To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “Seeing is not always believing.” The results of last last election in November strain the belief that we as citizens participated in a truly democratic process. Instead it appears that we as a nation have become the unwitting victims of an attempted coup by malevolent forces that we are just beginning to learn about thanks to the heroic efforts of attorneys and others across the country who have had the courage to expose the truth about a stolen election. Yes, it’s hard to realize that such a thing could happen in the good old U.S. of A because we are all taught to believe from a young age that things like stolen elections do not happen in this country. We as a nation are supposed to be that “shining light” amongst all nations of the world where things like that just do not happen. This belief has been so ingrained in most of us that many of us just cannot accept that anything otherwise could happen. Consequently, many of us have become blinded to the reality that this election was anything but honest. Here are just a few examples of where a blind eye has been turned, and this blindness seems to have affected so many of us in an epidemic fashion.
Unsolicited Mail in Ballots in so many states where there was no signature verification; where dead people received ballots; where the number of ballots received exceeded the population of the voting district; where ballot harvesting is shown to have occurred.
Only citizens are permitted to vote in national elections; however, many states really do not check for citizenship but simply ask if you are a citizen.
Polling monitors being prevented by local authorities from viewing the ballots for authenticity even when a court order has been invoked to allow poll monitors to do exactly that. For this there is really no excuse. This was simple bullying.
Very troubling issues about the security and validity of the Dominion/Smartmatic voting systems wherein there are experts in cyberwarfare and security who have stated that vote tampering did in fact occur with this system.
There is much more evidence to show that this election was stolen if anyone really cares to investigate, but sometimes when you are blind to the truth nothing can sway you as appears to be the case with so many people now.
The details are there for the taking for those really interested in the truth. However, brain washing has a way of preventing one from seeing the truth, and the main stream media has been the primary brain laundry for years scrubbing away at the truth.
This is a time when Justice should not be blind.…..
If there was ever a time when Justice should not be blind, it is now. This election, if necessary, should be brought to the Supreme Court of this country. This is not the time for the Supreme Court to turn a blind eye to the problems inherent with this last election. If the state legislatures in the contested states of this election are incapable of doing their constitutional duty, which is to select the electors who go to the electoral college when the election in their states has been compromised, then it is incumbent upon the Supreme Court to step in to remedy the situation by declaring the election in those states, if not all the states, to have been compromised and therefor invalid. The election may then have to go to the House of Representatives for a vote a whereby each state has one vote regarding the Presidency and Vice Presidency. I don’t claim to be a constitutional lawyer, just a physician, so my understanding of the process may be a bit faulty. However, I can recognize blindness when I see it, and one has to be blind not to see that there have been fundamental problems with this national vote; that we as a country are fast losing that “shining light” that made us the greatest nation on earth; and that if we don’t correct the mistakes, if not outright crimes, of this election we will have lost the greatness of this country which made us the envy of the world.
It has been months now since we were attacked by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that one way or the other was brought to us from China. So let’s review a little bit of history before we figure out if we are indeed rounding the curve of this dreaded illness as it pertains to the U.S.
Since the coronavirus was first officially acknowledged by Chinese officials on December 31, 2019 many, many questions remain unanswered about the origins of this virus that may never be answered. Such questions as to when it actually started in China and how it started in China are not likely to be answered by China even though they may have the answers. The disease probably began several weeks before December 31, 2019 in China, but was not acknowledged by the Chinese authorities. An article in the South China Morning Post, said that Chinese authorities had identified a case as early as early as November 17 of 2019 – weeks before they actually announced the emergence of this new virus.
The first confirmed case in the US was on January 20, 2020 in Washington state. Eleven days lateron January 31, 2020, President Trump suspended entry of foreign nationals who had traveled to or resided in mainland China within the past 14 days in spite of many people labeling him as a xenophobe. Exceptions were made for returning U.S. citizens, immigrants lawfully in the United States, and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. That move saved thousands of lives.
On March 11, 2020, President Trump issued a suspension of foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. from a majority of Europe. He then extended this suspension to the United Kingdom and Ireland a few days later. That move again likely saved thousands of lives. Nonetheless in spite of these early precautions to prevent the virus from coming to the U.S., which parenthetically again caused the President to be falsely labelled as a xenophobe, the virus spread like wildfire. To date in many European countries the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 has been even more severe and catastrophic than it has been here in the U.S.
It is unclear why the virus spread so rapidly in this country and so many others in spite of precautions such as limiting international travel from countries with high rates of infection. There may be several reason for the disparities:
The virus was apparently carried by people traveling from Wuhan, China. So a lot of the dispersion of the virus initially depended on where these people were going whether it be the U.S., Europe or elsewhere.
The demographics of the countries receiving these travelers from China varied greatly. Some of these countries have an greater elderly population more susceptible to infection.
Some countries and also some locales within these countries have a greater population density and cultural characteristics which makes it easier for the virus to spread.
Some of these travelers coming from China and elsewhere may have been so called “super spreaders” of the virus.
The virus itself may have several strains some of which may be more lethal and contagious than others.
The bottom line in terms of infectivity and spread is that the situation was unpredictable and remains unpredictable. Keep in mind that data concerning the prevalence and death rate of the virus in this country and elsewhere is in a constant state of flux for a number of reasons including the following:
The fundamental data is often unreliable. For example, there have been many instances wherein deaths have been mislabeled as Covid when they are not conclusively due to Covid alone.
The testing may have been unreliable, inconclusive or inaccurate. It is now getting better.
Treatment protocols are evolving and were different in different parts of the country. As we learned more about the virus and how to treat it, survival and recovery have been drastically improved and treatment protocols have become more uniform.
So what is happening now? The U.S. currently with death rate of 13.7 per million as of October 28, 2020 is doing a lot better than many other countries across the world. Bear in mind that the reporting of cases and deaths is often inaccurate or misrepresented. Take a look at this recent article in the New York Post that tries to put some of this reporting in perspective. The CDC estimated that about 177,000 Americans died during the 2017-2018 flu season, from either the flu itself or by complications of pneumonia. That’s not to far off from the total death toll to date for the Covid -19 though this should not be taken to minimize the severity of Covid-19. Furthermore, two recent peer-reviewed studies also showed a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the U.S. The drop was seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians in the U.S. are getting better at treating this disease.
Where do we go from here? First, consider that case numbers may be increasing, but death rate is definitely going down. There may be flare ups of the virus in various regions for many different reasons, and the fact that case numbers are increasing is also due in large part to increased testing. That’s only logical. The more you test, the more cases you find. Moreover, in a somewhat paradoxical way having more cases may not be as terrible it sounds. The more people who have the had the virus, particularly if they are not very ill or not ill at all as most people who have had the virus seem to be, then the greater the degree of “herd immunity.” With all due respect to Dr. Fauci who seems to have played down the concept of herd immunity, many epidemiologists would disagree with him in that regard. Bear in mind that we actually get herd immunity in two ways: by natural infection and by vaccination when it is available. The vaccines have yet to be proven though in all likelihood they will be very helpful in arresting this pandemic. Nonetheless, the herd immunity will likely be due to a combination of both of these factors not just vaccination alone. Second, consider that we have made great strides in treating this disease. We know a lot more about how to treat the cytokine storm which can be a devastating sequela of this infection leading to respiratory failure, other organ failure and death. We have learned more about when and how to ventilate patients better when needed. We have a variety of therapeutics, more are on the way, and we have several vaccines about to be launched. That is not to say that we will not see more cases and more deaths particularly among those who are more vulnerable, but to answer that question as to whether we are “rounding the curve” I believe we are, and the data seems to substantiate that.
So what’s next? We stay the course and continue to move forward by:
Maintaining social distancing and wearing masks when appropriate. I don’t think that should mean absolutely no socializing. Socializing is important for many reasons including mental health, but take reasonable precautions. Try to socialize in open areas with good ventilation and wear a mask when you can’t maintain social distancing until the virus is under better control. Take a look at some of my earlier Blogs about the proper use of masks for more information about the role of masks. It makes little sense to wear a mask when you are out in the open away from people such as walking on a beach, a country road or a park. I think doing so just promotes a sense of paranoia when we are already fearful.
Opening up our businesses and schools wherever possible. If we lock down the country for long, unreasonable periods of time we will no longer have a country, and we will not be able to address all the other medical, social, and business issues that we need to address as a country.
Continue our therapeutic research. We must develop new medicines and vaccines not just for Sar-CoV -2 virus but also for others that my be coming down the pike. This virus may be just the beginning, but a stream of therapeutics will have to be developed just like we did for bacterial infections decades ago. We know how to do this. It’s just a matter of focusing our research attention on this.
Most importantly we have to remember that we will see twists and turns with this disease. There will be flare ups that we will have to deal with, but that doesn’t mean we’re losing the battle. It just means that we have to keep on fighting until we get complete control which we will eventually and the sooner the better.
So to answer the question “are we rounding the curve” ? I think we, are but there will be more twists and turns before we see the straightaway.
No one has a monopoly on knowledge, or better stated no on should have a monopoly on knowledge. A real education should teach us how to think for ourselves. It should teach us how to evaluate information and come to our own conclusions and not those that are fed to us by others as irrefutable truths. That is the hallmark of a true education. Yet today’s media, by and large, wants to determine for us what is “true” and what is not. It tells us what we have to believe and what we should disbelieve instead of allowing us to evaluate information on our own. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, the so called “mainstream media,” or most newspapers and magazines, we the public are treated like children who must be spoon fed what others believe to be the truth because we are not capable of independent thought. There are some notable exceptions in the media to this dogmatic approach to knowledge, but they are few and far between. Instead, we are told what we are to believe, and God help us if we challenge the “authorities.” Our careers could be ruined. We could be ridiculed, ostracized or worse. We should be thankful for the independent thinkers in the history of mankind who had the fortitude to stand up against the rule of authority to speak their version of the truth. If not for such heros, we would still think that the earth was flat or that sun rotated around the earth.
Medical science, like any other science, can only advance when there is independent thought and when that independent thought challenges the conventional wisdom. Thought controllers like Twitter, Facebook, Google and other media giants exert enormous power on our thinking by limiting information, distorting information and literally persecuting any thoughts that they perceive as being erroneous or dangerous to the “group think” they espouse. They believe that we ordinary people are not capable of the independent evaluation of information. They determine who the “experts” are that we should listen to and obey. After all, they think we are not smart enough to make that determination. Instead of being platforms or formats for open discussion and thought, these media giants dare to presume that we cannot think for ourselves. They are convinced that we will be befuddled if we try to think independently or don’t follow their directives. Perhaps their reason for squashing our independent thought is more nefarious than that. Maybe it’s a method to be used to control us by taking away our power to think independently. As I said before knowledge is power, but even false knowledge can be powerful when it is presented as truth and efforts to refute it are thoroughly thwarted by the media. Furthermore, when that power is held by only a few people in the media, that power gets magnified. You are told what is right and what is wrong by the people in power, and who are you to question that? They are the only experts and their word is law. Sounds a little bit like fascism, doesn’t it?
Let’s take a recent medical issue as a case in point that led me to this discussion. That is the recent censorship of Dr. Scott Atlas by Twitter because he dared to disagree with the conventional thought concerning masks espoused by the Dr. Fauci and others who are part of the medical/government complex. When I use the term “medical/government complex,” I am referring to medical and research personnel who have made working for the government their life long careers as well as the institutions that support them. Out of necessity these people and their institutions have learned more than a little about government politics and how to survive in that arena. That is not to say that these are bad people or unqualified for their positions. That is hardly the case. For example, Dr. Fauci is an eminent medical researcher with impeccable credentials who has worked for the government for many years and has had numerous scientists working under him. However, does that mean that Dr. Fauci has a complete monopoly on medical research and information? Is his the only truth that counts? Once again, I emphasize that is not how science works. Real science welcomes a diversity of opinion and discussion. Real science welcomes, or at least should welcome, an open and unbiased discussion of not only the facts but also the interpretation of those facts. So for a social commentary platform such as Twitter to ban the comments of someone like Dr. Atlas concerning the proper place for masks in this pandemic reeks of despotism. Dr. Atlas may disagree with Dr. Fauci and others concerning some aspects of mask use, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Dr. Atlas is wrong, or that others who agree with him are also wrong. Dr. Atlas’ credentials are impeccable also, and his thoughts should be respected even if you may disagree with them.
It is important to realize that while we are embroiled on a day to day basis with all the aspects dealing with this pandemic such as modes of transmission, treatment of the disease itself, the social implications, the international implications and so forth, it will be years before we really have a good understanding of this illness, how it got here and how to best treat it. So in time to come it may well be that our “experts” were wrong on a number of points.
In the meantime, it’s also important to keep in mind the problem that I alluded to before which may actually turn out to be an even greater problem in the long run than the SARS-CoV- 2 virus itself at least as far as our national political health as a democracy is concerned. That is the overwhelming power of thought control that the media and the technocrats wield. We experience it every day now when Twitter or Facebook block a feed that in their infinite wisdom they deem incorrect, or when Google buries a source that it thinks is wrong or simply doesn’t like. This is real power because knowledge is power and when you control the “knowledge,” whether it is accurate or not, you control the real power.
It’s high time for our democratic republic to take a stand to do the right thing concerning the dissemination of information. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Goggle should be just that….platforms for dissemination of information without prejudice. One of the first steps should be to reform section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which in essence allows these tech media giants to act as censors picking and choosing to post only those things that they deem accurate while blocking all others. Another recent example of this is Twitter’s blocking of the New York Post article about Hunter and Joe Biden without adequate explanation. Too much power resides in the hands of big tech media giants like Twitter and Facebook. So much of the news we hear and see today comes through portals such as these, and he who controls the portals controls the “knowledge” whether that knowledge is accurate or not. With that control comes almost unlimited power. The danger of this situation is self evident and needs to be corrected as soon as possible.
Maybe the World Health Organization (WHO) is finally getting something right.
This week Dr. Nabarro of the World Health Organization stated that world leaders should “stop using lockdowns as your primary health control measure.” He went on to say that “the only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health care workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” This is a sobering approach that comes into line with what many experts in this country and elsewhere have been espousing for months now. Yes, indeed, this coronavirus is one bad virus that got exported to us and the rest of the world from China, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Again, this is not to say that Covid-19 cannot cause very serious illness and death particularly in the elderly and those with so called co-morbidities like pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, immunocompromised states and other ailments. For these patients and their families the illness can be devastating. However, for the vast majority of people who get infected with this disease and get ill their symptoms are fortunately relatively mild.
Dr. Nabarro went on to point some of the negative consequences that lockdowns have caused across the world, including devastated tourism industries and increased hunger and poverty in parts of the world already suffering from these problems. In addition, in this country as well as in many others we are seeing increased rates of alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, depression, anxiety. Also, many people are delaying visits to see their doctors resulting in lost opportunities to practice preventive medicine. Our educational system is likewise being badly affected and along with that the health and welling being of our children. All this and the Stress related to the lockdowns may very well cause much more death in the long run than the lockdowns will save.
So maybe it is time for some common sense to arrive on the scene to help make us whole again while our vaccines and therapeutics are being developed. Remember, these things are already here or on the way. We will eventually get through this. To quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” That was in 1933 when the U.S. was going through an even more difficult period.
So what are some of the common sense things to do?
Use masks rationally. Take a look at my previous blog about mask use, To Mask or Not to Mask…That Is The Question. If you are out in the open air, at the beach, walking in the park or on a country road, riding a bike or doing anything else where you are not in close proximity to people, i.e., not likely to be within 6 feet or so of anyone, there is really no need to wear a mask. Doing so only instills a sense of fear or dread which is totally unnecessary. Unless you are using mask wearing as a political statement. If you are in a crowded elevator or conference room, then by all means use a mask. But remember that simple cloth masks do not really provide protection against airborne aerosolized virus. They may give you some protection against droplets but not airborne virus particles. Only N-95 masks or better stand a chance of capturing the virus particles if you are on the receiving end. If you are on the giving end, in other words, the person with the virus and you cough or sneeze into your face mask, droplets and tiny aerosolized virus particles will still be dispersed. Even the CDC, which has flip flopped back and forth about the use of masks, recently reported a study showing that 70% of the patients who came down with Covid-19 wore masks regularly. So this study really puts into question the utility of wearing face masks. Nonetheless, the practice of wearing a mask (really an N-95 mask or better) may provide some degree of prevention and perhaps emotional security as well if needed, but to wear a mask (cloth, surgical or N-95) in the great outdoors where you are not in close proximity to anyone, or in environments where social distancing and good ventilation can be easily maintained seems fruitless and perhaps a bit paranoid.
It goes without saying that frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers should continue, but this is true even if the virus that causes Covid-19 were to disappear.
Society has to open again. That means restaurants, gyms, businesses, social gatherings, schools and so forth all using social distancing as much as reasonably possible and masks when appropriate.
Protect the elderly and most vulnerable. That means people with underlying medical conditions that may tend to weaken the immune system. In such instances, these folks should be kept away from situations such as large gatherings where they may be more likely exposed unless precautions can be taken to limit their exposure.
Continue to exercise, take Zinc and Vitamin D which seem to have some antiviral activity.
In short time more diagnostic tests with greater reliability and shorter turnaround times will become more widely available. While this may not completely solve the problem of identifying people who are potential spreaders, it will go a long way in alerting us to who has the virus and may be communicable. So screening before attending large gatherings may become more common and alert us to potentially dangerous situations.
In short time we will also have vaccines and better medications. The calvary is on the way to save the day.
We have to open up the country again soon. If we don’t, we won’t have a country to open up, or we will have one that is desperate and on the verge of collapse. People have lost their jobs. Educating our children has become a major difficulty. Alcoholism, suicide, drug abuse are all on the rise. People are not following up with their routine doctor visits and diagnostic tests. Some businesses are at risk of failing or have already failed. As many have already said, if we use lockdown as a cure for this virus, then the cure may indeed be worse than the disease.
Some further comments about “lockdowns” and herd immunity.
Maybe Sweden did have the right idea. After months of being criticized by the “experts” for not locking down as vigorously as its other European neighbors and seeing an early spike in cases, it now seems to be doing a lot better than many other nations in Europe and elsewhere. This may be due to the fact that the Swedes as a nation are developing a greater degree of herd immunity more quickly than other countries simply because they did not lockdown to the same degree as other countries which does seem to make some sense. Herd immunity, immunity related to widespread vaccination, better therapeutics and perhaps weakening of the virus itself will hopefully bring an end to this pandemic. However, we should also keep in mind that for a variety of reasons we may be seeing more of these viruses as time goes on. Therefor, from a scientific point of view we need to do more research on therapeutics and rapid vaccine development so as to be better prepared for the next battle.
First, let’s take a closer look at the biological origins of the this virus and consider whether this virus may have been biologically weaponized. Then we can take a look at how the spread of this virus in the U.S. appears to have been politically weaponized.
There are some who believe that the Sars-CoV-2 virus was biologically weaponized by China and allowed to spread across the world intentionally by that country. There are many reasons to believe why this might be true. For example, if this virus was indeed a naturally occurring virus that simply escaped from the laboratory unenhanced in Wuhan, China, than why is it that the area where these bats thrive did not become a major epicenter of the epidemic? It would stand to reason that the locale where the virus originated, presumably in bat caves in the Yunnan province of China, would be an epicenter for the Covid-19 disease. Yet, that was not the case leading to the speculation that something happened in that laboratory in Wuhan to make this virus much more communicable and dangerous. Did this mutation happen spontaneously or was it genetically engineered? Some virologists would say that it would be highly unlikely that such a spontaneous mutation would occur that rapidly. Other virologists have said that genetic engineering is a definite possibility.
The genomic sequence of the virus that caused the pandemic, eventually named SARS-CoV-2, was 96 percent identical to that of a coronavirus the researchers had identified in horseshoe bats in Yunnan. However, this means that there is a 4 % difference between viral genome of the coronavirus found in the bats in the Yunnan province and the genome of the pandemic virus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which presumably somehow escaped from the Wuhan Virology Institute. Could it be that this 4% difference made the virus more pathogenic for humans? Could it be that this virus from the bat caves of Yunnan spontaneously mutated to a more pathogenic strain once it got to Wuhan and then subsequently somehow escaped the laboratory ? Or, was it genetically manipulated in the laboratory to become more pathogenic and then somehow managed to get released from the Wuhan Virology Institute ultimately leading to worldwide pandemic?
We may never really know the answer to these questions, but what we do know is that having arrived in this U.S. this virus has wrought havoc and has now become politically weaponized. The political weaponization of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in this country started early on in the pandemic that began to swept world in the winter of 2020. Let me explain what I mean by this.
The left leaning elements of the political spectrum in this country are now using the pandemic as a political tool to instill fear in the population in order to achieve a political agenda. The plan is simple. Establish fear. Create panic. Place blame where it does not belong. Then use these measures to enforce obedience. Do what we tell you to do or the consequences will be dire. Do what we tell you to do. Not what we do. The agenda is also simple….to create a populace that does not question what it is being told. Just obey and you will be fine. Wear a mask whether you need to or not because we tell you to even though wearing a mask often makes no sense. To paraphrase Lenin, if you say something loud enough and long enough, it will eventually become truth. The concept is a simple one that works best when the element of fear is added.
So next let’s look at look at some of the truth about the pandemic in this country at this point in time so we can dispel some of the fear, hasten a return to normalcy and push back against those who would use this fear to control our lives.
This Sars CoV-2 virus is indeed a nasty bug no matter how it got here to our shores or how it evolved (see above), but it is definitely on the decline at this point. Nationally, according to a recent report from the CDC the number of new cases and deaths related to the disease are in decline. New vaccines will be available in the fall or early winter, and new therapeutics are being developed while old ones like hydroxychloroquine are being re-evaluated. Remdesiver which has been touted as a breakthrough drug in the treatment of Covid-19 may really not be the game changer that it was once touted as being. I refer you to an article in JAMA this past August which stated that “among patients with moderate COVID-19, those randomized to a 10-day course of remdesivir did not have a statistically significant difference in clinical status compared with standard care at 11 days after initiation of treatment.” It went on to state that “patients randomized to a 5-day course of remdesivir had a statistically significant difference in clinical status compared with standard care, but the difference was of uncertain clinical importance.” Other new anti-viral agents are being developed which will likely be better than remdesivir, and older ones like hydroxychloroquine are being looked at again. A recent study done at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit showed that hydroxychloroquine cut the death rate significantly although this well done study seems to have been buried and got little attention maybe because it was in Big Pharma’s best interest to do so.
So why do things seem to be turning around if we haven’t yet developed a cure or a vaccine? Well, there are probably several reasons. While we may not yet have the wonderful cure we are all looking for, we seem to be getting better at treating this thing. Also, although many of our medical experts seem to play down the idea of “herd immunity,” we may be seeing some of this contributing to the apparent downturn in the virus. Other experts do indeed feel that this is the case and if so then the vaccine will will further enhance this “herd immunity.” The virus may also be mutating to a weaker strain that is less pathogenic and less communicable. After All the Spanish Flu of 1918 and 1919 disappeared for reasons that we don’t completely understand but probably had a lot to due with mutation and herd immunity.
But while this is all happening, it seems that the political left is still looking to divide the country by casting blame where really none is due. The left is using this pandemic as a political tool to gain power. Instead of pulling the country together it harps on any issue that might be played to political advantage. It’s no longer a matter of what is good for the county. It’s now a matter of what is necessary to win an election and regain power. Create doubt, uncertainty, dissention and whatever else is necessary to to divide and conquer. Weaponize the Sars-CoV-1 virus from a political standpoint to achieve that end no matter what the cost to the country instead of putting political differences aside and doing what is best for the country. Whatever happened to patriotism, putting political differences aside and really doing what is good for the country? I guess it disappeared when the left decided that the electoral process in this country, which worked for over 200 years, was no longer legitimate and that Donald Trump was not really the president. Truth is no longer the truth. It seem that according to the left, truth is whatever you want it to be as long as you can yell the loudest.
To paraphrase Hamlet’s soliloquy, that is indeed the question we now face during this phase of the coronavirus pandemic. There are those amongst us that would have us all believe that the universal wearing of a face mask will save thousands of lives. However, instead of looking at this as the political statement it seems to have become, let’s take a look at the reasoning beyond this to see if a universal mask mandate really makes sense. Let’s look at some of the facts and not the political fodder that mask wearing has become for some in the media and politics.
First, let’s take a look at viral particle size and mask filtration characteristics. The SARS-CoV-2 viral particle known as a “virion” is about 120 microns in diameter although it probably varies from 60 to 140 microns. Cloth facial masks which most people are wearing are too porous to either catch the virus on exhalation if you have the virus or prevent you from inhaling it if you don’t.
Second, only a mask that has filtration characteristics of an N-95 mask or better has a chance of stopping such small particles. The “N” in N-95 stands for “Not Oil Resistant” and the “95” means that it will filter out 95% of particles 0.3 microns or greater in size. Without getting into the murky details of particle filtration science, suffice it to say that the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself may be smaller than the actual N-95 particle filter size, but the virus usually travels attached to larger particles or conglomerates of viral particles that are consistently snared by the filter. In addition, though the actual individual viral particle size may be smaller than the filtration or pore size of the N-95 material, there are other mechanisms that promote capture of the viral particle by an N-95 mask. For example, electrostatic attraction may promote attachment of the virus to the fibers of the mask and the erratic movement of the viral particles may also help to ensnare these viral particles in the filter material. In any event, the N-95 mask is pretty good in filtering out the virus if the filtration material is intact and if worn properly.
Third, a cloth mask may retain droplets of expiratory secretions, but these droplets are not going to be airborne for prolonged periods like an aerosol would be likely to do. So if a person is infected, a cloth mask may be of some benefit in limiting spread of the virus due to droplet transmission in a close environment. For example, if a carrier of the virus happens to sneeze or cough up droplets, then these infected droplets may be retained in the cloth fibers of the mask thereby limiting the spread of the virus to others. However, a cloth mask will not stop the transmission of aerosolized viral particles that may also be launched by a cough or a sneeze. Likewise, on the receiving end, a non-infected person wearing a cloth mask might be somewhat protected from the large droplets launched by a infected person with a cough or a sneeze, but a cloth mask will not protect him from aerosolized viral particles which will pass through a cloth mask. Bear in mind that when an infected person coughs or sneezes there is both droplet and aerosolized transmission of the virus.
Fourth, many people now seem to feel it is necessary to wear a mask, cloth or otherwise, when they are in the wide open spaces walking, running, or riding a bike with no one within yards or miles of themselves. This may make them feel more comfortable and protected, or it may make them feel that they are better neighbors because they are protecting others even if they themselves are asymptomatic. However, the reality of such protection is very questionable because the need for a mask of any kind under these circumstances is questionable. My personal feeling is that using a mask of any kind in this setting, and I emphasize “in this setting” is unnecessary and tends to foster paranoia, or at least unnecessary worry, at a time when we should be trying to bring things back to normal.
So my suggestions regarding mask wearing are:
Wear an N-95 type mask if you are in an enclosed area where you cannot maintain a good degree of social distancing. This affords the best degree of protection both for yourself and others.
If you don’t have an N-95 mask and can’t maintain social distancing, than by all means use a cloth mask at the very least. It will provide some limited degree of protection.
If you are in the wide open spaces for a walk, jog or a bike ride, then wearing a mask of any kind seems unnecessary. It’s time to start bringing things back to normal.
I’m not a psychiatrist, but it strikes me as a physician that we may be dealing with a somewhat unique type of psychosis in the U.S. characterized by widespread delusion shared among large numbers of people. There are precedents of shared delusion disorder (SDD, ICD 10 code f24), but when it occurs it is usually in a small number of people such as between two people who are in a close relationship. The French term for this is “folie a deux” which translated loosely means “madness for two.” Occasionally it can include larger groups such as a family in which case the term “folie a famille” has been used, “family madness.”
However, now we appear to be witnessing the evolution of a new delusional or psychotic disorder involving huge numbers of people who in their delusional state believe that their home country, the United States of America, is a monstrous place rife with hatred, bigotry, injustice, and evil. All of which characteristics they paradoxically have assumed onto themselves. One might believe that this mass delusional state is an extension of the previously described “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” but it is far more serious than that disorder often manifesting itself in violent and destructive ways including the burning of buildings, destruction of businesses, savage beatings, and even murder. These activities are often portrayed by their perpetrators and by those who propagate their delusions as justifiable and righteous acts which should be condoned and praised by all in the U.S. even those who do not agree with them and those who have been tormented by them. Destruction of society as we know it seems to be the goal.
To make matters worse from a sociological and psychiatric point of view, this delusional disorder seems to have spread to many of our political leaders in an epidemic fashion the consequences of which in the long run may be far worse than that of the Covid-19 epidemic. Yet the origins of this epidemic may not have stemmed directly from the general population of our citizens and spread upward to the leadership. Rather it seems more likely that the origins of this disorder can be traced to many of our politicians who have completely lost the ability to discern truth from falsehood. These political “leaders” have become very adept at developing their own alternate reality which they then feed to their followers as truth that cannot be denied or refuted. The term “liberalism” has now developed a new meaning much more akin to that of “fascism” since alternative thought and speech is prohibited by the new liberals who are replacing the old guard of the Democratic Party. Groupthink takes over in this new environment, and the mob absorbs a unifying mentality seeing only the “reality” that they are being fed by leadership who have usurped individual freedom of thought. Think differently from the new fascists and run the risk of being assaulted verbally if not physically. That’s why we see many of our so called “leaders” on the left ignoring the violence and mayhem that they intentionally or unintentionally provoked all over the country. They have lost control of the situation, and they don’t know what to do about it. They can’t put out the fire.
Their position in the new social framework they were trying to create has been usurped by anarchists like ANTIFA and the fringe elements of Black Lives Matter. The old guard of socialist ideology is befuddled now and does not know how to gain back control of the social monster they have created. So they try to convince the rest of us that the protests are peaceful when we see rioting, looting, mayhem and worse. We are told not to believe our eyes. They have no way of dealing with the monster they created except to say that it doesn’t exist. We see this in the media all the time now as a blatant display of denial, deflection, downright lying and perversion of the truth. For example, we are told that saying “all lives matter” is wrong and somehow a demonstration of racial prejudice and bigotry when in fact it is just the opposite. It is a statement of equality. What could be a greater statement about equality than valuing all life equally? It is madness not to realize this.
Can They Be Resuscitated? Should They Be Resuscitated Or Made DNR ?
Needless to say the events of the past year have had a devastating effect on New York City as well as on other major cities across the country. Many of these great cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle are virtually on life support at this time. First, having been decimated by Covid-19, otherwise known as the “plague” or “China Virus,” these cities were next set upon by gangs of marauding vandals whose clear intent was to pillage and destroy the very cities that contributed so much to making this country great. Legitimate issues that initially provoked rightful protests and demonstrations were usurped by anarchists whose sole aim was not justice but rioting and destruction of the country. These anarchists used whatever tools they could to wreak havoc on everyone who failed to join them in their quest of destruction. They were organized and appeared to be well funded by sources who yet remain in the shadows. What they managed to accomplish in large part was the ruination of the businesses and residential areas upon which these cities depended for survival both economic and social. So our great cities sustained a “one-two” punch. The first being the Covid-19 itself and the second being the riots. Now those people who can are leaving the big cities in droves. Thanks to technology “telecommuting” has become a real thing. Many of us no longer have to go to a conventional office to work. We can work in a virtual office anywhere so why risk living and working in a city that is falling apart and dangerous? The leaders of these cities have really done nothing to help their fellow citizens who want to stay and work. These citizens are not protected, and they are not supported so they feel it is time to leave. Who can blame them? In actuality, it is time to leave if your leaders cannot or will not protect you because their priorities lie elsewhere. In this case these priorities seem to lie with the rioters and anarchists. So can our cities be resuscitated? Should we even try?
The situation with our cities really is like a critical illness. They were first attacked by a terrible virus. Many of our elected state and city leaders made bad treatment decisions which resulted in loss of life. These mistakes were unintentional, but they happened just like in real medicine. Weakened by a terrible virus our cities were next attacked by another necrotizing infection; namely, anarchy and rioting. Call it whatever you like, but this second wave of destruction caused by criminals was analogous to what is seen in medicine when a patient weakened by an infection is hit with a second infection causing even more severe damage. The third and final assault on theses patients, our cities, who were in the care of our political leaders is the exodus of the heart and soul of the city. The middle class upon whom these cities depended can no longer can afford to live in the city. Nor do they want to, and they certainly don’t have to. The wealthy are now joining the exodus. They can easily afford to live elsewhere. The only ones left, unless things drastically change, will be those who cannot afford to leave.
According to the New York Times as of 7/23/2020 there were 414,405 cases of Covid-19 reported in New York State and 32,270 deaths.* According to the Florida Board of Health there have been a total of 389,868 coronavirus cases and 5,632 deaths. Though the populations of New York and Florida are similar (Florida has about 2 million more residents) and the number of overall cases reported by each state thus far are similar, there is close to a 6 fold difference in mortality. Hopefully Florida will not catch up to New York in regard to the death toll, but why we have this difference is not yet completely clear. It may never be completely understood, but there are some logical reasons as to why Florida has had so many fewer deaths than New York so far in spite of the fact that Florida has the larger population and a greater percentage of elderly patients. One likely reason for this is that Governor Desantis took a more aggressive approach in protecting this vulnerable, elderly population. For example, unlike in New York elderly Covid-19 patients were not sent into nursing homes where they could easily infect other residents and staff. In early March, Governor DeSantis put out a strong preventive message to his elder population, advising them to stay at home in order to avoid potential exposure. He made sure that nursing home personnel had the protective personal equipment (PPE) that they needed to help prevent acquisition and spread of the virus. He deployed the National Guard to help institute testing in the state’s nursing homes where older COVID-19 patients were not sent. These actions and others helped to give Florida a much better survival rate for patients in long term care facilities compared to New York. On the other hand in New York, Governor Cuomo had patients with Covid -19 go back to nursing homes that were not prepared to care for them. In spite of the fact that there were other alternatives such as the hospital set up at the Javits Center, the Hospital Ship Comfort that was sent to New York Harbor by President Trump and the Samaritan’s Purse field hospital that was set up in Central Park. There was inadequate protective personal equipment (PPE) for the staff in these nursing home facilities in New York and inadequate isolation procedures which led to promulgation of the virus and increased death tolls among staff and patients. In late April, the New York State Health department finally clarified that nursing homes should not take any new residents if they are unable to meet their needs. In May Governor Cuomo finally reversed his directive, and tried to shift the blame for the nursing home fiasco on to President Trump though President Trump had no role in determining Governor Cuomo’s response to the pandemic on a statewide basis. Governor Cuomo also said that nursing homes could have refused to comply, but he did not specify how they could do so without incurring any penalties.
Some Other Reasons Why New York Infections Skyrocketed
Another probable reason as to why New York became an epicenter of this virus is that early on in the pandemic, New York’s Governor Cuomo and the New York City’s Mayor de Blasio, tended to downplay the significance of the virus telling people to continue their normal activities including socializing. This lead New York City with its great population density to become an epicentre of the pandemic in the U.S. in such a rapid fashion that New York’s hospital system was overwhelmed. Their response as political leaders was marked by missed warning signs and health care policies that many health-care workers say put residents at greater risk and led to unnecessary deaths. For example, in the first few days of March, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio assured New Yorkers things were under control. On March 2, Mayor de Blasio tweeted that people should “go see a movie”. Only after the disease was running rampant in the New York City’s low-income neighborhoods later in March did Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio mobilize public and private hospitals to create more beds and intensive-care units.
Some Good News
The good news is that the death rate from the virus seems to be decreasing nationwide even though the incidence of infection may be surging in some areas like Florida and Texas right now. The reasons for this decrease in death rate are again not completely clear, but some of this may be due to the fact that we have learned how to better manage this infection. We know more about the sequelae of the infection and how to treat them. We have better contact tracing and management. We have some therapeutic modalities that seem to be helpful. Whatever the means, driving down Covid-19 deaths is becoming a major breakthrough. If treatments for Covid 19 eventually result in a mortality rate of only 0.1% similar to influenza than the Covid-19 would no longer be a major health problem even though it might persist in the population for long time to come.
More Testing Means More Numbers But Accuracy and Interpretation of Data Are Key
It should also be remembered that it may also be possible that the virus itself is changing and mutating to a less virulent and less infectious form. As far as the incidence of new cases is concerned some of these numbers have to be interpreted in light of the fact that more and more people are being tested. Moreover, as we get further and further away from this pandemic as time goes on, we may find that there have been irregularities in the data reporting and problems with the various screening tests that have been brought to market in terms of their reliability and accuracy. For example, the number of false positives and false negatives will need to be better scrutinized especially since there are a number of companies marketing tests that may not have been fully validated. So the total numbers of patients who have been exposed to coronavirus may be greater or lesser than what we now appreciate. Mortality issues will also need to be reevaluated. Many patients who have been cited as having died from coronavirus may actually have died from other illnesses, but they were listed as Covid-19 deaths because they were found to be positive for the virus when they were tested in the hospital. It’s well know that many patients who have the virus are asymptomatic or relatively asymptomatic so having a positive test in someone who ultimately died of something unrelated to Covid-19, but reported as a Covid-19 death, would obviously skew the data regarding total Covid-19 deaths.
Importance of “Herd Immunity” Cannot Be Overemphasized
Given the increased numbers of individuals who have been exposed to and presumably have antibodies against the virus should lead to greater “herd immunity” as time goes on. Overall, even though we are seeing some peaks of infection nationwide, the pandemic seems to be decreasing. “Flattening the curve” does not necessarily mean eliminating the virus all at once. What is really means is that the incidence of infection is flattening so that we are not overwhelmed by large number of cases. Things should only get better as time goes on and we get vaccines along with better therapeutics in the months to come. Also, as time goes on “herd immunity” will become greater and greater. Ultimately the virus that causes Covid-19 virus should, if not disappear completely, become much more manageable much like our conventional influenza virus. We may need annual vaccines like we do for influenza, and we may need to rely on different antiviral agents to treat sick patients. However, Covid-19 will likely become much much more manageable as time goes on similar to influenza. There is also the possibility that this coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2) will mutate to a less infectious and aggressive form as these viruses sometimes do although the alternative is also possible.
*This was data collated by the New York Times from several sources.
This phrase has a long history dating back to biblical times in one form or the other. Though the origin of this saying cannot be pinned down, it seems particularly pertinent to what we are experiencing as a nation today. It is a reminder that regardless of our troubles today with coronavirus and the overwhelming impact it often has on our daily lives, it will indeed ultimately pass. We have been damaged physically, emotionally, socially and economically. Thousands of lives have been lost, but we and the rest of the world will get over this sooner or later. Hopefully, we will all be smarter and stronger having gone through this so that we are better prepared for the next pandemic which is sure to come at some point.
So now one wonders what is next with outbreaks of the virus occurring in different parts of the country when it just began to look like we might have had things under control. Keep in mind that this should not have been unexpected. The virus is here to stay until one of two things happens. First, the virus may mutate itself out of existence meaning that it changes in such a way that it becomes less capable of attaching to and invading human cells. However, there is a caveat to this first scenario since the virus could also mutate in such a fashion as to make itself more likely to attach to a human cell and replicate. The second thing that could happens, which we should hope for, is that so-called “herd immunity” develops. This occurs when a large portion of the population either asquires the illness, survives and produces antibodies to the virus; or, a vaccine is given which also creates immunity. When immunity develops in either fashion, the virus is less likely to enter a host to replicate, cause illness and spread to other susceptible people. Those who were either sick and have recovered and those who have had the vaccine can no longer harbor the virus and thereby prevent it from replicating and invading the remaining susceptible individuals. In those who have been vaccinated and developed antibodies, the virus is not longer able to attach to the host cell and enter it to cause damage to the cell and replicate itself. In those who have acquired the immunity by having had the illness, antibodies likewise develop which prevent attachment of the virus to the susceptible cell so the virus once again cannot replicate and spread. Either way, the chain of transmission is thereby blocked and the incidence of viral infection decreases in a population. However, there is a caveat here also in terms of those who have naturally acquired immunity through infection; namely, that some individuals who have had the illness and recovered may theoretically become carriers of the virus. Not enough is yet known about this virus to make any comments about a carrier state. Remember that our objective here is “flatten the curve.” That does not mean that we have eliminated the virus. What is means is that we have reached a point where the rate of new cases occurring has slowed and reached a plateau making it much easier to control the pandemic. Hopefully at some point the virus will have disappeared, but that may never completely occur. Instead, what we may see is a situation similar to the influenza virus where we have to deal with a new strain or strains every year. In the meantime while we await the development of vaccines and antiviral medications, we try to identify and isolate infected people as quickly as we can, maintain social distancing in a reasonable way in order to minimize exposure, and we try to resume our lives as close to normal as possible.
How And When Will The Pandemic End?
We do not know yet how and when the pandemic will end, but it will will end. This does not mean that the virus itself will completely disappear though it may. Instead, we may see this coronavirus or other similar coronaviruses popping up periodically in different places for years to come.
Lessons To Be Learned
This Sars CoV -2 coronavirus is “novel.” Its combination of easy transmissibility and its wide range of symptoms makes it somewhat unique, but there are lessons that can be learned from previous pandemics like the SpanishFlu of 1918. This pandemic lasted over two years and came in three waves that killed 50 million and 100 million people. Exactly why the virus became extinguished remains unclear. There were no vaccines for it and no effective treatments. It has been estimated that over a period of two years 500 million people worldwide were infected and somewhere between 50 and 100 million people may have died. Several theories for its disappearance have been postulated, but it seems likely that this was due to a combination of factors. One of these might have been that the virus mutated to a less pathogenic form which often happens with viruses. Social distancing once it was used more aggressively likely decreased the rate of transmission. Also, as time went on more and more people got exposed to the virus and became immune leading to so called “herd immunity.” When enough people in a population are immune either through naturally occurring infection or immunization, the likelihood of transmitting the virus to the remaining others in the population who are not immune decreases dramatically. This is where we are hopefully heading now.
What happens next and how soon this pandemic ends depends on a combination of factors in addition to the development of herd immunity. This includes the natural history of the virus itself, in other words, will the virus mutate to a less aggressive form; how effective the vaccines are; how good we get at discovering new antiviral medications; and how good we get at treating the inflammatory effects of the viral infection such as the so called “cytokine storm.”
Through all of this turmoil just remember that “this too shall pass.”