Tag: COVID-19

How Much Does Dr. Fauci Really Care?


Dennis Prager spoke the hard truth Monday morning: Dr. Fauci is a lifelong government employee with a salary and benefits package perfectly insulated from the economic consequences of his words. He has absolutely no skin in the game. If Dr. Fauci truly believes it is necessary to put hourly workers, waiters, bartenders, and small businesses out of work, destroying them economically, then let him and the head of the CDC ante up.

Dr. Fauci’s easiest path is completely shutdown of our economy, doing maximum damage to people who were just starting to see real success and a brighter future. He can claim noble motives, even as he seeks to avoid blame for early failures. Words of concern and supposed sympathy tripping off a career bureaucrat’s lips ring hollow and are bitter to those he ruins.

So, President Trump needs to put this to the coronavirus crew immediately, giving them the chance to volunteer giving up their salaries until the federal guidelines no longer limit American jobs. Then, if they push back, he needs to drop it on them in front of the cameras. Let’s all see their real faces and real positions when they are made to live with the real consequences of their words.

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[Note – just made important correction from 62 to 52 for the upper end of the optimum temperature range the virus needs.] I’ve seen two reports in the last couple days on the seasonality of the COVID-19 virus, though I didn’t track the links as I came across them. Today, there was a research report […]

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Sometimes It Takes a Crisis


Sometimes it takes a crisis to make a problem obvious. In this case, the COVID-19 testing debacle has made it clear that we have a serious problem with regulatory agencies. Specifically, we’ve allowed those agencies to think that they are in charge of the area that they regulate.

For those who missed it, the New York Times had a very illuminating article last week about the reasons why the US has seen significant delays in testing for the COVID-19 virus. The short version is that the CDC and FDA were the cause of the problem. Existing regulations prevented tests from being developed outside of CDC-approved research labs and without FDA approvals. Regulators refused to allow any exceptions to these regulations, even when it was clear that community transmission of the virus was occurring and we needed to drastically increase the scale of our testing. By the time that the exceptions were finally allowed, the CDC developed test had been shown to be deficient and precious weeks had been lost in the battle against the virus.

In a strange time, Jack does something new: Discuss sports! ChatSports Analyst Tom Downey joins Young Americans to discuss how he got into sports journalism, and how coronavirus is affecting both college and professional sports.

Finding Something Positive in the Pandemic


Not everything associated with the COVID-19 panic is bad. In fact, some aspects of our reaction to this virus are excellent and a long time in coming.

The Sign of the Peace suspended: When the Catholic Church adopted its Vatican II changes to make the Sunday Mass more friendly and inclusive, they introduced the entire Christian world to the “sign of the peace.” Wannabe protestant sects like the Methodists and Congregationalists followed suit and soon nearly every church, Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and even some Baptists, had set aside a few minutes during each Sunday service so people could roam around the sanctuary seeking another’s hand to shake. In the more progressive churches, like the United Church of Christ or their cousins, the Unitarians, a handshake was often not enough. For them, the “Sign of the Peace” time soon devolved into an all-out, half-hour, hug-fest.

If this were not bad enough, (Do I dare mention this? Of course!) older, or shall we say, seasoned women, who demographically make up the majority of churchgoers, seem to have a problem with dry hands, among other age-related issues. To remedy this problem, they must continuously apply various lotions and cremes, all of which are reinforced with strong olfactory agents, essences of lavender and lilac mainly, but other similar odorants. As a man of a certain age who is not too terrible to look at, these women seek me out like vultures on carrion to pass on their greetings, thereby transferring their hand treatments and rendering my once clean and perfectly normal hands, into a conglomeration of cremes and smelling of the perfume counter at Macy’s. Once outside the church, I attract bees. I am no longer capable of opening a bottle of pickles or even, a screw-top container of say, San Pellegrino. (OK, I’ve never actually opened a bottle of San Pellegrino.) Only a generous Lava soap treatment, or maybe two, and a scrubbing worthy of a day of mechanic work, can remove this odiferous slime from my person.

Fear and Panic in Florida


My husband and I must be the only two seniors who embrace sanity over panic. We live in a 55+ community, where many people have pre-existing conditions or simply don’t take care of themselves. To deal with their anxiety regarding the COVID-19, they feel they have to do something. They’ve decided to shop. When we went to do our weekly shopping, you would have thought that a five-force hurricane was offshore bearing down on us. Shelves were cleared of bottled water, milk, and toilet paper. I’m not sure why they’ve gotten toilet paper, but I guess for those of us who are spoiled Westerners, toilet paper is a necessity.

We walked through the store, shaking our heads. I hope those people are feeling more at ease. I doubt it.

The fact is, the mystery and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus are terrifying to people. They go to their worst-case scenario: we’re all going to die. Dead people will be lying in the streets, and those of us remaining will trip over their corpses. Those frightened people won’t tell you how they feel, but at a subconscious level I’m pretty sure that the fear and panic reaches those extreme levels.

Working Through or Worked Over by the Coronavirus?


My parents’ generation has some badly needed perspective. My father commented recently, after I told him I was recovering from whooping cough*, that he and his generation went through every disease my generation was inoculated against: mumps, measles, chicken pox, and German measles. Oh, and they had to dodge polio, against which we were inoculated. And there were bad flu seasons.

A writer in City Journal has now spoken that wisdom in “Say Your Prayers and Take Your Chances: Remembering the 1957 Asian flu pandemic:”

For those who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing unusual about finding yourself threatened by contagious disease. Mumps, measles, chicken pox, and German measles swept through entire schools and towns; I had all four. Polio took a heavy annual toll, leaving thousands of people (mostly children) paralyzed or dead. There were no vaccines. Growing up meant running an unavoidable gauntlet of infectious disease. For college students in 1957, the Asian flu was a familiar hurdle on the road to adulthood. For everyone older, the flu was a familiar foe. There was no possibility of working at home. You had to go out and face the danger.

If Saying ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’ Is Racist…


…Then what do you say about these diseases:

  1. California Serogroup Viruses / California Encephalitis
  2. Colorado Tick Fever
  3. Coxsackievirus (for the NY town)
  4. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
  5. Ebola virus (named for the Ebola River)
  6. Hantavirus (named for the Hantan River)
  7. Japanese Encephalitis
  8. Junin Virus (named for the Argentine city)
  9. Kyasanur Forest Virus
  10. Lassa Fever (named for a village in Nigeria)
  11. Lyme Disease (named for Lyme, CT)
  12. Machupo Virus (named for the Machupo River)
  13. Marburg Virus (named for a German town)
  14. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS – this is also a coronavirus)
  15. Murray Valley Encephalitis (area in Australia)
  16. Nipah Virus (area in Malaysia)
  17. Norwalk Virus, aka norovirus (named for Norwalk, OH)
  18. Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever (named for a Russian city)
  19. Powassan Encephalitis (named for an Ontario city)
  20. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  21. Ross River Virus (river in Australia)
  22. Semliki Forest Virus (in Uganda)
  23. St. Louis Encephalitis
  24. Tularemia (named for Tulare County, CA)
  25. Venezuela Equine Encephalitis
  26. West Nile Virus (de Nile is a river in Egypt)
  27. Zika virus (named for the Zika Forest)

This is just the pathogens off the Pathogen Safety Data Sheets. This is so intensely stupid it leaves me staring in disbelief. Is this OrangeManBad or Chinese cash at work, or are they all just huffing paint?

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President Trump has continued to act within the boundaries of our Constitution and laws, including in his declaration of a national emergency for COVID-19. He has not used this crisis to seize power for himself, or to direct goodies to his party, supporters, or family. I will lay out some chunks of law and the […]

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Governor Cuomo Calls Out the Guard: President Trump Should Alert Federal Forces


On Tuesday, March 10, Governor Cuomo called out the Guard to combat coronavirus. He did so to provide skilled manpower to disinfect public areas and to deliver meals to people who have been quarantined in their homes in the New Rochelle hot spot.

The deployment comes as experts debate how long the virus can live on solid surfaces, Cuomo said.

“So cleaning those surfaces is very important with the right material and the National Guard will be helpful on that,” Cuomo said.

Hot-Take Media Incapable of Covering Coronavirus


The latest tax cut “would kill 10,000 people annually.” Net Neutrality was going to “end the internet as we know it.” False charges of Russian collusion were promoted with daily cable news “blockbusters” that it was “the beginning of the end” and the “walls were closing in.”

Our hot-take media survives on internet clicks and 15-minute windows of TV viewership. The easiest way to play that game is to present everything as a crisis. A slow news week doesn’t slow down the “breaking news” crawl warning of the latest way the world will end. Climate change, a local election, and that joke the comedian told on Netflix doom our society and you need to keep watching to find out how long we have left.

Then, an actual crisis comes. Coronavirus, for instance. A rapidly spreading pandemic that has killed thousands in China and Italy and is now appearing on our shores. The good news for talking heads is that they have actual information to provide to viewers. They don’t need to hype, embellish, or exaggerate. Just report the latest data, transmit important statements from medical experts and political leaders, and share safety tips.

About Those Other Immunocompromised People?


While much is being made of the course of COVID-19 in Italy, it is worth remembering a couple of things as we focus our efforts in the United States. It appears that the same disease which we are now encountering found a very different population and medical readiness in Italy.

1. Italy has been committing demographic suicide for decades. Italy is down to 1.3 live births per woman. A major author wrote a decade ago that the big Italian family was a myth today, that an Italian child is most likely to grow up with no siblings and only one first cousin. So, it should be no surprise that Italy’s median age is already over 47. That is, Italy was already vulnerable to a disease that especially threatens the elderly because that is where their population has been shifting. The same holds for much of Europe.

President Trump Addressed the Nation, Suspending Travel from Europe


The White House Live page posted the live address announcement, with a link to their YouTube channel. President Trump addressed the nation and also issued a travel suspension on Europe, excluding the U.K. He spoke into the camera from the Oval Office for ten minutes, sticking closely to his prepared remarks. He spoke seriously of both the threat and our nation’s resources to respond to the threat. He did not speak as an authoritarian ruler, instead of revealing that most of the actions he wishes to take require the assent, the action of the legislature. This is as it should be under our Constitution.

I took away the following highlights, and have posted the entire short address text below:*

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One of my favorite sporting events of the year–the men’s NCAA basketball tournament–will be played only with essential personnel and some family members in attendance. This decision also effects the women’s tournament, although that has yet to achieve the iconic status of the men’s tournament. I suppose the games will still be the games, but […]

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The Examining Politics podcast, featured on Ricochet, brought Dr. Drew Pinsky back to my attention. He is furious with professional journalists creating panic, inducing real harm, and blinding the public to real public health information. He observes that Facebook reflects far more rational responses, while Twitter is a cesspool, wildly hyping panic. I remember Dr. […]

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According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard, we currently have 1050 cases of COVID-19 infection in the US.  At the current rate of growth of 33% increase per day, how long will it take us to run out of ICU beds, of which there are 100,000?  The answer is less than a month, assuming 10% […]

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President Trump’s Efforts to Protect American Workers from Coronavirus [Update 11 March]


President Trump made a preparatory announcement Monday evening that he would have a major address tomorrow on dramatic steps to support hourly wage earners, to ensure no one will have to choose between earning food and rent versus practicing good public health by staying home if they start to get sick. This, and the rest of the presentation led by Vice President Pence, conveyed seriousness and competence.

We were reminded again that young, healthy people are at greater risk of death by flu than coronavirus. AND. Young people need to be good family and friends, protecting their vulnerable elders by proper basic public health discipline. The task force promised clear, simple, specific written guidance for every American.

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A real anomaly in COVI-19 is that it has not killed small children. Influenza kills lots of small children. “How Vulnerable Are Children to the New Coronavirus?: So far, kids seem to be surprisingly less at-risk to severe infection. But they could play a key role in spreading it, so experts say it’s crucial to […]

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Playing Politics with Coronavirus


Stories of the rapidly escalating responses to coronavirus (COVID-19) dominate the news cycle. There is an increasing number of cases throughout the United States, and many major events have been postponed or canceled, such as the South by Southwest festival in Austin and the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. Many institutions have canceled non-essential travel and public health officials are recommending that people with weak immune systems stay home. Purell dispensers are proliferating in public places, and there have even been modest runs on food supplies and toilet paper.

At this time, the total cost of the combined responses is assuredly in the trillions, and these costs vastly outstrip the number of deaths worldwide from the coronavirus. The New York Times is presently reporting (and constantly updating) a total of 545 confirmed cases across 34 states and DC with 22 total deaths—surely a low estimate of the total prevalence of the disease. By way of comparison, the CDC reports that this year’s U.S. flu season saw between 34 and 50 million infections, between 350 thousand and 620 thousand flu hospitalizations, and between 20 thousand and 52 thousand flu deaths. (The wide range of these estimates is due to difficulty estimating the number of flu cases that go undetected through what the CDC terms “influenza surveillance.”)

Why has there been such a dramatic mismatch in the responses to ordinary flu and the coronavirus? Medical and epidemiological experts say that the capacity of COVID-19 to spread could generate huge numbers of deaths and illnesses worldwide. It is presently estimated that COVID-19 has a global mortality rate in the ballpark of 3 percent, being roughly an order of magnitude more fatal than traditional influenza. COVID-19 may also be more contagious than the flu: Preliminary studies suggest that one infected with the coronavirus will infect somewhere between two and three others, whereas one infected with the flu will spread it, on average, only to 1.3 others. Even still, we are a long way from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which resulted in perhaps 500 million infections and between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide, including some 675,000 Americans. The level of medical and institutional sophistication today makes it exceedingly unlikely that these results will be replicated with COVID-19.