Binary Thinking Can Endanger Your Life

April 6 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of April 6, 10 a.m.
Cases Reported Worldwide: 1,274,653
Deaths: 70,388 (5.5%)
Recovered: 267,684 (21.0%)
Pending Cases: 936,581 (73.5%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported U.S.: 336,775 (daily increase 26,930/8.7%)
Deaths: 9,606 (2.8%)
Recovered: 15,232 (4.5%)
Pending Cases: 311,937 (93.5%)

Avoid Binary (‘Safe’/’Unsafe’) Thinking. Although it’s possible, if not yet certain, that the pandemic may be peaking in major metropolitan centers such as New York, it could be a fatal mistake to think “things are getting better” in other parts of the country as well. The lack of widespread testing throughout most of the United States—and we’ll say it again, one of the first and most glaring of the Trump administration’s many gross failures—means that we really don’t know how bad it is in most parts of the country. It could be that there are tens of thousands of asymptomatic individuals spreading the Covid-19 disease nationwide, given that it can have an incubation period of 2 to 14 days between exposure and the onset of symptoms. This is not a “better/worse” or “yes/no” or “safe/unsafe” situation. Many major media outlets are based in New York or large other metropolitan areas. It does you no good to resume normal activity if you live in one of the many rural areas that have yet to see a widespread outbreak. Do not expose yourself to asymptomatic individuals because you think it’s “safe” based on what is happening hundreds or thousands of miles away.

The best, most responsible thing we can all do is Stay Home as much as possible and Stop the Spread. The lives you save by doing so may be total strangers, or they may be your spouse, your children, your parents or grandparents.

This Is Not ‘A Wave’—It’s a Series of Waves

An important article in Sunday’s New York Times Review warns the public to brace for “waves of coronavirus infections” until a vaccine is developed. More proof that binary thinking can be dangerous to your health.

There’s Good News Today: portion of Psalm 23 paraphrased by Issac Watts (1674–1748)

My Shepherd will supply my need,

Jehovah is His name.

In pastures fresh He makes me feed

Beside the living stream.

He brings my wand’ring spirit back

When I forsake His ways.

He leads me for His mercy’s sake

In paths of truth and grace.

Germany Covid-19 Death Rates Lower Than Elsewhere

In Germany, early test development; widespread testing of those with and without symptoms; early use of ventilators; consistent science-based messaging from leadership; and public compliance with preventive measures such as social distancing and staying at home, are all saving lives by slowing Covid-19 spread.

The number of victory laps President Trump has taken—remarkable for a man who desperately needs to lose weight and shed ego—do not disguise his monstrous culpability for thousands of American deaths. (And likely to be tens of thousands before the wave crests.)

He did not cause the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease.

But his administration’s enormous failures—failing to spur the development rapid and widespread testing; failure to consistently message the need for Americans to stay home and stop the spread; failure to take full responsiblity as Commander in Chief,describing himself as a “backup”; failure to ensure sufficient supplies of ventilators and PPEs; failure to rely on science, preferring magical thinking, unproven cures, and inconsistent logic; and failing to be concerned more about American lives than the American stock market—must make him accountable, either in November or whenever he gets successfully removed from office.

Contrast Trump’s behavior with this remarkable story about the experience in Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The best, most responsible thing we can all do is Stay Home as much as possible and Stop the Spread. The lives you save by doing so may be total strangers, or they may be your spouse, your children, your parents or grandparents.

April 5 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of April 4, 10 p.m.
Cases Reported Worldwide: 1,190,467
Deaths: 64,421 (5.4%)
Recovered: 239,401 (20.1%)
Pending Cases: 822,335 (74.5%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported U.S.: 309,845 (daily increase 33,266/12.0%)
Deaths: 8,429 (2.7%)
Recovered: 11,889 (3.8%)
Pending Cases: 289,527 (93.5%)

Good News Today: In Oregon, 103-year-old William Lapschies caught the coronavirus in early March. He recovered in time to celebrate his 104th birthday with pizza and cake last Wednesday.

More Good News Today: John 3:16. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.’

‘Blood on His Hands’

April 4 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of April 4, 10 a.m.
Cases Reported Worldwide: 1,114,692
Deaths: 60,053 (5.4%)
Recovered: 232,304 (20.8%)
Pending Cases: 822,335 (73.8%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported U.S.: 276,579 (daily increase 32,944/13.1%)
Deaths: 7,101 (2.6%)
Recovered: 11,889 (4.3%)
Pending Cases: 257,589 (93.1%)

This says it all today. The Boston Globe says Trump has “blood on his hands” due to his “handling” of the Covid-19 crisis.

Politico says the Southern United States is poised for ‘Disproportionate Suffering’ .

The best, most responsible thing we can all do is Stay Home as much as possible and Stop the Spread. The lives you save by doing so may be total strangers, or they may be your spouse, your children, your parents or grandparents.

Good News Today: Isaiah 26:3 ‘The Lord will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.’

Right-Wing Follies: Trump, DeSantis, Erdogan, Bolsonaro, and Orbán

April 3 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of April 2, 10 p.m.
Cases Reported Worldwide: 1,008,768
Deaths: 53,007 (5.3%)
Recovered: 212,723 (21.1%)
Pending Cases: 743,038 (73.7%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of 2:15 am ET
Cases Reported U.S.: 244,438 (daily increase ~30,000/15%)
Deaths: 5,906 (2.4%)
Recovered: 10,399 (2.6%)
Pending Cases: 228,133 (95.0%)

As the United States sees a jump of some 30,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day, we remain at the mercy of a moronic, hapless, factless president (and Republican toadies like the caviling, cowardly Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who only issued a statewide mandate effective at midnight this morning, despite a large cohort of elderly senior citizens in Florida) who seems to suddenly be more focused on states’ rights than on saving lives, refusing to issue a nationwide Stay at Home order or to invoke the Defense Production Act in many meaningful ways: to accelerate nationwide testing of asymptomatic as well as symptomatic individuals; to stop questioning (“I’ve never seen anything like it”; duh, yeah, Chump, these are new times that require leadership, character, and intelligence; got those?) the need for ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPEs) for medical professionals and ramp up production NOW; and to also spur the development and distribution of reliable vaccines and antibody tests so that people can start back to leading productive lives.

The best, most responsible thing we can all do is Stay Home as much as possible and Stop the Spread. The lives you save by doing so may be total strangers, or they may be your spouse, your children, your parents or grandparents.

Believe It or Not, There Are Worse Presidents Than Trump. Just not around here.

Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is resisting all efforts at a nationwide (or smaller) lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. Erdogan, evidently in complete denial, has said all cogs of the Turkish economy are essential and must continue to function as normal. He is currently engaged in a pissing contest with the mayor of Istanbul (population 16 million), Ekrem Imamoglu, who has launched a campaign to raise money from wealthy Turks to help the hundreds of thousands of those in need. Erdogan has launched a rival campaign and threatened to prosecute those involved. State banks have blocked the fundraising campaign accounts for both Istanbul and Ankara, while 11 city mayors have urged cooperation and joined the call to put politics aside.

There were 15,679 cases of Covid-19 in Turkey—60% of them in Istanbul—and 277 deaths when we published this. A day later, there were 20,921 cases and 425 deaths. Two days later, there were 23,934 cases and 501 deaths. Three days later, there were 27,069 cases and 574 deaths. Turkey has a population of about 82 million inhabitants.

Brazil: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has called the Covid-19 virus a “measly cold” and continues to question the benefits of lockdown measures, saying Brazilians can be dunked in raw sewage and they “don’t catch a thing.” He has defied guidelines issued by his own health ministry, visiting a busy commercial district in Brasilia where he called on all but elderly Brazilians to “get back to work.” Then, echoing another idiot, he insisted that an antimalarial pill not shown to be effective against Covid-19 would cure those affected. Leaders of the Brazilian congress, editors, and the head of the Brazilian Supreme Court have implored citizens to ignore Bolsonaro. A movement to impeach Bolsonaro is also gaining popular support.

When we published this, there were 8,044 cases of Covid-19 in Brazil, and 324 deaths. A day later, there were 9,216 cases and 365 deaths. Two days later, there are 10,360 cases and 445 deaths. Three days later, there are 11,298 cases and 489 deaths. Brazil has about 210 million inhabitants. Jesus wept.

Hungary: The European Union has stood by and watched as Hungarian President Viktor Orbán’s political party, Fidesz, voted on March 30 to suspend all elections, giving Orbán the right to rule by decree—indefinitely. The far-right supporters of Orbán’s policies say that criticism during the coronavirus pandemic is inappropriate, and that accountability and transparency need to be temporarily suspended. So much for freedom of speech.

When we published this, there were 585 cases of Covid-19 in Hungary, and 21 deaths. A day later, there were 678 cases and 32 deaths. Three days later, there were 744 cases and 38 deaths. Hungary has a population of about 9.8 million inhabitants.

But There’s Good News Today: The Yale Center for Genome Analysis is attempting to sequence the Covid-19 genome in order to understand how it changes the body’s cells when it invades them. Such understanding will lead to identifying targets for drug treatments.

And More Good News: Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be dismayed: for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Worldwide Reported Covid-19 Cases Approach 1 Million Mark

April 2 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of April 1, 10 p.m.
Cases Reported Worldwide: 935,392
Deaths: 46,906 (5.0%)
Recovered: 190,384 (20.4%)
Pending Cases: 698,102 (74.3%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of 9:05 am ET
Cases Reported U.S.: 214,207

Deaths: 4,820 (2.3%)
Recovered: 5,507 (2.6%)
Pending Cases: 203,880 (95.0%)

More than 84,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported by Reuters in the last day. The best, most responsible thing we can all do is Stay Home as much as possible and Stop the Spread. The lives you save by doing so may be total strangers, or they may be your spouse, your children, your parents or grandparents.

Things You Wish Were a (Bad) April Fool’s Joke

Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of April 1, 10 a.m.
Cases Reported Worldwide: 878,343
Deaths: 43,412 (4.9%)
Recovered: 182,619 (20.8%)
Pending Cases: 652,312 (74.3%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters) as of 2:05 pm ET
Cases Reported U.S.: 205,325
Deaths: 4,533 (2.2%)
Recovered: 5,507 (2.9%)
Pending Cases: 154,979 (95.0%)

President Trump, for the time being, seems to be actually acknowledging the science behind the blossoming pandemic coming in the United States, with a grim news conference late last night predicting 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. (Even though he has yet to issue a nationwide Stay at Home order. And even if Trump, in typical fashion, is taking another victory lap because, uh, well, apparently he saved 2 million people who haven’t died, from dying. Well, if his administration had listened to the science from the beginning and not fired everyone in the pandemic office two years ago, the deaths might have turned out to be far less than what are predicted now. Oh, and he might not have cratered his much-touted economy. President Trump, care to take a victory lap for projected 32% unemployment?)

The best, most responsible thing we can all do is Stay Home as much as possible and Stop the Spread. The lives you save by doing so may be total strangers, or they may be your spouse, your children, your parents or grandparents.

Trump Again Deaf to Facts Not His Own

March 31 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported Worldwide: 799,857
Deaths: 38,854 (4.9%)
Recovered: 171,079 (21.4%)
Pending Cases: 589,924 (73.8%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported U.S.: 163,510
Deaths: 3,024 (1.8%)
Recovered: 5,507 (3.4%)
Pending Cases: 154,979 (94.8%)
New York state continues to be particularly hard-hit. At least 1,218 New Yorkers have died of Covid-19, up from 965 on Sunday morning.

The Bloviator-in-Chief Is Deaf to the Truth About Testing. Just when you thought he could hear … The United States is now the global hotspot for the novel coronavirus, in terms of numbers of cases reported. The continuing lack of widely available testing for asymptomatic persons means that, although community spread is clearly occurring in many places, it is impossible to track and isolate clusters of outbreaks.

In a particularly horrifying conference call between state governors and President Trump that has been widely replayed in the media, Montana Governor Steve Bullock told President Trump on Sunday that his state was “one day away” from having no coronavirus testing capacity at all. Trump’s immediate response was “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks” and “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem”—another stunning example of his incapacity to hear, absorb, or understand facts that do not accord with his worldview or with his vastly inflated opinion of himself and his own administration’s pitiful performance in handling the U.S. pandemic.

If the United States had in fact been able to deploy sufficient testing around the nation early in the outbreak, it would have been possible to contain small clusters and trace the contacts of those infected. Given that the U.S. under Trump’s “leadership” lost critical weeks downplaying the severity and being slow to react, the only way now to help contain the virus is by virtually all non-essential personnel staying home, shutting down huge swaths of the economy and ensuring record unemployment. Social distancing, staying at home, widespread increased testing, and good handwashing are now keys to stopping the spread. The safest course of action is to assume that community spread is occurring in your locale.

There’s Good News Today. Psalm 91:1–2: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. / I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

For Once, Trump Listens to the Science

March 30 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported Worldwide: 720,060
Deaths: 33,669 (4.7%)
Recovered: 148,923 (20.7%)
Pending Cases: 537,168 (74.6%)

Current U.S. Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported U.S.: 141,136
Deaths: 2,471 (1.7%)
Recovered: 3,231 (2.3%)
Pending Cases: 135,434 (96.0%)

New York state currently has nearly 60,000 cases of Covid-19. But “hot spots” are cropping up in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California, Michigan, and Illinois, among others. Social distancing and other measures appear to be paying off in Washington state to “slow the curve.” But given the lack of sufficient testing even in non-metropolitan areas, the safest course of action is to assume that community spread is occurring in your locale.

Stay Home. Stop the Spread. Save Lives.

‘Credit Where Credit Is Due’ Department. President Trump yesterday announced that the United States must continue to observe social-distancing guidelines at least until April 30. After earlier expressing a desire to “reopen the country” by Easter (April 12), on Sunday he said “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won.”

Despite the President taking many premature victory laps previously, this is good news for all Americans. However, it is up to each state’s governor to interpret and enforce those guidelines. Now it is time for each of us to do our part, practicing social distancing, avoid groups of more than 10 people, practice good handwashing, and staying home unless absolutely essential. Do not let up! Only eventual widespread testing will determine where the virus is and where it is not. Prematurely letting down our guard will only result in double spikes in confirmed cases.

Free Online Classical Music: ‘Quarantine Soirées’ Many artists and musical venues are opening their archives to the people worldwide practice isolation and social distancing in order to slow the spread of Covid-19. As lovers of classical music, opera, and symphonic music, we are particularly fond of some of those free-at-home concert opportunities. One of our favorite non-U.S. newspapers, The Guardian, publishes this regularly updated list: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/mar/16/classical-music-opera-livestream-at-home-coronavirus

More Good News Today. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no ill, for thou art with me.” Psalm 23:4.

Do You Want the Bad News First or the Good News?

March 29 Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters)
Cases Reported Worldwide: 662,751
Deaths: 30,751 (4.6%)
Recovered: 141,917 (21.4%)
Pending Cases: 490,803 (73.9%)

1. The Good News. It’s Sunday, so let’s do the Good News first. The New York Department of Health has developed an FDA-approved antibody test, according to yesterday’s press conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Such a test will show whether people have been already exposed to the Covid-19 virus and developed antibodies, thus rendering them immune for some uncertain period of time. The antibody-rich blood of these people could be used to produce plasma for injection into still-infected patients. The rather primitive method, known as “convalescent plasma,” was first used during the 1918 flu pandemic but has been known for centuries. Gov. Cuomo said it would be “only a trial for people in serious condition.”

2. Some of the Bad News. Our President is still hard at work with his “monumental flimflammery,” as The New Yorker magazine put it, putting forth hunches, guesses, misinformation, lies, and just pure dumb-ass fuzzy thinking in his feeble attempt to manage a crisis that he is prima facie incapable of. His “hunch” that a malaria treatment, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, might be effective is diverting much-needed resources from finding truly effective medicines. The only clinical trial testing this Trump “hunch” was small, poorly designed, and inconclusive. An Arizona couple took chloroquine phosphate, an ingredient in fish-tank cleaners, trusting in what Trump said (don’t do this!). The man died soon afterward and the woman was last reported in critical condition. “Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure,” she later told NBC. “Don’t take anything. Don’t believe anything. Don’t believe anything that the President says and his people … call your doctor.”

Warren Buffett says it this way: “When you empty the swimming pool, you can see who’s been swimming naked.”

3. More Bad News. The United States has sadly become the new global hotspot for the Covid-19 virus. There are now more cases in the United States than in any other country, and the number of U.S. deaths has doubled in two days. The123,329 cases reported were an increase of 19,965 cases from yesterday. Deaths totaled 2,177, an increase of 545 from yesterday. Before long, we will all know someone personally who has the virus, and before long we will all be connected at least second- or third-hand with someone who has died from the virus. Please pray for all those who are ill and the families of those who have passed away from this terrible scourge.

4. More Good News. The social isolation that responsible Americans are imposing on themselves does provide more time than we normally have. Could you undertake a project you have never had time for? House improvement or self-improvement? Speaking personally, I have enjoyed spending more time with Mrs. VDB, planning and cooking meals together, trying new recipes and old favorites, and having time to play with Saturn and Neptune’s favorite cat toy, a feathery-chasy-wandy thingie. I’ve also enjoyed playing online chess, improving my Russian and Italian (even though it’s tough reading the terrible, morbid news out of Italy in Corriere della Sera). And I’m trying to reach out more to spread good news, real facts and information, and to be a better person.

5. Still More Good News. John 16:33. (Jesus said), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

March 28 Covid-19 Update

March 28, 2020. Current Worldwide Death and Recovery Rates from Covid-19 (source: Reuters). Deaths: 4.6% (596,247 cases worldwide; 27,291 deaths). Recovered: 23.3% (133,307 cases).

1. The United States has sadly become the new global hotspot for the Covid-19 virus. The 103,364 cases reported were an increase of 18,418 cases from yesterday. Deaths totaled 1,632, an increase of 371 from yesterday. Recovered cases numbered 2,522, and the remainder of cases—99,210 in all—are still pending. Please pray for all those who are ill and the families of those who have passed away from this terrible scourge.

2. Worldwide cases reported increased by nearly 65,000 overnight, and deaths from the previous day increased by 3,239.

3. President Trump continues to show he is totally unfit to lead the war against Covid-19, telling Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors who “don’t treat you right.” (To Pence’s credit, he is continuing to call both Republican and Democratic governors.) Does anybody have access to big packs of orange-colored baby diapers?

3. There’s Good News Today: A 102-year-old Italian woman, Italica Grondona, has recovered from the virus on her own after being hospitalized for 20 days. She was born during the Spanish flu pandemic. Her doctors said the virus “surrendered before her.”