This week, I went to return a couple books on Tai Chi I checked out in March, before the shelter in place order. I discovered authorities had opened a free, public, by appointment only, covid testing center at the library’s meeting room. It seemed an actively used place, so I just kept driving. I’ll keep the books for now. The library probably won’t open till 2021 anyway.
The testing center got me thinking about the testing numbers thrown around every day, everywhere. In theory, to contain the virus and stamp it out, countries begin immediately with test, isolate, contact trace. In theory. If you look at a places such as Taiwan, you’ll notice that tests are at 2.8 test per 1K people. You read that right, 2.8. Other nations that have done well, have similarly less per population testing. South Korea is at 13.8 tests per 1K. That’s because they went on the offensive right out of the gate. If you do that, you don’t end up needing as many tests.
Nations that don’t get on board immediately? They need to do massive amounts of testing to try to get ahead of the virus because they’ve lost control of the horse at the start gate. The race becomes trying to get the horse back under control so the rider and horse don’t die on the course rather than your jockey (the CDC) controlling that horse to a successful finish, maybe even a win.
If your nation ends up in Lombardy situation. It gets bad, and it stays bad for a long time, because in this race, when you start late, you’ve already lost. But there are worse situations, you could live in a nation where you start late and there is no jockey. That’s the US right now.
Our testing and reporting is so bad that whereas other nations can be reported as “people tested,” “tests performed,” or “cases tested,” for the US it’s “inconsistent units”. When someone in the US says we’re testing X number per 1K people, sounds great. But we really have no idea what tests their talking about or who is being tested.
Here’s Covid-19 data from Washington, DC for May 12. This is actually how bald and naked the public health dept is reporting the data:
- Total Tested Overall: 31,658
- Total Positives: 6,584
But in Washington DC, there is the WH, and WH staff (377 people) are tested everyday. So in 10 days DC could report they’d run 31K tests, but 10% of those would be WH only tests. They’d have wasted 10% of their tests, on 377 people. DC has over 700K residents. And 10% of tests should go to 0.00005% of the population? The wealthiest, whitest part of the population, in a city that’s only 42% white.
This is where my problem lies for me, the vagueness of the data being reported. Vague data doesn’t help. If they’re retesting many of the same people over again (healthcare workers, people who tested positive and need retests to be cleared), they aren’t testing X (the population widely), which means they aren’t getting ahead of SARS CoV2 in the population. In a disease with asymptomatic spread, testing the population is your only option.
- how many test you did.
- how many people were first time, never before tested,
- how many are frontline workers being constantly retested,
- how many are confirmed cases being repeatedly retested to get out of quarantine
- how many are self-reported suspect Covid
- how many are asymptomatic.
- what’s the break down of covid tests vs. antibody tests in “tests”
- how many tests reported no result or inconclusive results
- how many tests got lost, contaminated, trashed
- how many tests are backlogged
In a situation where there’s an oil spill, you don’t clean up from the middle and work out. You clean up from the edges and work in. Covid is an oil spill. To contain it, you have to get the booms out around the edges of the problem to stop it. Continuing to test where you know the oil is spouting out is …. stupid. Yes, cap the well in the middle by taking appropriate actions, there in the middle. But save the rest of the population by testing from the uninfected areas in.
Even states that are really trying, like California, seem to be vague on testing. Here’s the report for May 12 from California‘s Covid page. Notice there is no mention of testing.
I only found out about covid testing in our area because I drove by the active site and read the sign. If I go to my county or state Public Health Dept website? Not listed. Want to see the terrible Covid dashboard for the state? It’s pretty bad. And this is a state that’s really trying.
If you want to see great useful easy-to-understand covid data visualization, check out the CBC’s reporting for the same day, for British Columbia. We have nothing like this here in the US, or even in my state. You want to see what excellent CDC visualization looks like, check out BC’s CDC dashboard. It’s beautiful.
Because I was already thinking about testing, I started thinking about vaccine development. I’m pro vaccine, but I question if that’s the right strategy for this disease. We know there are asymptomatic carriers. Up to 50% might be asymptomatic carriers. In other words, there are many, many people who get SARS CoV2 without developing Covid 19 (the disease the sickens/kills people). In fact, most of these people never know they have the disease.
Finding out why these human bodies are able to let SARS CoV2 pass through them without incident (much like bats) should be a top area of research. If we knew why they had this ability, we could a) figure out who is at greater risk and who can freely go about their business, but wearing a mask so as not to spread the virus and b) maybe use that knowledge to replicate it in others somehow and give the other 50% of people the ability to pass SARS CoV2 through their body without incident.
This to me seems the fastest, safest way back to some kind of normal. It might also stand us in good stead in future outbreaks.
I think about how to return to some kind of normal, safely, because it’s not happening in the US. The federal government is pushing to reopen the economy without testing, without vaccines, without even basic measures to protect workers. It seems to be their agenda to convince people “life in lockdown” or “survival of the fittest” in an open economy. Both these ideas are stupid, but more to the point, politically self serving.
The GOP administration is currently literally trying to force people to go out to work and be murdered by their employers so the 1% (that donates to them) can keep making unneeded, untaxed billions. These people can’t stay home. Their GOP state governors are denying them unemployment benefits, saying they “refuse to work” because the plant is open and have therefore “quit” and so aren’t entitled to benefits.
On top of this, these “employers” (aren’t they really masters of slave labor?) want immunity for sickening and killing their employees.
This desire to be granted immunity is how you know, they know, they are committing a crime. You don’t need immunity if you haven’t done something criminal. Think about it. The fact the GOP wants to give it them this immunity? Wow. I knew you were NAZIs, but welcome to Nuremberg. Talk about crimes against humanity.
If you want to know what life is like on the frontline of meat packing plant in Canada, owned by American billionare family Cargill, have a read. Think “as Sacklers are to the opioid crisis, Cargills are to MPP covid crisis.” Warning: You may find this disturbing.
You’d think, if companies such as Cargill, Tyson, etc, had good leaders, they would just do the super easy to do stuff that’s super effective at stopping disease. Because doesn’t shutting down for weeks at time cost money? Doesn’t having workers get sick and die actually cost the company?
Even if you’re the worst sociopathic, godless capitalist on the planet, you should understand that hiring and training a new worker to replace one you murdered through your greed and indifference, is both a short-term and long-term problem, and more costly.
How hard is it to clean and change your ventilation/exhaust system to minimize risk to workers, require steel surfaces cleaned after every couple hours and between shifts, mandate hand washing every hour and use of company provided PPE, or have bleach pans and require stepping Wellies in bleach pans upon entry/exit of the facility and between rooms such as cafeteria, changing room, abattoir, offices, etc?
It’s strange how PETA’s “Meat is Murder” slogan, created to mean the animals being slaughtered, can now be freely applied to the workers at MPPs. The WH calls these folks being forced to labor “warriors” for the economy. But reality? They’re cannon fodder for billionaire capitalists and their purchased representatives.
The Founders saw life as the main thing a federal government was supposed to protect. It’s “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The economy doesn’t get a mention. Life does, its mention is primary. No life, no economy. Yes, in times of war, lives are sacrificed for the preservation of a nation. But always as a last resort, always with an eye to minimizing loss of life, always on the understand a national debt to the people who fought is going to be owed.
That’s not what’s happening here. And even it were? Let’s take a step back for a moment and think about this “war” scenario. If this is a war, and workers are being drafted into it, what’s the new social contract look like? Because in war, there’s always a new type of social contract to go with the new level of sacrifice being asked for.
What’s the GI Bill for American workers you’ve drafted and sent to “the front” to possibly die or be sickened or stuck with long-term disabilities as a result (not to mention the families and friends and people in communities they return to and expose every day) ? Are they going to get free medical care for life? If they die, do the get a free grave at Arlington? What about a free life insurance policy worth $250K so their family can be supported if they die?
Are you supplying your warriors with free food, housing, clothes, essential equipment (PPE) and medical care while they’re fighting your “war”? Are you paying your “warriors” every month, fairly and equally, despite gender or color? And after the “war” is over, do they get a year’s unemployment automatically as they try to find new work in a changed economy? Are they going to get a free education? What about low cost mortgages for buying a home or a farm?
In America, even when there is a war, a declared war, and there is a upgrade to the social contract, and a recognition that people are sacrificing and as a result the nation should aid, assist, care for and compensate them and their families, communities…. America under the GOP always goes back and breaks the contract.
Last June, less than a year ago, the 9/11 responders and workers went to Capitol Hill, to fight for basic fair treatment in return for their heroic sacrifices. Some who went to speak were actively dying, but still went. And they couldn’t even get GOP lawmakers to show up and listen.
If there’s one thing GOP does well, it’s start huge disasters, take actions that make them worse but increase donor profits, and then completely turn their back on everyone they hurt by their stupid, selfish destructive actions and blame the victims for doing their jobs heroically.
And the current administration is no different. Today’s GOP administration’s response to the current crisis it created? Same old, same old. Utter incompetence. Utter depravity toward human suffering. Utterly out to just consolidate power and make money for donors and themselves.
Just this week ultra wealthy, uber trumpy-pumpy Republican Orange county, elected a man that ran on platform of two things: “Cutting taxes and” — wait for iiiiiiiiiiit — “Cleaning up homelessness.” As if homelessness were a criminal enterprise or homeless people were criminal gang by definition.
We have “right to life” white evangelical “christians” who are fine with killing the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the prisoners, the immigrants, the small children, the meat packers, anyone (but themselves) for the economy. Pretty sure that’s not what the Bible says to prioritize. But that’s how far they’ve fallen having hitched their wagon to the GOP instead of God. The sky is green and the grass is blue.
They’ll believe any lie so long as they don’t have to pull their heads out of the sand and admit they’re not doing anything Christ asked them to do. They literally prefer to slaughter themselves if it means avoiding living a life that prioritizes love and care for others. Not even “others,” their own countrymen, their own communities, their own families. Wow.
The thing about restarting life in the US (not just the economy) that people need to understand is that when something goes really bad, you have to change leadership, upgrade the nation’s OS, and reboot. This is something you see throughout history.
Failure of leadership leads to societal injustice and inequity, which leads to economic catastrophe, which leads to new leadership (sometimes via head chopping and revolution), which leads to a new social contract, which leads to a new economy on reboot.
The classic version of this in the story of the Exodus. Pharaoh was a crap leader, this led to slavery, this led to an exodus, under Moses, which lead to economic collapse in Egypt, and a new society based on new ideas for the Israelites.
The thing people forget in the Exodus story is that Moses himself quickly fell at the first hurdle and became a failed leader. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Moses was raised in the Pharaoh’s household. He was trained up to be a “master,” an Egyptian prince. The 1%. He tried to recreate top-down Egyptian-style government, the only kind he knew, right out of the gate. This lead to an epic fail.
It should have been a short trip to Canaan. Instead, because of Moses’s quick dive into old Egyptian leadership, decades of wandering in the desert ensued. Ultimately, every man who came up out of Egypt with Moses died without reaching the promised land. (We don’t know about the women or children.) Every man except Joshua, who was born and raised a slave in Egypt. Joshua’s outlook on life, compared to Moses’s, was very different.
At the threshold of Canaan, Israel’s reboot began. You know this is a reboot because, even though the cast and scenery changes, the plot starts out the same. It starts with the raising up of a new leader, Joshua. And then his “authentication” by God. Moses leaving Egypt via the miraculous Red Sea crossing, becomes Joshua leaving the desert via the miraculous Jordan River crossing.
Once on the other side, aka once out of Egypt, Joshua gets everyone to commit themselves to God, using their own blood and flesh, and a mass circumcision takes place. This stands in stark contrast to Moses, who committed the people to God, whilst standing all alone before God, and then handing down The Law to them.
Moses was an Egyptian prince to his core. He handed down a law and expected people to obey. The way he expected his stupid sheep to fall in line. Joshua was a leader of the people. He expected nothing. He asked people for their support. He asked them to commit themselves, and they literally sacrificed a piece of themselves.
So leadership upgrade? Check. But for a reboot to work, the OS has to be upgraded as well. There’s a difference between a remake and reboot. A remake attempts to do the same story, exactly, with different people maybe a different set. A reboot requires rethinking the whole plot, upgrading it.
When you compare and contrast Moses to Joshua, it’s pretty stark. Moses had 2 sons, had been raise prince, then become a shepherd (after murdering with impunity an inferior) and was always living in mindset he was raised in — that of his own superiority and patriarchy in general. Joshua? He had 7 daughters, had been a slave, then became a warrior. Always living in a mindset of humility, family, care for others as equals.
You can see how the Joshua, who was fearless, was the perfect person to upgrade the OS Moses handed off to him, the Law. A great example of this is Joshua’s daughters, who upon maturity, seeing themselves done out of their inheritance by Moses’s Law, went to their father and made a case for social justice.
On the spot, Joshua changed the Law — to make society more fair and just for all. He didn’t see the Law as written in stone and unchanging. The Law was just a basic start point for a people newly released and needing some guidance. He didn’t see people, as Moses had, as slaves of the Law. Joshua saw that Law as serving the needs of the people and as the people grew and changed and developed, so too must the Law.
Joshua understood what Moses never did, that the Law and society both needed to keep moving toward the fair and equitable treatment of all. He wasn’t afraid to move in the direction of a Promised Land. I’m sure to elderly Egypt-born men he might have seemed wildly liberal. Women, with property?! But that’s why all those Egypt-born men had to die. They couldn’t be allowed to enter the Promised Land and taint it, hold it back from becoming all it could be, with their old backward-looking mindsets.
Those men would always want to hang on to and re-institute everything that made the world they’d left dysfunctional and ultimately had led to its collapse. They wanted to be the Egyptians, rather than the Egyptians’ slaves. But that meant, they didn’t really want to be what God intended, Isrealites a new, better, different sort of people. Joshua wanted the world that God envisioned. So he made it.
The goal was getting to the Promised Land, not just a place on the map but a new mindset, a new and better way of living, not for the few rulers at the top, but for everyone equally. A new economy, not based on slavery A new structure of government, without kings. A new religion, not based on fear.
So I say all this, why? Because after WW2, America’s GI Bill, given to the 10% of people (men, women, minorities) who had fought the war, was basically socialism, which combined with high taxes on the rich and strict laws from the 1930s about finance and banking, worked together to make the US a better place. When people look back on the 1950s as a good period, they’re looking back on the impact of socialism and government regulation on markets.
Europe after the war took a similar route. Only they made sure their socialist changes, like national health, went to 100% of the population. Because in the war, everyone in European nations had suffered. The US said “this is just the soldiers” negating the rest of the population’s sufferings and sacrifices. But the Europeans looked around the smoldering ruble and said “Everyone suffered.” They understood nationhood as a “together we advance” mindset. And out of this came the EU.
Europe continued to go forward, while the US and UK started pulling backwards. And here we are 2 huge economic crashes later, both caused by incompetent Republican leadership, malfeasance, and governance only on behalf of the rich. Americans tend to ignore the world-shattering impact of their action. The world does not. And some of the world is thinking: I don’t want to do business with a county that unstable anymore.
I know this because I heard it firsthand this week. My Significant Other told me that a few weeks back his company had decided the US needed to be treated as revenue-generating only. They didn’t want US companies in their supply chain anymore. Despite his strenuously advocating for remaining in US contracts, he’d been voted down.
New partners would be found in “responsible countries,” i.e., any place that had handled the Covid-19 crisis rationally, successfully, and without criminal disregard for humanity. The US partners he’d worked with had been great partners. He felt terrible, but the constant political zigzagging, generally backward policy movement, and lack of reliably competent, humanistic national governance? All insurmountable problems to doing business.
And, though US national governance would likely change in January, and things could potentially improve, how long would that last? Maybe 8 years, but maybe 4 years, maybe only 2 years with midterms. Who could say if with this election the US would finally turn the corner into modern humane scientific reality. Everyone thought in 2008 the US was finally turning a corner. But then it turned again. The US just kept making squares instead of progress.
Since 2016’s election, it had been a long, public descent into madness. The final straw was the US covid “response” which was so idiotic, so alarming, so destructive of human life and the economy, it was clear that America could no longer be relied upon to do the right, logical, even sensible, thing for its own people. Forget about the US attempting any sort of world leadership.
Crises were certainly going to happen again in the future, but a proper response was not certain to be forthcoming from America when such crises arose. That being true, it would be folly to have American companies in the supply chain. I didn’t say anything. What was there to say? That’s how the board saw things.
In the US we look at ourselves constantly, and at others incidentally. We rarely stop and try to see how other nations see us. Europe has watched our government’s failure at every turn. Was it so surprising some European firms might feel it was better not be too involved with the US anymore? They’d left the UK when it fell prey to the same madness.
And while all this talk of the world may seem abstract, it wasn’t really. The unspoken undercurrent of the conversation was Der’s years of building solid relationships and contacts in the US, of getting everything up and humming, his hopes of being able to expand and take it to the next level, were now all blown to smithereens, — in his mind, by the Americans — again.
This, I suspect, was where much of the “America might as well be nuking other nations” feelings originated. He felt nuked, and he wasn’t wrong. The shift in direction meant having to forge new relationships and contracts in Canada, but perhaps as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan. It meant starting over, again, in some respects. It meant time and travel (extended by multiple quarantines), though it wasn’t said, more times of separation in the near future.
I said I understood because I did. In moments of upheaval, if we are very lucky, all we must do to rise to the challenge is grow, learn, change, take new roads, maybe start from scratch. He was lucky. The company and the staff would be ok, for now. Our adopted country would benefit from America’s losses. His travels would be in “safe” countries.
We were lucky. Our lives would go on, for now. That’s a lot more than could be said for millions of others whose lives had been train wrecked by their government’s incompetence, or for the hundreds of thousands in deep mourning over their needlessly slain loved ones and left with cold comfort.
He’d have to start reaching out now and follow up with travels, if restrictions allowed maybe in September. We would still have our “brilliant summer fling.” And on Labour Day, as we often do when a great time comes to an end, we’d have our last dance in the candle-lit kitchen. After that, who could say. Except perhaps, the nightingale.