The Coronavirus,the Bible, and I

Quick story…

I was about 18 years old the first time it happened. I was not a religious/ spiritual person @ this point in my life.  I was living my version of La Vita Loca. work crew 1977

Anyway, one evening, I was just  randomly thumbing through the good book, and a sentence  jumped off the page:

     “ Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”  Proverbs 17:28

Bam/ right along side the head.

My mouth had been getting me into trouble fairly regularly at that point. and I was tired of it.  I resolved right then and there, to take this pithy proverb to heart.  I would keep quiet the next time I was temped to spout off.

Ever so slowly my interactions with people began to improve.

Side note… On this blog, I assume most of you  do not necessarily share my understanding of the Bible, spirituality, etc.  although a few of you do.  I rarely go there on this space.  I have another blog specifically devoted to spiritual stuff, just like I have a “farm blog” more geared to farmish stuff….but I woke up this morning thinking,  I would really like to write something that touches on  the   the coronavirus, the Bible  and our current situation, so I am going to go there….

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The bible has quite a bit to say about the  coronavirus actually , but not in the way you might expect.  For example, right now these words have taken on a whole new meaning to me the past month:

For the righteous  (righteous = a person of faith)  will never be moved: ….
He is not afraid of evil tidings;
    his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady, he will not be afraid.”  Psalm 112

I have those words on a 3 by 5 index card on the dashboard of my pickup.  I’ve been chewing on them the past few weeks.  Evil tidings is a great way to characterize most of what passes for “news” these days.

Not going to let it suck me in if I can help.

(side note:  In case you didn’t know, the Psalms are actually a  compilation of various styles of writings… part song book, part personal journal,  personal prayers, etc.  (think blogger from 3500 years ago).

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One last verse on the media..

 “…. whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 

I (DM) learned my lesson after 9/11.  I continue to watch my media intake.  No binge watching.  I have no interest in keeping up to speed on the day to day updates.

PS.  I appreciate each and every one of you that has written and continues to write  about what has been happening in your neck of the woods  in terms of the coronavirus.

Would much rather read your stories.

Take care. DM

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Jumped off the page

Reading through the Parent-Teachers guide of the McGuffey Reader  couple of nights ago, the following jumped off the page:

“The phonics controversy does not need to be an either/or argument;  you need not align yourself “for” or “against” phonics.”  

That thought, “it does not need to be an either/or argument; you need not align yourself “for” or “against…” has broad implications for our day.

The discourse in the public square has turned into a bar-room brawl.

Have you ever experienced one first hand? (bar room brawl)

I have.

It was crazy.

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Pick a topic.

Vaccinations.

I’m not 100% for, or against.

Is there a place in the public square for me to say that, or will I be shoved to the side by the thugs from both extremes?

I absolutely believe there is a place for vaccinations.  (Measles, mumps and small pox comes to mind.)

When our kids were little, (early/ mid 1980’s) they were given a series of 12 shots/ 8 diseases.

Here’s a little chart I  pulled off the Internet:

 

Today, your child will be given quadruple that number of shots.

During that same time period,  there has been an exponential increase  of autism in children.  You probably already knew that.

Could there be a connection?

In simple terms. when our eldest was born in 1980,  the chance of  her developing autism was  one in 2000.

My eldest

1 out of  every 2000 children had a chance of developing some form of autism in 1980.

Twenty years later, in the year 2000,  you had a 1 in 150 of developing some form of autism.

1 in 150.

Today, 2021, that number is now 1 in 54.

From 1 out of every 2000, to 1 out of every 54.

The medical profession as a whole says, “It’s a mystery.”

What changed during that time?…humm….

I think you can absolutely make a case for parents who are leery of pumping there precious child full of vaccines.

Instead of deriding all  parents who have questions about vaccines as “anti science,” I believe it is still we the parents, the mom and dad, not some federal government bureaucrat  that has the final say….but for how long?

Someone recently asked… Do I plan to get vaccinated?

No I will not voluntarily chose to get the vaccinations that have been “safely fast tracked.”

That’s my choice. Not imposing that on anyone else, or think less of anyone else who chooses otherwise. These are hard, personal, intimate, potentially life and death choices.  We have to start giving each other the freedom to make these decisions without mockery.

I am not anti medicine.  I love my local Doctors, absolutely love them, my urologist, my local hospital.   My sister is an RN.  She and I talk about all things medical, all the time. I am not anti medicine.  Having said that, the only medicine I am currently on is coffee. Just coffee.  My job is physical, I sleep like a baby, have never, ever had a vaccination for the flue before the flue season.  Made that choice, years before COVID-19 was in the news.  Do you think I’m going to change my mind now, just because the CDC says it’s safe?   What do you think….

 

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For years, there has been a similar debate in the public square about the link between Roundup and various cancers.  Round up and honey bee loss.  Round up and…..

Monsanto (the corporation that owned Roundup) did all it could to discredit any nay-sayers.

My neighbor Paul/ the one who used to plow out our driveway after a snow, died five years ago, in his mid 50’s from a rare blood  cancer.  As a farmer, even with the proper protection, he exposed himself to a butt load of toxic chemicals.  I heard later, the Doctors  suspected, that maybe there was a link to pesticide exposure and his rare cancer.

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Language is powerful.

Thugs have taken over the public square.

I shake my head.

I really, really would love to interact with some of you on a host of topics, without snark or sarcasm, but probably not in an on line comment thread.  I don’t do on line debates in comment threads. There is so much that I don’t know. Maybe via e-mail, or in person….

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This post could just as well be about sexuality…

Stewardship of the earth, of which climate change is one piece,

Mr and Mrs Potato Head,

Election integrity, National sovereignty,  or twenty other topics.

I have decided I can no long sit on the sidelines and stay completely silent.

Honestly I do not know how much longer we who live in the middle will have the freedom to speak our minds.

My take

I’ve been wanting to write something simple  on the topics of woke, revisionist history, tearing down statues,  how our country is being overrun  by a bunch of ______________, (fill in the blank.)

Came across this picture yesterday:

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I did not take physics in high school.  Doesn’t mean I don’t have a working knowledge of gravity.  😉

I sensed for a while now,  another  law of physics (metaphorically) at work in my life, and only this morning was I able to identify it.

Newton’s 3rd law : For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Ever since I first read about the Laura Ingals Wilder debacle  by the library association, I’ve felt it.  An energy  bouncing around in my head trying to find expression.

And as my country continues head long on a  mindless rush to throw itself over the cliff,  I find myself moving in the opposite direction.

I saw a clip of a newsman  go on a rant, supposedly while on the air, about the Laura Ingals Wilder award.  He said what I was thinking, laced with a lot profanities.   As I tried to re- track that clip down, it turned out he’s a comedian from the UK, so it was a spoof.  I was tempted to include it here. Most of you are savoy enough with the computer, if you’re curious, you could find it.

Is there a place for profanity?  I think on rare occasion there is.  I can give you at least 3 examples from the Bible, two where God himself uses a type of profanity to emphasize his anger.  First time I came across it, I thought, what the heck?! Didn’t know that was in there!  so yea, there is a place for anger, and I think several of the things that are making me angry, should.

 

DM

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Profanity as Wikipedia defines it:  Socially offensive language, crude…. It can show a debasement of someone or something, or be considered as an expression of strong feeling towards something

Until the bees came out…

It’s been a couple of years now….

I have a policy, I refuse to argue about current events, religious debates, cultural stuff, etc.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have  opinions, and doesn’t mean I won’t talk about them with you,  it’s just, 95% of the time those interactions are fruitless and drive people apart, rather than result in something positive, ie. like mutual understanding.

On top of that, I simply do not have the time to be conversant on every current “issue.”

Most of the time, the other party is not interested in understanding, they just want to vent.

I’m not doing it. 🙂

Last time it happened, I learned my lesson.

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In the   25  23 years I’d known this woman, there had never been any tension in our relationship/ ever..

Until that one day….

Something on the news had gotten her agitated.  I could sense she wanted to vent.

I listened.

Finally told her, I didn’t want it to degenerate into a conflict. (She already knew she and I would look at things differently.)

But she kept going/  prodding, poking, snipping, mocking.

Felt like someone taking a stick,  banging on my bee hive.   I was just a bee, minding my own business, doing what I do, making honey and tending baby bees…

And then, things went South.

Fast.

The bees came out of the hive.

I saw a side of me, I prefer to keep in check, and I saw a side of her I’d never seen.

It took weeks, to shake off the negativity of that morning, even though we both apologized.  It was like we opened Pandora’s box and all sorts of nasty’s came out.

Taught me a lesson.

All of us have within us a dark side.

Even the kindest, gentlest, sweetest soul you’ll ever meet.

All of us..

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The other memory I have on this issue happened when our girls were 11 and 12.   We were in the middle of the home schooling chapter in our lives.  A new brother-in-law joined the extended family, and it wasn’t long before I  got wind of him grilling, (and subtly mocking) the two older girls. He had his own baggage when it came to faith/ a domineering mother, etc) so I  chalked it up to him being triggered…and then it happened.  It was just he and I, and he pounced  (on me) spoiling for a fight.  Sixty seconds into his rant, I looked at him and said I wasn’t going to debate.  I wasn’t going to go there.  I valued my relationship with him and there was no way, he and I were going to come away from that pissing match in a better place.

Pause.

He smiled.

His countenance changed.

It was like a heavy weight had lifted.

We agreed, that was probably for the best.

That was 25 years ago. We still get along. I can still see that knowing twinkle in his eyes.  We have  an understanding.

Now if he would have been in a different frame of mind, (open) I could have told him about my journey from total opposition to the idea of home schooling, (wife’s idea/ not mine)  to coming to a place where all of my concerns (socialization,   extra curricular activities, how could we teach subjects we ourselves as parents had struggled with, etc)  had been addressed head on.

I was now excited about home schooling as a viable educational model.

None of that came out, because it couldn’t.

He didn’t have ears to hear.

Now 20 years later, I would add home schooling is not for every family, nor even every child in the same family.  But to completely write it off, well you do not know what you are talking about.

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Ruth Stout.

Ever hear of her?

She is my role model when it comes to dealing with differences of opinion.

Her claim to fame is how she gardened.

Amazing story.

Completely bucked the status quo, and the fruit of her gardening proved she was onto something.  Eventually, people tried to put her on a pedestal, but she wouldn’t have it.  Wouldn’t let them.

Refused to tell people what to think, but let the results speak for themselves.

That’s me.  DM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Door Opens #7

36 years ago, come this July, we picked up, lock, stock and barrel, and headed East,   Gilgal Bible Chapel agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while I returned to school.

I have been reliving that season in our lives the past several posts. This is the 7th installment.

I knew my dad would struggle with our decision, although he and my mom have never meddled in any of our decisions,  (and still don’t).

I wanted to break it to him easy and give him another perspective.

When we got back from our week on the east coast spying out the land, He asked, “Well, what did you decide?”

I’d given it some thought (what to tell  him) so I said, “We’ve decided  to move to Africa as missionaries.”

Dead silence.

I let the words hang in the air for about 15 seconds, then,  “Just kidding.  All the details have come together so we are moving to New Jersey for a year.”

(That was SO out of character for me, as his compliant first born).  🙂

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Shifting gears….

To my regular readers,   Thank you for being so gracious and reading along the last several posts!

I don’t plan  to relieve the whole 5 years we lived on the East Coast with you here.  Just knowing  several of you have been following along has encouraged me to take the time to get this stuff down in print.

I do plan to write one or two more installments  on a few life lessons that were drummed into me while living and working in New Jersey.

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Any of the following interest you?  (If I threw in a few short stories.)  Just trying to get a feel if any of these would be interesting to anyone but me. 🙂

 

Addressing issues rather than ignoring them. (house meetings)

Transparency. (Living life w/o a mask)

People pleasing and boundaries.

Balance or (living with margin) for the long haul.

Mentoring.  (A lot like what goes into good parenting)

 

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Take care and have a good week! DM

 

 

 

 

Living In Community? #6

You’re reliving with me (if you’ve been reading the last five posts) our move to New Jersey in 1985.  Not going to repeat any of that.  I am assuming you’re up to speed.

I love history.

I loved thumbing through a very old McGuffey Reader, where I discovered the name Sara Ann Strawn in the front cover.  She had also written  Hopewell Township District number 8  1838 where she was attending school.  That sent me off to the Genweb ancestry website to see if I could find her.  I did, and much, much more.

Later, while reading a book with the  personal correspondence of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)  she wrote about  her time living in a Unitarian Universalist community with her family.  What a nightmare that time in her life was.

It’s called original source material,  not revisionist poison pablum where someone from today takes their current worldview prejudices and tells me what to think about something written 100 years ago.

Back when we were doing the home school gig,  we were doing  unit studies on early American history.  I remember reading  about original source documents (from the Pilgrims) being stolen from the Library of Congress.

Several of them.

Who would do such a thing, I thought?  Why????

Sometimes it was as simple as greed. They would sell old manuscripts on the black market.

Other times the purpose were more nefarious. Revisionist history/ erasing/ removing/ censoring…..1984 here we come.

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Shifting gears slightly,  when I started reading portions of the Bible, (filled with dozens of original source documents)  the letter written by Luke, usually referred to as “Acts” stirred something in me.  I  remember being struck by how different   1st century Christianity seemed compared to what is currently called “Christianity.”

They (the early/ 1st century Christians) had a depth of relationship with each other, I rarely (if ever) saw in to days setting, and I wondered why?

Why not?

What is the disconnect?

Going to give you just one example:

Acts chapter 2:  Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.  With one accord, they continued to meet daily…to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness…. “

I remember having a conversation on the construction site with Lester Zimmerman when I was younger, about this disconnect.

“Why don’t Christians today have that depth of relationship/ interaction as those 2000 yrs ago?”

Lester,  a semi retired farmer who attended a small local church said he didn’t know.

Couldn’t really give me a good answer.

So in the back of my mind,  I’d had these questions, wishing I could experience  life/ relationship/ on the order of what I was reading.

Next thing I know, I am in New Jersey, sitting in the dorm room of a place (church?) that has some of the ingredients of the early church….

This place sat on 10 acres of prime real estate.  Several families living on the same property,  plus a men’s dorm, a woman’s dorm, communal kitchens,  etc. etc)

It felt a little surreal.

And you better believe the word “cult” flittered through my mind a time or two.  😉

Absolutely….

After the Fourth of July picnic where Dorothy suggested I could work for her son who had a construction business,  there were still a couple of days left on the calendar before it was time to get on the plane and head home.

Sunday was the turning point in our time there. They had a traditional church service in the morning,  (sit in chairs/ sing/ listen to a message/ etc.) then broke for lunch (a pot luck), then back to a second more informal gathering that was called “an open meeting”.

I had no idea what to expect, fortunately, a young lady, Nancy Hunter,  took us under her wing, sat by us and explained the format.

Not going to unpack that part of our time right now, not sure how interested you are in some of these details…Other than to say, there came a point in that meeting where I felt it was now or never,

I remember standing up and  saying something to the effect…“It says, ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened..I’m knocking…we were wondering if you (the church assembled in that room) would consider renting a room to us for a year, in order that I could attend classes @ CCEF?”

Dead silence….

Then one of the pastors responded:  ‘We’ve been discussing this,  I’ll talk to you more  after the meeting.”

to be continued…

You came to mind last night

2021 family calendar I put together this year for my mom and dad.

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Ran to town yesterday afternoon to drop off the family calendars that came in the mail this week. After we made our last stop, I looked at my wife and asked her a question:.

“If you could magically go anywhere right now, just for the evening, where would it be?   Anyone in particular you’d like see?”

Here’s the thing about dreaming, setting goals, etc.   You need to set aside all of the normal practical things, (like $, time, travel restrictions, stress of getting somewhere, etc. etc.) and just try to get in touch with your deeper desires).

I used this technique with great success several years ago when I went about trying to identify 25 things to put on a bucket list.  Did this before the “bucket list” craze was even a thing. You may not be able to do exactly the item on your list, but some variation of it. I have been amazed at how many most of those items I’ve been able to check off  simply because I’d identified them as something I would really love to do.

Anyway, that ‘s a bunny trail for another blog post.

So when she asked me the same question:

” If you could magically go anywhere right now, just for the evening, where would it be?   Anyone in particular you’d like see?

I told her, I would love to go to some cozy retreat center, some place with a view, out in the woods/ mountains maybe….

And it would be a get together for all of my blogging friends.  A relaxed  evening just to  visit, munch on finger food, mingle, listen to music,  tell stories.

Everyone would tell a story (or three).

And there you have it.

Of all of the things in the world last night, I could have had the opportunity to do, I chose to hang out with  you.  🙂

So,  while we’re still dreaming, it would be good if  you brought something to share, bottle of wine, type of cheese, some tasty little things to eat.

What would you like to bring? 🙂

Tell me a little bit about the story you’d be sharing. 🙂

DM

 

A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVED Strategy

Got the following newsletter in the mail this week.  Want to warn you, it’s a long read, but worth it, if you’re still not sure what to think about COVED-19. DM

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Jay Bhattacharya
Stanford University


Jay BhattacharyaJay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, where he received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and director of the Stanford Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. A co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, his research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals.

The following is adapted from a panel presentation on October 9, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska:

My goal today is, first, to present the facts about how deadly COVID-19 actually is; second, to present the facts about who is at risk from COVID; third, to present some facts about how deadly the widespread lockdowns have been; and fourth, to recommend a shift in public policy.

1. The COVID-19 Fatality Rate

In discussing the deadliness of COVID, we need to distinguish COVID cases from COVID infections. A lot of fear and confusion has resulted from failing to understand the difference.

We have heard much this year about the “case fatality rate” of COVID. In early March, the case fatality rate in the U.S. was roughly three percent—nearly three out of every hundred people who were identified as “cases” of COVID in early March died from it. Compare that to today, when the fatality rate of COVID is known to be less than one half of one percent.

In other words, when the World Health Organization said back in early March that three percent of people who get COVID die from it, they were wrong by at least one order of magnitude. The COVID fatality rate is much closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent. The reason for the highly inaccurate early estimates is simple: in early March, we were not identifying most of the people who had been infected by COVID.

“Case fatality rate” is computed by dividing the number of deaths by the total number of confirmed cases. But to obtain an accurate COVID fatality rate, the number in the denominator should be the number of people who have been infected—the number of people who have actually had the disease—rather than the number of confirmed cases.

In March, only the small fraction of infected people who got sick and went to the hospital were identified as cases. But the majority of people who are infected by COVID have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. These people weren’t identified in the early days, which resulted in a highly misleading fatality rate. And that is what drove public policy. Even worse, it continues to sow fear and panic, because the perception of too many people about COVID is frozen in the misleading data from March.

So how do we get an accurate fatality rate? To use a technical term, we test for seroprevalence—in other words, we test to find out how many people have evidence in their bloodstream of having had COVID.

This is easy with some viruses. Anyone who has had chickenpox, for instance, still has that virus living in them—it stays in the body forever. COVID, on the other hand, like other coronaviruses, doesn’t stay in the body. Someone who is infected with COVID and then clears it will be immune from it, but it won’t still be living in them.

What we need to test for, then, are antibodies or other evidence that someone has had COVID. And even antibodies fade over time, so testing for them still results in an underestimate of total infections.

Seroprevalence is what I worked on in the early days of the epidemic. In April, I ran a series of studies, using antibody tests, to see how many people in California’s Santa Clara County, where I live, had been infected. At the time, there were about 1,000 COVID cases that had been identified in the county, but our antibody tests found that 50,000 people had been infected—i.e., there were 50 times more infections than identified cases. This was enormously important, because it meant that the fatality rate was not three percent, but closer to 0.2 percent; not three in 100, but two in 1,000.

When it came out, this Santa Clara study was controversial. But science is like that, and the way science tests controversial studies is to see if they can be replicated. And indeed, there are now 82 similar seroprevalence studies from around the world, and the median result of these 82 studies is a fatality rate of about 0.2 percent—exactly what we found in Santa Clara County.

In some places, of course, the fatality rate was higher: in New York City it was more like 0.5 percent. In other places it was lower: the rate in Idaho was 0.13 percent. What this variation shows is that the fatality rate is not simply a function of how deadly a virus is. It is also a function of who gets infected and of the quality of the health care system. In the early days of the virus, our health care systems managed COVID poorly. Part of this was due to ignorance: we pursued very aggressive treatments, for instance, such as the use of ventilators, that in retrospect might have been counterproductive. And part of it was due to negligence: in some places, we needlessly allowed a lot of people in nursing homes to get infected.

But the bottom line is that the COVID fatality rate is in the neighborhood of 0.2 percent.

2. Who Is at Risk?

The single most important fact about the COVID pandemic—in terms of deciding how to respond to it on both an individual and a governmental basis—is that it is not equally dangerous for everybody. This became clear very early on, but for some reason our public health messaging failed to get this fact out to the public.

It still seems to be a common perception that COVID is equally dangerous to everybody, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a thousand-fold difference between the mortality rate in older people, 70 and up, and the mortality rate in children. In some sense, this is a great blessing. If it was a disease that killed children preferentially, I for one would react very differently. But the fact is that for young children, this disease is less dangerous than the seasonal flu. This year, in the United States, more children have died from the seasonal flu than from COVID by a factor of two or three.

Whereas COVID is not deadly for children, for older people it is much more deadly than the seasonal flu. If you look at studies worldwide, the COVID fatality rate for people 70 and up is about four percent—four in 100 among those 70 and older, as opposed to two in 1,000 in the overall population.

Again, this huge difference between the danger of COVID to the young and the danger of COVID to the old is the most important fact about the virus. Yet it has not been sufficiently emphasized in public health messaging or taken into account by most policymakers.

3. Deadliness of the Lockdowns

The widespread lockdowns that have been adopted in response to COVID are unprecedented—lockdowns have never before been tried as a method of disease control. Nor were these lockdowns part of the original plan. The initial rationale for lockdowns was that slowing the spread of the disease would prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. It became clear before long that this was not a worry: in the U.S. and in most of the world, hospitals were never at risk of being overwhelmed. Yet the lockdowns were kept in place, and this is turning out to have deadly effects.

Those who dare to talk about the tremendous economic harms that have followed from the lockdowns are accused of heartlessness. Economic considerations are nothing compared to saving lives, they are told. So I’m not going to talk about the economic effects—I’m going to talk about the deadly effects on health, beginning with the fact that the U.N. has estimated that 130 million additional people will starve this year as a result of the economic damage resulting from the lockdowns.

In the last 20 years we’ve lifted one billion people worldwide out of poverty. This year we are reversing that progress to the extent—it bears repeating—that an estimated 130 million more people will starve.

Another result of the lockdowns is that people stopped bringing their children in for immunizations against diseases like diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and polio, because they had been led to fear COVID more than they feared these more deadly diseases. This wasn’t only true in the U.S. Eighty million children worldwide are now at risk of these diseases. We had made substantial progress in slowing them down, but now they are going to come back.

Large numbers of Americans, even though they had cancer and needed chemotherapy, didn’t come in for treatment because they were more afraid of COVID than cancer. Others have skipped recommended cancer screenings. We’re going to see a rise in cancer and cancer death rates as a consequence. Indeed, this is already starting to show up in the data. We’re also going to see a higher number of deaths from diabetes due to people missing their diabetic monitoring.

Mental health problems are in a way the most shocking thing. In June of this year, a CDC survey found that one in four young adults between 18 and 24 had seriously considered suicide. Human beings are not, after all, designed to live alone. We’re meant to be in company with one another. It is unsurprising that the lockdowns have had the psychological effects that they’ve had, especially among young adults and children, who have been denied much-needed socialization.

In effect, what we’ve been doing is requiring young people to bear the burden of controlling a disease from which they face little to no risk. This is entirely backward from the right approach.

4. Where to Go from Here

Last week I met with two other epidemiologists—Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University and Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University—in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The three of us come from very different disciplinary backgrounds and from very different parts of the political spectrum. Yet we had arrived at the same view—the view that the widespread lockdown policy has been a devastating public health mistake. In response, we wrote and issued the Great Barrington Declaration, which can be viewed—along with explanatory videos, answers to frequently asked questions, a list of co-signers, etc.—online at www.gbdeclaration.org.

The Declaration reads:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health—leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all—including the vulnerable—falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity—i.e., the point at which the rate of new infections is stable—and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sports, and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

***

I should say something in conclusion about the idea of herd immunity, which some people mischaracterize as a strategy of letting people die. First, herd immunity is not a strategy—it is a biological fact that applies to most infectious diseases. Even when we come up with a vaccine, we will be relying on herd immunity as an end-point for this epidemic. The vaccine will help, but herd immunity is what will bring it to an end. And second, our strategy is not to let people die, but to protect the vulnerable. We know the people who are vulnerable, and we know the people who are not vulnerable. To continue to act as if we do not know these things makes no sense.

My final point is about science. When scientists have spoken up against the lockdown policy, there has been enormous pushback: “You’re endangering lives.” Science cannot operate in an environment like that. I don’t know all the answers to COVID; no one does. Science ought to be able to clarify the answers. But science can’t do its job in an environment where anyone who challenges the status quo gets shut down or cancelled.

To date, the Great Barrington Declaration has been signed by over 43,000 medical and public health scientists and medical practitioners. The Declaration thus does not represent a fringe view within the scientific community. This is a central part of the scientific debate, and it belongs in the debate. Members of the general public can also sign the Declaration.

Together, I think we can get on the other side of this pandemic. But we have to fight back. We’re at a place where our civilization is at risk, where the bonds that unite us are at risk of being torn. We shouldn’t be afraid. We should respond to the COVID virus rationally: protect the vulnerable, treat the people who get infected compassionately, develop a vaccine. And while doing these things we should bring back the civilization that we had so that the cure does not end up being worse than the disease. 

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, a publication of Hillsdale College  October 2020

 

One of the things about blogging…

Had a friend and  fellow blogger come for a visit last month. 

The first time Kristina came, she brought her  son.  

Second time she came, she brought the hubby.

After that she’s come by herself.

After Kristina left, last Saturday she wrote  something.   I asked her if she minded me sharing a portion of it with you…

 

“I visit my friends smack dab in the middle of farm country.

Its quiet.

Its beautiful.

Its noble.

We don’t do a darn thing but cook, eat, organize, play cards, shop the thrift and Amish stores and talk.

We solve the world’s problems.

One cup of coffee at a time.”

 

++++++++++++++++++++

One of the things about blogging over an extended period of time is, if you care to, it allows you to get to know someone on a level, most people never realize.

I (DM) have been putting myself out there via various WordPress blogs since 2007.  Well over 1000 blog posts on 4 different blogs.   Kristina (our guest) has been reading along since the very beginning. 

 And she STILL wants to stay in touch.

That is one of the highest compliments  a person can give. 

Unconditional acceptance.

  The past few years, I’ve noticed the frequency of my posts have started to taper. 

I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say. and that’s OK 🙂

 

If you’re a blogger, why do blog?

Describe your blog to me in 10 words or less. 

Have you ever met any of the people you’ve initially crossed paths with via your blog in person? Tell me more.  I want details. DM

 

 

Riding out my first Derecho

I am thankful.

About noon today a severe storm system that nobody saw coming  (at least not initially) ripped a wide swath of destruction across Eastern Iowa.

Son and I were just starting to pour a footing for a retaining wall when the homeowner came over and asked if our phones had alerted us to a major storm that was heading our way.  It hadn’t.    She pulled up the weather channel , it said we had about 30 minutes before it would be on top of us.

It was packing wind speeds of 100 mph (160 kilos).  Not to mention, the neighborhood we were working in was surrounded by large trees.

We were able to finish the pour, and get on the road about 10 minutes before it hit.

I have never in my life experienced anything quite like it.

Found out tonight this kind of a storm is called a Derecho (which means straight in Spanish/ as in straight line winds.

We pulled next to a gas station and watched power line poles snap,  shingles get ripped off the apartment building across the street.  The winds lasted at least 45 minutes, and when it came time to try to get home,  most of the streets in the area, were blocked by downed trees, and power lines.

Saw two of these large metal high power lines in a twisted heap,  with wires across the highway.

Photo compliments of google

Once we finally got out of the city, we saw (3) overturned semis, metal grain bins, twisted and blown onto the highway, and lots, and lots of mature trees down.

The cornfields in the path of those winds were a total loss

(grabbed this off FB tonight):

Neighbor said she’d heard 40 some cell towers were down in our area.  I can believe it.

Pulled this off the news channel this morning:

We were working about 45 minutes away from home, and our town was in the path of the storm. I told my son, that if our place was hit, there was no doubt in my mind, the 3 bee hives were going to be blown over.  I have one of them cinched together with a strap, and the other two smaller ones, just have a large rock on the top to keep the lid from blowing of.  No way in the world they would have been able to withstand  a 100 mph sustained winds.

As we got closer to home, I could see, some of the corn fields had been spared, and by the time we were within 10 minutes of home, I was pretty sure  (somehow) the storm had went around us.

Talk about mercy…

As we passed our third overturned semi we saw a deputy directing traffic.

I looked at my son and said,  

And to think there are people who want to dismantle  law enforcement….

“They are a  bunch of dumb a@#’s!