Random Thoughts – Randocity!

COVID-19: Fact vs Fiction

Posted in botch, business by commorancy on February 24, 2021

Detective work is an art, not a science. However, Dr. Sanjay Gupta attempts to be all things to all people, yet fails at being a journalist or a detective. He definitely shouldn’t quit his medical day job, that’s for sure. Let’s explore.

Fact vs Fiction

Sanjay Gupta hosts a CNN podcast that purports to separate fact from fiction when it comes to matters all things medical. However, in his CNN podcast on February 24th, 2021, this podcast does everything except separate fact from fiction.

On this episode, Sanjay Gupta speaks to random person Peter Daszak, a rando with a British accent (which Sanjay seems think lends his words some credibility) who purports to be some level of official on a mission for the World Health Organization. We’ll circle back around to Peter Daszak’s involvement in this shortly. This person claims to have visited Wuhan and then spouts all sorts of rhetoric as to the origins of COVID-19. As this podcast progresses, this guest digs an ever deeper and deeper hole about the wet market origins with Sanjay capping it with question similar to, “Does this rule out COVID-19 having begun in a lab” (paraphrased).

I’m getting ahead of myself a little. Daszak makes a bunch of statements about the wet market as having been the possible origin, but then always qualifying his statements as “coulda”, “woulda” and “shoulda”. For example, he claims that the markets had a lot of frozen meat. I’m sure it did. Yet, none of that meat tested positive. In fact, in every case where he mentions a type of meat, none of it tested positive for COVID-19. Then he later mentions other additional wet markets where some people might have visited as a possible origin. Yet, no mention of testing or of any positive outcomes from those wet markets. Deflection at its finest. Let’s continue, shall we?

“See only what you want to see”

This is where fiction trumps fact. In fact, it seems as this podcast progresses, Sanjay and Daszak both heavily wish to see the wet market as the origin, yet even having over 900 samples from the original Wuhan wet market with none testing positive for COVID-19, that logically and clearly says that the wet market wasn’t the origin. If you want to believe science here, the science of zero COVID-19 samples in any of the food tells us that the wet market was definitively not the origin… at least, not by food.

Because people tend to congregate in markets en-masse to buy their groceries, it may have been an origin only because of a human-to-human transmission super-spreader event.

Of course, both Sanjay and Daszak espouse “follow the science”, yet there is no science at all involved in direct detective work. Science may be utilized as a tool in detective work, but using science as a detective tool has failed to uncover the wet market as a food origin. If any wet market in China had been an origin for COVID-19, at least some food samples should show positive somewhere. Yet, they don’t.

Sanjay and Daszak seem to be in this podcast to sway minds through disinformation, not actual information. Actual information shows proof. Daszak clearly has none, but then there’s subtext for his motives (more on that below). That lack of proof means that this podcast is attempting to spread disinformation by pointing fingers towards the wet market and away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

China’s Agenda

China wants to be let off of the hook for the spread of COVID-19. They want this so badly that they’re willing to do or say anything to make that a reality. China doesn’t care about lying or disinformation. In fact, they’re more than happy and willing to see credible “western” medical scientists put their reputations on the line to tow China’s “we’re innocent” line. China is not innocent in the spread of COVID-19, but then neither are other countries.

It’s unmistakable. COVID-19 began in Wuhan, China. It didn’t begin in Singapore or Italy or South America or anywhere else in the world. It began in Wuhan, China. It’s also clear that we have no proof that it began in wet market food… which means that it likely began via human-to-human transmission… which means there is a patient zero.

Patient Zero

Where is patient zero? As a professional medical scientist, THIS is the question Dr. Gupta should be asking. Instead, he’s asking questions about the wet market in an attempt to pin this firmly on animal to human transmission via food. Yet, when all of the samples from that wet market are scientifically tested, nothing confirms that the virus began at the market… or at least it didn’t begin via consumption of a tainted animal purchased at the market. If COVID-19 began in a wet market, it began because of a human super-spreader event.

We already know exactly how transmissible this virus is. We also know that it can live on surfaces, sometimes for days. This means that COVID-19 could easily have begun by patient zero visiting a wet market… which is a common practice for buying food in China.

Again, where is patient zero? We already know the Wuhan Institute of Virology had both been studying and housing animals infected with a variant of SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19). The lab workers had been tending to the animals, including cleanup of their feces and urine. There is some question as to whether the WIV’s safety procedures had been properly followed prior to the release of COVID-19 in early December 2019.

On the one hand, you have a wet market of animals, none of which have tested positive for COVID-19. On the other, you have the Wuhan Institute of Virology which houses animals known to test positive for COVID-19. I’ll let you do the math here.

While Sanjay and Daszak are adamant that it “must” have started in the wet market, Ocham’s Razor disagrees. The simplest answer is that COVID-19 got out of the lab. Let’s understand how.

Lab Release?

Around the time that COVID-19 (or at least an unknown illness) began to show in China in early December, a lab assistant went missing from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Her name was Huang Yanling. The lab director, Shi Zhengli, has continually disavowed that the virus escaped from her lab. Yet, this missing lab assistant has never been accounted for. It has been assumed that Ms. Yanling was actually patient zero. Through that supposition, she may have been the person who first became infected, spread it around Wuhan in a super-spreader event and then may have died from it… with her body having been burned.

Ocham’s Razor asks, “Why?” Because she (along with others in the lab) worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology tending to the infected animals. But then, she vanishes without a trace? Is she alive or dead? No one seems to know and Shi Zhengli shrugs this disappearance off as normal.

When you’re dealing with an outbreak like COVID-19, you can’t discount missing lab assistants from the equation. Yet, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Anthony Fauci seem to ignore this logic and conclusion jump right over to the diversion of the wet market… which, again, has effectively been proven not to have been the cause of the outbreak.

Again, on the one hand, we have no proof that any wet market animal has tested positive (science). On the other hand, we have a missing lab assistant from the Wuhan Institute of Virology with no explanation of their whereabouts (detective work). Sure, it seems circumstantial, but no one has done an official investigation. Not the WHO, not the CDC, not China and not the United States.

Like a magician who wants your eyes staring at his right hand while his left does the switcharoo so you don’t see how the trick is done, the WHO, China, the U.S. and the worldwide medical community want you looking at the wet market while a young lab assistant, Huang Yanling, disappears from a lab housing COVID-19 infected bats. Yeah, if that’s not misdirection at its finest, I don’t know what is.

Bats and COVID-19

It’s widely agreed that COVID-19 began in bats. Which animals were housed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology? SARS-CoV-2 infected bats, of course. Captive animals don’t just clean up their feces and urine on their own. People must clean it for them. To do this, lab assistants must wear the proper hazard protection gear to avoid accidental exposure while cleaning up the animal waste. Without proper protections, transmission from animal to human can become a reality. Did the WIV fail to properly set up hazard protection? Did this lab assistant fail to wear said protective gear at all times? This lab had already been warned of improper safety procedures years before the incident.

Two State Department cables show that American embassy officials in Beijing made several visits to the research facility and sent two official warnings back to Washington in early 2018 about the lab’s inadequate safety measures. This was at a time when researchers were conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats, The Washington Post reported, citing intelligence sources.

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/chinese-lab-checkered-safety-record-draws-scrutiny-over-covid-19

Let me put it this way… which is more likely?

  1. Someone ate an infected bat from a wet market? or..
  2. A lab assistant not following established procedures released COVID-19 from the lab via themselves?

Considering that this lab had been warned of improper safety procedures in the past, I’ll let you do the math. It’s not hard math either. Again:

  1. Are we looking at infection from a wet market, which hasn’t found a food sample with COVID-19?
  2. Are we looking at infection from a lab with known unsatisfactory safety procedures and a missing lab assistant?

Occam’s Razor is fairly clear here. So is K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). Logic dictates that it’s #2 as the source, not #1. Regardless of what people have stated, it’s fairly clear that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the most likely candidate. The question, why aren’t more news outlets, the government and other officials like Dr. Fauci and Sanjay Gupta looking in this direction?

Conflict of Interest

Most doctors look up to Dr. Fauci as their guide for all things COVID-19. Unfortunately, Dr. Fauci isn’t as innocent in all of this as he appears. Dr. Fauci headed up the NIH at a time when that organization helped fund the Wuhan Institute of Virology to the tune of over $700,000, perhaps more. This funding was for Gain of Function research.

It gets worse.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave.”

Who exactly is Peter Daszak? I’m happy you asked that. He runs EcoHealth Alliance, a British non-profit that, in 2018, identified the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 variants, over a year before the pandemic. Why were they able to do this? Because this British non-profit funded research through the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Where did EcoHealth Alliance get its money? From the United States government, of course. Remember that over $700,000 above? Yeah, that’s where some or all of it went.

That money was funneled from the United States NIH to EcoHealth Alliance and then apparently that money landed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology for virus research. It’s not like EcoHealth Alliance is a direct research firm. Nevermind that the Obama administration had banned the use of funds to further Gain of Function research related to viruses in 2014 to prevent this situation from unfolding. Unfortunately, that ban was lifted in 2017 by the NIH (headed by Fauci), leading to further research and perhaps directly to this pandemic. Without that money funneling through outfits like EcoHealth Alliance to such subcontractors as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the world might not be in this situation.

It takes money to operate expensive research facilities. Without that money, no facilities. Of course, the U.S. Government doesn’t want to get involved in such risky research directly or have that research on U.S. soil, which could backfire on the United States. Instead, it’s fine to funnel money through intermediates so that the United States can absolve itself of involvement through plausible deniability… even though it’s as plainly obvious as it is here. The U.S. indirectly funded research that lead directly to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Is China still at fault? Most certainly. That facility is located in China. China operates it. It is completely on China to operate such facilities responsibly and safely. However, the United States NIH cannot disavow involvement when a very large sum of money landed at that lab, helping them fund SARS-CoV-2 research and possibly leading to the virus’s release. It’s particularly worrying when considering that this research lab indirectly received funding from the NIH, headed up by Dr. Fauci at the time. Dr. Fauci had to know where that money could or would end up. Even still, the NIH could have asked how that money was to be spent by its recipients.

Plausible Deniability and Gupta’s Podcast

I have no idea how culpable or complicit Sanjay Gupta may be in this situation, but it is entirely irresponsible to host a person like Daszak by allowing them to push the wet market disinformation as the source when there has been no actual science proving the wet market’s direct food involvement.

Instead, Daszak’s culpability and possible complicity is evident by his non-profit’s funneling of money into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which firmly places him, EcoHealth Alliance and its reputation at risk. No. He can’t risk that. So, going on a show like Dr. Sanjay Gupta lends credibility to his assertions that the wet market was the location where it began, never mind that science shows there’s no food evidence. However, a super-spreader event is definitely not out of the question. But then, the question arises, who was patient zero and where began their super-spreader event? I think we already have the answer to that question above.

For this reason, it’s important to read articles and understand the situation for yourself. Don’t take statements from people even who appear well intentioned at face value. You must dig deeper for answers to your questions.

We definitely haven’t gotten the whole answer from China or from the United States. Instead, the media, medical professionals like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Anthony Fauci have danced around the issue. With this article, it’s clear to see why they are doing so. To put forth any other narrative about where and how the virus began puts their own careers in jeopardy.

Unfortunately, mainstream media would never pick up such an article like this because it damns not only such people like Dr. Fauci, it damns their own journalistic credibility because the United States government won’t play nice with them after such an article, citing them as “wild conspiracy theorists”.

Being labeled a “conspiracy theorist” is much the same as being accused of sexual misconduct these days. It’s enough to get you fired and labeled as a “nut job”. When, in fact, there’s nothing at all nutty about the statements. In fact, it’s just the opposite. However, even if Dr. Fauci is a “nut job”, he’ll never be openly called that because of his position within the United States government.

For this reason, it’s why we are now facing a political rift across party lines. It’s why Republicans can storm Capitol Hill and most will likely be let off for “good behavior”. Can’t have “well meaning” Republicans being held to justice for damaging property and killing people. Since when is a playing a party affiliation card now a “get out of jail free” card? It seems this, along with the above, is the state of affairs these days.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta needs to rename his podcast. It’s not about Fact or Fiction, it’s about perpetuating disinformation and lies. With Trump, we’ve already had enough lies to last a lifetime. We don’t need yet more lies being spouted from supposed medical professionals. This is why you must question everything.

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What is Critical Thinking?

Posted in howto, rationale, reasoning by commorancy on February 6, 2021
The Thinker by Rodin

Critical Thinking, when taught in a classroom setting, teaches something that approximates critical thinking, but isn’t actually critical thinking. In fact, what is taught is more deductive or logical reasoning than critical thinking. Let’s explore.

This article is 6647 words. At an average reading speed of 200 words per minute, this article will take slightly more than 33 minutes to read it. Grab your favorite beverage and let’s get started.

Critical Thinking Tests

Here’s a test example:

“Some men are definitely intelligent, others are definitely not intelligent, but of intermediate men, we should say, ‘intelligent’? Yes, I think, so or no, I shouldn’t be inclined to call him intelligent.”

Which of the following reflects the intention of the writer well?

A. To call men intelligent who are not strikingly so must be to use the concept with undue imprecision
B. Every empirical concept has a degree of vagueness
C. Calling someone intelligent or not depends upon one’s whim
D. There is no need to be as indecisive as the writer of the above

While there is an answer to this question, I’m not going to go into what it is just now for a number of reasons which will become apparent shortly. Instead, let’s analyze this type of question for its appropriateness for critical thinking skills.

First, let me start by saying that the grammar on this question is absolutely atrocious. Without proper grammar, you can’t make heads or tails of what the question is actually asking. The grammar forces you to trip over the question which then forces you to become distracted by the grammar. This fact alone leads to confusion and interpretation problems. Once we’re off track for the interpretation, we can’t easily arrive at a correct answer. Is this a test writer trick? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Second, this question has multiple choice answers. I vehemently dislike multiple choice answers for a number of reasons. The first reason to dislike multiple choice answers is that they offer a limited selection of choices. You can’t be free to think through the question critically… which is the whole point in this exercise. Instead, you must keep your thoughts constrained to only 1 of 4 answers. On the plus side, the question author didn’t include the absolutely horrid trick answers, “All of the above”, “None of the above”, “Answers 3 and 4” or any similar type answer tricks.

The second half of the second reason to dislike multiple choice answers is that you must decipher what the question author is asking you to do and then keep your thoughts constrained to only those 4 answers… even though your own critical thoughts may lead you to additional answer conclusions not included. This means, you have to put yourself into the shoes of the question author to try and determine how the question author expects you to answer this question. In fact, this makes answering this question less about performing actual critical thinking and more about trying to get into the head of the question author to determine the test author’s motives. That’s not a critical thinking exercise at all. No.

That’s test taking 101. Meaning, it actually becomes more important to understand the test author’s tricks than it is to actually utilize critical thinking skills to answer the question. This is an important distinction to understand about test taking. This is why multiple choice test taking is less about what you know and more about how best to decipher the test author’s motives for the inclusion of the question… and more importantly, how they are expecting you to respond (correctly or incorrectly) to their biased notions. In other words, test authors leave you just enough threads of logic to lead you in multiple directions. Only one thread, if you follow it, leads to the correct answer. Other thought threads, if you are tricked by the question author’s lead, will lead you down the the wrong answer path.

This means you may be betrayed by your very own thought processes. You may postulate the wrong answer simply because the question author led you down the wrong path based on reaching the wrong conclusion. Again, this is test taking 101. You have to become a savvy test taker to understand that the test author is intentionally leading you down the wrong answer path. You have to be smart enough to understand this aspect of test taking to rethink your conclusion to lead you to the correct answer. Again, this has nothing whatever to do with critical thinking skills and everything to do with avoiding test author traps.

Third, this snippet of text is too small to draw any real conclusions. It’s like taking two sentences from the Star Wars novel and then expecting you to understand the author’s intention behind the story. You can’t do this with only two sentences. This question text lacks the bigger context of why it exists in a larger text. If the “author” behind this question included this small statement in a romance novel, for example, and was then talking about a specific character with this statement, you could much more easily draw conclusions to the correct answer because you have wider context surrounding its reason to exist. However, pulling a small snippet out of a larger story, then expecting a test taker to rationalize conclusions without the necessary larger context means jumping to conclusions mostly by guessing. Guessing isn’t the way to critical thinking. Guesswork is best left for situations where the outcome is more or less meaningless. Guesswork shouldn’t be part of or required as a strategy when taking any standardized multiple choice test of any kind. For test taking, you either know the answer or you don’t.

Free Form vs Multiple Choice

Free form answers range in difficulty, but at the same time, require more actual critical thinking. You have to be able to articulate into words the answer to the question. These word answers can then be read by the teacher to understand the student’s thought rationale. That’s the point in critical thinking. For some, writing a free form answer can be easier. For others, it can be more difficult. One thing is certain. Writing a free form answer means you’re not constrained to a limited set of answers… which takes trick answers by wily question authors off of the table. It also takes misinterpretation issues off the table. However, it won’t solve poor grammar problems, such as in the question above.

There, I Fixed It

The question above should have been correctly worded as follows:

“Some men are definitely intelligent, others are definitely not intelligent. Of intermediate men, we should say, ‘intelligent’? ‘Yes, I think so’ or ‘No, I shouldn’t be inclined to call him intelligent.'”

Which of the following reflects the intention of the writer well?

A. To call men intelligent who are not strikingly so must be to use the concept with undue imprecision
B. Every empirical concept has a degree of vagueness
C. Calling someone intelligent or not depends upon one’s whim
D. There is no need to be as indecisive as the writer of the above

In fact, the text of this question, now that this question been grammatically corrected, is technically an alternative form of the classic “glass half-full” vs “glass half-empty” argument. Let’s examine.

Of intermediate men (meaning, men who fall halfway between intelligent and not intelligent), do we call them intelligent or not? Again, this situation illustrates another version of the “glass is half-full” versus “glass is half-empty” argument. Thus, such situations can be both rationalized and stated either way.. and correctly I might add. It’s particularly true when extenuating circumstances are present (i.e., how thirsty you are, for example).

Recognizing that this is a case of “glass half-full vs glass half-empty” should be the critical thinking challenge. Once you recognize this fact, the answer should become obvious. Yet, it doesn’t. There’s no answer here that immediately rewards the critical thinker for recognizing this fact. Instead, we are still left with 4 bland answers… answers that don’t adequately or obviously sum up the question author’s reason for writing this question.

However, according to this test author, the answer is A… “To call men intelligent who are not strikingly so must be to use the concept with undue imprecision”. There is nothing in the snippet that describes a man as “strikingly so”. This “strikingly so” concept was added in the answer and was not part of the question. In fact, the correct answer should be C… “Calling someone intelligent or not depends upon one’s whim.” Why?

Why Indeed

The answer A works only from a utility perspective, but the answer breaks down under scrutiny. The “strikingly so” text, which was only present in the answer and not in the question, was added as a qualifier for the intermediate man. This qualifier didn’t exist in the original text and was incorrectly introduced as a new concept in the answer. This violates answer protocol.

A man who is of intermediate intelligence can’t really be called unintelligent unless someone who is much more intelligent stands next to him. Intelligence is a matter of degree. This means that so long as the intermediate man is the most intelligent man in the room, then the glass is half full… or more specifically, the man is intelligent. However, if the intermediate man isn’t the most intelligent man in the room, then the glass is half-empty… or more specifically, the man is considered unintelligent. It’s all a matter of context.

The label is then applied based on the context (or whim) of the situation… which means answer C, “Calling someone intelligent or not depends upon one’s whim”. Even though neither C nor A correctly or adequately describe this situation, C is the most correct of all of the included weak answers, because C doesn’t introduce new information.

Let’s also keep in mind that the definition of “undue” means “excessive”. Calling an intermediate man intelligent isn’t, in any way, excessive. Anyone who is not unintelligent must be, by their very nature, some amount of intelligent. We all understand that intelligence is a matter of degree. It is not an absolute. Calling someone intelligent doesn’t immediately conjure up images of Einstein and Mensa when using that word to describe someone. Instead, calling someone intelligent means to recognize that they are not stupid. For this reason, this question is better served (as a critical thinking exercise) by recognizing that it is, in fact, a form of “glass half-full” vs “glass half-empty” and then treating the test taker accordingly with an appropriate answer. That is the reason for this answer’s existence… an exercise that the test writer him/herself wasn’t intelligent enough to realize.

Critical Thinking

The above proves that this form of test taking isn’t sufficient to demonstrate if a student really understands critical thinking. This form of test only tests if the student can take tests, not that they understand the concept of critical reasoning.

Critical thinking and reasoning is designed to compare ideas, learn the most you can about it, apply logic and determine if what someone is saying is true, partly true, partly false or entirely false. Again, there are degrees to falsities and truth. Understanding and being able to critically find these half-truths or half-falsities (seem familiar?) is the art of critical thinking. It is a concept that the question author above failed to understand. It is a concept, however, that is the reason critical thinking skills are very important.

To ferret out truth from fiction using logic and reasoning is, by its very nature, a skill that everyone needs to master. Sure, you may know when your kids are lying, but can you tell when your co-worker is lying? Your boss? Your doctor?

You can’t just blindly go around thinking that all of these people are telling you the absolute truth any more than thinking they are outright lying. You need to be able to determine degrees to their truth and their deceptions. This is where critical thinking comes into play. Critical thinking isn’t just about reading text, either. It’s also about reading body language, reading into a person’s words and watching how people interact with one another. To become a critical thinker, you must also be able to read human body cues and nuances. Critical thinking skills are rarely ever just about one thing. It’s a combination of cues, text, conversation and rhetoric that combines to create a whole. Once the whole is created, it can be dissected and analyzed by your brain. The point is, to work through not only the logic or irrationality of the situation, but also to combine all aspects to see the bigger picture. Only then can you really think critically about what you know.

Case in point, the above question. If I had attempted to guess what the question author wanted, I would have gotten the wrong answer… because my analysis was not what the question author was seeking. Instead, my thought processes led me down the wrong path because I saw something in the question that turned out to be ignored by the question author. Instead, the question author took the wrong path by introducing information in the answer which shouldn’t have been there. I would have ignored the A answer because of the introduction of information that wasn’t in the original question. In fact, the introduction of that new information was actually the author’s trick to lead you away from the correct answer… to have you select an answer that didn’t introduce new information.

That’s not the critical thinking that the author intended. Instead, you were forced to use critical thinking to deduce which answer is the best based entirely on what you guess the author expected. In fact, there is even less information to go on about the test author than there is in the question. However, taking a test as a whole, you might be able to, through critical thinking, ascertain patterns in the questions and answers. It is these patterns that might lead you back to the above question to later realize the obviousness of the answer.

Unfortunately, you would have to have answered many questions on the test to realize the test author’s scam behaviors. Once you can recognize the test author’s scams on the test as a whole, you can then go back and rework previous answers to fall in line with that new information gleaned from the full test. This is why there’s an art form in taking tests… and while it might utilize critical thinking, it is more dependent on second guessing the test author correctly. I digress.

Critical Information

Critically viewing the world is important. You don’t have to tell everyone your conclusions. You simply need to be able to reach reasoned conclusions based on all information you can obtain. Conclusions aren’t always correct, but critical thinking isn’t an exact science. Because data is always changing and being updated and more information can be found, conclusions may change based on new data. This is the reason to always remain open to new data with a willingness to update conclusions based on that new data.

Jumping to conclusions is easy. It’s just that people tend to jump to conclusions way before having enough critical information. In fact, many people jump to conclusions with only the barest of information. Snap conclusion jumping is the whole reason why TV sitcom programs like Three’s Company (and many other situation comedies) can even exist. With access to the Internet, everyone now has a treasure trove of information right at their fingertips. Don’t just search one thing and call it a day. Spend some quality time searching and digging and reviewing. Look at all sites… even if the site is primarily made up of kook conspiracy theorists. There are always grains of truth tucked everywhere. It’s the commonalities between the various sites that are likely to lead you to those grains of truth.

If you can call and ask questions of people, you can even gain more insight. Nothing is off limits when seeking information. The worst that someone can say to you is, “No” and then you’re no worse off than you were before. As long as you understand this aspect, you can dig for information and sometimes get the information you need. Most times you don’t even need to call and talk to someone. An email will typically suffice. Some people can even be more forthcoming in email because it doesn’t require speaking aloud, which can be overheard by bosses and other staff. Typing, on the other hand, isn’t a problem… which documents yet another critical thinking exercise.

Getting the information to aid in finding an answer is half the fun. The other half is analyzing the data in your brain for even more ideas. Not everyone has the aptitude or desire for this. I get that. But, critical thinking is still very much a useful life skill.

Testing vs Real Life

Understand that the test question above is the kind of question you might expect to see on an aptitude test, like the GMAT. To pass that test, you will need to study similar kinds of questions like the above. You’ll then need to understand how to read and interpret these questions for the appropriate answer. However, know that that kind of “critical thinking” isn’t the same as you would use in everyday life… and herein lies the rub.

Teaching critical thinking skills in a class room will gear the student towards passing an aptitude test. Unfortunately, such tests don’t adequately prepare the student for using genuine real world critical thinking skills to solve actual problems, get to the bottom of a lie or in any other way support any other real life dilemma. We must rely on a completely different set of thinking skills than those taught in a class room. For this reason, relying on academia alone to impart the necessary information tends to come up short in real world applications. It is for this reason that I write this article.

Academia

Don’t get me wrong. Academia is great for learning new information. The teachers are excellent at getting students up to speed on various topics that they may know nothing about. Unfortunately, as great as they are at doing this, you also must recognize the limitations of academia. The biggest limitation is that university and college classes aren’t great at teaching information that’s real world applicable… or more specifically, how you can apply that knowledge to real world, real life situations. Instead, the student is left to his / her own devices for how to tie course materials to every day life.

Some course materials lend themselves to real world application much more readily than others. For example, accounting classes. It’s fairly obvious that the information learned in an accounting class can be used at an accounting firm. Classes like Sociology, Psychology, Art History, History and even Geology glasses don’t always offer up real world applicable information. They’re “great to know” classes, but can’t often be used in real life. Even mathematics classes don’t always have real world applicable uses, unless you’re a video game programmer. Even then, there’s limited use cases for that information. Knowing Calculus, for example, may not be helpful in programming a video game unless you’re designing a new and better physics engine.

In most cases, however, a game developer will grab an existing game engine off of the shelf which doesn’t require a need to know that level of calculus…. because you’re using an existing pre-programmed engine, not designing a brand new one. You will need to know how to use the engine to its fullest, but that won’t require that level of mathematical understanding.

Academia does have its uses. Specifically, it helps you to get a degree. Having a degree is exceedingly helpful in obtaining a job in certain fields. Unfortunately, much of the required academic information learned at a university is lost in time… which means that the money wasn’t well spent. Certainly, you got the degree out of the deal, which is the primary reason to spend the money. However, not retaining the learned information is a loss to not only in what was learned, but to a lesser degree in the money spent in that attempt to learn. That doesn’t mean all will be lost after earning a degree.

Academia isn’t totally a waste for learned information, however. Some of the information learned can be useful in real everyday life… if you can manage to retain it. If you use some of that information on a regular basis as part of a job, then you will at least retain that information. However, keep in mind that learning information during the pursuit of your degree can become outdated years later. Even such topics as history, physics and mathematics can change as new assumptions are made, as new information is uncovered and as new technological achievements arrive. In other words, some information learned in 1995 might be outdated by 2005, just 10 years later. Indeed, computer systems will be far outdated. Learning to use, for example, the WordStar word processor was entirely outdated by the release of Windows 98 and packages like Microsoft Word. As another example, learning to use Windows 95 had become entirely outdated by 2020 with Windows 10 being the most current edition.

Even the introduction of the iPhone and the iPad have changed academia from 1995. For this reason, many professions require refresher courses every year to keep each professional informed of the latest changes in the industry. Unfortunately, too many industries don’t require such refresher courses.

Learning Everyday

The point to all of this is that critical thinking is left to the individual to both address on their own, but continue to learn, grow and expand their own knowledge and contemplation skills. Critical thinking isn’t something that you put down or use occasionally. You must use this skill every time you interact with anyone. That includes watching the news, reading a book, talking to your friends and, indeed, even interacting with your boss.

What you’ll soon learn is that everyone has an agenda. It may be as small and innocuous as attempting to sway your point of view, but it might be as big as attempting to manipulate you into doing something for them. Critical thinking is an important life skill. This can’t be emphasized enough.

You must be both willing and able to see through to a person’s real agenda. Not everyone wants something from you… at least, not something that’s tangible. Television news programs want your attention and they want to sway you to a specific point of view… a point of view that is dictated by only the information presented.

A real world example

COVID-19 comes to mind. Vaccines do have benefit when designed correctly. However, the agenda now is to push the vaccines at all costs. News programs have been pressing this point almost relentlessly… to the point of ignoring the pandemic itself. We now get 5 minute snippets of the death numbers and we get 30 or 60 minute long segments with “medical professionals” espousing how well the vaccines work… yet, how scarce they are.

We know that. We knew that when the vaccine rollout began. It’s as if the news shows each want to insult our intelligence by assuming we didn’t know that the vaccines would be scarce for months on end. Yet, instead of covering the pandemic and showing us the carnage, the news producers instead choose show us a whole lot of nothing about how poorly and slowly the vaccine rollout is going. In fact, news programs have chosen to politicize this whole issue by blaming it on the politicians. I won’t go down into the politicization quagmire that literally has no end. Instead, let’s move on.

These news shows have chosen a one-sided approach to pandemic reporting. Instead of reporting on the actual pandemic, they are reporting on the vaccine rollout and pretending that the vaccine rollout is considered reporting news on the pandemic. Hint: it isn’t. The vaccine is but one small subset of the entire pandemic. The pandemic is about how the virus is spreading, not how well the vaccine rollout is going.

Let’s understand more. The vaccine brings hope. The pandemic brings despair. As a producer, which would you rather report on? Here’s where biased reporting comes into play. The pandemic is not just about the vaccine, it’s about how, when and why people are contracting the virus. It’s about contact tracing. It’s about timely testing. It’s about hospitals under siege. It’s about the resulting deaths. It’s about running out of medical equipment. It’s about all of these things and more…. and yes, it is also about the vaccine rollout.

When a news program chooses to ignore all else to bring the vaccine rollout front and center, that’s disingenuous reporting and it’s the very definition of biased reporting. One might even consider this kind of repetitive reporting as a kind of reporting designed to convince the viewer the vaccine is a “good thing”. This aspect requires critical thinking skills to both realize and understand. If you don’t use critical thinking skills here, you can’t know to visit other news sites to get information about the pandemic itself sans the vaccine rhetoric. Critical thinking allows you to bring all aspects into perspective.

In the last example, trying to convince someone of something by repeating it often is a recent, but definitely not new, trend. As a critical thinker, you must recognize this false strategy to understand just how misleading this trend is. Donald Trump utilized this “repeat often” strategy in an attempt to convince people that the election was rigged. Here we have news programs using this same exact strategy to sway people to the news producer’s agenda about, “pandemic bad, vaccine good”.

Let me just stop here to point out a prior Randocity article about the vaccine. Again, this is another critical thinking article. I’m not attempting to convince you of my point. Instead, I’m offering up various sides and I leave it for you to decide your own point of view. I also don’t use repetitive reporting techniques to barrage you with the same point over and over and over as a technique of persuasion. I could most certainly use this technique, but then this blog would be no better than Donald Trump or various major news networks.

With this article, I want you to rise above these petty persuasion techniques and see these things for what they are… by using critical thinking and reasoning. However, as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I can lead you, but you must choose to understand. I’m not here to convince you. You must make the leap to understand for yourself.

One Last Exercise — COVID-19

Let’s critically discuss the vaccine rollout. The vaccine rollout team has chosen a very specific rollout methodology. A methodology that I have begun to question. There’s no argument that choosing to inoculate those most at risk first seems like the best strategy, but is it? Clearly, those at high risk stand to lose their lives if they become infected. However, how do those at risk become infected? The answer is most likely, by those who are much younger and healthier who bring it to them.

Reasoning this out, it seems that rolling the vaccines out to those at highest risk of carrying the virus around would make the most logical sense, regardless of age. Yes, it’s been stated the vaccines won’t necessarily prevent carrying the virus asymptomatically. Let’s examine who I propose here: children in school. Because children are dependent on adults for their well being and because children must return to school and daycare centers which congregate children into close social groups and because children are not yet capable of understanding the ramifications and risks of carrying around COVID-19, children carriers are the most likely reason those at risk could become infected.

Children congregate socially to play and learn. Because of that, they then pass COVID-19 around and bring it home to their parents. If it’s a multi-generational household with grandparents at home, then those most at risk can easily become infected. The parents can then become unknowingly infected and, for a short asymptomatic time period, carry and spread COVID-19 to work, retail businesses when shopping and others they encounter… even to social events like the year end holiday season.

Many people have presumed this next false logic about children and COVID-19: “Because children are less prone to the affects of COVID-19, this means they are less likely to spread it.” This is patently false. There is no causation between these two separate concepts. Children and adults are both human. Human to human transmission is just as likely from a child as from an adult. In fact, because children are less likely to wash hands often and less likely to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, transmission of COVID-19 from a child is extremely high. While the child may never get severe symptoms, that may not be true of those to whom the child has transmitted the virus. However, a child doesn’t have the life experience to understand why handwashing is important… why covering their nose and mouth to sneeze or cough is important… why it’s important to take regular baths and to wash clothing. That leaves adults at greater risk from their own child, particularly if they’ve been at school around other children.

I’ve even seen doctors on news programs implying that children can’t as easily transmit the virus to adults as justification of getting the children back into school. I get this want. I truly do. Parents can’t have their children at home 100% of the time. They need their child back in school. After all, school is really treated primarily as a form of free daycare… with the added benefit that the child might learn something. However, the misguided logic of children being unable to spread COVID-19 is patently false and will bite us all in the ass.

Children can pass COVID-19 to an adult just as easily as an adult can pass COVID-19 to a child. There is no transmissibility decrease from child to adult or adult to child for any virus, including colds, flu and, yes, COVID-19. You are just as likely to catch a virus from a child as from an adult or from anyone of any age. Anyone claiming otherwise is flat out lying to you. Human transmissibility of a virus doesn’t change simply because of the age of the human. Believing that lie could get you and your family dead.

For this reason, using this lie to justify school reopening is ripe for a resurgence of the virus… not to mention, the unnecessary loss of teaching staff life that, at this time, can’t be easily replaced. If school districts want to believe this patently false lie and reopen the schools simply to get the kids back at their desks, then don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Vaccination

If schools wish to reopen, children and teachers must be vaccinated for COVID-19. Why? Not because the vaccine won’t stop children from being carriers, but because it will reduce the amount of time they can carry COVID-19 when they get it. In fact, a child taking the vaccine may actually reduce and limit the child’s ability to transmit the virus to others. If their immune system fights off the virus quickly (in a day or two), a child’s ability to transmit is limited to a day or two at most. Because the vaccine kickstarts the immune system into action fairly quickly, a child should be able recover far, far faster from even an asymptomatic infection than an adult. Vaccination can then drastically reduce transmission from child to child in a school setting. It also drastically reduces the chances a child may transmit it to a teacher (particularly if the teachers are also inoculated) or to their parents.

For this reason, the currently flawed strategy of inoculating the eldest groups first and working downward means leaving school age children as the very last group to receive the vaccine. Again, flawed logic. Yet, parents want schools reopened now. If schools want to reopen, then everyone working in schools, including the children, must be vaccinated. There is no other choice. This means modifying the present rollout strategy to send vaccines into schools by having schools be the next group in line to receive the vaccine. Attempting to open schools without a vaccine strategy will lead to the unnecessary deaths of teachers and staff operating the schools… at which point the schools will be forced to close, not because of the virus threat, but because there’s simply no longer enough staff to operate the school system. Then, the choice to reopen schools will have been firmly shut down until such time as staff can be replaced.

Of course, no new teachers will want to hire onto school districts whose leadership so callously let their own teachers and staff die by becoming infected with COVID-19 via the children, particularly when this situation could have been entirely avoided by choosing a safer distance learning approach. In other words, the schools and school districts will have a logistical public relations nightmare on their hands should such a situation unfold. Not to mention, many, many lawsuits from teacher and school children families alike. Opening schools to 100% capacity without any mitigation strategies, such as the vaccine, is ripe for many, many more COVID-19 deaths, not just in schools. Think about the holiday season surge, but then realize it won’t end until schools end up forced closed because of loss of a critical amount of staff. It’s ultimately a no-win scenario. Believing the lie that schools are “safe environments” without offering a vaccine strategy is likely to end up with the same outcome as the year end holiday season COVID-19 death surge. Here you should use critical thinking to think through this assertion.

Reducing the Spread?

The bigger question… Is anything that we’re doing, including the vaccine rollout, actually making a dent in COVID-19’s spread? As of now, probably not. The vaccine rollout might eventually begin to take an effect, but that probably won’t happen for at least a year or longer. Even if the vaccine reduces the symptoms of COVID-19 to a manageable and survivable level, that still means that COVID-19 still has the potential to be fatal in some risk groups where the vaccine doesn’t work properly or can’t be administered. The vaccine may reduce the mortality rate in an eventual way, but we don’t yet as know how far the mortality rate may be reduced.

On the other side, we are also running against the variant clock. I really dislike the term variant and, instead, prefer the term strain. I don’t know why the news programs are using the term variant instead of strain, but here we are. The primary defined difference between a variant and a strain is its functional difference. For example, scientists believe that if a mutated virus is capable of getting past a vaccine, then it is considered a new strain. If a virus has mutated, but functionally hasn’t changed and vaccines are still equally effective, then it is a new variant. However, I’d argue that if the virus hasn’t functionally changed, it isn’t even a variant … regardless of whether its genome has mutated? In other words, variants aren’t important until they are able to get around a vaccine, in which case it’s no longer a variant, but a new strain.

The clock, however, is still ticking. That means that eventually a new strain (not variant) of COVID-19 will emerge that (almost) completely evades the current vaccines. That means vaccine manufacturers will need to rework the vaccine to include the new strain(s) or provide a booster shot that boosts the antibodies to now include the new strain(s). Though, I’d logically argue that a booster shot that intends to combat a new strain is not a booster and is instead a new vaccine unto itself. Additionally, when a new strain emerges, it likely won’t be a single strain. It will be multiple strains. Once this happens, tracking them all down to modify the vaccines can be a challenge. In other words, the vaccine efficacy is entirely dependent on how long the current strains remain unchallenged. As soon as new strains emerge, this whole situation starts all over again.

That’s an example critical thinking, not the test that began this article. The test example above doesn’t actually detect your ability to reason. It tests your ability to take tests. It’s one of the fundamental problems with academia. Until universities wake up to this fundamental disparity, they remain status quo by offering an alternative universe from reality. Universities need to wake up to the realities of the world and learn to teach real world experience. Right now, the best universities offer is book knowledge which, unfortunately, may only offer less than 20% usability in the real world. For this reason, it’s why corporations shy away from hiring recent graduates for critical business roles… which makes recent graduate employment all the more difficult. Graduates may wonder why. Well, now you have your answer. Only real world business experience offers businesses the safety net they need to know the individual understands how to operate in a corporate culture and do the assigned job to the satisfaction of the corporation leadership team.

A Final Word to College Graduates

A recent college graduate has little to no corporate experience and, thus, has no way to know how to time manage themselves or their job efforts. Time management is never taught in college. The recent grad will eventually learn this, but many businesses want new hires to hit the ground running on day one. Managers don’t want to spend hours and hours training a recent college graduate only to find them walk away from the job a year later for significantly higher pay. For training reasons, hiring managers typically hire recent graduates for significantly less pay than someone seasoned. Training is costly both in time and money, which is a significant part of the reason for the lower pay. To invest that time and money into a recent college graduate only to have them walk puts managers on edge… and makes them gun-shy to try it again. That doesn’t mean a raise won’t be forthcoming to get you up to market levels. Don’t assume you’re stuck at the pay rate where you are. However, many graduates are too impatient to wait.

I realize college graduates want higher pay on their first job, but that isn’t usual. Worse, using a new employer simply to put the company name on your resume for a year is callous and manipulative. It may also hurt your future job prospects. If as a new graduate, you commit to a job, stick with it for at least a couple years. Don’t use the company as a stepping stone for resume experience and discard them like an empty bottle. Sticking with the job increases your marketability for new jobs and increases your chances for much better pay opportunities. Walking away too soon will be frowned upon by hiring managers. Hiring managers will notice your itinerant nature is a problem… particularly if you’ve left the job in a year or less after graduation. They may even insinuate there’s a problem afoot with hiring you. Be careful with your first job as it sets the tone for all future jobs.

Again, this is critical thinking and reasoning skills at work. You must think through all aspects of the hiring processes to understand how and why what you do and how you treat your employer can help or hurt your future career. Learn to use all of your critical thinking skills to think through every situation. Critical thinking is a skill that’s difficult to master, but it is a life skill that will greatly aid you in many different ways throughout your life.

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The Rise of the Sociopaths

Posted in mental health, security by commorancy on January 10, 2021

While this title above might seem like the name of a fiction novel, it isn’t. It’s actually what is happening in the world and specifically in the United States today. Yes, mental illness is on the rise, but so is COVID. Let’s explore just how COVID is playing a part in this.

COVID-19 and Sociopaths

Let’s lead this article with the primary explanation of what is occurring in the world. It is estimated that at least 1% of the United States population is psychopathic, which includes sociopaths. Sociopaths are one subset of mental health. However, this is a subset of mental health that allow people suffering from it to do a lot of damage very quickly when placed together.

When COVID-19 arrived, those who do not suffer from mental health issues feared (and continue to fear) for their their own lives and safety and thus, retreated to their homes. These same sane people who are cautious of getting COVID, are particularly fastidious about washing their hands, are limiting their exposure to others and are only shopping when necessary. Basically, these people are staying home and not being reckless with their own health, their family’s health or of those around them. They take all precautions, wear masks, order take out only, visit stores rarely and refrain from heading off to shopping malls, crowded movie theaters or hanging out in large crowds.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, don’t care about any of that pesky ‘safety’. Not only have they been told by Trump that the virus simply isn’t that dangerous, they personally choose to believe that themselves. The sociopath believes only what benefits them or their ego and discards all else. Being constrained by wearing a mask, staying at home and not being able to socially gather isn’t of benefit to a sociopath. Sociopaths actually need others around them to do their bidding, stroke their ego and to interact. A sociopath who doesn’t have “friends” to hang out with isn’t really a sociopath. Sociopaths appear to be extroverts even though they are technically loners. Though, the word ‘extrovert’ doesn’t accurately describe how a sociopath operates. Suffice it to say, a sociopath requires people to manipulate… and manipulate them they do. We’ll come back to this aspect shortly.

Because COVID-19 has shut in so many, those who are still running around with careless abandon primarily consist of sociopaths… or rather, those people who have sociopathic tendencies. Like pretty much anything, there are degrees of sociopathic behavior… which means a person can be a little sociopathic or extremely sociopathic with added traits like narcissism. Before COVID-19, society consisted of both normal mental health individuals and those with mental health disorders. Because sociopaths can blend in and appear normal, their behaviors were mostly kept in check by those “normal” people around them. Sociopaths deeply wish to fit in with a crowd so they can have their ego stroked. To do that, they adopt behaviors that appear to be the same as those of their sane friends around them. This reinforcing behavior keeps many sociopaths in check.

Since COVID-19 and the loss of so many “normal” people being out and about, the sociopaths have lost their reinforcing behaviors… yet they still need their egos stroked, still need to be able to manipulate people and still need all of the satisfaction they had prior to COVID-19. As a result, like attracts like. Because those who are running around are primarily sociopaths, they tend to gravitate towards like minded sociopaths. This firmly leaves sociopaths, who were formerly able to keep their mental health state in check with their sane friends, with their mental state unchecked and unbounded.

Trump

Donald Trump has shown himself to be a nearly text book narcissistic sociopath. What does that mean? It means never a hair out of place, an orange complexion, always dressed in a suit or another “smart” outfit… all the way down to his trophy wife. He surrounds himself with things and people that not only stroke his ego, but support his personal agendas.

Because he’s a sociopath, he doesn’t have a conscience… which means he’s brutally honest to a fault, he doesn’t tolerate people who won’t do his bidding and he will just as easily tell you off as act like your friend. In short he will do whatever it takes to get his agenda accomplished. If a sociopath doesn’t get their way, they will throw a tantrum. Narcissistic sociopath tantrums don’t usually include self harm, but they may harm possessions, animals or people around them both verbally and/or physically.

When their tantrum is over, they will act as though nothing ever happened. They won’t talk about it and they don’t want to talk about it. Instead, they are still laser focused on getting their way using whatever means is required.

Sociopaths always seek popularity, which is why Trump was so in love with Twitter. Having over 70 million followers is a HUGE ego boost for anyone. Being able to spout a message and instantly see thousands of responses is mesmerizing and incredibly satisfying to a sociopath… which is why Trump tweeted so frequently. Unfortunately, that satisfaction is fleeting. Like a meth user needing his next fix, sociopaths need their next ego fix constantly…. why Trump tweeted so much every day. Sociopaths have an insatiable ego-boost appetite.

If that’s where Trump’s sociopathy ended, I might not even be writing this article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. Sociopaths are also expert at manipulating people by using lies, boasting, blackmail and fakery. There is no measure considered too extreme by a sociopath to get someone to do something for them. In fact, the more you tie yourself to a sociopath, the more they will use you for their own benefit. Unfortunately, to manipulate someone requires pathological lying. Both sociopathy and pathological lying go hand-in-hand. This type of lying means tricking someone into believing something that is untrue and then having that person act on that lie.

Conscience is non-existent by a sociopath. This means that they simply cannot feel sorry for, empathize with or in any way feel for someone else’s plight. They simply don’t have this ability. Because of this lack of empathy towards others, they will do and say anything without remorse. Just witness some of Trump’s speeches for various examples.

In short, a narcissistic sociopath like Trump, needs others to help him and stroke his ego at the same time. If they stop helping, they are summarily cut off. To invite a sociopath into your life is to invite a toxic relationship that will end badly.

Followers and Sociopaths

Trump’s goal is to not only stroke his own ego, but gain as many followers to do his bidding. In fact, he has done this. He has used lies to manipulate his followers into action. His latest action, unfortunately, went horribly awry at the Capitol Hill building. Unfortunately, when cornered, a sociopath begins making mistakes… which is exactly where Trump is. On January 6th, he was cornered. He either had to accept his loss (which is of no benefit to him) or he had to manipulate people in an attempt to change the outcome.

He attempted to manipulate Mike Pence into this, but that effort failed. He then resorted to inviting (and inciting) a crowd to Capitol Hill that turned into insurrection. Because his desperation level, as a sociopath, is increasing, so is his ability to rationalize outcomes. Typically, sociopaths are able to play out scenarios in their heads and see the outcome they desire. As long as they follow a specific set of lies and manipulation, they can usually affect that outcome. Unfortunately, these outcomes require unlimited amounts of time for the outcome to finally occur.

When tight time constraints are in place, the ability of a sociopath to see and plan for everything needed becomes clouded. They can’t manipulate and lie fast enough to get people to believe those lies and affect their goals. This then leaves the sociopath desperate and flying by the seat of their pants. Desperation only leads to instigating rash, difficult situations and mistakes… and in the case of Trump, with inciting insurrection. Because January 6th had arrived, he didn’t have enough time to plan a way to engineer a successful coup. Instead, he left it up to the crowds by requesting they do this work by “fighting”.

Trump knew very well the type of people he had invited to Capitol Hill and he was well aware of the types of paraphernalia they would bring with them. He didn’t have to explicitly tell his cabal to storm into the building as it was all subtext to be read between the lines. His mostly sociopathic cabal was well aware of exactly what he wanted done and attempted to execute it on his behalf. Unfortunately, because his cabal was a loose set of people rather than a cohesive group, no planning was initiated between those who breached into the building. Because of the lack of planning, they all did whatever they pleased as his cabal was mostly loner sociopaths themselves who can’t work together as a team. Thankfully, however, his cabal wasn’t organized enough to lay siege, occupy or hold its occupants hostage on Capitol Hill.

Election Rigging

Though, that didn’t matter. Trump has had 4 years to gather, indoctrinate and manipulate his cabal into doing his bidding through lies, lies and more lies. Remember that sociopaths are almost always pathological liars. His most blatant lie being that he won the 2020 Presidential election, when he clearly had not. Of course, his second lie was that since he didn’t win the election, the election must have been rigged. Nevermind the fact that rigging a Presidential election is basically impossible, which this fact has since been proven that no rigging was found. Trump continually cited counting irregularities, ballot counting issues and people’s anecdotes (lies from even more sociopaths) as rigging, but never actually provided any proof of that fact… to which nearly every court case Trump has created was dismissed due to lack of evidence. Nevermind that voting irregularities do occur in most every election, but are eventually found and reversed through proper vote counting and procedures long before the state certifies its counts.

Worse, he claimed that many dead people voted. Hello! The world is presently under threat of COVID-19. We’ve had 373,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States to date. As of this article’s publish day alone, we’ve had 4,112 deaths from COVID-19. On November 3rd, we lost people to COVID-19. On November 4th, we also lost people to COVID-19. That means that every day since the 2020 Presidential election, people have died to COVID-19… many people who voted. So, yes, there will have been people who are now dead who voted in the election. That’s not fraud. That’s not rigging. That’s statistics.

Further, if a candidate wished to perpetuate fraud in an election, why would he or she do so with such a narrow margin? It doesn’t make sense. If you are intent on winning an election through fraud, wouldn’t you bump the numbers up to a least 60:40 or 70:30 so that there was no question about who, in fact, won? Why would you leave the win at almost 50:50 with such narrow margins in some states that it required recounting 3, 4 and 5 times?

No, I contend that someone intent on rigging an election would do so to such a degree that there would be no question about who won and who lost… and more specifically, who won immediately. With a 60:40 split, that would mean news services could call the election within an hour or two, not days.

Is rigging even possible?

Let’s understand that rigging an election would require access to not only one state of systems, but 50 states worth of independent systems. None of the each state’s voting systems are linked together. That means that Florida’s systems do not talk to systems in California or Idaho or anywhere else. This means that if someone wanted to rig an election, they would have to physically visit the voting centers in all 50 states and in all cities in all of those 50 states.

We’re talking about thousands and thousands of people all over the country simultaneously touching thousands of voting machines and making changes. It’s simply not possible or even feasible. Biden’s team and even the Democratic party doesn’t employ that number of people. Let’s forget all about the fact that Republicans and Democrats alike operate these election centers.

Worse, if an election were rigged, that also means that every race is suspect… not just the Presidential race. But no, the Republicans weren’t having any of that nonsense. They only blamed the Presidential race, but not the other election races on that same ticket. It doesn’t work like that. If an election is being alleged as rigged, all elections held that night are suspect. No candidate can win if even one race is under investigation for having been rigged. You can’t cherry pick what you want and leave the rest out. This is a classic sociopath behavior. Choose only the things of benefit, ignoring all other things. Logically, you can’t do that when calling out election rigging. Either all election races are suspect to fraud or none are.

Yes, it gets worse

Because the sociopaths of the world are out in full force due to their lack of conscience and empathy, they don’t care if they get COVID-19… or, more importantly, if they give COVID-19 to others. For this reason alone, the primary people attending Trump’s rallies and gatherings are very likely sociopaths, just like Trump. Like minds attract and all that.

That’s not to say that everyone attending is a sociopath, but the vast majority of those people attending his rallies are almost assuredly sociopaths… because those who don’t want to get COVID-19 are not heading out to his rallies, let alone large gatherings. That’s why Trump’s attendees almost never wear masks. That’s an ego thing, too. To wear a mask hides the very thing that allows the ego to be stroked. Anyone who is a narcissistic sociopath won’t wear a mask because it hides the ability to have the ego stroked… something a narcissistic sociopath desperately needs at every moment.

Because Trump’s followers… or more specifically, his rally attendees are primarily sociopaths just like he is, they have no moral compass. That’s why so many were willing to bring weapons AND grin for the camera within Capitol Hill. That’s ego at work. A sociopath needs to be praised for sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, for pulling her plaque down smiling at the camera, for stealing her lectern, for breaking windows, for taking selfies with a cop. Anyone who does not have a mental health issue doesn’t need to do any of these things. These people doing this at Capitol Hill don’t have a moral compass, which very heavily implies every one of these people are a sociopaths.

Yes, there were people who were not entering the building. Yes, there were people who may have shown up simply to stand in protest. However, there were also thousands who crowded the steps, broke down doors and windows and allowed themselves to be photographed while grinning. Perhaps not everyone in that crowd was a sociopath, but those who don’t have a moral compass, who yell out death threats and who beat up cops, these are not sane people. Sane people don’t behave like this.

Trump has rallied and goaded people who are just like he is into these actions through lies. His sociopathic followers choose to believe his lies because it benefits them to do so and helps stroke their own egos.

This is the danger and risk COVID-19 and, by extension, sociopaths poses to society. By keeping the sane people at home, it leaves those with mental health issues running amok on the nation. This is why this article is entitled, “The Rise of the Sociopaths”. Our country is now under siege by these mentally challenged people. As long as Trump still has a mouthpiece to lie to them, he can incite his sociopathic followers further into action. The problem is, with Trump’s loss of Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, this is leaving him even more desperate and in need to reach out his followers to have them do even more damage. Trump will be required to take desperate measures to mobilize his cabal. The country is truly in peril by sociopaths.

We’ve only got 10 more days until the inauguration. However, Trump has 10 days to plan something big with his sociopathic cabal to not only undermine that inauguration, but perhaps damage the United States and democracy beyond repair. For this reason, it is imperative that Trump be removed from office immediately. He is a danger to not only himself, but to the United States and to the rest of the world.

Why not simply ask Donald Trump to resign? That won’t work. He’s a sociopath driven by ego. Voluntarily giving up his Presidential power isn’t something he can do. He has no moral compass or empathy. He simply can’t feel for the predicament he has placed the United States into. In fact, a sociopath cannot ever place blame for a problem on himself… even if he caused it. Donald Trump simply can’t see that he has done anything wrong by inciting insurrection. As a result of feeling like he’s done nothing wrong, he won’t give up his office. However, Trump does understand prosecution…

If I were on Capitol Hill, I’d be immediately offering Trump a deal in exchange for his resignation. While such a deal may be distasteful overall, the important national security part is that Trump is removed from office and can do no further damage. What deal is that? Offer Trump prosecutorial immunity with permanent exile outside of the United States in exchange for his immediate resignation. To negotiate with a sociopath, you must offer a deal that greatly benefits them and one that they can’t refuse. This offer greatly benefits Trump and the United States. It offers Trump a way out without any penalty of legal action and it forces Trump to leave the United States so he can’t possibly mobilize local crowds ever again. Secondarily, by enforcing permanent exile, it doubles the stakes by preventing him from ever holding public office again, without the need for impeachment.

As long as Trump remains in the United States, he remains a threat to national security in or out of office. The only way to stop that is to send him packing. I honestly don’t care if Trump ends up in jail or not. He just needs to be prevented from doing further damage to the United States of America and, sadly, prosecutorial immunity is actually a small price to pay to make that happen.

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Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Posted in Health, medical, safety by commorancy on December 31, 2020

If you’ve watched CNN, Fox News or CNBC, you’ve probably seen a number of medical correspondents like Dr. Sanjay Gupta or Dr. Leana Wen who consult for CNN during this pandemic. Let’s explore their lack of fiduciary responsibility to the general public.

Medical Doctor or M.D.

To get a license to practice medicine, a person must not only obtain a preset amount of medical training and gain experience in the form of internships, they must also agree to the Hippocratic Oath. This oath originated with Hippocrates (born 460 bc). This oath essentially states, among other information, “First, do no harm”, however, this exact wording does not exist in the oath in its original Ionic Greek form. Instead, it has been translated with levels of interpretation necessary to be understood by an English speaking audience. One might say that the original Ionic Greek form has been altered and updated to modern society standards.

The difficulty with revisionism by third parties is that these revisions were not by the hand of Hippocrates. Regardless, the sentiment of what Hippocrates wrote still essentially remains.

With the phrasing of “First, do no harm”, this runs quite a bit counter to the COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s dive in and understand exactly why.

Mouth Piece

One thing you have to understand about the medical industry, particularly for “celebrity” medical doctors is their level of sway they have with the general public. With a brand like Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he has built his celebrity reputation on seemingly good and sound medical advice over the years. As he has so carefully built this brand, he has been careful to ensure that his messages are in keeping with his brand message and also doesn’t run counter to his medical training or, in general, the medical industry. The same can be said for Dr. Leana Wen, though her brand image is far less solidified than Dr. Gupta’s.

Unfortunately, during this pandemic, these medical “doctors” have taken an odd turn, staking their own personal brands and reputations on a rushed vaccine.

Instead, these medical correspondents, not just for CNN, but all of these news networks, have simply become talking head mouthpieces for the medical industry as a whole. While the pandemic rages and gets worse, killing ever more and more people, these mouthpiece medical practitioners sit in front of cameras spewing the rhetoric of an industry that really hasn’t proven itself to be harmless. More specifically, the pharmaceutical industry.

The Medical Cycle

The medical industry is, unfortunately, a bunch of collusive teams all working together to create a whole. I’m not here to say that each of these industries are bad in and of themselves; it’s just that when combined, they create a whole that’s not completely without “First, do no harm”. It’s very difficult to regulate disparate industries that have only minimal relationships with one another.

Below is an image that demonstrates both the collusive and parasitic nature of each of these industries. With that big $ sitting in the middle, it represents an industry that makes trillions every year. Let’s understand exactly how much money is at stake:

“How much money is in the healthcare industry? In 2018, the global healthcare sector’s revenue was $1.853 trillion, an increase of 4.5% on a year-on-year basis. When it comes to healthcare expenditures, the US tops the list, spending $10,224 per person.”

https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/healthcare-statistics/

Over $10,000 per person per year! Wow! What other industry in HISTORY makes this much money per person per year? Yeah, collusion.

What the above image says is that Hospitals rely on both Doctors and Pharma companies for their continued monetary success. Note that I didn’t include equipment manufacturers in this graph, but know that they are out there. Medical equipment manufacturing is a tertiary industry that is needed to supply all 3 of these industries with similar equipment. In fact, the equipment manufacturers are probably the only industry that are mostly outside and don’t act in collusion, but instead, they sit to the side and feed above monetary cycle. However, these equipment manufacturers also make more than their fair share of money from this industry.

Also note that the arrows flow in both directions because money flows both ways. Doctors feed the pharma companies by prescribing. In return, pharma companies grease the Doctors via kickbacks, residuals and free medicines. Hospitals pay their Doctors, in return Doctors act as sales persons for the Hospital by using their expertise and brand reputation to bring repeat business to the hospitals. Pharma and Hospital relationships are entirely obvious and money flows both ways buying and using medicines.

There’s also the research arm of this industry, but most of the drug research resides within the pharma companies. There are also the insurance companies that, while not directly part of the medical industry, act as the glue between the public and this entire industry. Without this “monetary glue” the entire medical industry would fail and couldn’t exist. Should insurance companies be included in the above? No, because they do not practice medicine in any way. They believe they should by making medical decisions based on when to cover and not cover illnesses, but they are firmly outside of that industry.

I don’t wish to digress into the scammy and unnecessary nature of the insurance industry, so I won’t. However, I may write a follow-up article to discuss just how much of a leech, a scam and an unnecessary burden is the insurance industry on pretty much every part of life. I’ll leave it at that. Let’s continue.

Industry Acceptance, Coercion and Blackmail

Doctors are practically held over a fire to keep their license. Instead of being about altruism, it ends up being about falling into the trap of someone bigger than you. A doctor’s practice is held over the fire by their license. Without a license to practice, doctors can’t make a living. It’s basically a legal form of coercion.

What that means is that unless a doctor practices social restraint and, in fact, continues to tow the industry accepted lines of thinking, the doctor may find themselves out on their ass without not only their job, but without a way to make a living. This means that a doctor is almost constantly “coerced” into towing both big pharma ideals, but in towing hospital ideals. They must make sure their opinions don’t run afoul of either of these two entities, either one of which could see to it they can’t make a living.

Either of these “big brothers” may coerce and collude to keep the doctor in line, just like a parent keeps their petulant child in line. Threats of being fired or, worse, losing their license is a strong incentive not to make waves in the industry and to tow the sometimes distasteful practices that have been tossed at their feet.

Medical Correspondents and News Channels

As we circle back around to news channels, we now begin to understand why both Dr. Gupta and Dr. Wen mostly pretend that the COVID-19 vaccine is entirely safe and effective. If they don’t do this pretending, particularly with their powerful celebrity status, this could torpedo the entire vaccine acceptance strategy (and their own personal careers).

I’m not here to say that these vaccines aren’t safe or effective, but I’m cautiously optimistic… the exact stance a medical professional should take. When Dr. Gupta got his shot on camera, I could see a fair amount of trepidation in his eyes. However, his words (and forced expressions) overrode his eye and body language. Just watch the video below and notice his wide eyed expressions closely:

What this says to me is that while he does in some way believe the safety and efficacy, he also realizes the dangers of this mostly untested vaccine. In fact, I got the distinct impression that he felt like an unwitting pawn in this situation.

Levels of Desperation

With the amount of deaths per day, the medical industry feels a tremendous amount of pressure coming from every angle. There’s pressure coming from politicians (and the President) to come up with a solution to the pandemic. There’s also internal pressures coming from pharma companies towards doctors to push their latest “vaccine” as efficacious and safe.

With this measure of not only industry pressure, there’s the level of desperation by the public into wanting a fix and wanting it yesterday. The economy is failing. Businesses are closing. Unemployment is spiking. The pandemic is taking a huge toll on our current way of life. It’s digging deep into every industry, every person and into every single aspect of our current social existence.

Because of all of these levels of desperation, pharma felt pressured to delivery something, anything. They did. The difficulty is not that pharma delivered, but what they delivered.

Prudent or Reckless?

There’s a fine line between being prudent and being reckless and sometimes it’s difficult to see when that line has been crossed. Unfortunately, desperation is never the reason to jump into something that appears to be a miracle. That miracle might, in fact, turn into hell.

The doctors claim that the medical technology used in the vaccine (messenger RNA) is something that’s been in existence for years. The difficulty is that this technology has never been used in vaccines, at least not until today. Even while the technology may have been known for years, putting it into practice is an entirely different thing.

From concept to vaccine delivery was a total of about 9 months, the time it takes to conceive a baby and deliver it. Those 9 months included a rapid clinical trial of a month or two at most.

Most drugs that hit the market have had years of clinical trials (i.e., plural… more than one). This vaccine had a total of one clinical trial. Sure, the amount of participants was large, but it was still only one clinical trial. In fact, the trial excluded certain at-risk groups of individuals, such as pregnant mothers and other at-risk people. In effect, the trial utilized only healthy adults without preexisting risk conditions. Unfortunately, that leaves the vaccine at risk of causing harm “in the wild” because it won’t just be put into the arms of those non-risky individuals. It will be inserted into the arms of pregnant women, children, asthma sufferers, COPD sufferers and all manner of people with diseases of the mind and body.

In short, the quick trial skipped key tests… test that may negatively impact those at-risk folks who were not represented during the clinical trial. It’s risky and it’s disturbing.

Let’s come back to Dr. Gupta and Dr. Wen on CNN.

When these correspondents appear on CNN, their banter about the vaccine is one-note. It’s almost as if what they’re saying is entirely scripted by the pharmaceutical companies and not of their own words. I’ve yet to hear ANY cautionary warnings or verbal trepidation from either of these “doctors”. As I said, “Scripted”.

It all seems so contrived and canned as if to “reassure” the public how safe and efficacious the vaccine is.

Exercise Caution, Restraint and Critical Thinking

While these TV news doctors continually spout almost 100% positive rhetoric that these vaccines are perfectly safe, I’m not convinced… yet. I’m firmly still in the “wait and see” camp. The clinical trial was way too quick, provided way too convenient results and hasn’t in any way been challenged by doctors who should be challenging how the trial was handled.

Instead of challenging anything about the trial, these doctors are being shown given a literal shot in the arm (see above). Even politicians are doing this.

Is the vaccine efficacious AND safe?

The theory behind the vaccine formulation has merit, to be sure. It forces the body to create and replicate antibodies against alleged innocuous portions of the virus. The difficulty is that the mRNA is a foreign invader. It’s something the body hasn’t seen before. The body’s immune response may be somewhat calculated, but there’s no way to know long term effects on the body.

Could the vaccine lead to disruption in key functioning of other body functions either now or in the future? These are thing we can’t know. Because the clinical trial wasn’t able to test any portion of it long term, we simply have no idea what long term effects the vaccine may have on the body’s systems. We simply don’t know what the vaccine may cause 1, 2, 5 or 10 years later.

Compared to getting COVID-19, it’s a toss-up. COVID-19 may also produce these same effects in the future. We can’t know what we haven’t tested… and that’s exactly where we are with the vaccine. Injecting portions of this foreign invader into the body with a minimal tested trial, we simply don’t know long term effects.

We aren’t even sure just how efficacious this vaccine technology will be against the virus in the future. We might find that even after the second dose that the vaccine’s effects wear off 6 months later. The vaccine’s effects may not even be effective against future mutated strains of COVID-19. Again, because the clinical trials couldn’t test long term ANYTHING, we simply have no information. This is the reason why critical thinking is important. We must use our brains and realize that without proper testing, this vaccine may not be all of what it is claimed to be.

Not only might it not be effective, it might cause more side effects than giving us the immunity it was intended.

Wait and See

If you’re thinking, “I work on the front line so I need it”, think twice. That’s desperation talking, not critical thinking. You can’t jump on board simply because you fear getting the virus. You must take the vaccine because it has proven itself useful, not because someone says that it is. Believing hearsay is the quickest way to problems.

I’m not saying the vaccine isn’t efficacious. What I am saying is that the vaccine hasn’t yet proven itself efficacious other than under very specific and controlled circumstances. The world doesn’t work like a controlled clinical trial. There are far too many unknowns when giving shots to people who are not under controlled conditions. This falls under the safety factor. These unknown safety issues can lead people to injury and death. These are possible consequences from these vaccines. It seems that the clinical trial was mostly focused on efficacy over safety. That’s not to say that safety wasn’t a factor in the trial, but it wasn’t the primary motivation in its formulation.

Injecting an unknown substance into your body always has risks, from infection, to allergic reactions to unforeseen consequences, such as Bell’s Palsy, injury or death. We simply can’t know what we don’t know.

Money

Let’s come back to that big $ hanging out in that image above. Money is how the world works. No one does something out of 100% altruistic intent. No, money is how the world-goes-round. Big pharma companies aren’t in it for the altruism. They are in it for how much money they can make. While those who receive the shot may not pay for it, make sure you understand that pharma companies are well paid for producing these vaccines. Without money, these vaccines wouldn’t have been made. It is about how much money pharma can make off of it with as few negative consequences as possible.

Unfortunately, drugs aren’t without side effects. Pharma companies are well aware of that fact. Therefore, for every drug they introduce, they have not only insurance, but also lawyers to work through injury and death lawsuits.

With the pandemic, we really don’t know if suing Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca will even be allowed. Because of the pandemic, the government might give these pharma companies complete immunity from prosecution or lawsuits. What that means is that these pharma companies might have been given carte blanche by the government to produce whatever they want with impunity… no matter how damaging it may become.

Future Vaccines

There’s also a danger in the manufacturing process. As the first batch of vaccines might be somewhat effective, future produced vaccines might not fare as well. As the manufacturers find cheaper materials, faster processes and more efficient manufacturing, that can cause errors to creep into the formulation. That could also mean that vaccines made in February might be less efficacious and more dangerous than those produced in December.

We simply don’t know what Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca might introduce, alter or change in a few months or even next week. It’s extremely hard for me to jump right into this “vaccine is safe” argument and state that the vaccines are 100% anything. There are way too many unknowns to make blanket statements about this vaccine.

For this reason, I’m firmly in the wait and see group. I want to allow others to have first dibs at the vaccines to see how well they fare and what possible outcomes might result from their experiences. After I see how that works out for them, I can then look at those side effects and make a better informed choice.

Right now, we simply don’t know enough. We are flying mostly blind. We need to be able to see exactly how bad the vaccine’s effects may get to judge it against what we know about COVID-19. Only then can we make an informed choice. You don’t want to jump into the vaccine only to find yourself in the hospital clinging to life because the vaccine had a severe consequence on your body. COVID-19 is a bad disease, but the vaccine’s long term consequences could ultimately be worse. We simply don’t know… which is why waiting at least some time is prudent.

Vaccination Confusion

As we move into the vaccination process, comes confusion and, in some cases, sabotage. The confusion stems from many different reasons and from different directions. The first confusion is the two dose schedule. Some people will assume one dose is enough and skip the second dose. Worse, some patients may not be told that there is a second dose (or will forget due to memory issues) and will end up skipping the second dose not knowing it is required to receive full effect from the vaccine.

The second problem stems from multiple vaccines from different manufacturers. As of this article, there exist two approved vaccines in the United States, including the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. There are three more are on the horizon including AstraZeneca, Janssen and Novavax. Because each of these vaccines have different storage requirements and likely different administration schedules, this puts the onus of which virus vaccine you receive on you. If you get a first dose of the vaccine, but you don’t remember which manufacturer’s vaccine you received a few weeks later, you won’t know which follow up dose to get. That leads to…

If you get the Pfizer vaccine initially… then for the second required dose, you can’t switch and get the Moderna vaccine. The two don’t work together. Because each vaccine has a different mechanism of action and formulation, the vaccines are not interchangeable from the first to second doses. You must get the same vaccine for the second dose that you got in the first dose. Some people will conflate this, take the wrong second dose, assume they are protected and then get COVID-19.

The next problem is vaccine administration practices and vaccine authenticity. A hospital has already gotten mixed up and administered the wrong medicine instead of the vaccine. While this may seem to be a clinical error, it goes way deeper than that. As administrators of smaller and smaller hospitals and medical clinics become responsible for buying vaccines to administer to their patients, inevitably these mix-ups will become intentional. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that some clinics are intentionally injecting plain sterile water into the arms of individuals instead of the authentic vaccine. It could be that the clinic simply can’t get a supply or it could be the administrator is unscrupulous and is selling the vaccines out the back door for real money while injecting patients with fake product.

Speaking of intentionally doing things, we have already seen a hospital worker allegedly intentionally sabotage a supply of the vaccine by taking it out of the fridge overnight. That hospital worker has since been fired (and now arrested), according to many sources, but all of the above is just the tip of this unsettling iceberg.

Counterfeit Product

This last problem, keeping in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, is grey and black market product. As vaccines slip out the back door of hospitals and medical facilities, unscrupulous scalpers may attempt to sell and inject this grey and black market product into people who are way, way down the list. These products might range from authentic to plain sterile water to dangerous drugs. You don’t know what you’ll receive when you go the grey market route. Keep in mind that even reputable hospitals might even fall prey to injecting grey market or counterfeit vaccines into people. There is a wide range of ways that all of this can manifest.

Right now, we’re at the very start of this process. By the end, we’ll have heard of most of the above, if not a lot more shysters, scams and hucksters trying to make a quick buck off of the vaccine.

For safety precautions, always ask to watch the medical worker pull the vaccine from a properly labeled vial. If you can request them to show you the vial beforehand so you can read the label, all the better. Make sure that the label appears genuine and that the product appears authentic. While fakes can sometimes appear better than a genuine product, in a hospital medical setting, one would always hope that everything dispensed is entirely genuine. If you’re visiting a urgent care clinic or a small medical facility, like a doctor’s office, make sure that you ask when they received the vaccine, how old it is and if it was properly stored.

If you’re injected with an improperly stored vaccine or, worse, a fake product, it might do nothing at all or it might have negative health consequences. So, to the best of your ability, request to inspect that the vaccine is authentic and ask all of the right questions about storage and handling. If your doctor suddenly says they have vaccine doses at a time when hospitals are unable to obtain them, this should be a huge red flag. A doctor’s office may have gotten counterfeit product from a scammer.

Scammers abound and these are people who are more than willing to take advantage of small doctor’s offices for their own scamming benefits. They will pretend to be medicine distributors only to sell the office cheap and fake products. By the time the doctor’s office realizes and potentially injects some patients, it may be too late.

When considering your turn at the vaccine, be exceedingly cautious as the vaccinations progress into the future. Scammers WILL find ways to scam this entire process if not outright sabotage it. You must be diligent and ask the right question before they jab that hypodermic needle into your arm.

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COVID-19: Should I help out?

Posted in advice, Health, medical, pandemic by commorancy on December 22, 2020

Here’s a solid question that may appear to not have a clear answer, but it really does. Let’s explore.

Emergency aboard a plane

Imagine you’re flying on a plane to get somewhere. Imagine that the person across the aisle from you appears to be having trouble breathing and is sweating. Then, imagine that same passenger begins having a seizure which turns into a medical emergency. Now imagine another medically trained passenger steps up and begins performing CPR on this now stricken passenger and continues performing this activity until the plane lands (i.e., over an hour).

This scenario just played out on a United Airlines flight on Monday December 21st. A scary situation to be sure. Is jumping in to aid a possibly COVID-19 infected passenger wise? Could this situation have been avoided?

COVID-19 has familiar symptoms including shortness of breath, sweating, fever, chills and other outward signs of infection. These symptoms, particularly when this severe, should be easily spotted. Yet, no passengers, none of the flight attendants, none of the airport or airline attendants did anything to question this clearly ailing man before boarding, while boarding or during the flight. How does this happen?

Airline Negligence

Before I get into the meat of this article, let’s discuss the side dishes. This side dish is negligence. When you’re flying on a commercial jet, it is the airport, TSA and airline staff’s responsibility to properly vet passengers all along the way for who may be showing outward symptoms consistent with COVID-19. How does an airport and an airline miss his condition? This is the job of those who run airports and airlines. This is partly why they get paid.

Clearly, this man should have been coughing and having trouble breathing even sitting in the terminal. COVID-19’s symptoms don’t appear at a moment’s notice. Clearly, not only is the airport itself, but so is United Airlines entirely remiss in spotting this ailing passenger at the many touch points of passenger check-in. Even the TSA failed to spot his condition!

How does an airport and a wide array of airline and airport staff miss seeing a sweating, ailing, coughing passenger in their midst? I’m at a loss here.

Passenger Due Diligence

It’s not really on the passengers to do an airline’s or an airport’s job. However, it is on every passenger to stay aware and vigilant of their surroundings. We’ve all been taught to stop, look and listen. During a severe pandemic, it is firmly on ALL of us to be aware of our surroundings. With the pandemic, we need to become even more vigilant and hyper aware of those around us by listening to and watching everyone around us. If someone is coughing, sneezing, wheezing or appears in any way distressed, you should not only move away from them, you should get as far away as possible.

However, when we’re sitting in an airport waiting for a flight, we’re trapped at that terminal. What that means while we can move away from someone who appears to be ailing, we must also notify those in charge that a specific passenger appears to be in a problematic state. At that point, those in charge would need to step up and determine whether that person is ailing, has a fever or appears to have any outward signs of COVID-19 and to pull that passenger aside and deny them access if necessary.

In other words, there were so many touch points that failed to identify this distressed United Airlines passenger, it really throws into question just how diligent and effective airlines and airports really are to screen infected passengers. It’s clear that they missed this passenger. It’s also clear that the passengers themselves missed notifying those in authority.

Passenger Aids COVID-19 Passenger

When the distressed passenger moved into a medical emergency aboard the flight, another passenger aboard that flight decided to jump in and perform CPR. The aiding passenger wasn’t entirely sure if the passenger was COVID positive. However, it has been reported that the wife of the passenger had later stated he had tested positive. This means that this aiding passenger should have known he had tested positive before performing CPR. Here’s Face’s tweets on this subject:

He claims that the distressed passenger’s wife never mentioned that her husband had tested positive. However, it has been reported that she had stated that he had tested positive. I’m not sure of this conflicting information, but it’s possible Face never asked her before jumping in to perform CPR. Unfortunately, his efforts to perform CPR didn’t succeed and the passenger succumbed to his COVID-19 medical fate and died.

As a result, this helping passenger has now tested positive himself. Should he have jumped in to help? Let’s understand this question a bit more in detail. It is also the meat of this article.

Helping in a post-COVID world

While Face may seem like a hero at a time when this passenger needed CPR most, the difficulty in performing this medical intervention is ultimately COVID-19. Coughing, sweating and fever don’t indicate a condition that warrants CPR. It indicates COVID-19. CPR may be required IF the person goes into cardiac arrest. However, let’s understand the position this distressed passenger was actually in.

This situation occurred aboard a flight while in the air. Flights have limited access to medical equipment, but planes do have a defibrillator… a defibrillator which should have been used first to attempt to resuscitate this patient before attempting CPR. Planes may have small oxygen canisters aboard for flight attendant use. It is unknown if this was used.

COVID-19 is an illness that can escalate into a life threatening situation quickly, particularly aboard an airliner where air pressure and oxygen saturation is reduced at 30,000+ feet. That means less oxygen is available when flying on an airliner. For someone with trouble breathing under the throes of COVID-19, boarding an airliner, as in this case, could end up a death sentence.

As I said, there is very limited medical equipment aboard a commercial jet. Let’s understand that even as hospitals get inundated with massive amounts of COVID-19 patients, even their ability to handle these patients is limited and in many cases fails leading to death. Why then would a good Samaritan think they can save a COVID-19 patient clearly requiring access to hospital equipment and oxygen?

Lending Aid

While I applaud Face’s willingness to jump in, the effort ultimately proved entirely futile. Worse, not only did it prove futile, Face became infected with COVID-19 by performing his good Samaritan routine. I applaud good Samaritans willing to self-sacrifice to help out another person, but at some point, you have to logically deduce the odds of success.

For example, if the wife had been forthcoming about her husband’s COVID-19 positive test, it would have been perfectly clear that this passenger was afflicted with COVID-19 and that almost no means could impact his survival short of a hospital visit. That means this first responder would know his odds. Considering that there is very little medical equipment aboard a plane, performing CPR alone would not be enough to stem the tide of what COVID-19 is doing to this person’s body. Logically, he should have assumed COVID-19 (based entirely on this person’s symptoms) and deduced his efforts would fail. Helping is great, but not when the risk far outweighs the reward.

Let’s better understand this logical dilemma. If hospitals with access to their best doctors, best procedures, best medicines and best equipment can’t save severe COVID-19 patients under that level of distress, what makes a basic trained first responder think that performing CPR alone can?

At some point, you have to calculate the odds of success and deduce when the risk is greater than the reward. For Face, this means the unknown of how COVID-19 would impact his health. Will he survive his own infection? Could he end up in a similar situation clinging to life?

That’s what we all face in a post-COVID-19 pandemic world. We must make critical decisions that can impact our own survival.

However, this situation could have been prevented if even one person had stepped up at the airport prior to boarding, recognized his symptoms and called an ambulance to get him to a hospital. Seeing how far along that he was with COVID-19, it’s possible that even a hospital couldn’t have changed his fate. However, that everyone missed recognizing his so obvious symptoms not once, but many times all along the way is disconcerting… no, horrifying.

Ever Vigilant

As we move further and deeper into this pandemic, regardless of the vaccines, we must acknowledge this virus’s effects on the world. We must remain vigilant to those around us no matter where we are and what we are doing. What that means is that if we’re at a grocery store or restaurant or at Target (or aboard a plane), we must remain hyper aware of those around us. We need to stop, look and listen. If someone is coughing, sneezing or appears to be sweating or having any other outward signs of illness or distress, we must move as far away from that person as we can get. You must always look out for you in this pandemic. No one else is.

If you can leave the building and come back later, even better. There’s no reason to stay and risk your own health or those of your family by bringing COVID-19 home. COVID-19 is clearly a devastating illness with severe consequences. Denying that these consequences exist is a recipe for exactly what happened to both Face and that distressed passenger aboard that United Airlines flight.

Worse, every single passenger and crew aboard that same flight could potentially face testing positive for COVID-19 following that flight. There’s no telling exactly what may have flown around in the air while that passenger performed CPR. That situation is a danger to everyone aboard that flight… which means that everyone aboard that flight can now become super spreaders unless the passengers are forced to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Yet, I haven’t heard anything about this. I’m not even sure that everyone aboard that flight is even aware of what happened. Has United Airlines contacted the CDC with the passenger manifest? Has the CDC contacted every passenger to ensure quarantine? Doubtful.

Not only did United Airlines ignore this aspect of this COVID-19 positive man’s ride aboard the flight, the airline acts like everyone who was aboard is now perfectly safe.

This is why we must ALL remain vigilant. We must step up and call out people who appear to be ill. We must stop them from boarding flights or trains or entering stores. If an airline (or manager) refuses to take action, we must refuse to board the flight and choose to take another flight. Is it really worth risking your own health for the possibility of becoming infected while on a flight, all while knowing that a coughing and sneezing passenger is three rows up from you?

Air Travel During a Pandemic

With the pandemic quickly spiraling out of control, is it the best of ideas to be hopping aboard a plane? While I know that sometimes we must travel for family emergencies or other situations out of our control, we must also acknowledge when not to travel.

Right now, traveling aboard any airliner, train or other means and which affords contact with members of the public, isn’t the smartest of ideas. Worse, many airlines have been reducing their responses to COVID-19 by increasing passenger load aboard planes while the pandemic escalates into the highest infection rates and deaths we have seen so far. While I realize a lot of people don’t believe the pandemic is real, the above United Airlines story is a stark reminder of how very real COVID-19 is.

If you don’t need to travel during the pandemic, don’t. There’s no reason to sit next to other people who may not be as vigilant or as concerned about the pandemic as you are about your health. Unfortunately, our illustrious President has entirely downplayed the seriousness of this pandemic… even going so far as to ignore the worst surging portion of the pandemic entirely over the last several weeks since the 2020 United States Presidential election. This apathy has been taken to heart by many people who believe just as our lackadaisical President.

While we can’t control what others do, we can control what we ourselves do and how we respond. That means avoiding public transportation, avoiding eating at restaurants, avoiding shopping in stores, avoiding doing outdoor activities where we come into contact with the public in close proximity and choosing to not go out unless absolutely necessary. If you need to invite someone into your home, like cleaning staff, baby sitters, plumbers or electricians, require that they wear masks the entire time they are in your home.

Quarantine Period in the Home

For anyone entering into your home whom you don’t know, such as plumbers, electricians or even maid services, they can easily bring COVID-19 into your home. It’s important that you ensure that you protect your home and family. After someone has entered your home, you should avoid the room they have visited for at least 24 hours (if possible) and open the windows to allow it to completely air out. If you can’t avoid using that room, then you may want to use Lysol or another disinfecting product to clean the surfaces they have touched. If you can wait an hour or two for the air to settle, then you can use disinfectant on surfaces to kill any viruses they may have left behind.

For maid services, you should request limited services to limit their exposure around your home. Better, suspend maid services or limit them to once a month. It can be difficult to stop emergency home services, but optional services should be limited or eliminated.

It’s difficult to foresee every single possible exposure in your home, so just use your best judgement. If someone wants to enter your home and it’s not critical for your home, reschedule for them to come back after COVID-19 has passed.

Where do we go from here?

The pandemic is not going away. It’s also very real. Should we bank on the vaccines? No. It is a stop-gap measure. At first glance, it may appear to be the pin that punctures the COVID-19 balloon, but it may simply be a small bandage. That small bandage may prevent the balloon from popping when the pin is inserted. Instead, it may allow a very slow deflation which could take years to ultimately deflate.

Ultimately, the vaccine has promise, but it has not yet proven itself to be the single thing that halts this virus in its tracks.

The only person who can keep you away from infection is you. Taking the vaccine may help and is something that may be required eventually, but only you can prevent you from becoming infected. You have to decide when and how often to go out. You must decide whether you wish to attend a gathering where the vast majority of people are not wearing masks. You must decide how important your health is to you.

For example, the distressed passenger above took it upon himself to subject hundreds of other people to COVID-19 aboard a flight knowing that he tested positive. Who in their right mind does this? It’s clear he wasn’t in his right mind. This is the mind of, at best, a sociopath… someone who puts their own goals above all else and above all others. Karma had other plans for him. Many people don’t believe in Karma and Fate. Good on them. That doesn’t mean Karma doesn’t exist.

While movies like Final Destination take Karma and Fate to ridiculous levels by setting up highly elaborate Rube Goldberg machines that ultimately result in the death of a character, Karma doesn’t work like that. Karma is the act of making the unexpected happen at the most inopportune times, mostly as a result of a careless act by the individual.

For example, if a person is in the throes of COVID-19 and is already in severe breathing distress, the reduced oxygen and pressure on a plane at a high altitude is likely to cause a cardiac episode. Why? Because the body cannot get enough oxygen to support the body’s systems. While one might not think that Karma is at work, it is. Anyone who understands how planes operate must recognize this situation. If this man had realized his own level of lung distress, he would have turned around and checked himself into a hospital, not boarded a plane. By not understanding exactly how well a plane’s oxygen functions at high altitudes, he sealed his own fate (and potentially those he infected along the way).

His stupidity coupled with Karma sealed his fate aboard that airplane. There was literally nothing that anyone could have done to prevent that situation from unfolding. You can’t resuscitate someone with that low of an oxygen saturation level. Planes do have small oxygen tanks for flight attendants to wear in case of emergency, but it is unknown if those tanks were used or even if they were enough to help. Regardless, that passenger’s fate was sealed when he stepped onboard that flight.

What this all means is that you need to know what you don’t know. In this case, what he didn’t know about how oxygen levels work on a jet ultimately killed him. As I said above, even with the best of medical care in a hospital, survival of this virus can be a problem, particularly if the body becomes that level of distressed. There was no way a random trained individual could provide the level of care necessary for a COVID-19 infected person who was that far gone. No, that distressed passenger sealed his own fate by entering that plane. He may have also callously sealed the fate of all aboard that flight by infecting them. However, Karma stepped in to intervene, but not before allowing everyone aboard that flight to potentially become infected.

Ultimately, that man will no longer be able to spread COVID-19 to others, but unfortunately at the price of he himself dying.

Denying COVID-19

COVID-19 is a real and dangerous virus. It is at least 6 times more deadly than cold and flu viruses combined. For those who continue to deny that COVID-19 is a real, I feel for you. I don’t understand that level of delusion, but I can feel for you and pity you. The phrase “Ignorance is bliss” only holds true when that ignorance leads to something other than death. When death is involved, ignorance is most definitely NOT bliss.

However, for those folks who are willing to attend rallies and gatherings without masks, who visit bars and party like it’s 1999 and who choose to “Throw caution to the wind”, then there’s an award for that… The Darwin Award. If you bring COVID-19 down upon yourself by choosing to ignore your own personal safety and then subsequently die, then a Darwin Award waiting for you on the other end. Too bad you won’t be able to accept it when you’re pushing up daisies.

As the author of this blog, I’m perfectly okay with that. In fact, I wholeheartedly endorse allowing these folks to become infected. If they can survive, fine. If they die for their own stupidity, then the gene pool has been cleansed of yet another stupid person.

People can be kept from their own folly for only so long. Eventually, people succumb to their own bias and prejudices and will do whatever they feel they must. If that means hanging out at a bar with others drinking and cavorting in close proximity, well then “Hello, Mr. COVID”. If that leads to a Darwin Award, so be it.

I don’t wish harm on others, but I also won’t keep people from their own fate and folly. It’s not my place to tell people how to live their lives. However, I can write advice articles like this to inform. How someone utilizes this knowledge is entirely on them. If that knowledge is ignored, that’s perfectly fine.

I write these articles to relay my own knowledge and experience. My blogging goal is to use my knowledge and experience to help others become just even the wee bit wiser. If that happens for even one person, then I’ve done my job. I can’t save the world, but I can help save those who wish to read these articles and learn from my experiences on this earth.

Anyone who chooses to deny and ignore COVID-19 as though it doesn’t exist deserves whatever fate befalls them… that fate which has arisen from that ignorance. I shrug and walk away from those people. There’s nothing I can do for those who wish to remain ignorant. Darwin has other plans for them.

Full Circle

To circle back around, if you are a medical professional or a trained first responder, you need to rethink your own involvement with COVID-19 distressed individuals outside of a hospital setting. The only exception is ambulance drivers. These are not only trained professionals, they have a mobile hospital at their fingertips. They can then transport the distressed individual to the hospital quickly for further treatment. Outside of an ambulance setting, attempting CPR on a distressed COVID-19 patient at 30,000 feet up is not likely to succeed.

Everyone must be smart enough to calculate the odds of a COVID-19 breathing distressed patient. Even hospitals with their vast array of medicines, equipment and expertise can’t save every COVID-19 patient in distress. At some point, the patient must be left to see if their own body will overcome the illness. In the case of the distressed COVID-19 patient aboard the United Airlines flight, there was almost no way to save that person with the extremely limited amount of medicines, medical equipment and expertise aboard that airliner.

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Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Posted in advice, COVID-19, virus by commorancy on December 10, 2020

This is a very good question, but the answer may not be as simple as you think. Let’s explore.

COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is clearly the news of the year. It is a virus with an approximate 6% mortality rate for at-risk individuals. What that means is that for every 100 people infected, around 6 people will die from contracting it. That’s a 94% survival rate. While 6% seems low, it’s high when considering the number of people infected so far. By comparison, let’s consider that the Flu’s mortality rate is about 0.1 percent. To see one death to Influenza would take 1000 infections.

Let’s consider that there are around 330 million people in the United States. We’ll go with this number for calculations, but the population of the United States may now be closer to 350 million people as of 2020. Let’s consider that 2% of 330 million is 6.6 million deaths and 6% is 19.8 million deaths. If the range of mortality swings from 2% to 6%, that’s somewhere more than 6 million and less than 20 million dead due to COVID-19 if the majority of the United States population becomes infected. That’s a lot of dead people… way more than from Influenza and colds combined.

COVID-19 was identified by China on December 31st, 2019 to the World Health Organization. However, the virus may have been in circulation as early as mid-November 2019. This means that the virus could have been circulating the globe since late November 2019.

Statistics

As of this article, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 290,000 people in the United States. Compared against the reported number of infections of 15.5 million, that’s an approximate 1.9% mortality rate. That may seem lower than the 6% high, but that’s partly because hospitals have had time to reduce the mortality rate under their care. It’s also that during the summer into fall, those who tested positive were younger adults whose survival rate is much higher than older adults and those at risk.

Unfortunately, the Spring statistics when the virus first appeared showed the mortality rate much closer to that 6% number than it is today. There are many reasons for this change, but suffice it to say that survival of the virus isn’t going up specifically. It’s that the age (and survival rate) of those infected during the summer have skewed the numbers of dead in a lower direction. Though, medical workers have also had some time to help work through better treatment options which may have had some impact on survival in some cases, including the use of Remdesivir. The only way to know the true mortality rate is for the virus to spread through the entire population of the U.S. before we can really know the survivability statistics.

Vaccination

One other way to alter the survivability is by developing a vaccine that can help our susceptible and fragile human bodies build up immunity to this virus before exposure. To that end, pharmaceutical companies are hard at work fast tracking human vaccines that have been tested (albeit with limited trials) for their effectiveness.

Unfortunately, fast tracking a drug through the United States system is fraught with peril. Most drugs go through years of many clinical trials and FDA approval processes before being allowed to be sold within the United States. This is the way the FDA works. Years of clinical trials ensures that each drug’s side effects are mostly documented and known. Fast tracking a vaccine through the system means that while the efficacy of the drug may be somewhat proven, the long term side effects have not at all been tested. Long term testing of side effects cannot happen when a drug maker has a few months to formulate a product and a few weeks to test it.

Side Effects

What all of this means is that these vaccines may have unintended side effects that could appear weeks, months or even years later. In fact, these long term effects could lead to cancer or any number of other deadly diseases or medical conditions. These vaccines are simply untested and unknown how far or deep these unintended side effects may go.

Sure, it’s great that a rushed vaccine may (or may not) produce an immunity to COVID-19 (we’ll come to this point in another section below), but at the cost of what future medical reality? Do you really want to be the first to jump out of a sinking boat into another sinking boat simply because it looks like it isn’t?

This isn’t saying the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t effective. They may very well be. But, we also don’t know what else may come to those who cannot wait. If you take the vaccine and then a month later develop a nerve disorder, then what? The damage has already been done. You can’t un-vaccinate yourself. Once you take the vaccine, it’s a done deal. The cards fall where they may. If that means that you become debilitated by a separate disease, then you’re stuck with that choice for the rest of your life.

Waiting Game

What I’m stating is that this is a game of wait and see. What I mean is that we’ve waited this long for a vaccine, we can wait a little longer. Being the first person to have that needle stuck in your arm may mean future health problems. We simply don’t know what’s in store with this vaccine.

What I’m advocating is waiting to see how the early adopters fare. Let them be the guinea pigs to inject themselves. Let those early adopters jeopardize their health first. When you’re buying an Apple product, the 1.0 version is always literally the worst version to buy. It’s never ready to go day one. The same exists for this vaccine.

Can it get worse?

After all of the above, it can still get worse. Considering that the vaccines for COVID-19 currently being formulated are explicitly designed to trigger an immune system response, there’s always a danger. First, it could trigger the wrong response in the body. The below documentary describes a clinical trial for an immuno-mucking drug which ultimately led to a Cytokine Storm in almost every trial participant, which in-turn nearly killed every participant in the trial. If the trial had been performed in any place other than in a very large hospital under hospital auspices, the trial may have been lethal.

Second, consider that when taking this vaccine, you’re likely to leave that medical facility the very same day without any further monitoring. You’re going to head home or back to work or out shopping immediately. If your body spirals into a cytokine storm half an hour after taking the vaccine, it could be fatal before you ever reach a hospital. You won’t be at a hospital for them to notice and treat you. Even then, hospital staff aren’t likely to determine that it’s a cytokine storm reaction. Instead, they’re likely to admit you under the guise of COVID-19 and then treat you as if you have COVID-19… that even assumes that with the overcrowding of hospitals to COVID-19, that you can even be admitted and treated. If the hospital misdiagnoses the cytokine storm, it could be fatal. Even respected journals have published theories discussing cytokine storms as a possible outcome from a COVID-19 infection. In fact, it is supposed that many of the deaths from COVID-19 may, in fact, be because of a cytokine storm.

If an adverse reaction occurs after taking a COVID-19 vaccine, the hospitals may not have any beds to treat you. Yet a third reason why it may not be a great idea to take the vaccine during this hospital overcrowding situation. Considering the unknowns surrounding these vaccines, it may be medically wise to consider all options, including waiting to take the vaccine until a time when hospitals are far less crowded.

You don’t want to be first in-line and then end up in the hospital hours later clinging to life because your body’s immune response has overreacted to the vaccine and your organs are shutting down.

Realities, Theories and Promises

It’s always wise to consider all options before you jump into anything that requires poking a needle into your arm. Anything that is something you haven’t taken before is always a risk. These vaccines are particularly at risk because not only were they rushed to market, not only were they not fully clinically trialed, not only does this vaccine muck with immune system responses, not only does it claim efficacy, it may not even work as promised and may have unknown side effects.

The theories surrounding the method of action for these vaccines is that these vaccines are designed to elicit the same immuno-response as COVID-19 in the body. That’s the theory (and the promise). If the formulations are off, if the quality control is suspect, if the manufacturer can’t replicate the vaccine properly, if the vaccine is improperly stored, it can lead to all sorts of complications. This is the reason it’s important to consider all options before being stuck with a needle.

You don’t want to find out that your body rejects the vaccine and now you’re in a life or death struggle. But, that’s an immediate response. What about long term responses? We simply don’t know what those are. The vaccine companies and doctors are espousing exactly how “safe” these vaccines are, but they’re speaking out of turn. In reality, they have no idea how safe or effective these vaccines actually are.

Even if the best case is that the vaccine does exactly what it claims (and there’s a chance it won’t on at least some percentage of the population), it may turn out that the vaccine’s effects only lasts for 3 or 4 months. That’s effectively the same as wearing SPF in the sun where you have to reapply it every 30 minutes. Yes, SPF works, but at the cost of constantly reapplying it. Same for this vaccine. Unless a vaccine lasts for years, it’s not really a vaccine. It’s a drug. If you’re required to re-administer this “drug” every 2 months, that’s not really a useful product. Worse, you’ll end up exposing yourself to this drug every 2 months which increases the risk of short and long term side effects with each dose.

We simply don’t know how long this “vaccine” lasts. Taking this shot every 60 days is really not an option. I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies would love this for money making purposes, but heading to the doctor’s office for constant shots is not an option.

As a result of the rapid testing, there’s no way to know just how long the antibodies will last in the body. We could also find that in just a few months, a new strain of COVID-19 has taken hold, invalidating this “vaccine”. It’s impossible to know much about the effectiveness of this vaccine.

Risks vs Reward

Yet, CNN and other so-called “health correspondents” vigorously advocate the use of the vaccine and completely downplay all of the above concerns.

The risk with this vaccine is that it does nothing to stem the tide of COVID-19 deaths. That taking it was all for naught. We can certainly go through the charade of an ineffective vaccine, but what may come out of it is, at best, little. At worst, even more death.

We have to weigh which is more problematic, COVID-19 or the vaccine itself. I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies have formulated this vaccine with the best of intentions. We know how that proverb goes…

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

that and Murphy’s Law

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

Rushing to produce anything medical is fraught with unknown consequences. It is these exact unknown consequences that may very well lead us down the road to hell.

Way Down The List?

If you’re way down the list of vaccine recipients, consider yourself lucky. Those who are most at risk will be the ones who will test both Murphy’s Law and this proverb. The difficulty is that it is the front line medical workers and those most at risk earmarked for the first batches of the vaccine.

If the vaccine has consequences which are as yet unknown, complications for our front line workers could turn our hospital systems into ghost towns. If even 10% of the medical workers die as a result of unknown consequences from being vaccinated, that will leave our hospital systems unable to cope with the the mounting COVID-19 illnesses, let alone those who are ill strictly from the vaccines (see next section for more details).

These vaccines are very much an unknown risk. COVID-19 is a risk, but it is known. Which risk is better? I’ll have to let you decide. If you feel the risks of taking the vaccine are being overinflated here, then by all means go have a poke. If you’re cautious about your own body, then you may want to wait until others have jabbed themselves first. Never in the history of never has a vaccine been produced this rapidly. We just can’t know what we don’t know. Only after a first batch of vaccines have been widely disseminated and administered with few ill effects will I personally feel more confident about these vaccine risks.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the vaccine’s efficacy will fare as well as its safety record, however. The vaccine might prove to be safe and not at all risky, but how well (or long) that it is able to fend off COVID-19 has not yet been determined. For the efficacy, we will have to wait at least several months to determine.

Front Line Medical Workers and Vaccination

[Updated: 12/16/2020] Here’s a point that’s highly concerning and I thought needed more detailed discussion. Since the powers that be have decided that the front line medical workers will be the first in line to get the Pfizer vaccine, this could set the United States up for a huge future medical system failure. I can’t sugar coat this next part at all. Should an unknown medical condition rear its ugly head a month after these vaccines have been administered and incapacitate or kill many of these front line medical workers, that could leave our hospitals in a huge problematic state. As I said above, even a 10% reduction in the front line medical workers could devastate our hospital system so much so that they can no longer function.

It’s not like medical schools are ready to graduate 10% more medical students into the system who are “ready to go”. If such a problem grows way beyond 10%, then it’ll become an epic disaster. Any unforeseen problem with these vaccines could quite literally decapitate our hospital system leaving not only a disaster in this vaccine, but thousands of people without the medical care they need just as COVID-19 is ramping up to be the worst medical disaster in recent history.

Basically, if we think COVID-19 is bad now, such a vaccine failure could decimate the United States’s ability to medically handle this escalating pandemic. With such a vaccine failure, it’ll be almost impossible to foresee how much worse it will get with the loss of 10% of our front line medical workers. Let’s not even discuss the devastating blow to investors that will be laid bare on Wall Street. Considering that politicians also want to be first in line, such a vaccine failure could devastate our election and Capital Hill.

Note that the above is not intended to predict anything. In fact, these are suppositions… what if scenarios. We may find that the vaccine is perfectly safe and entirely efficacious. However, considering how rushed-to-market these vaccines are, such a vaccine failure is not at all out of the realm of possibility. In fact, simply because this failure possibility exists, I have to grit my teeth every time I see some random medical doctor on CNN or Fox News or any other news program espousing just how safe and efficacious these vaccines allegedly are. Worse, these alleged “medical professionals” completely downplay the above possibility. Even news networks which have been extremely biased towards specific politicians have completely ignored this possibility.

If I had been in charge over who gets the first vaccine doses, I would not dose every front line medical professional. Instead, I would temper that decision by giving it only to a critically short list. Any hospital professionals who are not directly in contact with COVID-19 patients should wait until we know if the vaccine has any unforeseen consequences. Dosing every front line medical worker could accidentally leave not only hospitals in the lurch, but other critical front line industries severely short on staff, like pharmacies, grocery stores and other critical industry workers.

If we think COVID-19 is bad today, a vaccine failure could take COVID-19 to a whole new level of survival… way beyond the devastation that we presently face today.

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What to write?

Posted in blogging, pandemic by commorancy on December 6, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I’ve found being a blog author has become extremely difficult. While I love video gaming (and I’ve written a number of articles on this topic), COVID-19 has put a crimp on being a blog author… at least for me. Let’s explore.

The Pandemic’s Effects

I love writing this blog. I do. However, it seems that every time I decide to write an article, the pandemic weighs it down like a wet blanket making the article trivial by comparison. It makes it difficult, then, to write articles that are either directly or indirectly about the pandemic. If the article is not about the pandemic, the content seems somehow trivialized by it. If the article is directly about the pandemic, then this blog has gotten off track of being Randocity… or random thoughts.

And, it gets worse.

As more and more people find themselves out of work, as the economy drops deeper and deeper into recession, as people find themselves homeless or evicted, writing these blog articles seems some how trivialized by all of this… which then makes it difficult for me to continue writing in the midst of this pandemic. Yet, I still want to.

For me to pretend that nothing is going on in the world, in similar form to our present illustrious orange President, is disingenuous or, worse, delusional.

I want to write about everyday things, but unfortunately this pandemic is making this difficult in so many ways… the first being that even heading out to the store itself is fraught with peril. In other words, every time I head out to the store, I place myself in peril of contracting COVID-19. For every store or restaurant interaction I have, it’s basically playing Russian Roulette. Eventually, one of those interactions will lead to a personal infection. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

This situation goes for everyone, not just myself.

Denials and Facemasks

I still see people every day denying COVID-19, its effects on the economy and on the country’s health. I see people espousing not wearing masks and claiming that it’s all a big hoax. That the pandemic is somehow fake and being perpetuated by fake news. This is extremely delusional. I understand the want to deny it all. I get it. To deny it means that people can go about their everyday lives without thinking about the pandemic. That’s very enticing, but not at all realistic or healthy.

Unfortunately, personally denying COVID won’t stop the broader and bigger economic effects. It also won’t stop people from dying from COVID. Those situations are already in play. Governors are enforcing mask and shutdown orders. Hospitals are seeing patient spikes to the point of breaking. These are facts that cannot be denied. Sure, people can bury their heads in the sand, like an Ostrich, but that will not stop the economic impacts already in play by our country’s leaders.

If this situation were fake, would hospitals be overrun by COVID? Would Governors be ordering systemic business shutdowns? Would people be dying from COVID in greater numbers than any other current disease within the US?

Topics and Trivialities

For this reason, writing a blog about topics that don’t acknowledge the seriousness of the present United States situation seems disingenuous. It also makes writing blog article topics extremely difficult… like discussing the latest, greatest Apple tablet or Wearable or PS5 console release. These are luxury items that, while they make our lives easier and better, do nothing to solve our current economic situation nor this medical crisis.

Even watching current TV shows where the fantasy of living without COVID still prevails also seems disingenuous. On the one hand, we all want to remember the days when we didn’t wear masks, where we could visit an amusement park, restaurant or social gathering without worry. We want those days back… and eventually we will get them back, but not before this purge is complete.

85% Herd Immunity

One question that is continually asked is when the U.S. (and the world) will see herd immunity for real? The answer to this question is when at least 85% of the population is vaccinated or has survived COVID-19. Only after this 85% number will this virus become a thing of the past for the United States and, indeed, the world. However, we are a LONG way off from that 85% number… way WAY off from that.

At present, the United States has seen maybe 4-5% of its entire ~330 million population infected. That means ~95% of the population of the US still remains uninfected. That’s literally a crap ton of people who haven’t become infected.

Some people contend that there’s a whole lot more infections that haven’t been included in the counts, perhaps as much as 10% of the population. If that 10% estimate were true, there would be a whole lot of dead bodies somewhere as COVID-19 kills between 4-6% of everyone infected. At 10%, that would be around 33 million people infected. At a 5% mortality rate from COVID, that 33 million worth of infections would mean 1.65 million dead bodies somewhere… in addition to those who have already been counted as dead.

Yeah, I don’t think so. Logically, we are no where near the 10% infected rate because the dead bodies aren’t yet lining the sidewalks of major metropolitan cities. You can’t just hide 1.65 million dead bodies. These grim statistics are a sad reminder of the times we live in and how far we have not yet come with COVID-19.

The Count Rises and Vaccines Dawn

Considering the above, the present population of the United States is 330-350 million people. 5% of 330 million is 16.5 million dead bodies. But, you say, “What about the vaccines?”

The vaccines give us hope, but not necessarily answers… yet. The theory is that the vaccines and clinical trials have focused in having the body produce antibodies against COVID-19. The difficulty is that these vaccines were only tested against the antibody production. While some vaccine trial participants may have come into contact with COVID-19, the vast majority of these trial participants were not exposed to COVID-19 has part of the trial. Instead, the trial focused on having the immune system produce an immune response against the vaccine’s included foreign invader.

If the vaccine makers got it wrong, miscalculated or made even the tiniest of mistake in their assumptions, then the vaccines are worthless. We’re literally banking the farm on a vaccine that has not really been tested against COVID-19 for real… other than by accident. In other words, the clinical trials have provided mostly anecdotal evidence of efficacy.

The vaccine makers really don’t know how effective their COVID-19 vaccine will be against the real virus. Trial participants were not exposed to a live form of the virus, but were only tested for production of antibodies from what’s included in the vaccine. The presence of antibodies, or more specifically, the antibodies triggered by the vaccine, may not protect us from the actual COVID-19 virus. The assumption is that the generated antibodies will help reduce the severity of the live virus. This logical assumption is all “best guess” based on past virus behavior and that the produced antibodies will counteract COVID-19 when contracted.

In other words, vaccine makers really do not have any idea if the vaccine will be ultimately be effective or even minimally effective, let alone how long it may remain effective. The rush to get the vaccine out the door leaves gaping holes which would otherwise be filled by proper long term testing during clinical trials… holes that cannot be filled properly when this vaccine is being tested and released so rapidly.

Side Effects & Long Term Health Concerns

Going beyond the speedy nature of releasing the vaccines rapidly comes with other health concerns. The bottom line is, without long term clinical trials, there’s no way to know what longer term health effects might result from taking any or all of the vaccines. Do you really want to be inline for something that hasn’t been properly tested?

I get it, particularly for front line medical workers. Any protection is likely better than zero protection. But, which is more of a risk / threat, COVID-19 or the vaccine? This is a very difficult question to answer. I know that the drug companies are trying to do their level best to produce a functional and effective vaccine. However, cutting corners to get this vaccine out the door, particularly when it comes to long term testing is ripe for future health problems.

However, I’m sure the government will absolve all of these vaccine makers from all liability as a result of releasing these vaccines so rapidly. This means that should you end up with cancer or heart disease or organ failure as a result of taking the vaccine, you won’t have any legal recourse.

Rushing to produce anything, especially a drug, is ripe for health problems. We simply do not know what long term effects may arise from the use of these vaccines. Unfortunately, this virus is so prevalent and virulent and is causing so much economic havoc, the government may be forced to require every United States citizen to be vaccinated, thus ensuring all of the negative outcomes that arise from these rapidly released vaccines.

It all comes down to whether the vaccine works as advertised. We could find even after inoculating the entire United States population that COVID-19 still manages to kill millions… rendering the vaccine worthless. Ultimately, these vaccines are effectively the medical version of rolling the dice. It’s also not merely rolling the dice one time, however. It’s rolling the dice several times successively and hoping each and every time that we see a 7 or 11 with every single roll. What are the odds in that without using loaded dice? Just ask any craps dealer in Vegas.

The New Normal

Blogging in this new world reality makes it difficult, as a blog author, to come up with ideas that don’t seem trivialized and irrelevant by the world situation. I have found it exceedingly difficult to write about the latest Apple watch, the best new printer, the PS5 or even Hue bulbs without considering this new world normal. When I put keyboard to page and begin filling in this white space with words, with each and every word I write I have to consider the present disruption in our world lifestyle.

Even watching QVC and HSN shopping channels, I see just how naïve these channels seem when trying to hawk jeans, leggings, nail polish or a Chromebook in the midst of this pandemic. Computers are useful, particularly to keep up with the news. But the rest? Yeah. The only thing that QVC and HSN can tout is contact-free shopping. Unfortunately, their deals are not always that great… meaning, you can get better deals at brick and mortar retail stores. The difficulty comes in having to enter a store and put your health at risk to buy one of these in-store deals.

Gaming

Taking this a step further, Sony and Microsoft have recently released new consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X, respectively. Unfortunately, it’s really a bad time to release these consoles. Game studios must rethink how to hire and manage their game development staff amidst the resurgence of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations. Companies must now retool how to hire staff, how to work on products and how to ensure these products function all while keeping their staff safe and healthy.

In fact, we likely won’t see the full effect of COVID-19 for at least 2-3 years within the gaming industry. The PS5 and the Xbox Series X are likely to have very slow starts as a result. The next gen games that usually hit the stores 2 years after a new console release may not hit stores for 3-4 years due to the pandemic. This means that to buy into a PS5 or an Xbox Series X now could mean a LOT of dead shelf time for these consoles. The PS4 had about 9 months of dead shelf time when the console basically had only a handful of games available. For the PS5, that dearth of games could extend to 18 months or longer. If developers can’t get together as teams and work to solve gaming problems remotely, then this new normal may mean extended development times by A LOT. In fact, COVID-19 may put some of these game studios out of business.

In a year or two, managers may be able to work through the kinks of a remote workforce, but in the few months since COVID-19 appeared, managers are just barely getting a handle on it. Even then, many managers intensely despise having remote workers and prefer to have people’s butts in an leased office chair and firmly sitting behind a desk.

Work from Home Policies

This remove working paradigm MUST shift or any company may perish, literally. COVID-19 can see to that. Companies can no longer force people to bring their butt into the office when that action may jeopardize the health of not only themselves, but the health of everyone they come into contact with. Worse, because many office buildings have toxic ventilation systems, these systems ensure the spread of COVID-19 throughout the entire building. Just one person, one sneeze and hundreds may become infected. Office building ventilation systems are some of the worst, most disgusting, most non-hygienic systems ever designed. Many office buildings are worse that you think.

Yet, office managers don’t take this complication into account when they lease their office space. Instead, they lease based on monthly spend and based on space required. They don’t take into account proper building ventilation or the health of the workers based on this.

Case in point, I spent the better part of 5 years in a 6 story building. In all of those 5 years being employed at that company, I’d contracted maybe 2 colds and no flu. In fact, I contracted most of those in my first year, with nothing during the remaining 4 years. Later, I accepted a new job in a 16 floor office building. In the first year, I had contracted at least 3 colds, had two separate bouts of bronchitis and the flu at least once. After quitting, I no longer got sick. The ventilation system was entirely toxic. In that building, it only took on person coughing or sneezing on the second floor and those droplets traveled throughout the entire building to infect someone even on the 11th floor. As I said, the building was basically a toxic petri dish.

As an employee, these are uncontrollable situations you are forced into when you accept a job in some office buildings. You simply don’t know how toxic your company’s leased office space is until you come down with illnesses frequently.

It also didn’t help matters that my company refused to offer paid sick time. Instead, if you needed sick time off, you were required to use your PTO. This meant people didn’t. It meant co-workers chose to head into the office with colds or flu and whatever other malady, which forced them to spread it around the office to others. Because the ventilation system in this building was already piss poor, it meant anyone susceptible would be exposed even if you were on the other side of the building (or even on another floor) from the sick person. It’s part of the reason I had to quit that job. The building’s toxic ventilation system left me with no other choice as, at the time, there was no work-at-home option and no way to rectify that toxic office space environment. Although, there were some manager problems that also could not be resolved, the constantly being sick played into my decision.

In a way, I’m glad I’d quit that job long before COVID-19 appeared. Otherwise, I’m fairly certain that I likely would have gotten it simply because of that toxic office building environment. In fact, I wasn’t even sure who I could have approached at that company to discuss this toxic building environment. It’s not like they would have made the decision to move office buildings strictly because of my single complaint.

Blogging amid COVID-19

Taking a full circle back to how this article began, I’ve given a few reasons why it’s now difficult for me to blog about trivial luxury conveniences amidst the seriousness of this pandemic. I’d love to write an article and offer a way to rid the world of COVID-19. I’d love to write an article that can solve the world’s ills. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is a virus that doesn’t have an easy or fast answer. Even masks offer limited effectiveness.

While I respect you as a reader and want to offer you interesting information and content, I don’t want to trivialize COVID-19’s effects on the world. I don’t want to write blog articles that ignore COVID-19 or make it seem like I’m not taking COVID-19 seriously.

I actually DO take COVID-19 seriously. I do wear a mask when shopping. I limit when I go out and how often. I only go to the store whenever it’s absolutely necessary. I try to stock up on food with each trip. When I choose to eat restaurant food, I do it infrequently, always take the food to go and make sure to wash my hands after each and every trip out. I also take a full shower after I’ve stepped back into the house for the day before heading to bed. I also wash my clothes if I know the clothes have come into contact with anything suspicious (chairs, tables, baskets, carts, etc). I prefer to wear gloves when I’m out and about, particularly at the grocery store.

Whenever I bring my grocery items home, I still wash them and sometimes allow them to sit for several days before using. With mask mandates in most stores these days, this has become less of an issue. But, I’d still rather be overly cautious than risk my own health and the health of those around me.

Future of Randocity

For now, I’m still planning on blogging, producing how-to articles, video gaming articles, movie reviews and various other information when it seems appropriate. However, I will refer readers to this article when discussing how seriously this blog author is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before I proceed with any further articles, I wanted to write this content to get this information out there and get this off of my chest. It’s difficult not to take this world situation seriously. Yet, I still see many who call it fake or a hoax or deny that it’s a problem. It is none of these. COVID-19 is a virus. It will attack the body like any other virus. It will kill people, like the Influenza. However, it’s much more deadly than any other virus we’ve yet seen. It is a serious virus and it should be taken seriously.

I won’t necessarily write about COVID-19 with each and every article. However, I will refer back to this article whenever someone comments that Randocity is not taking the pandemic seriously. The pandemic is a serious situation. It concerns everyone everywhere, even if not in the United States.

Considering the statistical numbers of infected so far, this virus has the ability to kill at least 5% of the United States which is 16.5 million people dead. At the present ~280k death toll, that’s just 1.6% of the potential 16.5 million dead. So, yes, Randocity takes this pandemic seriously. It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. It’s not a hoax.

When I write an article about a camera or Kickstarter or a Movie Review or a How-To article or a video game or any other topic that doesn’t discuss COVID-19, this blog is acutely aware of this pandemic and its affects on so many families and the economy. With that said, I don’t want this blog to become solely about COVID-19, however. I want this blog to remain focused on random thoughts and random ideas. I want to be able to discuss all sorts of ideas here, including COVID-19, when appropriate.

With that all said, I will continue to write about whatever thoughts come to my head including technology that’s interesting and products that I have tried.

If you’re reading this and you’re struggling to get through 2020, I completely feel for your situation. I realize that so many families may be on the brink of eviction because of the job situation. It’s difficult for all of us, including myself. My situation may be better than some, but don’t think that I’m not feeling the pinch from COVID-19, just as so many of us are.

End of the Year Thanks

I have to assume that by reading this article, you are a loyal reader. For those who have been reading this blog from when this blog began as well as any new readers, I want to sincerely thank you for following and continuing to read the articles I write here on Randocity. I also wish the best of health to you and your family for this holiday season.

If you enjoy Randocity’s articles, I’d like to ask you for a favor. Please like and share these articles with your friends and family. Since you like this blog, perhaps your friends and family will too. The more you share this blog, the more it helps me continue to produce content like this as well as future content. I love to write this blog and I want to continue doing so, but I need a little bit of your help to share the word.

Please consider sharing on on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. These are excellent locations to help me with getting the word out about Randocity. Again, I thank you for reading and here’s to a much, much better and brighter 2021. Happy Holidays!

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Disney to reopen amid COVID surge

Posted in amusements, botch, business, disney by commorancy on July 7, 2020

According to reports, Disney intends to reopen its parks despite the current growing COVID-19 surge. Let’s explore.

Irresponsible

Let’s understand that Disney operates its parks to comfortably sport anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 guests (on average) in the park at any one time. Though, it is stated the park is designed to hold up to 100,000 people. Though, if 100,000 people are in attendance, the lines will be massively long, the park will be intensely crowded and affords a situation that becomes ripe for COVID transmission that no amount of “planned” virus reduction measures can mitigate. In short, overcrowding and COVID-19 cannot work together.

Even at 10,000 people in the park (assuming Disney decides to self-limit), that’s still well enough people milling around that transmission will be exceedingly easy and inevitable. We already know that COVID-19 lingers on some surfaces, like metal, for several days. That means that riding a ride containing metallic surfaces, after someone infected has ridden, greatly increases your chances of getting COVID-19 through touch.

Open Air

Disneyland, Disney World and The Magic Kingdom are mostly open air environments. This means that aerosolized virus droplets can’t linger for too long, but they can land on surfaces. However, when you get inside of closed environments, such as restaurants, merchandise shops and dark rides, virus droplets can linger for quite a long time in the air (without proper ventilation)… and these droplets can also land on and infect merchandise, paper cups, utensils and particularly open condiments. It can also land on your ride’s seat cushion, handles, lap belts and the lapbar restraints.

In short, open air won’t necessarily mean your trip to Disney will be virus free. In fact, because Florida is presently having some of the highest cases in the nation, the chances of catching COVID-19 by visiting Disney World is exceedingly high… if even simply by staying in a hotel.

Trust in Disney

Disney hasn’t been the most trustworthy company in recent years. Of Disney’s reopening plans, Ron DeSantis (Governor of Florida) states:

We have to have society function. You can have society function in a way that keeps people safe. And when you have all of the different procedures that they have in place, people are going to be—it’s a safe environment. Disney, I have no doubt is going to be a safe environment.

No one, not a Governor, not a health official, not anyone can make an assertion that Disney will be a “safe environment”. The nature of amusement parks is taking risks. That’s why people attend amusement parks and ride rides. The thrill of the ride is worth the risk.

Though, there’s a big difference between being able to control the forces of inertia and being able to control an invisible virus you cannot even see. No, DeSantis is towing the line that Disney wants to hear (and that Florida’s economy needs). DeSantis wants the park open, not because it’s truly safe and virus free, but because Florida’s economic future depends on it… and in general, because tourism drives much of Florida’s income. Without tourism, portions of Florida won’t have much of a future.

DeSantis also stated the following of both Universal and Disney’s reopening plans:

I’m really impressed with what Universal’s done, and I’ve looked at Disney’s plan and it is very, very thorough.

Thorough won’t protect everyone all of the time. Disney may disinfect the park nightly, but that won’t help the interim times when perhaps thousands of people have ridden a ride or eaten at a table or sneezed on cups immediately before you arrived.

Amusement and Health

If your personal amusement is more important to you than your health and well being (and the health of those around you), then by all means head to Disney and ride the rides and indulge in the eats. If, however, you value your own health and the health of your loved ones, you should avoid visiting any amusement parks no matter what “plans” Disney or Universal may have made to help combat a virus that no one can see.

Plans have a way of unraveling, particularly when we don’t even know all of the factors which must be managed. Disney’s plans are probably, at best, 25% complete. That means that 75% of things that can happen to infect you haven’t even been addressed.

Judging the health and safety of the public is not something a governor should be doing. That should be the health department.

Pandemic Surge and Reopening

In the midst of a surging pandemic, planning to reopen a business that’s sole intent is to draw large crowds the size of Disney parks is not only reckless, it’s completely irresponsible. Large close crowds are exactly the vector for virus transmission. There is absolutely no way Disney has planned for every contingency or vector of infection… particularly because Disney can’t plan for how large the crowds may get. In fact, it’s entirely counter for Disney to turn away crowds which help drive revenue into the park. They’re not going to do this.

Turning on UVC lights every now and then or limiting attendance can only do so much. This virus is, at best, unpredictable. We already know that COVID-19 has a days-long no-symptom period when the virus makes the person heavily contagious, but the person shows no outward symptoms. It will be these very contagious carriers who will visit Disney World and Disneyland and not only carry in the virus, but they will spread it throughout the park by infecting everything they touch and the people around them. Even a simple sneeze or cough can carry the virus throughout an environment for a lengthy period of time and infect any number of people or land on surfaces which can be touched.

There is nothing Disney can do to plan for keeping their park virus free. The only way Disney can reduce or eliminate Disney parks as a source of COVID-19 infection is to test every visitor on the way into the park and deny entrance to any visitors who test infected. Even then, that’s not feasible because testing is very slow (hours) before results are back. Even then, there’s a high probability of both false positives and false negatives. Disney can’t (and more importantly, won’t) spend the time or money to do this for every visitor.

Ride Disinfection

Let’s understand the basics of how Disney could plan for ride disinfection management.

If Disney were to truly want to reduce exposure to COVID-19 on rides, every ride must close down and disinfect after every single ride. The ride cars would have to be put through a UVC light bath for approximately 5 minutes after each and every ride. This is not feasible for a park like Disney where getting riders through as fast as possible is the goal.

To further this line of reasoning, Disney would need to require reservations for all rides in advance. No lines would be present on any ride. Queue lines and queue houses must remain closed. At ride time, riders will gather and stand in a 6 foot enforced distanced line wearing masks, but of course that line couldn’t be shielded from passers by… a source of infection.

Riders are loaded onto the ride, one by one… distanced by one car between each rider. That means half as many riders per ride. At the end of the ride, the ride will pull into the station and each car must exit, one by one separately ensuring 6 foot distance between each rider.

After the car is empty, the ride is summarily closed. The car is then backed into a UVC light bath and disinfection commences for 5 minutes. Then Disney repeats for the next set of riders. Can you say, “cumbersome” and “time consuming”?

Let’s understand that even with all of these measures in place, you can still catch COVID from a rider in front of you. If the front most rider ahead of you is infected and sneezes, their droplets can carry onto you and infect you. Even if Disney enacts very strict ride disinfection measures, there’s still no guarantee you’ll walk away without COVID-19 after riding. The only way that would work is to fill the car with one party per ride. Yeah, that’s not feasible in a park the size of Disney’s.

Above all of this, operating an amusement park ride this way will ensure that very few people get to enjoy the ride in a day… way fewer than is otherwise normal for Disney. Disney is all about pushing through as many riders as possible. Performing such a thorough disinfection after every ride is entirely counter to this and will result in much lost revenue. A park can’t (and won’t) operate like this.

Restaurant Disinfection

Here’s an infection vector that’s even more difficult to manage than rides. The only way restaurants can work at Disney is to deliver your food to you directly. In fact, you should be required to order your food in the Disney app for delivery to your present phone’s location (using location tracking). All food must be delivered inside of sealed bags and the items inside the bags must only have been handled by Disney employees.

Restaurant seating becomes an issue, though. We all want to eat inside some place comfortable and air conditioned. The problem is that this type of communal seating environment cannot be controlled… not by Disney, not by anyone. If Disney wishes to use sit-down style restaurant seating, then the tables must be completely UVC disinfected after every use.

It is very doubtful that Disney has had the time to build any kind of automated system to blanket a table and UVC disinfect it. In fact, to do this, you would need to build a carousel type system with two seats back-to-back, where the seats attach to a turntable and spin around to a non-visible side. One table seating is disinfected, the other spun around to the non-visible side and is in the process of being disinfected.

Though, UVC light is caustic to humans. Any UVC light leakage would need to be strictly controlled.

It is very doubtful that Disney or Universal have taken disinfection this seriously or to this level. No company is going to invest a million or more dollars into equipping their restaurants for such a sophisticated UVC disinfection system. Instead, they’re going to rely on the use of dirty towels and bus staff to wipe down seating and tables. A towel is simply going to move the virus around, not kill it. It’s almost impossible to perform proper disinfection of tables and seats prior to seating a new party.

A new restaurant party will be lucky if a table is even properly bused after the last party has departed. If it’s a large party, 10-20, good luck with getting anything disinfected.

Merchandise Stores

The final place where Disney will need to address is merchandise. Because people want to touch and feel the things they’re about to buy, this must stop. The touchy-feely time is over. Merchandise stores must only sell like the restaurant example above. You order the merchandise you want through an app and an attendant stops by to deliver your items in a sealed bag that has only been touched by Disney employees. If you wish to return an item, you’ll have to do that through an automated returns system and by dropping the returned item into a slot at the front gate.

Disney Employees, Testing and Infection

Disney park employees, otherwise known as “Cast Members” (a cutesy moniker to be sure), must be properly tested daily prior to entering a shift. If any Disney employee tests positive, they must be sent home for a mandatory quarantine period and will not be allowed to work.

Disney employees are clearly a vector of transmission that Disney can’t control. I seriously doubt that Disney has procured enough tests to test every single “Cast Member” daily, prior to their shift. There will be a number of Disney employees who will actually become the vector of infection and transmission for COVID-19… simply being a ride loader, being a merchandise seller or by selling foods to guests. It’s inevitable. You can’t prevent “Cast Members” from transmitting COVID-19 to guests in the park. You can’t do it without daily testing. Even then, testing is only as accurate as the test type you’re using.

If Disney decides on simplistic symptom tests (i.e., temperature), then that ensures park employees will not only infect guests, they will also infect other employees. Eventually, Disney may have to close its parks again when the number of infected “Cast Members” impacts the ability of Disney to operate its parks.

Health and Safety

Disney’s only choice, particularly during this heavy resurgence, is to postpone opening of the park until later… much, much later. I get why Disney is pushing to reopen. Disney is losing money by not reopening. To them, it’s more about the money than it is about keeping you, the guest, healthy and COVID free.

You must choose to trust Disney or not. You must choose whether to visit the park or not. Only you can look at this situation and decide whether it’s worth the risk. If you believe that your risk of infection is low, then by all means head there and visit.

Having worked at an amusement park for 7 years at one point in my life, I can definitively state that no matter what measures Disney claims to be putting in place, it’s all for show. None of it will last. It’s entirely health theater. They’ll state they’re doing all of these things, but at the end of the day none of it will get done because it’s too costly, too problematic and, most of all, too time consuming for staff. Disney may put up a good show for a week so that reporters can visit and “see” the theater, but after the reporters are gone, so too will all of their theatrical “planned measures”.

If you want to put your health at risk over Disney’s health theater, then be my guest. Book a trip, stay in the hotel and indulge in all of the buffets. Make sure you get a good large dose of COVID all along the way. When you get home and the symptoms hit, you can head to the hospital right away. After that, it’s up to your body to do the work (or not).

Consider this final question. Is it really worth risking your own life AND spending $1-2k per person merely to buy yourself COVID-19? That’s an awfully expensive Disney virus.

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Will there be a second COVID wave?

Posted in advice, economy, Health by commorancy on May 11, 2020

big waves under cloudy sky

This seems to be a burning question on everyone’s mind. Unfortunately, the information on this front will not be good news. Let’s explore.

CDC and WHO Guidelines

Both the Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have fairly stringent guidance as to how the world should reopen during this pandemic. Even the White House has come up with its own 3 step plan. Unfortunately, the world’s leaders are far too anxious for their own good. I fully understand why. The economy is tanking, unemployment is now at an all-time high, and many business are on the verge of collapse.

With that level of pressure, any political leader would be anxious to want to reopen. The problem with reopening is not the reopening itself. It’s the second wave that’s looming. We’ve already seen, numerous times (here, here, here and here) that people can’t be trusted nor do they have any discipline to stay home, when given an inch. The only way this can happen is strictly by forced closure. It’s unfortunate that people feel the need to defy closure orders and safety advice, but here we are.

When restaurants open, when bars open, when stores open fully, when beaches and parks open, throngs will (emphasis WILL) head out in droves. It’s not a matter of IF it’s a matter of WHEN. There are many reasons for this defiance, but many who turn out believe that the whole COVID-19 problem is either a hoax or isn’t serious… or they are self-centered and simply believe it does not apply to them.

Whatever their deluded mentally deranged reasons, they head out in droves… and they will again. This is why reopening will lead to a second wave.

Second Wave Deaths and Reopening

Because many people are fed up with staying indoors at home, tired of being around their kids day in and out and eating the same home cooked meals, this sows the seeds for wave 2. After all, many people erroneously and foolishly believe, “It doesn’t apply to me. I’m healthy. I won’t get it.” Additionally, many also justify their actions by, “I’m healthy, why should I stay home?”

It is for all of these irrational thoughts that people flock to flea markets, beaches and other large gatherings… New York City Blue Angels flyover anyone? The point is, people cannot be trusted to stay home. If a crowd gathering event opens, people will come. It’s inevitable.

The point is, reopening of ANY sort will automatically trigger, in many people’s deranged minds, that it’s now okay to go hang out with the masses ignoring social distancing, ignoring face masks and ignoring any guidelines whatsoever. It’s clear, as I’ve shown above, there’s no way any early reopening ends well for the public. The public is not at all well disciplined enough for that.

Double Whammy

yellow dead end sign during day time

The bigger problem is the double whammy effect. People are fed up at staying home. Any chance they have to get their kids back into school or head back into the office, they’re going to take it like a kid grabbing candy from a stranger. That anxiousness will be on overdrive. It will override many sensibilities of health. People will be grasping at ANY straws that lead them into a feeling of comfort and safety when none actually exists.

At this level of desperation, people will begin congregating together in masses simply because the government leaders have relaxed the requirements even just a little. For many, “A little ain’t enough.” In fact, the other adage that applies is, “Give an inch and they’ll take a mile.” And yes, people WILL most definitely take that mile, and then some. Many people have no self-control at all. They’re social creatures and must live in the moment with other people around, regardless of their own safety or the safety of others (if they are infected).

It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN. When is coming and very, very soon. With both the White House and the state governors feeling the pinch, not only are they feeling that pinch with their own state economies, they are getting the pinch from businesses too. It’s just a matter of time before the states, counties and cities succumb to these pressures and reopen out of desperation to placate businesses, but not to satisfy public safety.

Is COVID-19 subsiding?

In short, no. It is not subsiding. Distancing measures and stay-at-home orders have slowed its progress, but all of that will be entirely undone by reopening. Once people can travel, shop, stay at hotels, visit beaches and generally bunch up together like lemmings, COVID-19 will not only break out again, it will do so with a vengeance the second time around.

It won’t be a sparse set of cases in specific locales, it will be all over the country. Lifting stay-at-home orders is tantamount to ordering a second wave on a platter. In fact, COVID-19 may very well arrive on a literal platter for some.

Let’s consider the infection rate in the US. There are around 330 million people in the US. If 3.3 million people have been infected, so far, that means the United States has only seen a 1% infection rate. That means that 99% of the population of the United States remains susceptible to infection.

While some of those 1% who’ve already been infected may be out and about feeling confident about their ability to withstand another COVID infection, 99% have no immunity at all (assuming a past survivor has any immunity). That means that the vast majority of those who are out and about will be people who’ve never had COVID-19. It will be these people who will strike up the second wave.

Brutal

grey skulls piled on ground

While the first wave was somewhat brutal with potentially up to 3.3 million infected and around 80,000 deaths (and counting), this death rate will skyrocket come reopening day.

Just like 1918’s pandemic, people are now being lulled into a false sense of security because the numbers are dropping. Many justify that the lower numbers are because the virus is not intense, but that simply isn’t true. The virus is not only highly contagious, it’s extremely virulent and, to many, deadly. This is why the second wave will be brutal.

Because of the callous disregard for safety, people will chance their own lives in an effort to get back to some semblance of normal social interactions with their friends, co-workers, clubs, gyms and faith. It’s a chance that will end up in death.

For this reason, the second wave will be even less forgiving than the first. Partly, this will be because of the carelessness of individuals, but partly it’s because this virus has mutated 12 times in 3 months. The virus strain that has been going around Europe has made it onto US soil and believe to be what’s causing most of NY’s cases. It is this strain that may even see even those who have even survived an earlier strain back in bed again, let alone the remaining 99% who’ve never been infected who now get sick.

Hard Lessons and Death Statistics

Death is never a lesson that people should have to learn. Unfortunately, it is a lesson that many are learning, at least via their surviving loved ones. Even seeing the White House is not immune to close colleagues becoming infected, it proves just how easily transmissible this virus really is. If the White House can’t keep it out of their doors, then no one can.

Unfortunately, I believe we are now firmly following down the same path as the 1918 Pandemic which struck and killed somewhere between 20-50 million people worldwide. Yes, you read that correctly: 20-50 million people. The first wave of COVID-19 will seem like small potatoes next to the next wave that’s coming… and coming, it is.

Protecting Yourself

Unfortunately, many of us need to work. At the same, we need to protect ourselves. Many business owners / executives are not amenable to people working from home. For this reason, they may mandate people back into the office earlier than is safe. This is likely to be the first salvo for the virus. Workplaces are communal environments. There’s no way you can avoid becoming infected in such a communal environment. Worse, many rented office spaces utilize recirculated air. These systems can pose a risk to everyone in the building. It only takes one COVID infected individual to cough, sneeze or otherwise expel their bodily fluids and some portion of the building can become infected. This is the reason that people in one part of the building can become infected by others in that same building, but without having any personal contact.

Closed recirculated ventilation systems and other communal office spaces can see to the transmission of COVID-19 across individuals in buildings. You might even get infected by performing something as simple as using the copy machine or drinking from the water fountain or water cooler or touching the faucet handle. Though, transmission through the ventilation system is still a big problem in many, many commercial building structures.

As a personal example, I worked in a 6 story building for 5 years. In that time, I’d had maybe 2 colds the entire time I worked there. These illnesses were within the first year. The remaining years I got sick maybe once. I moved on from that business and hired into another company that rented office space in a 16 story building. I worked on the 11th floor. In the first year that I worked there, I’d had several colds, the flu and an extremely long bout of bronchitis. That building’s A/C system was incredibly bad and seemed to circulate air not only from our floor, but apparently it also circulated air between multiple floors through a common shaft.

This ventilation system left everyone in the building vulnerable to sickness. I’ve never been sick that often in any other business where I’d ever worked. This building was so poorly engineered and because the company encouraged sickness in the office via its exceedingly poor sick leave policy, I had considered leaving the company just from this alone. Even when I attempted such things as social distancing, avoiding the kitchen, bringing my own food, washing hands often and staying at my desk as much as possible, none of it helped. I still got sick too often. There was truly “something in the air”. I finally left that company and I’ve not been sick since. That building was just one big petri dish.

Sick Leave Policies

woman lying on bed while blowing her nose

The whole building situation was made worse by, you guessed it, HR’s sick leave policies. Many corporate sick leave policies are less than ideal. For example, some businesses choose to gang up sick time onto paid time off (PTO). This is a bad, bad idea.

This means that your allotment of PTO must cover for all out of the office situations, including when you’re sick. This means you have to use up precious PTO to be at home nursing a cold or the flu. Not many people are willing to give up their PTO (i.e., their vacations) to be at home sick. Hence, people arrived into the office sick and worked sick at their desks. This crappy sick leave policy actually encouraged people to come to the office while contagious, thus infecting everyone around them. This company also took no steps to send people home if they appeared to be sick.

Companies which choose to separate PTO from sick days off tend to have less problems with people working sick at the office. The company where I worked prior to this poorly ventilated building company had an “unlimited” sick time policy. Keep in mind that “unlimited” isn’t truly unlimited. What that means is that if you’re sick, stay home and get well and take however many days is needed to get better. However, if you’re at home sick often, your job is in jeopardy. This meant that as long as you were truly sick and your boss can see it (or hear it), staying home is an option. Although, even though you’re at home, that doesn’t mean you’re not working. While you have claimed a sick day, you could still be called to work on projects or issues while in the throes of the flu. While an “unlimited” sick time policy is novel, it still has limits and requires manager approval every time you’re sick. Getting this time off can be tricky with many managers.

I’d prefer companies give realistic hard set amounts of sick time off per year. Just define an amount (5 days per year) and hold us to it. Because it’s hard sick time, you don’t need approvals. Just use it when you need it. You will need to inform your boss that you’re at home sick to avoid “no show” problems, but you can use that sick time when you need it. If you run out of the allotted amount of sick days, you may need to consider disability leave or PTO instead. That’s a separate issue from ganging up sick time onto PTO up front, which is not a good idea and encourages the wrong behavior.

COVID and Corporations

Corporations are difficult slow boats. What I mean is that trying to get stick-in-the-mud executives to change corporate standards to help reduce or eliminate sickness in the office can be a real challenge. Human Resource staff might have a better time at steering that slow barge than those of us not in HR. The difficulty is, many executives don’t really care. They want butts in the office. They don’t care about people being sick. In fact, many executives don’t care about the welfare of their employees specifically. That’s left up to the HR team to handle. Many times, the HR team operates benefits from the cost perspective. If it costs too much, it won’t get implemented. This can leave situations like the above, where sick time is ganged up on PTO time. Yes, the HR team came up with that idea and implemented it.

Unfortunately, the costs outweigh the fact that such a policy encourages people to horde their PTO time at all costs. That means seeing people at their desks wheezing, sneezing, coughing, with runny noses and contagious with the flu. Staff simply won’t give up their vacation days to stay at home sick. They value that summer Hawaii trip way more. In fact, many of these people may even show up to work sick facetiously in an attempt to “get back” at the rest of the office for its asinine sick time policy. They are willing to let their co-workers, boss and other office staff become sick just to fulfill a vendetta against a perceived corporate injustice. Yes, this does happen.

COVID won’t be different

architecture barge bay beach

With many corporations, they can be exceedingly slow barges that simply can’t or won’t course correct their corporate culture and policies for something like COVID. Some might, but many won’t. If it’s going to cost the corporation even more money in benefits, then you can bet it won’t get implemented. This means that such antiquated sick time policies, such as the one stated above, will continue to be enforced in a post-COVID world.

Some corporations do legitimately care for their staff. Other companies really don’t give a damn. Only you can review your corporate policies to see if your company is trying to make positive changes with COVID or not.

Unfortunately, many corporate policy changes are simply for show. What I mean is that corporations appear to make policy changes simply to get free press from the industry. However, internally, these corporate changes are mere window dressing. This means that the policies remain exactly identical as before. What’s stated to the outside is not what’s being practiced on the inside. It’s more about making the company look good than it is about that company actually being sincere. There are plenty of companies that follow this asinine example. Yours may even be one of them.

Ultimately, what this means for COVID is more and faster infection rates. Corporations are itching to get their offices open with employees back at their desks so they can continue to sell and make money. It’s all about the money. Unfortunately, the money motivation can remove motivation from keeping employees healthy. In fact, many corporations see employees as disposable commodities. If a position becomes vacant, they believe they can fill it almost instantly. In an employer’s market, that might be true. In an employee’s market, that’s absolutely false.

Economic Impact and Employer’s Market

red and white signage

Here’s where we are. Because employers have furloughed or laid off millions of workers due to temporary closure, it is now back to an employer’s market. That means that any employer who is now hiring has an unfair advantage. This means the employer can demand less wages, poorer working conditions, longer hours, less benefits, more dedication with less rewards and on and on. Because people are now firmly out of work, this means employers who have positions to hire hold the upper hand.

While once we had days where employers were bending over backwards to get new talent in the door, we now have the reverse situation where there’s too much talent looking for work. This means that employers can write bad sick time policies forcing employees to use their PTO as sick time… or even worse, reduce PTO days.

As a result of the poor economy, we have now firmly moved back to an employer’s market where they can treat their staff with all of the careless disregard they so rightfully wish. That can only last for so long, but it’s here for now. The problem is, COVID can easily infect not only staff in the office, but the executives. Unfortunately, we’re likely to see most executives board themselves into their offices and never come out to see anyone. That assumes that many executives choose to even come into the office at all. Many executives may not even show up and, instead, choose to work from home. While those executives practice stay-at-home, they firmly will not allow their staff to do so. It’s a, “Do as I say, not as I do” situation. Unfortunately, these truly one-sided executive privilege situations occur with much more frequency in high unemployment markets, just as we face in 2020.

Worse, these callous self-centered greedy executives will treat their bottom end employees as entirely disposable. Because of the high unemployment rate, this gives them the opportunity to treat employees poorly while tossing them aside with frequency and impunity. If a few of their employees die to COVID, they don’t really care. This also means that COVID will spread with all of the careless abandon it needs to usher in wave 2. These poor corporate decisions will also be one of the primary reasons why wave 2 starts, though it won’t be the only reason why it continues to propagate.

That will be thanks to public transportation, beach gatherings, public gatherings, shopping in stores, restaurants and so on. All of the standard social fare that everyone has become accustomed to every day and on weekends, these will be the method of propagation of COVID-19. It may start in the office, but it will transmit through “open channels”. Though, as I said, it will also transmit due to poorly conceived office spaces combined with executives treating staff as dispensable in a high unemployment market. If someone in a corporation gets COVID, executives won’t necessarily take swift action. They might disinfect the workplace, they might not. It all depends on the corporation. Many corporations, as I said, don’t really give a damn about their employees’ health.

mask-businessWorse, far too many executives are sociopaths. They really don’t care one wit about anyone other than themselves. They put on a good face, but behind that is someone who doesn’t actually care. If someone gets COVID, they don’t really care as long as it doesn’t impact them directly. As long as they continue to practice stay-at-home, they won’t be affected. If half of their office staff gets COVID, they’ll simply fire them and get more staff. However, that might only work for so long until they have a huge lawsuit pending against them for improper staff treatment (and a number of COVID deaths). OSHA won’t take too kindly to sociopath executives playing games with their office staff in this callous and reckless way.

By the time any kind of litigation is forthcoming, the damage will already have been done. This means that COVID-19 will be firmly partway through its second much larger and deadlier wave. Those executives might be fired or the company might have to shut down, but not before the damage to the population has been done.

Second Wave Part II

Don’t kid yourself. The second wave is coming. As soon as the politicians decide that we need to reopen the US (and, indeed, the world) is the day the seeds for the second wave are planted. It only takes 14-28 days to incubate COVID-19. Within that period of time, we’ll see a ramping up, again, of the number of cases. Within 30 days, assuming the politicians keep the economy open, the cases will skyrocket. Unfortunately, we’re presently in the lull just before the storm. That 14-28 days will seem like everything is status-quo. That we’ve gone back to our older days. People will be out and about, happy, content and oblivious. All the while, COVID-19 is transmitting between many people. You can’t see it transmitted. You can’t feel it. It’s there, but it’s invisible. The only way to know is 1) getting tested or 2) getting sick.

Because we, as a nation, seem to have opted to go with #2 as a primary means of detection, this means that we have to wait until its far too late before understanding just how badly the whole situation is screwed up. The numbers of dead in wave 2 will far exceed the numbers of dead we’ve seen so far.

Grim Statistics

Here we come to how this may all pay out. It’s also the place where we need to review numbers. If numbers aren’t your thing, then it’s a good thing I saved the best for last. Let’s get going.

My guestimate is somewhere between 2% – 5% of the nation dead assuming an infection rate totalling at least 50% of the population (165 million).

At a 2% death rate at a 50% infection rate, that’s 3.3 million dead… and that’s just for starters. If the death rate reaches a whopping 5% (likely once hospitals reach capacity), that’s 8.25 million people dead. Those numbers are still less than the total number of dead from the 1918 pandemic at 20-50 million dead worldwide, though it’s much higher than the ~700,000 dead from the 1918 pandemic in the US. Keep in mind that in 1918, the population of the US was around 103.2 million people or roughly 1/3 of the population in 2020. Extrapolating the death rate from 1918 using 2020’s population of 330 million, the 1918 pandemic would have claimed 2.1 million people in the US alone. With COVID, we’re no where near that death rate yet. We’ve got a long way to go, which is why reopening now WILL only lead to a much more severe wave 2 death rate.

The sheer fact that we may not yet have even reached a 1% US population infection rate should be wildly concerning. We’ll need to reach an 85-95% infection rate across the entire US population before COVID-19 is considered “done”. We’re no where near those numbers. Opening the economy at this moment invites many, many more infections. You don’t even want to consider about the numbers of dead once we reach an 85% US population infection rate. Though, we’re quickly heading down this road.

Steps to Reopening

Unfortunately, we can’t stop the tide that is now turning. Politicians are going to do what they’re in the process of doing. If that’s reopen the economy, then that’s it. Come hell or high water, we’re reopening. That means that any published steps for how to safely achieve that reopening are mere suggestions. There’s no way that any leader will follow every step to the letter. Indeed, we’re likely to see some state governors open their entire state back up simply out of fear of political reprisal. Some deluded people have even called for recall of some governors. Governors are doing what they are doing to protect that state’s citizens, not because, as some people have put it, that those governors are “drunk with power”. It’s not a Kool-Aid issue. It’s an issue of public safety.

Though, some people don’t seem to get this. I get it. They’re out of work. They have no income. It’s difficult to make ends meet. I get that wholeheartedly. The problem is, what are we opening back up to if we do it now?

If “you” want to go to back to work face-to-face with the throngs of the COVID-bearing public, go for it. If you get COVID-19 and perish, that’s your choice. That’s a Darwinian Award level choice. While it’s fine to make such decisions for yourself, don’t drag other people into your quagmire along with you. If you have a death wish, that’s yours alone. Leave other people’s lives, health, safety and livelihoods out of it. If we choose to stay out of the public, that’s our choices. Don’t attempt make choices for or force choices on others. We all can make choices for ourselves. If the rest of the country chooses not to have a death wish, you must respect that choice.

If your employer chooses not to have that death wish, you must also respect their choice. If your company wants you back to work tomorrow and you’re willing, that’s also your choice. If your company wants you back at work and you’d prefer to stay-at-home as ordered, that’s a choice companies also need to respect without ramifications. If you can safely and effectively work from home, then a company needs to allow that choice. So long as stay-at-home orders remain, companies should be required to abide by those orders regardless of whether their business is now allowed to reopen.

Corporations and small businesses alike will do whatever is most cost effective to operate their business, rather than operate in the public’s best interest. The difficulty, with both business and government alike, is having a death toll approaching 3 million is catastrophic to any economy. If it gets to has high as 8 million (this is entirely possible), the economy will be way beyond problematic. It is, unfortunately, where we are presently heading with the early reopening that both the President and the governors are pushing hard, regardless of their documented steps.

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COVID and Air Travel

Posted in airline, best practices, business, travel by commorancy on May 5, 2020

airline-overhead-panelAir travel is something we sometimes find as necessary. The problem with air travel and viruses is that the airline industry was (and still is) ill prepared to handle a medical crisis like COVID. Sure, they’re sanitizing surfaces on planes, but that’s a limited response. That doesn’t mean the airlines aren’t trying. Let’s explore the pitfalls of air travel in the new post-COVID world.

Airline Sanitizing Efforts and Virus Safety

In an effort to quell fears and get people traveling, airlines have been making more and more concessions towards COVID. For example, they are more frequently wiping down surfaces of panels touched by passengers, they’ve removed communal magazines from seat pockets, they are seating people apart in a small token way, they are sanitizing the airplanes relatively rigorously between flights, but that doesn’t mean these efforts will be fruitful for passengers and crew.

COVID has been proven to linger on surfaces for sometimes days, depending on the surface material. WebMD states:

The coronavirus can live for hours to days on surfaces like countertops and doorknobs. How long it survives depends on the material the surface is made from.

WebMD then gives a list of materials and number of days COVID can live on that surface:

Metal
Examples: doorknobs, jewelry, silverware
5 days

Wood
Examples: furniture, decking
4 days

Plastics
Examples: packaging like milk containers and detergent bottles, subway and bus seats, backpacks, elevator buttons
2 to 3 days

Stainless steel
Examples: refrigerators, pots and pans, sinks, some water bottles
2 to 3 days

Cardboard
Examples: shipping boxes
24 hours

Copper
Examples: pennies, teakettles, cookware
4 hours

While copper isn’t commonly found in our environment, except for coinage, we do regularly encounter plastic, wood and metals. In fact, these three materials primarily comprise what airplane seats, and indeed much of what all airplanes, are made of.

For this reason, sanitization efforts within an airplane are limited. There’s just no way to spend enough time to get into every nook and cranny of a plane’s surfaces to wipe it all down before the next flight. What this means for you is to not touch any portion of the plane that you don’t have to. If you do touch a plane’s surface, make sure to use hand sanitizer immediately afterward or head to the lavatory and wash your hands, making sure to use the towel to open the door and toss the towel on the floor or ask the attendant to take it from you as they are likely wearing gloves.

If you have disposable gloves to use while in the airport and while boarding, keep them on until in your seat and then remove them only when you’re ready to consume any food. The biggest problem in planes isn’t really surfaces, though. So, have a mask ready to use while flying on a plane.

To that end, I’d recommend refraining from consuming any food while on board your flight as that means you’ll have to remove your mask to do so. You should keep your mask on for the duration of the flight. Here’s the primary reason why airline sanitization efforts are most likely to fail…

Recirculated Air

Let’s get directly to the heart of every airline’s biggest in-flight problem. Commercial airliners are designed and built to recirculate air throughout the cabin. It is this closed recirculated air flow system that is at the heart of why no matter what airlines do to distance people or enforce the wearing of masks or even wipe down surfaces, it will never be enough.

Why? Because recirculated air recirculates cough and sneeze particles throughout the entire plane’s cabin. If a cough can travel 6 feet, it can travel far enough to reach the intake vent of the aircraft, which can then spread throughout the rest of the plane. It can even deposit these particles on the ducting of the plane which can come loose later, even while still active. It’s doubtful that airlines are scrubbing or disinfecting the airplane’s internal ducts between flights. There’s just not enough time.

What that means is, distancing, masks and disinfectant won’t matter if even ONE contagious person boards an airliner, but who also shows no obvious symptoms. This means that even one cough from that person could spread the virus throughout the entire plane, causing additional infections regardless of distancing. You could even be sitting an entire fuselage away from that person and still become infected simply due to recirculated air. That’s the danger of recirculated air. It’s also a design problem that needs to be solved.

Design Changes

Since the arrival of COVID-19, there has been no time for aircraft design changes to be implemented to offer safer measures against viral propagation. What this means to would-be travelers is that the airplanes which are presently in service are the same planes that were in service before COVID-19.

This leaves any passenger open for infection regardless of face masks, distancing measures or any other in-plane disinfection. In fact, this recirculated air system leaves the entire plane open for infection. How can this be resolved? By making specific design alterations to every commercial aircraft’s air conditioning system.

Instead of recirculating the in-cabin air, there are two effective choices. One is more complicated than the other, but both are not without risks to the plane.

Here’s the first. Cabin air can be expunged from the plane in the rear. Fresh (cold) air from the outside can intake from the front of the plane. The air is then warmed by passing near the engines and blown into the plane at an appropriate temperature, making sure not to mix the fresh incoming air with any exhaust or other air contaminants. In fact, the air intake should also be run through a series of HEPA filters to ensure any particulate or allergens are removed.

Here’s the fundamental problem with this approach. At high altitudes, the outside air will be thin and hold less oxygen. This means the need to supplement the air system with additional oxygen and other gases to ensure a proper mix of air for the entire cabin while attempting to use outside air. This requires planes to carry oxygen systems to perform this air mixing. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of hypoxic passengers and attendants. These systems add more weight to the plane.

The second alternative is UVC treatment. This one is probably the more practical of these two ideas. According to this Quora article, it is possible to treat air within seconds and achieve a 99% disinfection rate. That means it would be possible to move the air through a long series of transparent ducts surrounded by UVC light. When it emerges from the far end of the duct, the air would be disinfected for reuse within the cabin. This solution is probably the most optimal solution for commercial airlines to retrofit onto their planes.

While UVC is a great solution for disinfecting air, it doesn’t mean that plane (and you as a passenger) won’t remain at risk from other sources around you. It does mean that air coming out of that tiny round vent above your head is clean of pathogens. It doesn’t mean your seatmate can’t cough in your general direction or that you can’t pick it up from your tray table.

Why recirculated air?

Airlines reuse air strictly because of the high altitude (less oxygen rich) and cold outside air such that recirculating interior air makes the most sense and is least costly to achieve. It’s more problematic and expensive for an aircraft to heat outside air, but also enrich it with oxygen to mimic ground oxygen levels. The design choice was then to recirculate ground air using a closed system for the duration of the flight. That choice, unfortunately, didn’t take into account the ease of pathogen transmission.

On the ground, oxygen levels are about 20%. Above 30,000 feet (5.68 miles), oxygen levels drop below 6.9%. Many jetliners cruise at an altitude above 43,000 feet (8.14 miles above the ground). At these low oxygen levels, humans will become starved for oxygen. It’s called hypoxia. Hypoxia leads to all sorts of problems such as:

  • Confusion
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Tunnel Vision
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Disorientation
  • Fainting

This means that attempting to repopulate the air from outside of a plane requires additional design considerations including proper heating and oxygenation. Carrying oxygen mix canisters that can resupply oxygen into the plane’s air for an extended period of time means more weight in the plane. UVC lighting may or may not be the less weighty solution.

I’d suggest one of the two above ideas for reducing an airplane’s ability to transmit pathogens throughout a plane. However, UVC light must be fully blocked from accidental exposure to humans while in operation. Any exposure to UVC light for even just a few seconds can be enough to cause eye or skin problems. Disinfecting air by using a UVC light system would need to be mounted and used in the bowels of the plane where these lights are fully contained and cannot be accidentally happened upon by humans. It also means these lights must remain in operation throughout the duration of the flight.

I have no idea how long these lights last, though some speculate these lamps last as long as 12 months at which time their disinfection power diminishes. That means a regular maintenance schedule must apply to replacing these lamps when they are close to out of date. It also means backup set of lamps in case one set of lights fails to illuminate during the flight. Of course, many airlines may treat such a UVC disinfectant system as non-critical. Meaning, if the system is broken, it won’t prevent the plane from taking off and flying… thus this leaves passengers right back at square one, with no in-plane protection from pathogens.

Whichever choice that airlines choose make to their air conditioning system, it will need to be made before airplanes can be deemed safe from transmitting pathogens within the confines of their closed air systems.

Airlines and COVID

people inside airplane

Airlines face huge problems simply stemming from fewer and fewer people flying during the COVID pandemic. With this post COVID era and fewer seats occupied, airlines will balk at paying for expensive additions to their planes. They can barely afford to keep their airline afloat, much less add a new expensive critical system to stem the tide of COVID aboard their planes.

This means that the government would have to step in and mandate such a system be installed on older planes and that all new planes under construction must contain an air UVC disinfectant system before it goes into service.

Governmental health authorities would also need to deem such an airliner’s internal disinfectant system as critical such that the plane cannot takeoff if the system is non-functional.

Today, commercial jets are a haven for pathogen transmission. Of the last 20 flights I have taken, at least 85% of them have led me to a cold or flu within 10 days of that flight. You can even hear the people on the flight sneezing and coughing all along the way.

Since airlines have no way to restrict sick passengers from boarding, the airline must to consider other options in protecting its passengers from infection while aboard long flights.

The new post-COVID reality within the airline industry is to block seats off and keep passengers apart. However, this only does so much considering the distance between seats is far less than 6 feet. Unless you place only 1 person per every 3 rows in addition to installation of UVC air disinfectant systems on all jetliners, there is no way airlines are doing enough to protect their passengers from COVID. Masks only go so far. Even then, people will take them off mid-flight to drink, eat and go to the bathroom. The effectiveness of a mask won’t work on long-haul flights.

On one hour flights where food and drink is not supplied and people are required to wear their masks the entire time, this may work. For 4, 5 and 6 hour flights across country or 11-13 hour flights across the world, other measures need to be taken to limit exposure, including in-flight air UVC disinfectant systems.

Flying Today

If you choose to fly in a post-COVID world, and someone aboard your flight is COVID infected, but not showing symptoms, you could find that you have incidentally contracted COVID from that flight. Be sure to read your airline ticket stub carefully, though. I’m quite sure that airlines have rewritten and updated their terms and conditions to indemnify themselves from all claims arising out of their use of air recirculating systems on board their airplanes. This leaves you firmly responsible for your health while captive aboard a commercial jetliner. You likely won’t be able to make any claims against that airline, even though it was their jet that was at fault for infecting you.

You may or may not be able to get COVID insurance, though. You should check with your travel insurance carrier to determine their rules. Many travel insurance carriers exclude a pandemic as part of insurance claims… again, leaving you on your own. Basically, you travel at your own risk. Should you become infected even through no fault of your own and even if you can trace it back to negligence of the airline itself, you may have no recourse.

Your best bet, then, is to avoid air travel until such time as the airline industry is willing to accept some measure of responsibility for each passenger’s health while being held captive aboard their planes… by updating their planes to add an in-flight UVC disinfecting system to their closed recirculated air system.

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