Coronavirus. COVID-19.

By George Smith

Coronavirus.  COVID-19.

I know some people who are not taking this pandemic seriously. They are flirting with disaster of the most personal kind.

BobJean and I are among the lucky ones. We live of County Road 31, off State Highway 73 in big-time rural Nevada County, Arkansas. 

Our house is at the end of a dirt road and at the end of a 220-yard lane. If you come to our house, you are looking for us or you are lost.

Our intent is to keep this highly infectious disease away from the house on Bedspring Ridge and stay healthy.

To achieve that end, we go to town only when we have to, wearing gloves and masks and wiping down everything we might touch outside our realm of isolation. 

We even wipe down the mail with Clorox wipes, UPS or FedEx packages, too, outside and contents. We used to save grocery sacks for friends; now, we dispose of them.   

Following the advice from a website, we have a “dirty” and “clean” side of our large countertop island. Groceries or other items brought in are put on the dirty side and unpacked; all items are washed and/or wiped down with sanitary wipes and placed on the “clean” side. After all items are put away, the entire counter is wiped down with Clorox wipes.

When I go check on my aunt and uncle, I wear gloves and touch nothing. I take them food occasionally and make sure the containers have been wiped down. 

Overkill? Who knows. But at our age —fast approaching 73 and 75—and with certain medical conditions, why take a chance?

Being a “semi-colon” people (you know, when you hit a semi-colon in a sentence…it means you ain’t done yet!) we have a ton of living to do. We have places to see, grandkids to hug and spoil, ideas to be explored and college students to inspire us to keep living and sharing. 

And, we have each other. After being separated for more than four decades — from being young and stupid (me) to finding each other again was like winning the lottery of life.

This time of our life is too good, to precious, to throw it away by being hard-headed or neglectful or forgetful.

Be smart. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

We are all valuable cargo and our time to live is…right now.

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Coronavirus: One case lays bare America’s testing failure

By Aleem MaqboolBBC News, Washington
“Trace, test and treat” has been the mantra of global health bodies in tackling the spread of Covid-19. But innumerable cases around the country show it is a model the United States has failed to recreate.

“I’m still sick, it hasn’t improved. I’m coughing, I’ve been feverish and my left lung hurts. There have been times the wheezing and the gurgling in my chest have been so bad at night that it’s woken me up. There’s no doubt I have all the symptoms.”

Claudia Bahorik – who is 69 and lives in Bernville, Pennsylvania – does not say this lightly. As a retired physician herself, she has done her research.

But this is the story of Dr Bahorik’s determined, though so far unsuccessful plight – involving clinics, hospitals and even a senator’s office – to find out if she has the coronavirus.

It all started as far back as the last week of February. Dr Bahorik had recently been on a trip to New York with her great niece, and soon after developed a cough and a fever, though it appeared to subside.

She carried on as planned, performing jury duty, attending the funeral of a friend and travelling to Washington DC for a medical appointment.

What crisis reveals about US and

TrumpTrump says US tested more than S Korea – is he right?

While she cannot be certain when she got infected, in early March, Dr Bahorik became extremely ill.”By 9 March I was coughing so hard and I could hardly walk, and at that point I really suspected I had the coronavirus.”So began Dr Bahorik’s quest to get tested, one that she documented.

Two-week timeline

9 March – visits family doctor

Claudia Bahorik sees her family doctor who agrees that she should have a coronavirus test. The local health system’s protocol requires that he first carry out an influenza test, a test for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), a chest X-ray and some laboratory work to rule out other possibilities.She goes home to await those results.

10 March – denied a coronavirus test

The doctor informs Claudia that while tests ruled out the other causes, Pennsylvania Department of Health did not give approval for her to get a coronavirus test.She does not meet the criteria of having known exposure to someone who had tested positive for coronavirus, or travelled to a country deemed to be high risk.

Calls health officials and politicians

Frustrated and even more ill, Dr Bahorik calls the Department of Health. Despite exhibiting symptoms, and given her age and previous spells of pneumonia, they were inflexible.On protesting, a nurse suggests she speak to her congressman. She calls the office of Senator Bob Casey, where she is advised to contact the Department of Health.

15 March – drives hour to testing site

After several terrible days of sickness, Dr Bahorik hears of eight coronavirus testing sites in the neighbouring county of Lehigh Valley.It is an hour’s drive and she is feeling weak but goes to the test centre in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

Denied test again

Once again she is told that because she had not travelled to a high risk country or been in known contact with someone with coronavirus, she cannot have a test.Having once been a doctor in the US Army Reserve, Dr Bahorik contacts her Veterans Affairs hospital. They later tell her that they do not have Covid-19 testing kits.By this stage, Dr Bahorik’s chest pain and coughing has worsened.

17 March – sent to hospital emergency room

Claudia Bahorik calls back her family doctor.She is told to go to the emergency room at nearby St Joseph’s Hospital, where the clinician in charge has given assurances she can get a coronavirus test.At the hospital, she has to do another flu test and RSV test, this time, however, the new chest X-ray shows she has now developed pneumonia in her left lung.Finally gets coronavirus testDr Bahorik gets a test, though getting the nasal sample makes her nose bleed, covering the swab with blood.She is sent home with antibiotics and told to wait 3-5 days for result of the test.

23 March – test results delayed

Dr Bahorik calls the hospital to be told that the wait for test results is now 10 days because the samples were sent off to laboratories that are currently overwhelmed.She has not responded to the antibiotics, and remains ill.

Who else could have been infected?

“They keep reporting that there are so few cases in my county, but they are not testing,” Dr Bahorik tells me.”I feel like I’ve done as much as I can, but that the system has beaten me down,” she says.

“I almost feel like I’m a lone voice screaming, ‘Open your eyes, we have to do something about this!’

“Dr Bahorik accepts that a test would do nothing to help her condition, but if she does have coronavirus she could at least definitively tell that to all of those that she came into contact with in the early days.

Is S Korea’s rapid testing the key to coronavirus?

How Singapore stayed one step ahead of the virus

Two days in particular play on her mind; the day in early March on which she shared a room with dozens of prospective jurors, and the funeral the following day.

“There were between 50 and 75 people, a lot of them around my age at the funeral and I hugged a bunch of them,” she says, clearly distressed.

“If I was carrying it then I could have infected up to 150 people just in those two days. A lot of my friends want to know the result of my test.

“But nothing has yet been done to trace where she might have got her infection or to isolate those she came into contact with.

Why does it take so long to get tested?

None of the hospitals or clinics Dr Bahorik visited were prepared to talk about the specifics of her case, but we did hear from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which had twice denied her a test on the basis she was not eligible.

“We were following established criteria from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” says Dr Rachel Levine, the Pennsylvania Health Secretary who spoke of a gradual increase in testing capacity.

“We now no longer require a person to have known exposure or travel criteria, but we do still have priorities; firstly hospitalised patients, very ill patients and healthcare workers,” she says, explaining limits in testing capability that remain primarily because of shortages in the reagents needed.

Is it too late for a ‘trace, test, treat’ strategy?

Dr Levine acknowledged that the window had probably now closed on a South Korea-style approach of widespread testing (even of those who do not show symptoms), and trying to trace the path of the virus.

“That was a population-based protocol that was done early on in South Korea and in some other areas such as Singapore and Hong Kong. But in the United States, we did not have the ability to do that and we are now at a later stage in the pandemic for it to be effective,” she says.

Every day the White House issues assurances about the availability of testing and this country’s unrivalled ability to keep the impact of the virus to a minimum.

But it is testing that has been such a crucial element of controlling the spread of the virus in countries that are seen as having been successful in doing so. Anecdotal evidence from every part of the nation, like Dr Bahorik’s experience, illustrates how difficult it remains for countless Americans to get a coronavirus test.

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March 25, 2020

Marshall: I have no local information. One C-19 test done 8 days ago (swab) is still awaiting a report.

***Interesting web site I got from a stockbroker that has lots of stats which might help leaders make decisions.


New From the Center 

How to Reduce COVID-19 Spread in Long-Term Care Facilities: Challenges and RecommendationsBy Diane Meyer, RN, MPH, and Elena Martin, MPH  Long-term care facilities (LTCFs), including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities, take care of some of the most vulnerable populations, including elderly people and those with chronic medical conditions. This, coupled with the proximity in which the residents live, staffing shortages, and often poor infection control measures, makes them highly susceptible to infectious disease spread, including the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)._____________________________________________________________ COVID-19 

World COVID-19 total surges past 400,000; more nations lock down (CIDRAP) The global COVID-19 total passed 400,000 cases today, fueled by more steep rises reported from Italy, Spain, other parts of Europe, and the United States.  

New York notes dizzying COVID-19 numbers as Trump mulls lifting restrictions soon (CIDRAP) Today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the COVID-19 pandemic case count is doubling every 3 days in his state, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the United States could become the next epicenter of the novel coronavirus, given that the country accounted for 40% of new cases recorded globally over the past 24 hours.  

White House Reaches Deal With Lawmakers on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill (Wall Street Journal – Subscription Required) Lawmakers and the Trump administration reached an agreement on an estimated $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at shielding the U.S. economy from the worst consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.  

How to Lead in a Time of Pandemic (Foreign Affairs) The world has never before confronted a crisis quite like COVID-19, one that has simultaneously tested both the limits of public health systems everywhere and the ability of countries to work together on a shared challenge.  

What the UN Security Council Can Do on Coronavirus: A Global Goods Coordination Mechanism (Just Security) Leaders around the world, including President Donald Trump, are increasingly referring to their response to the novel coronavirus in terms of “war” against an unseen enemy. It is a truism that in times of conflict it’s good to have allies, and better to have established means by which to coordinate decision-making.   

Clinical Practice 

Hospitals turn to remote monitoring tools to free up beds for the sickest coronavirus patients (STAT) Desperate to free up beds for only the sickest Covid-19 patients, hospitals nationwide are weighing the use of new technologies to monitor patients from their homes.  Public & Global Health 

How to improve adherence with quarantine: Rapid review of the evidence (medRxiv) The January 2020 outbreak of coronavirus has once again thrown the vexed issue of quarantine into the spotlight, with many countries asking their citizens to self-isolate if they have potentially come into contact with the infection. However, adhering to quarantine is difficult. Decisions on how to apply quarantine should be based on the best available evidence to increase the likelihood of people adhering to protocols. We conducted a rapid review to identify factors associated with adherence to quarantine during infectious disease outbreaks.  

Why Germany’s coronavirus death rate is so much lower than other countries’ rates (Washington Post) For weeks, virologists here have been asked a persistent question: Why, compared to other countries, are so few of the Germans who are diagnosed with the coronavirus dying?  

China’s Progress Against Coronavirus Used Draconian Tactics Not Deployed in the West (Wall Street Journal – Subscription Required) U. S. and European leaders are looking at China’s progress in curbing the coronavirus pandemic to guide them on how to beat the virus within their own borders.  Coronavirus

Threatens Catastrophe in India (Foreign Affairs) This week, the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has affected nearly 200 countries, will begin to ravage one of the biggest, most vulnerable nations in the world. India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, is bracing for a surge in COVID-19 cases.  

Startups touting at-home coronavirus tests suspend plans after FDA warning (STAT) In a rapid about-face, a handful of startups that had already rolled out at-home coronavirus test kits or planned to start selling them soon have suspended their efforts.  

FDA Allows Emergency Use of Investigational Convalescent Plasma for Critical COVID-19 Patients (Global Biodefense) The FDA is facilitating access to convalescent plasma, antibody-rich blood products that are taken from blood donated by people who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus, that could potentially shorten the length, or lessen the severity, of the illness.   

COVID-19 Case Demographics From New York City (Avian Flu Diary) New York City, with more than 15,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases, currently accounts for more than 25% of the nation’s 55,000+ diagnosed coronavirus cases. Given that the real number of infections in NYC is likely several times higher than currently reported, the city may be only days away from seeing a `Lombardy-style’ surge on hospital resources.  

Can Africa Withstand COVID-19? (Project Syndicate) Less than five months after the first documented case of the COVID-19 coronavirus, infections exceed 340,000 globally, with nearly 15,000 deaths. This pandemic is devastating societies and economies all over the world, but Africa stands to face particularly severe and long-lasting damage.  

The Arab World’s Perfect COVID-19 Storm (Project Syndicate) Middle Eastern and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies are heading toward a recession in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, collapsing oil prices, and the unfolding global financial crisis.  

The Virus Turns South (Project Syndicate) The COVID-19 coronavirus has arrived in Latin America, but effective measures to deal with the pandemic have not – at least not in every country. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in México and President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, mimicking US President Donald Trump, are still holding rallies and hugging supporters, in a reckless attempt to burnish their macho strongman credentials. A more serious, ambitious, and targeted response is necessary to prevent a public-health crisis from becoming a social and economic catastrophe.  

The G20’s Pandemic Moment (Project Syndicate) This week, G20 leaders will convene virtually to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. One hopes that the emergency summit marks the beginning of a thoughtful collective response to this grave challenge.   Science & Technology 

Scaling up whole genome sequencing of COVID-19 (Ginkgo Bioworks – Blog) Scaling up the infrastructure for testing and tracking COVID-19 is one of the most important things we can do at this stage of the pandemic. Towards this broader effort, at Ginkgo we are focusing our next generation sequencing (NGS) pipeline with a target of being able to sequence 10,000 full viral genomes per day from de-identified patient samples in order to effectively track the evolution of the virus as it spreads.  

Aggregated mobility data could help fight COVID-19 (Science) As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic worsens, understanding the effectiveness of public messaging and large-scale social distancing interventions is critical. The research and public health response communities can and should use population mobility data collected by private companies, with appropriate legal, organizational, and computational safeguards in place. 

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Marshall Suspends Events as Safeguard to COVID-19

[Marshall, Texas, March 13, 2020]

As a cautionary move, the City of Marshall will suspend all events in city facilities and parks beginning March 16, 2020, and lasting until April 15, 2020. This will include events at facilities, such as the Marshall Convention Center, Memorial City Hall, Marshall City Arena, Marshall Visual Arts Center, Marshall Main Street downtown, Community Centers and all league events at parks.

City Manager Mark Rohr stated, “this safeguard is in place for our citizens and our visitors. We also have an obligation to region, state, and country to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.”

The City of Marshall will continue to hold public meetings related to the City Commission and City Board functions. Hand sanitizer will be available at all City of Marshall meetings for the health of our residents. The City requests residents who are experiencing symptoms such as cough or fever to refrain from attending these meetings. Residents who have traveled to affected areas are also asked to refrain from attendance. Any citizen may submit a written statement to be read at City Commission meeting in the Public Comments by emailing the statement to The City of Marshall encourages residents to stream City Commission meetings live on our Facebook page at City of Marshall – City Hall and on our local Fidelity Communications access channel.

The City of Marshall leaders and staff will continue to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis and notify residents and visitors of community updates.

“Like many of you, we have spent the last few weeks learning and monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it has affected and will further impact our community. The City of Marshall’s Emergency Management team along with the City of Marshall, Harrison County representatives and the Marshall Harrison County Health District representatives have monitored daily conference calls with the State pertaining to the COVID-19. We are continuously monitoring this constantly changing chain of events. We want to assure everyone that we are connected and working with government experts, neighboring cities and others to get the latest in information and instruction,” stated Emergency Management Coordinator and Fire Chief Reggie Cooper.

The City of Marshall is following the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines and recommendations on the steps our community can take to help prevent catching or spreading the disease. This is an attempt to share specific instructions with our citizens. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we will do our best to keep our citizens informed of the latest information.

1. It has been expressed that communities practice Social Distancing which include:

a. Restrict physical contact such as handshaking. Use a closed fist to greet and in situations such as in pressing buttons to elevators, community keypads, publicly used buttons, light switches etc.

b. Maintain a safe distance of six (6’) feet between individuals.

c. Open doors when possible with closed fist or hip, trying not to grasp with your hands.

d. Avoid large gatherings

i. People should consider limiting or eliminating travel involving flights or cruises.

2. Practice good personal hygiene practices such as:

a. Hand washing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoiding touching of eyes, nose or mouth.

b. Regularly wash hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

c. If soap is not available, use at least a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

4. Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

6. Stay informed by using any of the following sites:

7. You can also contact the Marshall-Harrison County Health District at 903-938-8338 or 1-866-310-9698.


By George Smith

Sitting in the front porch in my king-throne rocker, reading my eighth book on the 45th president and enjoying a cup of Starbucks Pike Place coffee. 

The Heat Dish is keeping me toasty and Bonedawg is keeping me company, although he is hating the rain. “There’s squirrels to chase, Dad! Make it stop!”

The book on TrumpWorld by conservative political lobbyist, marketing and branding guru Rick Wilson, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, is a rollicking, laughter-filled diatribe about a right-wing operative who quickly saw through the corruption and yeehaw operations of the Trump regime and admittedly is trying to cleanse his soul (and reputation) by declaring that not only does is Emperor Trump nekkid, but that he is also without  ethics, moral substance, or enough intelligence on any global topic to make an calculated judgement on any meaningful topic.

In a phrase, Wilson is a creative, literary genius, putting together stories and descriptive  phrases that are both hilarious and memorable. Like:

— Trump followers believe he is a mystic, wondering, for example, “Can Trump’s bath water truly cure psoriasis?”

— Wilson did not see a way Trump could be the leader of the free world and “hold the lives and security of  millions  of Americans in his hands.

.”His tiny-tiny lemur-paw hands,”

— On Texas Sen.Ted Cruz. “The bargain Cruz made … to win over Trump voters has reduced him from a Republican Party rock star to something akin to  Trump World house pet: Tolerated, occasionally praised, but mostly kept out of sight lest he soils the carpet.”

— Subchapter title: “We hate big government, except when it’s gettin’ the Messicans!”

“Everything Trump Touches Dies” by Wilson is a great, eye-opening read, from a staunch conservative who, early on, saw “The Chosen One” for the person for the person he is: A celebrity hypnotist vomiting out … spittle-flecked, nationalist message(s) to the furious and the fabrile….”

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By Ron Munden – February 23, 2020

Josey Ranch is Marshall’s biggest tourism draw.  In 2017 the second biggest tourism draw for Marshall was Healthfest.  By state definition a tourist is someone who travels more than 50 miles and stays overnight in Marshall. Studies have shown someone that stays overnight spends more than three times as much as a day visitor.

By comparison Josey Ranch’s tourism draw is more that 10 times bigger than Healthfest.  But using the same comparison Healthfest’ tourism draw is over 10 times bigger that Wonderland of Lights tourist draw.  So, since 2010, nothing other than Josey Ranch has brought more tourists to Marshall. Heathfest 2020 is a big deal for the town.

There is another milestone.  Healthfest 2020 will be the first tourist event to be held at the Memorial City Hall Performance Center.

Here are few interesting numbers related to Healthfest:

Between 2012 and 2017 registration grew from 160 to 622.

In 2017 the data shows:

Healthfest Stats for 2017

  • Total Registration  — 622
  • 5K/10K/1 mile Fun Run — 308
  • Cities represented — 154 
  • States represented — 22
  • Countries — 2
  • From Marshall — 15% 

You may be asking — why did the Healthfest not continue in 2018.  There are two reasons.  First, the organizers Ed and Amanda Smith decided to spend more of their time working on replacing Marshall’s 50-year old animal shelter.  Second and just as important, between 2017 and mid-2019 no one in the city could give the wildest estimate as to when the Memorial City Hall renovation would be completed.

All of this is finally behind the city, which means Marshall’s second largest tourist event is coming back to town.

One final number.  Registration in 2017 was 622.  Registration for the 5K/10K/1-mile Fun Run was 308.  I interviewed some of the runners and found that a number of the people who registered for the race were not attending Healthfest but came from Dallas and Houston to run with some of the better-known racers who were featured in the race.  Based on this information the total combined registration may have been more than 700.

Heathfest’s return is great news for Marshall on so many levels. It provides outstanding and proven health information and also provides an economic boost to the community.

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By George Smith

I hate negativity.
That said, Bernie cannot win.
Neither can Buttigieg.
Warren is iffy-squared.

To be frank, the label “Socialist Jew”, a man proudly claiming “This is my husband” and a wary woman warrior with a branded label (Pocahontas) cannot win…without some stipulations.

Bernie might have a chance if he were to announce he would only serve one term and pick his successor as VP. Klobacher? Staci Abrams? Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan? Whoever the choice, it cannot be a white man.

Buttigieg’s time is coming, but just not now, not in this toxic no rules-niceties-be-damned political environment.

Warren might take a brokered convention, but she, too, needs to select the proper running mate to have a chance against Trump? Corey Booker, mayhaps? Beto O’Rourke? 

The Democrat Party’s choices are daunting.

One thing is clear: If the Democrats don’t get it right in 2020, America in 2024 will be unrecognizable.

Not a dire prediction. A take-it-to-the-bank reality.

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