April 18th 2020
I was looking at the images of the “Re-Open America” demonstrations. For the most part, it was what you might expect to see at any Trump rally; Q Anon crackpots, white nationalists, gun nuts, neoconfederates, sagebrush rebellion freaks, and the occasional Nazi just for seasoning.
But in a lot of the images, I also saw people who were wearing masks, or sitting in their cars, not waving political flags. The expressions were weary determination, rather than anger. They’re not angry as much as they are afraid. They have no jobs, they have no money, and in many cases, they have no food. They are the flotsam of an economy that has been living on the edge despite immense wealth, just to feed the unending greed of the rich. There was barely enough to get by. Now that is gone.
But they don’t care about the rich right now. They just want food. They need to pay their rent and send their kids to school. They miss the million little things that we all took for granted just six weeks ago.
Over the next couple of weeks, they will come to dominate the demonstrations. They won’t be out there because they think the virus is a commie liberal plot or because they want to stick it to the Man. They just want to live, and the certainty of hunger will outweigh the possibility of getting sick.
They are scared now, and feeling the first deep twinges of fear. In a few weeks they will be desperate, deeply frightened, and capable of anything.
The President is a psychotic authoritarian of the sort that breed in fear and rage the way maggots breed in dog droppings. If he manages to stay a figurehead to these people, the resulting unrest will make Crystal Night look like a Welcome Wagon party.
The only way to prevent that is to get these people food and shelter security first, and hope second. We can’t solve the problems they have had inflicted upon them, but we can alleviate.
We need to get food pouring into the cities, and available at no cost to the hundreds of millions of dispossessed. We need a rent jubilee until the end of the stay-at-home regimes. Pay their rents, pay their mortgages. Do so until the crisis passes.
If we don’t, our cities will be in flames within a fortnight. By the end of May, we will be dealing with mass revolt and even civil war. We are at the precipice.
Don’t expect help from Washington. Trump is a dangerous psychotic authoritarian who sees several hundred thousand dead Americans as an opportunity to finish staging a coup and ripping off the country, like his hero Putin, for trillions.
We’re going to have troubles no matter what. But what we do right now can avoid the worst. Support your local food bank with food and money. Urge your Congressman, no matter how useless he might be, to drop partisan games and work at saving us from a societal meltdown.
As for the virus itself, there have been some news stories this week that, if verified, will have considerable import.
A French controlled study of 130 Covid-19 patients revealed that treating the patients with hydroxychloroquine produced no discernible results. No positive response, no negative response. You might as well eat library paste. And in the wider population, hydroxychloroquine has some serious side effects.
The good news is that there is some evidence world wide that the virus has spread far more than previously believed. We’re not talking the half again or double the official numbers that many of us assume is closer to reality. There are reports that it may have affected 50 to 85 times the number of people as what we know about. Take this report with a large grain of salt; here in the US, the number of tests administered is nearing four million, a large enough number that epidemiologists are starting to rework their models of the contagion’s communicability (still at 2.3 K) and lethality (about 5%). But if it turns out there is a strain that is far more widespread that doesn’t get picked up by the tests (and there are two strains, Type I and Type S, that we know of, so a third is quite possible) then it might be our “cowpox cure.” It was known in the 16th century that those who caught cowpox were far less likely to get smallpox, a discovery that led to the vaccine that eventually eradicated smallpox.
But if there is widespread dissemination of a mild version, then it might lead to either herd immunity, or a vaccine. That’s why it’s potentially good news.
The scientific evidence we do have now doesn’t support the widely spread theory, but it doesn’t rule it out, either.
Now for the bad news. And I’ll start by saying NONE OF THIS HAS BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY SUBSTANTIATED!!! So don’t go running out the door screaming “We’re all doomed! We’re all gonna die!!”. Sure, we all are and will, eventually. But not today. And these reports are just that—reports. They might be anomalies. They might be overfevered imaginings of stressed out caregivers. And of course, there’s always the doomsayers, a crowd delighted by all the horrors of tomorrow. For those folks, I say, go ahead. Run out the door. Scream. Bewail to the heavens. Just remember to wear a mask and gloves, OK? Being annoying shouldn’t be fatal.
First, the reports are that in some cases, there is secondary and more permanent damage from the disease. Permanent granulations in the lower lungs, permanently reducing lung capacity. And weakening of heart muscles and arrhythmias may result, elevating the risk of an eventual heart attack.
Second, and this is even more disturbing. The disease stuff guys, the epidermals or whatever, are suggesting that the coronavirus may be the opening salvo of a long term auto-immune disease, such as lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. This doesn’t even rise to the level of “reports”–it’s just conjecture, based on what relatively little is known about coronaviruses in general and Covid-19 in particular.
We still don’t really know shit about this disease, which is one of the reasons we can’t just “ride it out.”
People are going to take to the streets, either in service to a mad despot or just because they are scared and alone. If you are one of them take precautions, even if you think it’s a hoax. You may be risking more than the glamor of a 1 in 20 chance of dying a slow nasty death, or the 1 in 5 opportunity of spending 1 or 2 months struggling to breathe and feeling like absolute shit. You’re risking the lives of everyone near and dear to you, and may be risking a lifetime incapacitation if the rumors are to be believed.
It’s hard. For some, staying home risks starvation. But be brave.
Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.