Kids Say the Darnedest Things ..

.. even when they’re adults.

For background, Representative Louis Gohmert steadfastly refused to wear a mask whilst in the Capitol .. and then he tested positive for the virus. Famous for saying “If I get COVID, I’ll wear a mask, he was administered a pre-flight test (on Air Force One, no less) and was compelled to skip a trip to Texas with our famously germophobic President.

Then he blamed the mask for giving him COVID-19.

Ignorant. I take no pleasure in seeing Nature prove him wrong. It hurts my heart that he tested positive .. that he may have spread to others in The House and Senate.

For the record, there are 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, many of whom are over 65 .. 48 in The Senate and 147 in The House (updated to reflect the COVID pandemic). 65 and over comprise a higher-risk group for having serious complications from the disease.

His daughter spoke up today: “Rep. Louie Gohmert’s daughter rebukes him for not wearing a mask before coronavirus diagnosis“. Her quote:

“Wearing a mask is a non-partisan issue. The advice of medical experts shouldn’t be politicized. My father ignored medical expertise and now he has Covid”

She’s right. She made a more pointed follow-up quote that speaks to political attitudes about wearing masks in this country, but as I avoid politics herein, please read the entire article and make your own political decision .. but please, please, please make the proper, common-sense and medical decision.

Let’s close this off .. please step away from the politics and into wearing a mask. You’re not proving anything positive .. And risk making yourself and others COVID-positive.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Even if you’re an adult kid. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Thank You Georgia Mayors ..

.. Atlanta, Dunwoody, Athens, Savannah ..

.. all of whom have mandated wearing masks.

Thank you again which resulted in a misguided Georgia Governor response .. note that this only against the Atlanta Mayor (for now).

Go figure. The CDC says:

Stop.

This is exposing people who don’t need to be exposed .. killing the most vulnerable among us.

Buy a mask. Wear a mask.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

When you Mix Politics and Science ..

.. you get Politics. Referenced herein in the New York Times, but I think the original attribution goes to conservative writer George Will. Thank you, George Will.

So, we have politics.

With or without the politics, we have greater and greater positivity numbers. Please note that I didn’t say ‘test numbers’. Testing doesn’t cause the infection .. it detects it. Please, let’s stay close to the facts.

Oh .. The facts (as of this writing):

  • 3,739,726 US cases.
  • 140,294 US deaths.
  • 18.7% positivity rate in Florida (the present global epicenter). This is the percentage of positive test results .. the rate of which represents community spread (where one person can infect others).
  • 20% positivity rate in Austin, TX ..
  • 37% in Arizona .. and the list goes on to lesser degrees .. 5% is considered urgent.

Some notes for your reference:

I penned “I’m Confused ..” on June 14th, summarizing the cacophony and inconsistency on the messaging from myriad sources.

VP Mike Pence published (note I didn’t say ‘penned’) “There is no Second Wave” on June 16th .. just over a month ago.

Pence was wrong.

Well, wait. In a tragic way, he was right, but only in that we are still in the first wave and not the second. This is worse, because we’re in the season that is typically quiet for virus spread.  On June 28th, I posted “Here We Were Again ..“, where I described this as a tide, and not a wave .. according to the experts, we’ll see the wave when cold and flu season returns in the fall. Mr. Pence is not referring to that ‘wave’ .. Johns Hopkins confirms this and goes into much more detail in “First and Second Waves of Coronavirus“.

:: sigh ::

Testing is so backed up in some areas (Georgia included), that it takes over five days to get a result, positive or negative. This means that people who are tested should be quarantined until they get their results. I’m near-certain that people are not doing that, and are instead, celebrating their results when they come in .. but not knowing if they have the virus from the previous days’ activities.

Some facts:

  • We need more tests and faster test result turnaround.
  • We need those who have taken tests to isolate until they get their results.
  • We need everyone to wear a mask. I go deep on this in “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?” back in early May.
  • We need everyone to “Behave like you have it ..“.

Apologies. I’m going on and on and on here .. happens when I have the news on in the background.

Let’s close this off .. please step away from the politics and into wearing a mask.

Be smart. Be an adult (even if you’re a kid, because you can spread it too). Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

If You Care About ..

Seriously .. This is simple. I talked about this in “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?

If you care about:

  • Sending kids to school in September .. wear a mask.
  • Our economic recovery .. wear a mask.
  • Going to a restaurant or a bar .. wear a mask.
  • Going to the grocery store .. wear a mask.
  • Traveling anywhere .. wear a mask.
  • Keeping your parents healthy .. wear a mask.
  • Keeping your congregation healthy .. wear a mask.

I literally and intentionally sound like a broken record. It’s on purpose. Given all the numbers, wearing a mask is the least-expensive and most-effective tool in our arsenal.

We all get to shape our future. Please do your part.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Here We Were Again ..

I decided to turn my brain off for Saturday .. and then I looked at my pandemic notes from Friday.

Argh.

Two very interesting charts leaped out at me from the news Friday (updated today to include the 26th). The first shows that while we had made progress, we are trending higher at a frightening rate:

CV US New 20200626

.. note that US cases rose another 45,000 on Saturday .. I don’t have that graph yet, but you get my point.

The second is the EU Wave versus US Tide .. this snap from Sunday morning:

CV US v EU 20200626

Europe has managed to flatten its curve and reduce the spread. The US has not.

Despite the ‘second wave’ references you hear, I’ve maintained that we’re in a tide and not a wave, as I commented in “I’m Confused ..” from June 14th. Note that Europe (white line) has created a wave .. but our (green line) high-water mark has not yet appeared.

Some notes on the US tide:

  • I’ve been WFH since March 13th.
  • Georgia (my residence state) issued “Ordered and Commanded” on April 1st .. Note that Georgia closed later than most.
  • On April 9th we had 34,746 new cases in the country, while we were in full shutdown mode.
  • We peaked at 36,291 new cases in the third week of April.
  • States (including Georgia) started opening about the same time, while we were still seeing spikes. Note that Federal guidance was to reopen after seeing 14 days of three-day-average of consecutive decline.
  • We hit a ‘trough’ right around Memorial Day (end of May) .. and then we had the Memorial Day holiday

Most States have reopened too quickly and many too carelessly. The wrong business, the wrong rules, lack of messaging, lack of enforcement. We’ve surpassed the highest number of cases (back in April) with the rise of this tide, hitting a record-setting 40,173 new cases on Friday.

Let me reiterate: we had more new positive cases last Friday than we had at the peak during the shutdown (recall a two-week lag). Hospitalization admission counts will follow this number and are a great cause for concern. Please note that as of today (Sunday) we have:

As to public information, we don’t have:

  • Clear Federal guidelines .. about much of anything: masks, distancing, testing, counts.
  • Clear CDC guidelines, although there’s lots of information on the CDC site if you choose to dig for best practices.
  • Clear state-level guidelines.

On the plus side, the counties and city mayors are taking up some of the slack, even going as far to levy fines for non-mask wearers in public spaces. Without their engagement, we’d all be back t home.

For the record: I do think we can open safely, but requires work on all our parts .. Government, business and People.

Last note: increased testing is not why the numbers are going up. Yes, more tests mean adding more cases to the positive count. However, the positivity rate (the percent of positive tests in the testing count .. regardless of the number of tests administered) is the real number to watch. Last week it has been as low as .5% (New York) and as high as 27% (one county in Florida) last week. Desired is less than 5% positive, alarming is greater than 10% .. both should be followed by isolation.

Those who say the numbers are going up only because of increased test counts are misleading you. While the initial statement is accurate, they are not taking into consideration the positivity rate, which manifests itself in hospitalization rates .. which are increasing dramatically .. there is a two-week lag, meaning reality will strike within 30 days.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

“Get Past It”

Thank you, Dr Fauci, for this quote.

He’s right (of course). Wearing a mask:

  • Is not be a political issue.
  • Is not a demonstration of weakness.
  • Is not an intentional personal affront when you choose to wear one.

Wearing a mask is just smart. My mask protects you, yours protects me. I thank you for wearing yours.

Dr Fauci said it best (and with admirable brevity in the quote above), compared to my lengthy diatribes in “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?, “Respect the Mask“, “Thank you Trump Supporters” .. for those who showed up and wore masks in Tulsa and “Good Personal Responsibility ..“. In each of these, I hope we will all act like adults.

Listen to him and not to me: “I’m not a Doctor ..“. Dr Fauci is. He’s the brains of the outfit.

Skipping the mask, for whatever reason, is akin to smoking around those who don’t, of driving drunk, of having unprotected sex without advising your partner, or .. pick your analogy here.

Skipping the mask puts others in danger. If not those in your immediate orbit, those to whom go home, will meet later on or will encounter in public spaces.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Thank you Trump Supporters

I avoid politics in this forum. I am doing so today.

Thank you Trump Supporters .. I mean it. He’s your guy, and in America, we all enjoy the freedom to have ‘our guy’.

Thank you:

  • For those who didn’t travel to Tulsa for the rally this past Saturday. Not because you didn’t get to enjoy his speech .. I’m hoping you watched on TV. I appreciate your demonstrating common sense and caution about avoiding large indoor crowds.
  • To those who did travel to Tulsa, attended the rally, and chose to wear masks.
  • To those who live in Tulsa, attended the rally and chose to wear masks.
  • To those who were in the rally, and chose to stay outside.

To the supporters who traveled, arrived, entered the building and didn’t wear masks: thank you in advance for getting tested and taking appropriate actions should you test positive. Protect those you love.

We are still in the middle of this .. We need to demonstrate “Good Personal Responsibility ..” .. you’ll hear me ask “Wear / Where’s Your Mask ..” time and time again in this forum.

Again, I thank you. We all make America great.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

Good Personal Responsibility ..

.. please.

Cases are on an uptick in too many states .. Yes, these states are doing more testing, but the positivity rates (the percentage of positive results in the overall test group) are also going up at a frightening pace.

The data changes too quickly for me to list it all here, but a quick snapshot:

Look: many places in this country opened without solid plans and without adult supervision.

Be an adult: “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?“. Your mask protects me, my mask protects you. The combination of both reduces the transmission rate by nearly 17% .. the virus does transmit asymptomatically .. and through the air. Regardless of anything someone else tells you, this is a dangerous time to be breathing in close proximity to others.

Be smart. Be an adult. Do the right thing. Stay home when you can. Wear a mask when you cannot.

I’m Confused ..

.. are you?

Candidly, between my real job and the compression (and confusion) of the news cycle .. It’s been a bit since I’ve written, and this one will be lengthy. Apologies.

Let’s catch up .. first, a quick quiz:

  • Masks: good or bad?
  • Soap and water: really?
  • Social Distancing: yes or no?
  • Distance: six feet? Twelve feet?
  • Is it safer outside?
  • Surfaces: which, and for how long, and does it matter?
  • The Asymptomatic: contagious .. more, less or at all?
  • The Resolved: are they immune? Forever? For how long?
  • Testing: are we doing enough? Is that why there are more positive cases?
  • Hospitalization counts: how important is that number?
  • Death counts: a global tragedy. What do they tell us?
  • Are we opening too quickly?
  • Will there be a second wave?

Umm .. Lessee: Good, really, yes, twelve, less, no, yes, ahh .. not so quick after all. Let’s discuss:

  • Masks: at the public / social level, your mask protects me from you and my mask protects you from me (please see “Wear / Where’s Your Mask?“):
    • Our masks protect each other from everyone else that we may have encountered.
    • This is common sense, and is backed up by substantial data from NYC: the lowest number of cases occur with medical workers who are always wearing masks. Granted: they wear the really good masks .. but even the use of a paper mask protects people from each other as can capture moisture droplets that may contain the virus discharged by breathing and speaking.
    • Please wear your mask when out or when you cannot be socially distant from others.
  • Soap and Water: YES, as you’ll read in “I’m not a Doctor ..” (I’m not). The corona of the coronavirus is a lipid shell that dissolves when it interacts with soap, breaking apart the bad stuff within. Any soap will do, and taking 20 seconds of your life is worth your life.
  • Social Distancing: a solid yes: Distance is still important right now, but granted, unexposed groups (i.e., couples or families with no other outside contact) can certainly can stay close together, but separate from others. We see this in tables at restaurants, groups on beaches and so on. Until we know much, much more, respect the space of others.
  • On Distance: more is better .. but impossible in all situations:
  • Outside: Definitely better .. to the above, many churches are meeting outside, which makes better sense to me. Note that Coronavirus spreads through the air outside with shocking ease during walks and exercise, largely because of the rapid dispersal of aerosol and droplets.
  • Surfaces: A few bits on surfaces:
  • Asymptomatic: another solid yes. The rate of transmission is still the big question, triggering a very confusing report from the World Health Organization about the rate of spread. With all that: it does spread from people who don’t know they have it, period. “Behave like you have it ..” is my suggestion .. because you might, they might, or you both may spread it or catch it without knowing it.
  • The Resolved: The good news: there is an Antibody test (blood) that is quite reliable that lets you know if you’ve had it. However, other news is disturbing on a few fronts:
  • Testing and Positive Cases:
    • We are finally showing signs of test availability. “Testing, Testing, Testing ..” is good, good and good.
    • While some questions regarding the accuracy of some tests is a valid concern, the swab test supported by a variety of labs seems to be valid. Note that the diagnostic test is a point-in-time test: testing negative means you don’t have it only at that moment.
    • When we test, we detect more cases. That is the idea, and goes without saying. However, the count of tests themselves is being used as the positive talking point by politicians pushing for reopening. More below.
    • Don’t get me wrong: Testing is good. What matters the most: the percentage of COVID-positive results (determines the count entering the funnel), the subsequent actions of the individual (did they isolate?) AND what do the health authorities do with these positive cases? Please see “Testing .. Tracing .. Isolating” for some thoughts.
  • Hospitalization Counts are the most important and reliable number in my mind:
    • Patients who are hospitalized will have symptoms, receive a reliable laboratory test, are isolated and will be treated with a higher level of care to ensure they are on the best path to getting well.
    • This number ensures we are monitoring the hospital capacity as cases are still occurring to ensure we can treat the infected.
  • Counting those who have passed:
    • A global tragedy and many could have been avoided in many countries if governments and individuals acted sooner or more appropriately. We need to face forward and act to ensure the death toll stops as soon as possible.
    • Even worse, the deaths may even be higher than the published number, given that in the early days many were counted as ‘respiratory illness’, while others who passed at home may not have been tested at all.
    • We may get an accurate count one day, and must recognize those who passed before their time.
  • Reopening too quickly?: I have been fortunate to be working throughout the SAH orders .. I tease that the only thing shorter about my workday is the commute .. and I’m not kidding. With that said:
    • I do not feel we are reopening too quickly, but from what I see, watch and hear we may be re-opening too carelessly. Too many snaps of pool parties and churches, the protests and marches, and far too few masks for my taste when I venture out.
    • A kudos to the businesses that require masks and for my Fellow Americans who wear them
  • The Second Wave“: We’ve all heard talk about ‘will there be a second wave in the fall’? To me, the data is suggesting (YMMV):
    • It’s not a wave .. It’s a tide: the tide rose rapidly, SAH stabilized and reduced it, and careless practices are keeping us at standing / rising level.
    • The tide will rise if careful behaviors aren’t maintained. I don’t mean SAH, but I do mean caution, masks, avoiding gatherings and closed spaces .. you know: common sense stuff.
    • Fall will bring Influenza (it always does). The Flu is also a respiratory illness and may make us more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 along with it.

Careless activities and no vaccine are a sure recipe for COVID-19 to continue spreading.

Be smart. Stay connected. Stay safe. Stay home when you can. Be careful when you’re not.

Every Human has a Role to Play ..

.. in keeping COVID-19 at bay.

How we behave now that we’re opening businesses and stores matters. If we don’t treat the environment as hazardous .. noting that we are part of the environment, we run the risk of spreading the virus to those we love.

Masks help:

  • Masks are not a sign of weakness .. they’re a sign of love.
  • Masks are not a political statement .. the virus does not play politics.
  • Masks do not demonstrate disloyalty .. the virus is only loyal to the spread of itself.

Skipping the mask:

  • Is not a sign of strength .. tough guys (and gals) have contracted and spread the virus.
  • Is not a sign of intelligence .. smart guys (and gals), regardless of their rationale have contracted and spread the virus.
  • It is not a sign of beauty or pride .. you look fabulous! Decorate your mask!

Skipping the mask should not be rationalized by ‘inevitability of death statements’ .. you know the ones: “I might get hit by a bus tomorrow .. “.

Right. You might .. but you won’t take others you love with you.

As of 1754, May 27th 2020, the US death toll surpassed 100,000 from COVID-19 .. in under four months.

How many of those deaths might you have caused, directly or indirectly? Granted, inadvertently and without malice ..

.. you can change that today.

Respect the Mask” and respect each other. Wear a mask.

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