Tag Archives: COVID-19

Calling on Governor Scott:

On May 1, Vermont is scheduled for a limited re-opening of some business interactions, despite the fact that we still have plenty of Coronavirus activity in evidence.

If I correctly understand the logic of this move, it stems from identification of Vermont as one of the nine states which had less than 1,000 identified cases of the virus, ignoring the proportion of virus/deaths to overall population. ?

I know we are all eager to resume “normal” living, but the testing piece is still far from adequate and the actual number of infections is likely exponentially greater than the 812 confirmed cases, so far.

We are told that there are so many unknowns about this unique virus that it is impossible to predict who might have it, how severe it might be and how it might manifest in any one individual.

I am sure Phil Scott is trying to be a responsible governor despite growing pressure to open the state, but I propose that he make one key demand of the Trump administration before the arbitrary May 1 deadline.? It’s a demand that is neither unreasonably large? nor without concrete purpose in addressing the information gap for the nation as a whole.

Having the second smallest population of any state, Vermont would be the ideal candidate for full testing of EVERY single resident, and contact tracing of all the resultant positives.  If if can’t be done for the 600,000 individuals in our little state, what hope is there of getting a handle on the vast unknown for the rest of the country?

So, Governor Scott, with all due respect, I ask you to make our cautious reentry to business activity contingent on getting help from the Feds to make this happen.  The profile on Coronavirus spread that such a state-limited study could yield would be invaluable to the country as a whole.

If ever there was a time to assert your independence while putting Vermont public interest first, it is now.

Thanks, But No Thanks.

Apparently Vermont is one of the nine states getting the “all clear” from Il Duce Don to end social distancing and resume business as usual by May 1.  It is unsurprising that he cares little for the lives of vulnerable people in the state least likely to support him in the upcoming election.

He might just as well say, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” because he’s made it very clear that he believes voter suppression is the only way that Republicans retain power.

Let me be among the first Vermont seniors to say, “No thanks, Mr. President.”  We don’t want to be the canary in your coal mine.

I give Phil Scott credit for a little more common sense than to follow his party’s nominal leader right off the Coronavirus cliff, but I think we should all make ourselves perfectly clear, nonetheless.

I propose that all the vulnerable people who have been endangered by Trump’s self-dealing and deliberate ignorance in the face of the pandemic begin to come together to develop a massive class action lawsuit against him, to launch the day after Joe Biden is inaugurated as President.  No doubt, it will be only one of many awaiting him on that blessed day.

Who cares whether any lawsuit succeeds in the long run!  The idea is to hound him and his family of horrors for the remainder of their days, just as surely as they have darkened ours.

What have you got to lose?

When Donald Trump was just an unlikely twinkle in the eye of voters unhappy with the first non-white president, he premiered the “What have you got to lose?” argument.  In the midst of the most conspicuously xenophobic election campaign in living history, he posed the rhetorical question to black voters, for whom he could offer no other reason for voting for him: “What have you got to lose.”

Without belaboring the disrespectful nonsense of the argument, suffice it to say that it was unsuccessful with the targeted audience even before we’d had a bellyful of his lies; but Donald Trump is not one to part with a losing strategy before beating it to death.? So it was unsurprising that in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, with Americans dying all across the country, he trotted it out one more time to promote a very sketchy treatment, chloroquine, that had struck his fancy after being pitched by some of his equally sketchy “friends.”

“What have you got to lose?” by trying chloroquine, he urged repeatedly, sounding more like a medicine show huckster than the president of the United States.  

In this case, the answer to his question turns out to be, “Your life.”

Approved for the prevention and treatment of Malaria, and in use since the 1930’s chloroquine is not without serious potential, side-effects.  Cardiac issues are the ones that have been getting the most attention in the COVID-19 pandemic, but I have personal experience with one of the less familiar side-effects of the drug.

Thirty-seven years ago, my husband and I travelled to India for an East-West artist’s symposium.  It was an extraordinary experience for which we prepared with all the necessary shots and a prophylactic dosing of chloroquine that began a week or more before we flew to Mumbai (then Bombay) and continued briefly after our return.  I’m sure we received literature from the doctor describing possible side-effects, but we both felt fine and never gave the chloroquine a second thought.  

Luckily, I kept a journal during our travels because somewhere in the midst of the trip, I began to have terrible nightmares and a growing sense of foreboding.  India was full of sights and sounds that could easily account for some of this mental distress; but, by the time we returned home, it had grown into such a wave of paranoia that I had the notion we might die forgotten in the streets there if we didn’t leave at once.

That was, of course, crazy thinking.  After we returned home, the fantasmagoric nightmares continued for a brief time, then slowly receded.  I can still vividly recollect one of the last, in which I saw a figure huddled in dirty rags at the back of a cave.  When I approached it, the creature looked up at me and screamed horribly.  It had the face of one of my closest friends.

Some years later, my sister happened to mention the psychotropic effects of cholorquine and the penny finally dropped for me: the acute paranoia I had experienced in India and afterward was a known side-effect of my anti-malarial drug!

When Donald Trump began his “what have you got to lose” promotion of chloroquine  for COVID-19, I immediately recalled my own paranoid trip.  I was a completely sane and stable young woman on holiday.  

Nevermind the risk of heart attack, imagine what indiscriminate use of chloroquine among a population already in the grips of of the worst pandemic in modern history might produce in the way of psychotic complications!  

“What have you got to lose?”  How about your mind?

No April Foolishness

There’s no appetite for April Foolery around our house this year.? Every April 1, while my son was still home, it was a tradition for me to wake him up early, shouting, “Get up! Get up!? You’re late for school!” ? Even though it was an old gag, he fell for it most years, if only for the first few seconds before his mind cleared of sleep. ?

Today he lives and works in Montreal and, for the time being, we can only visit via FaceTime where the gag would be pretty much wasted.  I speak to him almost every day and am reassured that he and the cat are surviving his work-from home tenure in reasonably good spirits.

As of this afternoon, Vermont has 321 confirmed cases and sixteen deaths.  4,495 people have been tested, so far.

As of yesterday, the number of deaths was “only’ 13; so today’s death tally represents a single day increase of roughly 25%+…not great.

Still, we are in better shape (right now) than many other states; better enough so that Vermont Digger dared yesterday to ask if our “curve” was “flattening.  Monday, there were 256 cases and on Tuesday, there were 293 cases, an increase of just 37 new cases. Today’s increase represents just 28 new cases.

I already had to up the tally from 13 to 16. By the time I finish writing this brief diary, the stats may have changed and there may be no reason to be even cautiously optimistic.

Our son worries about us.  Even though my husband and I are generally pretty healthy, we are in the age bracket that has the most to fear from this disease.  I put myself in his place and remember how I would worry about my aging parents who lived far away in Chicago.

I worry about him, too.  Is he eating right and sleeping enough?  COVID-19 is fully prepared to take down young people as well as old.  I know he is observing social distancing and I feel for his stunted social life, being a young single male in the normally lively city environment. 

Fortunately, he has a great roommate and a sociable cat; so even without the internet, he won’t end up resorting to chats with the living room furniture.

For our part, down here in Vermont, my husband and I are finding a different kind of social distancing helpful; he, in his studio, and I, in the house.  With so much unrelenting togetherness forced upon us, a fair measure of “me-time” preserves the peace.  I can well imagine how difficult it is if you don’t have the luxury to go to separate spaces.

My friend Mary Beth, who lives alone with her cat in Tuscaloosa, is actually glad right now to be single.

She can’t imagine being confined to the house with any other human being for days unending! She chats with me and other friends via Skype, while working from home.  I think she’s writing about the Alabama experience from a northerner’s perspective.  Her neighbors provide quite a cast of characters and situations!

As I remind my 73-year-young husband, our job, is to observe strict social distancing, stay healthy and keep out of the way so that we do not complicate the already impossible lot of healthcare and essential service providers.  Not everyone will be able to manage that, so it doubley behooves those of us who can to do so.  

This is not the moment to climb a ladder or move a piano, if not absolutely necessary to rescue someone…and don’t let that “someone” be you!

Aged as we are, we are not the real victims of this thing.  As per usual, it is the poor and infirm who will inevitably pay the biggest price for the lack of preparation and poor response of our government.  Uniquely, though, scores of healthcare workers will join them this time as primary victims,.  

For the wealthiest nation in the world to fail so miserably in its duty of care is inexcusable…but there we are.