Why Biden’s New Ruling Dates Back to 1990’s

Why Biden's New Ruling Dates Back to 1990's

Barbara Fassbinder, one of the first health care professionals to be infected with the AIDS virus while on the job, died on Tuesday at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. She was 40 and had lived in Monona, Iowa. Barbara Fassbinder died in 1994. 

BUT WHY TELL ME THIS?  Because this was the headline in an Iowa newspaper that hospital staff at all levels will never forget. It was a headline that became national news and changed hospital practice. 

Because soon after Ms. Fassbinder’s death (and others that followed, a patient of a dentist in Florida etc) radical changes were made as to how doctors, nurses, nurses aids, and people who cleaned OR’s and patient rooms–anyone working near blood and body fluids would practice their skills.

Below is an excerpt from an article that eventually appeared in the NY TIMES. 

In 1986, Mrs. Fassbinder was infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, while helping treat a patient in the emergency room of Memorial Hospital in Prairie du Chien, Wis.

While pressing gauze on a needle puncture, the patient’s blood apparently mingled with her blood through small cuts on her hand from gardening, she said in 1990. The young man died, and an autopsy showed he had AIDS. But it was not until January 1987, when she tried to make a blood donation, that she discovered she had been infected.

She and her family kept the infection a secret until she decided to speak out in 1990. “My biggest fear was how the community would react to me and my kids and my husband,” she said at a news conference in Iowa City in which she told her story in the hope that it would warn other health-care workers. The 1,500 people of Monona, a farming community in northeastern Iowa, gave her family “nothing but support,” she said at the time.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an AIDS expert and epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health who became a friend of her family, said she “helped bridge the gap between the worlds of the health care provider and the AIDS patient in need of competent and compassionate care like no one else could.”

Mrs. Fassbinder traveled extensively, talking to people about AIDS and how to prevent infection by H.I.V.. She testified about AIDS before Congress, and in 1992 she was recognized by the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services for her work. A native of Marion, Ohio, she also served on the National Health Care Reform Committee set up by Hillary Rodham Clinton and was a member of the Iowa State Commission on AIDS, Dr. Osterholm said.

SO WE ALL KNOW ABOUT AIDS, WHY FOCUS ON THIS DEATH? 

MY ANSWER, OSHA, The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It was Mrs. Fassbinder’s death and the subsequent deaths and illnesses of other healthcare workers that revolutionized the practice of dealing with blood and body fluids in hospitals.

All of this was done to protect doctors, nurses and anyone working in a hospital from contacting AIDS. The stringent regulations offered other benefits to hospital personnel who for years treated patients with bare hands and were exposed to bacteria and viruses, which they could then pass on to other patients and their families.

THE BIG RED OSHA bags became standard use in hospitals as a way to bind up materials that carried viruses and bacteria.

When you are admitted to a hospital today, you take it for granted that anyone entering your room will be using hand sanitizer. That’s not because of Covid. That’s because of Mrs. Fassbinder contacting AIDS.

MORE DETAILS ON THE LATEST NEWS CONCERNING OSHA  (NY TIMES)

The Biden Administration, in its efforts to combat Covid 19 has tasked the United States Department of Labor with writing a regulation that will force tens of millions more workers to get vaccinated—or to produce weekly negative test results. This move will test the agency’s legal power and could draw a legal challenge. 

The Labor Department will issue a regulation requiring companies with 100 or more employees to follow the above directives….Although the agency’s ability to meet legal thresholds necessary for such a forceful intervention into the private sector remains unclear, some in the business community who’ve been wrestling with how to increase their employee vaccination rates without controversy are indicating support for the move.

Some of you reading this post will have worked in healthcare. And you know and many people who have been hospitalized and even visited an ER, know that people who work in healthcare believe in and must comply with certain health requirements.
Currently those include inoculations for: Hepatitis B, Annual Flu, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) Varicella, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and Meningococcal. And all healthcare workers should be screened for Tuberculosis. 
Copies of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard are available from the OSHA website.
Why Biden's New Ruling Dates Back to 1990's

Why Biden’s New Ruling Dates Back to 1990’s

COVID 19 VACCINES HAVE SAFE & SCIENTIFIC ROOTS

COVID 19 VACCINES HAVE SAFE & SCIENTIFIC ROOTS

RNA at work…

She was a nun, Sister Natalia, and when she spoke, we sophomore girls decided that she needed adenoid surgery. But this aging woman was whip-smart, and I began to truly listen to her, discovering that I was enthralled with a subject I had never studied before—biology.

She covered the basics, vertebrates and invertebrates. We looked in microscopes to identify unicellular ciliates like paramecia. We learned to define words like flagellum and cytoplasm.

But concurrent with these basics Natalia was teaching us—was a series of magnificent articles in LIFE MAGAZINE. The series was called The Human Body—this was late in 1962.

IF YOU KNOW WATSON and CRICK, YOU KNOW SCIENCE

The articles, what Natalia was teaching us, was the beginning of my falling in love with science, and much later becoming an RN. The LIFE MAGAZINE series was ground-breaking and I saved some of the pages, still have them. Part three was entitled: HOW FUEL BECOMES ENERGY.

The above photo is a science illustrator’s conception of Messenger RNA or mRNA—what scientists are using now to create the COVID vaccines that will save many lives.

The article described the drawing: Here the Messenger RNA is joined by fragments of another RNA molecule called Transfer RNA (green). These have different types of amino acids trailing from them (red prisms with different numerals). The amino acids attach themselves to the Transfer RNA with the help of ATP and enzymes (red and yellow spokes at the upper center). Then the transfer RNA interlocks with Messenger RNA, causing the trailing amino acids to join in a long chain. Such a chain is a protein. Ready for use, the protein leaves the ribosome (far right). Thus, the precise, predetermined pattern has been passed on from DNA to Messenger RNA and Transfer RNA to make a protein chain—which is what the cell set out to manufacture in the first place.

I FORGIVE YOU, if you didn’t read all of that. I just want to emphasize that this SCIENCE has been around for many years. The creators of the vaccines to fight COVID19 are pulling from established scientific norms which were know and utilized before some of you reading this were even born. Terms above and others like mitochondrion, coenzyme are not new to our world!

SCIENCE AND PERSONAL HEALTH

When my husband was diagnosed with CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) in 2002, his knowledge base was that of a healthcare consultant, so he was familiar with more medical terms than most. I was a registered nurse—but I had to look this disease up in my Medical Surgery textbook. The first thing I found was that “these patients live for about five years.” I then turned to the copyright date—this was an older book. I immediately had hope—medical science is constantly finding ways to cure disease, improve overall health. Today, my husband is as feisty and healthy as ever. THIS IS ONLY TO EMPHASIZE, we need to believe in science.

FIGHTING COVID 19

Married couple and doctors Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci run the BioNTech lab in Mainz, Germany. When the United States and other western countries began to pay more attention to the virus that was spreading in China and killing people, they both realized it could spread around the world, causing a pandemic. Sahin immediately began work to discover a vaccine, using mRNA or messenger RNA.

A recent article in TIME MAGAZINE, took us back to the time period I refer to above. “Scientists …at Cambridge and James Watson at Harvard first identified and isolated mRNA molecules in 1961…Then in 2005, a pair of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman, showed how to tweak a synthetic mRNA molecule, so it could get into human cells without being attacked by the body’s immune system. This and other discoveries are the reason that in the autumn of 2012, my husband entered a clinical trial that used monoclonal antibodies to attack his cancer cells and thus add years to his life.

DEFINITIONS: An antibody is a Y-shaped protein produced by B cells, which are part of the immune system. There are several different kinds of antibodies, and typically vaccines are designed to produce the antibodies that recognize and “tag” viruses as foreign invaders by binding to unique parts of a virus.

Antibodies that bind to the surface of a virus and block entry into a person’s cells can actually prevent infection or disease: this is called neutralization. These antibodies, which occur naturally in some people after vaccination or infection, can be copied in the lab and then given to people as a prevention option or treatment. The term “monoclonal” refers to these laboratory-made antibodies.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  ARE YOU NERVOUS ABOUT GETTING  THE COVID 19 VACCINE?

All of this is to emphasize that science is keeping us alive, is fighting COVID 19. The terms one reads about in relation to the vaccines have been around for a long time. The very up-to-date article in TIME concludes: The ability to code messenger RNA to do our bidding will transform medicine. As with the COVID vaccines, we can instruct mRNA to cause our cells to make antigens—molecules that stimulate our immune system—that could protect us against many viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens that cause infectious disease. For a visual chart to to: https://www.coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/coronavirus-vaccine-and-antibody-science/

PHOTO: LIFE MAGAZINE, from pages I’ve kept for a lot of years! 

 

Turn and Face the Sun…

Turn and Face the Sun...

I wrote a note to prepare for this blog, something about DISTANCE. But I couldn’t find the note–because of our recent move, because my desk and office are still cluttered with that which I love, paper. Even if I had made the note on my computer, searching for “distance” would probably not have brought me CLOSER.

Having a computer and cell phone can obliterate some distances. But even being right next to a person, even one you know well, can feel chilly and distant. It’s the way we live right now, often divided and at war with ideas. It should not be that way.

THE LAST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS…

Yesterday we spent an engaging afternoon with old friends, the people you can say anything to, who encourage your ideas and sympathize with your fears. There is no distance between us. It’s the same with our daughters and our son. 

But there are times when we need to distance ourselves from people we love, because there is rancor that leads to arguments, that pulls at the threads that used to bind us. We are living in a time when many of the norms we have enjoyed for decades have been ripped apart. FACE IT. It’s a difficult time to be alive. You have to take a position just opening and walking out your door to shop, take a walk, run an errand. MASK or NOT MASK. 

MY DECISIONS

You all know I mask, keep six feet distance, try to abide by the rules. It’s not always easy. Our bodies are probably more on “high alert” than they have been in years, which is not good for our overall health, our blood pressure. YES: we all fall into patterns and habits, but I still worry about those I love, hoping that when out in the world, they will be safe.

I OBEY, YOU OBEY, BUT THEN…POTUS, a major person in the USA who has refused to wear a mask, comes down with COVID19. How should we react?

Here is what presidential scholar, writer and overall sentient man Jon Meacham had to say Friday evening when he learned that trump had Covid19:

Brian Williams: Our president is in the hospital. We know very little beyond that. Presidents have hated that… And we are in a unique circumstance as the White House medical office has not been truthful in the past. 

Jon Meacham: So much of our common life has been on trial for the last four years. So much so…that everything feels hyperbolic; but events are catching up with these superlatives. To some extent there is a kind of equipoise… and one of the best descriptions of the presidency itself, was written by John Adams in the 1790s… He talks about how the first character of the presidency “would be the subject of all eyes and the object of all contemplation, that he would be a vital role in the republic.” …

The role of the president… has always been vitally important, not only politically but culturally. But what we have seen now, going on four years, is that the habits and inclinations of the incumbent president seem almost to be beyond dominating our mind space. …

Where we find ourselves in this really interesting moment of reckoning, between two things that have shaped us in the last six to eight months in particular: one is distrust, a distrust of experts, a distrust of the ordinary conventions of our lives.

And the other is disease. And the distrust has fed the disease.

Because a huge portion of the population decided not to listen to those who had expertise, decided that somehow or other, they knew better, that the force of reason and science was somehow partisan and not legitimate. It was a bunch of elites trying to tell them what to do. And by God they were going to show them. We are seeing the wages of that–

John Lewis taught us that the key element of nonviolent protest was never become that which you are fighting against. Answer hate with love. Answer violence with nonviolence.

So, in an era bereft in many ways of grace and dignity, we must do all we can to be gracious and dignified. That said, it is an inescapable fact of our unfolding history, that the president repeatedly diminished the role of science and reason in combatting this pandemic and now that is helping to push the country to extraordinary moment of unease as we face an extensional election in 31 days.

FINAL THOUGHTS…When I heard Meacham’s words, I wanted to share them with you. But first I went out, took a walk, tried to gather my thoughts before writing. And as I was approaching home with my earbuds providing tunes–James Taylor sang to me. When he wrote these words, I don’t know what was weighing heavily on him, but today, much weighs heavily on us and on our country. Thus, I share these words, and my hope that you and yours are well and that we will get through these trials together.

Another night has gone, life goes on, another dawn is breaking.
Turn and face the sun, one by one, the world outside is waking.
Morning light has driven away all the shadows that hide your way.
And night has given away to the promise of another day.

Another day, another chance that we may finally find our way.
Another day, the sun has begun to melt all our fears away. Another day…

Wishing you and yours another day. Thanks for reading. 

Thanks to Deposit Photos 

THE USUAL AND THE NOT SO USUAL: UPDATED!  

The Usual and the Not So Usual Updated

If all goes as planned, when you read this post, John and I will be comfortably ensconced in our new home in Chicago. We might also have a few aches and pains from assisting the movers with unpacking, and we will definitely be tired. But if glasses of wine are poured and there are birds singing in our new back yard (yes, we once again have a back yard) we will be happy.

THE JOURNEY…

I write this the night before we leave, but when you read it, we will have driven from Henderson, Nevada to Grand Junction, Colorado, then to North Platt, Nebraska and then to Des Moines, Iowa where we used to live, and finally from there to Chicago.

I will always be grateful to my friends—all of you, for reading and commenting and keeping me feeling loved. Moving is challenging. Super thanks to my family and especially our three children and my sister-in-law Therese. We have “climbed a mountain.” Well not really, but figuratively. Whenever my dear mother had accomplished something that rose in front of her as a challenge (and it was now over) the mountain phrase was used.

But irony, we have left our mountains which we loved for seven years, and now will enjoy the waters of Lake Michigan—to drink and when possible just sit and enjoy; also the green of spring-summer, the color of autumn (my favorite season) and our two fireplaces in the winter. And this moment knowing that we are finally here and you are reading this is such a comfort.

VIRTUAL FRIENDSHIPS 

But that’s it, isn’t it. Friendship; communication. Knowing that I can communicate with you, whether I’m in California or back in Chicago, my ability to write and post being seamless. But I am also fortunate to have a computer and a phone, to be able to rely on such benefits.

Note: all of us are living in a time when we totally rely on people who help and serve others. And, we are living in a time when some in power look down on people who help and serve others. So wrong. The United States of America is blessed when we work together, when we help each other. It’s always best for us to be there for each other and not become warring tribes. It is best when we say thank you—as much as possible.

 YOUR FRIENDSHIP IS SO IMPORTANT…

And even though we might meet on the street wearing masks, your eyes glitter with friendship.  And even though we might long for hugs, your eyes tell me you care. And even though it seems like this virus will never go away—it will. If we all work together, if we all sacrifice. If we help one another.

Thanks for reading. From Chicago, sending a big hug. Photo Credit: TIME OUT

 

LISTENING TO ONE CLEAR MESSAGE

LISTENING TO ONE CLEAR MESSAGE

“The thing about the pandemic is people are going to die whether you believe in it or not.”

Lucy Jones has one clear message. She is a seismologist—you know, someone who studies earthquakes. A California native, she’s got a big job, studying the science and trying to educate California citizens. She created the slogan: Drop, Cover, Hold On!

But when a reporter from the LA TIMES recently interviewed Jones, she had created something new, a message about Covid19.

Don’t Share Your Air!                              Which is shorthand for, wear a mask.

Jones will always approach an issue following the science and not personal emotions. So after reading and researching, she boiled down THE SCIENCE to something that is not up for debate—it’s a fact:

“There’s a lot of ways you could get Covid, but more people are getting it from breathing in the air of an infectious person. If you can’t protect yourself from everybody else’s air, what you can do is keep your air from getting out to others.”

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

“There are these tiny, tiny droplets that are carrying the virus…If you put a mask on your face, think how it fogs up your glasses. That’s the moisture carrying the virus that is getting caught and not going out to infect someone else.”

“Once those droplets are caught in your mask, they condense and grow heavier and drop more quickly—and thus more safely—out of the air.”

Jones explains that it’s easier NOT to share you air outside. But early on, some of the hardest hit states were those where people were inside because of the cold. People were sharing their air. Now that’s true for states where it is hot, and people are going indoors to escape the heat.

So, the one clear message is              DON’T SHARE YOU AIR.

Simple and Easy to remember.

YES, TRY TO KEEP IT SIMPLE

Lucy Jones knows that in a situation like a pandemic, you can’t get complicated. People get confused. They get hyper and they tune out. You can’t overwhelm people. SIMPLE WORKS. AND SIMPLE NEEDS TO BE REPEATED.

Our federal government has continuously provided poor leadership and confusing messaging. It has offered different ideas, it has vacillated. That makes people crazy and eventually they turn away.

Jones says: “People stopped trying to keep track of the changing advice. They tuned out. They walked away—unmasked—from all of it.”

SCIENCE: IT KEEPS US ALIVE

Jones does admit that because this is a new virus the experts had nowhere to go when the outbreak hit. So they went with what they knew from other virus outbreaks: MAINTAIN DISTANCE FROM OTHERS, WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN.

She also feels that we as citizens and thinkers need to realize that science must play a major part in decision making. Science will have its way. We can’t turn away from science.

“It’s pretty clear we are suffering from our inability to use science in decision making.” And she stresses that scientific reality is not subjective.

“You can believe all you want that the apple is going to fly into the air—and yet gravity still pulls it to the ground,” she said. “The thing about the pandemic is people are going to die whether you believe in it or not.”

Jones remarked that government once lobbied against the findings that smoking was a health risk; and now currently, many in government refuse to acknowledge climate change.

“We’re now in this position where scientific information is treated as something that you believe or don’t believe because of your partisan leanings.” That makes messaging for the general public very very difficult.

THE COMMON GOOD

Jones believes that in a time of division, where central government and state governments cannot get on one message, we will be the victims of chaos and confusion—all of this during a pandemic.

She wants us to “put our common good in front of our personal discomfort,” and believes that we can still do some good. Why and how? Let’s use the earthquake analogy. Right now we are still in the foreshock sequence. But by wearing masks around others, we can still help reduce the size of the mainshock.

So…..DON’T SHARE YOUR AIR

Maybe you are tired of my research on COVID19. But right now, this is stuff we need to know to STAY ALIVE. Thanks for reading. 

 

What Can Covid19 Create? Our Future Scientists

What Can Covid19 Create? Our Future Scientists

What Can Covid19 Create? Our Future Scientists

This very Covid19 moment, if I could wish anything for my three amazing grandchildren, it would be their safety. They are strong, smart human beings, but there’s a world out there that they need to learn to navigate, to understand, and not totally trust. It’s a different world, this Covid19 world, one that is hard to explain to children.

So, if they asked me for my advice regarding Covid19, how would I answer?

First, I’d talk about polio. Like COVID19 that is now making so many people sick, polio often started with a fever, sore throat, headache, body aches. Parents would worry, especially in summer if you developed cold-and flu-like symptoms after swimming in a public pool—then they thought the worst.

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD GIFT–A POOL  

My mother didn’t let us swim in public pools, but we were absolutely blessed to live next to an engineer who had a pool. Uncle Carl, we called him, was employed by an iron works firm about three miles from our neighborhood. He had a team there create a large iron framework, really a big bath tub, that was 3 feet deep at one end and 5-6 feet deep at the other. Then he had excavators dig a huge hole in his backyard and they brought that “pool” over and dropped it right in the hole. Bingo. We could stand in our dining room windows and look out at the neighbor’s swimming pool. And yes, we were invited to swim, after taking a shower, most summer afternoons from 3:00pm to 4:00. Huge relief from polio worries for my mother.

TIME FOR YOUR POLIO SHOT! 

But then, after a few years, Jonas Salk researched and presented the Salk vaccine. It was approved by government agencies and everything changed. Fear went away. My mother took us to see our pediatrician and there he was with this long needle. But Dr. DeYoung and his nurse were clever. They had a box of birthday party favors, the one you blow on and it makes a horn sound. Well, the nurse would hand one to each child, tell them to blow–and while they did, zap, Dr. DeYoung did the inoculation. No tears, no fears. 

So I could tell my grandchildren the swimming pool-polio story, stressing that scientists are right now working, researching a vaccine to make us safe from COVID19. It’s a profound teaching moment if parents use it right—because science is ALWAYS THE FUTURE, though science, good science and research, take time, lots of time, and children often have no concept of time. THEY WANT THINGS NOW. (So do some adults who complain before they think.) But with Covid19, things aren’t going to go back to normal any time soon.   

HOW WE HAVE WORKED TO BANISH CHILDHOOD DISEASES 

I could also tell them about chicken pox, mumps, measles and rubella, that many grandparents and even some parents remember having all or a few of these childhood diseases. And even though we missed school, it wasn’t fun. We were often really sick. And there was no way to make up what we were missing in school. There was no zooming.

Then when we were well and went back, everything seemed strange. Life had gone on without us. Sometimes the school room looked different—there was a new kid in the front row; the bulletin board was totally different: our teacher had cut her hair or was now wearing glasses. There was a table of projects but my name wasn’t on any of them because I wasn’t there. CHANGE. It’s hard on everyone, but it’s really hard on children. We like things to stay the same. We feel safer that way. We all thrive in a safe environment. But now the ability to go outside and roam, ride bikes, play in the park, use the climbing equipment—all has changed. You have to keep thinking about invisible viruses on your hands. You can’t hug your friends.

But there is also the HERO FACTOR. Because when we were back at school and talking to our friends, some of that hero stuff came out.  Like my eye surgery, when they bandaged both my eyes and I couldn’t see for a week. And I was only five.

STRESSING THE POSITIVE: SCIENCE AND FUTURE GO HAND IN HAND 

Our grandchildren will have stories to tell, but I also believe the biggest one will be about the scientists and the doctors who worked very hard to create a vaccine that eventually meant future generations would not have to experience what they are going through right now. It could become a WONDERFUL MOMENT, to stress the positive, to teach your grandchildren about their bodies, about the immune system and antibodies, about herd immunity. The time is long past where adults sit in a circle and talk about things they don’t want their children to hear. Because THEY ARE HEARING IT or READING IT on the internet. So much better to talk about these things openly, to inspire curiosity in your child or grandchild. We always need scientists. And I hope beyond hope that thousands of young minds are right this moment focussing on learning about the human body and realizing that the TRUE SUPER HERO is the man or woman who can study, research and eventually HELP others. Wishing you all, health and safety. 

a version of this post appeared on Carol Cassara’s blog: Will Our Grandchildren Be Okay?

photo credit: Green Matters

“FRESH AIR” INTERVIEWS A SCIENTIST ABOUT COVID19

FRESH AIR INTERVIEWS A SCIENTIST ABOUT COVID19

“Make this an epidemic of kindness, that’s really being social.” Michael Osterholm

Teri Gross, known for her interviews on the NPR program, Fresh Air, recently interviewed Michael Osterholm. Who is he? An American infectious disease epidemiologist, and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Osterholm has street cred in the current Covid19 pandemic. So if you are finding the information coming at you from many sources to be confusing and downright depressing, like why do cases go up and down; can we tie it to reopening the economy and where the hell are we right now? The information he has provided might help. 

THE BIG PICTURE

Osterholm discusses the process, suggesting that we step back and look at the overall picture: to do that, we have to use influenza as the model.

We all know that with the influenza or the flu virus there are different strains. The scientists that create the flu vaccine for a given year do their best to create one that will cover those various strains.

THE FLU MODEL: there is that first wave in autumn, and then often the influenza virus drops off, goes away; but then there is a second wave, starting in January, though that too drops off and eventually goes away. It’s spring and allergy season starts! It’s always something. 

But here’s the thing Osterholm says: we don’t know if this is happening with the Corona Virus in the United States. But we do know: cases will go back up again; it’s the behavior of the virus in addition to the behavior of humans.

SACRIFICING TO STOP COVID 19. 

Osterholm stresses the importance of social distancing. “If we follow the rules with social distancing and masks, cases should disappear in the next 2 months. But then, we would have a second wave that could be much worse affecting 5-7% of the population. And keep this in mind, the virus will not slow down until 50-60% of the population have been affected, have antibodies to fight off the virus and thus supply us with herd immunity.” (If you are unfamiliar with herd immunity, go here.)

As Osterholm agrees, all of this is very sobering—the numbers, the time. It’s as if we humans are having a race with the virus that is driven by a biology we cannot control. The virus is going to keep happening and the only way to control it is a vaccine. Why? Because the vaccine will make every individual immune to the virus without getting the virus.

But Osterholm admits that currently the American people are confused as to what to do and how to do it. Flu pandemics can last for years; so we have to learn how to live with this virus; we can’t let this virus run like crazy! And why you ask– because our healthcare system cannot handle it! PEOPLE WILL DIE. 

  • in Florida a health dept. worker was asked to report a low patient number, alter the real numbers; she refused and was fired.
  • this is the worst pandemic since 1918; and the worst economic problem since the Great Depression.
  • we are a divided nation. Osterholm gets nasty emails, threatening emails, as some people believe it’s a conscious effort to destroy the economy and the current government. The virus is the seed of painful accusation and beliefs. Somewhat like HIV-Aids.
  • yet this is different: people are making up stories to fit the narrative. That’s how we have come to live with those who have an alternative purpose–those in the Antivax Movement. Olsterholm states that a year from now kids will suffer, because we have stopped our vaccination efforts to keep children from getting measles. Out of fear and pressure, many kids will not get vaccinated. Public health has had to focus on COVID and not water, lead poisoning, vaccinations, sexual transmitted diseases etc. So just wait!
  • Under Trump, the workings of the CDC who passes important information to local health departments across our nation, has been hindered, blocked, forced into some phony submission. One result: the many antibiotics that we currently use will become resistant to bacteria, because the necessary passage of research and information is not progressing. 

A BIT OF COMFORT…SURFACES PLAY A SMALL ROLE–IT IS ALL ABOUT AIR!!

Osterhome admits that our situation is evolving. Cases of the virus go up and down; it becomes hard to tie it to the reopening of the economy; again think of the influenza model. One wave then another. Scientists are recording all of this, searching for the right model. 

  • Osterholm stresses the importance of distancing. We are actually in a race with the virus.  
  • Surfaces play a very little role. He believes we have gone overboard, which is unfortunate–because it really is all about Air.
  • Wash your hands, but no one needs to be frightened of their physical environment, like mail, packages, print magazines. Osterhome doesn’t worry about food.
  • IT IS THE AIR THAT WE SHARE. THUS…Distancing is important.

LET’S LOOK AT RECENT HISTORY…

In reference to the fact that we are 2 weeks out from massive protests, Olsterholm stresses that we have not seen major increases in cases in cities with protesting. The virus disintegrates in the air and so there is a lot less exposure. But tear gas and smoke, yelling shouting can get the virus into the air; also being arrested in holding cars and up against others can certainly pass the virus, though we are not seeing an increase yet.

He did mention the rally in Tulsa that occurred this past weekend. A possibility of rising numbers:

  • 19,000 people;
  • Trump does not wear a mask and as we saw, most people didn’t either;
  • attendees had to sign a liability disclaimer; crazy, crazy;
  • indoor air and large crowed sharing air–sets up a viral storm;
  • loud voices, singing, shouting, enhances the virus. It’s putting gasoline on the fire.
  • people from the rally go home on buses, cars, planes, infect others;
  • where is personal responsibility;    
  • over 600 healthcare workers have been infected and have died;
  • Osterholm mentions 400 healthcare workers who got infected at work and died, without an underlying health condition;
  • so we as a nation are putting each other and healthcare workers at risk when we don’t practice social distancing and wear masks.

FINAL MESSAGE—Don’t risk your own life. Don’t risk the life of others.

It’s like driving, if you are careless and crash into someone else, you might kill them. We have to hold people accountable. That should be the only waiver–and we all need to sign it. PLUS our government needs to tell the public the truth, because even if they fail to do so, THE VIRUS WILL EXPOSE THE TRUTH. 

FINAL PRACTICAL ADVICE: AIR FLOW!! 

Increase the air flow where you live. Wind is cleansing the air; inside you should have fans to move the air; open car windows; closeness can be related to the time you are exposed to a cough or a sneeze. There should be ventilation in buildings. Remember that when talking, you can actually see the aerosols fill the room; so a fan that moves the air is smart; YOU CAN EXHAUST THE AIR OUT; replace with clean air; adjust the amount of air that comes in and goes out. 

FINAL THOUGHT: being separated from family is hard. Osterholm really doesn’t go anywhere, but he doesn’t like the term social distancing. He prefers physical distancing–that’s fine. Because we can still keep in touch with the people we love. And we can turn things around. So wear a mask, follow the rules. Make this an Epidemic of KINDNESS–that’s truly being SOCIAL.

Photo Credit: World Economic Forum

INCREASING the GOOD in the WORLD

 

 

 

I really do believe that there is much good in the world. But lately, I think we are finding it in different ways, in strange ways, because so much has highlighted our divisions because of COVID19.  People are reeling from change. Some are suffering: a trickle down effect that now feels like a tsunami. The small business you either own or work for closes. Your income, your savings dwindle. You can’t pay your rent or your parent dies and there are funeral expenses. NONE OF US CAN KNOW just how Covid 19 has affected the people we meet on the street, in the store, or who are raging online.

But I know that MY LIFE IN THE LAST THREE YEARS... has been devoted to my family, my writing, my garden.  And yet it has often found me angry.

Yes, I’m confessing. But, the only people who truly feel my anger are my patient husband and the relatives who agree with me. And my readers. (Thank you Readers.)

I did try to keep my own life on an even keel as I watched so many good things about the United States government being wiped out.

  • As I watched as men and women who were actually AGAINST a certain federal department were hired to run it–do everything they could to destroy its basic principals so that folks depending on getting help with school loans discovered they were out of luck.
  • Or those who believe that protecting the environment is crucial, who want to keep the earth healthy, watched as one by one protective measures were vetoed or quietly removed by the Department of the Interior. And those are only two examples.

WE KNEW THESE THINGS WERE HAPPENING. And If you cared to discover the truth, it was available to you. But many turned their backs on these changes because they believed in maybe one aspect of the current administration’s plans. I call that throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I call that being blind to the needs of all citizens.

REACTIONS TO GEORGE FLOYD’S DEATH

And then the disgusting and disgraceful murder of an American citizen, George Floyd, by members of the Minneapolis police department, occurred. People took to the streets to protest. And after some took advantage and looted, the tenor of things changed, people were bonding, coalescing, singing, and protecting one another from the police who sometimes used rubber bullets and tear gas to stop or control American citizens. I thank our citizens for their emotional power, for their coming together to protest, for their honoring a man who needlessly and cruelly lost his life at the hands of police.

SOME TAKE AWAYS…So what am I thinking today.

I am grateful to family and friends who saw the wrongs that have been occurring in our country and who shared my sadness, my anger, my questions. How can this still be happening, I keep asking? At the beginning of these last three years, there were people in my life who voted for 45. I tried to make them my friends, regardless. But I heard statements like:

It will be fun to have DJT for President.  Again, that’s not why we vote, to be entertained.

You just have to let that go.  Being told that when I confessed I was depressed about the situation at the border–no!! I don’t let those things go if I know with my voice and my vote I can change things to where they should be.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

I do believe there are always great things, good things happening along with the questionable, the disappointing. During these three years, I bonded with women who felt as I did and we worked with the League of Women Voters, volunteered to raise money for local charities, helped senior citizens, made phone calls for the candidates of our choice, and sent small toys and art supplies to the children at the border. I will always thank the Progressive Women of Congo Valley for their friendship and how we all bonded.

But life can sometimes feel like a MAZE OF DISAPPOINTMENT. First it was the president we got and now it’s the pandemic we got.

But yesterday, while trying to always be the good girl that my mother raised, I found my place on the red divider in the grocery store, six feet behind another woman. But then she turned. “Did I cut in front of you?” she asked. “Oh no,” I said across our space, “No, you’re just fine.” She smiled and faced her cart. But then seconds later, she turned around again, looked at me: “Are you sure?” I smiled. “Oh yes, I’m sure. You’re just fine.”

And then she went on to purchase her groceries, push her cart, wear her mask in this every changing MAZE we call life. I finished and followed, remembering that my mother always wanted me to grow up to be a “good girl.” DAMN, I’m trying. But sometimes you don’t know whether to be grateful or that it’s truly time to pour into the streets and scream: “THIS HAS TO STOP.”  “LET’S GET TOGETHER AND MAKE MORE GOOD IN THE WORLD”

COMFORT—IT HOVERS BETWEEN YES and NO!

Boston, Mass.

As I write, there are birds singing outside my window. The sun is shining. It’s in the seventies. A perfect California day. Comfort, YES. But it can quickly change to NO.

But there is also the unknown. That Life is not normal. (And please don’t stop reading, because I’m not going to sigh and moan. I am going to search between the positive and the negative.)

Life is not normal because of the unknown, because the enemy is invisible and yet seemingly everywhere. Pinning it down to fight it is no easy task. Being positive during the fight is no easy task. I believe that’s why people are getting angry, and many have decided to just give up.

They want life to go back to normal. They want to say YES to their past habits. Forget all this BS about staying six feet away and wearing face coverings. They want to say NO, I’m not going to do that anymore or NO, I’m never going to do that.

And then it gets all twisted up in the politics. If I leave my house, go to the beach, eat in a restaurant, I’m living my true American life—I’m FREE to do what I want. Do what I damn please. That’s what freedom is all about. America too.

ACTUALLY NO

Freedom doesn’t work if there are no rules. We no longer live in the so-called WILD WEST where people were armed and shot others without a moment’s thought. Or enslaved others: minorities, women, children. Freedom now lives in our country, precisely because we instituted laws and rules. Things are regulated. The food we eat; the clothing we wear, the vehicles we travel in—all are regulated by laws and inspections. And yes, we have choices within the confines of those regulations.

COMFORT—YES 

Only if you believe, as I do, in the necessity of regulations and inspections. They are part of your day to day comfort. If you’re told not to buy romaine lettuce because it’s contaminated—you don’t buy it. And you can’t SEE that on the lettuce.

Now we’re told not to be in crowded places with other humans because of COVID19. You can’t see the virus—same problem. So, I guess some people are comfortable buying the lettuce and going to the beach. It smacks of the same principle—this COVID19 virus thing. But I do know it’s damn  harder.

COMFORT—NO

No, I’m not comfortable with denying the words of the scientists, medical experts. If I leave my house and go into a public place, I will wear a mask. Currently, a medical-type mask. Maybe down the road, I’ll be satisfied with a pretty cloth mask. We have immune system issues in our family. And this morning I decided—because there are more and more people deciding to deny the virus and challenging people wearing masks, that if someone comes up to me and starts that argument—I’m going to say right out: I’m immune-compromised. And hope they just take off.

I’m going to be like the RN who was standing in line at the grocery store wearing her mask and a woman, out of nowhere, challenged her.

“You think that thing is going to protect from some damn virus?” the woman said in a loud voice.

The nurse immediately turned to her: “Yes. But I am really wearing this mask to protect you. I just came from working in the hospital.”

The loud-voiced woman immediately took off. The comfort scale for her at that moment was a NO!

COMFORT—YES or NO

So where are you on the comfort scale?  I have to tell you, Dear Reader, that it’s been tough on me. We are selling our home. What a time to have had strangers walking through. First, it was wiping down doorknobs and surfaces as soon as we could return home. Later, the state of California set up rules for realtors. That helped. But it’s still the last thing one could ever want to be dealing with—strangers in your house during a pandemic. Strangers making comments on forms after an inspection: you left a nail in a wall; you’re one window doesn’t open easily and there’s a line of chipped paint on that window sill. OKAY!! I just want to tell them all to get out of my house. Leave me alone. Let me shelter in place. I can handle this. I have been handling it. And yet, soon, it will be me looking at someone else’s home. I guess that’s just the way it is. COMFORT is somewhere in the “we are living in challenging times” middle. PLEASE, stay safe and share your thoughts. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Krupa/AP 

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? WHERE ARE THEIR HEARTS?

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? WHERE ARE THEIR HEARTS?

Women are the nurturers. But where are they right now? Women are to be fountains of love–but where are there hearts? Has something changed?

Most of us know what being a caring individual looks like. We’ve seen it demonstrated in our childhood and/or adult homes. If not, we’ve found it in our friends, in books, films and our relationships. Being cared for, being honored by others beats in our hearts. It’s in our DNA. And because of that, we know how to rush to help a child; how to want to stop a child or anyone from crying. We know how to reach out, help someone in trouble, call, text, check on a friend. We worry, want to help. Again, it’s in our DNA.

Or is it? Am I being a sentimental fool and talking about a world that no longer exists? No, I think that world still exists, the desire to care is still there, but we are frightened. Every one of us. Things have changed.

IN THIS MOMENT 

Never before have we had to think about who we touch, walk near. That we can’t hug someone, console another human being. (I embarrassed myself during this past week, walking up too close to a neighbor I had not seen in a long time, forgetting the necessary distance. She had to remind me to step away. And this happened after months of knowing the rules, because it’s not NATURAL TO ME. Neither is seeing my grandchildren and not being able to hug them, or sit with my grandson and draw, or go outside and play basketball.)

And I get why in the grocery store, some people just can’t remember to follow the arrows. Maybe under their breath they are saying, “F-the arrows.” But at the same time they must know THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. Or do they. I wonder. Because I have also never had to avoid a group of people and their conversation because even though they are living in the same world I am living in, they see that world in a totally different way. It’s frightening. It’s crazy. They make me crazy. 

SO, WHAT I AM REALLY LEARNING…

I am learning that I stand with every healthcare worker in the United States of America. 

Someone might be moaning that they need a haircut or want to have their nails done; someone else might be angry that they can’t hang out in a bar with friends; someone might be willing to brandish a gun because they are angry about rules, masks, social distancing. WELL YOU KNOW WHAT? With all the care in my heart, all the kindness that is part of me I say: TOO BAD. GET OVER IT. THAT’S WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW. THAT’S WHERE MY HEART IS RIGHT NOW. 

And so I am dedicating this post to CELIA MARCOS, who ran into a COVID19 patient room without a N95 mask, because her patient had stopped breathing. Seconds count. There was no time to get the right mask. She subsequently died of COVID19.

And I wish to honor Dr. Mark Morocco who wrote about this loss: “I won’t take the chance treating COVID19 patients without proper PPE. To honor Marcos memory, no nurse or doctor should. The Hippocratic oath does not include a suicide clause…Call Fox News, tweet the president until he blocks you, stand up in your home office and make your voice heard. When they ask for a name, tell them you are Cilia Marcos.”  

(Thanks to Dr. Morocco MD and professor of emergency medicine. His statement appeared in the LA TIMES. Read it a few times. Think about it. It will keep your heart open.) PHOTO CREDIT: LA TIMES.