it into the car, and got myself over to my PCP. This now, is two weeks in.

My Doc gave me a lung X-ray and told me I had Bi-Lateral Pneumonia in both lungs. On top of that, she discovered that I also had shingles on my right arm.

I spoke briefly with Znuh to get permission to post his story here, and he was kind enough to give an update on his fight. Mind you, his initial post was on May 5th, and he had already been through about 2 months of fighting.

From June 28th:

This disease absolutely sucks. I’m doing OK. Hanging in there. My heartrate is all over the place (new), I get sensations of not having enough oxygen. You pull in a deep lungful of air and instead of that nice rush your body normally gives you, you get….nothing.

The worst is, technically there’s nothing wrong. Pulse/Ox machine this morning was at 99, the highest it can go. My wiring has been changed to the point where it no longer feels like I’m getting a full breath of air. My toes tingle. I randomly smell burning plastic when nothing’s there.

I get that I’m only three months into this, and it’ll probably take another four to recover. Every symptom that manifests arrests me with absolute panic that I’ve somehow gotten reinfected. Seeing posts of people who have died simultaneously makes me feel guilty that I survived, and also terrifies me that it’ll come back and take me out. People posting pics of intubation? That’s my worst absolute fear.

This is just one person’s story. There are at least 1.5 million and counting more in the US in some phase of infection. As frightening as his story sounds, he’s still living. Broadway actor Nick Cordero’s story of medical complications is like something out of a horror movie, and unfortunately, he was unable to overcome the effects of the virus.

Considering all of this, we live in a country with a higher level of obesity and other health issues that places many in the high risk category for infection from CoVID-19. Even knowing this, many political leaders are content with sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands and the long term health of millions because of their love of money. It’s like we’re represented by the mayor of Amity Island, and CoVID-19 is a humongous shark gorging itself on Americans.

We’ve seen other countries slow the spread of this virus using distancing, staying home, and wearing masks if you have to go out. Easing up on precautions too early has put us in the middle of a raging epidemic now. It didn’t have to be that way, but we are where we are due to decisions that politicians made. Depending on the depth of the long term health issues, these decisions may cost us dearly in the long run.

I remember hearing an infectuous disease expert on TV early during the beginning phase of the pandemic, and something he said stuck with me. He stated that we would need to enact policies that would seem draconian in order to slow the spread of the virus. He also stated that people would complain because the measures would seem very drastic with a low infection count. If we did what appeared to be just enough for that moment, we would quickly fall behind and the infections would soar. I now see how correct he was and how unwise our leaders were to not listen to the experts.

I post all this to say that this virus scares the bejeezus out of me. Not because it is overly lethal, which it does not appear to be at the present time. What scares me is that it seems like the most easily spread virus I’ve seen, and we have no idea of what harm the virus will do to our bodies in the long term.

We have Americans who will believe any and every conspiracy theory on this virus and refuse to protect themselves from getting it. Americans are basking in their utter ignorance and risking the health of all of us, even those who are being cautious.

Please be cautious and careful in your actions and interactions with people, family included. I’m tired of reading about sickness and death, and I know I’m not the only one. In November, remember those who acted like Mayor Vaughn and those who mimicked Chief Brody and vote accordingly. We need more chiefs and less mayors going into 2021.

*Update: I didn’t specifically recommend it above, but I highly recommend that you take the time when you can to read through the thread. Znuh gave a thorough rundown of his experience, and the thread morphed into an AMA on covid. There’s more information there than what I’ve read elsewhere. Granted, it’s one person’s experience, but it is a very detailed look into the side of this virus not being reported. 

What’s the rush?

What’s the rush, Gov. Kemp? Why are you so insistent on reopening businesses when you even acknowledge that CoVID-19 cases will likely increase due to your decision?

Do you remember the Fusco family in New Jersey?

CoVID-19 hit that family pretty hard. That family lost four members out of six who were hospitalized with severe symptoms. This was just a little over a month ago although it seems like this story was in the news years ago. That’s how fast the news and this virus has been moving through the US. That family isn’t the only one in the US to endure tragic losses due to this virus.

This topic is quite personal to me because I lost three cousins back at home last week to this virus. Nine members of the family were sick, six were hospitalized, and three passed away within a week of each other with two of them dying on the same day. They were distant relatives on the family tree. However, you’re talking about a city of 35,000 where we all grew up and went to school together. In addition, I also found out that a co-worker who had retired was one of the casualties on one of the cruise ships. These are not the only people who I personally know that have been sickened by this virus. Others have recovered since becoming ill.

Screenshot from The Gadsden Times

When I wrote my previous post on March 25th, Georgia had 1,387 confirmed CoVID-19 cases and 47 deaths. As of April 21st, those numbers have grown to 20,166 confirmed cases and 818 deaths. These numbers are only counting confirmed cases based on the limited testing that we’ve conducted since this pandemic began. We still have not conducted enough testing to know exactly how widespread the virus is or how many people are infected with or carrying the virus. Knowing this (assumed), you still want to reopen up businesses in Georgia, Kemp?

Let’s be honest for a moment. Our economy has not been shut down. We have shuttered some businesses where close, personal contact could not be avoided and were not deemed essential services. That is nowhere near shutting down the economy.

Many businesses changed their operations to allow for teleworking. Other businesses adapted by doing delivery and pick up only instead of allowing customers inside. Businesses that could not close their doors have limited the number of customers to avoid spreading the virus.

Now, we have Kemp deciding to open businesses that cannot avoid close contact while we still have no idea how widespread the virus is in Georgia. He claims that the data is in his favor. I’m curious about what data he’s using. Does anyone know if government offices are opening back up? I don’t recall Kemp offering his folks up as test dummies.

Speculation is rampant about this decision. Some see it as a way to limit the unemployment payment responsibility for the government. Opening these businesses ends unemployment benefits for the workers. They will face a stark decision to gamble with their health or their financial well being.

A second train of thought runs along the lines that these businesses are frequented more by ethnic groups that Kemp does not belong to. Minorities have faced the brunt of this virus, and this decision exposes more minority communities to this virus. Remember that Kemp himself said that he expects the number of cases to increase.

I don’t know what his logic or reasoning is, but my advice is for people to continue to limit their exposure to others outside of their family. There is no immunity to this virus, and there won’t be a vaccine available for some time. I would not willingly sacrifice my life or that of my family for money that doesn’t benefit me. My family has already served as guinea pigs during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. I’m not signing up for the CoVID-19 Study.

In my opinion, the government should have taken the approach to assist the affected businesses by covering their costs for payroll and building upkeep. Denmark did this, and even Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri suggested that America should take this route.

As always, stay healthy and safe. R.I.P Mr. Paul, Bam, CeCe, and Sandman.

CoVID-19 information update

Even though the numbers don’t currently show it, we are in the midst of an epidemic here In the United States.  Almost every single state has reported at least one case of CoVID-19 infection.  My guess is that all 50 states and DC have been hit, but when there are little to no tests being done, we are flying blind on how widespread this virus has infected the country.  For example, the state of Alabama has conducted only 20 tests so far.  20 FREAKING TESTS!!!

The purpose of this post isn’t to stoke anger over the absence of an effective plan of defense to keep us well.  I also don’t want to fire up unnecessary fear and panic.  What I do want to accomplish is to give information about the virus to help everyone keep themselves and their loved ones from getting sick if it’s possible.

When it comes to how long the virus can last or a person could be contagious, I came across these two stories this week.  The information below has been published but I don’t think it’s been thoroughly reviewed and verified yet.

From Time Magazine:

The new coronavirus can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for as long as two to three days, tests by U.S. government and other scientists have found.

Their work, published Wednesday, suggests that the virus can spread through the air as well as from touching things that were contaminated by others who have it, in addition to direct person-to-person contact.

For this study, researchers used a nebulizer device to put samples of the new virus into the air, imitating what might happen if an infected person coughed or made the virus airborne some other way.

The found that viable virus could be detected up to three hours later in the air, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

From Bloomberg:

Patients with the new coronavirus keep the pathogen in their respiratory tract for as long as 37 days, a new studyfound, suggesting they could remain infectious for many weeks.

In yet another sign of how difficult the pandemic may be to contain, doctors in China detected the virus’s RNA in respiratory samples from survivors for a median of 20 days after they became infected, they wrote in an article published in the Lancet medical journal.

As I posted above, I don’t think this information has been verified through a review process.  Then again, this is all unfolding so rapidly that there likely hasn’t been enough time to conduct thorough reviews.  That said, the idea of a 14 day quarantine does appear to be inadequate as some cases have proven.

Just keep that information in mind as you carry on with your daily routine.  As I’ve been saying, there will be lots of sick people.  Knowing how the virus is transmitted is a big help in slowing down the spread of the virus and helping to protect the most vulnerable among us.  It would also help tremendously if we had the readily available infrastructure to handle an epidemic like this, but that’s a rant for a different time and date.

Stay safe everyone.