Quarantine Notes: 5/4/20

Sunday, May 3rd, is the day I began to seriously consider trying out the Quarantine Buzz Cut, just for future reference.

I kept my hair long and bang-free for like 20 years, but when my thyroid crapped out a few years ago my hair turned brittle and nasty, so I cut it all off. I’ve kept it in a short pixie cut since then. That pixie cut is thoroughly grown out, as it’s been about six months since my last haircut.

Maybe only four months? I can’t remember if I got my hair cut in February or not. By early-to-mid-February I was staying the hell away from everyone as much as I could, so I’m guessing I skipped that.

At any rate, my hair is a mop. And not a nice-looking one, either. It’s a shaggy frickin’ mess. This shaggy frickin’ mess right here is the exact reason I haven’t bothered trying to grow my hair out to see if ever got healthy again after my thyroid uncrapped itself. It’s driving me bananas.

The only thing stopping me is my lack of trust in the trimmers we have on hand. Okay, not the only thing. My luck, the second I buzzed my head two things would happen. First, I would realize I had made a terrible mistake. And second? My boss would call us back into the office.

Notes below. Updates through the day.

βš–οΈ You may remember that on Friday I told you about how we’d abandoned everyone in prison to suffer through and maybe die of COVID-19. You might have thought that was hyperbole. It was not. Over 70% of tested inmates in federal prisons have COVID-19.

🌼 Folks with asthma and allergies may not be in as much danger from COVID-19 as we thought. It seems like people with allergies and asthma aren’t getting as sick from COVID-19 as we thought they would. Excuse me while I run outside and drag my face through all the pollen I can find.

πŸ– Workers at a meat plant in Crete, Nebraska, protested the re-opening of their plant this weekend.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Tom Perez, chair of the DNC, thinks he’s gonna hold an in-person Democratic Convention this year. I don’t know much about Tom Perez, but apparently he’s an idiot who’s trying to get people killed.

🀬 Over the weekend armed “protesters” – IE, right wing terrorists – “protested,” well, basically all over the damn place. Screaming at people, forcing their way into government buildings where they could, showing off their guns. It was a complete shitshow. Please remember two things: 1. These asshats are in the extreme minority, and 2. What they’re doing should be recognized as terrorism and treated as such. Look, I’m all for a protest. It’s your right to peaceably assemble and kick up a fuss over things you don’t agree with. But I’m pretty sure doing it during a pandemic is a bad idea so maybe don’t, and also, if you’re showing up with machine guns and Nazi flags, I’m not sure that counts as a peaceful protest.

🍊 If you only read one thing on this list today, make it this: 34 days of pandemic: Inside Trump’s desperate attempts to reopen America. That’s the Washington Post’s rundown of the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19, and it’s damning.

🧡 Andy Slavitt’s May 2 COVID-19 thread is a stark reminder that ignorance is bliss. Many states are trying to “re-open” this month, and that is such a bad idea. And in about three weeks, we’ll have the numbers to show it.

🦠 If you want to “re-open” your damn state safely, here’s how.

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³ Everybody hates the Chinese government for hiding the coronavirus for too long, apparently. The US is, of course, leading the charge on the anti-China sentiment. Here’s a bit about the DHS report that says China hid the severity of their outbreak in order to hoard supplies, but with this government, maybe take it with a grain of salt.

πŸ“¦ An Amazon VP quit Amazon over the way the company is treating their workers during the pandemic.

βš•οΈ Here’s another hacked-together cheap ventilator, this one created by Israelis. I don’t know how useful any of these ventilator hacks will ever end up being, as you kind of have to be pretty careful with equipment that forces air into people’s lungs, but it’s inspiring to see people working so hard to address the shortages and needs generated by COVID-19.

πŸ’Έ The US’s stunningly abysmal response to the pandemic is killing off small businesses.

☠️ The CDC is privately predicting up to 3,000 deaths a day from COVID-19 by June.

😷 Mike Pence now says he probably should have worn a mask to the Mayo Clinic. Ya think?

All right, folks, that’s it for today. We’ll save anything else that pops up for tomorrow.

Image credit: Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard for May 4, 2020, around 11am.

Quarantine Notes: 5/1/20

We’re going to make this quick because migawd this week has already been seven thousand years long, and I’m tired.

πŸ“° Ed Young at The Atlantic has really been knocking it out of the park on the coronavirus reporting. His latest, “Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing,” is a must-read.

πŸ’° While most of America is busy self-isolating, being miserable, getting sick, and dying in droves, rich assholes are continuing to not just be rich assholes, but to find ways to become even richer assholes.

🌳 It’s probably pretty safe to be outside right now. Go for a walk and get some fresh air in ya.

🦠 Overall, as far as we can tell, Oregon’s been doing a pretty good job dealing with COVID-19. One of the areas we’ve sucked at, though, is testing. Here’s why.

🦠 Are we gonna have a vaccine soon or not? It’s complicated. We’ve got some good prospects on the horizon, but making good vaccines is really hard.

🧡 Jeremy Konyndyk is a disaster preparedness expert who served in the Obama administration, and late last night he did a Twitter thread laying out the state of play in America’s struggle with COVID-19. Warning: It’s not an optimistic read.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Joe Biden has denied Tara Reade’s allegations of rape against him, is cooperating with investigations, and has asked the National Archives to find and make available any sexual assault/harassment complaints made against him. So, that’s something. I really hope he’s innocent, because I don’t want to vote for a rapist this year. Here’s his statement.

🀑 How on Earth a pandemic that’s killed 65,000+ Americans in two months became the next front in the culture war is beyond me, but that’s where we are, I guess. Stay home, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and wear a damn mask, people. JFC.

πŸ’Š The FDA has just given emergency authorization to treat COVID-19 with remdesivir. Keep your fingers crossed, y’all.

πŸ˜‡πŸ˜ˆ If you’ve been wondering how Aziraphale and Crowley are handling the quarantine, you can watch this.

In conclusion I’d just like to say that this photo made me unreasonably happy today.

Quarantine Notes: 4/29/20

As of about 11am (PDT) this morning, the United States has 1,027,295 confirmed cases of COVID-19. We have 59,392 deaths. We’ve conducted not quite 6 million tests. There are precious few signs that the situation will be improving anytime soon. In fact, considering some states’ and Trump’s push to lift restrictions and re-open the economy, things are likely to get worse.

Notes below. Updates through the day.

πŸ›οΈ If you’re exhausted and wandering around in a brain fog all the time, here’s why.

πŸ• A pug in North Carolina has tested positive for COVID-19. His owners have it, and it’s pretty likely he caught it from them. He’s experiencing mild symptoms. So, we seem to have proof that dogs and cats (and probably some other pets; I think I read something about ferrets a few weeks ago) can catch COVID-19 from their humans. We don’t have any proof so far that pets can pass it to their humans. Also, I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen any evidence that they’re passing it to each other, yet, either.

⚰️ There are some people on this godforsaken rock that want to write off the COVID-19 deaths of the elderly, the already-sick, and the disabled because “they would have died anyway,” and those people are garbage people who should feel bad about themselves.

πŸ“ˆ Half of the entire country has been hit economically by the pandemic. Half. Of the whole country. Despite that, an overwhelming number of Americans think the country should stay shut down. Also, the majority would prefer that Joe Biden be in charge of both the country and the economy. (NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll)

πŸ“± Google and Apple are working together to develop an app to track COVID-19 infections. Most Americans either can’t use it because they don’t have a smartphone, or won’t use it because they don’t trust that shit.

☠️ Hey, remember how America is running internment camps for immigrants? Yes, those are still happening. Nope, they never stopped. Yes, they’re probably full of COVID-19. And yes, we’re apparently just fucking letting people die in there.

☠️ We’ve also basically abandoned everyone in prison to COVID-19. I could go on a long rant about privatized prisons and the school-to-prison pipeline and lots of other reasons why our prison system is a hot, evil mess that’s packed full of people who shouldn’t be in prison, and what a bunch of rotten bastards we are for letting that happen and then letting them all sit in there and die of the coronavirus, but instead I’m just gonna warn everyone that I’m spitting on the next person who trots out that “Murca’s the best!” bullshit in front of me.

⚰️ COVID-19 deaths in America have just surpassed the 60,000 mark. For those of you playing from home, “60,000 deaths” was the optimistic, lowballed prediction everyone’s been talking about.

🌞 Well, this has been a whole pile of bad news, hasn’t it? Let’s end on something good, today. For starters, the preliminary results on the antiviral drug remdesivir are looking promising, so we may have a COVID-19 treatment on the horizon. Also, the race to develop a vaccine is moving along, with one vaccine very nearly ready to enter human trials already. Scientists at Oxford University’s Jenners Institute think they might have a vaccine by September. If that ends up working out, I vote we all buy those guys a pint.

All right, I think I’m about done with this today. It’s only Wednesday, and it already kind of feels like it’s been a long week. Ug. Here, check out this kitty who thinks she’s a horse.

Featured image: Screencap from the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard.

Quarantine Notes: 4/28/20

This week marked the beginning of Week 7 of my quarantine. I’ve been working from home and only making essential trips out for not quite two months now, and I’m doing all right with it. We walk the dog most days so we’re getting some outdoors time. I do miss being able to go out for dinner with friends and family, though.

Notes below. Updates through the day.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Colorado and Nevada have joined the Western States Pact, the coalition of west coast states that have banded together to fight COVID-19. So far, the super-region includes Oregon, Washington, California, and now Colorado and Nevada. Idaho might jump in too.

🀑 The Trump administration has decided to stop talking about how COVID-19 is killing everyone and instead talk about economic recovery and re-opening the states, because nothing makes a problem resolve itself faster than ignoring it.

😷 NPR has an article about people who aren’t practicing social distancing and/or who aren’t wearing masks, and what to do about them, which basically comes down to “reinforcing good behavior works better” because obviously positive reinforcement is the best way to train anything. I, however, will be carrying a baseball bat from now on, because negative reinforcement doesn’t work for shit, but it does make me feel better.

πŸ„ I’m telling you guys: Make friends with your local farmers. You don’t need to go on another goddamn panic-buying spree, but now is a good time to start sourcing alternative food purchasing, because the supply lines on food are being disrupted by COVID-19 and it’s only going to get worse. This does not mean we’re about to run out of food; do not panic buy all the meat. This does mean things are about to get more expensive, though.

🦠 So there was a study out of California last week saying that the numbers of people in Santa Clara County, CA, who had already had COVID-19 were way higher than previously thought, so that meant the death rate of COVID-19 was way lower, and everyone got all excited. Except the study had a multitude of problems and is probably garbage.

πŸ’Š STAT News has a COVID-19 drug and vaccine tracker – it’s tracking the progress of the various “most talked-about” drugs and vaccines being studied/developed for use against COVID-19.

🐈 I am not sure what to make of this particular article: “CDC recommends social distancing for dogs, cats, other animals.” There is no evidence that a human can catch COVID-19 from a cat or dog. There is evidence that cats can catch COVID-19 from humans and become mildly ill, and some dogs have tested “weakly” positive for COVID-19 after their owners have had it, but the dogs didn’t become sick, and scientists weren’t sure (at the time) if the dogs were actually infected, or just had some viral RNA floating around from, like, cross-contamination. This article recommends making your pets follow social distancing, too. IE, don’t let them around other pets or people who aren’t in your household, and we’ve basically already been doing that and probably you should be too. Keep your puppers away from other puppers they don’t already live with, and keep your kitties indoors for the duration.

😷 Oh, hey, video proof that Mike Pence is also a gigantic idiot. Pence visited the Mayo Clinic today, where they’re treating COVID-19 patients. He met with patients and doctors. The Mayo Clinic has a policy enforcing mask-wearing. Pence was informed of this before his visit. Pence did not wear a mask. (Update: the Mayo Clinic deleted their tweet. Here’s a pic. Here’s another tweet about Pence being informed prior to arrival.)

πŸ„ Since I mentioned the food supply chain issues a couple updates ago, Trump has decided to use the Defense Production Act to force meat plants to stay open, and either has or will shortly be signing an executive order to clear them of liability for workers who become sick or die while working in the plants.

🀑 And now the Trump administration is forming a Suicide Squad of just the worst people to push to re-open the economy. Please keep firmly in mind that these people don’t want to re-open the economy because “the cure is worse than the disease,” as they claim, but because they’re mad they’re losing money because we won’t go die at work, and also because Trump is terrified that the tanking economy will also tank his chances at re-election.

🧡 ProPublican has an excellent thread on Twitter detailing the seven things we need to do before America can “re-open.”

🦠 The fastest vaccine ever developed took four years to come to market. So far, we have no sign of a drug or treatment for COVID-19. And “herd immunity” to COVID-19 will not happen unless we’re willing to sacrifice millions of American lives. This shit will not be over soon.

🚬 This is in Vice, so a grain of salt might be worth having to hand as you read, but it appears that smokers who catch COVID-19 are not being hospitalized at the same rate as the non-smoking population. That is, smokers don’t seem to be getting as sick with COVID-19 as the non-smoking population. This is from two preliminary studies, one of which hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, and also smoking is still hella, hella bad for you so don’t rush out and develop a smoking habit or anything, but scientists are looking into the idea that nicotine may have some quality that’s useful against COVID-19.

🦠 There are more than a million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of today.

Lots of news today. Shoot, it’s only just two o’clock, and look how many little bits we have already. I think I’m done today – we’ll save anything else fun that pops up for tomorrow. Here, have an adorable owl.