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”

Conscientious Injector

This week I drove my husband for his first Covid shot at a FEMA vaccination site in downtown Los Angeles. 

It was at L.A. City College and during our circuitous 15-minute maneuver through the campus we passed any number of friendly young military men and women dressed in fatigues, all wearing face masks.

I couldn’t pick any of them out of a crowd but trust me when I tell you I never saw so many welcoming faces happily pointing me in the right direction, not even when I attended gay night at Disneyland in the 1990s (Note: Yes, this WAS a thing), though admittedly that was close.

same vibe #gayhappydance

Still, as a very young kid in the sixties this all threw me for a loop.  My association with college campuses and the military dates back to the Vietnam War and nationwide protests against its actions at places like Kent State University where four innocent students who just happened to be walking by were famously killed by National Guardsmen shooting blindly into a crowd trying to control them.

Oh, get over yourself, Chair,I told myself as we reached the vaccination tent and I realized the guy I love would soon be protected from Covid, in some part thanks to the work of these soldiers.

This was further confirmed when this REALLY HOT Army medic emerged with a clipboard and approached our car to give my husband his shot.

DId someone say hot army medic? #imlistening

Yeah, he was a really strapping and really handsome guy in fatigues operating at the height of efficiency who knew his way around a needle so…what else would YOU call him?

In any event, it was all over before you knew it, and certainly way before either of us was ready to let the medic go.  But being a medic he had other people to save and clearly nothing was going to stop him from his mission.

I say this only half in jest because this vaccination center run by the government and in some part by the military feels so incongruous with the experiences of so many of us in this country.

Not the shots I normally think of when I think National Guard

Either we have a knee jerk reaction against anything government run or we have a knee jerk suspicion about the use of the military in everyday civilian life.

And yet, here we are.

In 2021 we live in a world where people of either belief system now have, or are about to have, a concrete experience that could cause us to rethink our prejudicial views towards institutions, people and programs that we thought were forever engrained in our psyches.

I mean, if a generation of conservatives grew up feeding on the famous Reagan philosophy that the most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the government and I’m here to help, we liberals are not much better.

True for many

Particularly if you’re a baby boomer liberal, there is not much faith military leaders will steer young people towards anything but death and destruction in unjustified wars.

Okay, well at least this baby boomer.  I’ll come forward.   And with mandatory lie detector tests so will the majority of everyone else from my generation.

It was Pres. Biden’s ambitious plan upon taking office that we’d vaccinate 100 million people, meaning 1 million people per day, by the end of his first 100 days.  But since taking office Jan. 20th he’s now got us at an average of 2.3. million shots administered daily.  Meaning, we will reach that goal by the end of the coming week, which is a little more than half that projected amount of time.

WE DID!

That’s far ahead of schedule and, with the use of the Defense Production Act to make more vaccines (plus a coordinated effort to harness the power of the federal government to run many hundreds of additional testing sites), it is now likely the vast majority of Americans will have received their vaccines by the summer.

At that pace, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts, the U.S. could achieve the holy grail of herd immunity against Covid-19 by the end of the summer.

Me, this summer

And all because the majority of us decided to drop a few of our prejudices and agree about a couple of things like mask-wearing, social distancing and a new strategy to try and end a pandemic that’s closed down most of the country and most our lives.

I’m not gonna say imagine what else we can do but I am going to write it.

In fact, I just did.

This does not mean we should go around tooting our horns quite yet.  Several states, led by the ubiquitous Florida, have dropped mask mandates altogether, opened up businesses entirely and are encouraging mass gatherings likes concerts, spring break  parties at the beach, and probably a ticker tape parade right down the center of the state if they could manage it.

Pretty much

But let’s not tar and feather only Florida.  A day after our medic meeting I had to go to the dentist (Note:  Yes, I’ve gotten BOTH of my shots) and saw three tables full of maskless people in their 20s and 30s, pushed up against each other at a patio restaurant, sharing spit and god knows what else as I heard them go on and on about everything EXCEPT the biggest issue of the day.

An afternoon dog walk followed where I saw more than several small bunches of people traipsing up and down the hill near my house, gabbing on their phones as they obliviously tried their best, or their worst, to get as close to me as they could as they passed me by.

THE WORST

God knows what they thought of my double-masked self, crossing the street as fast as I could to get away from them. 

But I know what I thought.

Variants.  Variants.  Variants!!!  What the f-k is wrong with all of you?  Don’t you get it?  Yet????

It was enough to make me wish there was a way to report them to the government. 

Or at the very least sic the military on them.

Jimi Hendrix – “The Star Spangled Banner”

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