Wading in a pool of abstraction © Robert Sommers 2023

Monday, April 20, 2020

The ninth wave

Rick Griffin

Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame...
The ninth wave - Lord Alfred Tennyson

Our nation is having the strangest conversation right now. To open or not to open, that is the question? Will the economy cease or will the microbe bury us?

The answer is breaking down on fairly predictable lines, Republicans say "get back to work, there will be collateral damage and deaths but the alternative is worse." Liberals are tending more with "let's trust the doctors and epidemiologists and open when they say it is time after adequate testing." Count me as a guy who wants to hold out a little longer and make sure things are safe before I pop out of my cocoon but I may end up being outvoted.

I received this letter today from a longtime friend and business partner, an older fellow:

From The New York Times:
Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?
There may be more targeted ways to beat the pandemic.
Good insight from someone with broader understanding of the problem.
I don’t know why you quote all the nonsense in your blog…the answer is some where in the middle of these extremes.
You are damaging your own health…where is Uncle Norm when you need his reason?
At this point we are on a reasonable trajectory. J

I read the link and it makes some good points but unfortunately many of the author's positions have not held up over the month since it was written. There were only two hundred dead at that point and he thought we were going to get more of a pass.  765,915 confirmed cases today, about 35% of the world's total and 41,124 deaths, sadly, we weren't so lucky. Dead as my Uncle Norm.

Part of his supposition was that the young would be spared. Turns out that wasn't true either. A five year old girl died of Covid-19 in Michigan today, from a rare form of meningitis. It is an equal opportunity oppressor. In my county the twenty to forty group is getting hit very hard. What is young anyway? But there is a mode of thinking that says gramps and grandpa have enjoyed their ride and now it's time to step aside for the kids. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is of this school.

The virus is still largely unknown but we do know that it is wreaking havoc on kidneys, livers, lungs and hearts. Cytokine storms are destroying immune systems. And we don't know if it will come back seasonally, there have been many reports of people being cured and than coming down with symptoms again.

I guess I need to make a point. And the point is, it is well and good to talk about a targeted opening but on whose back shall we place the target? The old, the young, the infirm? Who? At the Smithfield Plant it looks like the minorities are taking the brunt of the casualties and reportedly working inches from each other. Perhaps they are judged expendable?

How do you target a microbe anyway? Very tiny little buggers. If you ask for volunteers and people willingly take one for the team and offer to be guinea pigs, how do they know that they themselves will not inadvertently infect others they come in contact with? Others that might not be quite as interested in stepping forward and becoming martyrs for the economy and re-election.

There was a huge rally in Encinitas yesterday, "open the parks, open the beaches." According to the newspaper, few wore masks and fewer still were adequately social distancing. A cynical person will say, go ahead kill yourself if you wish, but that's not the way it works, they take others with them. Normally I would say, grab your guns, exercise your personal and religious liberty and rights to congregate by all means. Just don't take me with you.

There are a lot of people smarter than me out there, please tell me how this targeted opening thing is going to work? Or do you just let the wave hit all of us and see who is left standing at the end? Is that the plan? And are you going to volunteer?


Scrota Voce said...

Your response is ludicrous...Trump closed down the flights from China when the CDC and
clowns in NYC said the chances of getting the Wuhan virus were zero...and they called him a racist...60 minutes attacks Navarro but don't attack De Blasio and Cuomo for ineptitude...Northeast New Jersey and Manhattan are the most densely populated pieces of land in the universe and whoa, guess what, they're inundated with Kung Flu.

If you shut down the nation as one size fits all you're looking for one big snafu...
take a look at the Dominican, next door to Haiti...Dominican 4964 cases....Haiti 47!!!

Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Leon Spinks

Anonymous said...

funny that the same group that bitches about eugenics and right to life all the time now wants everyone to pick a number.


Blue Heron said...

I don't quite get your point, scrotum. Do you think safe areas exist today in america? That is what Noem and Ricketts were saying. They were wrong. Just will take longer to percolate. We will see.

Kent said...

This is the question of the day. We certainly can’t wait for the new virus cases to go to zero. And a reopening of the economy too soon could be disastrous with an unacceptable surge. We need to open the economy In stages, and geographically. High risk individuals need caution at their choice. And yes there is a trade off of economics and death. I am not wise enough nor intelligent enough to answer this question. Hopefully we’ll get it right.

island guy said...

What will happen? Just look at Singapore. Early success, followed by a wave fueled by returnees, now a big flareup amongst underserved and packed in migrant workers. Montana (where I have lived) doesn’t have the dense concentrations of people, but almost every rural area has limited health care resources and a high proportion of vulnerable people. Even with people living miles apart (in the countryside) the ‘overwhelmed’ stage for their local hospitals is just a few handfuls of very sick people from starting in those places.

Scrota Voce said...

I'll talk to Leon and get his take.


Blue Heron said...

Would it be too morbid and cynical for me to suggest that only the red states open up? They seem to be the most into it.

Anonymous said...

Those demonstrators are hired people, supported and bussed in, very much like the tea party was. That is not a grass-roots movement. Something that would help with re-opening the economy in a sensible way would be wide spread testing, but Trump either cannot, or will not get it going on a nationwide basis, something the experts point out is critical. We need to ask people why that is ~ Diane O

Kent said...

Diane O, I’m interested in your evidence that the protesters were hired and bussed in.
Thanks, Kent

Blue Heron said...

They were in the midwest and back east for sure. Dorr and DeVos funded.



JeffN said...

I have to say, this is the worst ethical and practical dilemma I've ever seen. There's no good choice.

To answer Robert's question specifically (who gets targeted, who goes back into the world first), I think we have to start with those who have survived the virus. The Recovered. If we can get a reliable antibody test, we'll probably find in excess of 5M people right now who are able to mingle in the wild without risk. And that number will grow every day, every week.

Unfortunately, doing what I'm suggesting requires a level of coordinated testing, tracking and scheduling that our governments clearly aren't able to manage. CA could perhaps do this. Maybe that "nation-state" thing really is a good idea.

Net, I think we have some not-entirely-horrible ways forward, but we need strong leadership to make them happen. What we have at the moment is a roiling shitshow.

Blue Heron said...

Great points, Jeff. If the numbers from Santa Clara are correct, the mortality numbers may be much lower than previously forecast. There may be a lot more people currently immune to this virus than we think.

Anonymous said...

You left out the last important line to The Ninth Wave:
" Wave after wave, each mightier than the last, Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame: And down the wave and in the flame was borne A naked babe, and rode to Merlin's feet, Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried "The King! Here is an heir for Uther!" That would be King Arthur. ~ Diane O

Blue Heron said...

I know but it didn't work as well in my narrative. Too optimistic.

Anonymous said...




~Diane O

MRE said...

For any meaningful positive change in how the world does business the present method must be reborn. Its time for the EARTH to stand still!