photo of a nurse providing critical care in an Intensive Care Unit

Writer’s Lounge – COVID-19 Doesn’t Age Discriminate. It’s Stalking Children Now

 

COVID-19 Doesn’t Age Discriminate. It’s Stalking Children Now

Beginning in February, we were hearing from coronavirus skeptics that children and “younger adults” were either less at risk or significantly off the radar of COVID-19. The only age group it was likely to significantly affect, according to these commentators, was the 60s and olders. This went on for the better part of three months.

Of course this wasn’t exclusive to Trumpublicans. It had some qualified and tentative currency among certain epidemiological scientists, but the right wing and the GOP ran with it. 

How it was typically packaged was that, since seniors were significantly more susceptible, they should volunteer to be the tip of the spear in the re-opening of the economy, since they had already collected enough Social Security payments.

 

This was before the “let’s everyone get infected and generate ‘herd immunity'” craze took hold of the imagination of MAGA’s.  

The medical and scientific community was early on, attempting to caution against putting too much stock in the notion that 20 and under didn’t constitute an identifiable risk category.  As HopkinsMedicine.org reported:

Data in a March 16, 2020, report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are showing that younger adults are also getting COVID-19, and some are requiring hospitalization, even intensive care.

For example, the CDC report shows that as of March 16, 2020, 508 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the U.S. Of these, 38% were between 20 and 54 years old. Half of those ending up in intensive care were younger than 65.

Anecdotally, I was seeing that people we knew who had succumbed to the mental virus of Trumpism, were capriciously endangering their children, for example, taking them to theme parks like Disneyland (before they shut them down either voluntarily or in response to state orders).

This, in some cases, was on the basis of skepticism of the seriousness or even the existence of the outbreak, due to Trump’s dismissal of it as a thing (a political “hoax” or something that would magically “disappear”) – or a simplistic axiom derived from misinterpretation of early media reporting. The nuance from the cautious and preliminary statements of virologists was lost on these folk. 

At this point, because  this particular strain of virus, SARS Cov-2, is a “novel” virus, it  indicates two things.

One, that since it is novel, we cannot reliably apply dictums to it that conform to viruses with more established characteristics such as the seasonal flu – and COVID-19 was, and in some instances, still is, being compared to the seasonal flu by coronavirus “truthers”.

 

 

The second critical distinction is that novel viruses are prone to mutation. This makes it impossible to conclude with absolute certainty that COVID-19 will be entirely predictable in its progression, its symptoms, precisely how it is contracted and whether any specific elements of the population are less likely, over time, to contract it. 

In short, a novel virus is evolutionary with wide variability and presents a continual learning curve to researchers and medical professionals. And now, that is being demonstrated by a recent turn of events. 

In New York, the hardest hit state in the U.S. from COVID-19, it is now being reported by medical authorities that close to a hundred cases where a pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome is being identified in children who tested positive for COVID-19.

State health authorities and attending physicians are making a connection between the symptoms the children are exhibiting and Kawasaki disease, an illness that previously was known to be relatively rare – occurring in one in 10,000 children under 5 years old, annually.

Prominent among the symptoms of PMSIS being seen; fever, inflammation of blood vessels, vomiting, rash on the torso and groin, swollen lips, hands and feet.

The most severe of these cases require hospitalization and critical care. As of this publication, the complications from this coronavirus related disease have claimed 5 victims, including a 5 and 7 year old and a teen. 

A study sponsored by the research group, Molecular Epidemiology and Evolutionary Genetics of Infectious Diseases (MEEGID), “Infections, Genetics and Evolution”, has established that the virus, SARS-CoV-2, is mutating, with a great extent of diversity:

By focusing on mutations which have emerged independently multiple times (homoplasies), we identify 198 filtered recurrent mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Nearly 80% of the recurrent mutations produced non-synonymous changes at the protein level, suggesting possible ongoing adaptation of SARS-CoV-2. 

The key takeaway from this research paper is that the considerable number of genetic variations that have been identified, implies some significant complications in the development of a vaccine that could be widely applicable and widely distributed, no matter what fairy stories Donald Trump would like to lull you into complacency with. 

by Richard Cameron



 

Freedom to demand low wage workers risk contracting a deadly virus

These protesters think it’s a hoax. Today I heard it all. There was,“leftist media scare tactics.” Or they are ‘willing to take the risk.’  But whatever they fantasize this pandemic to be that has claimed over 80,000 lives and potentially impaired the health of over a million others for the rest of their lives – they do not have the right to put others at risk.

There was also this on a Facebook group called “Re-Open California Now”, that crystallizes the mentality almost to fit on a bumper sticker:

screenshot of comment from "anti-lockdown" activist on "Re-Open California" Facebook group, complaining about closed stores and the requirement to wear masks to protect others

No one lives in a bubble. I’ve heard many people over the last few weeks saying things like “Just let them go to their (meeting, church, beach, etc) and get sick. Thin the herd!” And now with these “freedom protests” the calls for Karma to do her thing are growing louder.

But a protest isn’t Las Vegas. Nor are churches, stores, ballgames, beaches, or any other place we used to gather not so long ago. What happens there will not stay there. And murder hornets have got nothing on these domestic terrorist swarms.

“Stay home if you’re scared” the selfish and ignorant scream, likely enunciating it ‘skeered’ and supplying the childishly appropriate sneer. But if a department store or a restaurant or gym opens then it isn’t just about who chooses not to go.  They must be staffed.

Any venue that opens, big or small, requires employees, predominantly low wage earners, to carry out the tasks requested by the customer. And these employees now no longer have the freedom of choice for which these protesters pine and whine.

They have no freedom. They must work, even if they are high risk, or face losing their pay and possibly even their jobs with no support from Unemployment Insurance. They are slaves to the system of ‘murican’ class privilege that could very likely cost them their lives.

This is especially true when you look closer into thesegrassrootsmovements the protests are connected to. Established hyper Right Wing political groups such as Freedom Works, the scattered remnants of the Tea Party and the Koch enterprise to the millionaire “wellness” clinics, such as the one run by Vivienne Reign, and alternative medicine doctors with their shadow donors who have dragged in the anti-vax brigade.

These organizations are not just encouraging the working poor to be thrown to the slaughter and taking advantage of the gullibility of these men and women on the protest lines to do their dirty work for them, but they are throwing millions of dollars into the fight all while they, the über rich, sit back in the safety of their luxury homes and are allowed to patiently decide for themselves when they will come out.

These protest movements are being pushed from the highest levels for money/investment gain and politics. Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard and the co-author of the 2012 book The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism recently told Vox,

“In this case, I suspect we’ve got a similar combination of top-down influence from high-dollar organizations and some genuine energy at the grassroots level. But I also suspect this is mostly being pushed and promoted from above.”

The person who makes their latte, does their nails, serves them dinner, tears their ticket, mops their sweat, transports them to their destination, or cleans the public toilet they pissed in while they were out and about, is not expendable for their ‘liberty.’

These workers are also entitled to “life, liberty, and to pursue happiness” without some ignoramus putting their personal world in danger to ‘own the libs’.

But these people – the GOP and ‘COVIDiots’ as they are often accurately called, don’t care about genuine liberty and freedom. Their version is a twisted thing.  It is selective and toxic.  Elie Mystal of the Nation wrote:

“The freedom to die is the only form of liberty Republicans want their base thinking about. And Covid-19 is only the latest pathogen. These people also want the freedom to die in mass shootings; the freedom to die from not being able to afford medicine; the freedom to not take the vaccines they can afford; and the freedom to drive 90 mph on a highway with no seat belt, without “the government” telling them to slow their roll.”

In a time of national emergency – the real snowflakes are melting because they can’t get their hair cut.
And they are killing people for their right to die.

photo of "anti-lockdown protesters" with signs, one reading, "Freedom Is Essential"

by Jennifer Keller-Puebla


 

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