Facebook post from April 10, 2020:
2,000 people died today in the USA from Covid-19.
We’re on track for a war in Afghanistan casualty count every 24 hours, a September 11th mortality rate every 36 hours, and an Iraq War casualty count every 48 hours.
New York alone would be the highest mortality rate of any other country. So many unclaimed bodies they’re burying them in a mass grave. Stacks of pine boxes in a giant pit.
The USA case count is reported as 1/2 million. If that was accurate it would be 30% of global infections even though we only represent 5% of the population. That reflects the degree of incompetence, denial and inaction of our government.
However the reality is likely far worse. The case count is not an estimate, it’s a report. The inexcusable truth is that it’s still very hard to get tested here, and those 1/2 million positive cases only represent the tested population.
As of this week, in a country of 350 million only 1.5 million people have been tested, 0.5% of the population. So the status of 99.5% of the country is a complete mystery and not included in the 1/2 million reported cases.
I have personally tried to get tested four times, as recently as today, and was denied each time. I’ve been presenting multiple symptoms for over two weeks including the most likely single indicator of infection, loss smell and taste. Unless you’re facing acute respiratory symptoms you’re facing a poor outcome trying to get a test.
And if you do you’re facing a poor outcome with your life. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is the last stage of the Covid-19 disease progression and is what kills most patients.
If you’re lucky you’ll die of organ failure first. Liver, kidney, cardiac arrest. Otherwise you suffocate to death alone on a respirator as your lungs fill with fluid and even the machine can’t breath for you.
Testing is the key to stopping the spread and improving the outcomes of the infected population. But it’s also the key to Trump administration marketing and propaganda. If you test zero people you get to report zero infections.
It seems like yesterday Trump said we had 15 cases and it would be zero soon, and that he didn’t want a cruise liner full of cases to dock in the USA because he didn’t want their contribution to the case count.
He just flat out said it on camera, because he is shamelessly stupid and woefully ignorant and grossly indifferent to our suffering. His intent was to improve his election outcome, not your life outcome.
The marketing and propaganda benefit from inadequate testing also means derived statistics like relative mortality rate are completely worthless. You can’t know the percentage of cases that died when the case value is fiction but the mortality value is fact.
And it actually makes the administration’s response look worse but they’re too stupid and incompetent to know that. If 2,000 people are tested and 2,000 people die your mortality rate is 100%. If 20,000 are tested it’s 10%. At 200,000 it’s 1% and if you test 2 million people and 2,000 of them die you get to 0.1%, the same as seasonal influenza.
So it’s entirely possible the US relative mortality rate is among the lowest in the world but we’ll never know. Watch for the expression “confirmed cases”. Factor that into your thinking trying to understand the scope and magnitude of the crisis, because the only cases that are confirmed are the ones that are tested.
We should be seeing the expression “estimated cases”. Because if we test one or two percent of the population you can make a reliable statistical estimate of the case rate in the entire population. We have performed enough tests to make a statistical estimate with a reasonable confidence value. The reason you’re not seeing that expression is because of marketing and propaganda.
You are the tool.
You can be assured the scientists at the CDC that weren’t cut out of the budget by Trump in 2018 are presenting estimates to their teams every day. Predictions are made with estimates, not reports. That’s how the graphs you see and the statements you hear estimate how June is going to look for us.
Manipulating estimates or making them up with no statistical basis is why Trump estimated the case count was 15 and predicted it would be zero. And his team and his supporters nodded their heads and never bothered to consider that it was pure fiction or the consequences if the estimates were wrong. There’s an election coming soon and that is the single source of truth. Marketing and propaganda.
And he was wrong. How wrong, we don’t know. There are no doubt highly reliable estimates being produced by people that are competent and attempting to mitigate the crisis and deliver ventilators and protective gear to where it is needed and where will most likely be needed in the future to help the people that are going to die during the crisis and the people that are risking their lives every day to try and save them. The crisis caused by the Trump kakistocracy clown car and his army of ignorant sycophants that are so gullible they believe Rush Limbaugh, he said smoking doesn’t give you cancer. The guy dying from cancer. What a tool.
Rush estimated that he wouldn’t get cancer and he was wrong, too. Give the guy a cigar and a medal. Give him a kiss and a hug and remind him Trump said there were only going to be a few cases and everybody should go back to work as soon as possible, maybe send grandma first, since on the outside chance Trump was wrong she was willing to die for the preservation of the economy.
You know the economy. Outlooks. Forecasts. Estimates.
But the people with the estimates are not allowed to present them. The first thing they teach you in authoritarian dictator school is to control the information. Lies, denies, and suppression are the tools of the trade. Because you know, the election.
Information wants to be free, and eventually the estimates will be published, circulated and analyzed. And they will prove unequivocally that Trump and his administration’s criminally negligent handling of the crisis and attempts to control the flow of the information resulted in a crisis that is now killing as many US citizens every week that September 11th, the war in Afghanistan and the Iraq War combined. Complete with mass graves and global economic devastation that is changing the world as we know it forever.
Unfortunately the estimates we do have suggest that the crisis has yet to peak. The worst is yet to come. And there’s no vaccine, only 1/2% of the nation’s population has been tested, and we are likely to experience further unemployment and a worsening forecast of outcomes. Life outcomes.
It gets worse.
Humans are emotional creatures. That’s not an estimate, it’s an indisputable fact that our ancestors and artists have been trying to point out throughout the entire recorded history of our species. We experience joy when we dance. We experience pride when we put food on the table. We all do. We always have and we always will. It is our most defining asset, our legacy and our future. It’s what makes us human, informs us to care for each other and develop the social bonds that have allowed us to survive in the face of global crisis for eons despite nature and our own attempts to wipe each other out, because hatred is an emotion, too.
Hatred defines much of our history and our ability to resist it is paramount to our survival and well being. And despite our inclination and demonstrated ability to commit insufferable horrors on one another, emotional wisdom teaches us the value of forgiveness every time the world burns. Afghanistan. September 11th. Iraq. This week, maybe next week. Hard to estimate.
Because we are emotional and socially dependent creatures we react emotionally when the people that we love, our family and friends, experience tragedy or trauma or when the inevitable moment comes that they leave us unless we leave them first. The universal experience is grief, and the fact it is temporary is the greatest gift we have inherited. Our minds come to terms with a new reality where we are left to rely on our memories to experience the joy of the people we love.
But emotion is not a report. It’s not a statistic. And it doesn’t have a universally consistent range, with well defined parameters. It’s a continuum of experience in response to environmental events, physiology, interventions and experience. It exists in a feedback loop as your body reacts and your mind adapts, and for some people it escapes the bounds of our instincts and inclinations using the parameters we have been taught that preserve us.
It becomes hate. The most maladaptive reaction you can inject into a gene pool. And it spreads like a virus as the feedback loop oscillates through society and draws borders around us based on blame and fear. It becomes predictable, encouraged and profitable. It becomes part of our economy. Afghanistan. September 11th. Iraq.
The yield of that reaction as it spirals out of control is revenge, opportunism and indifference. The brand is terrorism. Nation state actors. Exploitation and indifference. We becomes us and them and we’re proud of it. It makes us fearless and cruel and self-righteous. It brings us suicide vests and roadside bombs and patriotic conflation to replace the bonds we have lost and the inevitable suffering we invite without shame.
Right now every nation on the planet is under attack by an enemy they can’t see or smell, can’t taste or touch. We are all occupied with our imperative to survive in the face of an adversary that was unexpected and arbitrary in its attack. We are all losing loved ones who suffer insufferable agony and loneliness as they die in a matter of days. We are caught in a matrix of confusion, inaction and singularity as the bonds we needed to survive and retain our emotional well being dissolve. Mass graves. No funerals.
Pandemics are temporary. Grief is temporary. Blame and greed are forever. They stand on the shoulders of hate. And as our emotional spectrum exceeds the bounds of reason, as resources dwindle and our ability to estimate our survival that day, or that of our loved ones, it foments into revenge and selfishness and a search for the means to extract justice and vengeance on an invisible enemy that wasn’t there last week.
In lieu of a target we select someone familiar. Us or them. The tool presents itself, it was right in our face. We just couldn’t see it. Humans are smart and exploitation is a survival instinct. Viruses mutate. They can be engineered, derived, and combined with other viruses into cocktails that unite lethality, dispersion, invisibility and confusion. They can be loaded onto bombs or shipped to the mail office and the manager at the office that had no choice but to fire you. You don’t even need a weapon, it’s already in your mouth. All you need to know is his parking stall number so you can spit on his car door handle.
Revenge is best served cold but you can’t taste it because the virus takes your sense of taste. It sucks the joy right out of your mouth but you won’t care because you’re fearless and your hate has been rationalized. It’s still sweet. It is the resource that you needed to survive that was robbed from you by the invisible enemy. You don’t even need to kill him. You can just threaten him. Find his daughter’s car at school and spit on her door handle. Let her die in the hospital alone and a week later leave a note on dad’s car with a picture of his wife instructing him where to leave the money.
It gets worse.
As the emotional impact of grief turns to hopelessness and despair at the observable fragmenting social bonds, the absence of resources and increasing isolation the spectrum of behaviors your mind allows expands. It becomes easier to rationalize theft and violence and extortion and exploitation. You need to eat, too.
But for some people it overflows their minds ability to adapt. Maladaptive. Fear and suffering yields to paranoia. The mind estimates a future that is incompatible with your genetic programming to survive and everything you have been taught becomes insignificant and the things you have come to depend on for joy is erased.
But you are an emotional creature that has an elastic mind that has evolved to ensure your brain survives. A new neural mesh develops over a matter of weeks and months. Depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia becomes your new normal. Your mind develops a completely subjective construct of reality to mitigate the observable truth and inevitable, predictable outcome.
There is no medicine, there is no intervention or remediation or therapy presented to you and you don’t want it. Your new worldview becomes the canonical truth in your mind despite the capacitance mismatch with your memories and perceptions.
Your brain is trying to survive in an insufferable world so your mind develops a new narrative to convince you that you are doing so. Your friends become your enemies, joy is extinguished with hatred, and a continuum of delusions and hallucinations becomes your nightly news.
You become the tool. You’re still emotional and smart and creative but you’re easy to exploit because there is no intervention. Hospitals won’t admit you, the homeless shelter won’t let you in but you don’t want to go there because it’s infected and people are dying. And you’re hungry and cold.
But that nice guy from the convenience store brings you a hot lunch and enough money for a hotel. He informs you of how virus is spreading due to the global conspiracy and that you are being drafted into the resistance. He’s been telling you about it for weeks just like you saw on the nightly news. You’re part of the second wave and the key to the solution.
And one day he brings you a bottle of whiskey and another hot meal. You share it together and he thanks you for your role in the resistance and then asks for a favor. He hands you a plastic cup with some spit in the bottom and a note and asks you to go to the parking garage and put it on a car.
The world needs a hero, and that hero is you. That’s all you have to do. No suicide bomb, no gun, just a cup of spit and a note. He gives you money for a hotel again, embraces you, and reminds you how much God loves you.
The second wave. Next year there will be a third but for now the world needs you, just look around. Tonight you will be warm, and forever a hero. It is your destiny. Afghanistan. September 11th. Iraq. You will be on the nightly news, and people will never forget your name. Maybe this week, maybe next week. Hard to estimate, but you are inevitable.