Monday, July 27, 2020

You, Your Dog and the Coronavirus— Let’s Be Canny About Canine Covid. A Guide To . . . . [?]

You've probably seen things written about children as coronavirus spreaders. . .

Children get the coronavirus just like everyone else, but almost never have symptoms and it's exceedingly rare that children experience any harmful effects.  But human children can spread the virus just like everyone else.

That much as a given, we see mask wearing parents strolling down the street with maskless toddlers charging off in front of them lurching happily in variously directions, or we see a parent or caretaker pushing a stroller with two maskless young ones craning their necks as they exercise their lungs with complaining wails, or perhaps a Covid masked parent carries an infant in a front pack that places the infant's unmasked face forward, directly right in front of their own.

The dictates of etiquette to wear a mask are pretty strong these days (and somehow polarizingly politicized as well), but the etiquette for our children as virus spreaders is different.

So you've probably seen things published about children as virus spreaders.  Published often, or maybe often enough?  Whether it's been often enough, it's been more often than you have seen anything published about our pet dogs, who also widely accompany us, as potential virus spreaders.  Back in April, writing about Covid-19, I wrote asking: What about dogs as virus spreaders?  I was waiting to finally read something about the subject in the general press. Nothing ever turned up.  I finally decided that it was time to go research the subject, that there must be something to be found.

The guidance and information that follows below is sourced mainly from:
    •   The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    •   The American Kennel Club
    •   American Veterinarian Medical Association
There is also some minor fill-in of additional information on the fringe of the subject added in from the New York Times, and a few other sources, Wall Street Journal, Healthline, etc.

Before you begin to read, you should know that the CDC, the American Kennel Club, and the Veterinarian Medical Association, all preface their offered advice with basic reassurances telling dog owners not to worry about their dog's transmission of Covid, but then they go on. . .
Here is a compilation of their guidance, and we can further discuss what it may mean in terms of the big picture after its presentation:

* * * * *
You, Your Dog and the Coronavirus
Let’s Be Canny About Canine Covid
The first thing to remember is that the Covid-19 coronavirus arrived on the doorstep of the human race through interspecies transmission.  The fact of the zoonotic origin of the virus was determined virtually day one of the pandemic’s emergence with knowledge of the zoonotic origin immediately communicated widely to the public.

Not only can dogs get Covid (and test positive for it), you can get Covid from your dog, and your dog can get Covid from you.  The same is true of cats (including tigers*), which are about as closely related to humans as dogs.  Dogs, like cats are much more closely related to human beings than either the exotic wet market pangolins or Chinese bats that are believed to have helped the virus to make the first crossovers of species infections.
(* Eight tigers at the Bronx Zoo were infected by just one asymptomatic person.)
In addition to their original shared genetic heritage with humans, dogs have been co-evolving with humans since their first domestication 33,000 years ago.  This engenders a host of similarities, including things like diet.  Because of the similarity of dog physiology to humans, beagles are, for example, an animal of choice as a medical stand in for the human species for researchers, like those at the Columbia Presbyterian medical center, when they test drugs to potentially be used on humans to treat inflammation or experiment with organ transplants.  The Covid-19 respiratory disease is, notably, partly an inflammatory illness.

If you have Covid:
    •    Isolate yourself from your dog and any other pets who may associate with your dog.
    •    Avoid all contact with your dog such as petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sleeping in the same location, and sharing food or bedding.  Do not let your dog come into areas where you have been.
    •    Act prudently to keep your dog separate and away from members of other households on the assumption your dog may have become infected.
    •    If your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself.   
If your dog gets Covid:
    •    Isolate your dog.  It is recommended to confine your dog to a designated “sick room.”
    •    Do not pet your dog, snuggle, kiss, share food or bedding, or allow yourself or anyone else to be licked by your dog.
    •    Wear a cloth face covering and gloves when in your dog’s presence, and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
    •    If you are at higher risk for severe illness from Covid, turn your dog’s care over to another person, preferably a household member.
    •    If you must walk your dog, limit it to short bathroom breaks only and be extra careful to pick up your dog’s waste with gloved hands (dispose immediately in sealed bag), plus avoid all interactions with other pets and people. Ideally, infected dogs should be walked in an area that can be readily sanitized in a dedicated area separate from other animal populations.
    •    Disinfect bowls, toys, with an EPA-registered disinfectant and carefully launder items such as towels, blankets, and other bedding.
    •    Do not visit veterinary hospitals without calling the veterinarian first. Veterinarians and their staff should adhere to biosafety and biosecurity protocols for infectious diseases to ensure the safety of their patients.
    •    Pets with confirmed Covid infections should remain in isolation until a veterinarian or public health official has determined that they can be around other pets and people.
    •    Caveat: If your dog gets Covid you are unlikely to know it, because dogs who get Covid almost never show symptoms (as many as 80% of humans may also be asymptomatic and unaware when that are infected with Covid.- If your dog has symptoms, monitor them.) 
General precautions against Covid spread applicable to your dog at all times:
    •    Treat your dog as you would any other human family members – do not let dogs interact with people or other dogs outside the household.
    •    Walk dogs on a leash keeping them socially distant from other people, dogs and pets.  It is estimated that infectiousness from exhaling Covid virus without a mask (staying potentially infectious for hours) can travel up to perhaps 18 feet, particularly in an exercise or panting situation– Recognize that some extendable leashes can add many additional feet to that for dogs inclined to roam.
    •    Avoid taking your dog public places where a large number of people gather, or narrow streets that force close proximity. If necessary, keep dogs indoors when possible.  Avoid, for instance, visits to parks (including dog parks), markets, or other gatherings such as festivals.
Additional notes:

•    The companionability of your dog can be a valuable antidote to the anxieties that dealing with Covid-19 24/7 evokes.  With isolation and quarantine, reducing those anxieties can have a beneficial impact on human health.
•    There have been no random testing studies for Covid antibodies for dogs in New York City or elsewhere to determine whether any herd immunity is developing for that subpopulation.
•    There have been no tests to determine the prevalence of Covid-19 T-cell immunity in the canine species as a possible factor in developing canine heard immunity.

* * * *

When I found what I found as guidance on the sites of  CDC, the American Kennel Club, and the American Veterinarian Medical Association I compiled it and set it forth as I did above to share with you the impression that I personally got as I bounced and shuffled around the various pages where they offered their suggested guidance: The demanding hypervigilance of it all seems like a satirical recipe for anxiety in contrast to the assurances with which they casually started.  Although compiled all together in one place, the dos and don'ts above are all pretty much all exactly their words, not mine, so I'm not making anything up. 

It obviously raises questions about where to draw the line.  And maybe reviewing and considering these questions in the context of dogs can refresh our perspective as we consider everything else we are doing as the news about Covid batters us 24/7 and, in response, we preoccupy ourselves about what to do to keep safe.  The mask thing is now a thing more than ever, and it's probably the most symbolically visible in terms of signals of social etiquette, but does the gloves thing still apply?  How many times are we supposed to wash our hands every day and for how many minutes?  Do you spray your shoes and your entryway with Lysol every time you return from the great outdoors (where everything is supposed to be safer than indoors)?. .

. . . We may all certainly feel more personally vulnerable and stimulated to undertake increased protections when the New York Times writes about how even the strong and mighty tigers of India, with whom none of us live, are sorely threatened by the virus, but if media outlets published similarly prominent stories warning us to curtail our cuddling with the pouches who jump into our beds at night and who provide us with sanity preserving quarantine companionship, some of us might rebel.  Some of us might push back to say that lines being drawn were becoming far too strict.  Nevertheless who is to say that the canine Covid infection is really less a story than tigers strickened in remote jungles?  It's soothing and preferable to be told not to worry about Fido.

Bridling at, and perhaps questioning where lines are being drawn is not to say that Covid is not a real thing or that Covid is somehow ripe to be made light of.  Like all medical illnesses it continues to deliver multiple personal tragedies to those unfortunate enough to suffer its worst effects.  New York City, once considered the center of runaway infection in the U.S., has experienced, according to the New York Times figures as of this writing (July 7, 2020), an estimated 22,970 deaths attributed to Covid infection going back to about mid-March.  More recently, since the time of George Floyd's May 25th Memorial Day murder, the bell curve for New York City deaths has been trailing off.  New infections in the city were once estimated to exceed 6,000 a day (that was before more widespread testing and after more than 20% of New Yorkers in the city were already antibody positive according to random testing), but, on this side of the bell curve the virus still takes a toll.  As of this writing, the New York Times reports 225 new NYC cases of coronavirus yesterday (with a seven-day average of 334 new identified cases per day) and 9 new deaths attributed to Covid (with a seven-day average of 11 deaths per day).

No one wants anyone to die from the virus.

If you are in suspense and still wondering, if you go to the guidance that served as my sources, you will see that, in all of it, nobody advises putting a mask on your dog.  They all advise against it. . . Decide now what you will about young toddlers and babies wearing masks.

On last very big picture thing to mention: As all these safety preoccupations concern us to whatever extent they may, the new coronavirus is simultaneously being used callously and opportunistically as an excuse for one of the biggest transfers of even more trillions of wealth to the wealthiest that we have ever seen and for other significant restructurings of our society, while, meanwhile, we do nothing about existential threats like global warming and climate change.

PS: (added August 1, 2020) Since this article was published, the New York Times ran a story about a virus infection research study about the likely infectiousness of children saying that "Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research" and "children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found."  (See: Children May Carry Coronavirus at High Levels, Study Finds, By Apoorva Mandavilli, July 30, 2020.)   The news to us was not how very likely it is that children are as infectious as adults, but the news that anyone ever thought that maybe they weren't. At best there was little research on the proposition generating inconclusive indicators. . .  That's except for an article published in the Times just days before that this new one was now contradicting (whiplash anyone?)

Friday, May 29, 2020

Is the New York Times Offering A Misleadingly Bleak Depiction of Status of “Herd Immunity” in New York City?

Today's New York Times front page featuring a petri dish chart for its home city of New York, saying that those with antibodies in the city are scarce, while it describes the potential of herd immunity as a "distant objective" and cautions that there is no safety from the spread.  But,the presentation of its NYC statistic is suspiciously inaccurate.
[NOTE: This article was updated July 2, 2020 to refer to the estimated lag times it takes for Coronavisrus antibodies to develop thus making it important to look back and consider April's random testing of New York City residents as being a snap shot of the status of the infection's spread earlier in the month of April.

Front page, above the fold, upper right there is a big prominent chart in the physical copy of today’s New York Times to go along with the headline: “In battling Outbreak, Herd Immunity,  Remains Distant Objective,” by Nadja Popovich and Margot Sanger-Katz May 28, 2020.  (The Times internet version of its headline is currently “The World Is Still Far From Herd Immunity for Coronavirus”)

That chart has a dramatic petri dish-looking dot diagram labeled to say that it shows that in New York City 19.9% of the population have covid antibodies and in the smaller print adding “May 2nd.”  The chart has its own bold headline label: "Still not Safe From The Spread."

The print version of this article provides this text:
In New York City, which has had the largest coronavirus outbreak in the United States, around 20 percent of the city’s residents have been infected by the virus as of early May, according to a survey of people in grocery stores and community centers released by the governor’s office.
But, in actuality, the study results just described by the New York Times as fixing this percentage in “early May,” were reported in the New York Times April 23rd: "1 in 5 New Yorkers May Have Had Covid-19, Antibody Tests Suggest" By J. David Goodman and Michael Rothfeld, April 23, 2020-
In New York City, about 21 percent tested positive for coronavirus antibodies during the state survey.
That article also stated:
State officials said the test had been calibrated to err on the side of producing false negatives — to miss some who may have antibodies —
That April Times article didn’t say then when in April the study had been conducted, perhaps an unusual skip, saying only that the study had involved tests conducted “over two days, including about 1,300 in New York City, at grocery and big-box stores” that had then been “sent to the state’s Wadsworth facility in Albany” and generated an announcement about its results on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 (publicly discussed by NYS Governor Cuomo the next day).  All of this would push back somewhat the unknown date that the random study was actually conducted.-- 

-- Pushing things back further in assessing things is that antibodies for Covid are not said to develop for one-to-three, or even more weeks after becoming infected.  That means that the random sample snap-shot involves a lag.  If you push things back two weeks plus a few days to compensate for all this, that means that the snap shot may best reflect a date of about Friday, April 3rd.  The "confirmed case" for New York City count the New York Times gave on April 2nd was 52,000.  May 29th the New York Times gives a "confirmed case" count figure of "205,854."

While the results of that mid-April random study were intriguing, there seems to be no hint of another updating random study since.

Reporting on rates of coronavirus infection is a moving target.  The virus is capably of spreading at an exponential rate, which is clearly what it did in the beginning in many locations including New York City.  At about the time of the NYC random study it had been reported (April 15, 2020 on Democracy Now) that the milestone of 10,000 deaths from the virus in New York City had just been reached.  The death toll in New York City is now more than double that number at about 21,000.  Increases in and accelerations of the infection rate precede the reported death rate.

So, if random testing were done, now, at the tail end of May, probably about six or more weeks since the last random tests were conducted, where would the current antibody detection rate in New York City be?  That would have to take into consideration that April, followed by the first half of May was the month during which the virus was spreading most rapidly in New York City to create new infections.  Would it be more than double the April random test figure the Times splashed on its front page incorrectly saying the figures were from May as it based it article on that?  The charts below, from the New York Times itself, are elucidating in considering this:

Remember, when looking at these charts, that although the numbers are consistent for what they are, the "confirmed case" figure is always just a tiny fraction of the number of the people who have actually contracted the virus.  That's something that is widely acknowledged.  So, for instance, the April 2nd date when there were a reported about 52,000 confirmed cases is the approximate date when random testing indicates that probably about 21% of New Yorkers had had the virus.  By the May 29th date that the New York Times gives a "confirmed case" count figure of "205,854" for one can expect, following at least somewhat proportionally, a fairly major increase in the actual cases.
So the question I ask is: Is the New York Times offering a misleadingly bleak depiction respecting the possibilities of when the protections of herd immunity may be kick in for those who live in New York City, the Times' home base?  Still a "distant objective" that new Yorkers are "far from"?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

As Digital Technology Steps In To Help Us Connect And Communicate During The Coronavirus Crisis, One Of The Devices Most Exquisitely Designed For Connection And Communication Breaks Down And Fails Us

The coronavirus has sent us rushing to technology, most of it relying on the filters of the internet, because, above all else, human connection and communication is important.  There are, of course, concerns about the internet, how data is scraped and compiled on us as we are surveiled.  I wrote about that and other concerns of where living with the virus was pushing us back in late March.  (See: Reflections On What It Means To Be Retreating More Into Virtual Existence In Fear Of A Virus.)

March was before we all started wearing masks everywhere.  Now we’ve started covering our faces.  One of the best designed devices for human connection and communication that was ever created is the human face.  Now we are masking it.  We are not only maintaining our “social distance” physically–  think of how, in addition, we are also emotionally socially distancing ourselves by shutting down our ability to communicate with the rest of the world with our faces that were so exquisitely designed for this purpose evolving over the millennia precisely toward this perfection?  One facial expression is worth a thousand words. . .

. .  We communicate with our facial expressions even before we have words.  We communicate with our facial expressions when we lose our words.  When our words lie, our facial expressions is where the truth still wends out to the world.  When we talk about trying to conceal our emotions we talk about “masking” them; that’s a direct reference to hiding our faces, hiding our expressions.

As we all  amble the streets our in our masks, I thought about the charts that you you often see them magnetically affixed to refrigerators, designed to teach children to recognize their emotions.  Adults also enjoy these charts too for the way it encourages and sets them free them to be more relaxed in an easier self recognition of what they are feeling.  I was on the street surrounded by masked people when the visual that illustrates this brief post sprang into my mind . .

. . . How much less meaningful things are when we lose that face to face contact with others– Unfortunately, I can’t let you tell me that the jerky back and forth of unnaturally lit videos from people feeling confined to their apartments is a substitution for the real same thing. –  It isn't, I mean, let's face it (pun intended).

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Despite All The Information Flung Around About The Covid Crisis, The Big Story Is Mostly About What We Don’t Yet Know

I feel like I am being pummeled with information right and left about Covid-19, most of it scary and about deaths and mounting tabulations of people confirmed as infected.

I find that I have withdrawn even more from the 24/7 news cycle, which more and more seems to be all Covid all the time.  It’s not that I am not taking the time to check in periodically to catch up on the news, but its continuing sameness is leaving me with a starved feeling.  I am still feeling uniformed.  That “sameness” left me confused and uncertain whether, the other day, I had done my daily check of Democracy Now’s headlines— Every day is so much like the other.   (Democracy Now, which for decades called itself “The War and Peace Report,” is now calling itself “The Quarantine Report”– At least it rhymes.)

The New York Times especially seems to love publishing a zillion attention-grabbing charts these days.

What I find remarkable is that, with all the information that is being directed at us about covid-19, how much we still don’t know in terms of getting an overview.

Here, listed below, are things we still don’t know.  Almost all of these things have been written or reported about somewhere.  I am going to dispense with my usual habit about carefully providing documenting links about where these things might have been covered, because, when all is said and done, it is more about what nobody seems to really know.  It all comes from what is a mish-mosh of confusion.

We don’t know:
    •    How Many People, What Percentage of the Population, Have Been Infected with Covid-19?  This is a question that can be asked country by country, region by region.  We don’t know because, especially in the United States, there is no testing to find out.  If you are in New York City and think you have a Covid-19 virus infection the first thing you will be told when you try to figure out what to do is that you probably should not try to get tested.  New York City is deemed to have perhaps the highest infection rate in the United States.  The other day I heard that less than 1% of the United States population had been tested.  When I tried to look that up I found a figure that was actually far below that.  And the virus has been spreading for a long time, which means that, in terms of knowing things, the situation hasn’t necessarily remained the same for those who tested negative for the virus when they were tested.  The numbers we get frequently and relentlessly about the latest calculation of “confirmed cases” in different places throughout the world are mostly measures of how many tests were done provoked because people were recently showing a certain (not even consistent) level of virus infection symptoms.

    •    What Percentage of Our Populations Can Be Expected To Ultimately Get Covid19?  The effect of Covid-19 will depend on how many people get it.  There are estimations that the 1918 “Spanish” flu infected about one-third of the world’s population.  Some people have put out information that Covid-19 will infect about twice that percentage.

    •    What Percentage of People Who Get Infected Will Be Asymptomatic?  The numbers people are offering on this question are wildly all over the place.  It seems that, even with a given population trending toward the elderly, at least about 20% will be asymptomatic, but it appears from other reports that in the general population about 50% or more will be asymptomatic.  The Washington Post recently reported that 88% of pregnant women in New York who turned out to have the virus were asymptomatic.  That particular figure could have something to do with likely ages and general health for women getting pregnant or for differences in the immune system when women are pregnant.  Further, in figuring out the percentage for the overall population, what does “asymptomatic” mean?; at what point is a case of infection so mild that the person who gets it pays so little or no attention to it mean that it crosses over the line to what is deemed “asymptomatic”?  This question of how many people are asymptomatic also has a lot to do with guessing how many people are possibly out and about passing the virus on to other people.

    •    What Percentage of People Who Get Infected Will Have Mild Cases And of What General Character?   This question is much like the question about who is asymptomatic, but, without virus testing or after-the-fact antibody testing, who knows?  And if we don’t know who has been sick with the virus, who can, with authority, pass on a description of what their personal experience with the virus was like, how harrowing or not it was?

    •    What Is the Mortality Rate From The Virus?  We are being given lots of figures about people dying from the virus, but without knowing how many people have been infected overall we have no idea of what the mortality rate from the virus is.  The New York Times ran a front page story to tell us that it is so hard to know what the mortality rate is that nobody knows.  Although the story managed to place some very high possible mortality rates near the beginning of the story, it had covered a very wide range of possible figures, basically covering all bases, by the time it concluded.  We don’t even know yet  exactly how many deaths to attribute to covid-19; some deaths are not being noted, while other deaths might have happened anyway from co-morbidities.  Complicating determination of the percentage is that, even if we know the infection rate, information about mortality necessarily lags information that could someday be collected about rates of infection.  Possible mortality rates include rates below 1%.  People often seek to compare mortality rates for covid-19 to annual influenza mortality rates, but this can be deceptive because mortality rates for flu can vary; for some annual influenzas it can be very high compared to other years.  Also, flu, for which people also frequently get vaccinated, probably affects a much smaller percentage of the population annually.

    •    How Long Will The Virus Crisis Last?  Nobody knows how long the virus crisis will last, but how long the crisis will last ties in with the idea of “flattening the curve.”  The idea of social distancing to “flatten the curve” does not precisely mean that fewer people will get sick from the virus; it mostly means that the same number of people will get sick over a more extended period of time, reducing stress on the capacity of the healthcare system.  Pretty much by definition, the more the curve is flattened, the longer it will take for the curve to reduce all the way.

    •    When Did Covid-19 Infections Begin, Particularly, In Particular Places Like The United States?   To know more about how fast Covid-19 infection is spreading and predict better how it may play out (including the shape of its possible curves), it would be good to know how long it has been around.  Did it really start in the United States in mid-January?  There is some very credible discussion about whether it was actually being spread in the United States in November and December.  Some theories pushing the far end of what is speculated suggest it goes back as far as September.

    •    How Much Can We Expand The Healthcare System’s Capacity To Deal With Needs To The Extent That The “Curve” Isn’t “Flattened”?   As I heard John Kane pointing out on WBAI radio the other day, the “flatten the curve” graph, which all of us must have seen by this time, has three lines on it: A high bell curve line if social distancing doesn’t slow the rate of infection, a flatter bell curve over a much more extended period of time, and the third line is the line representing the capacity of the healthcare system.  The first two lines are the lines generally presented as malleable, subject to change and adjustment, but the third line could also be moved.  The question is how much could that third line be moved by responsive investment.  At the moment, the covid-19 crisis is serving as justification for spending trillions of dollars in subsidy money to address the economic effects of the crisis.  What amount of money would need to be spent to move the line representing healthcare system capacity upward?

    •    How Many Lives Will Be Saved By “Flattening The Curve”?   “Flattening the curve” can save lives and is expected to, but how will “flattening the curve” save lives and how many will it save?  (We are frequently admonishing younger people to socially distance and wear masks to save, not their own lives, but the lives of older, statistically more vulnerable people.) The most important way that “flattening the curve” can save lives is that it might mean, that to the extent that there are medical treatments that will be life saving for infected individuals,  flattening the curve will help to avoid any need to triage and withhold such treatment from anyone whose life could be saved.  It means, in more basic terms, that someone won’t die just because the healthcare system gets overwhelmed.  Postponing when people get the virus could also make a difference if a vaccine is developed (something that may not happen) or if time otherwise allows for the development of superior treatments. Postponing virus deaths also allows people who may ultimately soon die from another cause to live as long as they were otherwise likely to.

    •    When The Reported New Infection Or Death Rates Level Off or When They Go Down In Certain Areas, Do We Know Why?  In some areas, New York may now be one of them, the increase in new infections and the reported number of daily deaths appear to leveling off, maybe peaking before starting to go down.  This will probably also eventually happen in other areas where those numbers are still going up.  When these numbers go down, do we know why?  I have noticed a certain routineness when it the numbers are reported as going down for those reports to ascribe it to the success of the “social distancing” we are all being encouraged to be engaging in.  But the “flattening the curve” model also predicts that, at some point, these numbers will reduce because there are fewer people left, a smaller percentage of the population, to still catch the virus.  When do we know that is happening and that lowering numbers in these areas is in part due to where we are on the curve?

    •    What Is The Recovery Rate From The Virus?  Like calculating mortality, even if we know the infection rate, information about recovery, which can take time, necessarily lags information that could be collected about rates of infection.

    •    How Long Does It Take To Recover From The Virus?  While some people may seem to recover relatively quickly, how long can it take for others to recover?

    •    How Many People Will Suffer Permanent Disabilities Because Of A Bout With The Virus Rather Than Fully Recover?  In some cases, death is not the only permanent outcome of a serious virus infection. If permanent lung, organ or brain damage is, in certain instances, the result of infections, that is another thing to be taken into account in terms of the seriousness of what’s being suffered, plus, long-term, the effects of these things may need to be added in to calculate the morbidity rate.

    •    When Is Someone Recovered From The Virus?  Stories have been written about people who thought they were recovering or had recovered from the virus and then “relapsed,” so they may have not been fully recovered or recovering when they thought.  What do we need to know to have our bearings in this respect?

    •    How Long After Apparent Recovery Will Somebody No Longer Be Infectious So They Are Safe To Rejoin The Company of Others?  The New York Times has published information saying that people who have recovered after a bout with the virus are no longer infectious to others after a very short period of time. Meanwhile studies have come out saying that the advent of the safe period may take weeks longer than the Times published. 

    •    Does It Matter And Are There Different Ways of Getting Infected?  I have seen nothing talked about respecting whether it matters how a person’s body is introduced to the virus when it gets infected.  If a healthcare worker tending to a very sick patient gets a faceful of coughed-out virus just as they are deeply inhaling, is that going to have the same probable effects as someone who picks up a pen previously used by an infected person, then puts their fingers to their lips and swallows virus to be taken in by their digestive system?

    •    Are Some People Going To Be Immune To Covid-19?  This may seem to be a strange question to ask, but do we know all the reasons that an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population did not get the 1918 flu?  A friend of mine is one of the individuals who presented himself for study when he was surprised that he had never gotten AIDs.  It turned out that he is one of the people in the world with a double set of genes that means he can’t get AIDs.

    •    What Makes Some People Particularly Susceptible To The Worst Expressions Of The Virus When They get Infected?  While we were initially told that older people and people with a long list of health problems would be those worst affected if they got the virus, it has not turned out that predictions are guaranteed to follow such simple dividing lines.  People in their 90s and even over 100 are getting expressed, symptomatic cases of the virus and recovering just fine.  Young adults are sometimes dying, succumbing surprisingly quickly.  An explanation offered for why some individuals have more problematic responses to being infected with covid-19 than others is that they suffer “cytokine storms,” an over-response of the immune system where the response itself becomes the problem because it isn’t balanced.  It is thought that the provocation of “cytokine storms” was the reason that the 1918 flu seemed unusually lethal for young, healthy and strong people. There may be other ways we don’t know that some responses to being infected may be idiosyncratically worse for some individuals.

    •    Do We Know All The Reasons That Certain Sub-populations Of Some Communities Are Being Hurt By Covid-19 At Far Higher Rates?  The death rate from Covid-19 for blacks and Latinos is far outpacing the rate for other cohorts of the population.  To an extent, that would be expected as the result of health and wealth disparities previously in place that create inequities and differences in baseline health, and living conditions.  Also, the economic situation facing such populations may prevent people from engaging in the same amount of social distancing, thus pushing them to the front of a less “flattened” curve.  While those are things that likely contribute to explanations, have we identified all the reasons for the difference in the effects from the virus?  Are these the only ones?

    •    Are There Different Strains of The Virus Circulating; To What Extent Are People Getting Sick To Different Degrees Because They Are Not Getting Precisely The Same Version Of The Virus?  Are there two strains of the virus?  Are there three strains of the virus?  Are there eight strains of the virus?  I have read assertions that each of those things is true.  Is the new coronavirus steadily evolving?  Covid-19 is a coronavirus, which puts it in the larger family of viruses that includes the common cold viruses.  The common cold viruses constantly evolve and mutate. My understanding is that most coronaviruses do.  So do flu viruses.  So it is likely that not everyone is getting exactly the same version of the Covid-19 virus now and, in the future, people may get still other versions.  One question is to what extent getting a different virus may produce illness more or less likely to be severe.  Another question is whether getting one version of the virus can confer immunity or protection against getting another.  There could be good news in this if a more benign edition of the virus could confer immunity against the ravages of a more malign version. There could also be bad news in this if different strains of the virus, and a constantly evolving virus, mean it is possible to get infected and suffer effects more than once, particularly if the subsequent infections could be as severe as the first or worse.  The difficulty of creating a vaccine for constantly evolving coronaviruses is one explanation for why there has never been a vaccine created to immunize people against the common cold.  On the other hand, one theory offered to explain the demise of the 1918 flu is that the flu defeated itself, by evolving itself out of existence by evolving less and less lethal strains that, in essence, served to vaccinate the population.  That 1918 flu theory supposes that healthier people were transmitting strains of the viris that were progressively less lethal.

    •    Could A “Contact Tracing” Approach Help Deal With Covid-19 Effectively?  “Contact tracing” with isolation has been described as an alternative to the “flattening the curve” approach.  “Contact tracing” actually tries to prevent and stamp out virus infections rather than just prolonging the period over which people get infections.  “Contact tracing” is resource intensive in terms of finding and eradicating the virus.  (Not that “social distancing” isn’t having a huge effect on how other resources are being redirected during this time.)  “Contact tracing” can work if a disease is just arriving in a population.  It works less well when a disease is highly communicable, particularly if that disease is highly communicable throughout a period when it is difficult to identify that people have it.  It is not likely to work when a disease has become endemic to a population, i.e. when it is already widely spread and found throughout a population.  It starts with testing.  That’s something we have been doing very little of, particularly in the beginning when “contact tracing” would have had better odds of being effective.  Then, for every case of a disease known and identified because of such testing, you have to identify and trace the contacts of the infected person.  Then they need to be tested as well.  Then you should be tracing the contacts of those people if they are infected as well.  If your tests are not giving you immediate results you may need to start tracing and further testing sooner, based on guesses.  All the infected people need to be isolated and quarantined when found.– Finding and tacking all the contacts spreading the disease can be very difficult if, as may be the worst case, people can have spread the Covid-19 virus for up to two weeks before getting sick themselves, there is more than a 50% chance, maybe 60-70% or more chance, of being asymptomatic or having symptoms mild enough people never know they have the virus, and they may be spreading the virus for weeks after having symptoms.– Maybe there are communities in some parts of the United States that have so far been sufficiently isolated and don’t yet have the virus so that “contact tracing” can prevent the disease from gaining a foothold, but for how long will those (rural?) communities have to remain isolated and reliant on “contact tracing” before a virus endemic in the rest of the country dies out and is no longer a threat?

    •     What Tests Are Available And How Reliable Are they?  “Contact tracing” depends on tests to know who has the virus and who has had the virus. Tests can also put a lot more in perspective, which can help us plan and make decisions.  Although there is very little testing going on, there are a number of different tests available and apparently others in development.  That makes it hard for the public to know what’s what.  To what extent are these tests reliable?  Do they provide false positives or false negatives, some more than others?  Probably everyone has heard by now the exceedingly odd fact that critical time was lost when the first tests shipped out by the United States government were completely unreliable. (Those tests were the ones shipped because our federal government rejected the test available through the World Health Organization.)  There are two kinds of tests: tests for who has the virus, and antibody tests that may be able to determine who has had the virus.  It’s necessary to accurately answer both questions for a lot of things like determining mortality rates or tracing.
    •    How Communicable Is Covid-19?  In the beginning I remember the instructions about the conscientious hand washing that was prescribed to prevent communication of covid-19.  Now everyone in New York City is wearing masks.  There are signs everywhere in NYC telling people to stay six-feet apart, some of those signs with visuals demonstrating what “six-feet” is.  Distances are taped off to show people how far apart to stand while waiting your turn to be one of a limited number of shoppers in a supermarket.  But these “be afraid and careful” messages are now being supplemented by new analysis and charts that suggest that the clouds of virus infected people can breath out may go eighteen feet, may go over and under partitions, maybe doorways.  We are told that heavy-breathing joggers may send their infected breath farther than others.  And we are told that the virus, liking flat surfaces, can sit waiting on metal or shiny plastic for days.  So it seems that a jogger or a bicyclists speeding down a New York City street can exhale and spew virus on blockworths of car doors and car door handles that could remain infectious for days?  Mothers are all wearing masks as they accompany their children on trips into the breeze and sunshine, but children and babies in New York City almost never wear masks.  There are practically no instances of children or babies getting sick from the virus themselves so they don’t need the protection of masks for themselves, but they do get and transmit the virus.  Are they spreading the virus?  Not wearing masks, we can think of them as little virus spreaders?. . . Recently, someone thought to test household cats for the virus.  This was after tigers in a New York City zoo got the virus.  Yes, cats get the virus, presumably from their owners and presumably the infection can go the other way too.  What about all the dogs being walked on NYC streets that don’t wear masks?  However communicable covid-19 actually is, are we doing what would assuredly prevent it from spreading, or are we only diminishing the odds to slow up and space out incidences of transmission to “flatten the curve”?  When I go to the supermarket these days, aren't I touching items that others have touched or breathed on?  When I pay at the the supermarket or the pharmacy these days in NYC, the store worker I am dealing with is behind a shiny new plexiglass partition, but then I am asked to sign for my purchase using the same stylus as everyone who came before me used and the same payment screen and buttons they used.  That’s at the pharmacy where people go to pick up their medicines if they aren't feeling well. That’s if I use my credit card.  If I use physical cash to pay (I understand virus connected efforts are afoot want to replace cash with digital currency) I will receive physical change for my currency that has been touched by other people who came to the pharmacy, and others before that.
    •    Will There Be A Vaccine In The Near Future?  We don’t know whether there will a vaccine anytime soon.  The long-term failure to come up with a cure for the common cold, covid’s cousin, doesn’t auger well.  On the other hand, there have been some hints that a vaccine might be coming, hints even that some companies have gotten a head start. There is also the question of how long a vaccine might work well if the virus keeps evolving.  Aside from a vaccine which could prevent infection, there are other very similar questions about whether we will discover and exchange information about other drugs, treatments and approaches that enable us to deal more effectively with people who get infected.

    •    Will There Be Additional Rounds To Go Through With Covid-19 In Future Seasons?  Some months from now will we, in the United States find ourselves on the subsiding side of a flattened covid-19 infection bell curve only to discover that we are facing a new wave of covid-19?  The 1918 flu came through the United States population in two waves and there are already some predictions that something like this will happen with covid, including that a new wave of covid could coincide with the cold weather that ushers in a new regular flu season with a much more crippling combined effect.  One explanation for a covid’s return in a new wave of infections is a theory that the virus might mutate sufficiently by that time to override any previously acquired immunities. If there can be a second wave of covid there is the possibility that there could be more waves after that, a third, fourth, etc.  People have therefore asked what should be expected in terms of new normals for how we deal with our health, our economy, our entire culture.
As I said, I am eschewing my usual practice of carefully providing links as I write about the above because there is so much contradictory information about what isn’t yet known.  You can Google these things yourself.  With things changing every day, you may get better, more up-to-date information, than if I provided particular links.

I have focused on the big picture unknowns in terms of trying to figure out what we need to deal with, background for deciding what may be a rational response.  I am not getting into different ideas of where the covid-19 virus first emerged or where it came from.  Nor am I getting into the most political aspects of responding to the situation, like the new “stimulus” bills or such things as the ridiculous proposals to further subsidize the health insurance industry at this time.

The fact that I am enumerating so many things here as official unknowns to which we are all subject, hasn’t prevented me from trying to get my personal bearings about where I think we may stand where I live.  I live in New York City.  Because of fatalities and infections here, New York City has been described as the center of the crisis in the United States.

Starting almost a week ago, I ran some numbers several different ways. I am not going to share my calculations, because with all the unknowns factoring in, even a small difference in filling in some of the unknown numbers different ways could swing the calculation results very much one way or another.

Based on what I looked at, I would say that it would not be an unreasonable guess that somewhere nearing one out of every four New Yorkers currently in the city, or at least one in five, either has or has already had the covid-19 virus.  That's what I have been telling people since last Saturday and Sunday. That guess is not out of sync with my knowing a lot of people who think they likely had the virus.  It is not wildly out of sync with hearing that recently 20% of the city police force was out sick, seven times the normal rate, while remembering that more people may likely be asymptomatic than not.  It is not wildly out of sync with a report that, recently, pregnant women in the city were testing positive for the virus at almost a 15% rate (and I don’t think that study was combined with an antibody test).  Thus I am looking at my fellow city residents seeing the virus essentially everywhere.  I suspect that I am one of the one who has already had it– As advertised, this is an article about how much is not known.

While there may be a leveling off of new rates of infection in New York City, I am guessing that, for a time, new infections will continue here without declining rapidly.  I am afraid, but guessing that we may ultimately have about three times the number of covid deaths in the city that we have already had.

I have tried to catalogue, as best I can, the panoply of covid-19 unknowns that plague us.  There are far too many.  I hope that if there are others ahead of us in filling in these blanks we will be informed promptly.  It would only be fair to do so.

In dealing with all these unknowns, I am reminded that the best, scariest monster movies are the movies that never show the monster– Or at least they are the ones that wait as long as possible to do so– Those films, instead, rely on hinting at the monster’s parts moving in the shadows; they show you the scared people screaming in terror in reaction. . . Maybe, like the original Jaws, they, from time to time, suggestively reveal a few chomped on body parts.  I feel a little like that now.

We are living with some other unknowns now too.  When we as New Yorkers walk down the street with our masks on, we can’t see whether our neighbors are smiling.  Will we forget what it is like to smile at somebody in the street or to smile at someone serving us at the store and get a smile back?

Living a virtual life via internet connections is not the same thing.  What’s more, our substitute existences through the internet are subject to data scraping and surveillance.  I reflected and wrote more about that, March 28th here: Reflections On What It Means To Be Retreating More Into Virtual Existence In Fear Of A Virus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

You Already Concluded The Coronavirus Proves Our Healthcare System Is Totally Broken?– Here Are Two More Stories That Make Ultra-clear Our Private Insurance Company-based Healthcare System Is Wack

The first time I wrote about the Covid-19 virus I wrote:
Covid-19 could not be a more perfect and obvious “my health is your health/your health is my health” argument for Medicare for all.  With massive, nationwide layoffs because of the Covid-19 health crisis, millions of Americans are now losing their “if you like your private employer health plan, you can keep it,” health insurance right at the time when they need it most.
I thought it was pretty obvious that our private insurance company-based healthcare system is broken when I wrote that.  But now there are two more stories that totally torpedo the idea that a private insurance company-based healthcare system makes any sense at all.  The two stories must be treated as related in a sisterly way, but it is not clear that everybody is making the connections that need to be made.

One story is that the coronavirus crisis is actually driving up the profits for Healthcare insurers because, as a result of the health crisis, the demand for nonessential medical treatment that the insurance companies have to pay for has plummeted.  In other words, even as there is a need to channel extra resources in the direction of dealing with the virus, the health insurers get to pocket a windfall because, overall, the entire community of patients is currently getting less to address its health care needs.  Even crazier, at the same time health insurance companies are getting to pocket the windfall from these healthcare crisis vicissitudes, hospitals, extra burdened by Covid, are facing financial failure as they shutdown other activities and patient treatments they depend on for their financial equilibrium.

Here is what Democracy Now reported last Friday, as part of its headlines respecting healthcare insurer profits (probably picking it up from Common Dreams the day before):
The for-profit health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group reported profits grew by over $160 million during the first quarter of 2020, as demand for nonessential medical treatment plummeted while coronavirus hospitalizations surged. UnitedHealth reported a 3.4% year-over-year increase in quarterly earnings to $5 billion. Former health insurance executive Wendell Potter tweeted in response, “The earnings were so good, the company said it still expects to make as much in total profits this year as they predicted in December … when no one could predict the massive loss of life & jobs caused by the coronavirus. In other words, they’re thriving during a pandemic.”
But it gets worse!  Vice News is reporting that Democrats are planning to address the Covid-19 crisis by plowing more money into premiums that will go to the insurance companies.  (See: Democrats’ Big Coronavirus Idea Is to Subsidize Health Insurers- Instead of pushing for public health solutions, Democrats want to cover COBRA premiums.)  In other words, Democrats are going to direct Covid-19 `solution money' to where the problem doesn’t exist and where that money can be intercepted and siphoned off as more insurance company profit windfall.  By definition, insurance is a game of chance, so that premiums paying for insurance are, as a matter of high probability, paid for people who are likely not sick and not needing treatment. .   And these days, as noted, those people are probably trying to minimize the medical treatments they are getting that the insurance companies could be expected to pay for.

Healthcare planing is one of things I studied back in the 70s to get my Masters of Urban Planning degree.  Maybe I didn’t get into it deeply enough at the time, but I certainly don’t remember anything in my studies pointing out that we could have a system this insane.

Certainly it’s clear that our private insurance company-based healthcare system is broken and that the solution is some kind of universal healthcare, something along the lines of Medicare for all as was championed by Bernie Sanders. .   But as a good indication that another system is broken, our political system, I had to point out the last time I wrote about the coronavirus that, all of this notwithstanding, Joe Biden stated very recently that if the Democrats pass Medicare for all he will veto it if he is elected president.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Spectacular Female Alternative Journalists, Emerging Leaders In The Field

I’ve got a list:
    •    Rania Khalek
    •    Abby Martin
    •    Krystal Ball
    •    Caitlin Johnstone
    •    Whitney Webb
    •    Naomi Klein
    •    Anya Parampil
    •    Medea Benjamin
    •    Naomi Karavani
    •    Natalie McGill
    •    Kim Iversen
    •    Katie Halper
    •    Jane Mayer
    •    Cathy O’Neil
    •    Laura Flanders
You may think you know what my list is a list of– but I, myself, am not sure that I have yet figured out exactly what my list represents or even who, exactly, should be on it.  You can help me.

It is correct to observe that my list is all women.  We can describe everyone going on my list as a journalist.  I started formulating my list as a few significant individuals caught my eye. I grew my list beginning with a core of several women who I realized were getting my attention repeatedly . . journalists I was realized I was regularly wanting to check in with frequently, because I wanted to hear their latest thoughts and perspective on things.  And so I was noticing. . .

Those who should be on my list are doing amazing, spectacular work.  So who should be on it?           
There should be nothing unexpected about women being great journalists.  I am male.  I’d like to think that I don’t have any bias or preconceptions against women achieving greatness as journalists.  I hope not.  I come from an extended family in which there were many women with
notable achievements as journalists, writers and people who were otherwise very involved in publishing and editing.  I am not going to mention any of the members of my family here, because this rumination about “my list” and who should be on it is about women who are distinguishing themselves for accomplishing a different category of things.  This article certainly isn’t about what women from my family have achieved . .  .  Plus, frankly, by the criteria I am zeroing in to qualify those to be on this list, I don’t think my family members would measure up to some high standards I think are involved here, whatever the other illustrious achievements the women in my family have as  journalists.

The women I am thinking should be on my list should all be there because they insightfully and adroitly challenge the official narratives offered by the powerful.  Thus, it's probably redundant to say that those getting on this list should all probably also wind up being described as journalists from the alternative media.  Alternative media is now more important than ever.  Although we may have the illusion of many outlets for information throughout our culture, when the behind-the-scenes ownership of these outlets is considered those outlets shrink down to outlets outputting product for just a few similarly-minded monpolistic corporate media conglomerates.

But being an “alternative media journalist” should not, alone, be enough to get included in this list.

What I like about the journalists that got me started in trying to compile this list, Rania Khalek, Abby Martin, Krystal Ball, Caitlin Johnstone, Whitney Webb, is the kind of swipe-away-the-cobwebs, cut-through-the-crap sense of clarity I experience when exposed to their work.  I think this comes from their having a clear world view, anchored by well-informed, reference points that prevents drift when confronted by narrative fictions.  They are able to decisively dispense with and dispose of propaganda.

It is likely that media literacy and the ability to offer trenchant commentary on mainstream corporate media (i.e., like Krystal Ball, Rania Khalek, Caitlin Johnstone) when making sense of the news and what needs to be reported, will accompany other talents that get journalists on this list–  But it needn’t be de rigueur that such media literacy talent is ostentatiously displayed; it’s enough, I think, for these journalists to be able to keep their bearings in terms of knowing where to find real and/or more reliable information and what nonsense or fluff to discount or to reject out of hand.  That makes some of these journalists (e.g. Whitney Webb) remarkable researchers. 

There are female journalists who would likely want to be on this elevated list, but are not going to get on it.

I suspect that Amy Goodman of Democracy Now would want to be put on it.  Running “Democracy Now” Amy Goodman is running an important news organization that seeks support advertising itself as “independent news.”   I recommend its weekday broadcasts, particularly for keeping up with headlines.  Once upon a time, I probably would have put Amy Goodman on the list as well. Ms. Goodman would have been a candidate earlier, when Democracy Now was first being incubated out of Pacifica’s WBAI radio station in New York (Laura Flanders and Katie Halper also have connection with WBAI and shows that are broadcast on Pacifica and WBAI like Democracy Now).  Early on, Amy Goodman would probably have been on the list for things like the WBAI 2000 Election Day radio interview where she famously reeled in Bill Clinton to defend his record when Clinton called her show to get out votes for the candidates, or when Ms. Goodman was risking her life and was nearly killed reporting in 1991 on the massacre of  pro-independence demonstrators in East Timor by the occupying Indonesian government.

Nevertheless, Democracy Now is now a big organization that stays too much within the rails of its own acceptable narratives, limiting its awareness and what it is willing to challenge.  Even if it ranges more broadly than the conglomerate-owned networks to challenge U.S. wars, the limits of what DN is willing to discern have given it a sort of gatekeeper function.  That means Democracy Now can even be a conduit for official propaganda.  As Aaron Maté noted on April 10th, and actually took it upon himself to write Amy Goodman about, there was a very sad irony when, right before an interview with Noam Chomsky, Democracy Now continued “to Manufacture Consent in its Syria coverage” with a headline about a new `report' by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about Syria that, as Maté noted, ignored (as Democracy Now has been doing for months) the OPCW whistleblowers who were pointing out how the OPCW was falsifying the basis for its reports. . . I fervently hope and expect that anybody making it on to the list I am endeavoring to compile would never let that kind of thing go by.

Clearly, if the list I am compiling were open to including men, there would be journalists like Aaron Maté, to add to it.  Max Blumenthal would probably be on it for his work at the Grayzone.  He just  married fellow Grayzoner Anya Parampil as the month of March was ushering in quarantines leading Caitlin Johnstone to quip that “Their babies are each gonna have their own Bellingcat narrative managers assigned to them at birth.” (If you are not following, Bellingcat is an organization devoted to pushing out twisted propaganda narratives to discredit the kind of journalists you would find on this list while posing as “internet sleuths” devoted to discovering the truth.)

If someone is going to mention Rachel Maddow (because she is female and may herself have the temerity to say she is a journalist), you are not understanding what the aspirations are here with respect to this list. Maddow may be bright, capable and she is recognizably very well paid ($7 million a year) to be a sell-out, but she is an example of the exact opposite who should be on the list;* she is involved in the kind of propaganda-spewing brain-shut-downs that people who should be on the list would be on the list for countering.  Being well-known or well paid as a female journalist, the way that Barbara Walters (who went to Sarah Lawrence like me) was, is not the ticket to get on this list.  It's not that easy.
(* We won’t go back to try to assess Maddow’s earlier Air America days.)
I haven’t concluded who exactly should, or should not, be on this list. I am keeping an open mind. I invite you to make you own additions and subtractions and to feel free to make modifications to criteria as well.   Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK has written articles and books; she gives talks and appears on news programs like Democracy Now, but she might be thought of more as an activist because she takes action.  (CODEPINK also has a program on WBAI radio and its sister Pacifica station, WPFW.)  Nevertheless, I think that most of the journalists on this list are at the activist end of the spectrum.  I think that, while they believe that journalism involves an obligation to be truthful, that they do not believe they should maintain false pretenses about their neutrality when they see what they see.

Naomi Klein has, at this point, integrated into the mainstream perhaps more than anyone on this list.  She has no problem getting onto Democracy Now where she appears quite regularly, and she sometimes makes it onto MSNBC, CNN, things like the Colbert Report, etc. Nevertheless, her videos like on “Coronavirus Capitalism” are much like Rania Khalek’s Soapbox videos the way that they deflate and counter official narratives.  All of Klein's work generally succeeds in this manner.

Jane Mayer is similarly accepted in the mainstream.  She is still published in the increasingly right-wing New Yorker and she is widely interviewed, but Mayer’s well researched investigative work also tears the veil off the workings of the interrelated political and U.S. economic systems.

When I began compiling my list, I tried taking a few of the names of some of the most obvious candidates for the list and Google them together.  (I was hoping to find the names of more candidates that way.)  I was surprised when nothing came up.  Maybe now, with the publication of this list, that won’t be the case.

If you are interested in what these women are doing, I’ve hyperlinked their names to their Twitter feeds, which tends to be one of the easiest ways to find out about them.  The ratings for Krystal Ball’s “Rising” program, begun on HillTV in 2018 and available through YouTube, are skyrocketing.  Whitney Webb wound up on many people’s radar screen garnering attention with her connect-the-dots series of articles about Jeffrey Epstein, most of those articles written before his announced death.  Abby Martin has a new documentary out about the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip.  Katie Halper is doing a new podcast and YouTube broadcast with Matt Taibbi . . Oh, wait- That’s transitioning us back into the subject of male journalists doing this kind of work.– Didn’t mean to do that.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

My Experiment With “Russian Doll” Tweets (Tweets Starting From Bernie Sanders Suspending His Campaign To Michael Bloomberg Being Declared U.S. Treasury Secretary In The Event of Marshal Law– And Back Again!)

I’ve just experimented with creating a chain of “Russian Doll” Tweets.

Maybe it’s cabin fever from spending too much time alone indoors sequestered away from friends and community . . .

. . . or maybe, it’s that this Russian Doll Tweet exercise I’ve engaged in is solace, providing the illusion of an organized structure for information as we experience overload.  The inflow of news and information about coronavirus that spins around us seems so disorganized and unhelpful, at least to me, the 24/7 news cycle pelting us with statistics that inadequately describe multiple unknowns.

My Russian Doll Tweets (from @WhiteMDD, my personal Twitter account, not the @NatNotice National Notice Twitter account) started with noting that I still have the option of voting for Bernie Sanders in the primaries (I am a New Yorker), and those tweets went eventually to the observation that Michael Bloomberg’s buying up of Democrats’ voter data (follow the links) might have the outcome of Bloomberg’s being appointed U.S. Treasury Secretary if marshal law is declared in the wake of a “failed” national election.  (I apologize for my spelling, which on Twitter I can't go back to correct.). .

. . Twitter allowed me to create the chain because, with Twitter, you can retweet another tweet "with comment" to make a new combined Tweet.

But the only way, through Twitter, to open the Tweets and enjoy them Russian Doll style is to start with the last tweet about how Bloomberg becomes U.S. Treasury Secretary and follow it back to how I will still able to vote for Bernie Sanders even if he is not running a campaign I can financially contribute to.

However, via the posting here, I can give you the choice of enjoying the Russian Doll tweets in either direction:

To read them backward you can go to Twitter. . .

(Also, please note that some of the individual tweets, as you will see, themselves have links embedded in them that can take you to some interesting, informative places.)

Tweet: My experiment with “Russian Doll” tweets: Keep clicking on the retweeted tweet and see what I mean. 
. .  or go to the Part II end of this article.  To read them forward, as they were written, from the first, start below with Part I:


Here are the Russian Doll tweets in the order they were tweeted.

Tweet: Bernie’s suspension of it means I can no longer contribute $ for him to use in a campaign almost impossible to really run in a virus environment, but b/c he remains on all ballots collecting delegates I can still vote for him as reality continues to endorse him and Biden dements.

Tweet: And I still regret that Bernie is not more of a fighter, willing to challenge whether Biden really, truly, and honestly gained and holds the delegate lead purportedly given him by the media despite evidence to the contrary such as the highly discrepant exit polls.
Tweet: While I fume that Bernie suspended his campaign, I find his “suspension” speech seductively good. Am I just a sucker? Or is my cynical suspicion resulting in a crippling rejection of “hope.” (“Hope”? That was the Obama promise.)
Tweet: On @democracynow @noamchomskyT offers “hope” that a “Biden” administration would be better than a Trump, even an Obama administration, b/c it would be more susceptible to the influence of a newly assertive left awakened by Sanders campaign; & address . .
Tweet: Would a “Biden” admin be susceptible (more than Trump’s) to the influence of newly assertive left and finally address climate chaos, income inequality, militarism, etc.- The Sanders list? Biden “conceding” to lower Medicare age to 60 puts him far to the right of other Dems.
Tweet: It is time to start referring to a possible “Biden” administration in quotes because with Biden dementing it is far from clear who sent from the DNC would be running things.
Tweet: But there are those that think rather than wonder about the possibilities of how Continuity of Government (“COG”) concerns would be handled in a demented “Biden” administration we should worry if there will be any national elections at all.
Tweet: Those worrying that Marshall Law would bring in unconstitutional Continuity of Government changes in the wake of a “failed” election include @_whitneywebb who has been writing of these worries since before the virus arrived.
Tweet: If Marshall Law is declared in the wake of a “failed” election we might, to give it cover, get something like the absolutely inane “National Unity Cabinet” proposed by bombastic NY Times columnist Tom Friedman!
Tweet: In the Tom Friedman “National Unity Cabinet” the country might get if Marshall Law is ushered in in wake of a “failed” election, Michael Bloomberg would be U.S. Treasury Secretary in exchange for spending billions to scoop up the Democrats’ voter data.
Tweet: My experiment with “Russian Doll” tweets: Keep clicking on the retweeted tweet and see what I mean. 


Here are the Russian Doll tweets in the order they can be followed backward through Twitter.

Tweet: My experiment with “Russian Doll” tweets: Keep clicking on the retweeted tweet and see what I mean. 

Tweet: In the Tom Friedman “National Unity Cabinet” the country might get if Marshall Law is ushered in in wake of a “failed” election, Michael Bloomberg would be U.S. Treasury Secretary in exchange for spending billions to scoop up the Democrats’ voter data.
Tweet: If Marshall Law is declared in the wake of a “failed” election we might, to give it cover, get something like the absolutely inane “National Unity Cabinet” proposed by bombastic NY Times columnist Tom Friedman!
Tweet: Those worrying that Marshall Law would bring in unconstitutional Continuity of Government changes in the wake of a “failed” election include @_whitneywebb who has been writing of these worries since before the virus arrived.
Tweet: But there are those that think rather than wonder about the possibilities of how Continuity of Government (“COG”) concerns would be handled in a demented “Biden” administration we should worry if there will be any national elections at all.
Tweet: It is time to start referring to a possible “Biden” administration in quotes because with Biden dementing it is far from clear who sent from the DNC would be running things.
Tweet: It is time to start referring to a possible “Biden” administration in quotes because with Biden dementing it is far from clear who sent from the DNC would be running things.
Tweet: Would a “Biden” admin be susceptible (more than Trump’s) to the influence of newly assertive left and finally address climate chaos, income inequality, militarism, etc.- The Sanders list? Biden “conceding” to lower Medicare age to 60 puts him far to the right of other Dems.
Tweet: On @democracynow @noamchomskyT offers “hope” that a “Biden” administration would be better than a Trump, even an Obama administration, b/c it would be more susceptible to the influence of a newly assertive left awakened by Sanders campaign; & address . .
Tweet: While I fume that Bernie suspended his campaign, I find his “suspension” speech seductively good. Am I just a sucker? Or is my cynical suspicion resulting in a crippling rejection of “hope.” (“Hope”? That was the Obama promise.)
Tweet: And I still regret that Bernie is not more of a fighter, willing to challenge whether Biden really, truly, and honestly gained and holds the delegate lead purportedly given him by the media despite evidence to the contrary such as the highly discrepant exit polls.
Tweet: Bernie’s suspension of it means I can no longer contribute $ for him to use in a campaign almost impossible to really run in a virus environment, but b/c he remains on all ballots collecting delegates I can still vote for him as reality continues to endorse him and Biden dements.