Wednesday/ inside, with outside ventilation

It rained all day and into the evening, which meant the five amigos (my friends and I) could not sit outside on my uncovered deck, for our regular pizza and beers (socially-distanced, of course).

Luckily, my garage is big enough for socially-distanced seating, with good ventilation.

We opened the big garage door and a side door, to keep the ventilation going through the garage. (My garage is not usually this tidy and clean! .. and I’m hiding a few unsightly items under a brown tarp at the back).

Tuesday/ an American failure

As we enter the fall season here in the United States, the country has now crossed the 200,000 mark for Covid-19 deaths.

Says TIME magazine Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal in his closing remarks, writing about this:  ‘There is some good news. The data suggest that we are reducing the death rate in America among people who contract the virus.  .. and it’s possible that at least one vaccine may be available by the time 2020 comes to an end, although distribution will create many new questions and challenges. In the meantime, it is not too late to do better’.

An American Failure. Time magazine replaced its red frame for the cover, with a black one – only for the second time, ever. The first time was for 9/11.

Wednesday/ ‘law and order!’ shouts the liar-criminal-conspirator-traitor

The reporting of Trump calling American soldiers ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’ is still fresh. Even so, recorded interviews with Watergate journalist Bob Woodward surfaced, of Trump knowing full well, as early as February, that the coronavirus was deadly and airborne, even as he lied about it to the country.

Voters already punished the Republicans over health care as the No 1 issue in 2018 (they lost the House). Hopefully, they will do so again in November. (Trump’s administration is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. If successful, this move would permanently end Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans). 
Here’s the American Medical Association in June: ‘Striking down the law at a time when the system is struggling to respond to a pandemic that has infected nearly 1.4 million Americans and killed more than 80,000 at the time of this writing would be a self-inflicted wound that could take decades to heal’.

Yet .. Trump’s game is to say: look at all the chaos and uncertainty! Law and Order!

‘His Game: To stir up fear of chaos and violence, promise the voters ‘law and order’ – does that put Trump into the White House again?’ .. we’re at the mercy of the six battleground states. Biden needs to win Florida OR Pennsylvania OR two of the other four. One would think it’s doable, but look at that second graph that shows Trump narrowing the gap with Biden in the battleground states. [Graphs and map from Der Tagesspiegel newspaper]

Monday/ the uncertainty of everything

Everything remains entirely uncertain.
– Andreas Kluth writing in an article for Bloomberg titled ‘An epidemic of depression and anxiety among young adults’

Credit: VAN DAM | Source: Landsmeer, Netherlands | Provider: CartoonArts International

As we careen toward the election-of-a-lifetime of Nov. 3, the Republican National Convention, with its scaremongers and ‘they are coming for you’ themes, has started.

The Trump Republican Party ditched its party platform this election cycle— essentially saying, we’re all-in with Trump, whatever he does and plans. In a way, they have no choice. They have destroyed everything, down to the US Postal Service, which had reliably been delivering mail for 240 years.

Trump is trying to steal the election again – the only way he can win. So will the lies & propaganda get the criminal, immoral, idiotic president into office again? .. with no plan to stop another 100,000 Americans from dying from the pandemic that has BY THE WAY also destroyed our ability to see family and friends, and celebrate life?

P.S. I’m really OK, I just feel bad for young adults, starting out in their lives and careers, and that did not deserve any of this mess.

Saturday/ most restaurants will have to close

Among a long list of requirements, restaurants here in King County are to operate at only 50% capacity or less, a maximum 5 people per table, and 6 ft of social distancing between tables and patrons.

Five months in, it’s early in the pandemic. As many as 85% of independent restaurants (they make up 70% of all restaurants) may go out of business by the end of 2020, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Yikes.

Coastal Kitchen’s sign was lit up on Friday night, but the doors were closed. I hope that this means that they are just temporarily closed, and not for good.
Some restaurants have added outdoor space that now goes right into the street. It’s good that this section of street was closed for the night, because traffic would drive by with very little room to spare. Rain and colder weather may come in September, definitely in October, and then this will no longer be possible to do.

Friday/ a blue falcon?

blue falcon, plural blue falcons (US, military, euphemistic definition)
A supposed comrade-in-arms whose actions harm his friends, often but not always, for his own benefit.

I edited O’Neill’s now-deleted tweet for him. [Robert J. O’Neill@mchooyah on Twitter]
Here is ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill. He claims to have killed Osama bin Laden during the raid on his Abbottabad compound on May 1, 2011.

He tweeted this from a Delta Airlines flight to his 380k followers on Twitter. (The tweet has since been taken down).
He is now banned from flying on Delta Airlines.

Twitterati speculated that he might get an invite to speak at the Republican National Convention next week.

Friday/ holding steady

The high infection numbers of July are coming down for Washington State, but are still far higher than April’s peaks.

Let me check what the pandemic numbers are for some counties in Washington State, I thought tonight.

Here are the results, courtesy of the New York Times.

King County (Seattle) seems to be holding steady at 7 or so, per 100 000. Schools & universities are not going to open— remote learning only. For schools to open the % of positive cases from testing should be below 5%, and that is still not the case for King County (and not for the vast majority of counties in the country).  P.S. Those orange spots are Chelan County at 36/ 100,000 and Grant County at 39/ 100,000.
Here’s Kittitas County that have had a jump up this week. A rate of 17 still compares well against counties in Florida and Texas that have numbers like 70, 100 or even 210.
And Kitsap County is looking really good with a low rate that seems to be decreasing.

Monday/ don’t be a Maskenmuffel

die Maskenmuffel
definition of Maskenmuffel:
Grouches that refuse to wear masks, as in ‘Die Maskenmuffel weigern sich, Masken zu tragen‘.

Trust the Germans to come up with one word for the grouches that refuse to wear masks in this pandemic: Maskenmuffel.  The word is surely a contender for top new word for 2020, in Germany.

Translation: Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (Transport Network) takes action with a fine: in the future, ‘mask grouches’ will have to dig deep into their pockets (reportedly €50/ US$60). [Hamburger Morgenpost on Twitter @mopo].

Saturday/ more help needed, right away

It’s going awfully bad for many millions of people here in the United States.
With 153, 000 lives lost, there is no end in sight for the pandemic.
There is no national strategy to contain it.
The country’s GDP had declined by 9.5% in the second quarter, wiping out 5 years of economic growth.
Unemployment benefits for tens of millions of workers have expired at the end of July.
Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans have let legislation languish for months— proposed by the House for additional help from the government to people in dire need.

Infographic from the Washington Post, showing how the bad the pandemic was in the Northeast, but that it has now moved to the Southeast and the Southwest.
From The Washington Post, Aug. 3. Let’s just note: Congress = The House + The Senate. It’s Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans that are to blame for doing nothing.

Thursday/ the Trump White House: dishonest, disgusting, deranged

Dr Anthony Fauci, via blurry webcam, on the White House’s efforts to undermine him: ‘You know, it is a little bizarre; I don’t fully understand it’.

Jake Tapper (CNN): ‘That’s Dr Fauci characteristically being diplomatic.
Let me not be diplomatic.
The White House campaign to undermine Dr. Fauci is dishonest, it’s disgusting, it’s deranged, and at a time of a deadly pandemic, it is the ultimate in irresponsibility.
Literally more than 136,000 Americans are dead because of this virus and instead of an aggressive national testing and contact-tracing program, the White House is instead launching a smear campaign against the guy trying to save our lives’.

Dan Scavino is White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Director of Social Media. (Jake Tapper did not call out this tweet specifically, but I would say it qualifies as dishonest, disgusting and deranged). 

Friday/ the ‘other’ Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore, reimagined by Twitter.

Trump is holding another (stupid, insane) political rally today, this time at Mt Rushmore in South Dakota. In the middle of an epidemic spiraling out of control in many states, there is no social distancing and no mandatory mask wearing at his event.

Besides, noted a political commentator: Trump’s politics of hate and division must fly in those faces of Presidents Roosevelt, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, carved out of the granite.

I learned today that there is another giant granite carve-out that has already been many decades in the making, just 17 miles from Mt Rushmore: the unfinished memorial dedicated to the Sioux leader Crazy Horse.
Here is a 2019 write-up about it from Business Insider.

The unfinished memorial in South Dakota dedicated to the Sioux leader Crazy Horse. (Crazy Horse is famous for being one of the leaders in a victory against the US army in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876).  Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski designed the sculpture, thinking it would take 30 years to build. Work began in 1948, and it’s now been 73 years, and it is not nearly finished. The complete sculpture will have the Sioux leader sitting on his horse. [Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Thursday/ masks: now mandatory

From Friday, Washington State residents have to wear masks in any public setting where social distancing is difficult or impossible. The governor says he trusts the public will do the right thing, and that extensive enforcement or issuing fines will hopefully not be needed.

Seattle’s King county is doing O.K., but not great. There has been a steady increase in cases in Yakima county.

Infographic from the Seattle Times.
Cases by age are pretty evenly spread in the 20-40, 40-60 and 60+ age brackets.
Deaths by age is dramatically different, with 90% of deaths in the 60+ bracket.

Thursday/ what epidemiologists say

Below is a survey of the activities that epidemiologists expect to be OK to do –
⋆  Soon/ this summer;
⋆  3 to 12 months out;
⋆  Only after a year (oh no!), and
⋆  Never again (oh no! say it ain’t so).

Meanwhile, there is a deafening silence from the CDC about the pandemic.
No more coronavirus task force briefings.
Trump plans a mass rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the end of next week. (Attendees have to sign waivers that they will not sue his campaign if they get sick or die).
The death toll stands at 114,000. Are we just accepting that almost 1,000 Americans still die every day? It looks like we are.

Source: The New York Times, Monday June 8, 2020.
Check out this photo tweeted by Vice President Mike Pence yesterday (quickly deleted when he realized how bad it was). It’s the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign staff, in the Virginia office. Pence is Trump’s coronavirus task force leader. (Was, I guess. They claim it’s ‘over’). No masks, no social distancing. In Virgina, gatherings of 10+ people are not allowed.  #KAG stands for Keep America Great. (Great? With 114,000 dead and 13% unemployment?).

Wednesday/ still protesting

Long past midnight last night, I could still hear the police helicopter hover over the protesters here in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. It is less than a mile from my house, as the crow flies.

The protesters are out there again tonight. A curfew that had been in place, was lifted, though. I really hope the ugly scenes of Saturday night are behind us.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has upgraded the charge against former police officer Chauvin to second-degree murder. The other three officers that had been with him, have now been charged as well — of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The protesters in the crowd that are protesting police brutality against George Floyd for a 6th night, seen from the 3rd floor of a nearby building. The umbrellas are there to help deflect tear gas canisters, a Hong Kong tactic. Probably too few umbrellas, though! .. but hopefully things will stay peaceful. Also: not a good thing that so many people are gathered in one place with the corona virus still very much in circulation. What are people to do, though, that are protesting generations of marginalization and economic inequality? A 2011 National Institutes of Health study found that some 2.3% of deaths – 50,000 people – in the United States yearly, are due to poverty/ lack of access to affordable healthcare.  

Monday/ stay home (some more) & eat ice cream

Washington State’s Stay Home order officially expired on Sunday night.
Some counties have moved to Phase 2, but not so for King County and Seattle. (Phase 1 is strictest, then Phase 2, 3 and 4. Phase 4 is the one which allows big sporting events and concerts, but still urges at-risk populations to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene).

It seems it will be really hard for King County to get its new Covid cases under 25 per 100,000 population soon (required for Phase 2). Even so, the County will immediately apply for a modified Phase 1 transition, to get some stores, businesses and restaurants to open a limited fashion.

These pictures are from the Molly Moon ice cream store on Pine St, today.

Wednesday/ more than 100,000 lives lost

So here it is, four months in: the United States reached the 100,000 mark for Covid-19 fatalities. We have a long way to go – but at this point the US has a far, far worse outcome compared to most other countries in the world.

Moreover, the actual number for the pandemic may already be as high as 125,000, if one adds in what is called ‘excess death*’ statistics.
*The observed number of deaths, minus the expected number of deaths under normal conditions, for a certain population.

There was not a word out of Trump about all this, who was at the SpaceX launch event in Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. (scrubbed at the last minute due to bad weather).

Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election, on Twitter today.

Friday/ Memorial Day weekend starts

Oh boy. I see there are pointers for a ‘pandemic’ Memorial Day barbecue with extended family or friends, in the New York Times. All good advice: keep it small, keep your distance, plan the seating, avoid finger foods, make it a potluck, or serve food straight from the grill, and so on. 

Hmm. As one reader commented, doing all that may just not be worth it. Another reader offered : ‘Stressing over social distancing, and keeping people out of your house, kind of defeats the purpose of having them over .. have people over who you trust to have hunkered down just like you, assume some minimal risk, and have a great time and enjoy each other’s company’.

Thursday/ people, mostly – not surfaces

Here in the USA, the CDC now advises that the virus ‘does not spread easily’ from contaminated surfaces or animals. Avoiding humans is the most important thing, and especially sharing enclosed spaces with them.

The pressure is mounting on everyone to wear masks ⁠— even outdoors⁠— it seems to me.

With all the States here now starting to reopen (tentatively, and with restrictions), I think it’s a legitimate concern that people will let their guard down, and that there will be a second wave in some States and cities later in the year.

Who knows, though: the miracle of an effective and widely available vaccine may appear by the end of the year.

Thursday/ WA State: doing OK, not great, yet

Well, here are what the ‘curves’ for Washington State look like now, courtesy of the New York Times. Yes, we have flattened the curve, but new cases per day is still above 100, and average deaths per day above 10. (Today, Thursday, for the first time since early March, no death was reported).

Governor Jay Inslee says he cannot yet commit to go to Phase 2 on June 1 – limited restaurants, in-store retail, barbers, tattoo parlors.
Should I then run out to get a tattoo? Definitely not.
Need to cut my hair? Maybe later on. I finally found hair clippers to buy and I’m learning to cut my own hair with it.
I ordered groceries online & picked it up today, and it went very well. They substituted some items, asked if that’s OK. Yes, yes, I said, no problem, just throw it all in the trunk. And here’s a tip. But no, they’re not allowed to take any. I hope the grocery store pay them decently.

From the New York Times, data through May 13. That’s a 101 new cases at the far end of the red graph, for a total of 18.6k cases. There were 5 new deaths on May 13, bringing the total to 977 souls lost in Washington State so far.

Wednesday/ take the elevator?

I had to go to the doctor’s office yesterday (booster shot for an old vaccine). Should I ask if there are stairs up to the 3rd floor? I wondered for a moment, but then stepped into the empty elevator.

he New York Times about a hypothetical situation where infected Person A rides up to Floor 10 for 30 seconds. No mask, coughs and talks on a cellphone, exhaling tiny droplets that contain the virus. Some droplets fall to the ground, some hit the sides of the elevator, and some float in the air.

A lot depends on the elevator size & design, and if it has air-conditioning, but let’s say the door opens for 10 seconds, and goes back down to pick up Person B. Person A might have drawn out enough air when upon exiting, to dilute his germs and viruses in the air by 50%. The same might happen again when Person B steps in, so let’s say 25% remains, that Person B is exposed to.

Experts don’t know for sure, but generally do not believe that these airborne particles in empty elevators pose a significant real-life risk when it comes to coronavirus. They note that even when a person with Covid-19 is living in close quarters with other members of the household, the infection rate has been estimated at only about 10 to 20 percent. (For reference: measles is a true airborne disease, highly, highly contagious, with an infection rate of 75 to 90 percent).