IV Death, Strife and Harmony


Here on the west coast, we’re over the hump of the first surge. I’d hoped this fortnight’s section would be Testing and Tracing but progress there is glacial. Instead the ugly underbelly of the crisis is showing itself.

First, COVID-19 death is stalking POCs in ways now clear. Blacks in Detroit, Chicago and the South. Latinix workers in the fields and in meat packing, immigrants in detention centers, prisoners everywhere, and, of course, elders in nursing homes.

Then, Trump has been using daily C-19 briefings as his bully pulpit. First, playing dictator for the media, then telling the the governors to take charge, and finally exhorting his base to push governors to “open the country.”

These are just a couple of the disparities splitting the country in crisscrossing ways.

April 18 – Crunching the death stats

NYT headline: ‘They’re Death Pits’: Virus Claims at Least 7,000 Lives in U.S. Nursing Homes  People are dying alone in small apartments, rural farms, and communal care homes, even good ones.

April 19 – 40,000 Americans dead and 740,000 infected

Just keeping score these days. The individual stories are for the most part lost, though New York Times obituary writers are capturing what C-19 is doing to members of the nation’s intellectual and artistic elites.

Great Zoom chat with the Marrakesh girls.  Kit is the most locked in of all of us.  In France you cannot move out of your house without having on you an attestation de déplacement dérogatoire saying where you are going and why.  It seems you can carry the paper form or get a QR code which shows you’ve announced your sortie on the government’s public service page. Kit has lots of stories; I suspect being a shut in has her watching television. Ruth looks absolutely stunning on the call. It’s Easter and she and and Melanie are on their way to a social distanced gatherings of various households in their family. I love these sisters, both so rooted and aware and uncompromising, one so outspoken, the other so diplomatic. Their father was a priest and like Orthodox Americans from that passionate and articulate Tlingit cleric in Soldatna to the congregation at the local St Herman of Alaska Church in Port Townsend to Frank Schaeffer. Zuna is making masks and gowns for the local hospital. I didn’t know she was a CERT. Shout out to Zuna! Like me, she’s grateful to be living in a small town. Holly’s helping the other three generations of her family, starting with her Mom the artist, all while keeping at work in her own studio.  Kinza is of course busy but also taking long walks with a birding friend and seeing barred owls, pileated woodpeckers and even ravens.  (But where?  Crows and ravens don’t share the same territory.)

April 20 – Newsletters

Send Announcements to 1200+ people. Lots of opens but the clicks are strongest on the top five items and taper to zero for most of my nerdy and painstakingly-applied links at the bottom.  PHLUSH Newsletter is laid out and others are giving it a last look.

April 21 – Marcy

No sooner do I hit send on the PHLUSH newsletter featuring only the new blog post that Rinnah and Genevieve did, than an email from Marcy flies in. First  in a long time.  I am delighted and answer at length. Hit send. The phone rings.  She tells me I have misunderstood her.  She’ll be submitting something for the blog this week.

April 22 – Community Transmission antedated

The timeline for first Wast Coast infections keeps moving back from one-time Patient Zero, a Seattle man who returned from Wuhan at the end of February. The cause of the February 6th death of a 57-year old Solano Country California woman wasat first attributed to a heart attack. Now tissue sample analysis shows it was C-19. Her death occurred 20 days before the earlier reported case of “community transmission,” also in Washington. California Gov says they’re now reassessing coroners reports back into December 2019.

Oh that pretty weasel word “community”!  Alas another imprecise and confusing use of it. Epidemiological concepts seem precise but the jargon is not. Isn’t social distancing physical distancing? At least since the telephone?

26 million unemployed. This is the news that is getting attention.

April 23 – Antibody testing?

Of 1,300 in New York City tested for antibodies, 21% had them. But tests are pretty crude and not trusted. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/19/us/coronavirus-antibody-tests.html Less than 4% for rest of state.   Cuomo reported that this syncs with 15,500 dead New Yorkers or about 0.5%.

There are similar tests in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties and they are questioned even more.  No easy quick fixes in this one.

Today’s New York Times summarizes the data and its use in what’s known as the Northeastern Model. In five major U.S. cities, as of March 1there were only 23 confirmed cases of coronavirus.But according to the Northeastern model, there could have actually been about 28,000 infections in those cities by then.

Key to 28,000 urban infections: Bosting yellow dots; Seattle brown; Chicago red; San Francisco purple; and New York blue.

April 24 – Trump off the rails

I don’t RT tweets presidential quotes – they are too disturbing. But I suspect this one from last nights COVID-19 White House briefing will be talked about for some time and will lead to dire consequences.

50,000 Americans are known to have died from the virus.  That’s 10,000 in less than a week.

April 26 – Let’s Enjoy Sundays!

I stumble out of bed at six am after listening to Lulu on Weekend Edition to find Jack chortling as he watches Sarah Cooper one more time.  ‘I think we’ve turned the corner, ” he says, ever the optimist.

Over coffee I read  We are Living in a Failed State  by Atlantic Staff writer George Packer who Lulu has just interviewed. They commiserate about their work covering failed states – Iraq, Sierra Leone, etc.  Man, this is good writing!

The poison control centers are seeing a doubling of calls for disinfectant poisoning but can’t yet attribute any causality to 45’s recommendations. With so many cleaning products in active use, it’s usually just kids getting into them.  As for the hydroxychoroquin recommendation, the numbers there have even crunched, attribution is clear.  How many others without COVID, without functioning immune systems thanks to other ailments, and without access to their usual drugs have suffered from this.

April 27 – 50,000 Americans dead

Announcements took as long as ever even though most of what I did was delete and pair down. Eight issues out, two to go.

Jake Beattie writes in his last newsletter: There is an odd kind of calm that I feel when I’m in storms at sea that is similar to what I feel now. Things are high stakes, uncertain, driven by forces far more powerful than I can affect, and those outcomes I can affect will be determined by the ability of the crew and how well prepared the vessel. In situations like these, for me, the difference between panic and calm is the acceptance of the inevitability of the moment and the faith in yourself to weather the storm. The sea is the ultimate reality and metaphor for that, and I can’t think of a better way to teach that than our programs. It’s what started me down this professional path in the first place, and why I look forward to serving more students in the future. Our mission matters.  So truly said, Jake.  Not only as a mariner but as someone whose True North has taken the Northwest Maritime Center far.  Don’t let yourself get headhunted!

I am fine for another week. My foot dragging on errands is increasing. It’s a mix of newly entrenched habits and not wanting to take risks of close contact. I need to find other risks to take lest I  get lazy!

Cross cut is interesting on the origins and history of the Seattle Freeze.  Attributed to racism, injustice, redlining, and the rest. Works now when you get used to it and for people who don’t want to engage.  Might account for strong ku

More than 50,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. and more than 200,000 around the world.

April 28 – 1,000,000 infected Americans

The United States on Tuesday surpassed one million known coronavirus cases, showing how an outbreak that began with a small trickle of cases in January has exploded into a national crisis.

The bleak milestone was yet another sign of how the virus has upended life in America, taking lives, destroying families, spreading through meat plants, prisons and nursing homes, forcing businesses and schools to close, and causing more than 26 million people to lose their jobs in the past five weeks. The country’s death toll is now more than 50,000.

April 29 – “In the Mist of an Epidemic”

Isn’t that poetic? I wish it were me but it came over the radio and that’s how it hit my ears. A wonderful KUOW interview just now. With a community leader and activist spokesperson from a local tribe.

The constant cluster in “midst” is one of the more difficult in the English language. Hardly anybody can say it. It’s a little like pronouncing “whilst.”  Fortunately that’s one we can avoid.

April 30 – Vietnam Rubicon

More COVID-19 deaths in two months than American deaths in all those years of Vietnam. At this rate,  the virus is on track to equal American and Vietnamese body counts in that stupid war.

I can’t follow the news. Gone are the days of neat classical models. Now weird patterns. Like people in their thirties and forties dying of strokes.  C-19 clots blood, instant cardio probs in otherwise healthy people in their prime of life.

May 1 – May Day!  M’aidez!

End of week meetings. Assessments by local leaders break the bubble in which I’ve been living. At the beach.  That so many people are hurting hits me like a truck.

May 2 – Saturday

Weekends need to be different. I lay in bed listening to Scott Simon until just after 6 am news and then got up, made the coffee, was perpetually busy. Lots of loose ends, stuff on my desk and desktop.

Stopped in on The Portland Folk Music Society monthly song circle for about half an hour.  A couple  of songs in who is called on but Laura Martin, who turns on her camera and starts to sing.  Told her in chat that I’d enjoyed seeing her – and hearing her sing…with a busker somewhere in the park). It rained all day and so hard at mid-day that I missed this week’s Market altogether.  Somehow the rainwear has collected on the boat. Blame it on the hot afternoon sun that usually follows morning clouds .

May 3 – Knots

I have made a knot every day since receiving A Year in Knots from Selena for Mother’s Day.  A proper Sunday.

May 4 – “May the Fourth Be With You!”

Radio meme got me out of bed. Checked into the world’s disasters.  Coffeed and enjoyed writing a piece about masks for the bitter end of the newsletter.  Nine out of ten are out.

When I caught on to the coolness of our Jefferson County Health Officer,  I moved the release time of the newsletter back from 10 to 9 am.  It worked.  Our readers open it right at nine and the link to the County Community where Dr. Thomas Locke gives us his weekly report.  We are behaving. 25 days since a new COVID-19 infection!  Phase 1 tomorrow

Biked to Co-op to pick up veggies, milk, canned tomato paste and sauce, two divine Altoufo mangos.

Walk on the beach. Chat with Dave, out with Gabby, until dark.  They are sitting under the lovely pine near the ted mark at entry to the bay and the port.They live on a sail boat on the east side of Point Hudson.  Same Dave who used to leave on the longitudinal dock in Boat Have.  Still works on Wells Gray, the 1936 BC Forest Service Boat Jack and I pined after. Until – after other wooden boat lapses – we came to our senses.

As It Happens is especially interesting. Invasive giant Asian hornets that kill bees (and people but only if they walk over their nests on the ground) and a lovely conversation among Southern Resident Orcas.


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