Tag Archive | covid-19

Respiration in the ’30s, virus images in the ’60s, ambulances in the ’70s, vaccines in the now

Virology and medical history links

The first images of a coronavirus were taken by June Almeida in the 1960’s. She was one of a group who submitted the findings to Science, which rejected the paper on the grounds of “that’s not a new discovery, that’s a flu virus and you took a bad picture.”

“In 1934, Wells and his wife, Mildred Weeks Wells, a physician, analyzed air samples and plotted a curve showing how the opposing forces of gravity and evaporation acted on respiratory particles. […] Randall paused at the curve they’d drawn. To her, it seemed to foreshadow the idea of a droplet-aerosol dichotomy, but one that should have pivoted around 100 microns, not 5.

Those men you see interviewed, they were the first EMTs, the first paramedics. Not just in Pittsburgh, but anywhere. The first “ambulance” driver may have been some poor Spanish conscript back in the 15th century, but the men who made up the first-ever ambulance squad with trained paramedics? Those guys are still around.” A 1970s (!!) success story about taking a job out of the hands of police, and putting it in the hands of professionals with actual relevant training.

“The [measles] outbreak began that September, when an infected passenger is thought to have flown to [Samoa] from New Zealand. Infection quickly spread among the island’s by then substantial population of unvaccinated children. According to Dr Katherine Gibney of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, one in every 150 babies aged between six and 11 months died.” This is the future that antivaxxers want.

Virology and medical present-day links

“Early reports showed high mortality from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), while current United States data mortality rates are lower, raising hope that new treatments and management strategies have improved outcomes. For instance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that 6.7% of cases resulted in death in April, compared with 1.9% in September.

“During the 2019 flu season from Sept. 29 to Dec. 28, the CDC reported more than 65,000 cases of influenza nationwide. During the same period this flu season, the agency reported 1,016 cases.” COVID keeps flourishing whenever we slack off on safety protocols, but hey, seems like even halfhearted anti-COVID measures can do a great job at blocking the flu.

“The strategy signals a shift from the past year, during which the Trump administration largely delegated responsibility for controlling the virus and reopening the economy to 50 governors, fracturing the nation’s response. Interviews with more than 100 health, political and community leaders around the country and a review of emails and other state government records offer a fuller picture of all that went wrong.

“I am concerned that the underrepresentation of Black people among those who have received the vaccine so far will lead to a further widening of racial disparities in Covid-19 infection and death rates. And so I share my journey from “no” to “yes,” my own #BlackWhysMatter, with whoever will listen.

“Oregon healthcare workers who were stranded in a snowstorm on Tuesday began administering leftover coronavirus vaccines to motorists on the side of the road rather than let the doses go to waste.” Heroes!

Mostly Trump and COVID, but if you skip to the end there’s a cute dog story

“Four years ago as a candidate, President Trump made more than 280 campaign promises. Let’s see how he did.” A nice succinct roundup. (Takeaway: he succeeded at “appointing conservative judges,” and with all the others he either did nothing, or did the exact opposite.)

June 3: “The Postal Service’s struggles began in the early 2000s. In 2005, Congress imposed an unprecedented austerity measure on the agency which required USPS to pre-fund retirement benefits 75 years in the future, including for employees who have not even been born yet. No other government agency or corporation operates in such a manner, and the move left the USPS woefully strapped for funding.

June 29: “Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials […] that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States.” I mean…this isn’t news. But none of you could’ve brought this up at the [first] impeachment? Really?

Reinforced by this interview with Trump’s first SecState, Rex Tillerson, January 11: “I used to go into meetings with a list of four to five things I needed to talk to him about, and I quickly learned that if I got to three, it was a home run, and I realized getting two that were meaningful was probably the best objective. So I began to adjust what I went into a meeting with and what I attempted to explain and describe, and then I started taking charts and pictures with me because I found that those seemed to hold his attention better. If I could put a photo or a picture in front of him or a map or a piece of paper that had two big bullet points on it, he would focus on that, and I could build on that. Just sitting and trying to have a conversation as you and I are having just doesn’t work.”

September 30: “And that’s why, despite all the religious flourishes that Trump himself views as weird — the prayer, the God-talk, the laying-on of hands — Trump likes having them around. People like Paula White and Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress and Eric Metaxas reassure Trump that he’s right about the world — that everything is transactional, and competitive, and profit-seeking, and that anything else is merely a sucker’s dream.”

November 17: “Neely Petrie-Blanchard, a Kentucky resident, had long ago lost custody of her daughters […] she turned to Chris Hallett, an amateur legal expert who offered bogus court services through a company called “E-Clause,” and who promised Petrie-Blanchard she could win her daughters back through ludicrous courtroom tactics he borrowed from the anti-government sovereign citizen’s movement. […] On Sunday night, Hallett was found face down in the kitchen of his central Florida home, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds to his back.” A bit of QAnon intramural violence.

December 8: “After the boasting and gloating from Trump about the successes of Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s project to fastrack a Covid-19 vaccine, the failure to option enough of the vaccine, even after promising early results, is perplexing. It will also leave the U.S. short: 100 million doses, while significant, is only enough to immunize 50 million people, and with only one other vaccine at the regulatory stage of development in the U.S., developed by Moderna, supply will almost certainly outstrip demand as vaccination programs get underway.”

Some of the inevitable fallout, January 15: “States were anticipating a windfall after federal officials said they would stop holding back second doses. But the approach had already changed, and no stockpile exists.”

December 10: “”There are things we can do to prevent what we are seeing, and so many people believe this is a hoax and this is politically motivated,” [the intensive care doctor with the Cleveland Clinic] said. “The truth is, I don’t get to look away. Every day when I go to work, I know that I am going to have to put multiple patients on ventilators, and when I put those patients on ventilators, I am at risk every single time. I could also die from this.”

December 27: “Getty Images is a major photo agency that has worked hard to get its photographers into hospitals, with only rare success. “For every thousand calls or emails, you maybe get three yeses,” said Sandy Ciric, the agency’s director of photography. “Sometimes we even had the CEO say, ‘This is great, yes, we want coverage,’ and then someone tells them no and they change their mind.”” Why we’ve seen so few photos documenting the COVID crisis in hospitals.

Okay, one nice thing, they had a ceremony for Biden’s dog: “People logged on from across the country to watch the “Indoguration,” which raised over $100,000 for the DHA, a nonprofit no-kill animal care and adoption center. Participants had the chance to nominate their own animals for a position in Major’s cabinet. Organizers collected over 700 nominations for the title of Secretary of Rescue Dogs.”

It’s probably going to keep turning out that this attack was worse than we knew

NYT provides some fascinating perspective on who’s tried to do this before, and for almost exactly the same reasons: “In the confusion that followed Wednesday’s desecration of the Capitol, it was widely reported that the last time the building was stormed was in 1814. That overlooked a desperate day in 1861, nearly as lethal to democracy. On Feb. 13, a mob gathered outside the Capitol and tried to force its way in to disrupt the counting of the electoral certificates that would confirm Abraham Lincoln’s election three months earlier.”

There was at least one bit of sabotage done before the riots, which probably means there’s more to be found: “As people rushed out of other buildings on the Capitol grounds, staffers in [Ayanna] Pressley’s office barricaded the entrance with furniture and water jugs that had piled up during the pandemic. [Her chief of staff] Groh pulled out gas masks and looked for the special panic buttons in the office. ‘Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit.’

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA): “The Capitol police with us seemed very confused about who had the key to the doors. They were closed, but we weren’t sure if they were locked, and we were yelling, “Lock the doors! Lock the doors!” We heard shots being fired, presumably into the chamber.”

Jason Crow (D-CO, veteran): “I called my wife. I told her I loved her and told the kids I loved them and told my wife I might have to fight my way out. […] I did a double-check of all the doors, made sure they were locked. Escorted the more senior members away from the doors, moving them into a defensive position. Asked folks to take off their member pins so that if the mobs break down the doors, the members would be harder to identify. I took a pen out of my pocket to possibly use as a weapon.”

Nancy Pelosi talks about her young staffers, who knew what to do from their school active-shooter drills: “The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned out the lights, and were silent in the dark.” “Under the table this whole–” “–under the table for two and a half hours.”

“Moments later, there was yelling in the gallery, as staff and security details started to move around with a heightened sense of alarm. Inside the chamber, news photographers that Pelosi (D-Calif.) had allowed in to capture the historic electoral vote at the dais instead turned around and trained their cameras toward the doors in the back of the chamber.”

Same article: “Capitol police had said previously they didn’t need help, but Bowdich decided he couldn’t wait for a formal invitation. […] These teams typically gather at a staging area off-site to coordinate and plan, and then rush together to the area where they are needed. Bowdich told their commander there was no time.”

Less-reported-on, ordinary people throughout the city also had to hide from rioters wreaking havoc: “[In DC], a city long shaped by hardworking Black Americans and immigrants, the terror unfolded at home, forcing residents to lock themselves behind closed doors or commute from work through downtown streets filled with throngs of white supremacists and law enforcement officials who have often been openly hostile toward their communities. “

Meanwhile: “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.”

BuzzFeed News spoke to two Black officers who described a harrowing day in which they were forced to endure racist abuse — including repeatedly being called the n-word — as they tried to do their job of protecting the Capitol building, and by extension the very functioning of American democracy. The officers said they were wrong-footed, fighting off an invading force that their managers had downplayed and not prepared them for. “

The officer initially scopes out the door, sees it’s not guarded, and tries to block the way. More rioters pour up the stairs after them, and the officer seems to go with a new strategy – he shoves the first rioter, pissing him off, and then leads the whole mob the other way.” One specific black officer uses himself as bait for racists. Get this man a medal, please.

Not to forget the other cops whose behavior that day deserves to be recognized:”Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended and one has been arrested following the riots at the U.S. Capitol.”

And: “As investigators seek to identify rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, police departments in Virginia and Washington state have placed officers on leave as authorities examine whether they took part in unlawful acts while off-duty.”

hi mom remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent…this you?”

Some fallout:

At least one known-COVID-positive rioter identified among the chaotic and unmasked crowd. Inside, several Republicans sheltering-in-place refused to put masks on; presumably they aren’t getting tested afterward, or won’t reveal the results if they are. Meanwhile, Democrats who were forced to share the room with them are starting to report positive tests.

“Because Parler cannot comply with our terms of service and poses a very real risk to public safety, we plan to suspend Parler’s account effective Sunday, January 10th, at 11:59PM PST.” Contains a few choice screenshots of Parler-hosted content, for anyone who’s unclear about what Amazon considers a ToS violation.

“One member [of Congress, being briefed on plans for future riots] was explicit that these groups were trying to get journalists to report on their demonstrations. ‘Some of their main communications to organize these have been cut off, so they’re purposely trying to get the media to report on this as a way to further disseminate information and to attract additional support for their attacks.'”

Sadly, the graphic about Olive Garden canceling Lifetime Pasta Passes for various rioters and their supporters turns out to be a joke.

As is this resignation letter from the Death Star: “Destroying planets and using fear of this battle station to keep the local systems in line was my No. 1 passion until — about 30 seconds ago, weirdly! That was when I saw the X-wings that had evaded our turbo-lasers and were proceeding down a trench toward our vulnerable thermal exhaust port — and realized I had to speak up. I thought: What if remorselessly destroying planets isn’t my passion? What if my real passion is staying alive and avoiding the consequences of my actions?

Yuletide mostly-cheer

It started snowing on the night before Christmas, and kept going on-and-off ever since, so everything outside the window is carpeted with perfect winter scenery. Seeing as I don’t have anywhere to go, this has been great.

I got an absolutely heartwarming Yuletide fic, a new take on “Ozma decides to spend some time in Tip form”, featuring some quality Worried Dorothy and Protective Aunt Em:

Homecoming (6127 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Oz – L. Frank Baum
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Dorothy Gale/Princess Ozma
Characters: Princess Ozma, Dorothy Gale, Aunt Em
Additional Tags: Comfort, Genderqueer Character, genderqueer character misread as male, mentions of past emotional / physical abuse, aunt em has a bunch of unexamined gender and class biases
Summary:

A nice young person with experience on a farm comes to help Aunt Em with the chores for a celebration.
Meanwhile, Ozma isn’t in the Palace, and Dorothy goes looking for them.

More rec posts to come. I’ve been churning my way through all the promising-looking fandoms, trying to read everything in-the-moment instead of letting it disappear into marked For Later.

…with the exception of a bunch of Locked Tomb fics, because I’m still only 80% through Harrow the Ninth (the second novel), and any time I’ve looked at post-Harrow writing for more than 5 seconds I’ve been spoiled for something. (Fortunately, there are So Many wild and unpredictable twists that it’s turned out I was still unspoiled for most of them.)


On less fandom-y notes:

Half my family is being scrupulous and careful about COVID restrictions, and the other half is…not. I don’t know what to say. They’ve already had two scares (notable COVID-like symptoms that ended up testing negative), you’d think that would make them more cautious, not less. The hospitals are full of people who thought “oh, nothing bad will happen to me.” And by “full” I mean record-breaking cases, record-breaking deaths, “lining up beds in the hallways because all the rooms are occupied” full.

This Week In Virology had a good discussion of the new COVID variant that’s developed in the UK, including a breakdown of why it’s not likely to be more vaccine-resistant than any other variant. There is a serious chance it’s more transmissible, but even if that’s true, it’s not so transmissible that it can overcome all the usual measures — keeping distances, wearing masks, washing hands.

So we just have to stay serious about doing those.

Some serious COVID links, then some palate-cleansing science

“The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed has been gearing up and holding news conferences headlined by generals promising a military-style rollout. But jokes about military precision aside, experts are already expecting a lot of confusion, a fair amount of fear and more than a little outrage.” Some helpful perspective on how much screwing-up will be Situation Normal, and not a reason to panic that we’re doing it all wrong.

“A vaccine may be around the corner, but how long will it be until you get the shot? […] we worked with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs using their vaccine tool to calculate the number of people who will need a vaccine in each state and county — and where you might fit in that line.” (I’m firmly in the “other” category, behind an estimated 268.7 million more-urgent cases. There’s an article after the results, so don’t stop scrolling.)

“As the coronavirus has spiked across the country, leaving a record 100,226 Americans hospitalized on Wednesday, travel nurses, who work on temporary contracts for higher fees and move from city to city, have become more urgently needed than ever.”

“loss of smell is a possible effect of covid. if things don’t smell/taste as strong as you remember GET TESTED and ISOLATE. if someone you know is complaining about their candles not having a scent, inform them and encourage them to get tested.


Okay, have some Cool Science Links, completely unrelated to any of this. (I think I saved them all before the pandemic started.)

“After every heavy rain shower, Trovants absorb the rain’s minerals. The minerals are combined with the chemicals already present in the stone that later creates a reaction and pressure inside. The pressure spontaneously makes the rock grow from the center to its margins and multiply, with a deposition rate of about 4-5 cm in 1000 years.”

At first glance the reassembled gray blocks look like a nine-foot-long sculpture of a dinosaur. A bony mosaic of armor coats its neck and back, and gray circles outline individual scales. Its neck gracefully curves to the left, as if reaching toward some tasty plant. But this is no lifelike sculpture. It’s an actual dinosaur, petrified from the snout to the hips.”

An interactive map of the evolutionary relationships between 2,235,362 species of life on our planet. Each leaf on the tree represents a species and the branches show how they are connected through evolution. Discover your favourites, see which species are under threat, and wonder at 105,277 images on a single page.”

“To produce the unpredictable, chaotic data necessary for strong encryption, a computer must have a source of random data. […] To collect this data, Cloudflare has arranged about 100 lava lamps on one of the walls in the lobby of the Cloudflare headquarters and mounted a camera pointing at the lamps.