20 March 2020 – Friday – #5

I need to rant today and I’m not sugarcoating it.

When you die of Covid-19, you drown while coughing up your own blood.

I spoke with friends and family in California, Mexico, and Brazil yesterday. No one is taking Covid-19 seriously enough in any of these places. In the SF Bay Area, Home Depot is considered an essential service. Even bike shops are considered essential services in San Francisco. Here in Spain, where Covid-19 mortality continues its exponential climb, here are the essential services:

  • Healthcare, either doctor or pharmacy
  • Food, grocery stores or restaurant delivery
  • Mail, although I haven’t seen any in days
  • ATMs
  • Travel to work if you can’t telecommute

That’s it. Otherwise you get a fine for being outside. What does that look like? When I was walking home from my doctor’s office, I snapped a photo along Avinguda Diagonal. Diagonal is like Fifth Avenue in New York or Van Ness in San Francisco or Sunset in Los Angeles. See all the people? No, of course you don’t. That’s what a proper lockdown looks like.

As my friend Neil in San Francisco points out, it’s an absurd privilege to insist that every service you want is available. If you think your inconvenience is more important than public health, remember …

When you die of Covid-19, you drown while coughing up your own blood.

Today I’m pissed off about the entire debate about “Chinese Virus,” an obvious ploy by the president to divide the country and to put his followers in the position of defending him, about justifying his use of the word, so they don’t have to defend his miserable response to Covid-19.

Yes, the president has replaced “Corona” with “Chinese.” Why is he doing this? For one thing, because he ignored the pandemic advice from his own administration from last year. For another, because he denied most of this year that there was a Covid-19 problem. Here’s a video recapping what Trump has said about Covid-19 so far this year.

Trump’s well-documented inaction and misdirection on Covid-19 were to support his re-election. He didn’t want bad case numbers. This is what he doesn’t want anyone to remember now that it’s clear that the pandemic is as bad as his administration predicted last year. This is why he’s using the word “Chinese.” Also, as the newly self-anointed commander in the war on the virus, he needs an enemy. Don’t buy it. Don’t take the bait. It’s just a distraction from the real problem.

In case you forgot while you were ranting about the word “Chinese,” the real problem is …

When you die of Covid-19, you drown while coughing up your own blood.

The US federal government in general and Republicans in particular have an enormous credibility gap. It’s not just the administration. Yesterday reports surfaced that two Republican senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee dumped stock on January 24th and 26th after hearing closed-door testimony about Covid-19. Then they kept the danger of Covid-19 a secret, as did the administration. Now these senators, as well as Trump, are complicit in the spread of Covid-19 and the hideous fatalities that will result.

As in the time of AIDS, people need to pray the federal government will wake up to the reality and assume that it won’t, because …

When you die of Covid-19, you drown while coughing up your own blood.

My niece in New York had a discussion with her three roommates about protecting their apartment from Covid-19. She’s expressed concern that her roommates might have Covid-19. My New York photographer friend has employees working in her place. She’s worried about her health. A San Francisco artist posted in Facebook yesterday about the need for gay men he knows to talk to each other about bringing home Grindr dates to a shared living space.

This is on the minds of people who share a living space or a work space. In other words, it’s on pretty much everyone’s mind. In any group setting, the person who is least compliant with Covid-19 precautions is the group’s weakest link against Covid-19.

In the days of AIDS, sex was a dance with death. Gay men had to learn to squeeze in a conversation about HIV status, condoms, and sexual preferences in the lusty moment between first passion and full-on sex. It was a learned skill. The drag queens taught us, showing up at bars, demonstrating to us how to roll a condom over a banana, giving us the language to speak to our future ex’s.

Today’s roommates and workmates need to have the same kind of candid discussion about sharing a space. Today. They need to have it today. The president won’t tell you how to do this. He cares about himself and his re-election. The senators are busy lining their pockets.

I can help you. Here’s a way to start a discussion with roommates and workmates:

I heard that ,,,

When you die of Covid-19, you drown while coughing up your own blood.

During the days of Great Plague, this was the ditty:

Ring-a-round the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes! Ashes!

We all fall down.

There’s scholarly dispute about whether this ditty is actually from the Great Plague, but here’s its generally accepted interpretation. A ring around a rosie is a sign of a flea bite and infection. Posies were used to ward off the disease. Once someone died, they were cremated. No one was going to survive.

For the Covid-19 plague we have science and technology. We’re beyond posies as deterrents to disease. The problem responding to Covid-19 is not about having the resources, it’s about organizing and prioritizing our resources. If the US federal government were competent and credible, it could lead that effort. Right now, it is neither.

What I think we need:

  • Best practices for personal and group decontamination. In addition to my own decontamination process that I published yesterday, I put two others at the top of the 17 March entry. I’ve seen other decontamination information online. Where’s the study or the trusted organization that’s providing best practices Covid-19 decontamination that result in reduced infection?
  • Best practices for public health. Taiwan, South Korea, and China all claim to have passed peak Covid-19 infection. In the absence of a vaccine or treatment, this is the best hope. WHO or another organization should publish steps that worked in these three cases. This can be implemented as soon as governments get on board and deploy to their populations.
  • Test kits. Where are they? Everything I read says that testing is the most effective way to manage outbreaks. For instance, this study in Italy where the virus was stopped in its tracks. And there are significant new developments for large-scale antibody testing. Sure, you can manage Covid-19 without testing, but it requires many more people to comply with public health regulations and shuts down more of the economy. Of all the faults of the Trump administration, lack of test kits is the most glaring. Spain could do better, too.
  • Organized development of vaccines and treatments. I’m not so worried about vaccines because there are many candidates and the timelines are all about the same. For treatments, there are many claims, but little organized study or, if there is organized study, someone needs to publicize it.

There were a lot of other things I wanted to write about today, but I needed to vent.

Stay safe and make informed choices because …

When you die of Covid-19, you drown while coughing up your own blood.

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