One year ago, when Wuhan locked down 50 million people in the worlds largest ever hard quarantine, I took that as a warning. Our POTUS and his administration did not.
Since that time, I have assumed I was dead from C-19 and I just did not know it yet. My underlying conditions give me a small or very small chance of surviving it. Like I said, I am a bug on the windshield of Coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 kills you by drowning or slow suffocation or both. You drown in your own mucous, slowly. Medical science drags that out and if your very lucky you survive.
I will most likely die that way even if there was no C-19, unless I am lucky and space junk falls on my head or a bus hits me or something. I am guaranteed to die that way unless something unforeseen takes me early. That is my underlying condition.
It’s not like I did not earn it. I started smoking at 9, and was a pack a day smoker by 11 and continued for my whole life. At 30 I began what I called the endless quit. I tried everything and had some success, a couple of years clean at best. Stress from life events is always what got me. I would go through some very stressful event and discover myself smoking. Honestly, discover myself smoking. No recollection of buying the damn death sticks, no recollection of being given one, just realizing “Hey! What the hell? I was off these things!”.
The habit during times of stress and the reality that nicotine hides in your bone marrow would combine. In a grief state, a fugue like stressed out mental state I would be offered a smoke and with no conscious thought I would smoke it and become as much a cigarette junkie as I had ever been. I even bummed them and bought them with no conscious thought, only to realize I was smoking again. In the movie “Sin City” there’s a line which was for me a truism “A smokers always a smoker when the chips are down”. That was me.
So, when they diagnosed me with COPD (Read Emphysema), I knew that I was not breaking free of nicotine. I did however have a 15-year history of trying to quit and what helped and what did not. If I continued smoking, I had a year or two, if I stopped, I might have 20, so I stopped smoking and kept the nicotine. I have been using nicotine lozenges ever since. My COPD actually improved slightly and has remained static for five years now. I still jones for smokes during this pandemic sometimes and I often dream of smoking. I am a nicotine addict.
Coronavirus plus my smoke ravaged lungs most likely equals death. So, I am attempting to avoid it but I assume I am dead from it and just don’t know it yet. I live in one room, and have for a year now. If I go downstairs for a coffee, food or the facilities, I am masked up. I run a HEPA in my room and sealed the door like you would an exterior door in winter, with weather stripping. It is far from perfect, but resistant to outside airflow that does not come from my window, which I keep open once it is warm enough. Today it is below zero out there, so no ‘fresh’ air, just hepa air.
To me this is not depressing, just realistic and sad. I earned this fate, the American people did not. My personal reality has now become reality for everyone, and they are not like me. They are not realists who are hardened by embracing realism, hardened skeptical realists in the vein of “House”.
Most people have or hold dear some kind of ‘magical thinking’. They believe in Gods, or God, or Jesus and resurrection from the dead, or Souls, or Karma, or some sort of unproven, unprovable something. They have a ‘spiritual life’ when spirit has never been shown to exist. Magical thinking is something all children have but most adults grow out of. Religious and spiritual beliefs keep the door of magical thought cracked open, not shut and locked like my own.
In NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) I was taught that the first, and often most dangerous reaction of humans to a viral threat is denial. No one wants to believe it, and they will manufacture reasons why it cannot be so. They will rationalize the danger away rather than face the grim reality. Those who still have some or a lot of magical thinking in their world view may embrace an assortment of rationales for this denial. Religious thought plays a big role in this.
Through my digital window to the world, I have heard and seen people say many things that are denials, but coached in their religious world view. “Jesus will protect me” “Only God decides who gets the virus and who does not, if he wants me to get it then no matter what I do I will get it. No need for a mask, it’s up to God” Religious magical thinking like this is also spewed from pulpits, and in a few instances has caused outbreaks while railing against masks.
For a year our ‘leader’, Donald Trump as POTUS, looked for any and every excuse to downplay the virus. Much of his base is swimming in magical thought patterns. The Q Anon phenomenon speaks directly into that form of magical thinking. In a way, for many, it is easier to believe that some dark cannibalistic conspiracy is at work than to admit we face a novel virus. A virus we do not know enough about, which spreads without visible symptoms, and kills.
A boogeyman you can see is less terrifying than one who is hidden from your sight. Trump exploited those fears by using Q Anon. White nationalists will continue to exploit Q Anon followers as cannon fodder. The GOP is embracing this as a political practicality. This is the radicalization of America, an actual American Taliban, a Christo-Fascist movement coached in conspiracy, magical thinking, and based on fear.
All of this plays into the viral reality by aiding the virus as people deny the efficacy of masks and gather for rallies and riots. These people were ripe for the picking. They were fed the big lie “It’s all rigged against me”, for years by Trump. The Virus cost a lot of them their jobs or left them at home with nothing but time, so they went onto a platform like FB, and then the echo algorithms fed them bullshit and the grew those magical conspiratorial thoughts and beliefs like mushrooms. In this way the wacked out ideas of Q Anon became mundane to their magical thinking. They became a mainstream staple of the GOP.
The result was the assault on the Capitol on January 6, killing and beating police on the way. A Hedy brew of magical thought and conspiracy used to manipulate the masses, most of whom think they were doing good. Upon arrest they uniformly say “The President invited us”.
Trump encouraged this for years. The Q Anon movement and the white nationalists who have been cheering Trump since before he was elected, all stormed our Capitol together. Q Anon and social media conspiracies have become normalized. We now have members in Congress who openly say “Secret Jew lasers caused the wildfires”, that mass shootings in schools were faked, and even insisting they can carry firearms into Congress after claiming that Nancy Pelosi needs to be shot in the head. For these behaviors the GOP elevated them. They did not eschew them, but rewarded them, giving them a choice seat on the education committee.
This Q Anon movement has become the GOP. The GOP either also believes it, or finds it politically viable not to denounce it. Six people died that day from the violence, many police were seriously wounded and one was killed. Nonetheless the ‘Law and Order’ POTUS and GOP want to just ignore the whole thing, act like it did not happen.
All of this helps the virus. All of our focus is on this insurrection/Q Anon/ bullshit instead of the actual threat. The gatherings from Trumps rallies, from the January 6 insurrection and before that, all summer long the just protests for racial equality; they all helped the virus along. Virus is apolitical.
All of these things combine into a denialism persistent in our nation. All of these things turn our focus elsewhere, off the ball of combating the Virus.
On the right many have combined to create a perfect petri dish of misinformation, social media, and magical thinking; all enabling the virus to breed and spread.
Now in this black winter we are all paying the price for all of it. Every time a person is infected with C-19, the virus breeds in them. Every time it reproduces there is a tiny chance it will be a mutation. This is evolution in real time. Most mutations are not superior to the survival of the virus, but rarely they are.
Each infected person creates thousands of chances for mutation so as the infection level increases it become inevitable that some mutation will be more viable. We already have several that are more viable. More contagious than the original by 50% or more. It is also inevitable that some mutation will be more lethal, or resistant to the vaccines we are developing. One, from South Africa which is already loose and spreading in our American communities is both more contagious and less responsive to the antibodies for the original version, the one the vaccines were based upon.
In short; our magical thinking and conspiracy beliefs for political gains as well as political action for criminal justice reform and racial equity, all allowed the bug to become more dangerous. We threw gas on the fire as a nation, and were encouraged to do so by our leader, Donald Trump. As the Trump Impeachment 2.0 is approaching the GOP denies the event and embraces Q Anon while we Americans die at a rate unseen in history. Over 3000 per day and often more than that, and the rate of infection and death is still accelerating.
Dr. Fauci is now encouraging people to be vaccinated just to stop viral replication and mutation of the virus. The numbers illustrate why. The wobble persists, infections down and deaths up or deaths down and infections up, but the trend overall is ‘Up, Up and Away” but no beautiful balloons are to be seen. In Brazil they are building vertical graves to stack the dead. As the GOP embraces conspiracies and ignores the viral reality, we are dying at a record rate.
We now have several variant strains of C-19. Italian, Chinese, UK, Brazilian, and South African. The Italian and Chinese were the first strains we detected and are being rapidly replaced by the UK, Brazilian, and South African strains because all three are 50%-70% more contagious. That is an advantageous mutation for the virus, which is detrimental to humanity. The South African also appears to be somewhat resistant to the old antibodies as well, making vaccines less effective.
A less effective vaccine does not equal ineffective. Imagine your about to be in a head on car collision. What would you rather be driving?
A 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, with the trunk in front, belt seat belts and no air bag?
A 1975 Chevy with a front engine, lap belts, and no air bag?
A 1985 Toyota with a front engine, ratcheting shoulder/lap belts, and no air bag ?
A 1995 Buick with a front engine, ratcheting shoulder/lap belts, impact crumple zones, and no air bag ?
A 2005 BMW with a front engine, ratcheting shoulder/lap belts, impact crumple zones, and driver side airbag?
A 2015 Ford with a front engine, ratcheting shoulder/lap belts, impact crumple zones, and front and side airbags?
The less effective vaccines would be like the older autos, and the more effective ones more like the modern ones. The science is telling us that all of the vaccines are more like the BMW or modern Ford, making you much more likely to survive but not preventing the crash itself like our most modern smart cars attempt to do.
About the numbers, the first number of each entry is last week, the second is todays count. The increase and average are derived from those.
Global Infected 98,817,191 102,663,887
7-day average 549,528 infections diagnosed daily
Global Dead 2,122,179 2,221,737
7-day average 14,222 deaths daily
USA Infected 24,995,419 26,076,028
7-day average 154,372 infections diagnosed daily
USA C-19 deaths 417,441 439,536
7-day average 3,156 deaths daily
Maine Infected 36,958 39,168
7-day average 315 infections diagnosed daily
Maine deaths 544 590
7-day average 6.5714 deaths daily
Somehow, I am still alive, but while I hid in my hilltop viral hideout, which I call home, 99,558 people died of C-19, of those 22,095 were my fellow Americans, and of those 46 are my fellow Mainers.