I have to admit I don’t give much thought to “regular flu.” I get my annual vaccination and live as I am called. “Regular” flu is just in the background of living in this modern world. Clearly the pandemic is not “in the background.” When asked when the pandemic would end, Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, replied: “It doesn’t end. We just stop caring. Or we care a lot less. I think for most people, it just fades into the background of their lives.” Continue reading
Category Archives: covid-19
Chaos and covid
The last 19-20 months of pandemic have taken a toll on everyone in one way or the other. We all have stories, anecdotes, experiences, and have participated in “have you heard” conversations. The beginnings of the pandemic were just devoid of information. It was chaos in the normal and the mathematical sense. It is the mathematical sense that always interests me. People confuse chaos with randomness. Actually mathematical chaos is quite predictable – if you understand the initial conditions. Of course, there’s the rub. When I think about the early days of the pandemic we have the initial conditions of (a) a population used to ferreting out information from the internet with relative ease and (b) a situation when there wasn’t information. Into the void…nature hates a vacuum… let loose the dogs of war… take your pick. The milieu was ripe for the lowest denominator of accuracy to provide fuel for conversations from water cooler to talk radio, Facebook to “in the know” sites, and all the existing and emerging channels of information and disinformation. Continue reading
The Triumph of Death is an oil panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted circa 1562. The painting shows a panorama of an army of skeletons wreaking havoc across a blackened, desolate landscape. Fires burn in the distance, and the sea is littered with shipwrecks. The Triumph of Death captured perhaps the greatest event of mass human suffering in the history of civilization: the Black Death (1346–1353). Bouts of plague ravaged Europe intermittently from at least 430-1750; however, it was the period of the Black Death that induced the greatest suffering, claimed the greatest toll of life, and laid the groundwork for the fundamental transformation of the world’s economic and social systems.Continue reading
Deja Vu all over again
Maggie Astor of the New York Times posted an interesting piece – which was interesting all on its own, but is perhaps more interesting given President Biden’s announced covid-19 mandates and actions – and the inevitable push back against them. Ms. Astor’s point is essentially that we as a nation…. “been there, done that.” I would have linked to the article, but that was not feasible – and so I present her work.
“As disease and death reigned around them, some Americans declared that they would never get vaccinated and raged at government efforts to compel them. Anti-vaccination groups spread propaganda about terrible side effects and corrupt doctors. State officials tried to ban mandates, and people made fake vaccination certificates to evade inoculation rules already in place. Continue reading
This post is by no means complete, thorough, or makes any claim to being the last word. It is just a slice of what is out there on September 4th that caught my eye, looked interesting, and so I gave it a read. Maybe you will too.
- Worried About Breakthrough Infections? Here’s How to Navigate This Phase of the Pandemic – New York Times.
- Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future – The Atlantic
- Six Important Questions About Booster Shots Answered – Smithsonian
- The Coronavirus Could Get Worse – The Atlantic
- Pandemic Psychology – The Guardian
A letter from the front lines
When the 1960s came around, the “Greatest Generation” – those men and women who served during World War II were still largely and stoically silent about their wartime experiences – but the television networks began television shows about the war. Series such as “Combat,” “12 O’Clock High,” and “Men at War” became staples of prime time viewing. Knowing things about WWII became part and parcel of determining one’s status within the pack (and here I am referring to Cub Scouts). Sure, you might be able to identify the German Messerschmidt 109 fighter aircraft from a flash card, but the real test was could you identify the difference between 109-C and the 109-G series (except the 109-G6 which was soooo… obvious). Clearly such things were critical to national defense among the Cub Scouts. Or so it seemed at the time. Continue reading
A moment of trust
This past week, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would immediately implement the just announced CDC guidelines which stated that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in outdoor or most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Throughout the pandemic at national, state and local levels that last phrase “congregate settings” have included churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Following on the heels of the Commonwealth’s announcement, our local diocese announced that because of some ambiguity in the announcement, that we were to not inhibit or challenge people who wanted to not wear masks during the celebration of Mass. While we did not agree that there was ambiguity, we complied. As folks and families approached the doors of the church they were not asked if they were vaccinated, but were simply informed that “fully vaccinated people were not required to wear masks but were also free to wear them if they desired.”
Tragedy as teacher
Mask, no mask. Social distancing: 3 feet, 6 feet, more? Outdoors, indoors, ventilated, air exchange, airborne transmission… and a whole range of factors to which we have become accustomed. If you are curious about the what, when, where and other interesting factors about the medical and scientific response to Covid-19, take a moment to read what I found to be a fascinating article about the evolving science behind covid-19 transmission.
Risk is one of those things we don’t think about, are adverse to in different measures. It is unavoidable. We would rather not have any, and yet are surrounded by it, and sometimes we are so focused on it that we can think of little else. It has always been one of the things I wonder about. Its one of the things financial advisors try to discern about your investment posture: risk avoidance or acceptance. It’s something people wonder about submariners. Its one of the things economists specialize in. It is part of life and is unavoidable – so sometimes it is easier to ignore. But I like to read about it from time to time.
In the quiet of the morning, before the sun is up, morning prayer complete, cup of tea ready, I settle in to my routine of reading several morning papers. Even though I am at my new parish in Northern Virginia, I continue to read the Tampa Bay Times online. There and in other news outlets we have all heard about the con artists who are contacting people offering to register them for vaccination appointments at public or private facilities….”I just need some information – full name, address, etc…and your social security number, and a credit card to hold your reservation.” Right. I hope we have all gotten to the point where we simply do not give out such information over the phone.