Hello everyone. I hope all is well.
You have to admit, good news is hard to come by these days. But I did want to mention something I learned yesterday from my wife that qualifies as a positive development. For weeks now, the hospital she works for has been operating like the rest of most American health care facilities: lack of testing for Covid-19.
Finally, that’s going to change in the coming days as the FDA has approved a Rapid Test Kit that will provide results within hours. Up until now, any Covid-19 testing was sent out to another facility where the results could take up to 3 days. The new test kit will allow my wife, who’s the lab manager, to conduct the test on an instrument they already possess at the hospital. In other words, sending it to another facility will no longer be necessary.
So what does this mean? Finally, we’ll begin to see, in real-time, who actually as the virus. So far, Humboldt County, California, which is near where her small rural hospital is located, has only two active cases. With the ability to test more patients and get the results quicker, that number is expected to rise exponentially. In Curry County, which is where we live in Oregon, there are no positive cases currently. Again, this is likely to change with the FDA approval of the new test kits.
It’s hard to say how many people have the virus in my neck of the woods. The thing is, this is a very rural area where population density isn’t a problem. The whole state of Oregon, with an approximate population of about four million, currently lists only 161 people who’ve tested positive. Inevitably, that number will also rise in the coming days. Once news starts to spread of positive cases in our area, the panic level will also increase.
So far, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has not declared a shelter-in-place order, such as the one our neighboring state Governor Gavin Newsom issued on Thursday. While Restaurants and bars are closed in Oregon, the Governor is being pressured to follow Newsom’s lead. It’s only a matter of time. We can only dodge what is clearly about to come for so long.
A New Normal
On March 2, I wrote a post, Coronavirus Thoughts, amid news of the first death from the virus in Washington State. That was 20 days ago. It seems like a lifetime since then, as we’re now approaching 450 fatalities and over 30k cases.
All of my favorite sporting events have been postponed or canceled altogether. On a personal note, our relatives had to cancel their visit this past week. While we were indeed disappointed, it was the right decision, considering all that’s going on with air travel. I too have a trip planned in early May, with plane tickets already purchased. Right now, that’s not looking good either.
I worry about the future of my country. Here’s what I know: the attention span and patience of Americans aren’t exactly a beacon for the rest of the world. How long will we, as a society, tolerate being told we can’t go anywhere? What about the lack of sporting, cultural, and other entertainment events? Those diversions aren’t there, so we’re left trying to make do the best we can.
But isolation has a way of breeding anxiety and discontent. I don’t feel we’re at a breaking point yet, but I think that day is coming. The chaos and bumbling of the current administration in Washington D.C. certainly don’t inspire confidence. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: Mr. President, please shut up. You’re not helping! A self-isolation for about a month wouldn’t hurt.
While many of us are doing our best to isolate ourselves, there are too many who are not—just looking at the spring break crowd and the beaches are proof positive. Young people don’t get it. I was a young person once. I remember that mindset where you don’t care what the adults say. For me, the most important thing was, hey, where’s the next party?
So it’s hard for me to criticize them for doing what most twenty-somethings have been doing for generations. But they do need to take it seriously. I hope that changes. Soon.
But for the so-called adults? The adults who watch Fox News and nothing else? I read an article in the Washington Post the other day that ought to make everyone’s blood boil. Here are just a few of the quotes from the some of “deniers” and “hoaxers:”
“I’m not changing anything I do. This is BS.”
“I don’t feel the need to panic. If you don’t have a fever, you’re going to be fine. If you’ve got a fever, just get it checked. If you’re not sick, we don’t need everybody to stay home.”
“We just need to trust the Lord to solve this. I don’t know anybody personally with the virus. We shouldn’t be thrown into a state of panic because of what we hear, rather than what we see and witness.”
That last quote was from a 73-year-old retired salesman who was passing out little cards that read “C.O.V.I.D. 19” with the acronym “Christ over viruses & infectious diseases.”
And then there’s this from an 84-year-old churchgoer, who wants to know how the virus “got out of China.” According to the man, from what he saw from a Chinese expert on YouTube, it originated from a biological laboratory into the meat market.
So much disinformation; so many conspiracy theories; and a president of the United States who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Sigh.
I fear the worst is yet to come, unfortunately. I do get a sense that testing is ramping up in some parts of the country. But we need to do so much better. And the first people who need to be tested are the health care workers who are on the front lines of this crisis. It’s unconscionable we aren’t massively testing them yet—every day if need be.
Addressing the economic catastrophe we’re about to face will take another post at another time. Currently, Congress is working on a multi-trillion dollar package to help the American people and struggling businesses. Of course, it’s political, and of course, both sides are calling each other names. What else is new? Oh well, it’s going to pass at some point—sooner rather than later, hopefully.
Please be well out there, my friends. If we stick together, we’ll get through this. If we don’t? Never mind. I can’t go there.