Study: Single Dose of Psilocybin Eased Anxiety Four Years Later
INTERESTING STUFF – 14 March 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic

This is a longer post than I would usually do but I also think that we should not stop talking about COVID-19 and keep reminding one another what we must do to stay healthy.

So, here are some of those reminders from me, a poem about our predicament and the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show which is also about the virus this time. I know, it's a lot. Choose what you want and leave the rest.

But let's do talk about this below in the comments.

It's a pandemic now, says the World Health Organization (WHO). That doesn't change anything - it just means that the virus has been formally declared to be a worldwide problem.

Whatever the president says, this Corona virus is not a small thing. It will not, as he told us on television, fade away next week. It is here for the long haul. No one knows when it ends.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified in Congress on Wednesday in stark terms: “Bottom line,” he said, “it’s going to get worse.”

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Every person must do their part to try to keep the virus at bay. But particularly if you are old or your immune system is suppressed or you have an underlying condition such as heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure, you are at greater risk of dying from the virus than children and younger adults.

Because the U.S. government has so badly botched testing for the virus, all statistics are dubious but according to Fauci on Wednesday,

“The [seasonal] flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This [COVID-19] has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this.”

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Here's another important thing Dr. Fauci has said: “Every infected person will, on average, infect two-to-three more people who each will infect two-to-three more people and so on.”

So you see how this goes and how quickly the number of infections multiplies.

Because I am 78 years old and have two serious conditions – cancer and lung disease – that make COVID-19 more dangerous to me than if I didn't have those conditions, I've gone full-tilt boogie on prevention.

Washing my hands constantly.
Close to succeeding at not touching my face.
Using hand sanitizer whenever, wherever it's available.
Not going to crowded places.
Not shaking hands.
Not hugging.
Keeping six feet away from other people, if possible.
Mostly staying home.

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Doing all this is tricky. I am down to one travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer and can't find any (I trust) to buy online or off.

At the market one day this week, the sanitizer dispenser was empty so now I keep nitrile gloves in my car so I will have something between my hands and whatever I'm buying that an unknown number of people may have touched.

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

In his Oval Office speech Wednesday evening, Trump's big announcement was a ban on travel from a bunch of European countries. However, the U.K., where Trump owns three golf resorts, is exempt. There are other loopholes too.

But, really, what is the point of the travel ban even without loopholes and exceptions? The virus is already in the United States and most other countries with the number of infections growing daily from community transmission.

The most important thing the U.S. needs to do is test, test thousands of people as other countries do to give us an informed look at what we are up against. But Trump did not mention testing in his speech on Wednesday and the next morning, Vice President Mike Pence could not say how many tests have been done or what any results are.

I don't know about you, but I am now officially terrified.

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Yesterday, both remaining Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, delivered addresses to the nation covering the policy proposals they would institute if they were president. Both behaved as a steady, normal leader would do facing such a pandemic.

My god I wish one of them were president.

It's hard to live without hugging or touching the people we love but we are stuck with that for the foreseeable future during which we will not be congregating at ball parks, theaters, museums and all the other places in the public square we like to go.

Daily life is dramatically changed now and, probably, for a long time to come.

What to me is obvious as we live through this virus is to help one another with all the care and love for one another we have within us.

TGB reader, Ann Burack-Weiss, who contributes to Reader Stories now and then, sent this yesterday from poet, Lynn Unger. It is titled, Pandemic.

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love-
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

As Ann said to me in her email, I find this comforting.

Now, here is the latest installment of The Alex and Ronni Show – also about the Corona virus. (I keep asking if he can't find a better still shot for the static image; he says he can't. Oh well.)

GO WASH YOUR HANDS

Comments

I made the mistake of stopping at the grocery store for a few items last night while out on the other side of town. My neighborhood is now a food desert with no grocery store within a reasonable distance, and trips that used to be blocks are now miles that have to be coordinated with other tasks. The first sign of problems was that the grocery store parking lot was full on a Thursday evening after 7:00p.m. The second was the signs on the door limiting the amount of toilet paper and water per customer. I had never seen anything like it. People with overflowing carts full of things that would last my household several months if not years. Shoppers kept pouring in and out of the doors like ants. It invoked visions of what I imagine the run on the banks was like in the Great Depression. Appealing to people's higher thinking and asking for calm may be a bit premature right now. Maybe when people feel they've stockpiled enough toilet paper, water and hand sanitizer things will calm down. Until then I'm battening the hatches, drawing a hot bath and hunkering down in it with a good book.

Hi Ronni,
Yikes! Here in Canada we have about the same rate of infection as the USA but a little more clarity from government officials. For any Canadians wanting more covid-19 info there's a great website created by a young man in Vancouver for uptodate info. I know you don't allow links in comments so I won't, suffice to say that it automatically gleans info from official government sources around the world and displays it on a single page. The focus is Canadian but it also posts international stats (#cases, increase/decrease, deaths, recoveries). Global mortality is around 4%. My area of the country is so far covid-19-free (no official diagnoses that is) but that won't last long. I know at least one person in my small community who attended a large conference after which an infection was identified. I don't have any underlying conditions but I have friends who do, not a good feeling!

Excellent post, enjoyed the poem too. I’m usually a big fan of the Alex & Ronni Show, not so much today. While I appreciated the urgency in Ronni’s voice, Alex was his usual lighthearted self & I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for that today. (Also, I stopped laughing at Trump the day he was sworn into office.)

I very much hope Joe Biden is elected president.

What gets me is there are still people who are denying the whole virus crisis is real. I went to my Facebook page this morning and one of my Trump supporter relatives posted yet another meme about it all being a media and Democratic hoax to bring down the president. Yesterday she posted one about abortion killing more people than the virus and why aren't people panicking about that. Earlier this week it was something about how veterans could use the money we're 'wasting' on the COVID-19 and she got a lot of 'likes' on that one. It's people who are in denial who are putting us all at risk, like the basketball player recently who tested positive for the virus had to apologize for having touched all the microphones of the media doing interviews as "joke"---just before he got sick.

I find the easiest thing to do is to wear the nitrile gloves. I take public transit so am looking for masks. Still.
I don’t believe what they’re telling us about masks. They would definitely help as long as you’re smart enough to keep your hands off your face.
Actually I believe nothing much of what the cdc or tv doctors say. They lie a lot.
I have brain tumor surgery coming up on the 25th so the vast majority of the time I isolate. But there are tests to be done...

I have certainly been more diligent with washing hands etc. But I still have to go to work. I’m in my late 60’s. If it happens so be it, I will hope for the best. My son is a conductor he’s on the train everyday going to Penn station, it’s always packed with people. I agree with what he says, stopping living will not stop death.

A major contributor to American unease seems to be the lack of reliable test kits. Other countries have been building or acquiring them in a rush reminiscent of the supermarket scene described by Cathy J. The U.S. not so much. The U.K. appears to have 200 times the number of kits that the U.S. does per capita.
I'm off to wash my hands.

Re: Good advice...washing hands!

Because I am a retired RN I want to comment.  It seems to me that hand sanitizers fall into the same role as the face masks, in that it gives a false sense of security or clean. 

When you know that an autoclave's temperature must be at least 250 degrees for 30 minutes under 15 # of pressure to actually kill a microbe on surgical instruments,
you can see marketed products just can't help.  Scrubbing hands before surgery is a physical process. Soaps provide a lubricant, the brush handles nails and skin folds, and running water washes it all away. WE can do that with plain hand soap...any kind you prefer. Easy at home if we simply remember to do it.  When out in the real world, the gloves Ronni mentioned are a solution for anyone elderly or otherwise fearful and at risk.

Example from Wikipedia:  "Purell is an instant hand sanitizer made of ethyl alcohol. It has been claimed to "[kill] more than 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness in a healthcare setting, including MRSA & VRE." However, amidst the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to Purell's maker, US company Gojo Industries, to stop its claims that the product is effective at eliminating diseases because there are no peer-reviewed, published clinical studies demonstrating the company's claims."  

Great post, poem, comments, and new word for me: nitrile. Here in Israel, I trust the govt is behaving responsibly because Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, Israel’s point man in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus, is considered among the most ruthless and competent managers in the Israeli state bureaucracy. An economist, he is the first non-doctor to ever hold the post of director general of Israel’s Health Ministry and has been overruling politically-based “decisions” on this pandemic.

The poem is exquisite.

Just to be clear about hand-cleaning: Charlene Drewry is correct that soap and water do a better job of cleaning than hand sanitizer but we are not always near soap and water when we need it.

Hand sanitizer does not do as good a job as soap and water but it is a recommended alternative when washing hands with soap and water is not available. Just be sure the sanitizer is at least 60 percent alcohol.

Most of us reading this blog are closer to the end than the beginning of life. A 90 year old woman at yoga today was trying to have everyone stay six feet away from her. Really?

I'm pretty much following the same routine as you Ronni. My hands look like mummies from all the washing but I'll be 78 this week and have COPD, heart problems and am diabetic. All thing considered I'm doing pretty well. The first thing I ordered off the internet was nitrile gloves. And I am intermittently scared too. The first week of this I couldn't sleep well. Now I'm going walking early when no one is out and I've calmed down considerably. It's going to be a rough ride. Wash your hands. :-)

I love the poem. It reframes the isolation as an opportunity for a kind of spiritual retreat, not a prison sentence.

As I read about the multiple failures regarding Covid-19, I find myself grieving for the death of the America of my youth. Remember the way the federal health system identified thalidomide as causing birth defects? How Kennedy launched the space race, putting a triumphant American on the moon? How civil rights legislation was passed by representatives across the political spectrum? Nixon creating the EPA? We were--for all our failings--good, and providing global leadership, in science and freedom and human rights. All gone...despite the will of the majority of American voters.

Maybe that 90 year old woman does not specifically want to die of corona virus. Actually, she should have stayed home altogether. Here in Seattle, I doubt that you could find a yoga class open anywhere right now. The public libraries are closing tonight until further notice, so I’m glad I picked up five books yesterday, as that is the only entertainment I will be getting for a while - except for the antics of my dog . I was telling her yesterday how lucky she was not to have a worry in the world. She just looked at me with love. Good lesson.

I live in Washington state, but fortuneately on the Kitsap Peninsula. We used to live in Snohomish County but moved here in 2005. Like Ronni, I have several underlying conditions. We are avoiding all large group functions, in fact any that require we sit near others for a length of time. Pumping gas here has changed for me. Now I always wear gloves. My mother is 96 and lives in King County (Seattle). We were going to see her, but have postponed that trip. Elaine was going to Oregon to see her daughter by taking Amtrack (no air service, etc.).
That trip is cancelled til further notice. So it goes here in the "new" environment. Good luck to y'all, we're going to need it. B

Deep, moving poem, thank you. Ronni, might you make an exception re links when they are clearly in the public interest? I'm in Canada and would like the one Annie mentioned.

re people buying three months' supply of toilet paper at once: they seem not to know that in many parts of the world, people do not use toilet paper (they wash) and in fact consider the practice unsanitary. At home, much of the time, a swoosh of warm water does the job. Granted, our public toilets are not equipped for nether parts washing, but do you want to use onenow, anyway?

I went for my quarterly wellness visit to the doctor yesterday. Fortunately, he come here to the assisted living facility so I didn't have to travel outside. After my exam, which I was given a clean bill of health, we briefly discussed the impact the Corona virus has has on his practice. He, being a gerontologist and his patients at the forefront of the current epidemic. His main concern was that there were no test kits being distributed to doctors offices and, more important, to nursing homes and ALF's. Three weeks into this thing and the only way to get tested is to go to the ER.

BTW, I live in Westchester county, just a few miles from New Rochelle.

Stay safe. If the result of doing so is just to have others think we "overreacted" then I'm perfectly willing for that rather than having an illness that might very well kill me. So said by a woman walking around with a mask on, driving in a few minutes to get my car inspected, and taking my bottle of hand sanitizer with me. My 77 years and lung condition say Be Safe, Be Aware, don't bother with being afraid. Just take each step as it comes. And don't touch your face, darling.

Ronni,

If you scroll carefully through “hand sanitizers” on Amazon, you can still find some travel sized at “reasonable” prices. Hope you do!


I was very impressed with the news conference held by Governor Cuomo this morning explaining the new process to test people without even leaving their cars in the Westchester area. All they are waiting for is an OK to be released from CDC guidelines (which as we all see have not been particularly effective thus far).

Apparently private labs in the state of New York are prepared and capable of providing thousands and thousands of tests, so there is hope that the states can handle this on their own at some point rather than waiting for the federal government to get its act together.

The governor indicated that they will be providing the tests to vulnerable populations first, of which I think we here are mostly a part of.

I was impressed with the governor’s news conference - he was steady and measured and gave a real sense of reassurance to the folks in New York. I don’t live there but right now I wish I did.

I love the still for the Alex and Ronni show!

Ronni, I too love that still shot. It shows you in vibrant outrage, which I would guess you are. You look energized and vital, as I know you are. Keep it up, dear girl. I stand with you.

Ronni,
That poem was perfect. I shared it with many friends, and all the feedback was positive. I think I will use it as a daily meditation.
Thank you, and thank the poet!

As I watched the man who happens to be our President on Wednesday night, all I could think was - he's no Winston Churchill giving comfort to a nation.

Thanks for the poem, and addressing this very frightening subject, about which we've been misinformed, and even today the so-called president lied. Listening to Joe Biden's talk yesterday was such a relief...........somebody who seemed to care about the American people.

Whoever can, do the research on antibacterials and disinfectants. Some hand wipes (not as good as hand washing) are less effective than others. From my reading, Hydrogen Peroxide is a good antibacterial. It is used undiluted in a spray bottle.

Blessings of wellness to Ronni, and all her readers.

Ronni,
A thoughtful and appreciated post.

And yes,

Wash your hands.

As often happens, I’m a little out of the norm on this issue. I think that we’ve succumbed to panic and largely lost perspective just as happened in the Y2K panic and (I know this isn’t the popular view) the nine-eleven disaster.

The 1918 flu epidemic killed 50 million people worldwide—the equivalent of 200 million today—half a million of them in the U.S. Most of those who died were in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They were not the old and infirm. They were people with young families. Twenty percent of those who got the flu died.

There have been about 150,000 active cases of Coronavirus and just over 5,000 deaths worldwide—about 3%—and approximately 70,000 people have already had the virus and recovered. In the U.S. there have been 2300 cases and fewer than 50 deaths thus far. All reports indicate that, except for the aged and infirm, most people have a fairly mild illness and recover.

Children, even infants, have mild infections and recover within one to two weeks. Yet we are depriving children of school, upon which numerous working parents rely for their primary childcare, not to mention free lunch and after school recreation.

Parents live in fear of temporary or even permanent layoffs (my son was just laid off for the second time). Families are losing huge chunks of their 401Ks or other retirement investments and cannot afford to pay their mortgages. Small businesses are at risk and many will fail. Is all this really necessary when we know exactly which portion of the population is most at risk?

Why not isolate the old and infirm, putting resources into methods of getting supplies to them, while allowing the vast majority of the population to go about their lives, taking reasonable precautions, as they perhaps contract and recover from the virus. This would surely be preferable to the economic disaster that will befall the entire population even if the present situation continues for only a couple of months.

I am going to say also that, as one of the old and infirm, I am absolutely prepared to die if I have to. I’ve had my time on earth. I’ve raised my family. It is wrong to risk worldwide catastrophe by subjecting an entire population to the draconian measures involved in closing down everything and instituting so-called “social distancing” simply to protect me and others in my situation.

Just one week ago, there were no cases of this new virus in my small state. I attended 2 gymnastics meets, one for each of my older grandchildren. Also regularly take care of an infant grandson and his toddler sister, who developed a fever and runny nose on Monday.

As of today, there are a dozen reported cases in my state including 2 in my small town.

Last weekend our weekly grocery shopping was entirely routine. Today store shelves and freezers are sparse to empty. We have enough food for a month or so at home. No idea what the future holds.

Will be staying at home for the weekend, continuing grandchild care on Monday, as local schools are closed indefinitely.

Printing out the beautiful poem you posted Ronni. Stay well.

This too shall pass. Old people need to be very careful and workers who care for them too. Washing hands and social distancing are in order. As for me, I am only minimally changing my social habits and continue to engage fearlessly with the world, wherever it is open for business. I am still robust and confident enough to do so. Trump is doing a fine job--his ban of travel from China bought us time while liberal media called it racist. Good Luck to all. Act according to your age and health status.

San Francisco is pretty much on lockdown. Schools, libraries, events, churches, etc. are shut down. We currently have 28 cases of COVID-19 per the DPH; it was 23 this morning. Not so bad, we may say. ... But the fear is exponential increase that would overwhelm medical facilities. It could happen. It did in Italy. So we stay away from each other.

If nothing terrible happens -- a possibility much enhanced by the dramatic measures our local authorities have taken -- I'm sure some people will say that they over-reacted. I appreciate the courage of scientifically literate and numerate pols who have been willing to risk being mocked.

I am already exhausted by the C-19 virus. I went to 5 stores this past week. I was happy I stocked up on meats the week before. I cannot find hand sanitizer or aloe vera gel anywhere. I found an overpriced package of toilet paper yesterday which I bought so I can be stocked for 2 weeks. My life has pretty much been cancelled: volunteer work, classes, lectures and other events. All cultural institutions including the zoo were closed. But, things are changing day to day. The library is still open and will practice social distancing. The movie theaters are doing the same.

I made plans to walk with friends this week outdoors. I met a friend for lunch today.
I have 2 friends, 74 & 84, who are self-isolating. I have to get outside. Staying in all the time drives me nuts even during the polar vortex. I'm really going to miss my exercise classes.

I've been telling family & friends I have no faith in my country. I have faith in my mayor and governor. They've made tough decisions and took action.

Berries... blue, straw, and especially rasp... all are favorites.

But unlike the fruits which can be picked mechanically, these yummy sources of nutrition must be picked by hand. They are often imported. Those pickers out in the fields possibly cannot always protect from the sneeze, or cough they might have.

Yuck!

But, if you are like me and cannot resist those beautiful berries, here is a teeny bit of good news: Look for a produce wash at the grocery store. It should be near the fresh produce, and is simple to use. It may not be perfect, but it is easy to use, and is a better solution than (for me, at least) giving up my faves!

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