Biblical and Constitutional Politics
My Multi-Group Plan for Overcoming the Coronavirus Crisis
(Plus Additional Coronavirus Information and an Overview of the Crisis)
By Gary F. Zeolla
I first wrote about the Coronavirus (CV) crisis in January to February 2020 in small sections in my forthcoming three-volume set Dems Cannot Beat Trump, So They Impeach Trump. I did so initially only because I will be making the point throughout that trilogy that the impeachment fiasco was not affecting the stock market. It had continued to rise throughout the impeachment proceedings, just as it had throughout Trump’s presidency. But as news of the CV become public, fears of the affect it would have on supply lines from China began to affect the stock market, so I mentioned that in those initial sections.
Later, I began to add “Coronavirus Updates” throughout the trilogy, to make the point that if all of Washington and the press were not distracted by the impeachment fiasco, maybe somebody would have noticed what was brewing in China, and this whole global crisis could have been avoided. There will be much more on that line of reasoning in that trilogy when it becomes available. But its publication has been delayed due to me setting up a CV section on my politics website.
As a writer and researcher, I felt compelled to write about his crisis, in hopes my thoughts would help others to wade this crisis and the much misinformation that is being put forth. My first CV Commentary was written on March 4, 2020, and my first full length article about the CV on March 16. It is now the last week of April as I write this four-part article. This will be my last full-length article about the CV, at least for a while, as I need to get back to work on the Impeach trilogy. That is why this article is so long that I needed to break it into four-parts. I am trying to say all I feel a need to say on this topic before moving on, though I will probably still post an occasional shorter CV Commentary.
Note that the last date covered in this four-part article is April 30, 2020, so if something happened after that date, it is not reflected in this article. But I have tried to foresee possible events after that date whenever possible, so this four-article article should remain up to date long after that date.
Overview of This Article
In this four-part article, I will pull together all I have learned about the CV crisis since I started researching it weeks ago. Much of what I will present was known from the start of the crisis here in the States from what happened with the CV elsewhere, while some of it was only learned as it spread here in the USA. I will also include a separate page with extensive “References” for points I have not documented previously. Documentation for the rest of the points are scattered throughout the aforementioned CV section.
What I am going to do is to present my plan for how I think we should have and still can best overcome this crisis. This plan differs from the plan of the various authorities, as my perspective is different from their perspective, as detailed previously (see Different Perspective in Dealing with the Coronavirus).
But to explain briefly here, the approach of the authorities is to try keep everyone from getting affected. It is a shotgun approach that treats everyone the same. My approach is to have different approaches for different people groups based on their risk of experiencing serious adverse consequences from a CV infection. That is why I am calling this my “Multi-Group Plan.” I will also give suggestions for various situations.
I know no one actually has or will follow my plan, but when I complain about the plan that has been and is being instituted, I want to demonstrate it is not just idle complaining. There was a better way of going about it. Presenting my plan will also enable me to represent additional CV information I have not presented previously or to elaborate on or update previous points. It will also give me a chance to overview this whole CV crisis, from its start here in the States to the present (as of late April 2020).
That said, for the most part, this plan could have been put in place back in early to mid-March. It would have worked just as well if not better than the one that has been used for controlling the effects of the CV, but it is one that would not have completely destroyed our economy and the lives of tens of millions of Americans in the process.
By “the authorities” I mean the various levels of federal, state, and local governments, and the health professionals they are getting advice from as to what policies to institute. There has been a more or less general agreement between all of them, that being, we need to institute policies that are designed to try to keep everyone from getting infected.
Also, rather than typing “serious adverse consequences from a CV infection” over and over again, I will refer to such as “serious CV consequences.” That phrase means the symptoms from an CV infection, such as difficulty breathing, are serious enough to put a person into the hospital or even lead to his or her death. This phrase does not refer to more common symptoms, such a cough and fever, that can be home treated, with or without a doctor’s prescription. Those would be “moderate CV consequences.” Then those with little or no symptoms, just a general sense of not feeling well, would be said to have “mild CV consequences.”
Note also, by “recovered” means a person who had CV symptoms of whatever seriousness but has been symptom-free for at least three days.
Testing and PPE Complaints
Before getting to the various people groups, let me begin with a few words about testing. The President has been criticized much about the slow rollout of testing and about an alleged ongoing lack of testing. Much of this criticism is unwarranted, though President Trump has not handled the criticism very well.
Let’s be clear, back on February 7, 2020, long before it was known how serious the CV outbreak would become here in the States, Trump ordered the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to begin to develop a test for the CV. That was a very early action that showed great foresight on his part.
However, there was a “technical difficulty” in the first batch of tests the CDC developed. That was all that was said at that time and for some time. Later it was revealed in various news outlets (though I believe beginning with the Washington Post), that the “technical difficulty” was those tests were tainted with the CV itself! Not only did that contamination render the tests useless, likely to give false positives, but it meant people being tested could be infected with the virus from the test. As a result, that entire first batch had to be destroyed, and the CDC had to start all over again producing tests.
Then when it became obvious the CDC did not have the manufacturing capability to produce the great number of tests that would be needed, and that private enterprise would need to be enlisted, there were regulatory hurdles that needed to overcome. These two problems caused great delay in the initial mass production of tests.
The initial covid-19 test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was contaminated, and early kits operated only on platforms able to perform a small number of tests per day. While the rate of testing increased as tests developed for higher-capacity platforms, they were still limited by shortages of supplies, from nasal swabs to the reagents used to process the samples (Trib. Trump says).
President Trump has tried to downplay these initial problems, but he really shouldn’t. But Trump seems to take any complaints about anything within his administration as a personal attack on himself. I cannot fault him too much in this regard, as it is true that he has personally been the target of a whole slew of unwarranted attacks ever since the day he announced his candidacy for President back in May of 2015. I detail these unwarranted attacks throughout my politics website, in my book Tearing the USA Apart, and will do so more in my forthcoming Impeach trilogy.
But still, Trump should own up to the fact that there were problems back in February into March that delayed the response of the CDC to this epidemic. They were not his fault, but they did happen under his watch. But there is nothing that can be done about it now, so we just need to move on from here. Trump has done that, but the media just cannot let those early problems go. But they should do so for the good of the country. For more in this regard, see Trump’s Initial Response to the Coronavirus: A Response to the Critics.
That said, the Trump administration has now rolled out more testing than any other country both when counting the total number of tests and when counting on a per capita basis. As a result, testing is becoming more widely available.
For instance, in my two-part article Different Perspective in Dealing with the Coronavirus, I discuss my possible experience with COVID-19. The reason I do not know for sure if I had COVID-19 or the seasonal flu is I was never tested. I wasn’t, as the closest testing site to my home on the day I had my symptoms was over half an hour away. With the way I was feeling, I was not up to the over hour-long round trip. But just a week later, a testing site was set up in a shopping plaza just a mile from my home.
To be clear, I usually tell people I live in Pittsburgh, PA, but I actually live in a small town outside of the city limits but still within Allegheny County where Pittsburgh is located. If I were to tell you the name of my town, you would not recognize it. That is why I just say “Pittsburgh” when telling people where I live. And besides, I’d rather not give out my exact location.
But the point is, it is a small town of about 10,000 people, and if we now have a testing site, I assume many other similarly-sized small towns now also have testing sites, so testing is becoming much more readily available. However, we still are not even close to having the capability of testing all 331,000,000 Americans. That is why I still will not be tested, as since I am now symptom-free, there is no reason for it. I will elaborate on these points as we proceed.
The other complaint has been in regard to the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care workers. This lack is again being used to attack President Trump and his administration’s early response to the CV crisis. And it is true, if supplies of PPE had begun to be built up back in February, there would not have been the lack of PPE that hindered the work of healthcare workers in the early stages of this crisis.
However, back in early February, no one, not even Dr. Anthony Fauci, thought the crisis would become as severe as it has here in the States. Dr. Fauci has been quoted as saying as late as February 24 that the CV posed “little risk” to Americans. But now that production has been ramped up, hopefully, a lack of PPE will no longer be a problem.
Steps are now also being taken to disinfect and reuse PPE. It never made any sense to me that such was not already common practice. But it took the President to suggest for such procedures to be put into place to reuse certain kinds of PPE as many as 20 times. Of course, manufacturers of PPE are not happy about that, as it means their sales could plummet by 20 times. But with the widespread need for PPE being around for a long time, I doubt they will be feeling a financial crunch anytime soon.
Other possible problems, like a shortage of hospital beds and ventilators, never materialized, and we now have an abundance of both.
Finally, Democrats who complain about the Trump administration’s early response to this crisis should look at themselves. There were three Democrat presidential debates back in January to February. In them, there was barely any talk about Coronavirus, and little was said about it otherwise by the various Democratic presidential candidates. That includes Joe Biden, whose only comments at that time were to call Trump “hysterical” and “xenophobic” for instituting the travel ban from China on January 31.
Simply put, back in January to February, hardly anyone in authority thought the CV would become so serious here in the States. Republican Senator John Cotton might be the main exception. He was expressing concern about it, and that led to Trump’s January 31 travel ban from China. But otherwise, everyone was too focused on the impeachment to notice what was brewing in China. As such, it is disingenuous to criticize Trump for not having foresight that no one else had at the time. And that includes this writer.
As mentioned, my comments about the CV in my Impeach trilogy that were written back then were only about the effect the spread of the CV in China had on the stock market here. Any comments about the seriousness of the outbreak in the USA in those books were added later.
You can even include Dr. Anthony Fauci in the category of those who were saying the CV was of little risk to Americans. Back on February 17, USA Today reported the following:
Fauci doesn’t want people to worry about coronavirus, the danger of which is “just minuscule.” But he does want them to take precautions against the “influenza outbreak, which is having its second wave.”
“We have more kids dying of flu this year at this time than in the last decade or more,” he said. “At the same time people are worrying about going to a Chinese restaurant. The threat is (we have) a pretty bad influenza season, particularly dangerous for our children.”
Fauci offered advice for people who want to protect against the “real and present danger” of seasonal flu, which also would protect against the hypothetical danger of coronavirus.
“Wash your hands as frequently as you can. Stay away from crowded places where people are coughing and sneezing. If in fact you are coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth,” he says.
“You know, all the things that we say each year.”
Thus, back then, even Dr. Fauci was more concerned with the seasonal flu than with the CV, and his advice was very moderate even in that regard.
With that background, on to my “Multi-Group Plan for Overcoming the Coronavirus Crisis.”
Nursing Home Residents
Before I begin this section, let me indicate that by the term “nursing homes” I am including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, long-term or continuing care facilities, and related facilities. Basically, I am including any facility that cares for people on an ongoing basis whose age and/ or health prevents them from caring solely for themselves, though the emphasis will be on the elderly with underlying health conditions. That is important, especially when we get to the statistics, as some would give separate stats for nursing homes from these other but similar types of facilities. That would of course mean their stats would be lower than mine.
That said, nursing home residents are without a doubt the most vulnerable people group for having serious CV consequences, including death. But we do not have exact statistics on the number of deaths across the country:
There is currently no official count of nursing home deaths across the country. The federal government has only recently required the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes to start reporting numbers of confirmed and presumed deaths and infections, but it is not yet clear when that count will be published (Fox News. Nearly).
However, here in PA, 60% of all CV deaths have been among those in nursing homes. In Allegheny County, it is over 70%. These types of percentages are probably being seen throughout the country. The Hartford Courant, for instance, reported on April 16, “Nursing home deaths now make up 40 percent of fatalities from coronavirus in Connecticut as pandemic spreads.”
In Rhode Island, as of April 21, “90 of the state’s 118 deaths” were in nursing homes (Trib). I heard on News Talk 1320 AM (a Pittsburgh station) on April 30 that half of the deaths in Oregon are in nursing homes. Also, “Nursing homes account for more than half of Maryland’s coronavirus deaths” (Baltimore Sun).
The percentage in New York is considerably lower, “only” about 20%. But that is due to New York’s much higher death count overall. However, “Up to 50% of the COVID-19 deaths in Europe are associated with long-term care facilities, according to the World Health Organization” (Business).
I could go on, but in the end, it is reasonable to assume we will see about 50% of CV deaths being in nursing homes here in the USA. As such, if we had just locked down nursing homes from the start, we could have cut the death count for the CV in half.
It is here that I think we see the greatest failure on the part of the authorities. By using their shotgun approach of trying to keep everyone from getting infected, it diverted resources from nursing homes, leading to this very disturbingly high death count in nursing homes. But it took the above stats for the governors of Oregon, Maryland, and Tennessee to institute mandatory testing of all people going into nursing homes in their states on April 30. That same type of delay was seen across the country.
Also on that day, President Trump declared May would be “Older Americans Month.” Her then issued guidelines for protecting senior citizens. That was good, but it should have happened two months earlier.
My plan would have been to focus as many resources as possible on this most vulnerable population as soon as the CV hit the States. We knew from the start that nursing homes would be the hardest hit. That was due to what was happening in Europe, where it was the elderly with preexisting conditions who were dying at the greatest rates. Then the first deaths here in the USA were in a nursing home in Washington state.
But for some reason, the authorities did not do that. They seemed to treat nursing home residents just like everyone else, and that led to the great number of deaths in these facilities. That was foolhardy. Instead, the limited testing and PPE supplies should have been focused on nursing homes from the start. Everyone going into and out of nursing homes needed to be tested and wearing at least face masks if not full PPE. That might not have been possible initially given the shortages of tests and PPE, but there is no excuse for not doing so now.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who leads the White House coronavirus response, suggested this past week [from 4/29/30] that as more COVID-19 tests become available, nursing homes should be a top priority. “We need to really ensure that nursing homes have sentinel surveillance. And what do I mean by that? That we’re actively testing in nursing homes, both the residents and the workers, at all times,” Birx said (Fox News. Coronavirus).
As I discuss in my article Nursing Home Deaths, if my mom were still alive today and in a nursing home as she was for some time prior to her death, it would have caused great distress to me, my dad, and my brother if we were not able to visit her. But I failed to mention, it would have caused my mom great distress as well.
If fact, one of my greatest worries over her at that time was the fact that she would spend so much time just sitting on a chair or later lying in bed staring into space. That is why my dad would go to visit her every day, and I and my brother would go as often as we could, to give her company and to alleviate the boredom.
I don’t think that mental aspect of nursing home residents has been taken into account. Too many facilities are just banning all visitors. That is not good. If testing or PPE is available, then visitors should be allowed, as long as they test negative or are wearing PPE. And even then, they should avoid hugging and kissing their loved ones or even getting too close to them.
Do not miss a main point of this section. Assuming 50% of deaths in the USA turn out to be in nursing homes, that means, if we had protected this precious but most vulnerable population, we could have cut the death count in half. That means, whatever the death count is on the day you read this article, cut it in half. That is what the count could have been if we had taken just this one step of protecting nursing home residents. And frankly, it is inexcusable that we did not, as we knew going in, this was the most vulnerable population.
Finally, I must note that just because a nursing home resident gets infected with the CV, that is not a death sentence. At a particular Pittsburgh area nursing home, there have tragically been ten deaths. However, there have also been 22 residents who have recovered from a CV infection. That is encouraging.
Moreover, here in PA, as of April 29, “Across the state, just under 1,000 care facility residents have died from the virus. Across 452 facilities, 7,360 residents have been infected, along with 920 employees” (Trib. Official). There have been 1,716 deaths overall in PA. That means 58% of the deaths have been in nursing homes, hence the 60% rounded figure above. But most of all, do not miss that there have been 1,000 deaths and 7,360 infections. That’s a 13.6% death rate. Tragic. However, that means, 6,360 have not died. That is 86.4%.
Now, it might be that some of those who have not died are still infected and sadly might die in the next few days. But the vast majority of them have probably already fully recovered. That means, six out of seven of even this most vulnerable of populations will recover from a CV infection. That is important to remember as we progress. Moreover, it is not new news that even most of the elderly who get infected will not die from the CV. The following is from the BBC is from March 24, 2020.
The elderly and the unwell are more likely to die, if they contract coronavirus. Current estimates from Imperial College London are that the death rate is almost 10 times higher than average for those over 80, and much lower for those under 40. The UK government’s chief medical advisor, Professor Chris Whitty, says even though the rates are higher for older people, “the great majority of older people will have a mild or moderate disease.”
New York City
Next to nursing home residents, the second highest percentage of American cases and deaths from the CV have occurred in New York state and particularly in New York City (NYC). As of 8:24 pm, April 21, 2020, New York state had 288,076 cases and 16,966 deaths. NYC had 158,268 cases and 11,648 deaths. At the same time, the USA as whole had 964,888 cases and 49,437 deaths. That means, NYC had 16.4% of the US cases and 23.5% of the US deaths, while, with a current population of 8,323,338, it only has 2.5% of the total US population of 331 million.
However, it must be noted that a recent random antibody test showed, “13.9 percent of New Yorkers tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.” (Times Union). With 19 million people in New York state, if that percentage holds true for the entire state, it would mean 2,641,000 New Yorkers have been infected. Doing the math, that would mean the death rate would be 0.6%. That is higher than the 0.1% for the seasonal flu, but nowhere near the 3-4% death rate that had been forecast at the start of this pandemic.
But back to that 23.5% of US deaths. That would include nursing home deaths, which are included in the previous number. But again, the percent of NYC residents who died who were in nursing homes is far less than elsewhere, due to the younger population. It is only 20%. To substrate that so as not to double-count anyone, that still leaves us with 18.8% of all American CV deaths having occurred in NYC. Add that to the previous 50% for nursing homes, and these two groups account for 68.8% of US deaths. That leaves just 31.2% for the rest of the country.
That is important, as if we could have just lockdown these two areas, we could have drastically cut down the total death count in the USA. But why was NYC so hard hit?
The answer probably has to do with several factors. First is travel. It is now known that NYC was first infected by the virus from Europe, not China. That makes sense given its closer proximity to the former than the latter. There is much travel between NYC and Europe, so it probably had many imported cases.
Second is the population density of NYC. It is the most densely populated city in the USA.
Third is its subway system. That is a perfect incubator for the virus. Cramped subway cars would enable the virus to infect many people very quickly. In fact, I would call a subway car a Petri dish in a tunnel.
Fourth, is high pollution rates. Living in an area with high pollution rates is known to be a risk factor for serious respiratory illness consequences, “The overwhelming majority of studies demonstrate that air pollution matters a lot to whether you are going to get sick with pneumonia and whether you are going to have mild illness or severe illness,” Bernstein added (Los Angeles).
None of this is to in any way lessen the severity of what has happened in NYC. It is truly tragic. But the point is, these four factors together are not common in the rest of the country. Thus, NYC was not a “canary in the coalmine” as NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio tried to claim. NYC is in fact very unique and different from the rest of the country. Thus, what happened there does not apply elsewhere.
That is important, as it means that just because strict restrictions might have been and are necessary in NYC, that does not mean they are necessary anywhere else in the USA let alone everywhere else in the USA. But the authorities seem to think the entire country needs to be treated the same as NYC.
Procedures in hospitals should be similar to those in nursing homes. Of course, in many ways, they already were even before the CV crisis. Most healthcare professionals already wore PPE when treating patients, and much care is taken to prevent cross-contamination between patients.
The major change would be in regard to testing. Healthcare professionals need to be tested on a frequent basis. All patients also need to be tested, at least when entering the facility and later if they begin to show symptoms. That is for the most part being done.
However, where I disagree with some hospitals is when they ban all visitors to patients. I’ve even heard of fathers not being allowed to be with their wives when they are giving birth. That is tragic, as is anyone being in a hospital without visitors.
As with nursing homes, people should be allowed to visit their loved ones, with testing and/ or wearing of masks and practice of social distancing. Not allowing such visitors could detrimentally affect the mental states of patients, which would hinder their recoveries.
Two Classes of Non-Nursing Home Elderly
There are of course many elderly citizens who are not in nursing homes. They would fall into two classes. Those who are relatively healthy for their age, with no preexisting conditions that would put them at high risk of serious CV consequences, and those with such conditions.
My dad would fall into the first category, while my mom would have fallen into the second category if she were still alive today and not yet in a nursing home. The approach in dealing with these two quite different types of senior citizens needs to be quite different.
Those like my dad are still at an elevated risk of serious CV consequences, just because of his age. But due to his relatively good health, not overly so. But still, I have been protective of him. I initially “grounded” him totally in mid-March. I did not want him to go anywhere. I did his grocery shopping for him, and I told him anything else could wait.
But then, as the growing season began here in Western PA, he needed to get to the local garden shop (actually a Tractor Supply store). Since his garden is very important to him, as I discuss in “Perspectives” article, that he needed to do. And he needed to do it himself, as I have no idea what the needs in that regard, not being a gardener myself. He also needed to go to the hardware store for garden and other supplies. I was a bit leery about it, but those stores are not very busy, so with a bit of trepidation, I figured it would be okay.
But it did make me feel more comfortable when he told me he found two N95 masks in his home. He has no idea when, where, or why he got them, though I guess it had something to do with my mom. But with wearing one of them, I really am not too concerned about him going out anymore. In fact, he has begun to do his own grocery shopping again. But still, such necessary trips are the only times he goes out.
But in regard to my mom, if she were still alive, she would need to stay at home. Her situation would be far different than my dad’s situation. She would be at great risk of serious CV consequences. As such, she would need to continue to shelter in place for the foreseeable future.
That would only end when a viable treatment be the CV became widely available. Sadly, the hydroxychloroquine/ azithromycin combo the President and others have touted is not proving to be a viable treatment, though trials are still ongoing. But another drug has shown promise. And many trials of many different drugs are being researched, so hopefully, one or more will prove to be safe and effective in the near future.
Regrettably, people like my mom will need to continue to shelter in place until that time. But I would guess, if she were still alive, just as with nursing home residents, we would probably put into place a system of people being able to come to visit her if they had been recently tested or were wearing a mask when they did so. But even then, again, no hugging, kissing, and getting too close. But a person such as my mom needs the company, so you cannot completely isolate them.
In fact, on my local news was a report about a funeral home director who said he has buried more elderly in the past few weeks than ever before. But he said these are not elderly dying in nursing homes from the CV. They are elderly who live at home alone. He believes they are dying not from the CV but from being too afraid to leave their homes to keep doctor’s appointments or even to buy food.
If you have an elderly relative or friend, please check on them. Call if you can. If you need to visit them to be sure they are okay, wear a mask and keep your distance if possible. And if they need groceries, as I did with my dad, offer to do the shopping for them. And encourage them to keep their doctor’s appointments if at all possible. Most doctor’s offices are now offering telemedicine appointments, so help them to understand how to do that if they cannot figure it out for themselves.
Finally, I have no idea where to draw the line between the “elderly” and the non-elderly. As I am approaching what could be considered elderly myself, I tend to label as “old” anyone at least ten years older than I am at the moment. In that case, at this time, “elderly” would mean 69. But most would draw the line at 65. I will use that age, even though it means I am not too far from it.
This four-part article is continued at: My Multi-Group Plan for Overcoming the Coronavirus Crisis (Plus Additional Coronavirus Information and an Overview of the Crisis) - Part Two.
A Comprehensive Guide to Bible and Science Based Nutrition
See My Multi-Group Plan for Overcoming the Coronavirus Crisis: References.
My Multi-Group Plan for Overcoming the Coronavirus Crisis (Plus Additional Coronavirus Information and an Overview of the Crisis) Part One. Copyright © 2020 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
Tearing the USA Apart
From Kavanaugh, to Incivility, to Caravans, to Violence, to the 2018 Midterm Elections, and Beyond
The United States of American is being torn about by political differences more than any time since the 1960s and maybe since the Civil War of the 1860s. This division was amplified by political events in the summer to fall of 2018. This time period could prove to be seminal in the history of the United States. This tearing apart came to the forefront and was amplified during the confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This book overviews the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings in detail. It then overviews these additional major events that occurred up to the end of November 2018.
The above article was posted on this website May 2, 2020.
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