Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID 19 An Uncertain Certainty


The Plague Doctor circa Edinburgh 1650 (Carole Di Tosti)
We are in the Dark Ages of enlightened science. The novel corona virus has turned the world upside down. Over 150 countries are experiencing its oppression. See the World Map Here of affected nations. The only area exempted is Antarctica.

The death toll is rising and the positive cases are multiplying. Never before in our history have so many countries been impacted by such a plague whose replication of contagion is exponential. One infected index case multiplies to infect 3 people. By the time those three people have socialized with others, each has infected 3 people each. So in two steps 9 people are going to test positive. By the time there are 15 transmissions, the numbers are in the millions.

The math is easy to understand. The enormity of its human impact is mind boggling because of its ability to replicate and fell its hosts with a variety of symptoms which intensify and strike the lungs. If you have conditions which reveal a compromised immune system (diabetes, cancers, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, etc.) then account for age and number of underlying conditions, a person's chances of dying increase.
Molecular biology at its best. (photo courtesy of the CDC)
 The disease has 10X the mortality rate of the flu because it is so severe as to choke its victims to death. To prevent their strangulation, they need to be on respirators. Hospitals just aren't equipped to handle thousands of patients on respirators because they simply do not have the beds for ICUs. So hence there is a race against time so that doctors are not, like in Italy, so inundated with severe cases of coronavirus and a lack of personnel, supplies and beds to care for them, they are forced to make choices about who lives or who dies. That fascism is reminiscent of Joseph Mengele, Hitler's monstrous doctor who conducted SELECTION in the death camps judging who should live to work and be exploited and who should die, not worth the bit of effort, gruel and space to keep them alive.

Such decisions do not happen in democracies easily. In Italy they have been driven by the moral conundrum who will be able to recover via the respirator and who will not? Youth may win out against old age. Whether the person is loved or hated, has done wonderful things or not, is never a consideration. Such guesses involve complex decisions predicated on personal experiences by the doctors that are never random but highly subjective. Thank goodness, in Modena, Italy a ninety-five year old nonna made it and recovered from the virus. Why? Well, no one pulled the plug. Why? It's a subjective decision. But she made it through and appeared on FB. I took the pictures of this momentous victory from my Italian cousin's page and made sure to post it a few times. Brava nonna.
I bought these months ago and found them after searching high and low. (Carole Di Tosti)

In Italy, the Nonna is a vital treasure. In the US, grandma is not necessarily venerated if she is in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Center, especially if she has outlived her children. So life and death in the hands of doctors? Subjective. Now, that is scary. Imagine! What if you look like the doctor's X-wife who sued him for millions? I shudder to think of it.

That is why the PPE must be in place in every hospital in this nation, as well as the hospital beds and the respirators to deal with, what Governor Andrew Cuomo calls the Tsunami, the tidal wave that will sweep away the hospital staff, patients and inviolate healthcare system if so many people come into the hospitals, that there are simply not enough personnel, supplies, beds and respirators to offer the best care possible. Multiply the contagion rates with the incapacity to deal with the numbers? People will die needlessly.
The toolkit to combat the infection at home. (Carole Di Tosti)
If only the president had listened to and acted upn the first reports his Intel agencies informed him of that were coming out of China back in December. SAAAAAYYYY What? US Intel informed the White House and staff that there were numbers of Chinese citizens infected and dying from a disease like SARS or MERS or N1H1? Yes. He was informed and he was frightened to death. He was frightened not of the disease, but of his PR, his polls, his financial "success" in the market He was frightened he would not win reelection. Well, OK. At least that's not some heinous plot to murder the old and the most vulnerable of our population like  far-out websites claim is being perpetrated by "them," the Dr. Mengeles of our time interposing SELECTION to "cull" the herd.

Say Trump's fear prompted his delay: his fear that the market would tank on his having to deal with the disease numbers evolving. That might be one explanation why he delayed three months before acting to stem the virus; why he politicized the disease as a hoax; why his lackey news agency Fox politicized it as a democratic plot; why his son Don Jr. said Democrats wanted people to die so his father wouldn't be reelected. But it doesn't explain why he shut down the office Obama set up to deal with pandemics. But it does explain why he blames the previous administration for leaving "him" with a terrible system to deal with Covid 19. The lady in the WH protests to much and never, ever takes responsibility.

I guess you could say, this coronavirus is a runaway bullet train aimed for the president, out of his own mouth (a hoax) actions (closing a vital office in 2018) and reactions (delaying 3 months when he could have brought in experts to understand exactly what a pandemic is).
The best choice. Do not use Ibuprofen. (Carole Di Tosti)
However, the disease is deaf, dumb and blind to Trump's election chances, his wants, his dreams of a beautiful Easter. Covid 19 just kept on coming on and will continue to do so, most probably helped by the toadies who surround him because they want to stay on the job and be "visible" unlike Covid 19 which is INVISIBLE. Trump said after there were a few cases, they would go to zero, soon. Covid 19 knows math; numbers multiplied. Trump said it would go in 15 days. Covid 1 didn't listen to him; the numbers multiplied and a woman died, then there were more positive cases and the numbers increased Meanwhile, our Italian friends put up Youtube videos warning us and posted letters on Facebook describing the death and flood of patients in a medical system that was unequipped to handle them. Trump battled recognizing there was a problem, saying the flu killed more people than this, despite Dr. Fauci's truth-telling. As we wrangled on Social Media and battled on news sites, Covid 19 kept coming. This virus has a wicked mind of its own.

Indeed, it will not be Trump's lackey or toady. Its reality keeps a mathematical certainty. For those who are good in math and understand the numbers like Dr. Fauci, they listened and got it. Governor Cuomo is good in math and he listened to as he calls him, "the superb Dr. Fauci."
If you are helping someone going shopping for them, don't leave without these. (Carole Di Tosti)
Because of one individual who caught the virus and communicated it in New Rochelle, New York, Andrew Cuomo took charge and quarantined an area in New Rochelle and set up testing. His tremendous success, commanding presence and knowledge of Covid 19 daily explaining the MO of the disease filled in the vacuum that Trump's ignorance, his delay, his denial, his politicization of a molecule could not. Cuomo soothes our souls and provides psychological and emotional relief for anyone who listens to him. His presidential attitude, honesty and authenticity is saving lives every day he speaks. He gets the math, he gets the problems we face scaling up enough supplies, beds, respirators. There is a lack of enough PPE in New York that he is moving heaven and earth to rectify. Right off he knew what Italy was going through and intended to prevent it; the team he works with are brilliant.

 Would that he were the president, we would be in much better shape as a nation. From where I sit and from what Cuomo has said, we are looking at the possibility of many unnecessary deaths which I liken to crimes against humanity, when all is said and we review the White House's dilatory reaction. But that's for another day. Certainly, if Obama or Cuomo were president, where we are now would not be where we are. The disease would never have been allowed to manhandle Americans while Trump stood up at rallies (now closed) and called it a "hoax" confusing words to say the least. Sadly, the hoax is still in the minds of some Trumpers who will follow their "Jim Jones" hero over the cliff and into the grave killing others around them in the process.
Gold in the time of corona (Carole Di Tosti)
Anyway, Cuomo stirred Trump and we have moved our of the morass of confusion into a kind of clarity but are no where near where we should be as a nation. And where is that as Trump wants to end the two week halt of business and devotion to combating Covid 19 as he intends to stop Wall Streets inevitable decline into the abyss?

Right now, the Defense Production Act which has been signed must be used to COMMAND industry to make respirators and PPE protective gear-masks, hazmat suits, gloves, etc. to last us through this pandemic. Next, every state must be shut down and Americans hunker in place all except essential workers. with that, massive testing must take place and tests be readily available for all especially testing those who are asymptomatic. This requires massive scaling up of labs in each state which President Cuomo has done in New York, making it the largest testing center for Covid 19 in the world per capita, exceeding Italy, China and South Korea.

Next, air travel between states must be essential and all "fun" travel must be postponed as the nation "hunkers" down. Next, only essential work must be allowed. Businesses must close or conduct their work from home. A broad stimulus must be reached to benefit Americans. Paychecks must be cut for the workers who are not working, checks the government will cover. And checks must be given for each child in the family. Unemployment insurance must be extended until this is over. And the sooner we test and identify asymptomatic carriers and those who have Covid 19, the sooner we will be able to allow those who are immune to go back to work, a point Governor Cuomo makes every time he discusses this coronavirus.

The stimulus must also help businesses that have been negatively impacted. Such businesses must have paid income tax to receive any money. Their CEOs must receive compensation that is not egregiously overweening, for example 250 times workers salaries. Such businesses must share the profits with the US taxpayers who are funding it. There must be oversight and monitoring by congress and fines levied if the law has been broken. The bailout of 2009 benefited not the workers but business whom the workers had to chip in as taxpayers and pay in an act of corporate socialism that screwed them. Workers and families must be helped, then businesses if workers are to populate the businesses after Covid 19 has been sent off to oblivion.

Many have likened Covid 19 to the war and Trump has likened himself to a wartime president, a rather overblown hyperbole considering his dilatory behavior for three months refusing to recognize what was going on. As a point of consideration, during WWII countries declared their neutrality their wish not to be involved. This included Sweden, Switzerland, Afghanistan, Andorra, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, San Marino, Tibet, Vatican City, and Yemen. Well, there is no escaping this war; there is no neutrality declared against Covid 19. Whether we want this or not, the planet is in a battle. The magnitude, scope and severity is unlike anything we've seen not only in our lifetimes, but in history. No wonder China kept it secret. It understood Covid 19 was some bad sh&t!

If we look to the numbers we will know where we are going and be able to head off Covid 19 to "level" the tsunami. If we listen to the experts this is doable with fewer deaths. If we ramp up the testing to do 500,000,  tests per day across the nation, 100,000 in New York, we can monitor the disease, quarantine and isolate those who have it and those who spread it and help to create therapies for it. Or, Trump can rest on his laurels that he is doing a great job. He is, considering this is the first time he has had to face a challenge in his life and do ANY work. But compared to other individuals like Governor Cuomo and Mayor Di Blasio, to be kind, well, better not compare. Trump has barely gotten off square one. And in that he has already killed thousands of people because he has to be reelected.

Thus, Covid 19 has become known and we have become wiser for facing this war, all hands on deck: that is a certainty. The uncertainty is in the midst of this. Will we be over this in two months? With Governor Cuomo and New York it surely appears we will be making progress to decrease the curve to a drop off. The other states will learn from our example. And we will get through this. It will just be a long waiting game. I toast to all who read this. Stay healthy-safe.

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