virus

Judgment


Reading time – 3:31  .  .  .

We all know that there are many people who refuse to wear a mask or social distance or wash their hands frequently. Each of them has his/her reasons, including  seeing these safety and health measures as government overreach, they don’t appreciate the danger, they’re angry about the intrusion on their liberty or they think it’s a hoax, a conspiracy. Here’s some clarity about those conspiracy believers.

From Anne Applebaum’s new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (read this book):

“The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.” (page 45)

I get that there is a sense of power and control in embracing conspiracy theories. So, I offer a “Well done!” to the cable blatherers, the talk radio babblers and the online conspiracy promoters for their excellent job of willfully stoking reality denial and hatred. Their work is powerful and it has an impact far beyond the TV and radio ratings and online Likes: it threatens all the rest of us.

We declare that we honor our front line troops, the nurses, doctors, techs, EMTs, ambulance drivers and the rest of the folks who are fighting this war against pandemic. We’ve seen the hospital scenes, watched the personal videos and get lumpy-throated in empathy for these people. We see that these heroes work absurd hours. They live with death all around, feeling they’ve failed, even as they are powerless to stop it. But I wonder if that honoring of these people is true for all of our mask refusers and deniers, especially the conspiracy types.

Click me for the story from The Onion.

It seems to me that the conspiracy embracers and the rest who refuse to do those 3 simple things to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are more than a danger to those nearby. They hasten the spread of infection that horribly affects those same front line people by putting more sick people into their already over-maxed hospitals. It dumps more hard, overly-demanding work on top of already exhausted medical staff. It dishonors them in that way, even as over 1,000 of our front line medical people have died working to save others from this horrible disease.

That’s why I have some judgments about the conspiracy types and even for the rest of the people who knowingly refuse to do the 3 simple things that can help us all:

First, it’s clear that they put themselves and their individual rights above the rest of us.

Second, the harm they do makes circumstances far worse for people who have lost their jobs, whose kids can’t go to school, for our elderly trapped in nursing homes and for everyone who wants their life back. They push national recovery yet farther away into the future.

Third, it dishonors and penalizes the very people they themselves will meet when they show up at a hospital ER barely able to breathe, because our front line medical troops will nevertheless be standing by to serve them.

Click me for the full story.

In an insightful opinion piece in the New York Times last weekend entitled, “How To Actually Talk to Anti-Maskers” author Charlie Warzel makes the how-to of that conversation both clear and obvious. Even better, it has application for your conversations with any who are foolish enough to not agree with you.

It has to do with what Mom told you: be respectful, courteous and listen to others. And as you listen, just seek to understand how they feel and why they believe as they do – not preparing to tell them all the reasons they’re wrong. That’s because the instant you try to persuade them to your superior view, you’ll have nothing but confrontation. The only thing that changes that way is that each is even more entrenched in their bubble, certain that those who disagree are idiots. We remain polarized, perhaps even more so than before. Remember that each of us thinks we’re right and justified in the opinions we hold.

It can be most satisfying to be reactive – believe me, I know about this and sometimes I’m conscious and able to resist my knee-jerk behavior. When I fail,  I get a momentary rush from being “right.” Then not much good happens for anyone.

Finally

We have a very dangerous virus in America. It’s been in the newspapers, on TV and radio and clogging the webisphere since February. Because of that you already know that the U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population but it has spawned about 25% of its coronavirus infections and deaths. That’s happening right here in our first world, advanced medicine country even as we’re proud to be the leader of the free world.

Have you ever wondered how the rest of the world sees us, and specifically how we’re seen as we mishandle this pandemic? The New York Times brought the story of the virus in America to people around the world and video recorded their reactions. You need to see this.

When you go out, wear your mask and social distance. And wash your hands a lot. If you won’t do those things, please stay away from me. And everyone else.

Here’s a behavioral take on this from Paul Krugman.

——————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

How We Became This Way


Reading time – 4:52; Viewing time – 9:15  .  .  .

This pandemic showed up and we citizens had two different takes on it. Some of us saw a clear and present danger, so we followed the directions of the medical professionals, the governors and the mayors to hunker down.

Others heard the claim of pandemic and were certain that it was liberal whiny-baby carping at best and a political ploy to undermine President Trump at worst. “What risk?” they asked. “Grow up!” they said.

Then the virus infiltrated the home ground of the deniers and at last most of us figured out that this thing is real. So, finally there seemed to be – dare I say it? – a consensus.

Writes McKay Coppins in The Atlantic,

“The consensus didn’t last long. President Trump, having apparently grown impatient with all the quarantines and lockdowns, began last week to call for a quick return to business as usual .  .  .  [T]he comments set off a familiar sequence—a Democratic backlash, a pile-on in the press, and a rush in MAGA-world to defend the president. As the coronavirus now emerges as another front in the culture war, social distancing has come to be viewed in some quarters as a political act—a way to signal which side you’re on.”

Social distancing – staying clear of people in order to avoid a deadly virus – is now a political act? Strangely, disappointingly, yes, it is. This anti-medical craziness is just another casualty of our national war on fact and reality that some are waging, and it’s a deadly casualty, too.

Lawrence Glickman, professor of history at Cornell University, asks,

“How did we get to the point where ministers, the president, many Republican politicians and a variety of media outlets are calling for people to risk death to save the economy?”

How, indeed!?!

I am of an age that places me firmly into the edge of the coronavirus bulls eye of those who will die if they contract the disease. Apparently, according to the aforementioned ministers, the president, many Republican politicians and a variety of media outlets, I should stop being such a wimp. I should be willing to risk death for the sake of the economy. So should all the older boomers. If you’re a WW II generation holdout, please just go die, because as Trump tweeted on March 22, “THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (BY FAR) THAN THE PROBLEM.” Read Glickman’s piece linked above. It’s an astonishingly clear reveal of the idiotic reality of misplaced, misused testosterone.

Dick Altschuler, 1943

My father risked death on each mission he flew in WW II. Everyone understood then that our millions of fighting men lived in that world of risk and danger and that anything else was suicidal for all of us. It seems that now some Americans, including some with a big megaphone and an even bigger mouth, see protection of the economy in a similar way. That means that they believe that older Americans are now expendable in pursuit of an election-worthy economy. That’s quite a homicidal opinion.

Every president has a bully pulpit, that big megaphone, the loudest voice. Just the job position gives heft to his words and persuasion power affecting millions. Dangerously, Trump has used his position to say and do things with lethal implication for innocent people. So, to be clear and to paraphrase Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, I am not expendable. I will not go quietly into that dark night for the sake of Trump’s investments or his reelection. Neither should anyone else, including those wearing MAGA hats.

How in the world did we ever allow ourselves to become this way?

BTW: Once in the ICU with ventilator tubes shoved down their throats, it’s hard to tell the difference between MAGA hat wearers and never-Trumpers.


Threats

I wrote here about possible long term threats caused by this coronavirus and the associated economic toll that would weaken this country. Now we find that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet, has over one hundred sailors with coronavirus. They put in at Guam to get these people to a shore hospital for treatment and immediately overwhelmed it. The rest of the crew members still on board that ship have likely been exposed. That has to impact the ready condition of the ship. What does that say about the likely ready condition of any of our military, living as they do in close quarters?

By implication, we have to wonder what our world adversaries are thinking about as they see us weaker now. Let’s hope that people in the Pentagon are focused on that and that they’re making appropriate plans and taking appropriate action.

To be clear, something put us in this compromised condition and there’s an historical pattern.

George W. Bush and his National Security Advisor were warned repeatedly by our intelligence community that a major Islamist attack was coming. They were told that commercial airliners might be involved. They did nothing and 9/11 happened. Then that pattern repeated itself.

President Nero is at least 2 months behind in every positive action he might take to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. That’s because he was fully briefed by the NSA in January that the epidemiologists had the facts on this looming disaster, but he did nothing. He still isn’t forcing manufacturers to make critically needed PPE (personal protection equipment) for our medical workers or the test kits that are mandatory if we’re to get ahead of the virus by knowing who’s infectious before they infect others (click here for a report on that). He still hasn’t issued a national shelter-in-place order. Again, he was told in January that the coronavirus pandemic was imminent and he did nothing. Now thousands are dead.

How in the world did we ever allow ourselves to become this way? Oh wait  .  .  we didn’t elect either of them. Both Bush and Trump lost their elections.


Now, For a Welcome Bit of Hope

President Nero has stopped fiddling long enough to call out the reliable guys, our military.

The Army Corps of Engineers has put its shoulder to the wheel and is setting up hospitals all across the country. They’re fitting convention centers with beds and equipment, populating sports fields with tents, beds and HVAC hardware. They’re converting hotels and barracks and stadiums and everything else that can be used to care for our sick, hobbled and wounded. Gen. Todd Seminite and the Army Corps of Engineers are the right people for this assignment and they are at last on the job.

The Navy’s two massive hospital ships were hauled out of maintenance berths with lightning speed. The USNS Mercy is now docked in Los Angeles and the USNS Comfort is docked in New York, each bringing 1,000 surge capacity beds to care for non-coronavirus patients. That will free beds in full service hospitals to focus on those with the viral infection.

Once the Comfort was docked in New York, Rear Admiral John Mustin spoke to a welcoming public and finished his remarks with words to make us all stand a little taller. Watch the 4-minute video to the end. Then feel free to salute.

It is utterly astonishing what we can do when we make the decision to be our best.


Oh Wait  .  .  .  I Just Got It!

I figured out how we became this way.

Like millions of us, I’ve been trying to understand why Trump has been so dim-witted, so counter-productive, so consistently focused on himself as Americans are dying. Now I have an answer.

Trump spent 14 seasons on The Apprentice, where contestants were incrementally eliminated. That’s how the game was played.

He would sit in his big, expensive chair, puffing himself up and demeaning others, and always he was leading a parade of people competing with everyone else to win. He never did anything to help.

That sounds idiotically like hospitals now competing for ventilators and PPE. Trump could help, but he doesn’t because to him our hospitals are nothing more than the current set of contestants vying for survival.

HE THINKS THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS JUST ANOTHER ELIMINATION COMPETITION REALITY SHOW,

BECAUSE REALITY SHOWS ARE ALL HE KNOWS.

And that’s how we become this way.


Finally, the Quote of the Week
“We have this thing ass-backward. Putting the economy first instead of the people is what got us into this mess.  Fix the pandemic first. Then it will be possible for the economy to rebound.” – DZ
——————————-

Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Consequences


Reading time – 3:55  .  .  .

Caution: There’s just a little bit of snark at the very end. Please practice safe snark.

We’re still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, although if they were able to speak for themselves the over 5,800 people who have died of the illness might describe this stage a bit differently. Nevertheless, all healthcare professionals have made it clear that this is going to get far worse before it gets better. What you need to know is where we are and how we got here. That will be instructive for knowing where we must go.

To become clear about where we are with this disease you can view a regularly updated global tracker at the Johns Hopkins CSSE site. The acceleration of the numbers is most alarming, as we’re seeing a doubling of cases every six days. Click here for a most useful analogy that explains that.

As for how we got here, start with this: we knew about this virus as far back as December 2019 – a quarter of a year ago. The epidemiologists were clear at that time that this was going to be a very big problem and advised immediate preparation; however, their cautionary recommendations were ignored. Perhaps as bad, had we taken their advice, there would have been a huge obstacle to overcome in order for anything helpful to happen. Here’s why.

President Donald Trump fired the U.S. Pandemic Response Team in 2018, calling it a cost cutting measure. I don’t buy it.

The Pandemic Response Team had been instituted by President Obama following the successful battle against the Ebola virus in 2014. It included sub-teams at the CDC, the Defense Department and at the National Security Agency so that we would be ready in all those areas when – not if – the next pandemic arrived. Based on so many other episodes of Trump, in his boundless insecurity, deleting Obama’s programs regardless of their value to the nation, my belief about his motivation to disband this critical unit is that it was yet another effort to erase everything bearing Obama’s name.*

Regardless, the professionals were removed. Those firings left us with no immediate expertise or mechanisms to deal with a new pandemic. None. And Trump accepts no responsibility for that. Further, “Trump also cut [overall] funding for the CDC, forcing the CDC to cancel its efforts to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics .  .  .  Among the countries abandoned? China.”

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan City, China. Had we helped to mitigate its spread then, world conditions might be far better right now.

This story gets worse, as you know, because we still don’t have one tenth of one percent of the testing capability we need. The CDC’s kit was fouled by a bad reagent, making it essentially useless. Our commercial labs are still ramping up and we haven’t sourced test kits from abroad. The resources we do have are not just insufficient in quantity, but are also slow and cumbersome. There are other proven options ready to go now, including a machine made in Germany that can produce accurate results in 1 hour instead of 4 hours or even a day or two. However, the FDA is bumbling through authorization to use these machines. Here’s a link to a full report on how this COVID-19 testing ineptitude happened.

The truth is that we don’t know how many people in America have the virus because we are unable to test any but extreme cases due to our lack of test kits. That’s an impediment to our knowing who needs to be quarantined so they don’t infect others, where the virus is spreading, the extent of its impact, where to deploy resources like ventilators, protective gear for hospital staff, oxygen generation equipment, surgical masks and so much more.

During Trump’s Oval Office talk on March 11 he told us, “Testing and testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very quickly.” None of that was true. That is a key problem, not just because of our inability to know what’s going on, but because as Trump continues to spew happy talk and magical thinking, he isn’t firmly addressing our very real challenges or providing the leadership we need. Almost as bad, he contradicts the experts who, unlike Trump, are knowledgeable. That leaves all the rest of us not knowing what to believe. That’s a potent way to spread fear.

In my day job I deliver keynotes and workshops on great leadership and I know when I don’t see it.

The point of all of this is not to pen yet another diatribe about our incompetent President. Rather, it is to illustrate how we got to where we are. We must be clear about what can happen when we aren’t careful in our political choices, because this pandemic, which could have been minimized, is in the process of killing hundreds, thousands or even millions of Americans who could have been protected had we been prepared.

Elections do have consequences and what’s happening right now is one of them.

It didn’t have to be this way.**


Links to Resources

There is a cost to getting people tested and to help those who need treatment. Watch the entire clip – ALL THE WAY TO THE END – of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) making sure we’ll get what we’ll need.

Advice For the Public – World Health Organization – WHO

Nine Charts that Explain the Corona Virus Pandemic – Vox

CoronaVIrus (COVID-2019) – What You Should KnowCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Download and read this. It is a PDF format of an email received yesterday from a local shop and contains the comments of four doctors, two of them in Italy. It is long – please read all of it.

Beware of those who poo-poo the threat of COVID-19, claiming far more people die annually from the flu and other terrible things. Every year the flu starts with small numbers; that’s how it was with the terrible Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918; it was the same for Bubonic Plague, which eventually killed 25% of the people in Europe. The disease number comparisons are meaningless until it’s all over. Right now we can’t even see to when this corona virus will be over. Worse, these comparisons can lull people into carelessness. Ignore them.

Fun Facts

We’re already running out of respirators and, as mentioned, the patient load doubles every six days.

It is expected that between 75 – 150 million Americans will contract COVID-19 and 15-20% of those affected will require hospitalization. That’s between 11,250,000 and 30,000,000 hospital patients, nearly all of whom will need to stay a while. Those numbers don’t include patients suffering from other maladies requiring hospitalization.

There are 924,107 staffed hospital beds in the U.S.

Do the math.

——————————-

Finally, stay well and don’t do medically foolish stuff. Help your family, friends and neighbors, the old lady across the street – and do it carefully. We’re all in this together. Because Hillary Clinton was right: It takes a village. And we are that village.


  • *President Trump has repeatedly insisted that he’s not to blame for our medically threatening conditions. His having disbanded the Pandemic Response Team puts the lie to his words.
  • ** “This way” – As Granny struggles in her hospital bed, gasping for just a little more air from her respirator for her pneumonia-soaked lungs, her MAGA hat wearing family is gathered around her. They know this is the end and they weep for their love of her and for their looming loss. Then the walls shake, as the ceiling speakers boom in Darth Vader’s voice: “It is your des-ti-ny.” And they tremble in their horror and their fear, because all at once they realize that this is what they chose.

————————————


Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so

  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Sometimes I change my opinions because I’ve learned more about an issue. So, educate me. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

 Scroll to top