Hear ye! Hear ye! Listener, viewer, reader! Different sides around important issues are spouting misinformation, as well as outright lies both intended and unintended. We have to learn to think for ourselves.
I’m going to unwind the COVID-19 story a bit and then move this incredibly weighty train forward.
Over a month ago I noticed a strange trend in flu season patterns – that the doctors and nurses were becoming infected and, in some cases, dying. I didn’t recall hearing of this in other flu seasons, including the virulent season of 2017-18. So I called my sister. She and my mother were nurses for their entire lives working at Sacramento County hospital (where one of the first known COVID-19 cases arrived off the Diamond Princess cruise ship) and Kaiser Permanente.
“Do doctors and nurses generally become ill during even the most virulent flu seasons?” I asked. She said, “No, it’s nothing like this in a normal year.” In fact, I remembered she and my mother talking shop over the dinner table, leaving my father and I slightly nauseous, their mentioning that they believed they had stronger than average immune systems from being exposed to so may viruses and pathogens. My sister’s term for it was that she has “the immune system of a stray dog.” In fact, they rarely became ill during cold and flu season.
On to current times. As of two weeks ago, conservative accounts note that 61 doctors and nurses have died of COVID-19 in Italy. Less conservative accounts number 80 doctors and 21 nurses dead. To be fair, at the beginning of the wave, Italian medical care workers were sent to work with little protection and knowledge of what they were dealing with.
Britain has also been a “hot spot” with a high number of losses to COVID-19. Another anecdotal case in point. A British friend of mine comes from a medical family – brother, sisters, nephews, cousins – all doctors with one exception who is a nurse. All live in Britain. Five of them have contracted COVID-19 in the hospital. None became ill enough to be hospitalized, though all were bed ridden and quite ill with the classic symptoms. Meanwhile, in Wales, 20% of the people with COVID-19 are health care workers.
This is not the case in a normal flu season. Meanwhile, the Facebook page of the British site TheRegisteredNurse.com has nearly daily reports of nurses dying with the virus, detailed in articles with such titles as “Your Shift Has Ended.” Clearly something unprecedented is happening among health care workers, never mind the reports coming out of New York city.
Going back to Italy. They peaked and are further into the cycle than most other countries, they became the focus of a statistical report out of UC Berkeley. The new report states that twice as many Italian citizens may have died from COVID-19 than reported. The Berkeley team noted that, as of April 18th, 50,000 deaths would be a truer reflection of losses than the 20,000 officially attributed deaths. The report says that elderly “at home” deaths are often not reported in official Italian statistics and we have all learned that the elderly are the most vulnerable. It’s not coincidental that Italy has the highest median age in the world at 45.4 years. Many of the areas hardest hit were aging Italian communities.
But what about New York City? Roughly 20% of those who lost their lives were under the 65 yrs. and older category. NYC has approximately half of all U.S. confirmed COVID-19 cases at 160,000 with 12,300 deaths. This is a city of 8.5-million people with a median age of 36. Compare this to California with a population of 40-million residents and 45,000 confirmed cases with 1,800 deaths and the same median age of 36 as New York City. What accounts for so much lower an infection and death rate in a state that has 5 times the population? This may be understood by looking at the the stats among health care workers – saturation and repetition of exposure. New York City is crowded with little space to avoid one another. The response by Cuomo has been decisive recently but he was originally slow to enact measures to keep people safe. California was among the the first two states to respond by enacting the now common prevention measures around COVID-19. Plus, Californians are not crowded together, even in San Francisco, which has a relatively small population of under one million residents.
Now, let’s take a look at a popular report going around involving two doctors in Bakersfield, California. Dr. Erickson and Dr. Massihi, owners of seven area urgent care centers. These centers offer pre-screened testing. It costs $175.00 for the doctors to see a patient plus lab costs, likely leaving out the poor or migrant workers. Erickson and Massihi generalized larger COVID-19 trends from this non-representative sample of 5,200+ tests done at their clinics and concluded that COVID-19 is not much worse than an average flu bug in terms of health threat and death rate. These conclusions were quickly criticized as unfounded by statisticians.
But, the first question that struck me when I learned of this story was this: Why didn’t anyone look a little more deeply into the Bakersfield demographics and how this intersected with the doctor’s statistical sample above? Bakersfield is comprised of 51% Hispanics with a median age of 31 – in other words, a large population of field workers who migrated from Mexico. California is totally dependent on them to bring in the crops in the America’s bread basket. This 51% likely leaves out a large swath of undocumented immigrants who would have a big incentive to keep a low profile and who would not seek institutional intervention of any kind. These populations often opt to be cared for by family members. I seriously doubt this population participated in the two doctors’ clinic COVID testing. But, the story was out – “No worries. Doctors say COVID-19 is no worse than an annual flu bug. Let’s get our businesses opened up and running again.”
Now it’s go to Hokkaido, a Japanese island, who is also suffering economically from COVID. After 3 weeks of closure and social distancing, an argument was made that they had to re-open for the island’s economic survival, since they are so dependent on agriculture and tourism. Fifty food processing companies had already filed for bankruptcy on the island, after only three weeks of shutdown – nothing short of a disaster for the population of 5.3 million residents. Government officials bent to the cries for economic relief and re-opened. After 24 days they had to shut everything down again as the virus numbers quickly doubled. This became an alarm bell for the rest of the world’s governments.
So what do we do? These are all real issues. Once infected it appears a higher percentage of people die from COVID-19 than normal flus. In addition, symptoms include a range of strange effects not seen in typical flus. Kaiser Permanente just chimed in with a report that says in confirmed COVID-19 cases among elderly patients, many who become ill or die often do not have traditional COVID-19 symptoms like cough and fever. Instead they become lethargic and unresponsive and some simply die seemingly “out of the blue.” People in their 30s and 40s have died of strokes with COVID-19 due to very strange clotting patterns that appear to effect all organs. You have probably already read that kids get these strange rashes on their toes, as well. In short – this (very likely) lab-created virus is a mystery! It scares us because we don’t understand it. So how does a person decide whether to go out and play again or not?
My husband Zeus, and many others, have suggested that we may need to analyze the costs vs. risks of segmenting the population into the vulnerable and the hardy. Let the younger and healthier people get back to work and commerce starting with essential business and increasing exposure over time. These populations will likely be exposed to the virus with low to moderate effect, while protecting the older and weaker populations. At this moment California is assembling partnerships with food suppliers and restaurants that will continue to serve the elderly as we begin moving around freely again, protecting the vulnerable from the rest of the population. It’s just one of many factors being taken into consideration and it’s a smart one.
Meanwhile, “the show must go on” and the mainstream media networks around the world are up in arms over the slow speed of the race to a vaccine or cure. Vaccines take anywhere from 18 months onward to be fully vetted. The effects of the vaccines can take from 6 months to 14 years to mature in the human body. This may obscure BAD or unintended health effects, especially longer-term effects, of vaccines.
(THE FOLLOWING IS NOT TO SERVE AS MEDICAL ADVICE.)
We have learned that scientific studies have shown that flu vaccines can make the body’s response less effective to the next season’s flu. Secondly, there is little discussion about those who appear to be made more vulnerable to infection by vaccines themselves. Personally, the only year I caught a full-on flu was the year I took a flu vaccine. However, I won’t deny that malaria, typhus, tetanus, and many other exotic illness have been prevented with certain vaccines. I’ve taken all these vaccines due to my work, which included international travel to impoverished and exotic regions of the world. These are targeted vaccines, not garbage-bucket concoctions of various flu proteins. I call the COVID-19 virus a Frankenstein virus. What kind of Frankenstein ingredients will be in this new flu vaccine? I do not have the space here to reference all of the articles that support that this is not a natural virus, rather created in labs with plausible connections to bio-weapons research. This is very dangerous business for the world and for us as individuals.
So, we are left with stories of conspiracy: “Is Bill Gates out to profit off the world’s fear? Why is he an all the mainstream channels touting a vaccine when he has no scientific expertise?” Isn’t COVID just a hoax, not much different than a normal flu?” I don’t care for Bill Gates and don’t use his company’s products. Seeing him on media networks as some expert on viruses and vaccines is frankly cringeworthy. 18-month late vaccines are not a plausible solution to the next epidemic. The truth is we are all in this now, and I am motivated by solutions. It is an existential moment in history, one that gives us pause for thought and to choose new ways of engaging with life.
When I did a live event recently I asked the participants what they would choose, or dream into existence, for the new post-COVID world. Almost without exception they said they wanted to be part of smaller communities where people worked together and helped one another. I second that. We need to become very creative to get through this economically while supporting the diversity of goods and services a community can offer. None of us wants to see big box stores and Amazon as the only retailers left standing, none of us. But this means we have to make different decisions now. We have to know how to protect our immune systems because nobody is going to protect us. We may need to consume less or differently and buy locally produced goods to preserve the local businesses. And this doesn’t even touch on the need to take on the providers of 5G and other EMF producing technologies that are interfering with our healthy cellular functioning.
We will need to be discerning and brave in the times ahead. When our assumed world breaks down, there is opportunity for improvement, awareness, and new connections to ourselves and each other. My husband, Zeus, has been speaking about this time, too, for several years and wrote the book ‘Transforming Economy: From Corrupted Capitalism to Connected Communities’ for just these times. Many of you have recently seen my interview with him (posted this past Monday) and responded optimistically ( https://reginameredith.com/co-creating-a-new-economy-with-zeus-yiamouyiannis-ph-d/).
It’s entirely up to us to create the new models of economy, community, health and relationships. This is OUR world and no one is going to do it for us.