Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Looking Back, Looking Forward

photo by Dot Hearn - Twin Rocks Reflection

Remember way back in late March and early April - the memes saying something like: If we do lockdown, later people will say "what was it all for? We're fine! We didn't need that." But if we don't lockdown, later people will say,  "we should have done more! Why didn't the states/government step in to help? We should have locked down."

We're there now. (Although we are not yet out of the pandemic.)

If you're lucky enough to live in an area where there was a significant stay-at-home order early and for a longer period of time, you might not personally know anyone who has or who had it, or known anyone who died of COVID-19.  Lucky you - you either live in an isolated community no one really visits or you maybe had a longer uncomfortable time of restrictions than some other states.

Today we have 12 states who are at critical level. I don't know in how many of those states health care providers are having to make decisions about who is too far gone with the disease to even admit to the hospital so they get sent home; where they have to triage people's chances for survival from COVID-19 to see who they can treat and who they can't; I do know at least two, maybe three. Where they are ordering refrigerated trucks to store dead bodies because the morgues are full.

So, please, just because you personally don't know anyone who has or had it, don't dismiss the pandemic or the current threat. The threat is real. Instead, be thankful that where you live, someone did their research and listened to experts and made decisions to keep people as safe as they could. That you live in a place where people care about each other and not just themselves, so they followed the mandates. (I realize that last sentence is a little Pollyanna-ish of me - but I *do* know many people who are doing the distancing and masks and keeping trips down as much to protect others as to protect themselves - and I do believe,  most of the time, in the basic underlying goodness of people.)

Yes, in the 'early days' of COVID-19,  some were hopeful that we'd be almost over it by now. We're not. We're nowhere near done with it - it's nowhere done with us. The summer heat is doing nothing to slow the spread, probably because too many people are doing nothing to slow the spread and are ignoring the warnings and ignoring recommendations intended to protect people from getting sick and to minimize deaths.

Rather than brush aside the recommendations, think about others as much as yourself: wear your mask properly when in public (indoor and outdoor), wash your hands well and frequently, avoid large gatherings (especially indoors), keep at least 6 feet between you and others. Simple. Is it fun? No. But please, do it.

Just because you don't personally know anyone who's had it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Say thank you to whatever entity, government, family, and/or friends who are considerate enough to also hold you in mind as they follow the recommendations to keeping the community where you live safe.

Believe me (or not, it doesn't matter), I look forward to the day when we can have live theater in venues with patrons in seats, to concerts large and small, to community gatherings where I get to meet new people, to face-to-face writing workshops with writers and facilitators I love. Zoom and online events help fill the void, but they don't fill my creative heart in the same way. It's a better connection than no connection, but it is not the same. But I'd rather wait until it's safe(r) rather than risk being a carrier to someone I respect and care about.

We are actually all in this together. As someone said earlier (and I'm sorry I don't remember who it was) : we are not all in the same boat due to economic and racial disparity, but we are all on the same turbulent ocean right now.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Coronavirus - It's Not Just How Many Die

There is so much happening in this time that I am finding it hard to write much about it. I let an entire month slip by without writing anything here; almost two months. I have been writing quite a bit, thank you for online writing workshops with Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen and "Multiplicities" with Daniel Elder under the umbrella of Corporeal Writing. I don't write a lot about the killings by cops, the demonstrations and protests calling for police reform and Black Lives Matter and related concerns. I haven't written about the riots and police violence and the invasion of Federal cops into Portland and them snatching up peaceful protesters with unmarked cars wearing unidentified uniforms. The Federal cops who are escalating the protests; who shot a protester - a guy holding up a sign? a radio? (I don't remember right now) over his head and who was standing across the street - they shot him with a trajectory, right in the face; he was in critical condition and required facial reconstructive surgery and is having brain damage issues right now. That is completely uncalled for. They are literally kidnapping people from the streets and spraying with a banned chemical and more. They are not "quelling" the protests, they are instigating and stirring whipping the situation to critical. We were not a city "under siege" as the WH administration commented before he sent unwanted Federal cops here; we are under siege right now - by them. And the coronavirus is raging again, with predictions of it going higher and higher. Because people are quibbling about a face covering, a face mask. I am not going to climb into that one right now. Just as I am not going to climb into the inanity of our government in regards to the virus. Or the utter stupidity and cruelty of the push to get teachers and children back into schools when there is no plan for their protection, testing, treatment when the inevitable virus spread happens. I cannot believe some of the lies and the ignorance I have seen them spout. So, before I devolve further into my fury or anxiety producing rage at the pre-COVID virus which begins with T and is supported by R, who were destroying our country ahead of the pandemic, I want to share something I typed up and put out on Facebook.

... I have another concern regarding our current status ...

 I see some people who seem to be minimizing the impact of COVID-19 based on the percentage of people who die. This concerns me. Yes, the death rates are currently low, but are just beginning to increase, again; this is to be expected because of the spikes in infections following various stages of re-opening over the past weeks. (Currently, around 4% of those who become infected do die.) But it is important that we not only focus on the infection and death numbers. We must also be aware of other associated risks for those who get the virus; even those who are asymptomatic. I do not see people talking much about the potential long term effects for those who do recover from COVID-19. Yes, many more people recover than die. But it is becoming apparent that many who have recovered are experiencing or may experience health effects requiring treatment for months or years; it is unknown at this point what continuing effects are permanent. It also is starting to look like the antibodies may not protect those who have recovered for very long - and health care providers are seeing more cases of people who have recovered becoming reinfected. These findings should be taken into account when making activity decisions involving other people. Some of the current long term effects being observed in those who have recovered from even "mild cases" of COVID-19 include: - stroke (even in people age 30-40); - blood clotting (same age group); - significant lung damage, which may worsen over time and is probably permanent; even asymptomatic people may experience lung inflammation; - dangerous rashes in young children (part of a syndrome which is being linked to COVID-19); - heart damage: 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients experience cardiac dysfunction; - kidney failure; - liver abnormalities; - neurological manifestations - brain health is at risk; - fatigue and muscle weakness. According to current data available, the reported cases in the USA (July 17) are: -- deaths = 140,888 [projected to be around 225,000-240,000 by October 31] -- confirmed infections = 3,677,453 -- recovered cases = 1,076,823