Three Things: Shit Got Real with Family and COVID-19

[Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I spent last night crying off and on all evening.

Right now some parent or parents are experiencing the nightmare I have hoped and still hope I won’t have to face.

A chemical engineering student at a state university died Sunday. He was only weeks away from graduating — just like my younger adult child at another state university.

This didn’t fucking have to happen. This bright promise didn’t have to be swept away in this human-made disaster. Don’t tell me this was natural, not when that narcissistic wretch in the White House treated the governor of my state like crap this week after her persistent pleading for federal assistance. Not after he failed from the time he was first told of this potential pandemic threat in December.

This death is on that miserable wretch’s head, and on the head of every GOP senator who looked the other way after Trump abused his power and solicited a quid pro quo. He did it again to our governor after the GOP senate gave him a permission slip instead of removing his unethical, greedy ass from office.

The horror isn’t over, either. There’s no telling how many more parents will face this same nightmare because one man just plain failed to do his job in a big and repeated way, because roughly 20 senators are spineless if not equally incompetent and corrupt.

~ 3 ~

You can guess what preoccupied my time last evening when I wasn’t crying. Text messages and phone calls were flying furiously between my house and my two kids’ homes downstate.

A capital city newspaper reported a 65-year-old man was confirmed with COVID-19. Nothing remarkable about this story on the face of it; so far he’s a living statistic.

But to this family this particular story is important. The man lives three miles from from my older adult child. Some of the folks who work with my older child live in the same neighborhood development. While the company for which my child works will implement screening body temperature at the door today, it’s a couple weeks late and pretty useless for asymptomatic cases. It would have been useless on this man up until he became sick, three days before Michigan’s Stay Home order took effect.

The patient developed symptoms on March 21 and has been sick since then. Before he developed symptoms he had been shopping at Sam’s Club, Costco, Meijer — three of the most popular grocery stores in the area. My child and their spouse shop at the latter two stores.

My younger college-student child had planned to go to Costco yesterday.

You might think, “Whoa, big spacious stores, no big deal,” right? But a study from China found two COVID-19 cases in Wenzhou traced shared one common trait — both patients had shopped in the same mall on two different floors. They had a low-intensity indirect transmission without prolonged contact.

COVID-19 appears nearly as bad as measles in terms of transmission. It’s spread mainly by exhalation of asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic people as well as those with symptoms. A recent frequently-cited study showed the virus can hang in the air, active, for three hours. This weekend’s story about a church choir which observed all the social distancing rules — apart from staying home — illustrates how easily this virus spreads in the air in closed spaces.

The 65-year-old patient said he doesn’t know where he was infected. “I don’t go to a lot of parties or hang around with a lot of different people,” he told the reporter, “I probably caught it from a public place.” But he did go to the grocery stores and he visited a rehabilitation facility in Ann Arbor to drop off supplies for a family member. The rehab facility was likely not a source since no known COVID-19 case arising from the facility was mentioned in the article.

Kudos to this gent for wanting to share his situation with the public. He’s been quite sick; he admitted, “I can’t imagine anyone with a compromised immune system, I can’t imagine them going through this…My lack of taking it seriously, versus wearing a mask or gloves or both probably contributed to me getting this. I kind of regret it now.”

So now we wait and wonder whether anyone who works with my older child has a community acquired infection from their neighbor.

And we wonder and wait to see if my older child along with their spouse has been infected, too.

Just stay the fuck at home. Don’t put yourself in this situation where you, too, must wait and wonder. You don’t need any more stress than that wretch in the White House has forced on us.

~ 2 ~

Speaking of that wretch, after comparing notes with Marcy this past week, I have a theory about the White House’s abuses of power denying or obstructing aid to certain states under emergency declarations.

See if you can spot what I think has happened in the context of a table Marcy prepared; I added a few more columns to it.

It’s not just that “the woman in Michigan” was mean to poor baby Trump. Her state has a very tight senate race and no Trump hotel, golf course, or Trump organization business within its borders.

One thing I didn’t add but makes sense to me about the tribal governments’ federal emergency declaration: Marth McSally’s Senate seat. What do you think?

~ 1 ~

This pandemic crisis has pushed our system past its limits, exposing all the cracks in a hyper-capitalist system. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir in saying that, or at least if you’re a regular here you’re unsurprised to see that I’ve written this.

But how quickly people have been pushed to their personal breaking point hasn’t really been plumbed. I’ve written before over the last few years that nearly 50% of Americans haven’t had $400-600 cash for emergencies, that rent across the country was beyond what minimum wage workers were paid, and health care insurance let alone health care was simply out of reach even with the Affordable Care Act.

The emergency is here, and any time now the dam is going to break. One-time checks from the government will come too late for many. Read this thread by Yashar Ali explaining one person’s crisis:

Some of us can’t afford to help; we know this from the data and anecdotes we’ve seen. But those of us who can very much need to right now. Find a local soup kitchen or food pantry and make a donation of cash because people may already be experiencing food insecurity. Hunt down charitable programs delivering meals to children, elderly, and even groceries for hospital workers. As hard as we’re expecting health care folks to work, they may not have time to shop for themselves.

The U.S. didn’t become a great nation based solely on personal greed but by what Alexis de Toqueville called our “self-interest rightly understood.” The diminishment of investment in our country through a combination of taxes and giving to ensure we all do well is why country is falling, why we now find ourselves in this mortal mess. Take immediate corrective action and help others if you can with cash.

~ 0 ~

Keep in mind as we go forward this is both a shared national crisis, and an intensely personal crisis. The odds are stacked against any of us getting through the next 12 months without losing someone we know, like, love, and without someone within our personal spheres suffering hardship.

This is an open thread. Bring it here, back up the truck and dump it in comments.

130 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I know the crying has only just begun. Knowing this is just the tip of the iceberg to come is like living in a horror movie.

    • Rayne says:

      *ka-ack* This snake oil salesman.

      As if human effort has zero role in both getting us here and in getting us out. Just lie back and let it happen because faith.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        I have a huge amount of “You’re kidding, right?” that overwhelms me about people whose basic religious belief system begins with the premise: magic is real.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Osteen mouths religious tripe about God’s plan, as if she would tell him about it. What he seems to care most about, but doesn’t say – rather like the English upper classes – is money. The same is true of Falwell, who absurdly reopened his “university.”

        Michael Hudson has an interview up on today. His most recent book is …And Forgive Them Their Debts, a topic he has studied his entire career. He makes the point that religion and economics are inextricably tied together.

        Martin Luther King integrated that observation into his ministry late in his career, after much soul searching about the political resistance it would generate among the powers that be. It did drive away many of the powers that be. Recognizing that religion without economic and social justice is empty might jeopardize their social control – and their pocketbooks.

        • P J Evans says:

          The parts of the bible they don’t seem to read talk about economic justice: taking care of the poor is really big. Making money just to have more money is not. And every 50 years, all debts are to be forgiven.

        • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

          Is there something like that in the bible? Given life expectancies when it was written, that almost seems like saying, “Don’t let debt be inheritable”. I wonder if there’s similar messages in other religious texts, they seem to borrow from each other heavily.

          That being said if jesus showed up tomorrow I think the gop would nail him up again the second he opened his mouth.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          According to Hudson, who seems to have researched this specific issue for decades, debt jubilees were more common than every fifty years.

          New rulers usually extended a debt jubilee in the year they came to power. They extended a jubilee when crops repeatedly failed, and when private debt systemically threatened to reduce the currency in which the poor paid their rulers – labor.

          If they failed to do that, and debtors could not repay their debts come harvest time (society was debt based, not barter based), meant laborers became slaves owned by their creditors. That made their labor unavailable to the ruler to staff his army and to raise his crops.

          In short, debt forgiveness was a common relief valve that kept Middle Eastern societies stable, and reduced the power of private merchants in relation to the king. It was not a tool adopted by the Greek and Roman societies that formed the basis for the cultures of the European Middle and later Ages.

          Hudson also notes that later Greek and Latin translations of the Bible left out the economics once inherent in it. The year of our lord reference, for example, referred to a jubilee year. The mind boggles at the consequences.

      • Rayne says:

        Yup. That. I like the simplicity with which John Dickerson approached our now-communal grief in his 7-graf essay in The Atlantic:

        If you have ever lost someone you loved, you know the feeling of seeing the world through a bank teller’s glass. You observe other people laughing and enjoying their day, but you are apart from them, separated by a thick, bulletproof barrier. You wonder how they can savor that plate of pasta or play music that loud, given what’s happened. …

        Makes me want to re-read Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. The problem with our current grief is that we can’t really take time out from it to come to terms with it and the magical, regressive desires it engenders. It’s very much like living in a war zone.

  2. OldTulsaDude says:

    An overlooked contributor to this horror story is the political influence of Christian nationalists. To them, science is the work of the devil. And Trump is using them to maintain his grip on power – so he has to cater to their whims.

    • Rayne says:

      Christianity is proving toxic, literally. These fundamentalist religious leaders who insist on having big gatherings in spite of Stay Home orders, to spite these orders, are killing their followers. That choir practice in which 42 people became ill is a perfect example. So is that hypocritical asshat Falwell’s insistence on Liberty University continuing classes on campus.

      It’s just a matter of time. 5/14/21 days at a time. Tick-tock.

      (Sorry, Peterr. I hope when the viral dust settles a new kind of Christianity emerges.)

      • Peterr says:

        No apologies needed, Rayne. And a new kind of Christianity is already emerging, Rayne. It already is.

        I’ve been attuned to the toxic nature of Fundamentalist Christianity for a long time, and have spent decades in ways large and small pushing back against it. But doing that is kind of like a Stay At Home order fights against COVID-19: if only a few people do it, nothing will change the course of the disease, but if large numbers do . . .

        God knows that Missouri has plenty of fundamentalists in it, but I’m happy that our republican Attorney General filed suit against Jim Bakker for selling quackery nostrums during this epidemic.

        • Kick the darkess says:

          Your comment put me in mind of this piece written by someone named Richard Rohr that I bookmarked awhile ago. Sort of a consideration of the medieval idea of the great chain of being and how it could be synthesized with modern science to create a new vision for Christianity-if I understand it correctly. Certainly different from the church I experienced growing up and ultimately drifted away from. Although in trying times I still find the scripture “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” very powerful.

        • P J Evans says:

          I remember the minister at the Methodist church we went to doing a sermon on “when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it”. (He died in 2015, at 96, so I don’t know what he’d think of this mess.)

      • Frank Probst says:

        Falwell is going to rot in hell, but I’m giving the choir a break. The LA Times articles says “Skagit County hadn’t reported any cases, schools and businesses remained open, and prohibitions on large gatherings had yet to be announced,” at the time of the get-together, and it sounds like they were taking precautions there (social distancing, Purell at door, etc.). That one looks to me like everyone involved made a decision based on the info that they had at the time. Personally, I wouldn’t have gone, but I don’t think it would have been unreasonable for a layperson to think that the risk was negligible. That one looks like a super-spreader cluster that should have been thoroughly researched, because it potentially would’ve given us more insight into the virus, but they didn’t even test everyone who was symptomatic, so it’s hard to learn much now. It looks like time of exposure to onset of symptoms was extremely fast (3-4 days). That cluster should’ve been studied pretty extensively by a research laboratory, but the opportunity has been lost.

        • Rayne says:

          Sorry, we’ll agree to disagree. The layperson went ahead and participated because they believed Trump and/or Fox, the cretins who both said it was a hoax, it was like the flu, it would blow over, have a pen and a handshake.

          Anybody who relies on internet and non-Trump/non-Fox news sources would have known there were concerns with that many people in one location in a closed environment with possible asymptomatic cases — enough concerns to be reluctant to have practice even with 6-foot distancing and no physical contact.

        • Bardi says:

          Not that it matters but it seems there are some students from overseas who have no other place to go. If so, the entire situation could have been handled much better.

        • Rayne says:

          Kind of an understatement, that, the entire situation could have been handled much better.

          Beginning in December 2019 when this pandemic could have been slowed to an epidemic in China if a disbanded pandemic response team had been summoned by US National Security Council. ~sigh~

        • Rayne says:

          I think that’s a head fake. It’ll end up in court and if it were to go all the way to *this* SCOTUS, they would probably find in favor of the church under First Amendment arguing that ordering churches not to hold services is a violation of their right to practice religion. And that’s a step toward allowing discrimination using religion as an excuse.

        • P J Evans says:

          There’s also the no-assemblies-with-more-than-10, which, since he broadcasts it anyway, could easily have been obeyed.

      • hester says:

        Fundamentalists of any stripe are toxic. Disclosure: I’m Jewish. Tthe ultra-orthodox are also incredibly dangerous w/r/t this but they are so insular, they’re likely just to infect their own cohort

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          I think it was an orthodox synagogue that held Purim festivities that was at the heart of the New Rochelle cluster.

        • vvv says:

          I watch that and others like it and I hear, “I-I-I” and it seems to me, within the scams and delusions, there’s a huge egotism on the part of the preacher, a sort of belief that he and only he, if anyone, can do this, and that’s why he should get paid (in mammon, adulation respect – whatever) for trying.

    • harpie says:

      Let’s talk about these f#ckers: The Greens and their HOBBY LOBBY
      4:56 PM · Mar 27, 2020

      So Hobby Lobby waits til yesterday to close, continually exposing employees and others because “it’s in the hands of god.”

      Today, they fire people by email. No severance. No insurance.

      Apparently, God doesn’t want the Greens to use their billions to help their laborers. Grace

  3. punaise says:

    Bay Area shelter in place orders likely to extend through April

    The new normal…

    We’re just hunkering down here. No immediate family members in peril, other than 90+ frail Mom at her retirement community (also on lockdown), son-in-law MD resident working the psych ward at a Central Valley county hospital w/o PPE (it would freak out the patients), and nurse niece working the front lines near Sacramento with insufficient PPE.

    • P J Evans says:

      I have family in Georgia, a friend in New York state, and a family member who’s been studying to be a respiratory technician. Also elderly family members in Texas and Missouri.

  4. Kenevan says:

    We need to put the economy into a “coma” until we get a handle on COVID19. Randomized suffering and loss focused at the resource poor will inevitably lead to a long, painful recovery for everyone.

    You induce acutely ill patients to give them a chance to “ride out” their illness. The world needs to do something similar. Focus on food, shelter, and public safety and let the rest of the economy rest while we keep our distance.

  5. Pajaro says:

    Well said Rayne! I feel the anxiety, grief and anger as well, sometimes tears well up. My son’s case seems to wrap it up in microcosm. Today he is seeing his doctor about the chest xray result and to be tested for Covid19 (again), TB, and Valley Fever. He had checked all the Covid19 symptom boxes for about a week (rough one by accounts). Tested negative, though he said the Dr. tech was fumbling in execution and the test is sensitive at sampling and lab to screw ups. Symptoms diminished but he noticed reduced lung function, he is also fatigued, said he slept all weekend long. He is a vigourous 29 years, fit: works out, has a great job, outside sometimes, well regarded and advancing at work. I can hear the frustration in his voice when I talk to him. Anger too.

    This didn’t have to happen, USA is greatly diminished by Trump. My antipathy for Republicans is growing toward boundless.

    On a positive note, I want to give great credit to our Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, she has acted quickly on schools, stay at home orders, business closures, unemployment extensions, air traveler mandatory quarantine, testing expansion, and messaging to the public. She deftly adapts plans and measures as information comes in. A real model of leadership! And, a tea party idiot is even suing her for some of the measures, a real sign of doing right!

    • Frank Probst says:

      It sounds like the first swabbing wasn’t done well. When I was learning how to do them, it took about six tries for me to get it right. Basically, the whole thin part of the swab needs to go up your nose. When it’s done properly, it looks like this:

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Frank I’ve been meaning to ask you why the N95 face masks can’t be sterilized with UVC ? Would that not extend their utility for a while where they are in short supply ?

        • timbo says:

          My understanding is that UVC does not actually clear the particles from the mask. So, while it might sterilize most biovectors capture by the mask, particulates (eg dust, smoke, virrii, etc), built up over time, make breathing through the mask less and less effective. Reconditioning the mask by “back blowing” the filter material, or through chemical treatments, etc, will likely reduce the effectiveness of the mask against pathogens significantly, particularly if it is done in the field without the proper equipment and ingredients.

        • Frank Probst says:

          No idea if they can or can’t be. I don’t think all N95 masks are made of the same material, so the answer may be different for one brand than another. And as timbo notes, there’s the issue of the mask “clogging up”. Think of it like the air filter in your home’s A/C system. You have to change the filter every now and then, and it looks filthy when you do. N95 masks are going to clog up MUCH faster than that kind of air filter, because they’re designed to catch such a broad range of particulates.

        • Pajaro says:

          Lol, tried the link late. Video removed by user. Probably too many people sticking things up their nose….I have seen diagrams showing the swab goes way back to touch the pharynx, a part of your throat.

        • Frank Probst says:

          Okay, so now the video’s been removed, but if you go to YouTube and search for “nasopharyngeal swab collection”, you should be able to find multiple videos that show you what it looks like when it’s done right.

      • Pajaro says:

        Yeah, its a long way to the pharynx. Son said the tech appeared nervous, after the swab came out she had to ask someone else where to put it, moved to another room. Son guessed it was the first one that Dr. office had done. Sensitive to small errors. I imagine that the just approved Abbott tester is better, less human error in the sensitive steps, all done in machine. Hope that gets out widely. Be nice if Abbott would freely share design, reagents, etc. with other companies–but then capitalism: it will kill us.

  6. Jenny says:

    Thank you Rayne for this post and open thread.

    Challenging times. I have to remember to breathe. To me this virus being around the world is an awakening to move earth in a humanitarian direction. Humanity at the forefront. Industrial/military taking a back seat. Focusing on helping one another honors humanity. Healthy humans, healthy earth, healthy economy, enriched lives.

    As of late, I have been seeking the positive and wanted to share.

    The Dog Doc (Documentary) – Trailer. Excellent! Watched on Amazon Prime. For those who love their furry friends, Dr. Marty is a vet who integrates holistic and traditional medicine. Compassionate, caring vet and staff. I cried.

    Steve Hartman on the Different Kinds of Heroes
    CBS News’ Steve Hartman is teaching thousands of kids online about different kinds of heroes. He also asked them to thank their hero, prompting many to reach out to pharmacists and truck drivers.
    Sweet acts of kindness from children on Kindness 101 – I cried.

    Calling my Daddy daily to tell him I love him after my Mom died last Sunday. Vital to share feelings from the heart with family and friends.

  7. Pete T says:

    Whether the final number of deaths due to this mismanagement is 2 million, 200,00, or 20,000 that’s just a number the will be spun as a success.

    The stories such as the one (of many) you reference – with all dues respect for the families and their wishes – needs to be amplified as Trump’s failing with the message – as Chris Martenson closes all his videos – “It didn’t have to be this way”.

    Trump CANNOT get away with spinning this catastrophe as a positive for him. NO:

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump is unrestrained by reality. Anything he does he will portray as a success. He won’t change. What needs to change is that he, his patrons, and senior GOP figures get away with it.

  8. Rugger9 says:

    Three items to be on the lookout for:

    My HOA unilaterally decided to not send paper bills and never bothered to tell anybody not on electronic billing (like me) which would of course mean that they could charge late fees for anyone not sending in their check. Given that many organizations have put in rent holidays, it’s not surprising that some might think this is the case here, but it is not. After I raised hell about it with the property manager, we finally got the email from the management company. In CA we have laws about when late fees can be charged tied to notice. So, everyone out there with bills that are expected but not there yet, go and find out what’s what.

    Also, the NYT has a story about GM being annoyed that DJT decided to rip on them even though he never ordered them to make anything (balking at the 1 B$ price on stuff he can sell elsewhere after signing for a 500 B$ slush fund), and it seems that has the so-called “chilling effect” on other corporations. Go figure.

    Lastly, for now, there is the question of food. Specifically, on the fruit and vegetable side, since that is labor intensive and apparently not under crop loss protection from the Department of Ag. I recall a couple of years back when some of the red-state governors down south got into anti-immigrant posturing mode and banished the migrant workers until the farmers found out that the prison labor being forced to cover for the workers couldn’t keep up or do the job correctly. Pandemonium ensued and the governors (IIRC Nathan Deal of GA was a ringleader) backed down. We have the same situation now, except that the WH is populated by xenophobes who will not care that the farming will not get done. People will be hurt by this and DJT says a good job is 200 k deaths mere weeks after saying this would go to zero.

    • Rayne says:

      wrt agricultural labor — the administration pulled some bullshit with yanking migrant worker visas, and then the virus hit and they caught a clue. People are going to starve if they continue to fuck this up; I’m not certain people won’t starve anyhow.

      I tried buying seeds recently because I can’t be certain the greenhouses where I usually buy my established plants are going to survive this next 6-8 weeks. So many sites were already sold out of most popular seeds. This summer is going to be a dual-track production and beta run, fingers crossed.

      • dimmsdale says:

        On the question of food: my local go-to market was shut down for 3-plus days because a staffer tested positive for the virus and the entire store needed to be cleaned. I do not know how you actually CLEAN an entire supermarket, and the contents thereof, but more than that–when the virus peaks in a particular locality, is it not reasonable to assume that more than ONE out of an entire supermarket staff would come down with the virus, and that a succession of staff would certainly test positive such that the store would have to, in effect, temporarily close for a month, or two? Or more?

        • Rayne says:

          No idea what the store will do. Three days is enough time for virus on surfaces to die but any of the workers who were exposed may not ever have symptoms even though they could have been infected. I’d stay away from that store for three weeks were I in your shoes. By then you’d know if any other workers came down sick and were tested. When I went back I’d wear a mask, wipe the cart, plan to keep any dry goods out in the garage for 3 days if they couldn’t be wiped with warm soapy water.

          No soft fruits like berries for me this year unless I grow and/or pick them.

        • P J Evans says:

          When I did a market run Saturday morning they’d taken all the handbaskets out to wash them and hadn’t brought any back inside. I was carrying everything, carefully, so it didn’t get dropped. (Only breakables were the frozen burritos.)

        • Max404 says:

          Practical question about fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw. Would it be possible to wash them in a solution of water and bleach, then rinse very well? Any advice?

        • vvv says:

          I sure wouldn’t play with bleach, me.
          I did a little research last week and everything I read said that even soapy water can change the taste. I have seen commercial vegetable washes that claim not to, but haven’t seen same available lately.
          If it’s not being cooked, I reckon I’ll just leave it sit for three days – apples, bananas, tomatoes, cukes, onions, hard fruits and veg, and like Rayne says above, avoid the soft berries and such for a while.
          Altho’ I gotta have mushrooms, figs and dates, those at least come packaged.

        • daisyb says:

          Years ago when serving USG overseas, we were given this formula:

          2 teaspoons Regular Bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite)
          1 Gallon of clean water

          This will result in a 200 ppm (parts per million) chlorine solution.

          Let fruit or vegetables stand in solution for at least one minute.
          Then rinse with tap water or potable water.

          Note: Use Regular bleach (no additives) with sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Today’s Regular Clorox bleach is ‘concentrated’ at 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. If you are using Regular bleach of 5 – 6.25% sodium hypochlorite (read the label), then use 1 Tablespoon per gallon to achieve a 200 ppm sanitizing solution.

          We used this for things like green peppers, eggplants, zucchini etc., and were generous with the rinsing water. Many of my colleagues used it for a variety of lettuces, again, rinsing repeatedly after soaking.

        • daisyb says:

          My many years-old manual from Dept of State says use for both bacteria and virus. This material what we were given by the Medical people at DOS. The manual does not cite sources or studies.

        • daisyb says:

          Consumer Reports quotes this formula which is different from the DOS formula I posted:
          “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a diluted bleach solution (⅓ cup bleach per 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water) for virus disinfection.”

          Wear gloves while using bleach, and never mix it with ammonia—or anything, in fact—except water. (The only exception is when doing laundry with detergent.) Once mixed, don’t keep the solution for longer than a day because the bleach will lose potency and can degrade certain plastic containers.

        • bmaz says:

          Daisy – It is reckless for anybody in this comment section to recommend others try home chemistry with bleach. Please don’t do that.

        • vvv says:

          Interesting … Of the 3 veg you list, I always only eat 2 after cooking well, and will for now will only eat any kind of pepper the same (I like to put ’em in a grill basket even over the gas stove burner and get a good, carcinogenic char before adding ’em to whatever).
          Except my well-loved pickled jalapenos! (Which are probably well-heated in the pickling process?)
          Still careful about storage and, well, I’m a fat guy so I like salads. :-(

        • Rayne says:

          I use a food safe olive oil soap or a solution of Seventh Generation dish soap. Need just enough to raise a few bubbles, rub the outside of the fruit for 20 seconds just like washing your hands, then rinse well. Obviously this works on fruits and vegetables with firm skins and not on soft foods like strawberries. I also wash my fruit as soon as I bring it home, then let sit for 24-48 hours afterward.

          If you must have store-bought berries, rinse them under running water thoroughly, and then cook the hell out of them — more specifically, cook them for longer than 5 minutes at temperature above 160F degrees. Study published this week shows COVID-19 deactivated in this condition.

      • Vicks says:

        Oh please let’s talk about seeds!
        “Shit got real” for me too when my favorite nursery closed, but I am comforted to know they are busy working on a website and a system that will allow them to deliver curbside or do pickups just in time for our growing season to start.
        Depending on where you live, it may be too late to grow things like tomatoes and peppers and eggplant from seeds. More than likely those are the seeds that are sold out.
        I think you should be able to find; lettuce, spinach, beans, carrots, radishes, beets, etc those you can plant right in the ground soon-ish and reseed every couple of weeks so you also have a bit of happiness ready to pick, If you find peas get them in the ground today.
        Keep your fingers crossed for your local nursery, their vendors have greenhouses bursting with product they have been raising from seed so they are ready for “the big day” when it is safe to put these babies in the ground.
        Our local garden group has a giant plant sale (with the most amazing heirloom products I have ever seen) every year right before mothers day and they too are going to be offering online ordering and customer pickup, so look around for similar events in your area.
        Always a last choice but surely an option are the big box stores.
        They are turning their parking lots into extensions of their garden shops just like they do every year, and I saw a “Bonnie” truck at a stoplight and I believe that is a wonderful sign.

  9. BobCon says:

    I like the table on which states have been shafted by Trump. I suspect there is another column needed which will be hard to track down, which is who is pumping Trump full of bile about certain people.

    For example, it’s possible that the Prince/DeVos swamp has Trump’s ear and is using their access to settle petty scores against Whitmer. Likewise, I wouldn’t rule out Giuliani doing all he can to shiv Cuomo out of spite, or possibly the Trump sons. I don’t know how to confirm this, though, since a lot of scummy actors have Trump’s ear.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Don’t forget about the staffers.

      “I can’t wait for the revenge”
      – Eric Ueland insinuating that Trump would wreak a bloody vengeance on the American people for impeaching him.

  10. joejim says:

    I am in Seattle where you would think that testing was being well handled by now. My mother of 90 is in assisted living along with 80 other elderly. 13 days ago a staff member there got sick. Govt. would not allow the other exposed staff who prepare food to be tested, so they just kept working.

    5 days later 3 staff and 2 residents sick. Same deal with testing, no asymptomatic people were allowed to be tested even if they were exposed caregivers for elderly. They still haven’t been tested, although on Friday the residence said it was supposed to happen. I fully expect that 80% of the residents will be infected. I contacted press a week ago to try to get attention to this and the Seattle Times responded. They agreed the situation was bad but it wasn’t completely out of wack with several others they are writing about.

    The press says WA state is supposed to be way ahead of the game in terms of testing and if that is the case we are in for a lot of tragedy.

    The staff in these places work are horribly paid and so they two and three jobs in multiple eldercare facilities. They often socialize and share housing together.

    Based on this experience I think everyone is looking at the tip of the iceberg.

    • Rayne says:

      Ugh. What’s disgusting is that Washington state should know better by now that the problem is asymptomatic carriers spreading by exhalation. If they insist on not testing, EVERYBODY should wear a mask.

        • P J Evans says:

          I bought bandanas to hold me until the muslin I had to order online shows up (I had to get 5 yards – more than enough).
          I understand that if you can’t get elastic, you should use ties that are 18-20 inches long.

    • rosalind says:

      yup, exact scenario playing out in Bellingham elder care facilities. none of the exposed staff are being tested (unless obviously ill) and are expected to work. no additional restrictions on them when they are off-work, i.e. not required to wear a mask in public. it is indeed the tip.

      and the new question is not the number of tests available, but the length of time to get the tests processed and a diagnosis returned. still taking several days for those “allowed” a test.

      • e.a.f. says:

        They have the virus and they’re working? Is that a new plan to reduce seniors in the USA. People with the virus need to be quarantined. In Canada many areas have restricted movement

  11. John K says:

    A good friend of 50+ years died Friday from Covid 19. He was 60 and in great shape, more active than most thirty year olds. It was only after he died that I realized that he had spent the last few weeks of his life with no visitors. Now his wife remains under quarantine and she is left to grieve alone, unable to hug anyone. No decent person deserves this.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m very sorry, John. What an incredible loss this must be to you and to his spouse. You are right, it’s undeserved.

      We’ll all of us have to re-learn how to express sympathy in old school ways — sending cards, letters, flowers, leaving meals on the doorstep.

  12. greengiant says:

    The article on the choir meeting March 10th is a warning. On Wednesday March 4th, the King County, ( Seattle ), health authorities were recommending that those at risk including over 60 just stay home. The county between King and Skagit was Snohomish which had been hit even worse by Covid-19 on a per capita basis. On March 4th there were 39 cases reported in Washington, March 9th the report for the previous day was 136 cases, 18 deaths. 31 of those cases were in Snohomish County.
    In Seattle some groups canceled social gatherings for Friday March 6th. By the 7th groups were canceling events in Oregon for the 14th. Should have done it sooner.

  13. Cat Silver says:

    I had a meltdown yesterday at the thought of never seeing my parents again. They’re both fine so far and I’m sending the family WhatsApp group stupid memes to try and keep spirits up, but I’m kind of terrified. I’m an anxiety-ridden misanthropic shut-in, and I work from home anyway, so if I wasn’t so worried about them I’d be more than happy to stay inside for two weeks.

    Current statistics for Scotland as of 9pm on the 30th of March. 1,563 positive tests out of 14,624 conducted and 47 deaths.

    Stay safe, everyone. Thinking of you all.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m sorry, Cat. We’re all of us going to have a meltdown sometime; I will look askance at anyone who hasn’t had at least one by this time next year. I think Scotland was much more on the ball than Great Britain — I mean, Nicola Sturgeon versus now-infected Boris Johnson? Obviously Scotland is MUCH better off.

      Sending good thoughts to you and yours. Tell your folks we said hi and stay safe, stay home.

      • Cat Silver says:

        Thanks, Rayne. We seem to be testing more in Scotland and that’s probably helping. Nicola definitely took it more seriously than Boris, but Boris is bone idle and doesn’t want to get involved with anything difficult. I know Nicola was requesting a proper plan from him weeks before he took any action. She couldn’t do anything unilaterally when London’s a short flight or train journey away.

        Anyway, it’s my wee nephew’s 12th birthday today and he’s stuck in the house, so we’re going to try and find a way to cheer him up. We’ll think of something.

  14. hester says:

    My nephew is a pulmonary doc, working at a large and poor Boston Hospital. One of the many heroes. dog bless him

    • ducktree says:

      Oops ~ cut my name entry short…

      [I’ll just delete that first attempt. System didn’t recognize you. :-) /~Rayne]

    • hester says:

      Thank you all. I’m sending out a card to him tomorrow and will thank him from you all. He and his wife have a v. small apt in Boston. He has a 4 month old baby boy (his first child) and because he’s afraid to bring it all home, he’s staying with my sister who lives in a Boston suburb. Poor guy, when he has time he texts his wife and arranges for her to bring his boy outside and then goes and waves to the little guy from across the street to get a peak..
      Agonizing to think about.
      Thanks again

  15. drouse says:

    I realize that at a time when the shit just seems to be getting deeper, it can be hard to start looking further down the road. It really would behoove us to plan for the aftermath. Even without the pandemic, we were already heading for another financial crisis. A decade plus of easy money policies have lead companies to take on otherwise unmanageable levels of debt. The financial sector having learned from the last crisis, knows that they can count on the government to socialize the losses in the name of saving the system. So they have been doing with corporate debt what they did with mortgages, slicing and dicing it into securities. Some of the financial oriented sites I read have been talking about this for months before COVID-19 hit.

    So here we have a major shock with shutting down a big chunk of our economy along with a corporate sector with huge overhanging debt. Debt that has been sold to investors desperate for any sort of return in a low interest environment, in securities that are meant to be opaque. I hate to be a Gloomy Gus but I think that we are looking at the exact same type of cascading defaults we had last time with the added feature of the PE types and disaster capitalists just waiting to pick over the corpse.

    It’s that last that we should be starting to organize against. If we don’t watch out we really could end up in a Russian style oligarchy. So we need to start agitating now to at least to try to head off such an outcome. We need to make it clear to our leaders that it’s our side or the money side. And we, not money, vote.

    Back during the great recession, I would joke that the Lehman Brothers were pioneers in the field of quantum finance. In that you can’t know the value of an asset until the market collapsed. Now I’m thinking that’s not so funny.

  16. Savage Librarian says:

    Here’s something I hadn’t heard before:

    “Experimental AI Tool Predicts Which COVID-19 Patients Develop Respiratory Disease” – Global Health News Wire

    “…three features — levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT), reported body aches, and hemoglobin levels –- were most accurately predictive of subsequent, severe disease.”

    • Frank Probst says:

      I’ve seen either mildly elevated AST or ALT levels discussed before, but not increased hemoglobin. When I see mild elevations of AST and/or ALT, my first question is always whether or not I’m looking at the right organ. They’re generally considered to be liver-specific enzymes, but they’re also present in muscle (including the heart) at much lower levels, so mild elevations–especially in the setting of myalgia (muscle aches)–makes me want to do a few muscle-specific labs to make sure that the “liver enzymes” aren’t really coming from damaged muscle.

      I have NO idea what to make of the increased levels of hemoglobin. I think that if you’re starting to develop lung disease, your hemoglobin levels will rise, because you’re not getting as much oxygen into your blood, but that should show up on other tests. It could be a differentiator here because it’s an early sign of ARDS, but that’s well outside of my part of the sand box.

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        From the brief summary, the model was built using decision trees with a fairly small sample size from a very localized population (Wuhan). I would hesitate to draw any conclusions from this other than they have demonstrated a classifier which may be effective at predicting outcomes for similar demographics in Wuhan. Decision trees are fairly vulnerable to overfitting and can produce wildly different response variable output from small variations in the input feature space.

        Although that’s a universal risk for trying to train a model using EHR from one population and successfully predict things on a different population.

        • P J Evans says:

          They do say that. What they’d like, I think, is to get a lot more data and see if it works better or worse.

      • texasdoc says:

        The timespan of illness is not long enough in these cases to see a rise in hemoglobin due to hypoxemia. More likely, you’re seeing hemoconcentration, though I’m not sure why coronavirus would cause that.

        • Rayne says:

          Wondering if there’s a relationship between this symptom — rise in hemoglobin or hemoconcentration — and reports I’ve seen about lower white blood cell counts.

    • Max404 says:

      I watched that and then changed the channel. I’m off the WH presser now, for good.

      1. he is a narcissist.
      2. he is projecting: he can’t get away with wearing a hairpiece, but he can get away with everything else ?

      He must be in such pain …

  17. To be continued says:

    Hard to put words to emotions…the sense of impending suffering ..
    ‘i felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of tiny voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.’
    Unfortunately, it’s not the sound of silence we dread it’s the horrible sound of the ventilators wheezing away trying to breathe long enough for someone to regain lung capacity…
    Shedding tears with u Rayne.

  18. Leading Edge Boomer says:

    Coincidentally, I just finished Bill Bryson’s “The Body.” From the chapter “Deep Breaths: The Lungs and Breathing” I’ll quote a little from p. 214:

    “Only recently has it been discovered that sneezes are a much more drenching experience than anyone thought. A team … found that sneeze droplets travel up to eight meters and drift in suspension in the air before settling onto nearby surfaces. … also discovered that a sneeze is not a bolus of droplets … but more like a sheet—a kind of Saran wrap—that breaks over nearby surfaces, providing further evidence, if any were needed, that you don’t want to be too close to a sneezing person.”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      This sounds hopeful, PJ. If effective, it might even help MIT redeem its tarnished reputation from the nasty Viktor Vekselberg debacle and the even nastier Jeffrey Epstein fiasco.

    • BobCon says:

      I appreciate Randall Munroe explicitly taking evolution out of the equation.

      I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about this, but a screwed up take on evolution is a major part behind the GOP’s coronavirus denialism. Yesterday’s interview with Richard Epstein by Isaac Chotiner honed in on how Epstein’s completely bogus underestimation of the dangers of the virus were based on Epstein’s misunderstanding of evolution.

      An article by Epstein predicting that Coronavirus was being wildly inflated because the virus would quickly evolve into a mild form was highly influential in the White House earlier this year. It turns out that Epstein has been misusing evolution for years in the service of his extreme libertarian views.

      Epstein believes that organized government intervention is pointless due to some kooky ideas about the way responses to threats naturally evolve to make them benign. He then turned these ideas into the equally kooky idea that coronavirus will quickly evolve into a minor threat.

      Munroe elegantly points out that organized human response is in fact what will defeat the virus. Despite what Epstein wants to believe, and successfully convinced GOP idiots was true, this isn’t something that libertarian head in the sand-ism can confront. We need rational government. We need good faith acceptance of genuine science. We need to kick libertarian kooks to the curb.

  19. vvv says:

    Re the chorus story of the 40+ people getting infected: when reading about that I immediately thought of how, IME, rock musicians frequently bring their own mic, or at least ask the sound engineer to switch out mics as they typically end up soaking wet after even a half-hour set. I’ve seen loud arguments about it. This is why karaoke bars change out mics and/or have the big colorful windscreens that they change. When buying used mics off the Ebog, etc., or even working on one of my own, the first thing I try to do is to clean (Windex and rinse, sometimes multiple times) and Lysol the windscreen – you really don’t wanna see the crud a 10 year old SM58 gets in the ball, nor do you want to smell it. I mean, it’s a thing.
    My point? Singing puts a lot of saliva in the air – just try doing a face to face duet with someone you like … and trust is not infected.

  20. Vicks says:

    What’s with Trump and masks?
    He claimed there were huge orders on their way a month ago.
    I think he meant they would be here in 8 months
    The surgeon general said earlier this month that wearing a mask if you weren’t a medical care provider could increase your chances of getting the virus.
    I think most countries policy is for everyone to wear them?
    Why did the FDA put a cap of 10,000 on a system that could decontaminate 80,000 a day?
    Why is the Trump spreading conspiracy crap about masks going out the back door of hospitals that need them the most?
    Why, when everyone knows we don’t have any masks, and they seem to be covering an ignorant slow roll response to getting any or cleaning the masks we have with total bullshit, is Trump now saying he could see recommending everyone wear masks?
    At first much of what Trump says or does makes no sense.
    Until it does, and by then, it’s too late.

    • jplm says:

      As for the imputation that maybe hospitals, or some hospital staff, are doing something dishonest in relation to equipment because he does not understand the need for greatly increased usage is ignorant and harmful. To tarnish the reputations of those risking their lives in large part because of his own mistakes is typical for the man, i.e. blaming someone else for his errors. Imagine anyone at the time of 9/11 casting aspersions upon first responders? The opposition and media need to be all over him for this one – I don’t see how even his own people could defend this?

      • Tom says:

        It seems like a variation of the same technique he used with James Comey and Andrew McCabe, calling them “dirty cops” or “crooked cops”. Trump wants us to believe that there are “crooked nurses”. It puts him in the victim role he loves and casts doubt on the motives of those health care providers putting their lives at risk to care for those suffering from COVIV-19. Trump probably resents the attention and sympathy hospital staff are receiving. Any concerns the public may have about who is responsible for the inadequate supplies of PPE will be undercut by Trump’s mudslinging, or so he probably hopes.

      • Vicks says:

        Trump may be “ignorant” but I don’t think for one second he doesn’t know what he is doing.
        The guy will say and do anything to get off the hot seat and I’m sure he learned at a young age that decent people will always try to make him accountable for his bad behavior.
        Spraying large quantities of bullshit is simply another tool that has proven to come in handy to broadcast ammunition for those looking to defend his bad behavior or to distract those that are looking at him too closely.
        I think it may be most productive to look at him as a child with a very simplistic, transparent and highly destructive way of responding when he is made uncomfortable

        • Stephen Calhoun says:

          Every tactic Trump deploys will be studied, indexed, and analyzed. The results will be valuable for developing defenses. However, the results will also provide a blueprint.

          He seems to combine a number of authoritarian ‘playbooks.’ Is his relationship to what he does intentional or unconscious or a combination of the two?

  21. James says:

    While deaths increase from Covid-19, the disease also affects regular funeral practice.

    My aunt died two days ago from cervical cancer. She just turned eighty a couple months ago.

    One of my cousins called me to tell me of the news, and to pass it along to my mother. Because of the outbreak sweeping Michigan, they’ve decided they don’t want to call in people from across the country for a funeral. She will instead have a memorial service sometime after this conservative-wrought hellscape is over.

    In the meantime, my wife and I are in isolation in my little town in the Nebraska Panhandle. The Panhandle until yesterday was free of the disease, but yesterday two people came down with it. One is considered community transmission, so Governor Ricketts has imposed closures on restaurants, bars, groups over ten, &c (previously only imposed in eastern Nebraska). The community transmission case here is a man in his thirties (indicating that no, it isn’t just “boomers” who come down with this).

    I imagine this scenario is being repeated all over the country.

    • P J Evans says:

      Condolences on your aunt’s death. (I’m worried about one of mine – 96 and congestive heart failure. She’s in Missouri – so are most of her kids.)

    • Jenny says:

      My friend, physician assistant at Emory Hospital got off her weekend shift last night. She said it is bad and expanding everyday. No scheduled surgeries unless emergency. All ICUs (about 10) turning into COVID ICUs.

      In her unit 20 patients all on vents. Other infected patients with virus are in hospital isolated. Now she has to quarantine herself. She suggests to stay at home, go out only when needed and wash your hands.

      To keep up her spirits, I text her everyday with a positive message. She is grateful and says it helps.

      My friend in Kensington, MD goes out at 7 PM every night to ring a bell in appreciation of the medical workers. All the neighborhood participates. Yep, good vibrations!!!

      • ducktree says:

        Ah, ye good olde plague bells:

        “In 1518 the first regulations to stop plague were introduced in
        London. A bale of straw had to be hung on a pole outside
        infected houses for 40 days. People from infected homes had
        to carry a white stick when they went out to warn others to
        stay away. More rules were gradually added over the years,
        such as putting a cross on the door of plague-ridden houses,
        only burying the dead at night, and ringing a bell like this one
        for 45 minutes for each burial. The noise of bells ringing
        during burials was meant to remind people to follow the
        plague prevention rules.”

        Good times . . . now wash your hands!

  22. 200Toros says:

    I have been following the commentary of Chris Meekins, former HHS official, now healthcare policy analyst for RJ. He believes that there are two ways for the public to “get comfortable” with the virus. One is through viable treatment options. Two, is they just stop caring. He believes that Trump is testing the second option, modeling for the public that they SHOULD NOT CARE. “People are dying, but Trump doesn’t care, so neither should you.” He literally said 100,000 – 200,000 deaths is a win. That’s the message from the WH. And I can’t think of a better model for that contemptible behavior than Trump.

    He will always, without fail, do the worst possible thing, in every situation.

    Thank all of you at emptywheel for all you do.

  23. Rollo T says:

    I can draw a direct line from Trump’s incompetence right to my front door. Early on, Trump intentionally minimized and downplayed the effects of the virus and failed to act. Early intervention matters. My wife has cancer and is immuno-compromised because of chemo. Tuesday, March 24 she developed a fever. I took her to the ER and they admitted her. They won’t let non-patients like me into the hospital. They put her in isolation for people being tested for C-19 which was literally next to the ward with eight people who already have C-19. If Trump had acted timely, instead of delaying six weeks, it is unlikely those people would even be there. The staff on her side of the barrier did not have any PPE, only the doctors. My wife tested negative but she still worries the staff might have infected her. Each of those eight people with C-19 has families and people worried sick about them and they can’t be with them. Trump should have headed off this pandemic. He should have prevented multiple deaths. Having practiced law for many years, I could make a good case for manslaughter against Trump. (CPC 192b. Michael Jackson’s doctor was convicted of manslaughter for failing to prevent his death). I want Trump GONE from office. Tell your friends what he did.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh gods why did they handle her the way they did? Ugh. I hope your wife will be feeling better soon. And I hope you and other lawyers eventually do make a case against Trump for manslaughter.

      • Rollo T says:

        I wasn’t there to be able to advocate for her. My speculation is that they were conserving their PPE and general ignorance or laziness. Email me if you can. Thanks.

  24. e.a.f. says:

    Rayne thank you for the post and giving people an opportunity to share their grief

    I don’t have children but the thought of my friends children dying of this virus is more than I could bear

    My condolences to those who have lost friends neighbors family to this disaster. The sibling said to me yesterday none of us will come out of this unscathed because we will all loose some one we care about. We are all aging baby boomers. We have all taken to phoning and texting more sending pictures. The sibling has been told by her doctor to stay in doors not even onto the yard because it’s too small

    Living in British Columbia has its benefits. Usually it’s the outdoors eagles deer using the cross walk on Comox but too day it was determined we have the best Provincial Minister of Health and Chief Provincial Medical Officer. It’s their ability to provide the information regarding cases deaths where it’s happening their plans for the future ramping up efforts. The care they take when they speak. The emanate calm. Our premier is usually not with them. It’s just the two of them safe distancing at the podium

    I was upset my community care workers hadn’t arrived yet after release from hospital with a fractured leg. Then I watched Rachel Maddox and read this blog. It reminded me of how very lucky I am. Yes community after care in the home is part of the health care system. Not as fast as we want but it’s better than thousands of people are getting who have the virus in the USA and other countries

    When I watch the American news there are times I could just cry. So many people may die leaving others unable to understand what happened

    As I have said before if I get the virus and know I’m dying because of it I will know my province and country did the best they could under the circumstances
    To all of you please take care. I do so enjoy this blog

    • Rayne says:

      First, wear a mask and ask your care providers before they arrive to do the same. Make a no-sew one if needed. We need you here, don’t risk your health.

      Second, we’re all of us going to know someone affected by this pandemic. Two of my friends lost former co-workers yesterday — both worked on films I’ve enjoyed for years. One of the two worked on films around the world. We need to say what we need to say while we can to those we care about because we simply don’t know how this will play out for all of us.

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