Category Archives: Pandemic

Good Advice For the Day & The Season

[NOTE: I have no secluded cabin for refuge, but have long hunkered down at home in a manner close to what’s described below. Had two vaxx and three boosters. The beast has missed me so far, but with several near misses; it has hit many friends, and my close family more than once, including just last month. When I go out (not often, mainly shopping, or an occasional furtive meal) I mask a lot. Maybe my biggest advantages are having sort of figured out ZOOM, and being very introverted. With an invisible IV paranoia drip.]

Put your masks back on, please

The Washington Post

Opinion by Kathleen Parker
—  October 28, 2022

CAMDEN, S.C. — There is a tradition in my family of retreating to the woods when illness strikes.

One of my Revolutionary War forefathers, Tarleton Brown of Barnwell, S.C., had to abandon the siege of Augusta in 1781 when he contracted smallpox and returned home, such as it was.


The British, alas, had preceded him, reducing his family’s home to ash and leaving both his father and little brother dead. His mother and sister miraculously escaped both the king’s army and “the Indians,” as he put it in his 1862 memoir, “Memoirs of Tarleton Brown: A Captain of the Revolutionary Army” — a 28-page pamphlet published in New York and “Written by Himself.” Continue reading Good Advice For the Day & The Season

Cartoon/Comics Artist Lynda Barry: interview & Profile

New York Times– Sept. 2, 2022
A Genius Cartoonist Believes Child’s Play Is Anything But Frivolous

By David Marchese
Photograph by Mamadi Doumbouya

For nearly 30 years, the cartoonist Lynda Barry published her adored comic strip “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” which told the whimsical, hardscrabble story of the young sisters Marlys and Maybonne, in alternative papers across the country. (An anthology, “It’s So Magic,” was published earlier this month.)

She has since written acclaimed plays and novels and even a beloved book on making comics. (That would be the straightforwardly titled “Making Comics,” from 2019.)

For the last two decades, she has often led drawing, writing and creativity workshops in prisons, at schools, online — wherever will have her. And since 2012, Barry, a 66-year-old who in 2019 received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship — the so-called genius grant — has been at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has held various positions and now does cross-disciplinary teaching on creativity.

So when it comes to self-expression, to making art, it’s fair to say that she’s an expert. But in many ways, not nearly as much of an expert as your average little kid, which is something Barry has been thinking about a lot lately. “Adults think that kids playing is some nothing thing,” she says. “But play is a different state of mind, and it can help us do so many things if we just allow ourselves to get back to it.” Continue reading Cartoon/Comics Artist Lynda Barry: interview & Profile

Monkeypox — New Virus In Need of a Response & A New Name

Monkey pox is a reminder — we need to prepare for emergent diseases

World Health Organization director may come under fire for declaring monkey pox a global health emergency, Gwynne Dyer writes.

“COVID-19 is broadly viewed as being a ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘once in a century’ pandemic. Modelling work based on historical data shows that this is not necessarily the case,” reported the epidemiological startup Metabiota last year. That’s because “the frequency of ‘spillover’ infectious diseases like COVID is steadily increasing.”

It’s increasing because quick-killer pandemic diseases only started thriving in human societies when we began living together in large numbers. Lethal viruses and bacteria probably always “spilled over” into human populations from time to time, but if they infected little hunter-gatherer groups of 50 or 100 people they just died out along with the victims.

The natural home of those diseases were birds and animals that lived in big flocks and herds: lots of potential victims to sustain the transmission. But when human beings started living in big civilizations and domesticated some of those animals, the pandemic diseases happily transferred across and thrived among us, too.

For most of the history of civilization, successful transfers didn’t happen all that often: big new killer pandemics only came along every 500 years or so. However, now that there are eight billion people and millions criss-cross the planet every day, the disease vectors have more opportunities to spread and they move much faster.

At the moment, according to Metabiota’s calculations, it’s even odds that we will have another new pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 in the next 25 years. More precisely, they estimate the probability of another global pandemic as deadly as COVID to be between 2.5-3.3 per cent each year. It could even arrive next year.

Monkey pox is not that disease. Despite its rapid spread to so many countries, the majority of cases are men who reported intimate sexual contact with other men. There is an existing, fully effective vaccine for it (the same one that eradicated smallpox, which no longer exists in the wild). And hardly anybody dies from it.

So WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had some explaining to do when he broke a stalemate at his “emergency committee” and decreed that monkey pox is a global emergency.

He explained that it was to speed up research on “the new modes of transmission that have allowed it to spread,” and to press countries to use vaccines and other measures to limit the numbers infected. These are all sensible things to do, but they really don’t justify declaring a global health emergency.

What he carefully avoided saying is that he really intends it as a reminder of our peril and a spur to action.

Ghebreyesus is manipulating the system in a well-meant attempt to persuade the world to build better systems for containing dangerous emergent diseases in general, and he may come under serious fire for doing so.

But you can see his point, because we haven’t learned enough from our harrowing experience with COVID.

Just spending one-hundredth of what the world spent on fighting COVID to improve global readiness for dealing with the next pandemic — building local vaccine production facilities, regional labs with good analytical capabilities, and stronger reporting networks — could spare us another two years of the misery and loss we had with this pandemic.

If that’s Ghebreyesus’s real goal with this monkey pox business, it’s all right with me.

New York joins calls for the WHO to rename monkeypox over its ‘painful and racist history’

By Euronews and AFP — 27/07/2022

Image from Stanford Medicine

City authorities in New York on Tuesday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename the monkeypox virus, a name that is seen as stigmatising and may cause patients to isolate themselves rather than seek care.

“We have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on these already vulnerable communities,” New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan wrote in a letter to WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The latter had already mentioned this possible change in mid-June when Tedros said the WHO was “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of the monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes”.

While the WHO said at the time that an announcement on the name change would be made “as soon as possible,” there have been no new developments in the month since.

On Saturday, the global body declared an international health emergency over the outbreak, calling it “extraordinary”.

According to the city’s Health Commissioner, concerns have been raised about “the painful and racist history within which terminology like this is rooted for communities of colour”.

In his letter, Vasan recalled the negative effects of misinformation during the outbreak of the AIDS virus (HIV) or the racism suffered by Asian communities after the COVID-19 pandemic, which then US president Donald Trump referred to as the “China virus”.

“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma — particularly for Black people and other people of colour, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” Vasan added.

Anyone can get monkeypox, but since its emergence in Europe and the United States, the virus has been spread overwhelmingly among men who have sex with men.

New York is the most affected city in the US in terms of the number of current cases, with 1,092 infections detected since the beginning of the epidemic.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 19,188 reported cases globally in 76 countries as of Monday.

Of those cases, 18,861 infections were noted in countries that have not historically been affected by the virus.

White House Protected Big Profits for Big Pork & Big Poultry While Big Waves of Pandemic took down thousands of Unprotected plant Workers

NOTE: Much of the public, after two-plus grueling years of Covid, seems determined to forget all that as rapidly as possible. My hat is off to ProPublica for staying on one of the big buried scandals of this period: how Trump officials colluded with corporate lobbyists from Big Meat to minimize worker protection while maximizing their bottom line.

ProPublica: The Plot to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open During COVID-19

Michael Grabell — May 14, 2022

As hundreds of meatpacking workers fell sick from the coronavirus that was spreading through their plants and into their communities in April 2020, the CEO of Tyson Foods reached out to the head of another major meatpacker, Smithfield Foods, with a proposal.

Smithfield’s pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had been hit particularly hard, and state and local officials were pressuring the company to shut it down.

“Anything we can do to help?” Tyson CEO Noel White asked in an email.

Smithfield’s CEO Ken Sullivan replied that he wished there was.

But White had an idea. Would Sullivan like to discuss the possibility of getting President Donald Trump to sign an executive order to keep meatpacking plants open?

So began a high-pressure lobbying campaign by the meat industry, according to a report released Thursday by congressional investigators, leading to one of the most consequential moments in the nation’s COVID-19 response: a presidential order that effectively thwarted efforts by local health officials to shut plants down and slow the spread of COVID-19. Continue reading White House Protected Big Profits for Big Pork & Big Poultry While Big Waves of Pandemic took down thousands of Unprotected plant Workers

Covid at 1 Million U.S. Deaths: A Special Scourge in the South

 

Reported Covid Deaths by U. S. Region:

Northeast  – 211,923 deaths
Midwest  – 211,648 deaths
West – 189,805 deaths
South – 378,472 deaths

RANDOLPH SEALS, 39, WAS elected the coroner for Bolivar County, in rural western Mississippi, in 2015. But the relentlessness of the deaths linked to Covid, and his personal ties to so many who were dying, brought him to the brink of quitting in the fall of 2020.

By early 2021, when the South’s death rate spiked again, he wished he had. Then came the Delta variant, and the Omicron wave, and it just got worse.

“It was a disaster that was coming back and back and back,” Mr. Seals said.

As hospitals overflowed, many residents died in their homes. The ripple effect of the pandemic was evident, too, as Mr. Seals began recording the deaths of people with heart or kidney disease for whom there were no hospital beds. Now, he said, he is handling the deaths of people who had Covid and never quite recovered. Continue reading Covid at 1 Million U.S. Deaths: A Special Scourge in the South