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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Losing focus during the Covid19 pandemic?

As the calendar turned to 2020, I, like most of us outside the epidemiologic and virology disciplines, had no idea that the rapidly spreading global Covid19 illness would escalate to consume just about all of our aggregate attention and increasingly debilitate the world's economies.

I first made a passing allusion to it in my January 18th post, subsequently initially posting the Johns Hopkins tracking site info on February 11th. On March 12th, I played my last game of hoops at the Towson BYKOTA center I'd joined back in the fall of 2019. They closed that evening until further notice (and remain thus).

Beginning Monday March 16th I began posting pretty much all Covid-related lead-in topics all the time. The coronavirus screening issues continue to bedevil us.

I mostly observed the "stay-at-home" public health advice, venturing out infrequently, only as necessary. Newly diagnosed with Parkinson's in December (w/ annoying symptoms elevating), and a year and a half out of open heart aortic valve replacement, I didn't (and still don't) like my ICU intubation/ventilator odds in the event of my encountering a case of Covid19.

Been getting caught up on a ton of reading, dozens of compelling books, in addition to my routine long list of periodicals and daily blog stops. Annie Duke's and Maria Konnivoka's books were awesome, and they sent me back to closer study of the original von Neumann "Theory of Games."

Grateful to not be in the dire economic circumstances now afflicting so many people. Grateful that my son and Eileen have not lost their jobs, and that new grandson Calvin is thriving, as is my preemie great-grandson Kai (born 7 weeks early).

Still, nearly five months of being so circumscribed (with dubious end in sight) is starting wear on my motivation, my focus apropos of topical direction going forward. I'll get back on track.

I'm sure I'm by no means alone in that regard. We slog on, I guess, amid our enervating "Concurrent Pandemics."

4.3% of world population, 25.4% of confirmed cases, 22.3% of case fatalities.



apropos of my recent prior post.

As I noted,
“Given the practical logistical impossibility of legislating, litigating, or prosecuting every last bit of contentious human interaction, consensus "norms" provide both the mediating lubricants and constraints of civil self-governance.”

Minimally, "norms" are those policies and behaviors we tolerate, often by mere passive acquiescence. They are by no means all rational or beneficent. Case in point; our recently ascendant presidential "leadership" norms of reflexive hostility toward expertise and science.


The first half of 2020 has seen extraordinary accomplishments in science. The international scientific community has described the genomic sequence of the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and structures of its important proteins, elucidated principal aspects of the immune response, identified neutralizing antibodies that can serve as therapeutics, and developed promising vaccines. There is much more to learn about COVID-19 and its cause, but the achievements so far are remarkable. So why doesn't this progress feel like the triumph that it is?

Public health guidance is ignored, reopening businesses happens too fast, people fight over wearing masks, and the forces that undermine confidence in vaccines proceed unimpeded. Scientists who burn the midnight oil in academia, government, and industry to decipher COVID-19 are confronted with political leaders who downplay and criticize their tireless efforts. Many are immigrants who hear that they aren't welcome in the United States. President Trump and his allies are sticking their fingers in the eyes of the very people who can lead the world out of this calamity…

Having botched the distribution of diagnostic tests to get ahead of the pandemic, disemboweled the CDC, trampled on its own experts, stoked conspiracy theories about wearing masks and the origins of the virus, pushed an unproven treatment that proved worthless, stepped on the independence of the NIH, and audaciously attacked Fauci, the Trump administration does not inspire confidence in its ability to make sound public health decisions. With no strategy, a vaccine is the government's best way out of the pandemic crisis.

It's not too late to get it right. We need clear decision-making by experts, articulated crisply and without interference. This is not a time for leading with the gut, building up false hope, or making speculative bets. It's time to let the data do the talking.

Science is doing its part. Over to you, Mr. President.

In the wake of the George Floyd murder.


More to come...

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