Random Thoughts – Randocity!

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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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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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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Is loosening Social Distancing a good thing?

Posted in economy, Health, history by commorancy on April 26, 2020

an empty street under cloudy sky

I know a lot of people are going stir-crazy being stuck in without much to do. Movie theaters are closed. Beaches are closed. Concerts are canceled. Work is performed at home. Kids are home schooled. All of the normal social things we do every day, like shopping and restaurants are not really available (other than grocery shopping, of course). Let’s explore what it means to loosen social distancing.

Viruses

Like the Flu or Colds, a virus is a virus. No, we don’t yet have inoculation for even the common cold or the flu. For the flu, we have the once a year flu shot. This shot is formulated to contain a very specific set of inactive flu strains that “someone” deems as the “most likely” to hit the population. When you get a flu shot, the body acts on these inactive flu strains like they would live flu, which teaches the body how to fight off each specific strain.

Unfortunately, the flu mutates regularly and often. This means that it’s easy for the flu shot formulation to miss one or two or many strains that might hit during a given flu season. This is why taking a flu shot can be hit-or-miss. It means that even if you do take a flu shot, you can still get the flu. Why is that?

It’s because flu strains are not all alike. The body can only recognize specific flu strains to combat. If a new flu strain comes along, the body won’t recognize it as something it has fought before. This allows that flu strain to get a foothold and make the body sick before the immune system response learns and kicks in against this invader.

Enter COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2

Two names for the same virus. SARS-CoV-2 is actually the virus strain name. The difficulty with SARS-CoV-2 is mutation. Like the flu, a mutation could be ignored by the immune system as a past infection. Meaning, if you have had SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-3 comes along, the antibodies created for SARS-CoV-2 may not be recognized or used against this new virus. This means you could get COVID again. If you’ve recovered the last time, this time it might result in death. Even the strain on the lungs from a previous infection might damage the lungs enough to cause a new infection to kill. This virus is difficult to handle and even more difficult to know exactly how it might mutate.

Yes, it could mutate into an even more virulent and deadly strain. This is why a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 might be an impossible task. What I mean is that it may be next to impossible to create a vaccine that covers not only SARS-CoV-2, but every possible strain that could follow. If the medical community hasn’t been able to create a flu vaccine that functions against ALL flu virus strains, how are they going to create a COVID vaccine that covers all current and future COVID virus strains?

The answer to this question is uncertain. What does this have to do with relaxing social distancing requirements? Everything.

Herd Immunity

Considering the above regarding the flu, there is no such thing as herd immunity against the flu or even the seasonal cold virus. We regularly get these viruses even after having had previous flu or colds in the past. It’s inevitable and we understand how this works. Some of us are more lucky than others and rarely get these. Some people get colds and flu frequently, like every single virus that rolls around. Logically, we must apply this same behavior to COVID.

Opening the World

Eventually, the world must reopen. That’s a given. The question is, when is the best time to do that? Given the realities of how viruses operate, there’s no “best” time to do it. This virus is here to stay. It will continue to infect the world. At least SARS-CoV-2 will. Unfortunately, herd immunity isn’t likely to work with this virus. It might for a short time, but we all know that any immunity we may have for past colds and flu last, at most, one season. When the next season rolls around again just a few months later, we’re again susceptible, perhaps even to a strain we’ve previously had. We’re never tested for the exact strains of colds and viruses that we get to know for sure if we’re being reinfected by the same strain.

With COVID following the same patterns as the cold and flu viruses, it’s inevitable that the world must reopen. Yes, perhaps to a new more cautious reality. Perhaps we can’t ever go back to the throngs of people crowding together into a mosh pit, club or similar body-to-body crowds. Even large sporting events which formerly drew large crowds, like football and the Olympics, may find it hard to operate in this new reality.

One thing to realize is that simply because the world reopens doesn’t mean people will venture out in it. Just because parks or beaches or concert halls or Broadway have reopened, doesn’t mean the crowds will come.

COVID is still dangerous

Simply because the world has reopened doesn’t mean that COVID has magically disappeared. It is still very much being passed from person to person. Worse, not even 1% of the US population has been infected as of the numbers being released today in late April. The population would have to see at least 3.3 million infected before we’ve even reached 1% of the population. Consider that we must see at least 80-90% of the rest of the population infected before this virus may ever be considered “over”.

Second Larger Wave is Coming

Considering these above grim statistics, relaxing social distancing requirements WILL lead to a second even larger wave of infection. It’s inevitable. If at least 90% of the population is still uninfected, that means this virus has a lot more work to do before this situation can be called “over”…. let alone consider relaxing shelter-at-home requirements.

These states which are relaxing social distancing are doing so at their own peril and without any reason for doing so. They’re relaxing requirements because of social and economic pressure, not because it’s prudent or in the interest of public safety.

This is where things get grim… very, very grim. As I said, since 90% of the United States population has not been infected, relaxing shelter-at-home is only likely to “stir the pot” causing an even larger second wave.

Depending on how much gets relaxed, it could get much worse much, much faster this second time around. Why? Because any relaxing of requirements indicates to many people that the situation is over… that they’re now safe… that the virus has been contained… and such similar thought rationales. These are all false assumptions made based solely in irrational actions by local government leaders. Basically, these leaders are leading many to their deaths by these reckless actions.

Milestones

The only two ways we can ever be safe from COVID is to know that 99% of the world’s population has had this strain or that it has been eradicated 100% from the population. Unfortunately, the former assumes there are no other strains out there. The latter is almost impossible to achieve at this time. With any virus, we know there are other strains. In fact, with COVID, there were, at the time of the Wuhan outbreak, 2 strains. An earlier strain and a newer strain. It was this newer strain that jumped into humans and began its deadly trek around the world.

It will again be a new strain that jumps around the world. How many strains will there be? No one knows. Will those new strains be as deadly, more deadly or less deadly than the current strain? Again, we don’t know.

We also don’t know that someone who has survived one strain of COVID has any protection from any future strains… and this is the problem with relaxing any social distancing or, indeed, reopening the world.

How can we proceed?

This is the basic problem to solve. So, how exactly do we proceed? As much as it pains me to write this, we may have to open the world and let the chips fall where they may. Whomever dies, dies. Whomever doesn’t, doesn’t. The Herbert Spencer adage (usually attributed to Darwin) of “Survival of the Fittest” may have to win this situation in the end.

Whomever is left after COVID-19 does its dirty deed may be the only outcome available to the world. It’s not an outcome without major ramifications, however. If we can’t eradicate the virus from the world in another way, then letting it play out in the population as a whole is the only other way to handle it. There are two choices here:

  1. Find a reliable and quick testing methodology. Require everyone to be tested, then force isolate anyone who is found infected until either they die or they recover. Isolate any recovered persons for another 30 days to ensure they are no longer contagious. Rinse and repeat until no one else left in the world has it. Difficulty level: 10
  2. Allow the virus to run its course through the entire world’s population infecting everyone it can and let the chips fall where they may. This is the “Survival of the Fittest” approach. Whomever lives, lives. Whomever dies, dies. Difficulty level: 1

While scenario 2 is the easiest, it’s also the most costly to the world’s population, and indeed the economy. All told, if everyone in the world becomes infected and 1.25% is the average death rate holds steady (hint: it won’t), that means up to 96 million people dead across the globe or up to 4.13 million dead in the United States.

This assumes status quo and that the virus doesn’t mutate into a second deadly strain with an even higher death rate. If the virus mutates into a single deadlier strain, scenario 2 will lead to even more millions dead. If it mutates into multiple deadlier strains, then it could end up with a billion or more dead.

Yes, scenario 2 might be the least difficult, but it is the scenario that leads to an untold number of dead not only in the US, but around the globe.

Scenario 1, on the other hand, has a high difficulty factor. It will lead to not only a high economic toll, but it could change the world economy forever. Though, with scenario 1, we may be able to contain COVID-19. We may even put the genie back into the bottle (i.e., eradicate it from the population). Attempting this one could could save many, but at a huge economic cost.

Economic Impact

Either scenario affords major economic impact across the board. Billions of dead means much lower tax base for all countries. The US had been relying on 330 million people in tax revenue (the estimated population of the US). If 10 million die, that’s 320 million in a new tax base. Assuming any of those 10 million who died were high contributors to the tax base, that revenue has dried up. That’s a lot of money to lose and a lot of economic impact.

If under Scenario 2, multiple mutations sweep the world and kill 10x more than expected, that’s 100 million dead in the US. The new reality could see the United States at 230 million… the same population that the US saw in 1981. If the population gets to 200 million, that’s the number the US saw in 1968. The more who die, the worse the economic impact for the United States and the farther back in time we go. Millions dead means many empty houses, a huge mortgage crisis and the list of economic problem goes on and on.

Flattening the Curve

This concept is important for one specific reason. What does it mean, though? By attempting to slow the infection rate through stay-at-home measures, this keeps hospitals above water for patient load. Relaxing the stay-at-home orders means more people out and about and more people getting infected. More infections means more people sick at once.

This is the exact opposite of flattening the curve. Relaxing social distancing will have an inverse impact of flattening the curve for an already overtaxed hospital system. What that means is that those who become infected during a higher demand hospital period are more likely to die at home. Hospitals have limited numbers of beds, limited staff and limited means to treat very limited numbers of people in a given area.

In densely populated urban areas, hospitals will become overloaded quicker. This means densely populated urban areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York City, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit and so on will see significantly higher death rates under scenario 2. The death rate will climb and never stop if stay-at-home orders are lifted AND people venture out in the expected droves that they always have.

Ultimately, scenario 2 will likely lead to a much higher death rate than the currently estimated 1.25% simply due to the saturation of patients with not enough hospitals to cover the load. This scenario playing out is inevitable with an early relaxing of distancing requirements by reopening of social areas, shops and businesses.

What can I do?

You can say, no. Basically, if the United States (and the world) adopts a “Survival of the Fittest” approach to handling this crisis, then your health is left up to you. If you want to believe that everything is safe and you can venture out into the world without a care, then that’s your choice. If you get COVID-19, expect that you may end up trapped at home in your own bed without any means or access to medical care. Hospitals will likely be over-saturated with patients. You’ll be left to fend off the virus yourself. If your body can survive, it will. If it can’t, you’ll die.

This also means you can end up bringing the virus home to your children, your parents, your friends and your partner. You could end up infecting them as well. They, like you, will take their chances with the virus… at home… and very likely not in hospital care.

“Survival of the Fittest”

This may end up being the approach that governments are forced to adopt in the end. The world economy can’t survive without a population to operate it. Unfortunate, this catch-22 situation of opening up the population also means a much higher death rate once the dust settles. It’s effectively a no-win scenario for any government leader. Scenario 1 is almost impossible to achieve without some severe military measures enacted (see China’s handling). Scenario 2 is the easiest to achieve as it takes little to enact. Scenario 1 likely leads to death from people starving and unable to live due to economic impact. Scenario 2 leads to death from an overburdened hospital system while the economy flounders along at a snail’s pace, along with exponential growth in infections.

Unfortunately, death is an entirely inevitable as an outcome under either scenario. Unless the government leaders step up and halt the concept of money and the transfer of money between businesses as a metric of success and instead ask businesses to operate their businesses without quid-pro-quo for an extended period of time, this no-win situation will see to the deaths of millions of people in time no matter which path is chosen. Money flow must halt while society heals and the virus is eradicated from the population. This is the only way scenario 1 works.

Money and its Continued Necessity

The root of this situation is money. In fact, it is the single thing that’s leading our entire situation. If our economy was founded on something other than money, we might have had a chance to survive this situation with a minimal death toll.

Unfortunately, money is driving the need to reopen the economy which is driving the “Survival of the Fittest” scenario. No one can predict how the world will look in 2 years. We simply can’t foresee the number of deaths that might result. The higher the number of deaths, the worse the economies will fare. It’s a vicious cycle being driven by the insatiable need for ever more money… a silly metric when world survival in at stake.

Instead, survival in this world should never have been about money. It should have been about the positive benefits that humans can offer to one another without the driving need for acquisition of a piece of paper.

We are put on this earth to learn, grow and understand our universe. That’s the driving need why we are here. Knowledge is the currency. It’s what keeps our society functioning. It’s the scientists, architects, mathematicians, engineers and thinkers who keep our society flowing, growing, moving and functioning. It’s not money. Money is a means to an end, but is not the end itself. The end goal is the acquisition of knowledge, not money.

That’s where society needs to rethink money’s place in this world. Does money help acquire knowledge? No. It helps acquire sustenance and material possessions. Do we need jets or fast cars or million dollar houses? No. That’s unnecessary luxury. What helps humanity is the acquisition of knowledge and using that knowledge to progress society and humanity further. In that goal, computers are important, but only from the need for access to and for acquiring knowledge.

Money, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything to do with the acquisition of knowledge. Sure, higher learning institutions take money and, in quid-pro-quo form, teach you something. Though, technically, you could learn that something on your own. You don’t need to pay an institution to learn. You can read the books for yourself.

Sounds like Communism

I’m not advocating communism here. I’m actually advocating something beyond communism. I’m advocating that we need to learn to rebuild a society based on the currency of knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge rather than of money. The more “wise” you are, the more you contribute to the world’s betterment, the more you are afforded and the more you are revered. That’s what the world needs to achieve. This is the ideal a prosperous world needs to grow well into the future. Those who do and learn and give back are afforded the riches of the world. Those who choose not to learn are afforded much less.

Money, at this point, is an antiquated measure of success that COVID has clearly shown is the world’s Achilles heel. Success should not be measured by how much you have in the bank, it should be measured how much you’ve contributed to the world in problem solving. Let’s use the brains we have been given to solve societal problems and better our world condition, instead of trying to acquire and throw silly printed pieces of paper at it.

How would a new society work?

This is where this article must diverge. Such a new society would need a fully realized manifest across all sectors describing how to accomplish such a transition away from money. That’s way beyond the scope of a few paragraphs. Perhaps I could write this manifest in a book entitled, “How to transition society away from money”. I might even write such a manifest. Unfortunately, that goes way beyond the scope of this article. I’ll leave that manifest for another day. Suffice it to say that it is possible for society to exist in a new state without money as its primary motivation. Let’s get back to the topic of relaxing social distancing.

The World’s Ills

Unfortunately, our leaders are very much constrained by the ills of our economy revolving around pieces of paper. As such, our leaders are now constrained to look for solutions based on this ill conceived narrow situation of our own making. None of these leaders are attempting to think outside of the box. They are firmly rigid in their thought processes regarding how to restart our economy “as it once was”.

Our economy as it formerly existed is over. It will take full eradication of this virus from every person in the world, coupled with about a decade for this situation to recover the world back to where we were just a few months ago. A decade. Yes, I said a decade… and that’s a conservative estimate. It could take several decades.

Consider that if we lose 10% of the United States population, we’ve taken our economy back to the point where we were 38 years ago, in 1981. 20% of the population lost and we’re back over 50 years ago, in 1968. 50% of the population lost and we’re back to an economy that ended 64 years ago, in 1955. Don’t think that losing even 10% of the population is enough to cause major widespread problems in the United States, let alone throughout the world.

Losing a vast number of people in a short period is enough to send ANY economy into a tailspin. Because this virus is not at all selective towards whom it targets, it will kill anyone indiscriminately in any age group and in any economic status from young to old to male to female to rich to poor. It may even kill animals. Granted, poor people may fare worse living in closer proximity to one another, but this virus doesn’t care about age groups, race, gender, economic status or, indeed, anything else. It only seeks a host to survive and that’s exactly what it is doing.

Reopening

At a less than 1% infection rate while planning to reopen the world, Wall Street, main street or any other street is a guarantee for a second even deadlier wave. It’s a fool’s errand and foolhardy. These reckless actions will trick many people into believing that they are safe, when in fact our leaders are setting themselves (and the population) up to be a death statistic.

This article serves as both a cautionary tale and as a solemn warning to world leaders. Opening up the world at this point is effectively looking down the barrel of a gun while playing Russian Roulette.

When the second COVID wave hits, and it will, it will leave hospitals with zero space while the death toll catastrophically soars well beyond that of the statistically averaged 1.25%. Perhaps this hard lesson is what the world leaders need as a wake up call? Unfortunately, this lesson learned will be on the backs of so many who died.

If you’re reading this article, don’t fall for this reopening trick. Stay at home and urge your workplace to remain closed. If you value your health and, indeed, your own survival and your family’s survival, stay at home even after reopening. We’re still only at the beginning of this… there is still a much, much longer and deadlier road ahead.

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