Day 317 of lockdown: Thanksgiving creates a wave within a wave in the USA, vaccines are approved and the pandemic grinds on.
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December 4 — Gobble Gobble
Day 317. When I first saw him, I thought of a vampire lord, idly formal in a pressed shirt and tie, somehow in command despite no physical imposition or rugged jawline. The quiet leader of a secret coven, somehow both unassuming yet deeply menacing. That thought sticks to me in this difficult time. I wish I could say more but my hands are tied. For now.
Given a way out, the rat will probably take flight, but they will be surprisingly vicious when the walls close in. A cornered rat will bite the cat, they say. One who is cornered will fight like a devil. It’s better to give him a way out, so he doesn’t bring the house down with him, despite the wishes of the many to make him pay.
Twitter has surprised me this week since I am enjoying some more time away from social media, Twitter is the only app I have installed on my phone, and I managed to engage with some new folk this week. #Diaperdon is trending, out of revenge or potty humor, or maybe the cat is just out of the bag. Previous studio execs on The Apprentice swear the former reality host turned leader of the free world is incontinent and would often relieve himself in his diapers on the set as a result of decades of drug abuse (allegedly Cocaine and Adderall) and his poor health. This corroborates the mysterious sniffgate. Then 45 retweets several absurd posts from an account @catturd. No one can really believe it’s real, and they expect Shia Lebouf to crawl out of a fat suit and take a bow. It’s been an elaborate performance piece all along. I tweeted in reply to 45’s catturd RT that this looks like the tail end of the cat-ass-trophy, and it’s gone a bit viral. Puns intended all around.
I spent an afternoon meeting teenage kungfu practitioners and practicing some moves for a social media Kungfu Challenge that will encourage people to learn and practice more traditional Chinese culture. It was a humbling and fun experience. I’ll keep looking for a new martial art school to join.
A coworker left in a hurry. After a year of fighting to get back from the UK, two weeks of quarantine in Beijing, and an additional ten days in a flat here, the WIFI was down, and it was just too much time for self-reflection, I guess. He cited family reasons and other priorities and took the first available flight back out of China. We helped him send a bag home, got a set of speakers out of the deal, and life goes on. That means no relief for me as I am still doing 150%+ of my regular weekly courseload, tutoring, editing, writing, and keeping up with my social life and exercise. It’s exhausting but manageable when I get good sleep, Shaolin and I get along well and there are no bumps or mistakes. Slight deviations seem to completely blow me out of the water though, so I need to figure out how to build my resiliency under this kind of pressure.
My dad wants advice on how to safely pick up a work laptop so he can keep safely working from home. I asked some Wim Hof people their opinions on how to hold your breath for longer since that simple act when you’re going in for a laptop or a hug eliminates a lot of risk of close proximity. Here’s what I learned: learn to relax, concentrate on the heartbeat, yoga and meditation can help create a relaxed state. Lay off sugary drinks and too much coffee before breathing exercises. Make sure you’re adequately hydrated. Don’t breathe in. Take cold showers. Peppermint oil on the nose. Mindfulness. Let the body do what it is capable of.
I found out that their spouse killed a friend who had supposedly died in an accident. I shouldn’t say more now, but all of this, and things I have sworn to take to my grave float around me like a dark, sour cloud, and despite my stoic cheerfulness and dogged determination to thrive, I am cranky, numb, and a bit miserable.
For now, I’m still processing. I had to put some projects aside and know I’ll be creative again another day, for today, making it through the day is going to have to be enough.
Thanksgiving came and went in the USA. Despite a serious CDC warning to cancel it, and Christmas, many people traveled around the country to gather, a bit of a “Spring Festival” mass travel event for America. Doctors caution mid-December will show a wave within a wave, a cresting spike and a new plateau, many buzz words that all mean many sick, many full hospitals, and despite our advances in treatment and looming vaccines, more deaths.
Poor ventilation in winter will be a driving cause of new infections, as well as lower humidity from heat, making it easier to spread, and lack of sunlight causing Vitamin D exposure. As we know, the virus can lay dormant for months on frozen food. Some public areas have put out signs not to play with or eat the snow, as it could preserve and transmit the virus.
North Dakota in the USA and Alberta in Canada are two areas without mask mandates and are now seeing full hospitals, depleting and rationed oxygen reserves, and incredible case numbers that are 4–5 times that per capita of major cities like Toronto and New York. It’s clear that anti-science leadership and conservative politics don’t’ perform well, especially in a pandemic. Their approval is dropping but not as fast as the elderly in the long-term care facilities.
I wished my uncle Tim a happy birthday, and he tells me to call Grandma soon, 91, and slowing down. From what I hear, she refuses to give up public brunches, a very dangerous habit, but something that gives her some comfort.
Despite the rising danger of a new wave worldwide, I am melancholy and have to work hard to keep patient and stoic as the stresses rise around me and tensions flare. Shaolin banged her toe, excited about something, and today we are in the hospital waiting for X-rays. We need to be careful, even now, especially now. I have discussed with her the idea of taking a leave from my work and returning to Canada to see my family. I don’t’ know why it’s so attractive after all this time, knowing how bad the pandemic is there and the risks of travel at this time, but I seriously consider it. I don’t know when China would allow me to return, though, and I still hesitate to leave Shaolin for so long. Despite our difficulties sometimes, I know she loves me but stress is high with my heightened teaching schedule, writing demands, tutoring, just general life stress, and new plans to work my ass off to pay for our new home, I try to be even-keeled at this tumultuous time. I just need a break, but will try to make the most of time off here in Chongqing. Measure twice and cut once. There’s no going back sometimes. Luckily nothing is broken, and it turns out, it’s just a bad sprain — I’m happy about that. Bedrest and fajitas will help. Tonight is game night, my friends are coming over for some Shadowrun.
Trump pardons a turkey: headlines around the world “Lucky Turkey Pardoned by Lame Duck.”
I saw a video this week of the giant Putong Airport in Shanghai in chaos after several cargo workers get sick and they try to close the whole airport, getting huge crowds to gather in parking garages for testing. There is fear, panic, screaming, and running, but eventually, they say, they get the situation under control, and calm prevails.
A buddy, a Youtuber who interviewed me for my book a few months back in surrounding Ningbo, where my colleague Michael moved to, makes a video. Chinese Dr.’s predicted months ago with the opening borders and possibility of reinfection, and colder weather would mean a second China wave. But we are very vigilant — we are doing our best to hold on.
Starting to get my prep list ready again. Protocols include: lots of hand sanitizer, year’s supply of masks and goggles, lots of disinfectant for home cleaning, extra HEPA air purifiers for good ventilation indoors during cold months. Food and rations: 3 months of dry food stored,1–2 months spring water stored, lots of seeds for growing sprouts and small greens to compliment rice in case I don’t wanna go outside for a while. I’m making preparations to move work online and keep money coming in if schools close and I have to stay inside for a new lockdown.
We caught a case leaving Chongqing, in reverse: A South Korean businessman traveled to Chengdu and then back to Seoul and tested positive for asymptomatic COVID. As a result, thousands of close contacts were back-traced, 3200 people were tested, and 150 close contacts and their close contacts were put under precautionary medical quarantine and isolation. I marvel at the lengths we go to in Asia to stop new outbreaks and how the cries of those in the west for their rights fail to consider their social obligations. It is a dark year for democracy worldwide, as stricter, often authoritarian governments manage the pandemic well. The free societies, entertaining their protests and anti-mask shenanigans, allow renewed spikes and outbreaks and struggle to cope with it.
The UK is the first in the west to allow an emergency release of a novel vaccine. There are three that are most promising. Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine will be available for emergency FDA use by the end of the month. The UK has already authorized it for emergency use starting December 15. Side effects seem fairly limited, with less than 10% of people suffering aches and pains, and 2% will suffer from a serious fever. First responders, health care providers, and most at risk, such as long-term care patients, will be the first to receive the vaccine. Will people be willing to take them? Dr. Tam and Dr. Fauci worry that anti-masking will become anti vaxxing, interfering with countries’ ability to get the 70–80% immunity required to be a firewall to stop future outbreaks.
For the vaccine to work, most of them will need two doses but might take up to 6 weeks before a full immune response. A Johnson and Johnson vaccine might be single dose and fast acting, but is not ready for market yet. Antivax gobbledygook is a big problem, and some of the hardest-hit peoples and communities are least likely to take a vaccine.
No benefit was seen from plasma treatment in severe COVID-19; Reuters story reads. ‘Virus may hurt male fertility.’ ‘may hurt male fertility’ is an interesting anecdote. I wonder how widespread it will be and how this might shape demographics in the next 20–60 years.
American CDC is changing the recommended quarantine time from 14 days to 7–10 days if you’ve been in close contact with someone who is positive. One big question I can’t understand is why we aren’t giving more metrics with positive tests.
Epidemiologists are now advocating for the cycle threshold (CT) value be disclosed with test results: a cycle threshold of 20 could indicate a patient is very contagious, whereas a cycle threshold of 35–40 could mean they are no longer contagious and merely have traces of the virus indicating they might have been sick weeks or months earlier. I’ve been reading that WHO is suggesting a cycle threshold of 45 cycles, but the number that’s considered infectious is probably closer to 30. This means if we revised numbers to 30, 75% of cases wouldn’t be considered cases, many people in isolation wouldn’t have to be, non contagious. This will be used by haters to say pandemic is a nothingburger. Of course this isn’t true. But if we could focus on the 25% of cases that are infectious and relax on quarantining people that aren’t contagious …. The human cost would be lower and prevention higher. When systems are overwhelmed, if we knew and acted on this information: what is most effective and which patients need be isolated, we could be much more effective.
A Yale study by Tookes and Spiegel studied many different mandates across the USA to see what restrictions helped and which made the pandemic worse. The results aren’t surprising. Suggesting masks did not do much good, but legally mandatory masks were as effective as any NPI, reducing a county’s future fatality growth rate by more than 12%, about the same as more disruptive measures such as closing public areas and stay at home orders. The most effective policies were mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, limiting gatherings to 10 people, and closing restaurants, gyms, parks, and beaches. The last one was surprising because transmission outdoors is less likely, but with parks and beaches came intimate socialization as people let their guards down. The counterproductive policies included closing low-risk retail businesses such as bookstores and clothing stores (when masked indoors) because closing off low-risk activities pushed people towards higher risk activities, such as spending time indoors with friends. “You have to be careful what the tradeoffs are,” Spiegal says,” because if you shut down one thing, people then engage in another activity.” Limiting gatherings to 100 guests may give the false sense of security that you’re safe with 99, which of course is definitely not safe.
As more and more studies are returning conclusive results that masks are by far the most cost-effective and preventative method of reducing outbreaks, I keep wondering why there was so much confusion at the outset. OK, I wish ANYONE could explain to me how from January, February, March, and April, so many doctors, including our highest docs in Canada and the US and Europe, tried to act like they didn’t know masks stop the spread of diseases?
Was it literally that they screwed the pooch and didn’t have any on stock, so wanted us to chill until they got some shipped in? That’s crazy unethical, though, right? Am I the only one that thinks heads should roll for this?
I have a few thoughts on this, one, whoever was making fat cheques as a pandemic prevention officer should have stocked warehouses full of PPE and didn’t and should be fired or charged. And two, instead of lying to the public, making us distrust experts, they should have made sure health care officials had a pipeline to PPE they needed and suggested alternatives for the general public. Remember, the Czech Republic beat its curve by buying curtain fabric and making makeshift masks. That is integrity and honesty. What we got in the west was steaming horseshit that fed the conspiracy trolls. Again — people responsible should be fired, banned from public positions of trust for gross negligence, and I believe complicit in the deaths of all those that were preventable.
I promise to myself that when this is over, I’m coming after them. I’ll be interviewing, researching, and writing all over the west when it’s safe to travel, and I’m going to find those and hold them accountable. For now, we need all our experts to do our best to stop the pandemic but if it was gross negligence or a coverup to save their ass that led to this public distrust and bad information, we need to do better in the future and we must demand better from our leaders. Listen to the experts and get out of their way — don’t let politics cost lives.
More than 2760 people died in America from COVID-19 yesterday, a new record. That’s about two dead Americans a minute, every minute, all day. It’s the equivalent of a 9/11 every day, day in and day out, because of their poor pandemic response and poor leadership from the republican trump administration. Originally Dr. Fauci said that 100,000 Americans could die, now it’s close to 275,000 and could be as high as 500,000–600,000 by the time Joe Biden takes office, some new modeling predicts.
US Justice Department is investigating fraud bribery for pardon allegations, the latest in a slew of shady dealings from America’s most corrupt administration.
China and Australia are engaged in rising economic tensions as Beijing imposed stiff tariffs on Australian wine exports. Further complicating the economic tensions is the allegation that Australian soldiers engaged in the murder of dozens of Afghan civilians, including children. Geopolitics are tense.
In Brazil, deforestation has surged to a 12 year high, according to the country’s national institute for space research. About 7000 square miles were destroyed during the last year, a 9.5% spike from the previous year. President Jair Bolsonaro is a militant capitalist, defunding agencies responsible for stopping illegal logging, ranging, and mining in the rainforest and has been accused of persecuting indigenous rainforest tribes.
Elliot Page — formerly known as Halifax, NS, Canada’s own Hollywood star Ellen Page, has come out as a trans man, offering a brave and courageous role model to LGBTQ people around the world by offering both onscreen and off-screen representation and honest discourse advancing the conversation around non-binary topics that have traditionally been confusing to older and conservative audiences. At least 350 trans people, many of them women of color, have been murdered in the year 2020 alone, which experts call an ‘epidemic of violence.’
Trump, in perpetuating the illusion that he was cheated of his win to his rabid fans, has raised over 170 million dollars so far with his baseless voter fraud claims. Even sycophant US Attorney General Bill Barr has come out saying there is no legal basis or evidence to support this claim “severely undercutting Trump’s continued baseless claims of fraud,” drawing criticism from the white house. Barr is no hero, though, and feels more like a rat fleeing a sinking ship as the water is finally over all their heads.
It will be a cold, dark, hard winter, and we will begin to see some relief by the spring. Let’s do what we can to mitigate the tough winter. It’s still a shame that very few are really talking about vitamin D support for winter, sadly. When I mention it, most people’s eyes gloss over, but it really helps a lot. A British journal of medicine study came out with some good evidence to further support “Vitamin D deficient people are more likely to be sick and die” and having healthy levels of vitamin d is associated with milder, asymptomatic cases and use of vitamin D during treatment results in better outcomes. It’s really odd how mainstream media and gov treat the studies and overwhelming evidence with almost total silence, described by a YT doctor (Dr. John Camplbel) as “almost a conspiracy of silence.” It’s wild how people just are so unresponsive to facts but
Many people have a distrust of the major media outlets. I found very good sources that were way ahead of the curve on treatment, vitamin D, and masks, but another person got lost in a tinfoil hat plandemic documentary.
Everyone is an expert in 2020, that’s what I’ve realized now. It doesn’t matter that I’m a journalist with 1000+ hours of research, published author, and researcher on COVID-19 because most people also believe they are Youtube doctors and google researchers, and some use science and others use conspiracies, but not many are really open to new information. which sucks. luckily, I have a tight crew to socialize with, and that makes lockdown and also being stuck in China for years not able to travel livable
My cousin, Andrea’s boyfriend James, has tested negative for COVID-19 now and seems to be on the mend. I’m thankful for them, grateful for their good fortune.
In El Paso, Texas, prison inmates are still being offered $2 a day to load bodies into freezer trucks until they’re able to be cremated. A primary crematorium was so overused it’s broken down, and another one is being sent over. It’s very grim news.
In Canada, we have new lockdown guidelines in Canada, in BC at least. Dr. Henry is urgently asking everyone to reduce their social interactions to keep BC safe. New restrictions are critical tools to help us all stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19. All indoor and outdoor events are suspended. Socialize only with your immediate household — those people we live with. No extended family or friends in your home. If you live alone, you can have — at most — two of the same people from your’ core bubble’ in your home. You can go for a walk or bike ride with a friend outside. You can deliver essential items, like medication and groceries. You can carpool to take your kids to school. No playdates with other kids
Outdoors: No events in hotels, bars, or restaurants. No theatre or performances. No seasonal markets or fairs. No in-person competitions, quizzes, or games. No in-person religious gatherings. No galas or parties. Funerals and weddings, and ceremonies such as baptisms are OK with max — ten people and safety plans in place. Business meetings are OK. Farmer’s markets are OK.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Beavis and Butthead Adam Skelly and Chris Sky have been charged again for trying to operate a public indoor BBQ diner in Ontario, Canada. They’re alleging the government is against small business and Chris has organized an ‘indoor toy drive for kids,’ playing politics by knowing it will get shut down and then claiming the government is against children during the Christmas holidays. It’s trashy pulp politics but his followers will eat it up and it will feed their distrust of public policy, health measures and vaccines in the future. I find it hilarious they have raised $300,000 for legal defense to operate an illegal restaurant in a pandemic lockdown when both are rich trust fund kids turned grifter antimaskers who abuse their idiot fan base. On the plus side I started with a lot less and actually feel pretty good about the work I do and my human impact compared to those two buffoons, so there’s that.
I try to imagine making a public stand not to save lives, not to help people but to defy common sense and health precautions in the interest of showing what privileged and spoiled babies you are. This is what they feel called to do. It’s really sad. I want to shake them and scream, “it’s not about your rights it’s about our obligations to each other.” These fools are trash. I hope common sense can prevail in Canada so I can come back home soon but it’s not as quick as I’d like.
Why is the White House such a polite place to work? All of a sudden everyone is going around saying “pardon me.”
In good news, AOC and Jagmeet Singh ‘s ‘Among Us’ live stream raises $200K for COVID-19 relief efforts. It’s amazing what each of us can do, good or bad, with our energy and our power. We are each lighthouses, but what do we stand for? That’s up to us, every day.
“The foolishness of people who are surprised by anything that happens. Like travelers amazed at foreign customs.” Marcus Aurelius
Imagine being a firefighter while the rest of society goes out and starts thousands of fires everyday. You ask them to please practice fire safety, but they refuse and tell you that all the fires you’ve been exhaustingly fighting every day are just a hoax and that they have a right to start fires. That’s what it’s like to be a healthcare worker these days.
“The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out. There are brambles in the path? Then go around them. That’s all you need to know. Nothing more. Don’t demand to know “why such things exist.” Anyone who understands the world will laugh at you, just as a carpenter would if you seemed shocked at finding sawdust in his workshop, or a shoemaker at scraps of leather left over from work. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Kai has been writing about the pandemic since his lockdown began on January 23, 2020. You can follow his fight against COVID-19 on his blog, theinvisiblewar.co, or find his first collection, Kai’s Diary (The Invisible War), the story of Chongqing’s battle against the COVID epidemic in book stores and on Amazon.