Previous “COVID-19” posts

No, No, No 

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

Weddings occupy far too prominent a place in American culture, with some couples going so far as to take on massive debt to finance excessively lavish celebrations that they can’t really afford. In the era of COVID, however, weddings have the potential to kill more than just your credit score. It’s unfortunate, but as with so many things in the past year, the responsible thing to do in a pandemic is to cancel gatherings.

Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to do that. It’s been nearly a month since I read this article on weddings in Texas during COVID-19, but I can’t get it out of my mind. It begins with a bridesmaid telling a wedding photographer that the groom had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The woman thanked [the photographer] for still showing up, considering “everything that’s going on with the groom.”…“So I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she was like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, don’t freak out. He doesn’t have symptoms. He’s fine.’ ”

No! That is not how this works.

She recalls one bridesmaid telling her, “I’m a teacher. I have fourteen students. If I’m willing to risk it, why aren’t you?”

No! What?! One fears this selfish person teachers her students that if all their friends jump off a cliff, they ought to as well.

[The photographer] recalled one conversation from that wedding, before she left the reception. “I have children,” she told a bridesmaid. “What if my children die?” The bridesmaid responded, “I understand, but this is her wedding day.”

No!

Stay home. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

There’s No Shortage of Available Numbers

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been amused by the various phases governments throughout the US have used for their re-opening plans. In Massachusetts, the whole thing is an overcomplicated mess, with steps within phases. Fortunately, by staying home as much as possible, I’m able to avoid the need to really understand our current status.

More recently, I found similar nonsense when it comes to vaccine waiting lists. My mother lives in New Jersey, and I wanted to get her in line for the COVID vaccine. After signing up, she wound up in “Phase 1C”, which amused me.


Via NJ.gov

The rather difficult to read graphic above shows that Phase 1A is healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, while Phase 1B is other essential workers. Phase 1C is adults over 65, and adults with various medical conditions, while Phase 2 is the general public. New Jersey has four distinct groupings, yet only two phases. It’s needless nonsense.

When it comes to receiving the vaccine for a deadly pandemic, being in Phase 1C sounds pretty good. But for anyone who stops to think about it, that’s obviously just Phase 3. Calling it “Phase 3” would make it more clear that it’s behind “Phase 1” and “Phase 2”, which I suppose some view as a downside. To me, avoiding insulting attempts at diversion is a good thing, as is being honest.

I’m pleased to note that while Massachusetts doesn’t yet have a waiting list, we do have just the type of straightforward system I’m suggesting.


Via Mass.gov

I’m in Phase 3, which I much prefer to Phase 1C. That said, the “order of priority” could well turn into a source of unnecessary complication.

Somehow, however, it’s already even worse in California. Friend-of-the-site Chris D. was researching there on behalf of his own mother, and found this chart:


Via CA.gov

While California’s chart is the easiest to read, its contents are even more absurd. Imagine actually trying to explain this to someone:

“So, you’re in group 1C.”

“Oh, great, it sounds like I’ll get the vaccine soon.”

“Well…”

“Ah, I guess there are two groups ahead of me, right? I’m after 1A and 1B, so I’m really in the third group.”

“Close! Group 1C is actually the fourth group, behind 1A, 1B Tier One, and 1B Tier Two.”

There are, literally, an infinite number of whole numbers. Perhaps New Jersey and California could just call things what they are.

An Air-Powered Costume Is a Bad Idea 

Monday, January 4th, 2021

Previously, we had superspreader Santa. Now, it appears a Christmas tree costume may have led to the infection dozens of people in San Jose, and at least one death so far.


[Photo via Marianne Favro]

There are countless ways folks are being foolish as this pandemic rips through America, and it’s quite literally killing people. Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay home.

Be Better 

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

We don’t have to “be best”, because that’s nonsense grammar. However, we should all strive to be better. To give just one example, in the era of COVID, restaurant patrons should strive to be better than this:

“Workers frequently are subjected to sexualized comments from customers, the majority of which were a request from male customers that women service workers remove their mask so that the men could judge their looks, and, implicitly, determine their tips on that basis,” states the report.

Tipping is a terrible custom, but we’re all stuck with it for now. Sexism and misogyny, however, we each have the power to reduce.

Superspreader Santa 

Monday, December 14th, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, Santa Claus is a really bad idea.

The Brutal Reality of COVID-19 

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

The Washington Post has a remarkable piece wherein seven nurses detail their experiences working during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire thing is gut-wrenching, but this story from Utah nurse Nate Smithson really knocked me back.

If a patient’s heart stops or if they stop breathing, we call a code blue, and that’s when the doctor, respiratory therapist, nurses, everybody comes into the room. We start chest compressions or CPR or that kind of stuff. This one patient’s heart is not working. So I call the code blue. We all get in there. We start doing the chest compressions. Five minutes later, we get the patient back. We all go back about our work. Twenty minutes later, same thing happens again. We start doing the chest compressions. We start pushing medications as fast as we can to get the patient back again.

The spouse comes into the hospital. I explain: “Just so you know, this is what happened before. It could possibly happen again. If it does, I’m going to need you to step outside of the room.” And as I’m explaining this, sure enough, it happens again. We lose the pulse. We lose the heartbeat. So I ask her to leave the room. Everyone gets in there, and we start going for it. We went for almost two hours: chest compressions, pushing medications, shocking the patient’s heart.

The doctor is ultimately the one who makes the decision about when we stop, and they call time of death. But typically in situations like that, where it’s unexpected and sudden, they want to make sure that everybody can go home that night feeling OK about what they did, knowing that they did everything. And after an hour, he stops, turns to the room and asks: Does anyone have a problem with us stopping?

I didn’t have a problem, but then as he’s saying that, I look out the window, and the patient’s wife is just watching us. She’s been sitting out there watching us for an hour, and no one’s saying anything.

And I ask them to keep going.

So we did. We went almost for another hour after that, and we didn’t get the patient back. He ended up dying.

But I think for me, that was important — to keep going. Not because we thought we would get them back, but so that his wife would know that we did everything we could.

I still go to bed with her face kind of burned into my mind, of just seeing her sitting out there watching us, and that’s what kills me.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home.

Read the Room, American Airlines

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

What do you do the day after perhaps the most contentious election in American history, when the winner of the presidency has yet to be determined? Apparently, if you’re American Airlines, you send out a marketing email entitled “Why our cleaning strategy works”. Said email touts the ability of their cleaning practices to reduce COVID-19 risks on their planes:

An email from American Airlines touting their cleaning practices, for flights you almost certainly shouldn't be taking.”

Even if air travel weren’t something best avoided while a global pandemic is raging, maybe not today, huh, AA?

Major League Baseball’s Bad Example

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

In the 6th inning of game 6 of the 2020 World Series, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell was lifted by his manager, Kevin Cash. Snell had just given up a one out single to the number nine batter Austin Barnes, but that was only the second hit of the night for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Further, the next three batters Snell was due to face had gone 0-6 against him, with 6 strikeouts. It’s essentially impossible for a pitcher to more thoroughly dominate the top of the order.

Following the move, the Dodgers plated two runs to take a slim lead over the Rays, 2-1. That pitching change will no doubt be questioned for a long time by Tampa Bay’s dozens of faithful fans. However, while second-guessing is an enjoyable part of watching any sport, I’m focused on this change for a different reason. It turned out to be the first part of a chain reaction which led to Major League Baseball’s quintessential finish to the 2020 season.

You see, in the eighth inning, Los Angeles still held that slim 2-1 lead. Though the game’s result was certainly far from certain, Dodgers starting third baseman Justin Turner was abruptly removed from the lineup. At the time, the change was even more inexplicable than Snell’s, with announcers speculating about a possible injury. Only later was the reason for the switch revealed: Turner had tested positive for COVID-19. In an effort to stop the spread of this deadly virus that has taken so much and so many from the world, he was immediately isolated.

Until he wasn’t. When the Dodgers got the last out in the ninth and captured baseball’s ultimate prize, Turner made his way out of the designated isolation room. He came back onto the field to join the party. Sometimes masked, and sometimes not, he celebrated with his teammates. He hoisted the championship trophy. He posed, grin shining through his fiery red beard, for team photos:

Maybe Turner believed the nonsense coming out of the White House, including the outright lie that Donald Trump’s administration has ended the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the real world, however, positive cases are soaring to horrifying new heights. Hospitals in America are being overwhelmed, and hundreds of thousands of people have died from a disease that continues to spread like wildfire. Despite all that, a professional athlete was shown on television being incredibly reckless with the health of those around him.

I can certainly understand Turner not wanting to miss a moment he’d worked his entire life for. The desire to celebrate with the rest of his team was a natural one. I hope there are no further cases among the Dodger organization, and that no other players, coaches, or family members get sick. Perhaps this incident can quietly die down to a mere footnote.

But even if that happens, it will be by sheer luck. There is a deadly virus going around and around the globe, and we can’t simply ignore it. We can’t pretend our way out of this thing. The picture above is emblematic of the fact that collectively, we Americans still haven’t learned that sacrificing for others is essential in getting past this pandemic. That’s not something to celebrate.

Major League Baseball took incredible, unprecedented precautions to enable teams to play a 2020 season. Yet over and over, even in the final game of the year, the virus still broke through. Now, it’s left a stain on what should be the game’s ultimate triumph.

He Knows That They’ve Been Bad, Not Good 

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Attempting to bribe Santa Claus is surely one of the naughtiest things one can do. It’s also entirely on brand for the Trump Administration.


Voting Information: American’s election is well underway, with tens of millions of early votes already cast. If you haven’t voted yet, please, please, please make a plan to do so, either immediately by mail, or in person if possible.

For the benefit of all mankind, the nightmare of the Trump presidency needs to end as soon as possible. Visit https://vote.org for more details – in many states, there’s still time to register. Once you’ve done that, make sure your friends and family are voting as well.

Silencio, Por Favor!

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Did I get some sweet new headphones? Am I some sort of YouTube gamer now?

No. However, there is jackhammering 50 feet from me.

So, this is how I live now.