Category: Health

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California Reopens

But explain to school kids what’s different, because they have to wonder. While establishments of all types are open at full capacity, the classroom routine is little changed: Students must continue to wear masks—a requirement that baffles the frak out of me. Is it possible reason that most of them have not been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19? For adults, the mask-mandate is only lifted for those people who have had the shot(s). Children are extremely unlikely to be infected, manifest the disease, become seriously sick, or die. So why muzzle them?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 0-4 account for 2.1 percent of U.S. COVID cases; 10.4 percent for 5-17 year-olds. Deaths: Zero percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. Citizens ages 18-49 account for 4.7 percent of total deaths, so teachers are probably pretty safe—especially if vaccinated. So, again, I ask: Why muzzle the kids? This morning, my wife and I passed by Birney Elementary as students arrived; they all wore masks, and parents, too!

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Be Ready for Face Mask Discrimination

Before the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, my wife and I were devout Trader Joe’s shoppers. But we lost faith during the months when long lines of people waited to be blessed entrance into the small stores. Our attention turned to humbler grocery cathedrals Food4Less, Grocery Outlet, and Smart & Final, which welcomed our presence and provided as good (and often better) sustenance for considerably lower cost. But with California slowly reopening, we occasionally return to Trader Joe’s—more to reminisce while grabbing a couple bananas.

We also go there for rolls of quarters, as I did this morning. The previous two trips, when getting cash back and casually telling the cashier about my plans, I was told: “We no longer give out quarters”. But when I traipsed over to the service desk, the gracious employees willingly exchanged a Twenty for two rolls. Last time, the gentleman even opened their new cash storage safe—installed sometime during last year’s coin shortage and after the nearby Wells Fargo branch closed, and never reopened, because of the pandemic.

Something changed today.

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Pandemic Pollution

What a difference a year makes. In April 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), which causes COVID-19, seemed so dire and face masks were so difficult to find, I wrote about the perils of not wearing one—illustrated with a rare, discarded protective covering. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks, or social distance, in most situations—meaning: “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”.

Long before the unexpected change to pandemic public policy, just two days ago, face masks could be found littered all about the County. San Diego Union-Tribune spotlighted the debris along beaches in July 2020; early last month, ABC News reported that “discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life“; the local CBS affiliate, reporting about the April 24, 2021 “19th-annual ‘Creek to Bay Clean-up'”, explained that there has been a surge in ‘single-use plastics”— and the “biggest offender? PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], especially masks”.

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State of the U.S. Pandemic

Because I have seen a couple news stories claiming that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising among the young, a look is warranted. According to the CDC, the trend is dramatically downward for all age groups from a recent peak during the first week of the year. For example: 496 cases per 100,000 for 18-24 year olds on January 2; 390 for 55-64 year olds. May 1: 33 per 100,000 for 0-5 year-olds; 65-79 year-olds; and those 80 or over. Number dropped to 89 for those 18-24.

But the death rate, what a plummet! For 80+ year-olds: 67.86 per 100,000 on January 2. Next highest: 17.08 per 100,000 for ages 65-79. Comparatively few people under 35 were dying then—even less on May 1: Zero per 100,000 from those 6-17 and 25-34; .01 per 100,000 for 0-5 and 18-24 year olds; .11 per 100,000 for the 80 and over group.

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One Woman’s Treasure

A few days ago, an overstuffed beanbag—suitable for someone of great heft—appeared in the alley between Alabama and Mississippi at Monroe in University Heights. San Diego residents frequently leave unwanted things for foragers to take. What’s that saying about one person’s trash being another’s treasure?

Today, my wife and I happened to pass by, seeing a new addition: The Vitamaster Slendercycle prominently placed in the Featured Image and companions. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 9:50 a.m. PDT. The second, composed as shot, is 1/200 sec, 9:51 a.m. I used Leica Q2 for both. The last, added after posting, is a closer crop of the first.

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COVID-19 Cases: Five California Counties make the Top 10

Anyone care to explain why perennially locked down California ranks so highly for SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases or deaths? Situation is much worse than last I looked a few weeks ago. According to data collated by John Hopkins University, Los Angeles County still tops the list for confirmed cases (more than 1.2 million) and deaths (just over 23,000). But four other Cali counties also are in the Top 10 for cases: Riverside (sixth); San Bernardino (eighth); San Diego (ninth); and Orange (tenth). That’s right. Half. Only one county from Florida: Miami-Dade (fourth).

More disturbing, since I checked on March 11, 2021, California’s case fatality rate rose to 1.61 percent, which is comparable to Florida’s 1.63 percent—and the Sunshine State is largely open; Spring Break is underway, too. Four California counties are among the top 11 for deaths: Los Angeles (first); Orange (ninth); San Bernardino (tenth); and Riverside (eleventh). Miami-Dade is seventh.

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Fear is the Contagion

The four words of this essay’s title are exactly my reaction to learning about China’s massive quarantine for the Novel Coronavirus in late-January 2020. I warned my wife and anyone else to prepare for the spread of fear: How it would infect and disrupt distribution of goods and services; how panic would lead to supply shortages; how desperation might cause people to react violently. But following the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic, one year ago today, the outcome over 12 months is much worse than I expected.

Society didn’t suddenly break down from widespread contagion, like portrayed by Hollywood films and TV shows. Instead, the economic and social fabrics shredded over longer time, as well-meaning citizens obeyed orders to “shelter-in-place“, “social distance“, and close their businesses. My contention: When Science catches up with collated data, the forensic analysis will show that governments over-reacted with lockdowns that inflicted more harm than the virus that everyone feared. Meaning: The cure is far more damaging than the disease, which danger is overblown.

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Now There are Two

Last September, my path crossed what I called the “Sidewalk Gym“, along Meade Ave. near Utah Street in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. The padding wrapped around a tree evoked make-shift, outdoor Mixed Martial Arts arena—and space to workout whenever Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom issued a new lockdown order meant to slow the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic.

The space remained a fixture since, with the appropriately-toned motorcycle and SUV typically parked beside the MMA studio. But, today, moseying past, I saw something new: A second motorcycle, which is change enough to assault you with a new Featured Image captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 3:39 p.m. PST.

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Why is Hollywood Obsessed with Viral Armageddon?

I really want to know. That sentence, the title, and a short list of TV Shows about viral epidemics is as far as this post proceeded when I started it on April 26, 2016. I meant to come back many times over the nearly five years since and really regret the failure following the World Health Organization’s declaration of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Still contemplating writing this essay, but not getting to it, I shot and edited the Featured Image on June 11, 2017. San Diego’s Museum of Man (since then renamed to “Us”) featured exhibit “Cannibals: Myth & Reality”. With so many of the virus movies or TV series focused on Zombie apocalypses, the exhibit artwork seemed so perfect illustration. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 2:07 p.m. PDT, Leica Q.

Half a decade later, I wonder: How much did pandemic feature films and TV shows create soil for COVID-19 to grow into a state of global fear—and, as I will opine in six days, far exceeds the real risk posed to the majority of people; whether or not they are infected? Surely, you can guess my answer.

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The Twilight Zone of Pandemic Politics

Some things go so oddly together that you must stop and regard them and wonder. Today, while walking along Shirley Ann Place in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, a “Recall Newsom” sign surprised me; it’s the first one seen anywhere here. My wife fixated on the Easter eggs hanging from a tree in the same yard. She missed the one thing, and I the other. Mmmm, what does that say about selective vision and being drawn to what interests you while having a blindspot for what doesn’t?

As strangely as the cheerful eggs and hopeful sign are juxtaposed, something else made the scene feel even more Twilight Zone-like: The house beyond with the American flag flew something different before the Presidential election: Old Glory with spray-painted BLM. Well, I couldn’t leave without photos, which were captured using Leica Q2. The Featured Image (warning: 27MB file), which is composed as shot, shows the street. The cropped companion brings together the three elements. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 12:25 p.m. PST. The other is f/2.8 and 1/640 sec.

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We Got Tested for COVID-19

The saga starts simply: On Feb. 17, 2021, Annie suffered tummy upset all day, along with loss of energy. By late afternoon, my wife had developed a fever of 37.8 degrees Celsius (100.1 Fahrenheit). Morning of the 18th, her body temperature had fallen to 37.2 C (99 F) before returning to normal and staying that way. But she felt crummy and lethargic. More worrisome: Low-grade fever is one of the signature symptoms of COVID-19—the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2).

Next day, the 19th, I felt off and started coughing; often. If not for Annie’s fever the story would end there, but the symptom shouldn’t be ignored. I checked our health insurer’s website, which indicated that COVID-19 testing would be free with a referral. Around 8 a.m., when the doctor’s office opened, I cancelled a 9 a.m. self-defense lesson with my trainer and called our physician, with whom the scheduler set up an 11 a.m. phone appointment. Who would guess problems would start there.

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Bicycle Brigade

I am ambivalent about the Featured Image and companion, both taken using Google Pixel 3 XL on Dec.8, 2018. Neither means any more than capturing an unexpected moment. I don’t know why the bicycles barreled down University Ave. past Mississippi Street towards Alabama and Florida in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood on that Saturday afternoon. I do recall being miffed at myself for not shooting video and for being disappointed with the seven shots taken.

The best of the lot has the bicyclists approaching with a billboard behind them advertising the local dispensary, which I won’t promote and can’t crop out adequately enough. So that’s awash. The first of the two pics that you see was previously discarded because of the biker partially shown to the right. But on reconsideration, the contrast is worthy-enough, subtle storytelling—the brigade of cyclists easily riding down the hill set against the loner peddling up and out of view (granted, you don’t see the banana bike, but his posture is seated sure enough). He is dressed in street clothes and backpack; they don fancy road jerseys and shorts or pants.