Thursday, April 16, 2020

Testing, testing...sibilance

It's like sand in one hand you can't hold for long
Like scheming on a plan that goes all wrong
It's like fudge and caramel they're not the same
And it's a shame all you talk is game

~~ "Just A Test" - by Beastie Boys

A couple, both nurses, fighting together to help others
Apparently, the Coronavirus Task Force has come up with a plan at the so-called "president's" behest called the Opening Up America Again plan. I would propose we call it the Opening Up America's Legs Again plan. Just relax and enjoy it, okay? 

I shouldn't be too sarcastic, but hey, it's what I do. It's actually a fairly good plan, from what I can tell, that is based on decent medical input from the healthcare experts on the panel. (With all due respect—and I mean that quite literally—Mr. "President," fuck your gut feelings.)

A friend asked me the other day if it was reasonable to reopen the economy as soon as the idiot wants it. I responded, "Absolutely not. Not yet." The plan hinges upon widespread testing, both diagnostic and serological, to see if people have an active infection or have had it and have antibodies to it. This is necessary. Neither test is widespread at the moment. The idiot loves to say that we've done more tests than any country in the world, but the truth is that we have tested about 1% of our population. That's ONE percent. People with mild symptoms still cannot get tested.

We are not at the capacity for testing that we need. We are short of test kits, reagents, instruments, and personnel to do the tests. We are short of Personal Protective Equipment that protects all healthcare workers. We are even short of the swabs and transport media with which the specimen is taken. 

Of course, we all know that we need to get people back to work. This is devastating for millions of people, in our own country and around the world. But at what price when it comes to mortality? We've got people like Indiana representative (not mine, thank science) Trey Hollingsworth and notorious quack Dr. Oz talking about acceptable levels of mortality...that it's okay to get people back to work and kids back to school if the death rate from the premature opening stays at a certain low percentage. 

How utterly vile. (Hey, Dr. might want to revisit the Hippocratic Oath you took. Fucker.)

One of the best journalists I've seen lately writing on the pandemic is the science writer for The Atlantic, Ed Yong. Be sure to read his article "Our Pandemic Summer," in which he writes about the steps that need to be taken in order to get us up and running again. Short answer: things are going to be weird for some time. We're talking months, if not years. Widespread testing is the first step and we simply don't have that yet. We just don't. Large crowds will be verboten for some time, at least until we get a vaccine. We need to understand this reality because it is ours and reality is non-negotiable. 

Then we've got idiots in Michigan—just a few miles away from us, and with one of the highest case rates in the country—bitching about travel restrictions and gathering to protest their Governor's draconian edicts. Gathering with their guns and no masks and I seriously hope they all infect each other. 

We are nowhere near the point we need to be with testing. Get ready for a weird summer and more cases in the fall. 


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Why I watch

Now, you chicks do agree
That this ain't the way love's supposed to be
Let me hear, let me hear you say yeah, yeah
Can I get a witness?

~~ "Can I Get A Witness" by Holland, Dozier, and Holland

I've been watching the daily press briefings when possible and to be honest, that is most days now. It's rare for me to miss one. 

I've had numerous friends ask me how I can subject myself to it. How I can "torment" myself. How I can handle it. 

I've had more friends tell me that they count on me to provide commentary because they just can't stand to watch it. I am happy to take on that mantle because of my answer to the first question: I am bearing witness. 

Yeah, It raises my blood pressure and yeah, it makes me crazy for a while...but we are experiencing this right here, right now, and I want to be able to say that I witnessed virtually every moment of this so-called "president" and his utter failure to handle this crisis.

I want to say that I heard him say, "I bear no responsibility." 

I want to say that I listened as he blamed everyone from Barack Obama to the World Health Organization to the individual states. 

I want to say that I watched as he chastised journalists for not praising him for a job well done. 

This has never been more true than today, as I watched him completely melt down as he was grilled by reporters about his response and lashed out at them for daring to question him. As I write this, it happened five or so hours ago and I am still gobsmacked by his unhinged performance. This person is not well. I know it's been said before, but if one of our relatives behaved in this manner, we'd be having a family conference to discuss what is going on and what our options might be. 

And we're talking about the leader of the free world. 

This is not normal. This isn't within spitting distance of normal. This is a full-on batshit DEFCON-1 level of NOT NORMAL. 

As upsetting as it can be, I'm going to watch every fucking minute of it. I'm not melting down. I'm not losing my shit. (That would be him, not me.) I am not subjecting myself nor am I tormenting myself. 

I am watching.