A Coronavirus Kaleidoscope: Part XI

All of us know the widely-broadcast facts about COVID-19. Even so, I would venture that there remain enough new virus-related perspectives that continuing this vein of posts seems appropriate.

Since I began this blog in 2017 rather than 2007, I suspect that my low rating of George W. Bush’s presidency hasn’t been apparent; before President Trump, I would have easily ranked him as the worst President of my lifetime (which dates back to the Truman Administration). That said, I was heartened and bolstered like the vast majority of Americans by Mr. Bush’s initial response to the 9/11 attacks. Rarely articulate, he then united and rallied us. As many may be aware, Mr. Bush’s Center released a video on May 1 addressing how our nation can best respond to the pandemic.  It provides a graceful, warm, inspirational message that in part calls upon us to put partisanship aside. A link is provided below.

https://www.bushcenter.org/about-the-center/newsroom/press-releases/2020/05/president-bush-call-to-unite

As one may also be aware, Mr. Trump issued a tweet within a couple of days after the Bush video was released, criticizing Mr. Bush for not speaking in Mr. Trump’s defense during the Impeachment proceedings: “ … [W]here was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside. He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” Mr. Trump’s tweet is, to be sure, yet another in his countless stream of classless outbursts; even so, it has caused me to ponder whether the President’s generally well-honed political instincts are failing him. Criticizing Mr. Bush, even obliquely, seems ill advised. If Mr. Bush was to issue a statement in, say, mid-October, to the effect: “I didn’t feel that I could speak out four years ago, since my brother was one of President Trump’s adversaries for the Republican presidential nomination. Now I state clearly: during my administration, I asked our people to give their lives in America’s cause. The least I owe them is to tell them directly what I think is best for our nation without regard to party affiliation. I consider the way that President Trump has conducted himself in office to be a greater danger to America than terrorism. I have an honest disagreement with former Vice President Joe Biden on many issues, but he is an honorable man who wants what’s best for America. I intend to vote for Mr. Biden, and encourage you to join me,” such a statement could, notwithstanding Mr. Bush’s diminished national and party standing, cause a decisive sliver of Republican voters in swing states to either vote for Mr. Biden … or stay home. In an election that could be that close, I’m surprised that Mr. Trump would choose to poke a buried landmine.

What follows are links to several articles recently called to my attention. In the first, Erin Bromage, a specialist in immunology and infectious disease at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, concretely describes where our risks may and may not lie as states open their economies. His tone is clearly one of caution. It’s reasonably lengthy – even by the standards of these pages – but I found it informative.

https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

The next is to an Atlantic article by Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. What I find interesting is that Ms. Marcus’ (much shorter) message doesn’t seem to me to be objectively that different from Mr. Bromage’s, but it focuses upon the wellbeing risks that can arise from too stringent a quarantine.  Her article contains a link to an earlier Atlantic piece that provides a helpful FAQ for “Staying Safe as States Reopen.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/quarantine-fatigue-real-and-shaming-people-wont-help/611482/

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/05/restaurants-stores-reopen-dos-and-donts/611314/

The last article is from AARP, describing immunosenescence (a word after my own heart) – the process by which one’s immune system declines with age, correspondingly increasing COVID’s risk. Although “inflammaging” – which means what one would expect — is inevitable, the rate of decline is apparently idiosyncratic to the individual. By a staff writer, it sets forth manners in which one can reinforce one’s immune system. Like Mr. Bromage’s piece, it isn’t short, but offers some information that at least I had not seen reported before.

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/coronavirus-immunity-age-risk.html

I have previously ventured that as millions of our people lose their employment-related health insurance, it will significantly increase the support for a government-run Medicare for All. Below is a link to the Brief of an Urban Institute Report recently published by the Robert Wood Johnson Institute, estimating that 25 to 43 million people could lose their employer-based health coverage due to the pandemic. I don’t see how Republicans will be able to effectively scare Americans with a cry of “socialized medicine” as so many lose their health care.

https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2020/05/how-the-covid-19-recession-could-affect-health-insurance-coverage.html

In a previous post, I remarked upon the fogging challenges that wearing a mask creates for wearers of glasses, and noted a friend’s suggestion that smearing spectacles with shaving cream might serve as a remedy. That observation generated a fair amount of feedback – including suggestions that one could avoid the fog by spitting on one’s glasses or go without glasses if one’s eyesight is still acute enough. This weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran a front page article on the mask fogging problem. In addition to the suggestions already offered by the followers of these pages, the Journal described Americans that had used a plastic straw protruding from the side of the mask, put tissue paper between the glasses and the mask, or had put the mask on really tight. I’m always gratified to call attention to an issue on this site before it’s addressed by a hallowed news organ  ;).

I’m ready to think about something else, but it seems that no matter what reputable authority one consults, responsible vigilance and diligence remain the key to getting through this. Stay safe.

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