Tag Archives: covid

We Had This Beat

More than one million Americans have died of complications of Covid-19. Can you wrap your arms around that number? Does it seem possible? Everyone I know has been touched by Covid one way or another. I lost my mother-in-law. And it didn’t have to be this way.

American is in many ways like Australia. As reported by the New York Times (the link is probably behind the Times’ paywall, but it is excellent and worthy of credit), both countries are English-speaking democracies with similar demographic profiles. In Australia and in the United States, the median age is thirty-eight. Roughly 86 percent of Australians live in urban areas, compared with 83 percent of Americans. Yet Australia’s Covid death rate sits at one-tenth of America’s, putting the nation of twenty-five million people (with around 7,500 deaths) near the top of global rankings in the protection of life.

The difference is in the stupidity factor. As in America is stupid and Australia is not. Americans have shown they lack trust in science and institutions, but especially in one another. When the pandemic began, 76 percent of Australians said they trusted the health care system (compared with around 34 percent of Americans), and 93 percent of Australians reported being able to get support in times of crisis from people living outside their household.

One day after learning about the new virus reported in China, Australia’s chief medical office began acting. Border, isolation, surveillance, and case tracing mechanisms were put in place. A few days later Australia reported its first Covid case. Less than 24 hours later, on Feb. 1, 2020, Australia closed its border with China, its largest trading partner. On Feb. 3, 241 Australians were evacuated from China and placed in government quarantine for 14 days.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first human transmission of the virus in the United States, President Donald J. Trump downplayed the risk. “We think it’s going to have a very good ending for us,” he said.

The Australian response to Covid was not perfect. But the contrast with America is shocking. At a time when the Australians began handing out started N95 masks, which are more protective, to workers exposed to Covid patients supplied came from federal and state stockpiles, with guidelines for how distribution should be prioritized, in America hospital executives were lining up third-party vendors for clandestine meetings in distant parking lots.

Australians lined up to get tested, wore masks without question, turned their phones into virus trackers with check-in apps, set up food services for the old, infirm, or poor in lockdowns, or offered a place to stay to women who had been trapped in their homes with abusive husbands.

The Trump-Republicans from the Oval Office on down the ranks disputed the science, made fun of those who took seriously the need to wear masks, isolate, and avoid close contact, demonstrating contempt for those who did. Their syncopates on Fox and other cable news fell right into line disparaging the depth of the crisis. The federal government refused to get involved with the setting of nationwide standards or the procurement of personal protective gear. About the only thing Trump supported that was of any value was the decision to fund the development of multiple vaccines. Perhaps he was out on the golf course the day that one was put into place. Then once the vaccines were ready, the states had to create their own programs to administer the medication.

Today more than 95 percent of Australian adults are fully vaccinated — with 85 percent of the total population having received two doses. In the United States, that figure is only 66 percent.

And if the number of fatalities due to Covid in the United States had tracked the number in Australia? That would be 100,000 souls lost. A terrible number. But far lower than the one million and rising number of deaths of Americans. Americans who were either stupid themselves or were the innocent victims of others who were stupid and did not care what havoc they caused. I count my mother-in-law among the innocents. She was a victim of a state government which failed to put into place any meaningful controls on its healthcare facilities. A state where the court system failed to protect its seniors and guarantee their basic rights. She died before her time in Florida.

A Guest Blog From The ICU

I know it has been a while since I last wrote. I’ve been dealing with some legal problems which I may be writing about in the future but for now are all time consuming. I do have a half written blog about the resurgence of Covid-19 and the idiots who refuse to get vaccinated which may see the light of day after my court deadline on Friday. But for now I want to share this blog from an Intensive Care Unit nurse which was posted on Twitter. It is brilliantly written and heart rendering. Please read.


I became an ICU nurse at the end of July in 2020, during one of the first peaks of Covid when it was all still so new. I learned how to be a nurse behind a respirator and a yellow gown, amidst the constant beeping and hissing of ventilators that couldn’t support failing lungs. Because I was so new, I had no baseline for what normal nursing looked like; I just had a vague sense that it couldn’t look like this. The unit was bleak and everything we did felt futile, and I realized at some point I felt more like a ferryman to death than anything else. Some people lived, if they never got to the point they needed Bipap. Most didn’t. By the time they came to us they were too sick, their lungs too shredded, kidneys already failing and blood already clotting and so often beyond the power we had to heal. I would watch, feeling helpless, as they would go from a nasal cannula to a Vapotherm to a Bipap, and then when their chests started heaving and they started sweating I knew with heavy dread that soon they would be intubated.

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The Handmaid already has blood on her hands

The Daily Mail produced the wonderful graphic above to go with a story published October 3, 2020. The photo was taken on September 26 and shows the crowd gathered in the White House Rose Garden as Donald Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, filling the seat which became vacant upon the death on September 18 of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In its October 3 story the Mail reported that nine of the people who attended this event had, at that point, tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. As the picture demonstrates, few of the 100 or so people who attended wore face masks, and all were sitting close together. On October 9, Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, labeled this as a “Superspreader event.”

An October 5 poll report said more than 9 out of 10 Americans wear a face mask when they leave home. But that clearly does not include Donald Trump, our Covid denying superspreader-in-chief. Nor apparently does it include Amy Coney Barrett, whose nomination was rammed through the Senate on a strict partisan vote and who took her seat on October 27. America’s newest associate justice wants to be sure you can attend superspreader events too.

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Updates and tidbits

Back from Space

SpaceX’s Dragon Demo-2 flight has ended with the successful return to earth of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley after spending more than two months on the International Space Station. As I wrote at the time of their launch, this flight marks the return to America of the ability to send humans into space.

After the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2000, Americans who wanted to go the the ISS had to buy a seat on a Russian rocket. NASA began, during the Obama-Biden administration, what is called the “Commercial Crew” program effectively outsourcing this task to private industry. SpaceX is the first to successfully demonstrate this capability. This flight was named “Demo-2.” The first regularly contracted flight of the Crew Dragon is set to take four astronauts, three Americans and one Japanese, to the space station later this year.

As they left the capsule Behnken and Hurley thanks the SpaceX team. The SpaceX communicator said, “Thanks for riding SpaceX.” For America’s space program, a new day has begun.

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