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
This four-part article is continued from My Multi-Group Plan for Overcoming the Coronavirus Crisis (Plus Additional Coronavirus Information and an Overview of the Crisis) – Part Three.
A serious long-term ramification of the approach of the authorities in dealing with the Coronavirus (CV) is its deleterious effect on the US economy. That will occur due to the exploded national debt, the bankruptcy of state and local governments, the continuing high unemployment rates, and the coming hyper-inflation due to the printing of money needed to cover the costs of the bloated relief packages. It will take years for many local and state government to recover financially, and the federal government will never pay off its debt.
Unemployment in the U.S. is swelling to levels last seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with 1 in 6 American workers thrown out of a job by the coronavirus.
More than 4.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the government said Thursday [4/23/20]. In all, roughly 26 million people — the population of the 10 biggest U.S. cities combined — have now filed for jobless aid in five weeks, an epic collapse that has raised the stakes in the debate over how and when to ease the shutdowns of factories and other businesses (Trib. Coronavirus pushes).
A recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a burst of government spending on testing, health care and aid to businesses and households will nearly quadruple the government’s budget deficit to $3.7 trillion, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday [4/24/20]…. The report is full of gloomy economic news, predicting a devastating hit to the economy this quarter at an annualized rate of decline of 40%, accompanied by a 14% unemployment rate (Trib. CBO).
The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% pace in the first quarter as the coronavirus spread, the steepest contraction since the last recession… The U.S. economy shrank at its fastest pace since the last recession in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic shut down large parts of the country, signaling the end of the longest economic expansion on record (WSJ).
Consumer spending, the engine of the U.S. economy, plunged by 7.5 percent in March as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to close and triggered a massive surge of job losses. The Commerce Department’s report said the biggest monthly decline recorded came as “consumers canceled, restricted or redirected their spending.” Consumer spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. GDP and has been a key driver of the economy in recent years (Fox Business. Consumer).
More than 3.8 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday [4/30/20], as the tidal wave of job losses triggered by the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow. The new report, which covers the week ending April 25, pushes the six-week total of job losses since states adopted strict stay-at-home measures to 30.2 million. Unemployment at this scale hasn’t been recorded since the Great Depression, when the jobless rate peaked at 25 percent. With a total workforce of about 162 [million] individuals, this brings the unemployment rate [to] around 18.5 percent… Economists expect growth in the second quarter to hit a historical low, with some estimates as low as a 34 percent decline (Fox Business. Over).
U.S. home sales showed signs of collapsing in March, as the number of contract signs plunged sharply because of the coronavirus outbreak (Trib. U.S.).
Most economists are predicting the unemployment rate will reach 20% before it starts to go back down again after states begin reopening. But even once that happens, few think the unemployment rate will ever get back down to the 3.5% it was before this whole crisis began. That means potentially millions of American will remain out of work long-term.
Moreover, part of the “phase three” relief package was to add $600 to the normal state unemployment weekly payments for up to four months. US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he calculated that the additional money figures out to the unemployed in his state making $22.50/ hour. That is more than many people make working, so that extra unemployment money will be a disincentive for people to go back to work when their state begins to open up. Many people might just stay out of work longer than necessary, slowing down the recovery. “Because the CARES Act senselessly extends these expansive benefits through July 31, it’s making it nearly impossible to bring any workers back into the fold until that time” (Washington Examiner).
But this disincentive to go back to work is by design. It will enable governors to appear to lift stay at home and business closure orders. But people will choose not to go back to work, effectively extending those orders until July 31. That will get the people screaming for openings off of the governors’ backs while still keeping their states shut down.
Further delaying a full return to normal operations will be the fear the media has instilled in people. Even once businesses reopen, it will be hard for many to draw customers back to their stores and other places of business.
There are many conservatives who believe this is all a concerted effect to keep the economy down until after November 3, to ensure that President Trump does not get reelected. I don’t know if I completely agree with that assessment. But it is true that by and large states with Republican governors have had less severe restrictions and are reopening faster than states with Democratic governors.
But those blue states are the ones that are clamoring for the federal government to bail them out of their self-imposed economic woes. If that happens, it will have the effect of those in red states, whose states did not take as much of an economic hit, paying for the ill-choices of the governors of blue states.
However, to end this section on a positive note, the Dow saw its best month in a decade in April, according to FBN. That is because it had its worst month ever by far in March. The Dow regained about half of its value in April that it had lost in March. That is encouraging, though it means, it still has 50% more to go just get to where it was before this whole crisis began.
Seven States Without Stay at Home Orders
There are seven states that never issued statewide stay at home orders. They are: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. All seven have Republican governors. This is not to say these states did not have some restrictions, and some counties within these states issued stay at home orders. But there was not the blanket statewide stay at home orders seen in the other 43 states.
The reason for not issuing statewide stay at home orders is best summed up by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, “It’s not about staying home, it’s about avoiding contact” (CBS News). I made that very point in my article Nursing Home Deaths.
Then the following comment by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem echoes what I said in Part One of this article, “South Dakota is not New York City.” Later she urged residents, “not to turn on the news and look at NYC and think that that’s what Lemmon, South Dakota is going to face in a month” (CBS News).
It will be interesting to see what happens long-term in these seven states versus the other 43 states. Will the 43 states with stay at home orders see rebounds in CV cases and deaths as their stay at homes orders end that push their CV death numbers per capita higher than in these seven states? Or will there end up being more CV deaths per capita in these seven states than in the other 43 states? Only time will answer that question.
Personally, I think in the end, there will be no statistical difference in the per capita CV deaths in these seven states versus the 43 states that issued stay at home orders. From what I can determine, that is already the case. But the math gets quite complicated, and it is an ever-changing target, as more cases and deaths are still being reported. But what we do know now is the economies of these seven states were not as adversary affected by the CV crisis as in the other 43 states. That will put them in a better position to recover after this crisis is over.
In fact, I heard on NBC Radio News on April 30 that supporters were in front of Gov. Noem’s home, praising and thanking her for not having shut down their state. As a result, South Dakota has not experienced the economic devastation and loss of freedom of most other states. That is a far cry from the many protests against the stay at home orders and business closures seen against the other 43 governors.
The following quote expresses an important sentiment and echoes what I have been saying:
“We’re doing what we would do for the flu, with older people sheltering in place and the rest of us taking the best care we can,” says Brian Joens, whose Iowa City eatery, Joensy’s, is doing a brisk take-out business of its fabled pork tenderloin. “But let’s be honest, what country do we live in?” says Joens. “It’s the USA, which is freedom, freedom to choose. When we get notes from the government saying do this or do that, it feels like that’s not what this country is built on. People should be smart, and you live with your choices” (USA Today).
In addition, the residents of these seven states will not have experienced the adverse mental health consequences of the stay at home orders that will be discussed in a moment. But first, I want to revisit something I wrote previously.
My Seasonal Flu vs. CV Prediction
Back on March 18, in my article, Sadness, Predictions, and More on the Coronavirus, I wrote:
To be clear, yes, the CV is a big deal. I have never denied that. In the end, probably tens of millions of Americans will be infected by it, and tens of thousands will die. Whether it ends up impacting more people than the seasonal flu remains to be seen. But more people will be adversely affected long term by the economic impact of the draconian approaches being instituted than ever would be by the virus.
I initially wrote just “millions” and “thousands” not “tens of millions” and “tens of thousands,” but I later changed it, as the seasonal flu always infects tens of millions and kills tens of thousands not just millions and thousands, respectively. And I wanted to compare the seasonal flu to the CV.
In any case, how do they compare? As stated previously article, the death rate of the seasonal flu is usually about 0.1%, while the death rate of the CV is now projected to be 0.5%. Also, the contagion rate of the CV is said to be greater than the flu. Some have estimated it to be about three times as contagious as the flu, though I have some doubts about that, as I explain elsewhere. But be that as it may, those two facts together mean it is logical to assume the CV in the end will sadly kill more people than the seasonal flu.
I previously cited the figure of 80,000 deaths for the 2017-18 flu season. But that was an exceptional year. A more “average” year is about half of that, or about 40,000 deaths. This flu season (2019-20), for instance, the CDC estimates there have been “24,000 – 62,000 flu deaths.” The average of these two numbers is 43,000. That is out of an estimated “39,000,000 – 56,000,000 flu illnesses” (CDC. 2019-20, as of April 4, 2020).
As already stated, as of April 29, there were 1,004,908 cases of the CV and 57,812 CV deaths in the USA. But I also said, I think the number of cases is far greater based on antibody testing. I also have assumed ultimately there will be 100,000 CV deaths. With a 0.5% death rate, that would mean 20 million Americans would need to be infected to reach that number of deaths.
Thus, if these numbers end up being about right, the number of CV infections would be a bit less than this season’s flu , but due to the higher death rate, more Americans would have died from the CV than from the seasonal flu. That answers my first question, about if the CV will prove to more severe than the flu. Yes, it probably will be, by about 2.5 times as much as a normal seasonal flu and 20% worse than the worst flu seasons. Is that degree of difference worth the tens of millions of lives ruined by the draconian measures? Only the reader can answer that question for yourself.
Of course, you could play with these numbers and get different proportions, and only time will tell what the exact numbers end up being for the CV But in the end, you still would not have an orders of magnitude difference between the CV and the seasonal flu.
Now, some will say that if we had not done the draconian measures, more would have been infected, so more would have died. Not necessarily. Remember, the whole “flatten the curve” thing was not about reducing the number of cases overall. It was designed to spread those cases out over a longer period of time so as not to overwhelm our healthcare system, as I explain in Part Two of my article Different Perspective in Dealing with the Coronavirus.
As such, in the end, the number of cases would have been about the same with or without the restrictions. That will be proven if my prediction about the seven states without statewide stay at home orders end up with about the same number of cases and deaths per capita as the 43 states with such orders.
Note also, most authorities end their predictions for CV cases and deaths in August of this year. That is probably because the seasonal flu statistics end in August each year. Starting September 1st, it is considered to be a new flu season. As such, the same should go for the CV to have an apples to apples comparison. Thus, cases and deaths from the CV from September on should not be added to the current numbers. They should start anew for the new CV season. But I would bet the media will not do that. They will keep adding the numbers. That is important, as if the CV does end up being with us for an extended period of time, continually adding to the numbers will make it appear to be orders of magnitude worse than the flu, when in fact, it is only somewhat so.
And it Begins …
An article in my local newspaper chronicled a sad story of a three-year old boy who was physically and sexually abused by his stepfather. The abuse was so bad, the child was hospitalized and later died. The newspaper did not indicate if it had anything to do with the CV shutdowns, but it did say the abuse began on March 20. That is when the shutdowns began here in PA. The article also did not say if the stepfather had lost his job as a result of the closures. But we do know that the closures have increased stress to such a degree that domestic violence has increased. Also increasing are the self-destructive behaviors I warned about previously. Following is documentation for these tragic points.
The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour received 25% more calls after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown (Guardian)
The current crisis also makes it more difficult for victims to seek help. As medical facilities around the world scramble to respond to the coronavirus, health systems are becoming overloaded, making it more difficult for victims to get access to medical care or therapists. “In the best of circumstances, women already have a hard time being heard,” Bhatia says. For many women, even the fear of contracting the coronavirus is stopping them from seeking out medical care after experiencing physical abuse (Time).
Organizations providing assistance to victims of domestic violence report an increase in cases of physical and verbal abuse since the Stay at Home Order was issued in response to the coronavirus outbreak (NBC Los Angeles).
The Air Force Academy initially imposed drastic isolation on its cadets due to the coronavirus, but had to reverse course after two tragic suicides. Domestic violence is another real concern: Not having a place to go, even for an hour, may greatly worsen conditions in some households (Atlantic).
People’s mental health has been taking a collective toll in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Along with the tens of thousands of deaths happening across the world, the virus has caused economic struggles due to businesses closing indefinitely and major events being pushed back or canceled altogether. Such stressors have caused suicide reports to surface around the globe along with an increase in suicide calls across the U.S (Newsone).
More People Died From Suicide Than Coronavirus In Tennessee This Week. Knox County, Tennessee saw nine deaths by suicide within 48 hours this week [of 3/27/20] as doomsday predictions over the novel Wuhan coronavirus panics an already anxious public and leaves millions unemployed and isolated… Allysen Efferson, a therapist in east Tennessee told The Federalist that the link between suicide and financial hardship has been well established and that policymakers should be taking the current epidemic over suicide already at play into account when crafting measures to counter the virus (Federalist).
Study Finds Coming Economic Crisis Could Lead to 831,600 Suicides! — That is Four Times the Number of Estimated Coronavirus Deaths (Gateway).
Note: This number of suicides is based on a study that found for every, “1% increase in the annual unemployment rate, approximately 21 additional suicides per 100,000 of the population can be expected.” But that assumes the suicide rate due to unemployment in this crisis will be the same as with previous economic downturns. However, there is a big difference this time. There is a good chance the high unemployment numbers will be temporarily, as most of the lost jobs will come back when things begin to reopen. However, some will not. It will be when we find out what the unemployment rate is after the reopenings that this figure will come into play.
Remember, we started at about a 3.5% unemployment rate. If a few months from now that rate is still higher than that, then that calculation will come not play. The point is, the economic and resultant emotional impact of the shutdowns will be with us for some time to come.
Meanwhile, one of the solutions for the pandemic -- social isolation -- could prove disastrous for mental health. “Social distancing and isolation are triggers for people with mental health issues,” said Singh. “Humans being don’t do well with isolation,” Duckworth added. However, he believes that technology will help keep connections alive as well as patient-doctor contact by telehealth visits. “It will be an experiment. We would have to wait and see how technology will help lessen the impact of the pandemic,” he said (ABC News).
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction:
As the nation gets more stringent about non-essential travel and bans on group gatherings to slow the spread of coronavirus, one expert says the pandemic may result in an unintended rise in drug and alcohol relapses among those who are in recovery. “Yes, we are already starting to see an increase in relapses,” Dayry Hulkow, M.S., a primary therapist at Arete Recovery, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility, told Fox News (Fox News).
In an effort to flatten the curve and minimize the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised Americans to abide by social distancing strategies, by staying home, keeping 6 ft. away from others in public, and at this time, congregating in groups no larger than 10 people.
The challenge with this recommendation, though, is that if you are struggling with alcohol abuse or have an AUD [alcohol use disorder], you may already be feeling alone. Studies have shown social withdrawal increases loneliness and depression, which themselves may be factors associated with substance abuse. In these cases, isolating from friends and family, while important to minimizing the spread of COVID-19, may have an unintended adverse effect as it may take away your ability to socialize with your support system (alcohol.org).
As the social restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic unfold, the potential for harms associated with alcohol and other drugs may increase. Some people may find themselves drinking or using substances more to cope with anxiety, negativity, stress and our changing environment (ADF).
Drug overdoses have increased in Charlotte, according to police, and addiction specialists say they’re concerned people are drinking too much alcohol and resorting to drugs while stuck at home. Since March 26 — when Mecklenburg County began its stay-at-home order — CMPD has responded to 100 emergency calls about drug overdoses. That’s a 24% increase or around 20 additional calls compared to a similar time period last year, said CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano. Out of the 100 calls, ten people died, he said (Charlotte).
People with a history of eating disorders or patterns of disordered eating may be uniquely vulnerable right now, according to experts. “As anxiety increases, which is increasing for everyone, it can be risky for people who don’t have a neutral relationship with food,” Melainie Rogers, executive director of Balance Eating Disorder Treatment Center, told Insider. “When we feel that external factors are out of control, we focus on things we think we can control such as exercise, weight, and food.” …
This can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual, she said. Being unable to go to the gym could prompt panic around exercise, body image, and weight gain. Many gyms and fitness centers have closed their doors to prevent spread of the coronavirus, which has left exercise enthusiasts without their usual source of stress relief. But missing the gym - a mild inconvenience for most people - could be a major source of panic and body image issues for someone with an eating disorder, since EDs [eating disorders] are often accompanied by a compulsion to work out known as exercise addiction (Insider).
On February 26, the Lancet published a review by Samantha Brooks and colleagues from King’s College in London of 24 studies on the psychological impact of quarantine. Most studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Children and adolescents seem particularly at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the review….
People with eating disorders have a high risk of relapsing or worsening the severity of their disorder, due to infection fears and the effect of the quarantine, and for the shortage of adequate psychological and psychiatric treatments due to the pandemic (Psychology Today).
In addition to closed gyms messing up exercise routines, another thing heightening anxiety now is trips to the grocery store, which can already be “paralyzing” for those with eating disorders. McCubbrey says empty grocery store shelves can be triggering, as people either fear taking food away from others, or they want a certain food that’s unavailable, like fresh vegetables. On the opposite token, the food situation has also made things difficult for those with bulimia or binge-eating disorders, as they’re now inclined to stock up and hoard food for fear of a supply shortage (People).
This is all so said and so predictable. But the authorities took none of this into account when they began to issue their stay at home and non-essential business closure orders.
Note also the negative effect the closures of gyms have on those with eating disorders. You can add that to all of the other reasons I have given for why gyms should not have been closed and why now they should be among the first businesses to reopen.
Also, many mental health professionals are concerned we are creating an entire generation of people who will develop various anxiety disorders, like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), due to the constant recommendations to “wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, disinfect everything you touch,” and the like. These constantly repeated directives could be turning the USA in a country of neurotics.
Then the mandates to “stay at home, socially distance, and wear a mask” could be turning us into a country of recluses. Even when out, with staying six feet away from each other and with everyone wearing masks, it makes even idle chitchat impossible.
I’ve noted this in my now three trips to Pittsburgh’s East End Food Co-op since this crisis began. No one is talking to anyone. Even in the checkout line, with Plexiglas separating me from the checkout clerk, and both of us wearing masks, it makes it impossible to make small talk with the checkout clerk as I am used to doing. The checkout clerks must all be feeling quite lonely by now, as are many Americans. That is also not good for people’s mental health.
Even my recommendation for people to eat a healthy diet could be twisted into an eating disorder by people becoming obsessed with eating healthy. That is a cause for concern, though I hope it is outweighed by the benefits of doing so.
But for those with a problem in any of these areas, please seek help from the appropriate professionals. A list of such resources is available on this page of Fox News’ website.
But I will say, I have found the best way to deal with stress and anxiety is through exercise and trusting The LORD Has It Under Control, as the title of one of my books puts it. That then leads to the final sections of this lengthy article.
As stated at the beginning of Part One, this will be my last full-length article on the CV crisis, at least for a while. As such, let me close with where I began, with my own situation and my sport of powerlifting.
As I have explained previously, if it weren’t for my powerlifting contest scheduled for April 4th being canceled and not knowing when my next contest will be, I would have barely noticed the stay at home orders, as I stay at home most of the time, and I practice social distancing as much as possible on the rare occasions I do leave my home. And that will remain the case long after the stay at home orders are lifted. Therefore, when they are, think of me and say a short prayer, as I will still be sitting here alone in my home office or working out alone in my home gym.
But I do want to emphasize that if it were not for my home office and home gym and my trust in the LORD, my physical and mental health would be collapsing right now. I know that without any doubt. That is why I have been so outraged about the closures of businesses, gyms, and churches across the country. It’s not about me; it’s about my concern for my fellow-Americans.
Most Americans are not as fortunate as me to have a job they can do at home, and most do not have a home gym but are dependent on a commercial gym. And many have not learned how to develop a relationship with God in isolation like I have, without the support of a church body. As a result, I am sure many Americans are now in the position I would be if not for these things of seeing a decline in their mental and physical health. That decline then puts them at greater risk of serious CV consequences.
However, my biggest concern right now is about my dad. I hope and pray that if he does contract the CV, he does not have serious consequences as a result. And if I have not had it yet, the same goes for me. For that matter, the same goes for the rest of my extended family. As far as I know, none have been infected as of yet. But some have lost their jobs.
All I can do is pray for all of them, as I continue to pray for the rest of the country. I do hope and pray we make it through this crisis without too many more deaths from the CV and from suicides and other indirect CV related deaths. But only time will tell how severely we have messed up our economy and people’s lives as a result. I hope and pray I am wrong about how severe the impact will be, but I fear I will not be.
Along with needing to get back to work on my Impeach trilogy, another reason this will be my last full-length article on the CV crisis is I’m out of words to express my thoughts and feelings on this whole crisis. Literally, I’m out of words. I’ve already commented much in hopes my thoughts will help someone wade through this crisis. But the stress has gotten to me. I have lost sleep due to stressing over what to say and how best to word my thoughts.
Then the latest jobs numbers on April 30, 2020 showing over 30 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past six weeks have left me speechless and heartbroken. But at least April 30 is also the last day of Trump’s “45 days to slow the spread.” However, most governors are still not ready to reopen their states. Here in PA, Gov. Tom Wolf is only going to begin to reopen on May 8, and then only by regions and in three phases, and my area of southwestern PA is not included the first wave of reopenings.
As such, even more jobs will be lost, many of them permanently. But even with those ongoing restrictions, more lives will be lost due to the CV and due to the shutdowns themselves. In fact, it is almost inevitable that as states reopen, there will be a rebound of new CV cases and deaths. The only question is how big of a surge will be seen in each state. I predicted that such resurges would happen weeks ago and that the shutdowns would prove to have been unnecessary. But we will see how right I was in the days and weeks to come.
Whatever happens in the future, there have already been tens of thousands lives lost, and tens of millions jobs lost. And those trends will continue for at least some time. It is all just too much to keep thinking about. Therefore, I’m done writing about this crisis, at least for a while and at least longer articles like this one. I just thank the LORD I have a home office and home gym. I’m going to bury myself in work and working out, while engaging in private devotional activities to deepen my relationship with the LORD. All I can do now is pray for those affected. Someone wake me when this nightmare is over.
In the meantime, I hope someone takes the time to read through this entire four-part article and finds it helpful. If not, then at least I got all of this off of my chest.
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 Four. 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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