Not Over Till It’s Over

This is not meant to scare anyone.  But here are some facts.

The U.S. is about THREE TIMES the geographic size of India. 

Yet India is home to 1.3 BILLION people as opposed to the U.S. population of just 333 million. 

That means FOUR TIMES as many humans live in India in about ONE-THIRD of the space we have.

To put it another way:

Imagine if EVERY U.S. STATE IN OUR EASTERN TIME ZONE suddenly vanished and EVERY PERSON WHO LIVED IN THOSE STATES instantly materialized into the states that remained.

That’s how much physically closer we would all be and that’s how socially distanced we would all be, mask mandates be damned. 

Okay, are you with me so far?

Uhhh…. yes?

Good.

Now even though none of us want to think about this, let’s briefly look at the latest statistics about Covid infection rates and deaths.

U.S. infection rates are now 50-60,00 per day, which sounds like a lot but actually is pretty great considering in early January, prior to the Biden-Harris administration taking office, we were at an all-time high of just over 300,000 per day.

Know what the infection rate was last week in India – OVER 400,000 PEOPLE PER DAY.

Putting it mildly

Yup, after enduring a first wave of infections surprisingly well considering its size, India is now exploding with Covid disease and deaths, so much so that crematoriums have been overrun and mass groups of corpses are now being burned in the streets.

I watched one news report that showed 44 ambulances with dead bodies lined up at one site with nowhere to go.

Sad, tragic but, um, thank god (Note: Our whoever you believe Her to be) WE’RE safe.  Right?

You can go ahead and press that

India survived surprisingly well in the first wave of COVID infections but it is now in the midst of a much more deadly second wave.

Why?

Because the second wave in India is due to a NEW COVID VIRUS VARIANT that is much more lethal and virulent than anything that came before it.

This is what viruses do.  As they get eradicated or slowed, they mutate to survive.  Sometimes they do this ineffectively and, other times, quite efficiently.

Not so fast everyone

For instance, I recall vividly being told in the last half of 2020 that the UK variant of COVID was starting to be found in California and today, mid-2021, it is now, by far, the dominant variant.

See how this stuff happens?

This might all seem potentially manageable if the Indian variant behaves like the UK variant.  But there is not yet ANY EVIDENCE of that.

In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave an interview on NBC this weekend where he unequivocally stated that, according to early research, in terms of the current science and the vaccines available, the India variant was so far PROBLEMATIC.

Now after decades of going to doctors for various medical conditions for myself as well as for my elderly parents, let me translate to you what problematic means from a physician.

Me, hearing the word “problematic”

 It means not good, it means we don’t have an answer, it means this can be worrisome.

At the very least it means, you are by no means cured or even out of the woods.  It means this is SOMETHINGOr worse.

Q: Oh come on, Chair, wait.  Why are you sending us into mass panic? Will the India variant even be here?  I mean, I just read that the US has restricted all air travel from India.

A:  You mean that edict this week, after we’ve intermingled aerially for several months when their cases were only 200-380,000 per day?  Right.  No reason to think an airborne virus from another country overseas could possibly get here and take over.  (Note: See several paragraphs above)

Sigh

In the interest of fairness, let’s note that the head of one German biotech company that helped develop the Pfizer vaccine, said that his vaccine was “clever” and “would hold” against this new variant.

Well, let’s hope it’s VERY clever because even though Mr. Biotech noted he wasn’t worried” he also let it slip between press sound bytes that they were “still testing” its effectiveness in combatting this new strain.

Meanwhile:

INDIA: 19.2 million Covid cases; 212,000 deaths.

U.S.: 32.5 million Covid cases; 580,000 deaths.

Yes, we’re still in the lead but soon they will soon be nipping at our heels.

 Literally.

My summer plans

And through no fault of their own.

Because the sad truth in all of this lies in something I heard one Indian doctor say live on TV this weekend. He spoke it in his native language but then translated in hopes that the rest of us might hear and then take action.

If it affects some of us, it affects all of us.

What to do?  Well –

– Getting the vaccine and any inevitable booster would be a start.

– Following CDC guidelines on mask wearing and social distancing could also help.

– Listening to science and facts vs. political dogma and conspiracy theories from your favorite cable TV news host or dark web site definitely wouldn’t hurt.

Lighting this nightly

-Donating a small amount of money, time or attention to help out someone/anyone/anything in support of any of the above would also be noteworthy.

And when all else fails, be kinder to others, even yourself. 

Because you never know what’s just around our MUTUAL corners.

Ben Lee – “We’re All in This Together”

Masks

I am fortunate enough to live up in the hills of Los Angeles where there is lots of green and, for more than a brief moment, you can shut out the world and pretend bad things don’t happen to good people and that you, somehow, are exempt from bad things.

Granted, the pretend game doesn’t always work but in uncertain times, when you’re really in need, it is possible to will a more lovely reality into existence by simply opening your eyes and seeing what stands before you.

Not so much anymore.

Reboot! Reboot!

Early this evening I took my dog Rosie for a walk and all I could see coming down two different hills and then up a third one were masks – lots and lots of colored masks.

Some were black, others were blue and still more had bright bold patterns.   They were, of course, attached to human bodies of varied shapes and sizes and ages, all of whom seemed to have collectively decided to go on a hike or walk, or, more likely, on a specific trip to a well-known destination on top of one of the hills with one of the best views in the city.

Usually at least half of these walkers or hikers or solo fellow humans smile and approach when you have a dog, particularly a cute one, as Rosie will signal to you that she certainly is.

I mean, look at this face.

But that’s not what happened this evening.

This evening not only did Rosie fail to be a people magnet, she and I found ourselves part of a well-defined human obstacle course of avoidance.  The second a mask, or several masks, spotted us, that’s how quickly they scurried into the road, or crossed the street, or looked down and turned away.

It was as if WE had the plague, rather than merely being two of billions of unwilling participants in one.

Over the last few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic now sweeping the globe, it was still possible to pass people at a safe distance with a smile or a nod or even an eye roll at the ridiculousness of our joint medical, um…situation.

Pretty much sums it up

But it’s difficult to recognize a smile when city law now requires that we wear a mask that covers our mouths or risk a hefty fine.  Similarly, we’re being told on the news that we could be taking our life in our hands if we get close enough to any stranger we see in a road in order to give OR receive an eye roll.

These days we keep our eye rolls to ourselves, at least in public, and probably all the time.  For what good is an eye roll anyway, if no one else can see it?

Very much my energy these days

That’s like yelling at the TV when your idiot president is blathering on at a faux news conference about something he knows nothing about (Note: which is pretty much everything) and Lord knows none of us except me would spend even a moment of their normally allotted eye rolling time doing that.

It is interesting to exist in the outside world wearing a literal physical mask since so much has been written over the centuries about the imaginary masks we choose to show to others.

Sorry Phantom, the CDC would not approve. #coveryourfaceplease

I don’t know about you, but at times it’s been confusing and downright appalling to learn just how many virtual masks existed out there and how unadept I’ve been over the years in realizing who was wearing which at what time and for how long.

More surprising is coming to realize over the decades that I’ve been as guilty as so many of those I’ve criticized.  I mean, they felt convincing enough at the time – my masks of heterosexuality, of success, of endless good humor – despite the fact that they were about as representative of my inner truths as the president is of his at one of those aforementioned “press briefings.”

My mask of heterosexuality probably needed some work #lol #denimfordays #sofly

What was even worse was the knowledge, as I grew older, that the protective gear I thought was 99% effective at keeping my inner truths at bay to everyone else, was nowhere near that.  These were quite inferior masks.   Something more akin to washing your hands with icy cold water, sans soap or alcohol based disinfectant, after visiting a church service or synagogue on Easter or Passover in one of the nation’s hot zones of infection, and expecting it to somehow fool the virus and shield you from its infection.

Be fashionable, please.

In other words, not so efficient and not so good.

What is also not very good, but endlessly ironic and really quite efficient, is despite the fact EVERYONE will now be wearing actual cloth masks in public, it will be EASIER THAN EVER to recognize what’s really going on underneath them and the commonality of truth that we share.

We are all terrified, we all want this to end and we are all frustrated that no matter how we slice it or roll it around in our minds, we are not much different than the faceless person we stay six feet away from on the street as far as the virus is concerned.

Be kind to your fellow houseplants

Imagine, it’s taken everyone wearing a mask to realize we are all, essentially, the same.  And in the same boat, or sinking ship, depending on what we choose to do from now on.

Billy Joel – “The Stranger”