By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (6/22/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
The most important news comes from English nurse teacher Dr. John Campbell. I covered this a week ago but it’s worthy of more attention.
In this Saturday podcast Campbell starts with dexamethasone before emphasizing Vitamin D. Dexamethasone trial data came out a week ago; I did not mention it in my last edition because it is for treating critically ill patients on ventilators, I used the space to emphasize prevention. But there is optimism it will save lives. Vitamin D has more universal importance for us both in treating symptoms and possibly helping prevent the spread. Campbell covers Vitamin D study results starting at the 5:40 minute mark including insight about possible linkage of higher Black and Asian Coronavirus mortality and Vitamin D deficiency based on living in northern latitudes and having darker skin pigmentation. Most of Vitamin D comes form the interaction of sunlight on skin, with the lighter one’s skin the more Vitamin D production.
There are other treatments making the news. A study of 20,000 patients who received blood transfusions (convalescent plasma) shows early treatment may help patients develop stronger immune systems limiting severe events. The study is not conclusive because during a pandemic patients are also receiving other treatments. Ridgeback Biotherapeutics has cleared Phase 1 safety trials for a drug codenamed EIDD-2801, also meant to keep patients from becoming seriously ill and is also targeted for home use for milder cases that can be dealt with through self-quarantine. And a possible vaccine from Oxford University shows potential for a first vaccine available before the end of the year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci offered some Coronavirus comments this week. As the pattern of increasing Coronavirus cases in the United States gains steam Fauci offered, with 2 million cases and 120,000 deaths we should not be focused on a second wave, “unfortunately for us, we still are in the first wave”. Fauci noted, “One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are, for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable, they just don’t believe science.”
One state that is setting daily records for new cases is Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) had barred cities or municipalities from implementing lockdowns or imposing requirements for wearing masks. Ducey relented last week and has now allowed cities to impose and enforce mask policies. The largest cities in Arizona responded by immediately issuing policies.
Texas is another state setting records for new daily cases and the mayors of nine major cities issued pleas to residents to wear masks. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) then responded by calling an afternoon briefing today (6/22) – but no questions can be asked and the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News are banned from attending. On Friday Abbott provided a reopening update – carnivals and amusement parks are now allowed to reopen.
The award for stupidity goes to…
But Florida wins the award for stupidest guidance issued by a Governor. Gov. Ron ‘Mini-Trump’ DeSantis (R-FL) offered a very Trumpian explanation for Florida’s own record numbers of new cases, pointing to the source of the problem is “overwhelmingly Hispanic”, blaming migrant workers and construction workers.
But DeSantis will always be the pretender as long as Trump is in the White House. Trump’s poorly attended Tulsa, Oklahoma rally had him explaining, “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down please.”
You can tell when Trump says something particularly stupid or insulting: his panicked staff rushes to tell us we didn’t hear what we just heard or it was just a joke. Isn’t it even worse if Trump is joking about the deaths of 120,000 citizens? This is not the first time Trump has criticized testing, last week Trump told the Wall Street Journal that testing was “overrated”.
Local Tulsa, Oklahoma officials asked Trump to not hold his rally in a state as the city was experiencing a Coronavirus outbreak. But — of course — Trump did not care or listen and just hours before the rally the campaign disclosed that six campaign staff and advance persons for the rally tested positive for Coronavirus. These people had been there for days working without masks. Trump’s response is pure ugly Trump:
How dare this news and these people risk making Trump look bad, as if the Coronavirus is a real thing that anyone needs to be concerned with.
I have been operating with a notion that many are not able to relate to a pandemic if they have not had close experience with family, friends, co-workers… contracting the virus. But here is a Trump supporter ahead of the rally offering his view:
“We had a friend who died from Covid, and his son was on a ventilator, he almost died. So we know it’s real, but then at the same time you don’t know what the facts are, you feel like maybe one side plays it one way and the other side plays it another.”
The video shows the “Trump rallygoer sans mask”.
Failure of American leadership
Trump is cheerleading reopening. All of us want that, but why do so many leaders offer a false choice of reopening or our health instead of just leading properly? If we acted sooner and self-isolated fewer people would have died. If congressional leaders of both parties had provided the kind of financial and healthcare support other nations offered their citizens to isolate, fewer people would have died. If leaders were willing to issue and enforce mask requirements fewer people would have died.
We lack the collective will to all wear masks while watching the number of new daily Coronavirus cases increase — again. It’s like Fauci is right, it’s not the second wave, we’ve not handled the first wave yet. Anti-science is trumping science in many decisions and many locales. And people are dying who don’t have to die.
It’s like we’ve moved on. The majority of deaths in rural outbreaks are prisons, nursing homes, meatpacking plants, migrant workers – older people and persons of color. Black Lives Matter underscores our systemic culture of disregard for Blacks and thank goodness protests are raising awareness where even a pandemic could not.
I talked to a friend from Australia, which has a population of 23 million people, about the size of Florida (22 million), not as big as Texas (29 million). Australia has 7,500 confirmed cases (Florida has 97,000, Texas has 113,000) with 112 deaths. Texas and Florida are both ‘cooking the books’ but still report 2,200 and 3,200 related deaths. I asked, with its own streak of independence, how can you explain this? He offered, “Australians are pioneers but we also have a strong community spirit hardened by the recent years of fighting the fires”. His view, Australians listen and if you offer a good explanation will agree to “get on with it”.
The governor of Texas won’t let two major city newspapers attend a briefing. Trump is mad because someone spilled the beans that six of his advance team tested positive.
If we lack community spirit to do what is best for all during a pandemic, what are waiting for? As we’ve seen in Wisconsin and other states and are likely to see more of in November, Republicans are demanding we only get to vote if we are willing to risk our health if not our lives. Large voter turnout is thought to be favorable for Democrats. I have to agree, if the Wisconsin Republican legislature is unnecessarily willing to risk ‘our’ lives to vote – they do not deserve to be our leadership and that would be true for anyone in a position to impose unsafe policies for control of power.
We’re not done with the first wave. Be safe!