Day 24 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 – Live to Blog with a Sad Smile

I got hit in the mouth today. It was an accident but it still smarted. No, I wasn’t “lipping off” to anyone. I was just walking the dogs. To be clear, there was no permanent damage and I won’t need plastic surgery to correct anything.

Clemencia’s Face Masks

Clemencia started making face masks for us, family, and friends to wear outside the house. Yes, they are being made to comply with CDC guidance. (Really, knowing what you know about her, did you really need to ask?) However, after making several masks, she ran out of elastic to create the loops that go around the ears to hold it in place.

First, she tried to buy the elastic online from fabric stores and Amazon. It was either sold out or on back order and could not be delivered until late May or June. (I’m wondering…have the same people who bought up all the toilet paper also bought up all the elastic? If so, what are they doing with it? Do they know a handicraft that none of the rest of us know?)

When she couldn’t buy it, she reached out to her Spanish classes – all 55 students in 6 classes, plus one group that meets just to play “Battleship” in Spanish on Wednesdays. (No, I don’t know what that’s about.) As a result, she has been getting as much elastic as she can use. It is a wonderfully generous thing for her students to do. It is the delivery system that needs some improvement. And that brings me to my fat lip.

One of Clemencia’s Spanish students called today to let her know she had elastic for her. It turns out the student is a neighbor who lives in the building behind ours. Since we were just about to walk the Girls, Clemencia and the student agreed we would pick up the elastic while maintaining social distancing. The plan was for us to stand under the student’s third floor deck and she would toss the packet of elastic to us. I saw this as an opportunity relive my Little League glory days in left field.

I moved under the deck and told her to let it fly. She did and the package fell like a rock, hitting me squarely in the face mask. However, thinking quickly, I threw myself to the ground like a Premier League soccer player tripping over his own shoe lace, clutched the top of my head, and wailed away. (Why the top of my head? I knew I couldn’t touch my face over my face mask or I would set off another flurry of Lip Pointing by Clemencia.) I carried on like that for about 30 seconds to make a point. Finally, I looked up to see the horrified student. I looked over at Clemencia who was shaking her head and said to me, “I asked her to just throw it in the grass. Que gueva. Mucha gueva!” So I got up, dusted myself off, and assured the neighbor, “I’m just fine, really.” And I was. But it was a brief bit of fun plus it is always nice to make a good impression on neighbors you just met.


Speaking of Lip Pointing…I’ve been “asked” by Clemencia to call out her extraordinary public health contribution yesterday. Apparently the folks at Aldi noticed her eyes bulging and lips twitching throughout our visit. Today the grocery chain announced new, safer COVID-19 policies for customers in their stores. And, yes, mi amor, I know, they are the same things you really wanted to “suggest” to the manager before we left the store on Tuesday. As of this morning, at Aldi, there can be only 1 person per 1,000 square feet in the store; customers will be let in only 1 at a time; only 1 person per family can do the shopping; Aldi personnel will be at the front door to space people as they come into the store; carts will be wiped down by Aldi staff between customers; all shoppers have to move the same direction through the aisles, and, finally, anyone seen wildly using the Colombian Lip Point will be asked to leave the store immediately as it scares both customers and Aldi staff.


Michelle Shockness, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, sent me a link to a very fun and funny music video. Watch it closely and listen carefully to the words. It’s very clever and sometimes a bit too true. (By the way, did you participate in Michelle’s research? It’s not too late!) Thanks, Michelle, and good luck on the dissertation!


In reality, this has been a sad day.

I follow the numbers on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus COVID-19 Dashboard. They are depressing. I know they are going to become only more depressing over the next few days. However, a couple of significant, sad benchmarks were reached today.

Globally, the number of confirmed cases went over 1.5 million. In the U.S. the number confirmed is now approaching half a million. This means that nearly a third of all confirmed cases of Coronavirus are now in the United States? But here is the number that really got to me: 14,529. That is the number of deaths in the United States when I sat down to write this blog. At this point, it puts the U.S.A. at #3 on the list of most deaths by country, behind only Spain and the current leader, Italy. However, it is only a matter of hours or days before the number of deaths in the United States will put us in the #1 position.

Here’s what is really sad and shocking about this number. Do you remember 2009 when a Novel Influenza A was found to have originated in the United States? I know, we might not have paid much attention because we were in the middle of an economic meltdown already. That H1N1 virus spread globally, too. The CDC has estimated that 151,000 to 575,000 people worldwide died of that virus. In the United States, 12,469 people died even though nearly 61 million were infected with it.

But, today, we now have 14,529 deaths out of 424,945 confirmed cases. I know, because of the asymptomatic nature of the Coronavirus and the –still – very limited access to testing, we don’t know for sure how many people actually have the virus. It could be far more than this, and it probably is.

The death count is more accurate but not by much. For example, we don’t know how many people died before our government actually took this virus seriously and started testing for it and tracking it. We don’t know how many people have died at home from COVID-19 but the cause of death will not be listed correctly because, again, not enough testing is available to confirm Coronavirus. These are the best figures we have for the moment and they are still scary.

Let’s assume for a moment they are accurate. How does the death rate for COVID-19 in the United States compare with the country’s death rate from H1N1? Not good. See for yourself.

In 2009 the death rate for the H1N1 is estimated, by CDC, to have been 4.06 per 100,000 people in the population of the U.S. at that time. Today the death rate for Coronavirus rose to 4.36 per 100,000 of our current estimated population, using a simple, common epidemiological calculation. Again, these are very preliminary numbers to be sure. However, the point remains: this is bad. Very, very bad.

Think about it like this…in 2009 nearly 61 million people in the U.S. contracted the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) and 12,469 died. Today’s confirmed cases of 424,945 is only 7 one thousands of a percent (that’s .007) of that 61 million confirmed cases in 2009. Still, of those 424,945 there have been 14,592 deaths. Do you see yet why this is so shocking? Why it is still bad? Why we still need to be concerned…despite crazy talk of re-opening the country now? To think that way is so premature.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and keep pushing the pundits, politicians, and pinheads to shut up, stand up, stay focused, stop fighting each other, and take action on facts…not myth, not voodoo, not conspiracy theory, not their personal stock portfolios, and definitely not the advice of Stupid People who happen to be their friends.

Tom

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