The gravelly female voice comes through the radio with all the steady, dull energy of an emergency broadcast. She needs to inform us of the latest bad news. At the moment, there’s a lot of it. People are flushing massive amounts of non-flushable wipes down their toilets, which is clogging up the pipes and sewers. A couple new celebrities have announced that they’ve tested positive for the virus by posting their smiling faces on social media. There’s been a shooting in some supermarket in another state, the end result of two customers battling over the last roll of toilet paper. Counties and states are enacting “stay home” orders, forcing the closure of all “nonessential” businesses, which will now leave a large part of the workforce trying to figure out how they’re going to pay next month’s rent.
And, most grimly, the total number of infected persons has doubled in less than 24 hours, while the fatalities have gone up by another thousand or so: respectively, almost 15,000 in the U.S. and 11,000 globally. These are numbers which will surely increase with every click of “refresh” button.
It’s all so very apocalyptic, and I listen to the report as I hit 75 on the freeway. My son is in the backseat. I’m taking him to his bimonthly visit with his mother and her family. I turn the radio off and think of something that makes my heart skip a quick beat; because I really do hope that the other side of his family is practicing “social distancing,” that term that will soon be etched into our vernacular. Collectively, we must all help to “flatten the curve” by exercising extreme individuality, or so we’re told.
If the headlines are to be accepted at face value, the virus should be viewed as a serious threat to health, both to the community’s and to oneself. A paper loaded with terminology was recently published by researcher Doris Loh, who provides much needed information on Covid-19 (even if the layman – myself – has to supplement the reading with some additional internet searches).
In fact, coronaviruses are ubiquitous; the common cold is a coronavirus. It’s when the virus mutates into something else that it becomes deadlier. To demonstrate the severity of this current mutated coronavirus, compare it to the SARS-CoV epidemic of 2003, which infected over 8,000 people worldwide in 8 months. In contrast, COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV-2) infected 120,000 worldwide in under three months (as of the publication of the March 14th paper). Loh says that COVID-19 is “up to 1,000 times more infectious than SARS-CoV or other coronaviruses.” The reason for this is something called a “furin cleavage site,” which was not found in SARS-CoV, but is found with the one we are currently dealing with. It seems that the virus has a tendency to really get inside the human tissues, and to then replicate with incredible speed.
Here’s my big concern, quoting from the paper: “Patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and diabetes are often prescribed drugs that either inhibit ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) or block angiotensin 2 type-1 receptor (ARB). Both types of drugs increase the expression of ACE2.” More:
The use of selenium during COVID-19 infections therefore, can be problematic. ACE inhibitors actually increase expression of ACE2, and SARS-CoV-2 infects host cells through binding with ACE2 receptors. ACE 2 receptors are found on lung epithelial cells, intestines, kidneys and blood vessels. Thus using ACE inhibitors either through medication or supplements risk elevating COVID-19 infection and developing severe or even fatal disease complications.
Loh adds that:
The binding of SARS-CoV-2 to ACE2 exposes patients with CVD to higher risk for pneumonia and increased severity of symptoms. Reports showed that in China, among COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, 58% had hypertension, 25% had heart disease and 44% had arrhythmia. Fatality data released by China’s NHC showed 35% of patients who died from SARS-CoV-2 infection had a history of hypertension, while 17% had a history of coronary heart disease.
“Just great,” I think to myself every morning as I pop my 30 mg of Lisinopril. (The only medication I take regularly!) It’s for my high blood pressure, that which might or might not have been properly diagnosed more than 10 years ago now. And it’s an ACE inhibitor. A chronic dry cough, a permanent side-effect, is personal evidence that it indeed affects the lungs. It’s also said that even if you survive COVID-19, you could suffer long-term or even permanent damage to the lungs, kidneys, or heart.
So there’s an obvious concern, and I’ve decided to treat COVID-19 seriously, starting by heeding the Surgeon General’s recommendation to cancel all surgeries which are not life-threatening. Thus, my sinus operation will have to wait a while longer. Next, I’ve used the numbers to scare my son’s family. They’re older than my folks – in their 70’s – and so they should want to be cautious as well. My search for the silverlining has begun: for the time being, my son no longer has to attend church! There must be other silverlinings, I think to myself.
On this day, in this Target parking lot, I push him around in a shopping cart while waiting for them to come and pick him up. As usual, he’s having fun, and I become thankful that the vast majority of children appear to be virtually unaffected by this virus; oftentimes asymptomatic, and with fatality rates that are near-zero for kids under the age of 10. But your child can still be a carrier, which means that every time you pick them up from a visit, you’re potentially standing 10 feet away from the adorable little vector who could soon give you a virus that’ll end your life and thus put them in a foster home. Such is God’s twisted design.
The virus has produced as many estimates as it has both persons fearful and carefree. There seems to be an equal amount of people who insist of the dangers as those who suggest it as nothing more than overblown hysteria. Both positions are forgivable, as we have seen the chaos captured in grainy videos out of China. And the second, too, as the average person watching the media will believe that we’re always in the midst of some imminent crisis. We can’t easily forget the nonsense told to us about “swine flu.” And wasn’t it just last month that a girl named Greta was warning us all about climate change? Was there not some liberal on CNN last night who was railing against the NRA, which the city of San Francisco has declared to be a genuine “terrorist organization”? Nevertheless, I’m sure there was an evangelical predicting Jesus’ return in the coming months.
How do we know to withhold our laughter with regards to this threat? It is possible that a society can become so weary from grappling with concocted threats that it fails to realize when a real threat presents itself. Then, can we trust the word of the Chinese government? No, and The Epoch Times has told us why: they’ve lied about the numbers. Our own government? Given the history, there’s reason to think not. Independent journalists and researchers? In a lot of cases, probably. What about our own senses? In the end, that’s all we have, and the best and perhaps only way to start analyzing this situation is to look at the responses.
San Francisco often touts itself as a “sanctuary city,” a place that undocumented immigrants can run to without fear of being persecuted by local officials, who are reluctant to work with federal officials during those hunting efforts. Yet Frisco was one of the first cities to enact a mandatory “stay home” order. Suddenly, everyone is a suspected cause of pain and death (albeit of course with entirely different motivations). One minute, you’re giving refuge to people that move illegally across national borders, and the next minute you’re telling everyone not to move at all. Such is the power of the State.
Elsewhere, hospitals in Italy reported being overwhelmed by those infected, so much so that patients are getting transported to other hospitals in the country. This month, the city of New York says their morgues are almost full. When was the last time that a public health crisis resulted in that kind of scenario? Meanwhile, doomsday commentaries from Jason Warner and Joscha Bach have gone viral, arguing that we can’t just “flatten” the curve, we must “squash it,” this by using “social distancing” as our method.
More optimistically, biophysicist Michael Levitt, while agreeing with everything currently being done, still believes that COVID-19 is slowing down, and that society will soon resume normal operations. The Lancet finds that the death rate will be much lower than previously thought, somewhere around 0.66 percent.
The pattern is this: as soon as there’s some bad news, there’s some good news. As soon as there’s some good news, there’s some bad news. While everyone battles for the Correct Estimate, we should keep in mind that the person who dismisses the concerns of COVID-19 by reminding us that “X amount of people died of the flu” will probably think differently once bodies begin dropping dead right down the street. Furthermore, I bet if we could prove that COVID-19 is a true bio-weapon that was cooked up in a laboratory ran by Bill Gates or the Chinese government, the narrative of “manufactured threat” would shift dramatically into one of caution.
Demonstrating the seeming hopelessness of this situation, there’s a study out of the University of Otago that points to a strong correlation between unemployment and suicide. This is quite ghastly when considering that the Department of Labor reports that 6.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since COVID-19 deathcloud was first seen in the skies. A new report tells us that calls to the suicide hotline have gone up 300% since this all started. If you do a simple Google search of “economic crash,” and you’ll have a lot of results to follow up on.
Based on the above, no matter how deadly the virus really is, there’s little doubt that it’s having a negative impact on our blue sphere-shaped spaceship. The whole machine, from small businesses to civil society to personal worship, can be shut down when confronted with the microscopic face of a very nasty virus. But it would be wrong to say that the world has shut down entirely. The major retail chains remain open, for example. Industries are still producing. The supply chain continues to chug along. There are no reports of widespread starvation – yet.
And there’s something else I saw happening: Every day I go for a walk at one of the three or four parks in my area. At first, I noticed an undeniable increase in the amount of families who had come outside to get some exercise together. On the sidewalks, too, there were more joggers, walkers, and bicyclists out enjoying the fresh air than I can ever remember seeing before. From my view, the interrupted daily schedule had entailed at least one positive thing. But, three months into this pandemic, the crowds are becoming fewer (though this could also be attributed to California’s rainy season.)
Also, of course, crowds are a problem, and they have been thoroughly discouraged, oftentimes with legal threats. The families I see are almost always in small groups, broadly separated from others on the fields and trails. In Florida and California, the beachgoers had rebelled against not just the State, but also the virus itself. We saw masses packed tightly together on the shore, wherein COVID-19 finds the perfect honeymoon suite in which to spread its horns and breed. Such behavior is risky, and it does not follow that we should champion the freedom to choose while also applauding every choice that’s ever made. That said, many people are in honest disagreement with these semi-suggestive lockdown orders. Fresh air and exercise is good for the immune system – correct? So who is to say that I cannot use the great outdoors to fortify myself?
Governments have responded to these feelings in kind. A bar I pass on the street has a notice posted on the door: “Sorry, the government made me close my doors.” Lots of businesses share that same fate. National borders have also been shut down with a similar sadness. People in San Diego are getting fined for watching the sunset. This heavy-handed approach is captured best in a headline from The Atlantic: “The People in Charge See an Opportunity.” The article gives some historical precedence:
There is nothing new about the sudden enthusiasm for aggressive government intervention during the health crisis. Throughout history, pandemics have led to expansion of the power of the state. As the Black Death spread across Europe in 1348, the authorities in Venice closed the city’s port to vessels coming from plague-infested areas and forced all travelers into 30 days of isolation, which eventually became 40 days; hence the word quarantine. A couple of centuries later, William Cecil, the chief minister to Queen Elizabeth I, battled the plague in England with a law that allowed authorities to shut the sick in their houses for six weeks. A few years later, the Plague Act of 1604 made criticizing these and other measures illegal.
That’s all scary enough, but it’s nothing compared to what can be accomplished in the age of so-called “surveillance capitalism.” Everywhere we go, most modern denizens carry with us a helpful and less-itchy Mark of the Beast. This item slides easily into a pocket, and it contains technology once hard to fit inside of a warehouse. A good state will dismiss the predictable cries of “Orwellianism!” and then seize the chance, as they now are. We know of a few governments for sure that have been analyzing data found on smartphones: Italy, Germany, Austria, China, South Korea and Taiwan – the last of which has set up “geo fences” that “alerts authorities when quarantined individuals leave their designated shelter locations or turn off their mobile devices,” reports TheRegister.com. Wild guess that many other states are doing the same. This is to can keep track of the smartphone’s owners, who may have flown the coop, rebuffed their quarantine orders, and continued about their everyday lives. That’s not allowed when there’s a nasty virus in the air. Shelter in place! The consent of the plebiscites has not been requested!
The New York Times opined that the measures used by the Chinese government were reminiscent of the era of Chairman Mao. In the Philippines, dictator Duarte has given orders to “shoot to kill” those disobeying the lockdown. The government of Hungary voted to give their president, Viktor Orban, what amounts of dictatorial power. In Russia, a country with 170,000 cameras on their streets, which has been used to arrest 200-some people for violations, the Moscow police chief was quoted by CNN as saying that he wanted “there to be even more cameras so that that there is no dark corner or side street left.” Applause for brazenness.
The United States is following suit, or at least it’s preparing to. The 2 trillion-dollar bill just passed by Congress and signed by President Trump provides for a “public health surveillance and data collection system.” This is on top of the door-to-door searches in Rhode Island, national parks getting shut down, and a few cases where judges have ordered people to wear ankle bracelets.
Somewhere, someone is having a wet dream: either those pushing a New World Order, or those who saw the whole thing coming. One of these people is Bill Gates, a name that frequents the mouths of the admonishers. For years, Gates has been giving his take on global health. He’s the loudest proponent there is for vaccines. It should be seen neither as conspiracy nor a coincidence that two months prior to the first reported cases of COVID-19, in October, Gates and his foundation partnered with John Hopkins Center for Health Security and World Economic Forum to create a large-scale simulation of a global pandemic. Held in New York City, this was called “Event 201.” Their purpose, per the official website, was to “educate senior leaders at the highest level of US and international governments and leaders in global industries,” and also to “inform members of the policy and preparedness communities and the general public.” Sounds entirely philanthropic. Sadly, humanity did not fare well: after an 18-month struggle against the invented pandemic called CAPS (for Coronavirus Associated Pulmonary Syndrome), 65 million people died. (Weird sidenote: participants in Event 201 were given adorable little plush viruses.)
Predictably, Gates is giving as much publicity as he can on the crisis. This is the same Bill Gates who has previously backed plans to cover earth’s atmosphere with 500 surveillance satellites. Who was sued by the Indian government for testing vaccines on unwitting kids and teenagers. Today? A quote right from the serpent’s tongue: “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently, or when we have a vaccine, who has received it.” Gates, who has no medical training whatsoever, tells us that “mass gatherings” will never come back until we’ve all been vaccinated. It’s no wonder Gates seems so giddy when discussing COVID-19: he sees a partnership between lizard and virus. Silverlining? Now we know what some tyrants really have in mind.
It’s frightening, but unsurprising, how quickly a public health crisis can turn so many people into enthusiastic fascists. Level-headed commentators should insist of a proper balance between taking the virus seriously and refusing to sprint headfirst onto a page of George Orwell’s classic dystopia.
I, for one, am doing everything practical to keep myself safe: avoiding crowds, staying 6 feet away from the next person, and washing and sanitizing my hands religiously. And I’m even wearing a facemask and gloves when I go out shopping. But: I will not be respecting arbitrarily-set rules that try to prevent me from going on my daily hikes and jogs. I go for my exercise every single day, without exception, and if we’re concerned about “health,” then my routine should be respected, as it’s absolutely needed for my own health, both physical and mental.
Plenty of others would side with dictator Duarte and have me shot dead for stepping outside my house. They’ll be quite upset when they learn about me running through the yellow caution tape that’s been set up at my trailheads, snapping the tape as I throw my hands up as if I’ve just won a Gold Medal. They’ll bunker down in their houses and treat their neighbors like they have leprosy. This is likely the only time in which one can send money to random strangers in the mail and the recipient would send it back out of fear that the money might be contaminated.
I wish not to give arms and legs to this virus, and the question of contagiousness is one that, like every other detail, is still being debated. Measles is said to be the only true “aerosol virus,” meaning that it’s able to stay suspended in the air for long periods of time. If a measles carrier is in a room, leaves, and someone else comes in, it’s a good chance that the second person will catch the virus. StatNews.com reports that:
The weight of the evidence suggests that the new coronavirus can exist as an aerosol – physics term meaning a liquid or solid (a virus) suspended in a gas (like air) – only under very limited conditions, and that this transmission route is not driving the pandemic. But limited does not mean “no” conditions, underlining the need for health care works to have high levels of personal protection, especially when doing procedures such as intubation that have the greatest chance of creating coronavirus aerosols. “I think the answer will be, aerosolization occurs rarely but not never,” said microbiologist and physician Stanley Perlman of the University of Iowa. “You have to distinguish between what’s possible and what’s really happening.”
Updated studies in April find that the virus might be spread by talking and breathing, not just shedding droplets. Surface life remains a big concern, reaffirming the efficacy of handwashing and the wearing of masks and gloves. “We don’t observe the transmission process … We actually don’t know how respiratory diseases are transmitted,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist and head of the Climate and Health Program at Columbia University in New York City.
While the conclusive evidence lies in wait, the virus itself is nonetheless being treated like a “deathcloud.” All it would take, imply the doomsayers, is one bad windstorm, and then COVID-19 will flow through the communities and infect every person who’s out by the mailbox retrieving their government check. And those checks are only one part of their solution. The other part entails an endless trust in Government, those that are expected to put all of society – economic life and personal life – into a deep freeze, only to be thawed out at an indeterminate time in the future.
By then, the UN estimates that up to 25 million people, globally, could be out of work. That number means nothing to the proud Marxists who are happy to see working people stay at home, because Marxists see all work – the small business owner and the recently promoted maker of six-figures alike – as an exploited member of the working class. To them, any workplace is far more oppressive than a democratic state. If anarchism is defined in this way, then what we see happening is a sort of “anarchy by degree” – except they only get halfway, as all other collective gatherings are put on hold as well. A state that can prevent you from going to work can also prevent you from attending your favorite Pride Parade.
So if an anti-work ethic does gain traction during this ordeal, hopefully it coincides with other reconsiderations – such as spending money more frugally, holding off on another child when you can barely support the ones you already have, or thinking twice before agreeing to that tempting mortgage on the 3-bedroom house. It’s not enough to say, “It’s good that you don’t have to go to work tomorrow”; you then have to ask where one’s food, housing, and resources will come from. If not, then how will those at home now pay their bills? Will we ask Big Daddy Government to reach deeper in your neighbor’s pockets, or to ask their friends at the Federal Reserve to turn up the dial on the magic money machine?
There are problems with this. For one thing, the printing of more money will only further devalue the dollar, which subsequently depletes the value of one’s savings. Simultaneously, governments will have to tell property owners that they cannot demand their tenants to pay any bills. If these commands are carried all the way through, it would render all incentives as obsolete. What’s the point of working harder when your boss can’t afford it, as he’s now getting taxed more and making other financial rearrangements? What’s the point of saving money when that money might have to be used to pay for food when your job is gone next month? Is there any silverling here? Why not appreciation of the irony that those cheerful fascists (most of them leaning to the Left) are no longer laughing at “doomsday preppers”?
Another thing: who can we actually trust to tell us when it’s safe to come back outside? Trump has been criticized for dragging his feet for a whole month before acting. So it won’t be the President. The World Health Organization had initially stated (via a series of tweets) that COVID-19 couldn’t be transmitted from person to person, so maybe they’re out too. What group, at what level, will give us the One True Safe Date? The numbers, after all, are in a constant flux; the models are changing by the day. It’s possible that we’ll never know, and the risk of contracting COVID-19 will remain with us for a good while longer.
What’s certain is that the virus cannot penetrate through walls. Therefore, the person out on a hike or buying food should be of no threat to someone who has decided to bunker down inside their stucco-lined cells. “But,” they’ll say, “if too many sick, it’ll overwhelm our hospitals, and that will affect more people needlessly.” It’s always difficult to calculate who matters and who doesn’t matter, is it not? Yes, if the hospital beds are all full, then car crash victims will be inconvenienced along with women about to give birth. Is the lesson: drive safer and don’t have babies? Or is it to tell the new father with a wife and daughter that he should obey his government and stay home, thereby quitting his job because it’s wrong for him to risk interacting with customers whose purchases had for all this time been supporting his family? What of the fact that 10,000 people committed suicide during 2008’s Great Recession? Of course, that number isn’t as high as those confirmed to have already died from COVID-19, so it should not matter if suicides are twice that amount once we witness the UN’s unemployment estimates – correct?
Who is going to start making the wisest decisions? I vote for no individual, except the one who has allegiance to his duties.
The real lesson comes from the caveat that’s used reflexively when discussing the threat of COVID-19: that most of the people dying are old, or that they had “preexisting conditions.” The implication is: “Well, they’re old anyway. They had other health issues. So their deaths aren’t such a big deal.” So much for “not placing value on life.” But it’s an agreeable recognition: the old and the unhealthy are expected to leave us sooner rather than later. One of these can be dealt with, and here I discuss my own country, for America is the most obese nation in the world. The standard American diet is notoriously unhealthy, filled with processed meats, high fructose corn syrup, and tons of additives and preservatives. According to Dr. Amir Kahn, who cites a study of COVID-19 patients in China, obesity increases the chances of mortality and morbidity. Viewed cynically like this, it’s obvious that obesity is something that’s taken up voluntarily. Add to that tobacco smoking – said to be a major factor in the death rates of Italy and China – and things get even riskier.
In regards to “health,” some of us have a lot to improve upon. For me, this could be the best reason to lose weight and try to get off my blood pressure medication. A virus like COVID-19, and the ensuing reactions, can make these shortcomings come into a better focus, showing us what we’re doing wrong and what can be done differently. Thus, I think a new word ought to be placed into this crisis: reprioritization. This is the real silverlining. We can take Gates’ plan for a New World Order and flip it upside down, creating a new, more conscientious world order. Gates speaks as if he knows what’s best, and that the rest of us are idiots who need to be herded around like sheep. Admittedly, there’s some truth to that, at least from the American perspective.
I wish for improvement and preparation to begin with personal impetus, not forced isolation. Rather than take the position that the household is the only true fortress, agreeing with the elites whenever they lock our doors, we should instead be viewing our very own bodies as a fortress, as well as our places of work. Although it’ll sound silly to those who have no intention of doing the following (and maybe wishful thinking on my part), should be said that we don’t necessarily have to ideate suicide, drink excessively, or gain weight sitting in the house watching Netflix. Getting outside to exercise will require defiance in many quarters of the world, but it would be entirely justifiable, for one’s health is at stake. This does not mean that we must hike and jog in crowds; indeed, it’s probably a good idea to find spots that are as spacious as possible. Most of the mandates don’t prevent people from walking on the sidewalks; so, if you think about it, if everyone walked on the sidewalks, there’d still be bodies coming into close contact with one another.
We might then start taking practical precautions against disease. Gloves and masks will be worn regularly in the workplace and in the social sphere, with a small bottle of hand sanitizer hanging from the belt. Wired, for instance, published a lengthy defense of face masks. Their piece points out the paradoxical stance of health officials, who tell us that masks don’t work, but then insist that medical personal should always be wearing one. It then cites several studies showing the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of viral pathogens. “A 2011 review of high-quality studies found that among all physical interventions used against respiratory viruses – including handwashing, gloves, and social distancing – masks performed best, although a combination of strategies was still optimal,” the article states, reminding us to not forget to wash our hands. Handmade masks made from cloth are said to be less effective, but better than nothing if surgical masks and N95s are not unavailable. An entire industry for designer facemasks could be in the works!
We might always find ourselves standing farther away while in conversation, raising our voices a little louder so ask to make up for the adjusted distance. Businesses will hire extra hands to scrub and sterilize constantly. Cities will have someone who comes around several times a day to do the same on playgrounds and in bathrooms. Social gatherings will be smaller. Theaters will space out their seats. Yes, it’s entirely probable that this virus will create such changes, whether permanent or in the short term. But in the end, these protocols and initiatives are far more preferable over lockdowns, ankle bracelets, and “geo-fences.” If government has any role at all during a pandemic, it’s to conduct studies on the disease at hand, to monitor the situation on all levels, and to keep the public informed of the latest discoveries. This way, we can make the decisions they feel to be most conducive to themselves and their families.
True: with this model, the rates of infection, and of death, might increase. But one must ask themselves: Is it more important to live with that risk, or live inside a world where Bill Gates can tell you when to step outside your house and what vaccines to put inside your body? Without a doubt, the COVID-19 virus is very dangerous. But with time, the virus will probably attenuate and become less deadly. Can the same be said about Bill Gates’ proposals? Will they also pass with time? That’s far more worthy of our doubt.
Then again, maybe I’m wrong: A click of then “refresh” button on WorldOMeters shows that we’re up nearly 1,500,000 cases, globally, with 82,000 deaths. Perhaps we do need a dictatorial New World Order to save us from ourselves. I hope I’m not.