covid-19 diary

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 22: Chris Duncan, whose 75 year old mother Constance died from COVID on her birthday, photographs a COVID Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall as the United States crossed the 200,000 lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic September 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. The flags are displayed on the grounds of the Washington Monument facing the White House. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In order to post while also making it possible for readers to ignore the pandemic while they are on this site. 

2 January 2022: IT’S BACK! I thought I’d completely lost this page but discovered it as a draft. It took me a day to figure out how to put it back up on my menu. So here we are entering year three, the Fourth Wave, well over 800,000 dead, and it’s not over. People, relatively wealthy first-world people will continue to carry variants around the world on cruise ships and airplanes. My husband and I had Moderna + booster, and are so far healthy, careful, and lucky. We have friends still washing down groceries and aging mail. My brother-in-law is still certain that the pandemic is not real, or manufactured, or the vaccine will change my DNA or magnetize my arm or some other nonsense. He’s schizophrenic so he has a reason for his paranoia. There is less excuse for the rest of them.

3 May 2021, from the WaPo about being fully vaccinated but still masking in public: “It is also a show of solidarity that we are still in this together,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s covid-19 response. “It’s about you and your community, your family, your friends, your workplace, your loved ones. It’s not just about you.”

28 April 2021: As of yesterday, we are as protected as we can be. Two weeks past our second vaccination. We are well enough. I put on a pair of earrings to celebrate.

18 April 2021: Last summer I took the five earrings out of my ears and went ear-naked. I put on a pair in for my first vaccination, but according to The Washington Post, Sarah Studley did it one better. After being unable to wear her wedding dress at her own wedding and after a year in stretchy pants, she wore her dress to her first vaccination. You go girl!

Sarah Studley, 39, at her first coronavirus vaccination appointment at the M&T Bank Stadium vaccination site on April 11, wearing her unused wedding reception dress. (Richie Stever/University of Maryland Medical System)

4 March 2021, from The Guardian: “The risks [of serious illness from covid] rise with increasing overweight. An analysis of the data seen by the Guardian shows that in the UK, where almost 64% of adults are overweight or obese, nearly 20% of Covid patients in intensive care are of normal weight, 32% are overweight and 48% are obese. In the USA, where adult overweight and obesity is at 68%, 12% of Covid patients in intensive care have normal weight, 24% are overweight and 64% are obese.” I am not finding this in US news at all, but it’s a front page story elsewhere.

and from The WaPo: “ ‘That is the tragedy of this whole last year, said Susan Speaker, an archive historian at the National Library of Medicine. ‘We knew how to do this stuff! All the public health people are shaking their heads and saying, “It didn’t have to be this bad.” ‘ ”

from an article about archiving the events of this pandemic that points out we had plenty of warning and all the expertise and infrastructure capacity to handle a pandemic . . . but we didn’t.

3 March 2021, from The WaPo: “There are a lot of misconceptions about how fetal cells are used in vaccine development. The announcements from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of New Orleans — recommending Catholics avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — has led to more confusion.

These are the facts:

  • None of the coronavirus vaccines contain fetal tissue.
  • The cells in question, called HEK293, are clones of kidney cells from a single fetus from the 1970s. They did not come directly from the fetal tissue.
  • New fetal tissue is not being harvested for this research.
  • Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech also used HEK293 cells to test their vaccines.

“The Vatican has said it approves of all of the vaccines available. It wrote that in lieu of options that didn’t involve fetal tissue, “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.” 

“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archdiocese of New Orleans are taking a more conservative approach than the Vatican, telling congregants to completely avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They approved of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines because they only used the cloned stem cells for testing, but singled out Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine for using the cells in manufacturing as well.

“What these objections don’t consider is how few vaccines and therapeutics haven’t used the cloned fetal cells at some point in the research and development process. They have been a critical component to developing medicine that has ended suffering and saved potentially millions of lives. The polio and Ebola vaccines were developed using the cloned cells. Fetal stem cells led to breakthroughs in cancer research.

“ ‘Virtually every medical/therapeutic/vaccine on the market used this cell line at some point,’ said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University.”

1 March 2021: Over half a million Americans are specifically reported dead of covid. There are now six variants of the virus in the US from China, the UK, Denmark, Brazil, California, and South Africa. Why so many mutations here? Because we are a careless and wealthy country that has failed to either restrict travel or quarantine our citizens after traveling. Our state [quite properly] chose to vaccinate teachers before people of retirement age. That said, our county is behind the rest of our state in vaccinations, and my husband (72 this summer) is still not even eligible for a vaccine and neither am I. We are worried that our tenant may be ill. He has not been as careful as we have, though he is older and also unvaccinated.

6 February 2021, from the NYTimes: Dekeda Brown was in her local grocery store thinking back to a year earlier, when she was onstage in New York accepting an award for Working Mother of the Year. Her husband had watched proudly from the crowd, texting photos to her daughters. Now here she was in the wine aisle, cellphone and keys in hand, contemplating whether she should begin smashing bottles. “I was like, what’s the worst thing that could happen if I just did this right now?”

I laughed even though this is not funny, and I have to add that when I read it to him, Gary immediately said, “That’s not funny if you’ve ever had to clean up broken wine bottles in a grocery store.” Which he has, of course.

2 February 2021: This isn’t covid news. In a brief reported by NPR, the Senate managers of the trial to be held next week “argue that Trump is ‘singularly responsible’ for the riot that overran the Capitol on Jan. 6, damaged the historic building and left five people dead.

” ‘It is impossible to imagine the events of January 6 occurring without President Trump creating a powder keg, striking a match, and then seeking personal advantage from the ensuing havoc,’ they write.”

It is significant that Trump failed to act as a leader with responsibility to our Constitution, that after encouraging a crowd to march to Congress he failed to do anything to stop the violence that resulted because he was busy watching these events on television (he lied to the crowd when he claimed he would march with them), and that he used the threat presented by the mob to extort members of Congress and demand they support his lies about the election. He lied, he lied, he lied, they believed him when he told them to march and threaten, they committed horrendous acts, and even when begged to do something, he failed in his most sacred duty to protect our country.

31 January 2021, from the WaPo: “The hospital turned its break rooms into respite rooms after seeing caregivers, one after another, retreat to the rooms to weep. It added massage chairs to soothe and distract.

“ ‘If you’d have told me before the pandemic that massage chairs would be one of the biggest, smartest decisions I’d make in this job, I’d say you were crazy,’ [Michigan hospital president Alan] Vierling said. ‘We have to try to provide some comfort. We’re trying to save as many lives as possible, and every time we lose somebody, that’s devastating. It’s like watching somebody drown slowly for 10 days.’ ”

27 January 2021: There is talk of reopening public schools to in-person teaching. More than a third of US students have not attended school in person since last March, but even now diagnosis of illness, hospitalizations, and covid deaths are rising. According to NPR, “Up to now, there has been no centralized data collection on cases, outbreaks and mitigation measures in U.S. schools — something President Biden has just ordered federal agencies to begin doing.” About time?

Actually, someone was tracking covid cases in schools. A Kansas teacher, Alisha Morris, began doing this on her own early last year. Her data is available on the NEA website: You might wonder why wasn’t anyone in the government bothering to check how schools were doing? Wouldn’t that make sense? But no, not in the Trump’s-denial-of-problem administration.

“I was looking for patterns, collecting the information really for my own benefit,” Morris says. “I was able to channel my anxiety into the project. It helped to see what other districts were going through as they struggled with reopening and new COVID-19 cases. … My intention wasn’t to take any specific position on any issue. I just wanted to empower educators to help their districts make informed decisions. I just wanted to do my part and get the information out there.”

23 January 2021, from the WAPO: “The fact that Trump will always have been an American president, infuriating as it is, could be enlightening too. It could inspire us to interrogate each oil-painted, gilt-framed “Great Man” in his turn. Was he worthy of occupying the White House? If not, who were we that we put him there?”

22 January 2021: More than twenty-one thousand Americans died in the last week from covid. Now we have a President who cares enough about his country to make a plan.

21 January 2021: President Biden named six crises that the U.S. faces: the virus, climate change, growing inequality, racism, America’s global standing and an attack on truth and democracy. “Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once,” Biden said. “We will be judged — you and I — by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.” After yesterday’s incredible inauguration, I have faith we can do it.

13 January 2021: There is no other way to say this: It’s going to get much, much worse. The new variants are far more contagious, hospitals are overloaded and are running out of critical supplies such as oxygen, the death rate from covid is currently averaging 3000 a day, and no one thinks the nation will have vaccinated enough people for herd immunity before mid-fall.

“They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

From 23andMe: “How do vaccines work, and why does it take a (relatively) long time to make and test them?

“Vaccines trick your body into thinking you’ve been infected by a virus (or other pathogen). Your immune system fights off the faux infection by developing the arsenal it would need to combat the real virus, training cellular soldiers and honing their molecular weapons. Then when you get exposed to the virus for real, your immune system fights it off so quickly that you never get sick. This ability of your immune system to easily dispatch invaders it’s seen before (or invaders it thinks it’s seen) is called immunological memory

“Vaccines don’t necessarily take a long time to develop — just six weeks after the first COVID-19 death outside of China, researchers in Seattle started a clinical trial for a new vaccine — but it does take a long time for researchers to be sure that a new vaccine is both safe and effective. 

“Will a vaccine cause a bad side effect after it’s administered? The only way to know for sure is to give it to a small number of brave volunteers and find out. Does a vaccine actually protect against COVID-19? The only way to know is to vaccinate people who are being exposed to the virus and measure how many of them get sick (or don’t get sick). To be confident that a vaccine is both safe enough and effective enough to use widely and for all different kinds of people, clinical trials have to recruit, vaccinate, and follow up on thousands of participants over months or years.” 


 “Welcome back America.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweet after the 2020 election was called

4 January 2021, from The Washington Post: “Zeynep Tufekci argues that a more transmissible virus [the new strain that has already arrived from the UK] may be far more dangerous than a more deadly strain due to the mathematics of exponential growth, as each new infected person infects more people. With vaccinations lagging, a new variant could be potentially catastrophic.

“ ‘Take a virus reproduction rate of about 1.1 and an infection fatality risk of 0.8 percent and imagine 10,000 active infections — a plausible scenario for many European cities,’ Zeynep writes, based on an analysis conducted by Adam Kucharski, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. ‘As things stand, with those numbers, we’d expect 129 deaths in a month. If the fatality rate increased by 50 percent, that would lead to 193 deaths. In contrast, a 50 percent increase in transmissibility would lead to a whopping 978 deaths in just one month — assuming, in both scenarios, a six-day infection-generation time.’ ”

From the State of Oregon:

And, of course, the circles go on and on.

30 December 2020, from yesterday’s report by Heather Cox Richardson: “The administration promised to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December, but yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that it had administered just 2.1 million doses in two weeks, although that number is likely somewhat low because of lag times in reporting. At the current rate, Dr. Leana S. Wen writes in the Washington Post, we can expect to achieve herd immunity in 10 years.” Part of the problem is that Trump’s team basically dumped the doses on the states’ doorstep and said, “Your problem now,” and walked away.

24 December 2020 from David Leonhardt of The New York Times: “The current rate of infection is ‘staggering,’ Biden said. ‘It’s going to be incredibly high — the damage and the death toll.’

“But I think his answer was also missing something important — something that will go a long way toward determining how successful he is in reducing Covid deaths. It was missing an emotional component.

“In Biden’s view, Americans already understand the need to bring down the infection rate in the months ahead, while the vaccine is being rolled out. ‘There’s a new sense of urgency on the part of the public at large,’ he said to me and the handful of other journalists on the call. ‘The American public is being made painfully aware of the extent and damage and incredibly high cost of failing to take the kind of measures we’ve been talking about.’

“That seems a bit optimistic. The number of new daily cases has risen more than fivefold since Labor Day largely because Americans are tired of staying at home and of all the other disruptions to normal life — and understandably so. It’s pretty miserable.

“Yet it is also clear that our impatience is killing people. Almost 20,000 Americans died of confirmed Covid cases in the past week, and next week’s toll will probably be worse.

“The start of Biden’s presidency will give him an opportunity to deliver not just a scientific message but also an emotional one. He can make it clear that he understands people’s frustration — but that they need to redouble their efforts for a few more months, for the sake of themselves, their families and their communities.”

We all deserve cake now and again.

21 December 2020, from Jacobin: “Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an estimate of the cost of implementing a single-payer health insurance program in the United States. The CBO’s report is more exhaustive than any other recent study on the subject and concludes that replacing our current system with a single-payer system would insure every American while reducing overall health spending in the country.

“Modeling the cost of a single-payer program is relatively straightforward. You begin with the status quo health care system and then make educated guesses about the following questions:

  1. How many more units of health care services will be demanded and supplied when price barriers are removed?
  2. How much more efficient will health insurance administration be after enrollment and payment systems are radically simplified?
  3. How much money will be saved by reducing the payment rates for health care providers and drug companies?

“The CBO answered these questions for four different single-payer designs and found that a single-payer system would save $42 billion to $743 billion in 2030 alone…”

I’m not sure how far I would have trusted this source, but this is not new information. Economists have been saying this for years, at least partially because people would get care earlier while still treatable instead of in the ER when the need is dire and care far more expensive, and insurance companies’ profit is removed (up to 20% of costs). Compare to the fraction other countries pay for health care and with healthier and longer-lived citizens. It’s bit like making public colleges and universities free and then eliminating all the grants and the loans the fed guarantees—that is a net saving too. Standards for admission remain, but no tuition for those who qualify.

20 December 2020, from The Washington Post: an article about how the rich and entitled move to the front of the line for covid care and vaccination. “When Rudolph Giuliani tested positive for the coronavirus, he didn’t want to go to the hospital. He figured that, despite his 76 years, he’d be fine. But President Trump’s physician persuaded himto take advantage of one of the perks of being the personal lawyer to the commander in chief. “Don’t be stupid,” Giuliani said the doctor told him. “We can get it over with in three days.” At the hospital, Giuliani received an experimental antibody treatment that most patients can only dream of. He recovered quickly.

“While the coronavirus has buffeted us all, it has disproportionately ravaged the most disadvantaged members of society. That’s because poorer people are more likely to be essential to the everyday working of our economy, and our health-care system tends to leave them underserved. In our market-based system, the rich get more care and better care. If you’re wealthy, you’re a priority — it is a form of power.”

18 December 2020, from The Washington Post: “Trump: ‘I will always protect people with preexisting conditions.’

“Trump understands little about health-care policy. But he does understand that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with preexisting health conditions are highly popular. So in every speech, he includes this line, even though it is directly contradicted by the policies his administration has pursued, including asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire ACA, thus ending the guarantee for patients with preexisting conditions. Few claims better illustrate the gap between Trump’s words and actions.”

Trump is the most successful liar in the history of U.S. politics.

11 December 2020: There has been disagreement about whether the federal government passed on an opportunity to purchase 100 million does of vaccine some weeks ago. In the mean time TheWaPo reports, “President Trump is one of those who has suggested that efforts to contain the virus are not warranted. Earlier this week, he spoke approvingly of the rate of spread, given that it, too, confers immunity. Of course, that comes at the cost of a significant number of human lives.” Well, he received care only Giuliani and other elites will receive immediately, while most people can’t find a bed in a hospital and about half the covid deaths of citizens in my state they “died in their residence.”

9 December 2020 from The Washington Post: ” ‘The liability issue has for months proved an insurmountable divide between congressional Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have insisted that workers need assurances that workplaces are safe, while Republicans have said that employers need protection from frivolous lawsuits,’ Eli Rosenberg, Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis report.” Such as the 49 frivolous lawsuits filed by Republicans in order to overturn the recent election, which they lost. (They won a lawsuit on procedures, not one that suggested a shift in outcome of an election.)

28 November 2020, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from covid are surging, the President whines and plays golf, and meanwhile, NPR reports a total smackdown of the president’s claims of unfairness in Pennsylvania election: ” ‘Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,’ wrote Judge Stephanos Bibas, a former member of the Federalist Society whom President Trump nominated to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. ‘Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so.’

” ‘I went to school with Judge Bibas,” [ former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal] Katyal said. ‘He didn’t suffer fools gladly then. He’s very conservative, but that is the point: True conservatives see this lawsuit for what it is — a baseless attack on our democracy.’

” ‘Tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too,’ Bibas wrote on behalf of a panel of three judges, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents.

” ‘Voters, not lawyers, choose the President,’ the court wrote. ‘Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.’ “

25 November 2020, from NPR: “Despite the minefield, Johnny Taylor Jr., president of the Society for Human Resource Management, predicts many employers will opt for mandates, more now than he would have guessed several months ago. Employers have an obligation to get rid of known hazards in the workplace, he says, and COVID-19 has proven to be a hazard unlike any other.

” ‘It’s real, and it’s devastating,’ he says. ‘So, I think the dynamic changes. Employers are actually going to position this as, I need to do this, full stop.’

“That has been Smith’s position even as she’s struggled to keep her restaurant alive. Before the pandemic, Cafe Juanita had 28 employees. She’s had to lay off all but five as her fine dining spot has become a takeout-only business.

“Holly Smith, chef and owner of Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, Wash., says she will not reopen her restaurant to diners until all of her staff have gotten the COVID-19 vaccination. Thomas Barwick

“Even with a much smaller staff, Smith follows strict safety protocols, including requiring that her workers get tested if they go on vacation with people outside their bubble or if they’re showing any sign of illness.

” ‘I believe in civil liberties,’ she says. ‘But we have people who live with their parents. We have people who live with a husband who has diabetes. There are people who have immunocompromised folks in their immediate bubble.’

“This fall, Smith made sure all of her staff got the flu shot, putting her in line with many health care employers who have long required it for their workers.”

24 November 2020: The Washington Post warns that Coronavirus survival rates in the United States haven’t improved since the summer. I wonder how much of that is because, despite better treatment, people cannot access them. I look at daily death reports in my state and where they died. Typically, they have been diagnosed and then die ten or so days later at least half of these people die “at their residence.” Sick enough to be dying, but not important enough to deserve the care that Trump received?

23 November 2020: A third vaccine will soon be available. Unlike sthe two previous announced successful vaccine candidates, the AstraZeneca offering can be quickly produced in vast quantities, will cost only a few dollars per dose ($3-4) and is easy to store for long periods. That could substantially expand the number of countries and people that have access to the vaccine.

20 November 2020: Ten thousand Americans have died in the last week of covid. If more is not done, if more people are not more careful, the number will escalate according to studies from the University and others.

19 November 2020, from DW News: “Finland currently belongs to the countries around the world which is coping best with the coronavirus pandemic. As of November 19, Johns Hopkins University recorded around 19,900 cases and 374 deaths. No other European country has lower rates.

“In comparison, Denmark, with a population size of around 6 million similar to that of Finland, currently stands at 65,000 coronavirus cases. In Slovakia, also comparable to Finland in terms of population, some 91,000 people have contracted the virus. Sweden has twice as many inhabitants, but with 196,000 infections almost 10 times as many cases.”

18 November 2020: Two vaccines are looking very promising, looking like they are 90% and almost 95% effective. Further, according to The NYT,

Immunity to the Coronavirus May Last Years, New Data Hint

Blood samples from recovered patients suggest a powerful, long-lasting immune response, researchers reported.

17 November 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson: Yesterday afternoon, in his economic report, “Biden reminded listeners that the states are in a crisis through no fault of their own, and they cannot fix it on their own, either. By law, virtually no state and local governments can operate with a deficit, while the federal government can. States have seen their revenues evaporate during the pandemic at the same time their citizens need robust unemployment and social-welfare programs, and so they need support through this temporary emergency. Last spring, McConnell rejected the idea of federal aid to states, and suggested that state and local governments should declare bankruptcy, something Republican leaders have advocated for a decade. 

“In a piece in The Atlantic last April, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush David Frum explained that state bankruptcies would not end state debt; they would permit a federal judge to restructure that debt. The federal judiciary has shifted rightward in the last ten years, so bankruptcy would allow a federal judge to impose Republican priorities on Democratic states like New York, states Republicans have little hope of controlling through elections. In such proceedings, the first things to go would be pensions and social welfare programs, while judges would protect bondholders, many of them wealthy people who pour money into the political action committees of Republican politicians.”

and from a County Health Director in Missouri: “We weren’t set up well to deal with this virus in Missouri. We have the worst funding in the country for public health, and a lot of the things we’ve needed to fight the spread of covid are things we should have had in place 10 years ago. We don’t have an emergency manager. We don’t have anyone to handle HR, public information, or IT, so that’s all been me. We didn’t get extra funding for covid until last month. I’m young and I’m motivated, and I took this job in January because public health is my absolute love. It doesn’t pay well, but would I rather be treating people who already have a disease or helping to prevent it? That’s what we do. We help take care of people. At one point this summer, I worked 90 days straight trying to hold this virus at bay, and my whole staff was basically like that.

“We hired 10 contact tracers to track the spread, starting in August, but the real problem we keep running into is community cooperation. We call everyone that’s had a positive test and say: ‘Hey, this is your local health department. We’re trying to interrupt disease transmission, and we’d love your help.’ It’s nothing new. We do the same thing for measles, mumps, and tick-borne diseases, and I’d say 99 percent of the time before covid, people were receptive. They wanted to stop an outbreak, but now it’s all politicized. Every time you get on the phone, you’re hoping you don’t get cussed at. Probably half of the people we call are skeptical or combative. They refuse to talk. They deny their own positive test results. They hang up. They say they’re going to hire a lawyer. They give you fake people they’ve spent time with and fake numbers. They lie and tell you they’re quarantining alone at home, but then in the background you can hear the beeping of a scanner at Walmart.” She’s been called names and her family have been threatened. She only trying to do her job. She’s only trying to save people’s lives.

10 November 2020, from The New York Times: “The full picture, via Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s public health school: “We all need to keep two seemingly contradictory facts in mind: 1. We are entering the hardest days of the pandemic. The next two months will see a lot of infections and deaths; 2. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, that light got a bit brighter.” That’s because “Pfizer announced yesterday that early data showed its vaccine prevented Covid-19 in more than 90 percent of trial volunteers. Other companies, including Moderna and Novavax have also reported encouraging news about their vaccines.”

6 November 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson: “The Republicans’ alternative reality is quite literally deadly. Although 82% of Trump voters believe the pandemic is at least somewhat under control, today America had more than 122,000 new infections, and more than 1100 people died. An analysis by the Associated Press shows that 93% of the 376 counties with the highest numbers of coronavirus cases per capita voted for Trump. That deadliness might, in the end, create common ground with the Democrats who urge mask wearing and social distancing. ‘I think there’s the potential for things to get less charged and divisive,’ Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials told the AP.”

2 November 2020, from CNN: “Boris Johnson will warn lawmakers today that coronavirus deaths this winter could be twice as high as during the first wave of the outbreak. Johnson has been criticized by Conservative Party members for ‘giving in to scientific advisers’ after announcing a new strict national lockdown this weekend. ”

I don’t even know what to say about how reckless it is NOT to follow advice of scientific advisors.

Over 1.2 million people have died of covid so far, over 231,000 of them Americans. The U.S. has the largest number of identified people dead of covid of any nation in the world. Nearly six thousand Americans died in the last week. Probably we have undercounted in real time and raise estimates of dead substantially, just as we have after every single flu epidemic for the last 100 years. Except Covid-19 is far more deadly than the flu.

29 October 2020, from The WaPo: “Public health experts, economists, ethicists, state and municipal leaders, and even federal legislators from both parties have been in broad agreement since June about the response the country needs: substantial investment in public health infrastructure for testing, contact tracing and supported isolation; consistent public communications about risk-mitigation strategies such as mask-wearing; and rapid development of therapeutics and vaccines. The United States Conference of Mayors, for instance, endorsed just such a policy framework, as put forward by my research team at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. The House Democrats’ Heroes Act included a version of such a framework in the testing and tracing section of the bill. The bipartisan Cassidy-Smith and Craig-Roe Suppress Covid-19 Acts, in the Senate and House respectively, also shared this framework.”

So why hasn’t this all been done? A political system we fail to support as voters. (And Mitch McConnell.)

And more locally: What are the two saddest words?

What party?

Today, this old joke takes on an entirely new meaning. For the first few months of the pandemic, the county where I live had no cases reported on most days, and I could count one hand those in my end of the county (south). Today, that turned.

The Clatsop County Public Health Department on Monday reported 14 new local COVID-19 cases.

The cases are:

  • Female, age 40-49, south-county resident
  • Male, age 40-49, south-county resident
  • Male, age 40-49, south-county resident
  • Female, age 80-89, south-county resident
  • Female, age 70-79, south-county resident
  • Male, age 60-69, south-county resident
  • Female, age 80-89, north-county resident
  • Female, age 30-39, south-county resident
  • Female, age 50-59, south-county resident
  • Male, age 60-69, south-county resident
  • Female, age 40-49, north-county resident
  • Male, age 40-49, north-county resident
  • Male, age 30-39, south-county resident
  • Male, age 20-29, south-county resident

All 14 individuals were recovering at home.

According to the Public Health Department, parties and social gatherings among friends and family are the primary cause of these and other recent local COVID-19 cases.

However, every time we visit Cannon Beach to pick up our mail, I see tourists walking the sidewalks without masks and taking their masks off before they are served outdoors. Their servers (masked) are forced to approach these selfish and careless unmasked people in order to place drinks and food on the table.

27 October 2020, from The WaPo: “In another surge across the United States, the pandemic is putting new strain on local health systems. Daily new coronavirus cases are hitting all-time highs, surpassing 80,000 for the first time Friday and then again Saturday.

“But it’s the stress on hospitals that worries health officials the most

“Authorities in El Paso, were scrambling this weekend when intensive care units hit full capacity. A county judge issued a curfew, effective immediately. In Utah, the state hospital association discussed asking the governor to invoke ‘crisis standards of care‘ if the pressure on the health-care system doesn’t ease up. In that situation, patients would be triaged based on their likely outcomes. Younger people, for example, would be prioritized.”

26 October 2020, from The New York Times: One year ago yesterday, Biden tweeted: “We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security.”

23 October 2020, from NPR: “A new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that over the last five months, the rate of deaths in the U.S. per capita, both from COVID-19 and other causes, has been far greater than in 18 other high-income countries.

“ ‘The United States really has done remarkably badly compared to other countries,’ says Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor of health policy and medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the study. ‘I mean, remarkably badly.’ ”

21 October 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson: “In the midst of all this*, there is, today, what appears to be excellent news: two new studies show that deaths for hospitalized Covid-19 patients have dropped sharply since the start of the pandemic. When it began, hospitalized patients had a 25.6% chance of dying; now that rate is 7.6%. There are a number of reasons for this apparent drop, but the three that seem most important are a better understanding of the disease, standard procedures for care, and mask wearing, which reduces how much virus initially infects a patient. The disease remains vicious, of course, but mortality rates 18 percentage points lower now than they were at the start of the pandemic are definitely moving in the right direction.”

*News of Trumps attempt to push a faked scandal, his temper tantrum with Leslie Stahl, election polling, politicizing economic relief (particularly by McConnell), Biden preparing for tomorrow’s debate (imagine that, preparing!), the Supreme Court, polling, “the story that lawyers appointed to identify the separated families have not been able to find the parents of 545” of more than 2800 children removed from their parents by order of this administration back in 2017, but at the same time claiming concern for “protecting the innocent,” Trump’s tax records show he had an account in China despite saying he didn’t and profited enough to pay 188k in taxes to that country (not to ours), and “Elliott Broidy, a major Trump fundraiser and deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent.”

8 October 2020: The pandemic isn’t over just because the president didn’t die. Yesterday, 915 Americans did die. More than fifty thousand Americans were diagnosed with covid. None of them will receive the care the president received. Don’t forget that though the administration claims to have stopped travel from China: “The New York Times calculated in April that at least 430,000 people arrived in the United States on direct flights from China since Jan. 1, including nearly 40,000 in the two months after Trump imposed restrictions.” And without consistent screening or quarantine. The President is not quarantining and you cannot trust his doctor to provide accurate information. He lies too.

7 October 2020: Where to start? Trump went to the hospital, then struggled to breathe when he came home to the White House, but declared victory over the disease. In between, he received every know effective cure (though not several treatments he had himself promoted), including one known to have side effects that include mental impairment. But he’s fine, you know. The people exposed during his events, his driving stunt, and his return to the White House may not be fine. American domestic workers and Secrets Service personnel are outraged at the dismissal of their risk and concerns. But they should “not let the disease dominate” them or be afraid. Nice for him.

Giuliani declared victory in an interview too, but then could not stop coughing. Do I believe he has covid like at least two dozen other White House people? Sure. Will he admit it? Probably not.

Let’s not forget: Melania Trump said on tape, f*** Christmas; new proof that Trump and his people forced the Border Patrol (despite the Border Patrol’s repeated objections) to take children from their parents regardless of age; Trump probably attended events unmasked after he knew he was ill; Trump ended talks about aid to struggling Americans until after the election; Trump signaled approval to the reactionary militants, Proud Boys; Trump declared the CDC should disregard recommended safety trials for possible vaccines in order to have approval before the election; the couple who stood on their porch waving loaded weapons at peaceful protesters have been indicted by a grand jury; Black people are still being murdered; Pence has failed to self-isolate after exposure to covid; SCOTUS nominee Amy Barrett has a lifelong commitment to a religious group that believes women must submit to their husbands; Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon are being investigated as monopolies (why not Microsoft or Twitter?); and seven and a half million Americans have been sick with covid-19 and over 210,000 Americans are dead.

But Biden’s speech at Gettysburg offers reason and compassion. “Today, once again we are a house divided. But that, my friend, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division. . . . The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision, a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well. . . . Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement – it’s a scientific recommendation. We can’t undo what has been done. We can’t go back. But we can do better.”

Winners of the MacArthur “Genius” Grants offer hope.

25 September 2020: Yesterday we saw a jump in diagnosed cases of covid in Clatsop County. Test results came back for 159 Pacific Seafood employees and 77 were positive. That was the night crew. The day crew was tested beginning yesterday. “Pacific Seafood experienced a smaller outbreak earlier this year, when 11 employees of its Warrenton facility and four individuals who were contacts of those workers tested positive” (MSN). The online state records still show we have 131 cases diagnosed, but the real number is somewhere over 200. When we drive six miles to pick up our mail in Cannon Beach, every third car is from Washington State, and then there are cars from California, Georgia, Florida, Texas—a car from Hawaii! These visitors are careless about masking, make no effort to distance. The four older women with perfectly “done” hair sitting in the outdoor dining area of the Driftwood restaurant were all unmasked while their server delivered their glasses of wine and took their orders. What was the server supposed to do? He should have refused service, but like servers everywhere, he relies on tips. They were all white. This morning we are enjoying a windstorm with very heavy rain.

A reminder that testing negative for Covid-19 is inaccurate as much as a third of the time. Yes, false negatives are that common, according to the State of Oregon website.

12 September 2020: In case you haven’t noticed that smoke is a covid risk factor. It is. Read from a British daily:

Governor Kate Brown said dozens were still missing and tens of thousands had been forced to flee their homes. ...

California governor Gavin Newsom said the debate around climate change was “over”.

“Just come to the state of California,” he told reporters on a mountainside scorched by flames. “Observe it with your own eyes.”

Washington governor Jay Inslee noted that in just the past five days his state had experienced its second-worst fire season, after 2015. He called the blazes “climate fires”, rather than wildfires.

“This is not an act of God,” Inslee said. “This has happened because we have changed the climate.”—The Guardian

11 September 2020: We lost power for a day earlier this week and missed several day of walking because of smoke from wildfires that are burning millions of acres across the West. Yesterday, Portland, Oregon, had the worst air quality in the world. The sun has been a disk of blood red, dim enough viewed through the smokey air that we can look right at it all afternoon. Yesterday, on our way home from recycling, we saw a man had set up his barbecue at the Silver Point lookout; smoke poured off the thing. Trump has not paused his campaigning to send aid.

Months ago, in the early days of the pandemic, Trump admitted that covid is deadly and disastrous, that it far surpasses the lethality of flu, that he was deliberately lying about the danger. He said all this on tape while speaking to a journalist. “It’s funny the relationships I have,” Trump told the reporter. “The tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them … Explain that to me someday.” The famous Republican journalist held on to what he knew until he could sell it in a book. Rage by Bob Woodward is out next week.

And Trump’s popularity, according to averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight, remains above 42%. Our house is burning to ash and he is at the golf course.

28 August 2020, the Oregon Health Authority reported that a 29 year old man was diagnosed with Covid-19 on the 22nd of this month and died the same day at OHSU. He had no underlying health conditions. He got sick and he died.

27 August 2020, from Oregon Health Authority: “Today, State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger shared some stories about how we’ve seen COVID-19 spread in our communities starting from seemingly harmless gatherings:

  • In the first example, 10 people got together for a family party, and two people at the party were likely infectious at the time, though they did not have symptoms. In total, those two cases have led to 20 reported cases spread across 10 households. At least two of the people work with vulnerable populations. One person lived in a multi-generational house with family members with high-risk conditions. So even though the people who went to the party weren’t at higher risk for complications, many of the people who got sick potentially exposed people who are more vulnerable.
  • In the second example, 20 people rented a beach house for a celebration and were together for three days. No one had symptoms during the trip, but four were potentially infectious at the time. Twelve people from the trip got sick, all adults of various ages. These cases then had links to five workplace outbreaks, with a total of more than 300 cases so far.”

25 August 2020, from The Atlantic:

“One question, answered: Some college reopening plans include regular testing regimens for students and faculty. Is this kind of mass-testing sustainable, or will it strain the test supply, particularly during outbreaks? For example, the University of Alabama is already reporting more than 500 positive results for COVID-19.

“I asked Robinson Meyer, a staff writer who’s been covering America’s testing capabilities since March, to weigh in:

“The truth is that we don’t know, but two early signs are promising.

“Nationally, testing is declining. The U.S. now conducts about 750,000 tests a day, down from 820,000 tests a day in late July. Because the number of cases a day is also falling, the drop in tests may result from a true drop in demand, not a lack of supply. In other words, fewer people want to get tested. If that’s the case, then the country may have enough slack in its overall testing system for some schools to swab tens of thousands of people a few times a week.

“Some colleges have also found new ways of running tests. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for instance, has developed a new saliva-based test that all on-campus students, faculty, and staff now take twice a week. The test has allowed the school to conduct 1 to 2 percent of the country’s total coronavirus tests every day. If other schools adopt that approach, or use their own tactics, then some of the campuses may be able to keep pace until later in the fall, when even faster methods of mass testing should become available.

“Of course, having enough tests doesn’t mean campuses should open. As Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina, and other colleges have learned, just because you can test all your students doesn’t mean you can isolate them—or keep them from getting COVID-19.”

A voice of reason.

On the other hand, a word about political campaigning and law: “We just witnessed President Trump and DHS official Chad Wolf violate a criminal Hatch Act provision that prohibits anyone employed in ‘an administrative position’ from using his official authority to affect the nomination or election of any presidential candidate,” Kathleen Clark, government ethics expert at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis said Tuesday night. “Breathtaking in their contempt for the law.”

And use of military in the process: “This is a clear violation. This is so obviously, blatantly, insultingly a Hatch Act violation that it’s starting to seem like the Trump administration is going out of its way to find new ways to violate the law. We’ll be filing a complaint,” said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

23 August 2020: from Trump’s older sister in reference to Trump’s suggestion he would have her work on the border when children were being separated from parents in 2018, ““All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said in a conversation secretly recorded by her niece, Mary L. Trump. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.” Barry, 83, was aghast at how her 74-year-old brother operated as president. “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God,” she said. “I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.”

Over 176 thousand Americans dead of covid-19 as of this morning, more deaths than any other country in the world. Is it possible Brazil will pass us in the next months while we rack up 6+k deaths/week? Sure. Is that something to look forward to? It’s not going to “just disappear.”

18 August 2020, headline from The Guardian: “Trump calls out New Zealand’s ‘terrible’ Covid surge, on day it records nine new cases.”

Trump: ““The places they were using to hold up now they’re having a big surge … they were holding up names of countries and now they’re saying ‘whoops! . . . Big surge in New Zealand, you know it’s terrible, we don’t want that, but this is an invisible enemy that should never have been let to come to Europe and the rest of the world by China.”

Only 22 people have died from Covid-19 in New Zealand, compared with more than 170,000 in the US, the highest death toll in the world. Our losses account for nearly 22% of deaths globally.

A reminder that testing does not create covid-19 cases, but failing to test adequately continues to contribute to the death of Americans. Just now our death rate varies from 500-600 to well over a thousand deaths each day, about 6,000 in a week. That is why our own people, our own scientists and doctors warn the United States will see 181,000 by the end of this month . . . over two hundred thousand dead before the end of the year.

It does not “just go away” liked an imagined monster in the closet. Turn on the light.

and from The Washington Post: “White people don’t have more immunity to the coronavirus, but they have been better able to limit their exposure to it than Black, Latino and Native American communities, according to a new study on how social and economic inequity has fueled outbreaks. The higher rate of infection among communities of color is due to ‘poverty and living in densely occupied households, living in localities with greater air pollution, lack of health insurance and being employed in jobs that increase exposure to’ the coronavirus, the study found.”


17 August 2020 from the DNC: Michele Obama delivered tonight’s keynote address. She emphasized justice and empathy and the power of words to heal or destroy in a speech so powerful even the Fox News Channel had to applaud it. Her best framing for the election, though, was her sad dismissal of Trump not for any of the combative actions that his base loves so much, but rather for lack of ability. “Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country…. He is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

She made a strong appeal to the decency and empathy of our nation. It was a fitting tribute and a powerful reminder of who we are: We the People . . .

Biden: “We are the United States of America. There’s not a single thing we cannot do if we do it together.”

As Winston Churchill observed, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.”

15 August 2020, my furious response to an article by a “nurse and writer” in The Atlantic:

re: “I’m a Nurse in New York. Teachers Should Do Their Jobs, Just Like I Did.”


As a retired private and public school teacher I agree that teachers are essential workers who must do their work. From a distance.

Here’s the difference between working in a hospital and teaching in a public school: at the end of the day, the health care worker goes home and the patients stay in hospital where they do not receive visitors.

As an ICU nurse, at the end of the day Kristen McConnell goes home to her family, and her patients (how many?) stay put. At the end of my day when I was teaching, I went home and so did 150-205 students go to 150-205 homes with siblings and parents and neighbors. That’s 150-205 people with their contacts and their contacts’ contacts.

I have carefully sheltered since 10 March. Reentering the classroom, I have a bubble of exposure to one other person during the past two weeks. I always mask and maintain a distance of 6 feet when I go out once a week except on my early morning walks which are unmasked, outdoors, and I can maintain a distance of 100 feet from a half dozen other walkers. I am not a risk at all. On the other hand, my teenaged students have part time jobs and secret friendships, some have parents who are anti-vaxxers, covid-deniers, and undocumented. Teenagers are sometimes careless, sometimes in denial about risks.

Local administrators seem afraid to stray from traditional F2F teaching because they know the more affluent and influential members of my community are conservative and many disregard the pandemic.

“[Teachers] should rise to the occasion even if it makes them nervous, just like health-care workers have.” Teaching can be done without risk at a distance, and probably should be, unless the health care community wants job security, because opening schools will result in new cases. Perhaps hundreds of new cases, thousands, millions?

Striking is not the point. Spikes are not the point. “Rising to the occasion” is not the point. At the best of time, schools are essentially cesspools of disease. I was exposed and so were my students throughout my teaching because sometimes we did not know we were sick, my students and I. And teenagers. A student stood two feet before me and declared she had walking pneumonia. She knew she was contagious but “couldn’t afford to miss school.” I backed away (well, I should have, but I was seated and leaned back slightly). This happened frequently.

“When some of my husband’s students told him that they had continued working as cashiers throughout the spring and summer, he said, ‘Wow, that’s so courageous of you.’ ” That’s not courage, that’s teenagers’ desperation. Local students who work during the summer are paying family bills. They likely do not have a choice.

I appreciate that health care workers resent being on the front lines while others stay safely at home, and understand that workers want their free childcare back. I do not think that is a safe option just now.

Thank you,
Jan Priddy

13 August 2020: in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump actually said he wants to starve the United States Postal Service to destroy mail-in voting. Claiming that mail-in voting favors Democrats, he said: “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots… Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

In what is supposed to turn into good news from NPR: “While scientists are racing to find a cure for the virus, there’s a chance COVID-19 will never fully go away — with or without a vaccine.

“Vineet Menachery, a coronavirus researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told NPR’s Weekend Edition that one of the more likely scenarios is that the spread of COVID-19 will eventually be slowed as a result of herd immunity. He said that he’d be surprised “if we’re still wearing masks and 6-feet distancing in two or three years” and that in time, the virus could become no more serious than the common cold.’ “

in the mean time

“In the U.S., nearly 5 million people have tested positive and more than 160,000 have died.”

8 August 2020 from a WaPo report on the National Park Service: “There have been a record number of grizzly bear attacks in the Yellowstone region in 2020, possibly due to the increase in people hiking in the region in search of a respite from pandemic lockdowns.

“In the National Park Service’s message, anyone coming face-to-face with a bear is advised to ‘move away closely and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears.’

“People should not run—’like dogs they will chase fleeing animals” the message warns—or escape up a tree as both grizzlies and black bears are adept at climbing trees.

“The warning then adds: ‘Do NOT push down a slower friend (even if you think the friendship has run its course).’

“Instead, it is advised that people hold their ground and make noise to identify yourself as a human and not a prey animal. ‘We recommend using your voice. (Waving and showing off your opposable thumb means nothing to the bear),’ the message reads.

“To reiterate the concern over unscrupulous hikers pushing others to their doom to save themselves, the post ends by stating: ‘We apologize to any “friends” who were brought on a hike as the ‘bait’ or were sacrificed to save the group. You will be missed.’ ⁣”

Eh-hem. It seems the Park Service still has a sense of humor. I know people who work for parks departments. These are difficult days for these essential workers. Thank you!

7 August 2020, from The Washington Post: “A vaccine, or a spike in deaths: How America can build herd immunity to the coronavirus” by Harry Stevens is a simple and entertaining demonstration of how herd immunity works and what it will take to protect our population from infection.

5 August 2020 from the State of Oregon: “Oregon’s current statewide ban on indoor social get-togethers of more than 10 people includes gatherings such as dinner parties, birthday parties, potlucks and book clubs. (In counties approved for Phase 1 or 2 of reopening, bars and restaurants are already limited to serving 10 people per party.)

“The ban is for any indoor social gathering that includes people who don’t live with you.”

Oh, like the party going on next door for several days so far, and I do not believe they live together. This was party time. And screaming. (What’s with the screaming?)

4 August 2020, from The WaPo: An answer to the question: “What exactly is a ‘wave’ and how does it occur?”

“Real waves, whether they’re made of water, light or the coffee sloshing around in your mug, are predictable. They rise, fall, then rise again according to the laws of physics. Back in the early weeks of the pandemic, some people assumed the outbreak’s first ‘wave’ would pass over the world in the summer, to be followed by weaker second and third waves some time later. That’s not what’s happened at all:

“Instead, the ‘wave’ rose for a while, leveled off and hovered a few feet above sea level for several months in defiance of gravity, then swelled even higher over the summer. It appears to be dipping back down now, but there’s no guarantee it will keep doing so, because it’s not really a wave: it’s a graph of a contagious disease and the efforts people make to suppress it. . . .

“Left to its own devices, covid-19 would just keep spreading (cresting) until nearly the entire population was either immune or dead. The short-lived dip we saw in April wasn’t a natural trough, but rather the effect of social distancing, shutdowns, quarantines and masks. The new surge in the summer wasn’t a ‘second wave,’ but the consequence of millions of people abandoning those safety measures. If we’re going to use the wave analogy, the World Health Organization suggests we think of all the infections we’ve seen, and those we expect to see in coming weeks, as simply ‘one big wave.’

Until we are all “either immune or dead” does not sound like a good option to me.

And this:

“Six states form testing coalition in absence of federal strategy

“A bipartisan group of governors agreed to a first-of-its-kind purchasing compact, hoping to pressure rapid-testing companies to quickly scale up supply.”

3 August from The WaPo: “Despite progress made on a vaccine against COVID-19, ‘there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be,’ the World Health Organization’s director-general warned on Monday.

“Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ words marked six months since the organization declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern. Tedros said that at that point, on Jan. 30, ‘there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China.’ Three months later, the world had 3 million reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 200,000 deaths.

“Six months on, the figures have only worsened: now 18.1 million global cases and more than 690,000 deaths, according to the tracker at Johns Hopkins University.”

2 August 2020, from the HuffPost:

“In a startling finding with disturbing implications for schools, 260 children and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak that spread in just days at a summer camp in northern Georgia, according to a study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s one of the largest known COVID-19 super-spreading events in the state.

“All counselors and campers ‘passed all mandatory screenings’ and were required to have a negative COVID-19 test before attending the camp in late June, the study noted.


“Of the 597 residents at the YMCA Camp High Harbor in Rabun County — identified in the report as ‘Camp A’ — 344 were tested for the virus, and 260 tested positive. That’s a 77% infection rate just for those tested.

“The group with the highest number of positive tests (more than 50% of those tested) were the youngest children, 6 to 10 years old — and 75% of all children known to have contracted COVID-19 experienced symptoms, the study found.”

So young children do get sick and do experience symptoms and testing prior to opening a school-like activity (even one mostly outdoors) does not keep people safe from infection. Georgia plans to open its public schools in-person next month. Maybe rethink that?

As of 17 June 2020, 2.16 million Americans had been diagnosed and 103,000 Americans had died of covid-19. In the six weeks since then, we have added 2.5 million new cases and another 50k deaths (a total of 154,578 dead as if this morning according to Johns Hopkins). It is not only that we have tested and found more cases than any other country. We also lead the world in deaths from covid. We are supposed to be a first world country with “the best medical care in the world.” Right? Anyone?

1 August 2020, from The Washington Post: “The [last] month’s infection total reported by states was more than double that of June and represents about 42 percent of the 4.5 million cases the country has logged since the outbreak started, according to tracking by The Washington Post. Nationwide, testing has steadily increased — in July, it rose from about 600,000 to 820,000 tests per day — but soaring positivity rates and hospitalizations made clear that virus transmission was accelerating.

“Coronavirus-related deaths also rose after declining during April and May: The country saw 25,259 fatalities in July, up more than 3,700 from the previous month, according to The Post’s data. Health experts predicted daily deaths would continue to trend upward in August, trailing spikes in infections by a few weeks. On Friday, the U.S. death toll surpassed 150,000.”

29 July 2020: The World Health Organization now says Covid-19 is spreading in “one big wave.” That’s good news because the organization doesn’t think the virus is affected by seasonal trends. It’s bad news because it means the spread of the virus is dependent more on personal responsibility and human behavior.

And from NPR: “Texas’ uninsured rate has been climbing along with its unemployment rate as COVID-19 cases surge in the state. Before the pandemic, Texas already had the highest rate and largest number of people without health insurance in the country. And 20 percent of all uninsured children in the U.S. live in Texas.”

And from The New York Times:

Sinclair Broadcast Group recently published an online interview with a conspiracy theorist who claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci created the coronavirus using monkey cells. Sinclair — which operates almost 200 television stations — has also run segments downplaying the severity of the virus.
Fox News has repeatedly run segments promoting ideas that scientists consider false or that question the seriousness of the virus.
Breitbart published a video this week in which a group of doctors claimed that masks were unnecessary and that the drug hydroxychloroquine cured the virus. It received 14 million views in six hours on Facebook, my colleague Kevin Roose reports. (President Trump tweeted a link to it.)
Why is the U.S. enduring a far more severe virus outbreak than any other rich country?
There are multiple causes, but one of them is the size and strength of right-wing media organizations that frequently broadcast falsehoods. The result is confusion among many Americans about scientific facts that are widely accepted, across the political spectrum, in other countries.
Canada, Japan and much of Europe have no equivalent to Sinclair — whose local newscasts reach about 40 percent of Americans — or Fox News. Germany and France have widely read blogs that promote conspiracy theories. “But none of them have the reach and the funding of Fox or Sinclair,” Monika Pronczuk, a Times reporter based in Europe, told me.
Fox is particularly important, because it has also influenced President Trump’s response to the virus, which has been slower and less consistent than that of many other world leaders. “Trump repeatedly failed to act to tame the spread, even though that would have helped him politically,” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent has written. The headline on Sargent’s opinion column is: “How Fox News may be destroying Trump’s re-election hopes.”
Another factor creating confusion: The lack of an aggressive response to virus misinformation from Facebook and YouTube. Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter, has identified some of this misinformation, and the two companies have responded by removing the posts he cited. But Legum told me he had pointed out only a small fraction of the false information, and the companies had done relatively little to remove it proactively.
Twitter took a slightly more aggressive step yesterday, putting temporary limits on the account of Donald Trump Jr. after he shared the false Breitbart video.

And from real life: A family member did not feel well for a few days, two or three days and he’s fine now. He went online to check out his symptoms and  was not told to be tested but to isolate, which he has. This morning, The Washington Post listed “Symptoms for covid-19 include cough, diarrhea, headaches, runny nose and sore throat.” He had diarrhea, headache, and sore throat. Shouldn’t he be tested?

27 July 2020 from The Washington Post Editorial: “THE WHITE HOUSE has made it unmistakably clear that it wants schools to open this year with full in-person instruction, and that nothing — least of all the science — should stand in the way. But the actual decisions on whether to allow children back into the classroom are thankfully being made not by a president hellbent on making a political point, but by school officials who are listening to public health experts and consulting with members of their communities. Many of them are coming to the reluctant conclusion that the failure to contain the novel coronavirus — something that actually is the responsibility of President Trump’s administration — makes it unwise to return children to the classroom.  . . .

“If Mr. Trump wanted to take constructive action to get children back in the classroom, he would put in place the testing and other safeguards needed to control the virus rather than just browbeating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into becoming a cheerleader for his political agenda or trotting out his education secretary with absurd theories of how children actually block the virus.”

24 July 2020 from parent Dana Stevens: “. . . until the end of the school year, we lived the life that families with school-aged children are sick of living and everyone else is sick of hearing about: a miasma of sleeplessness, squabbling, incessant interruptions and multiple simultaneous glitching Zooms. My low point came when, on a short break from an unskippable work call, I went to the kitchen to retrieve my cold, abandoned coffee and had to step over my kid, who was crying on the floor about algebra. As someone who melted down over math problems throughout my adolescence, I was sympathetic, but the most I could offer were a few words of comfort and a promise to look at the assignment with her later. (At which point I would be the one crying on the floor.)

“Nearly five months later, though, it’s become apparent that the Trump administration’s abject negligence means we’re about to repeat it anyway. The implicit bargain of the spring was that if everyone complied with the shutdowns, the isolation, the social distancing, the working-while-parenting disasters and the rest, the government would use that time to build enough testing, tracing and public health infrastructure so that students could safely go back to school in person in the fall.”

I am still puzzling over the nonsense: “Vice President Pence said ‘we don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don’t open.’ ” Heaven forbid we should follow health recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

24 July 2020, from author Lydia Davis in conversation about why she decided to stop flying: “This conversation, of course, predated the coronavirus emergency. And yet, despite the drastic upheaval our world is and has been experiencing, I feel that climate change is the greater emergency. The virus causes us to take more urgent actions, we are losing loved ones more swiftly, and we are more bewildered—it came upon us more suddenly. But climate change will do far more lasting damage—eternal damage—and take away many more lives, entire cultures, and whole populations of people, plants, animals and insects.

“Our emergency responses to the COVID virus should, really, be the prologue or the dress rehearsal for a more extended action to counter climate disaster—since we still have a little time to avoid the very worst of it. Some of the limitations we are accepting now should, probably, become part of our way of life.  That is the question: when the immediate danger of the virus passes, will many of us, those of us who can afford to, go right back to our heavy consumption, our wasteful spending, our extensive traveling, our environmentally destructive ‘normal’?”

I suppose this means that I must rethink my panicky desire to fly to Lisbon as soon as the pandemic ends?

23 July 2020, by early afternoon on Johns Hopkins website:
Total confirmed covid-19 cases in the United States: 4,007,859 and almost 144k dead.
Doubled number of cases in 6 weeks in the U.S. and more deaths and cases than any nation on Earth. One million new cases in 15 days . . . and it’s still not easy to get a test.

22 July 2020 from LitHub: “On May 15 during the lock down, Rachel Cobb photographed graffiti illuminated by a passing ambulance in New York City. The question haunts me. What is essential?

“ ‘Of the utmost importance: basic, indispensable, necessary.’

“Essential to what, to whom? . . .

“If the pandemic were a war, then we are losing it, if it isn’t lost already. A quarter of all the people who have died from Covid-19 in the world lived here in the United States, and disproportionate numbers of them were black and brown people doing ‘essential’ jobs. They are the ghosts of our pandemic debacle, our dispensable ‘heroes.’ ”

20 July 2020 from the WaPo: “The death rate from covid-19 in the United States looks like that of countries with vastly lower wealth, health-care resources and technological infrastructure.

“America’s mishandling of the pandemic has defied most experts’ predictions. In October, not long before the novel coronavirus began sickening people in China, a comprehensive review ranked the pandemic preparedness of 195 countries. The project — called the Global Health Security Index and spearheaded by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Nuclear Threat Initiative — assigned scores to countries as a way to warn them of the rising threat of infectious-disease outbreaks.

“With a score of 83.5 out of 100, the United States ranked No. 1.

“How did the nation get caught so flat-footed? By not really trying, said Beth Cameron, who helped lead the project for the Nuclear Threat Initiative.”

19 July 2020, from NPR:

“U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Top 140,000 As World Sets Daily Record In New Cases

“Nearly 260,000 new cases of COVID-19 infections have been reported over the past day, according to data from the World Health Organization. More than a quarter were in the U.S.”

And this: “It is not just officials who are objecting to the administration’s authoritarian demonstrations. There was a new force on the Portland streets this weekend: moms. Dressed in yellow shirts, wearing helmets and masks, several hundred women are forming chains between the officers and the protesters. They call themselves the Wall of Moms, and are chanting: “I don’t see no riot here; take off your riot gear,” and “Feds stay clear, moms are here!” Officers tear gassed them last night, but they came back tonight in bigger numbers.”


16 July 2020, from NPR: The Trump Administration has mandated that hospitals sidestep the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send critical information about COVID-19 hospitalizations and equipment to a different federal database.” Is this a deliberate effort to hide the extent of the emergency hospitals face? “Organizations in two states report that a Trump administration change to how pandemic data is collected has left them unable to access vital information.”

15 July 2020, from The Atlantic:

“The pandemic will force some to face their cognitive dissonance.

“ ‘When the facts clash with their preexisting convictions, some people would sooner jeopardize their health and everyone else’s than accept new information or admit to being wrong,’ two social psychologists write.”

and from The Washington Post:

“ ‘WHAT DO you tell parents, who look at this, who look at Arizona where a schoolteacher recently died teaching summer school; parents who are worried about the safety of their children in public schools?’ That was the question posed Monday to President Trump about teacher Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd, who died after contracting covid-19. And — to no great surprise — it went unanswered. No expressions of sympathy for the family. No discussion of steps being taken. No assurances about safeguards being put in place. Mr. Trump instead just doubled down on his insistence that schools reopen in the fall. ‘The schools should be opened. Schools should be opened. You’re losing a lot of lives by keeping things closed,’ he said.”

and from George F. Will’s Op-Ed: “Not even during the Civil War, when the country was blood-soaked by a conflict involving enormous issues, was it viewed with disdainful condescension as it now is, and not without reason: Last Sunday, Germany (population 80.2 million) had 159 new cases of covid-19; Florida (population 21.5 million) had 15,300.” George Frederick Will (born May 4, 1941) is an American libertarian-conservative political commentator. Irony anyone?

and from Phillip Bump: “Even at the time it was written, the fundamental proposition offered by Vice President Pence in his Wall Street Journal piece on June 16 was dubious. No second wave of the coronavirus pandemic was emerging, he wrote — an obviously true claim only because the first wave had not ended.”

and from NPR: “The economy is tanking across the country, with layoffs and bankruptcies as far as the eye can see. But the richest sliver of the country continues to do quite well, thank you.

“The latest evidence came Wednesday morning as Goldman Sachs, the bluest of blue-chip banks, said it’s raking in money on Wall Street.

“While other banks are warning about rising loan losses during the recession, Goldman, which tends to serve a higher-end clientele, is sounding a pretty optimistic note.

“In fact, Goldman said it did better than expected, bringing in revenue of $13.3 billion, up 41% from a year ago — and its second-highest quarterly revenues ever.” What swamp was that he proposed draining? Did he build a hotel on it at taxpayer expense?

14 July 2020, from Ms Magazine:

It’s Time to Require Masks

BY LIZ WATSON | How did wearing a face mask become political? How did taking a simple step to protect the health and safety of our neighbors become a partisan issue? 

Title IX: A Milestone for Women in Sports, But Unfulfilled Promise for Black Women

BY JENNA ASHENDOUEK | It’s been 48 years since the passage of Title IX, a foundational and landmark civil rights law. But Title IX doesn’t eliminate the racism and sexism that Black women fight in the athletic world.

War on Women Report: Trump Picks a Fight with a Purple Heart

BY MARISSA TALCOTT & JENNA ASHENDOUEK | President Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson repeatedly insulted Senator Tammy Duckworth last week, calling her a “coward” and a “fraud.” Sen. Duckworth—a Purple Heart recipient who lost both legs serving in Iraq—wrote that Carlson should “walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America.”

A reminder that Title IX is about more than sport.

And from Heather Cox Richardson: “Last Saturday night, federal agents from Homeland Security, dispatched to Portland, Oregon under Trump’s order to protect monuments, shot a protester who was standing alone, across the street from them, holding speaker above his head. According to his mother, the ‘less-than-lethal’ munition fractured his skull and broke the bones in his face, requiring facial reconstruction surgery.

“Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) noted that Trump seems eager to escalate tensions. The deployment of federal officers to a U.S. city is unusual, and it brings ‘unnecessary violence and confrontation.’ Local rules in Portland prohibit tear gas or less-than-lethal rounds unless lives are in danger, and Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler (D), demanded that the agents begin abiding by those rules. City Commissioners note they did not ask for the officers and do not want them. Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis said it complicates things to have the federal officers in town because they do not coordinate with local police.

“Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) said: ‘Trump & Homeland Security must now answer why fed[era]l officers are acting like an occupying army.’ ”

I cannot imagine what monument in Portland needed protection at the expense of human safety?

12 July 2020, from a surgeon: “Your mask feels uncomfortable? Get over it. As a surgeon, I know how vital they are.

“As a surgeon, I spent much of my life behind a mask. Yes, it could be uncomfortable, especially during hay fever season, when I would excuse myself at the end of a three-hour operation to discreetly remove my snot-filled mask and wipe my face clean.

“Yes, you learn by trial and error how to pinch the wire across the bridge of your nose so that your breath doesn’t shoot out the top of the mask and fog your glasses. You wear a mask because, in the operating room, contamination is a no-no. You wear a mask because if you don’t, the most vulnerable person in the room — the patient — might get an infection because of you. . . .

“They wear masks and follow the rules not for themselves, but for others. You are glad they do. When you see them after the operation, you say, ‘Thank you.’ ”

I found a very clear and intelligent examination of the statue/heritage/history confusion. Siri Hustvedt states the obvious and them makes obvious other past failures to understand how we inherit backward ideas in “Tear Them Down: Siri Hustvedt on Old Statues, Bad Science, and Ideas That Just Won’t Die”.


“It is hardly an accident that the Confederate battle emblem was added to the Georgia state flag in 1956 after court-ordered desegregation. The message: This is Whiteland. The very same message of white ownership of the country now comes from the top. A single bullet from the ongoing presidential tweet barrage is illustrative: “This is a battle to save the Heritage, History, and Greatness of our Country!” Imagine Angela Merkel tweeting the same message to her fellow citizens about statues of high-ranking Nazi officials left standing in her country. The parallel is worth making because it helps put the current debate about monuments and symbols in perspective. It is illegal in Germany to display the swastika.”

10 July 2020, from The WaPo: “An Oregon company wants to give a free mask to every American” from a sports apparel and activewear business called DHVANI. Part of the company’s mission is to provide a free mask to everyone in the United States who needs one. “

“She said, ‘I’ve been wearing the same N95 mask every day for a week when you’re supposed to throw it away after each shift.’ So we said, ‘What can we do here?’ recalled Avi Brown, another co-founder and DHVANI’s CEO. ‘We’re experts in making apparel. We know how to cut and sew. We know fabric. We have the warehouse and staff and supply chain. We can make and ship out masks. We just needed to connect the dots financially.’ ” There are good people in the world who care about others.

9 July 2020, from The Atlantic, an article about why death rates are still lower than increasing diagnoses seem to predict (hint: it’s mostly lag time between infection and death, younger patients, and better treatment). “After all the graphs, statistics, science, and interpretations, we’re left with a simple fact: Hundreds of Americans are dying every day of a disease that is infecting several hundred thousand of them every week. If that’s success, let’s pray we never see failure.”

and from yesterday’s The Guardian: Covid-19 patients show more serious brain complications as described in a study by UK doctors. “A dozen patients had inflammation of the central nervous system, 10 had brain disease with delirium or psychosis, eight had strokes and a further eight had peripheral nerve problems, mostly diagnosed as Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune reaction that attacks the nerves and causes paralysis. It is fatal in 5% of cases.”

“ ‘We’re seeing things in the way Covid-19 affects the brain that we haven’t seen before with other viruses,’ said Michael Zandi, a senior author on the study and a consultant at the institute and University College London Hospitals NHS foundation trust.”

And finally this: “With tears in his eyes, the director of the World Health Organization pleaded Thursday for international unity to fight the pandemic, after President Trump announced his intention to quit the organization. “How difficult is it for humans to unite to fight a common enemy that’s killing people indiscriminately?” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked. “Can’t we understand that the divisions or the cracks between us actually are to the advantage of the virus?

7 July 2020. from TheWaPost: ” ‘Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that about 45 percent of patients with underlying conditions were hospitalized, compared with 7.6 percent of those who did not have significant preexisting conditions,’ my colleague Lena H. Sun reported. ‘Deaths were 12 times as high among patients with these underlying conditions (19.5 percent) compared with those without reported conditions (1.6 percent).’ ” Older, overweight, living with chronic illness? About 1 in 5 chance of dying. Younger and in perfect health? About 1-2 in 100 chance of dying.

In order to develop a more real-world understanding of risk, I always used to think in real life terms. I applied statistics to the number of students in my classroom (30) and the total number of students I saw in a day (120—though in some terrible years there were over 200) or the total number of adults and teenagers in my small rural high school (520). In perfect health

If they were in perfect health that would mean two of the students I saw each day in my classroom would die (2/120), and at least eight or nine of the people in my school (9/520). Not all the students and adults at my school were in perfect health.

There is also growing evidence that dying is not the only risk associated with covid-19. There is often prolonged damage to health . . . and shortened life expectancy. And why is everyone just now talking about airborne infection? Surely that was obvious from the beginning? Why else advise masking? How else to explain the well-documented cases spread in restaurants and choir practice that we have known about for months?

3 July 2020, from TheWaPost: “A strawberry daiquiri now, or school in the fall. A sun-soaked holiday weekend, or the college football season.

“Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor, defined the decision this way in a recent appearance on Fox News: ‘Do you want to open the bars now, or do you want to open the schools and the day-care centers in a few short weeks? I vote for the latter.’

“In Georgia, Kemp threatened to take away college football, saying this year’s season would be a ‘tall task’ if the state’s numbers kept rising.

“South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) invoked the favorite pastime as an incentive. ‘Let me make it very clear,’ he tweeted Wednesday. ‘Wear a mask and social distance now so we can enjoy high school and college football in South Carolina this fall.’

” ‘We’ve all been looking at these charts of Europe and the U.S.,’ said David O’Sullivan, a former Irish civil servant who served as ambassador from the European Union to the United States from 2014 to 2019. ‘At one point, we were more or less at the same point on the graph, but then we’ve gone down and down, even with opening back up, and in the U.S., the numbers are soaring.’ ”

2 July 2020, from TNYT: Growing calls for schools to reopen. “ ‘Widespread school closures come with devastating costs,’ Joseph G. Allen of Harvard University wrote in The Washington Post, citing risks to learning, children’s health and parents’ ability to work. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a similar warning this week. In a new Times piece, Deb Perelman writes: ‘Let me say the quiet part loud. In the Covid-19 economy, you’re allowed only a kid or a job.’ ”

“One way to offset the health risks is to delay the reopening of other industries. ‘If we truly want to prioritize schools opening and staying open, some other parts of our society might just have to wait,’ Helen Jenkins, a Boston University epidemiologist, tweeted. Or as Jennifer Nuzzo and Joshua Sharfstein put it in a Times Op-Ed, the country should focus on opening schools, not bars.”

also, “Gilead just announced that it will charge privately insured Americans more than $3,000 each for a five-day COVID-19 treatment [remdesivir] that was developed with financial support from the government. That’s a $3,000 price tag for a government-sponsored drug treatment that experts say the company could offer at $10 and still make a profit. . . .  [a] price . . .  significantly higher than the one charged to customers in other countries, whose governments — unlike Medicare — are permitted to negotiate lower prices for all of their residents.”

30 June 2020, from NPR: “Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., urged people to take CDC guidelines to wear a face covering seriously and lamented the politicization of mask-wearing.

” ‘Unfortunately, this simple life-saving practice has become part of the political debate that says if you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask, if you’re against Trump, you do,’ Alexander said. ‘That’s why I’ve suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, even though in most cases it’s not necessary for him to do so. The president has plenty of admirers. They would follow his lead.’

” ‘There’s no doubt that wearing masks protects you,’ Dr. Fauci said. ‘Anything that furthers the use of masks, whether it’s giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.’ “

27 June 2020, from NPR: “Citing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, a federal judge has ordered that all children currently held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17.

“U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California issued the scathing order Friday afternoon, saying the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic.

“She described the ICE-operated facilities as being ‘on fire,’ adding that ‘there is no more time for half measures.’  . . .

The order essentially forces ICE to adhere to existing laws established in the Flores agreement, which limits how long minors can be held in ICE custody.”

26 June 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson:

“Today the United States registered 44,702 new coronavirus cases, a single-day record. Six states– Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, and Utah– also set new single-day highs. In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, officials in Florida and Texas, where governors have been aggressive about reopening, have both reversed course, announcing that bars must close immediately.

“Incredibly, that’s not the day’s biggest story.

“This evening, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both broke extraordinary news. Months ago, American intelligence officials concluded that during peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan, a Russian military intelligence group offered to Taliban-linked fighters bounties for killing American troops. They paid up, too, although it is unclear which of the twenty U.S. deaths happened under the deal.

“The military intelligence unit officials judge to be behind this program, the G.R.U., is the same one that is engaged in a so-called ‘hybrid war’ against America and other western countries, destabilizing them through disinformation, cyberattacks, and covert military operations and assassinations. Urging deadly attacks on American and other NATO troops is a significant escalation of that hostility. New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz tweeted ‘it’s hard to overstate what a major escalation this is from Russia. Election meddling and the occasional poisoning are one thing. Paying the Taliban to kill American troops, that’s something entirely new.’ ”

25 June 2020: Early in May, Treasury announced that checks sent to dead people should be returned, but did not release the number of payments and took no steps to ensure it is returned. (The IRS had access to Social Security info about dead people, but Treasury did not access that filter.) Today it was revealed that Treasury “sent coronavirus stimulus payments to almost 1.1 million dead people totaling nearly $1.4 billion, Congress’ independent watchdog reported Thursday.”

Yeah, oversight. What a concept.

PS It is interesting to review the previous and recent public history of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is no better than you might expect.

This is just too depressing:

Donald J. Trump


“Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!”

He claimed just the other day that he was joking about this. Fauci said he was never asked to slow down testing, so maybe that part of it was a joke.


20 June 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson:

During his speech in Tulsa on the first day of summer, Trump “told the audience falsely that the recent spikes in infections are because there has been more testing: ‘When you do more testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases. I said to my people, “Slow the testing down, please.” ‘

“This is an astonishing admission. More than 120,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 so far, and while in some states hard hit early on numbers of cases are declining, cases are right now spiking in a number of other states in far higher numbers than increased testing would show. Experts agree that the administration’s odd reluctance to test for coronavirus cost American lives.”

15 June 2020, from The Washington Post:

Some governors are threatening to shut their states back down as covid-19 cases and hospitalizations climb. . . . In Arizona and Florida, restaurants are re-closing to indoor dining after employees have tested positive.

“The increase in cases is not necessarily because of increased testing. In some places, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise even as testing rates fall. In six states, the seven-day average of new cases has increased since May 31 while the average number of daily tests being conducted has declined. In 14 others, the rate of new cases is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests. There are many warning signs in the data that the U.S. is entering a resurgence of the pandemic after states lifted restrictions. 

“The Food and Drug Administration has revoked the emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of covid-19, after numerous studies led the agency to conclude that it “is no longer reasonable to believe” they are effective.”

and a journaling writer on the Brevity Blog wrote “Friday May 8, 2020. Day #? I don’t care what day it is. Wildly contradictory messages emerge from different sources; no consensus and no leadership. Today it seems entirely plausible that our president is trying to kill us.”

8 June 2020, from The Atlantic:

One question, answered: Coronavirus cases are up in Arizona, California, and other states. Is it just because we’re testing more? Robinson Meyer, who helped build the COVID Tracking Project explains:

No, unfortunately. The evidence suggests that those states truly are deteriorating—and that the pandemic may be intensifying in the Sunbelt and the West more generally. We know this, first, by looking at cases and hospitalizations together. If cases are rising simply because the health-care system is testing more people, we’d expect most of the newly diagnosed people to have relatively mild infections, because someone with a more serious illness would have likely gone to a hospital in May. If cases are rising and more people are going to the hospital with COVID-19, we’d expect that more people are getting seriously sick. And in Arizona, alas, cases and hospitalizations are both at all-time highs. Cases and hospitalizations are also rising in Arkansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

“Second, we can ask a question of the data: How many people do you need to test to find a positive case? This metric—the number of tests per positive result—was first proposed by Tong Wang, a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. In Arizona, through most of May, about one in 16 coronavirus tests came back positive. Today, Arizona is testing more people, but about 1 in 10 tests is coming back positive. This is also true across the South, the Southwest, and the West: Finding a positive coronavirus case is easier than it used to be.

“These two signs make us worry that the pandemic is about to get worse in some parts of the U.S.”


7 June 2020, from Heather Cox Richardson:

“The protests that were sparked by Mr. Floyd’s murder are about more than Mr. Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, killed in a botched police raid as she slept in her own bed, or the many other African Americans murdered by police. They are an outpouring of outrage against a government that privileges a few at the expense of the many. But while that outrage is clearly deep and powerful, it has yet to change the government itself. The November elections are five months away. What happens between now and then will determine whether the past two weeks are remembered as the breaking point that turned the course of American history.”

and from The Washington Post:

“In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) joined a civil rights march Thursday while wearing a facial covering. More than 1,200 medical professionals have signed an open letter, drafted by doctors and researchers at the University of Washington and posted online, stating that the importance of protests outweighs the risks of massive gatherings.

“ ‘Protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported,’ the letter states, adding that demonstrators should still follow ‘public health best practices’ such as social distancing and wearing masks.”

4 June 2020, from The Atlantic:

“Our science writer Ed Yong explains:

“I wrote about COVID-19 long-haulers—the thousands of people who’ve been struggling with months of debilitating symptoms. Most of them haven’t been hospitalized, so their cases technically count as “mild.” But their lives have nonetheless been flattened by rolling waves of symptoms, including weeks of fever, delirium, and crushing fatigue. Many have faced disbelief from friends and medical professionals because they don’t fit the typical profile of the disease. Many have doubted themselves, been gaslit and dismissed, been told that it’s all in their heads. But they are a crucial and overlooked part of the pandemic narrative.

2 June 2020, from the news:

“I took six rubber bullets, but do you know what didn’t happen to me?” Elizabeth Ferris, a 36-year-old Georgetown University student, told The Washington Post. “No one kneeled on my neck.”

Ashley Gary of Minneapolis said: “We’ve been through Jamar Clark, we’ve been through Philando Castile, and there was no justice whatsoever. We’re tired of it, we are very tired. My son, he’s 16 and six feet tall, and I don’t want him to be taken as somebody bad because he’s a bigger black man.”

“I came out peacefully to show my support, and the police are aiming right at me,” Mariana Solaris, a 20-year-old from San Bernardino, Calif., told The Los Angeles Times, after the police fired foam pellets at her. “I saw this on the news earlier tonight,” she said, “and I thought, ‘No way is it really like that out there with the police.’ So I came out to see. And, yeah, it’s really like that.”

“We seem to have forgotten that governments and police forces are there to serve the people NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.”

from Heather Cox Richardson: Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania tweeted: “I want to be super clear about what happened tonight in Washington: The President of the United States deployed tear-gas, rubber bullets and military personnel on peaceful protesters so that he could cross the street for a photo op. There is no excuse.” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon straight up said “the fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens. I fear for our country tonight and will not stop defending America against Trump’s assault.”


30 May 2020—What we seem to know so far: Isolation of those sick, testing and tracing of contacts, and isolation of those contacts will stop the spread. The strategy works and without it, the disease will spread to everyone. Animals can be infected by humans (a tiger in a zoo, pet dogs etc.) and humans can be infected by animals (on a mink farm in the Netherlands). People can pass on the disease even when asymptomatic and while testing shows them as clear of th disease. Many people never seem to get sick while being infectious and developing antibodies to the disease. Despite death rates in the US averaging 5% and up to 12% in some first world nations, the death rate is likely around 1% (a reminder that influenza kills no more than 0.1% snd we can vaccinate against influenza). Covid-19 does more than make people sick the way influenza does, with long-lasting and sometimes permanent damage to other organs and the nervous system.

It is not going away.

23 May 2020. I took today off from reading the news, but could not resist this WP headline and kicker: “N.D. governor makes emotional plea to anti-mask crowd: Stop this senseless culture war.”

On NPR: ” ‘If someone is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,’ North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, said in an emotional statement Friday. His voice started to break and he started to tear up, as he continued, ‘They might be doing it because they’ve got a 5-year-old child who’s been going through cancer treatments. They might have vulnerable adults in their life, who currently have COVID and they’re fighting.’ “

22 May 2020: the highly respected Lancet reported today a study reviewing treatment of 96,000 covid-19 patients. They found among “those given hydroxychloroquine, there was a 34 percent increase in risk of mortality and a 137 percent increased risk of a serious heart arrhythmias. For those receiving hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic — the cocktail endorsed by Trump — there was a 45 percent increased risk of death and a 411 percent increased risk of serious heart arrhythmias.” (I know what you’re thinking and will not write it here.)

“The CDC estimates more than a third of coronavirus patients don’t have any symptoms at all, and 40% of virus transmission happens before people feel sick.” Republicans are less likely to wear masks or take other precautions and are more likely to advocate early opening of businesses. That person arguing about wearing a mask in Costco? Likely Trump supporter.

20 May 2020, from The New York Times:

“Much of the rest of the world — including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and South Korea — has followed one strategy on coronavirus stimulus. Governments have temporarily paid the salaries of workers in order to prevent millions of layoffs.

“The United States has taken a different path. It created a complicated mix of different stimulus policies, including loans to businesses and checks for families. This approach doesn’t appear to be working: The U.S. has had a sharper rise in unemployment than other countries. Many jobless Americans have also lost their health insurance — in the midst of a pandemic.

“Now Congress may be on the verge of changing its approach.”


18 May 2020, from The New York Times, scientists caution about covid statistics:

“With more parts of the U.S. starting to reopen, many people will be tempted to look at the data this week and start proclaiming victory over the virus. But this week’s data won’t tell us much. It will instead reflect the reality from early May and late April, when much of the country was still on lockdown.

” ‘The data are always two or three weeks old,’ Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania told me. ‘And we have a hard time understanding that things are different from what we’re looking at.’ Crystal Watson of Johns Hopkins University told The Associated Press that we wouldn’t really know how reopening had affected the virus’s spread for five to six weeks.

“It’s possible that the reopenings won’t cause the outbreaks that many epidemiologists fear — because many people will still stay home, or because they will venture out cautiously, or because the virus may spread more slowly in warmer air. But it’s also possible that the country will find itself suffering through a new wave of outbreaks in June.

“Either way, I’d encourage you not to leap to premature conclusions.”


The Washington Post offers an interesting free-to-the-public article demonstrating how modelers figure out how many will get sick, how many will be hospitalized, and when it’s safe to reopen after a pandemic or an imaginary disease they call Simulatis. Click and learn.

16 May 2020, from NPR: “It’s not just the clusters of gun-toting protesters at state capitols. In sporadic incidents across the country, disputes over emergency measures have turned into shootings, fistfights and beatings. Stories abound of intimidation over masking. And armed right-wing groups have threatened contact tracers and people who they say “snitch” on neighbors and businesses violating health orders.

“Researchers who study the links between polarization and violence stress that these incidents are still rare and extreme reactions; polls show that the majority of Americans support and are abiding by distancing measures. But there are fears that the pandemic — especially landing in an election year — has the potential to inflame divisions to dangerous levels if left unchecked.”

14 May 2020, from The New York Times: “The Republican attorney general in Texas moved to stop five urban counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The state election code, he said, ‘does not permit an otherwise healthy person to vote by mail merely because going to the polls carries some risk to public health.‘ ” So it’s “merely” dying that is the problem. I don’t know, change the law?

  • And on a related subject from The Washington Post: “Trump’s company has received at least $970,000 from U.S. taxpayers for room rentals. Taxpayers have paid for more than 1,600 nightly room rentals at Trump properties, including 530 nights at the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
  • from The Hill: “President Trump on Thursday suggested the practice of widespread coronavirus testing may be “overrated,” even as health experts insist it is critical to safely loosen restrictions and reopen businesses.”
  • from National Public Radio: ” ‘FDA Cautions About Accuracy Of Widely Used Abbott Coronavirus Test’ The test has been promoted by the Trump administration as a key factor in controlling the epidemic in the U.S. and is used for the daily testing at the White House.” 
  • from The Guardian: “US President Donald Trump saying that he could ‘cut off’ the relationship with China following the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview wth Fox Business, Trump expressed his disappointment with China for failing to contain the Covid-19 outbreak before adding he maintained a good relationship with leader, Xi Jinping, but ‘right now, I don’t want to speak with him’ “
  • from DW (Germany): “Coronavirus latest: Death toll surpasses 300,000

    Nearly 4.5 million COVID-19 infections have been confirmed worldwide, while the number of fatalities reached another grim milestone.”

  • and better news from New Zealand, though they are very worried about that one new case: “New Zealand has one new case of Covid-19 today – a patient linked to the Marist College cluster and who had previously tested negative. This means New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable cases is now 1498 – of which 1148 are confirmed. There are now just 56 active cases across the country. Today’s confirmed case is linked to the Marist College cluster in Auckland and was identified through recent follow-up testing of the school community, the ministry said.”

13 May 2020, from CNN: “President Trump says he hopes the effort will produce up to 300 million vaccine doses by January, but experts have warned meeting such a benchmark could be much further away. Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a vaccine would likely not be ready for students returning to school in the fall. Trump said that response was ‘not an acceptable answer.’ ”  Notice anything off about planning for vaccines by January 2021 and also expecting this to help students returning to school in September 2020?

11 May 2020, from “80,000 Americans have died. Trump is still engaged in magical thinking” by Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post:

“This is the part of the horror movie when we realize that the phone call from the psychotic killer is coming from inside the house — and yet those being stalked convince themselves that somehow, things will work out just fine.” Two people in the West Wing have covid (plus members of the Secret Service and top military who attend meetings).

9 May 2020, from The Guardian:

“The US has blocked a vote on a UN security council resolution calling for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic, because the Trump administration objected to an indirect reference to the World Health Organization.”

8 May 2020 [VE Day]

from The Atlantic:

“Years of low wages and ideological efforts to gut social welfare programs left the American workforce especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic damage. ‘A Federal Reserve report last year … warned that nearly 40 percent of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 for an emergency,’ our business desk reported. ‘The emergency has now hit, and millions of people are lining up at food banks, pleading for help on social media and going to work in the midst of a pandemic because they need the money.’ The story is based on interviews with a single mom trying to sell her house after being furloughed from her job at a spa, and other Americans slipping toward poverty.

“As the coronavirus continues its steady spread across the country — 1.27 million infections and more than 76,000 deaths as of Friday afternoonPresident Trump is encouraging Americans to leave quarantine and ‘be warriors’ against a disease that has no cure and can spread invisibly without symptoms. 

“Trump’s quest to unfreeze the economy has in recent days includedpraising a woman who was jailed for operating her Dallas salon against stay-at-home rules; dismissing calls to increase viral monitoring because, he said, ‘by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad’; and suppressing information about the pandemic’s severity as he tries to convince a frightened public to go back outside, back to business, back to work.”

[ The bolding above is not mine. Easy for him to say—everyone around the man is tested daily.]

5 May 2020

Polls indicates that most Americans oppose opening “back to normal” a this time.


Christine Gelineau


Not a loaf from antiquity forward
has ever been formed by hands
that were not dying—it’s not
that I’ve forgotten that, but here
I refer to the special quality imbued
to the feel of the yeast springing alive
under your palms when the breadmaking
is an attempt to distract yourself
from the Covid symptoms that
that have flared, and receded, flared
and receded within you now for weeks.
At 3 a.m., pacing, jittery, bellowing
your lungs in deep five-second breaths,
you find yourself pondering what
a life means, living, what is
the import of new mornings
when the darkness surrounds you
elementally as oxygen?
Remember that time on the plane,
the pilot preparing you for
emergency landing, twenty
minutes until we are “on the ground,”
see you on the ground
the pilot said and you curled into
yourself, folded into stasis, unable
to imagine what could one ever do
equal to the last twenty minutes of your life,
a question you knew even then had no answer.
And now, the window of time left
less definite, you fill the hours:
walk out into the cold spring
to breathe the chill air and visit
the nodding daffodils, or you FaceTime
the grandchildren, or you knead
the living dough, hands pressed deep
into the rising warmth of our daily bread.

from Poets Respond
May 3, 2020


Christine Gelineau: “My symptoms have been ‘atypical,’ so for the first two telemedicine visits both doctors were sure it could not be Covid-19 and so would not authorize testing, given the shortage of tests. Now that it has became clear that there were no other diagnoses that fit, and more has been learned about what is and is not typical, it is apparently too late for the test to be accurate. So, I’m in that area so many are in where the patient and the doctor have decided that must be it but you’re on no official rolls of confirmed cases. Since they have no treatment anyway, anyone not in an immediate emergency just stays home and does their best to support their immune system. And keep their spirits up.”

2 May 2020. Being scared about the right things about now would actually be helpful. In Stillwater, Oklahoma, a restaurant received threats because workers were masked. “In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse.” The reaction of the city was to remove the masking requirement. Home grown terrorism anyone?

A Harvard hospital doctor explains “flu mortality is not reported as a tally but as an estimated range, which is far different from the individual counts, based on testing and diagnoses, used for covid-19.” The deadliness of covid-19 becomes obvious if you compare only confirmed deaths from flu to confirmed deaths from covid-19, rather than the estimated deaths “because the CDC plugs the confirmed deaths into a model that attempts to adjust for what many epidemiologists believe is a severe undercount.” We are also undercounting cover deaths. And we are comparing an entire season of flu to just a few weeks of covid-19. Scared yet?


Masking does save lives because covid-19 is a killer spread primarily by droplets during coughs and speech. Yeah, talking can kill. So can threats by wackos and bullies that result in people being unable to protect themselves and the public.

1 May 2020, The Washington Post reports that new cases continue because people working in services such as groceries, housekeeping, and care cannot afford to stay home, and “interviews with doctors and public health officials, and data that has been made public, paint a portrait of a pandemic that increasingly is infecting those who have limited ability to socially distance.”

from 27 April 2020, The Atlantic:

Let’s begin by recapping a fraught five days in Washington:

  1. On Thursday, the president’s daily press briefing took a dangerous turn when Trump wondered aloud if bleach injections might be used to treat COVID-19. (Doctors quickly issued warnings.)

  2. On Friday, he dismissed the comments as sarcasm.

  3. By Saturday, he threatened to cancel these briefings altogether.

  4. Yesterday, Trump “fired off” what my colleague David Frum called “a sequence of crazy-even-for-him tweets and retweets,” including a deepfake video featuring a likeness of Joe Biden. He also called for journalists to be stripped of their “Noble” prizes, both misspelling the award and, apparently, conflating it with the Pulitzers.

  5. And today, the White House made good on Saturday’s threat, but only for a blip, canceling, then uncanceling, the afternoon press briefing.

Here’s how to think about these daily dispatches from the White House:

They aren’t press conferences so much as “reality shows with no winners.” Trump is using them to build a dystopia in real time, Megan Garber argued last week.

Trump clearly loves the format. “In fact, it’s one of the few presidential duties he actually seems to enjoy,” our politics staff writer David A. Graham points out.

These briefings, by design, keep attention on the president. And with the 2020 contest looming, “incentives to further politicize the stage will only grow,” Peter predicted back in early April.

Trump’s foes watch the spectacle from afar, shot glasses nearby. “I start off with a beer and, depending on the magnitude of crazy, I could be on tequila before too long,” Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman and an MSNBC commentator, told Peter.

[me again] Yeah, that last one had me laughing. I am a happier person for never having watched any of these political rallies briefings.

26 April 2020: The good news?

New York’s Daily COVID-19 Deaths Below 400 For First Time In April

We do not know how long the new coronavirus was moving around in the world. It’s likely that it was here in the United States for much longer than we can prove. What it took to backdate the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak to a woman who died of a “heart attack” on 6 February:

  • California law requires an autopsy for anyone dying outside direct medical supervision
  • testing existed for a “new” disease through the CDC but was available only for people who had traveled recently to China and showed a particular profile of symptoms
  • a coroner who was nevertheless suspicious of cause of death chooses to send tissue off to the CDC anyway
  • the CDC finds and reports presence of coronavirus in tissue sample

Want to bet we could find even earlier cases if we actually looked for them? The “Spanish Flu” probably originated in Kansas. What if Wuhan was not the original site?

22 April 2020 from The Washington Post:

“The use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for Veterans Affairs coronavirus patients had no benefit and was linked to higher death rates, according to a study by VA and academic researchers. … The study ‘analyzed outcomes of 368 male patients nationwide, with 97 receiving hydroxychloroquine, 113 receiving hydroxychloroquine in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, and 158 not receiving any hydroxychloroquine. … Rates of death in the groups treated with the drugs were worse than those who did not receive the drugs, the study found. Rates of patients on ventilators were roughly equal, with no benefit demonstrated by the drugs.’ ” Unsurprising that a panel of experts is recommending against using the drug to treat covid19.

Once again, Trump’s guesswork has been proven misguided, his “common sense” fatal to others.

And a reminder that as Trump urges people to fight state stay-at-home orders, no one gets near the president (forget six feet, no one gets into the building with him) without a negative test result.

In the mean time, Johns Hopkins reports over 45 thousand Americans have died from diagnosed covid19. Oh! And the first U.S. case was found in autopsy tissue samples from a person who died at home in Northern California on 6 February 2020.

20 April 2020, from The Atlantic:

One question, answered: Why are America’s COVID-19 numbers flat?

One possible answer: “There is clearly some group of Americans who have the coronavirus but who don’t show up in official figures,” Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer, who launched a project tracking state-by-state testing progress, write.

One statistic highlights the extent of the cases that the U.S. could be missing. Alexis and Rob evaluated a metric called the test-positivity rate, which estimates how many people who are tested for the virus are found to have it. In the U.S., that rate is 20 percent. That’s very high—and implies that doctors are testing only those patients with a very high likelihood of having the virus.

The positivity rate doesn’t tell us the proportion of coronavirus cases in the U.S., but it can give us a general sense of how drastic a particular outbreak is. In America’s case, it shows that the outbreak is far from under control.

16 April 2020: I began writing about Vietnam early on because they had only a double handful of cases and no death even though the nation borders China. They took early and extremely rigorous action, saw their first cases to recovered, but also announced they knew there would be more. To date: 268 cases and still no deaths. Close oversight by the US officials reveals these are accurate counts. Vietnam took the tough road and survives.

13 April: On 13 March there were a bit over 2100 cases confirmed in the U.S. and a few dozen people had died, mostly in Washington.  One month later on 13 April, there were 581,679 confirmed cases and 23,604 dead, and in every single state. South Korea saw its first case on the same day as the US. That nation reacted quickly and firmly, flattened their curve immediately and to date 10,537 have been confirmed positive. Only 217 have died. The percentages alone are telling: 2% death rate in South Korea compared to over 10% in the UK which initially resisted lockdown, and 4% in the US which still has no national leadership making the courageous hard choices.

Trump’s public coronavirus failures begin: Jan 21: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
Jan 30: “We think we have it very much under control.”
Feb 02: “We pretty much shut it down, coming from China.”
Feb 14: “We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12… Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”
Feb 25: “People are getting better, they’re all getting better.”
Feb 26: “And the 15 in a couple of days is gonna be down to close to zero.”
Feb 28: “Coronavirus. This is the new hoax… You’ll be fine.”
Feb 28: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”
Mar 02: “They’re going to have vaccines very soon.”
Mar 03: “Not only the vaccines, but the therapies. Therapies is sort of another word for cure.”
Mar 04: “We’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.”
Mar 06: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault… I like the numbers where they are.”
Mar 06: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect…”
Mar 07: “It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down. We stopped it.”
Mar 08: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House.” Mar 10: “It’s really working out, and a lot of good things are gonna happen. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Mar 12: “It’s gonna go away.”
Mar 13: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Mar 16: “I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job.”
Mar 17: “This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

I have said enough. Four thousand dead Americans as of April 1st. Don’t be a fool. Read Letters from an American:

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Over 135 thousand confirmed cases of covid19 in the United States—doubled in 5 days. And none of the short term rental organizations seem to have noticed that Clatsop County has disallowed all such rentals. Affluent people sneaking off to rural communities to hide from the virus is happening all over the country. Small, rural communities have limited resources and resent the influx.

Friday, 27 March 2020

UPDATE as of 1pm, 97,028 confirmed cases in the United States; 1475 dead; 816 recovered.

The U.S. has more confirmed cases of covid19 than anywhere in the world, 86,012 showing an increase of 31% since Wednesday and 1,301 deaths showing an increase nearly as large. Since yesterday. I suspect people would take this more seriously if we broke out in a rash or spots or streaming sores. Somehow a dry cough, even a fever does not sound so bad.

Eventually, everyone will be exposed. Everyone. With the best of care we might manage Germany’s death rate. With an overtaxed medical system we might suffer as Italy has. Will be see 0.5% or 10%? So far, about 1.5% of confirmed cases have ended in deathwith only the tiniest fraction (753 people) declared “recovered.”

For a while, the president was was making an ill-advised comparison of covid19 to flu.

  • 5% to 20% — Percentage of the U.S. population that will get the flu, on average, each year.
  • 200,000 — Average number of Americans hospitalized each year because of problems with the illness.
  • 8,200 to 20,000 — Number of people who die each year from flu-related causes in the U.S.
  • $10 billion+ — Average costs of hospitalizations and outpatient doctor visits related to the flu.

NOTE: The flu is far less contagious, has a much lower death rate, and we can vaccinate for flu.

At least half of Americans are vaccinated against flu, so double the first number and then double it again. The death rate must be multiplied by a factor of fourteen—flu kills about 0.1%, but covid10 is estimated to kill 1.4%. In a population the size of the United States, 1.4% is millions. That’s why we’re being careful, folks.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

We got up, dressed for our walk, and drove to Cannon Beach. John at the post office unloaded our packages onto the counter and I loaded them into a plastic trash bag, carried them to the car. Gary opened the back door for me, I dumped them behind the passenger seat and he squeezed Purell into my palm. Then I got into  the car. Gary unloaded our recycling at the recycling center (no one was closer that fifty feet and he touched only our own cardboard and glass. At the grocery store, it was my turn again. I carried my bags in, found what I wanted (ww flour, eggs, milk, yogurt, sunflower oil, brown sugar, oranges, and juice). Same routine as the PO except groceries went into the back behind the driver’s seat. At home, I stripped naked and carried the milk into the fridge. All the new stuff (mail and food) will sit for 72 hours, mostly in the garaged car with only the milk in the house.

My neighbor warned about two vacation rentals still renting to tourists. She called CERT and VBRO, and I called the sheriff. Gary was not in favor, but “It BUGS me that adults and kids play ball on our narrow street so [our 70+ year old neighbor with recent heart surgery] has to wait for things to settle down so that he can get his walk done for the day. He has not complained but this has been my observation.”

The only reason the confirmed cases are only half a million cases is the lack of testing. The state of Oregon has identified fewer people than have died in New York City.

From Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center data: 22,295 dead world wide. U.S. confirmed cases have risen to 69,684 confirmed cases; 619 recovered; 1049 dead, and the man in the White House thinks we might have to allow that number to escalate because money matters more than people. . . . and yet his popularity has gone up?

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

A little satirical bite? Try Alexandra Petri’s satire in The Washington Post yesterday: “This is rude and selfish of you, to say that your life is worth more than someone’s money.” She regrets she has “but one grandparent to give for my country.”

     “Here is your chance to serve! And there is still a place in the line for the people who did not ask to be volunteered — but you must help them! You can sacrifice them, too, by your decision, because this disease conveniently does not understand who is stepping up and who is not.

    ” Just as we do not make any attempt to regulate traffic so that people do not perish needlessly in car accidents, just as when buildings are aflame we do not keep people from congregating inside them, so, too, must we now rush back to normalcy, at an unthinkable cost, to no purpose whatsoever.

     “We’ll have the country open by Easter! Think what more glorious fate there could possibly be than to die for nothing at all!”

From Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center data: 836,159 confirmed cased in the world; 111,847 recovered; 19,648 dead. After two months of lockdown (81,661 confirmed cases; 73,773 recovered; and 3,285 dead), China is beginning to reopen Hubei because new cases amount to 0% over the past two days. U.S. confirmed cases have risen to 55,238 confirmed cases; 354 recovered; 802 dead.

Stats for Oregon remain: 4559 tested in Oregon; 209 positive; 8 deaths.

For an excellent review of the functions and failures of philanthropy in addressing public needs, read this essay at Wired: “The Dangers of Relying on Philanthropists During Pandemics”.

Just for fun, I read an article on NPR about cooking during lockdown. The advice about spicing up dishes and substitutions was really helpful, but the recipes were not. Each one contained ingredients most people are guaranteed not to have on hand such as several fresh ears of corn. Where are the recipes that include only what is canned, frozen, dried, or at least in season?

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

4559 tested in Oregon as of 8am; 209 positive; 8 deaths.

NPR interviewed five of the worlds premier experts in economics. Surprise! None of them advises what our President plans to do. (Instead, see Denmark’s Minister of Employment below. They are investing in workers, supporting people not fire but on leave with 90% pay. Our economy runs on paychecks and spending, not merely Wall Street.)

Yesterday I baked a huckleberry cake from James Beard’s recipe.

From The Washington Post: “Health experts are screaming warnings. As Tom Inglesbe, the director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, powerfully argues, the failure to test has dramatically undercounted the true numbers of those infected. This, plus a looming exponential surge in cases, almost certainly means that, if we don’t continue major social distancing, our health system will soon be overwhelmed.”

As of 24 March 2020, my husband and I are healthy. I have not driven anywhere, nor been in contact with or within 20 feet on the beach of anyone for the past two weeks. Theoretically, I am fine and should be coronavirus-free.

Despite the county shutting down all short term rentals, there are tourists on the beach and cars parked in front of local rentals. Though many of the owners of these rentals claim to be “long-time residents,” they have never lived here, but in cities some distance away in Washington or Portland. Their attitude seems to be that laws only count if you are caught. The American way? The President if the United States considers scrapping social distancing because it’s hurting Wall Street. He is more worried about the economy than the health of me or my neighbors. I get that. We wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

In the mean time, Denmark is taking remarkable steps to ensure people stay home if they are not essential workers (health, food, utilities).

Derek Thompson of The AtlanticIn the U.S., we still don’t have an emergency relief deal. What’s your message to American lawmakers?

Peter Hummelgaard, the Employment Minister of Denmark: Do more—fast. Don’t wait. The main focus should be to bridge partisan divides and to make sure that the rescue package for the economy is a rescue for Main Street, not just for Wall Street. Preserve the income and jobs for ordinary working people, and also preserve small businesses. The jury is still out on our initiatives, but I’m confident in our approach.

As of 9:38am PDT, Tuesday, 24 March 2020, The Atlantic reports 46,481 diagnosed cases and 593 deaths of covid19 in the U.S., up 40% from Sunday (less than 48 hours). Six weeks ago there were 12 cases of covid19 in the U.S. The earlier and current figures are not accurate, of course, because we have tested a relatively tiny proportion of our citizens. Unless you are hospitalized or wealthy, it is unlikely that you will have access to a test.

By contrast, Denmark has 1,703 diagnosed cases and 32 deaths with a growth of 17% since Sunday. Below are old figures, old because they are a couple of weeks out of date. Note South Korea and the United States had their first diagnosed case at about the same time and that our President has asked for help from South Korea, a nation successfully fighting covid19 with 1% increase in identified cases since Sunday.

In the charts below, confirm that dates, the first is a couple of weeks old, the second from yesterday.


As of 24 March, there have been 3,649 coronavirus tests in Oregon, with 191 positives, and 5 deaths. Our numbers here have not moved much, but I will update.


I bake, usually from my own recipes. I make soup about once a week, always vegetable soup, and usually combining a legume with a grain to gain a complete protein, since we are vegetarian.


I also knit, weave, and stitch quilts. The weaving goes back to childhood when my step-grandmother, Genevieve encouraged me to weave. I took classes while in college and I have owned several looms. Just now, I am using a Schacht Baby Wolf gifted to me by a friend to weave wool, mostly Koigu from Canada.


We have two sons and three grandchildren and my husband and I walk most every morning on the beach. We gather trash and hunt for pebbles, shells, and sea glass.

Nothing more to see here. Click HERE.