Pandemic Diary #77
February 15, 2021
I have had my first COVID vaccine, and I look forward to receiving my second, but I do not believe this is the end. COVID vaccines will likely become a yearly vaccination, like flu shots, a pancoronavirus vaccine.
Coronaviruses are not new. COVID-19 is part of a large family of viruses that have been around for a long time. Coronaviruses are responsible for a myriad of illnesses, from a mild cough to severe respiratory illnesses such as MERS and SARS.
Scientists have divided coronaviruses into four sub-groupings, called alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Seven of these viruses are infectuous to humans:
- 229E (alpha)
- NL63 (alpha)
- OC43 (beta)
- HKU1 (beta
- MERS-CoV, a beta virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
- SARS-CoV, a beta virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
- SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19
There will be more outbreaks. Mammals such as bats and pigs are rife with strains of this abundant family of viruses. Pathogens from this virus will continue to cross the species barrier and in all likelyhood bring us new pandemics. It’s only a matter of time.
Viruses mutate. And the virus that causes COVID-19, the virus we are receiving vaccines for, is already mutating.
We do not know how they will mutate, or if any of the mutations will require an entirely new vaccine, but I expect that an annual COVID shot, re-engineered for the COVID(s) of the year, such as flu shots are re-engineered, are in our future.
There are a lot of problems with the distribution systems. Lack of computer skills or time to sit for hours refreshing your screen makes it very difficult for many citizens, but it is vital that as many people as possible get a vaccine. Dr. Fauci has stated that 70 to 80% of Americans need to receive the vaccine before we reach herd immunity. Herd immunity is when enough people within a population become immune to a disease, through vaccination or natural infection, to make its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. Experts say that we will not reach this state until the end of this year, which is why masks will continue to be fashion accessories for awhile.
How Are You? — 11 Months In
If you are feeling very different physically and emotionally than six months ago, you are not alone.
Psychologists are pointing out that we are in the third stage of the fight or flight response.
The three stages have many names, the following descriptions come from a 1950s British Medical Journal written by Hans Selve
Alarm stage: When we encounter a threat, our bodies protect us with a combination of physical and emotional responses. This is the stage in which the fewest physiological and anatomical changes occur. Eye sockets narrow slightly — no tunnel vision at this stage — and stress hormones (adrenalin, cortisol, and glucocorticoids) are produced in this stage and throughout all stages of the fight or flight response
Resistance stage: In the next stage, the resistance stage, our bodies remain on alert, but start to heal and repair themselves. As the shock of whatever threat we have encountered diminishes, our blood pressure, adrenaline, and cortisol begin to normalize. If our stress is not resolved and the threat is ongoing, however, we stay activated in a heightened state of alert and continue to release cortisol and other stress hormones.
Exhaustion stage: When we remain in a state of hypervigilance for too long, our minds and bodies eventually exhaust their capacity to cope with stress. This is called the exhaustion stage. If we reach this stage, our ability to deal with stress diminishes and we may begin to experience a variety of emotional, cognitive, and physical effects, including:
Emotional: irritability or frustration, depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of defeat
Cognitive: easily distracted, trouble concentrating, lack of interest in activities
Physical: fatigue, body aches, compromised immune system, difficulty sleeping
How do we cope? If you need help please reach out to a professional. For the majority of us, be kind to yourself and compassionate towards others.
The NBA has ruled
This past week the NBA issued an edict that the National Anthem will be required before all games. This was in response to Huston Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban stating that the Anthem will no longer be played prior to Maverick’s games. Here is Cuban’s statement:
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard because they have not been heard. The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”
The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore. His poem was titled Defense of Fort McHenry it was later set to the music of the British song To Anacreon in Heaven.
The third verse of his historic poem:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
According to the Smithsonian magazine Key was a slaveholder who believed Blacks are an “inferior race of people.” Key also represented slaveholders attempting to retrieve their escaped “property”, and over time, Key became a confidant to President Andrew Jackson.
The words slave and hireling are at the center of this issue.
Some scholars say that the words slave and hireling were used as derogatory words in English as a wide-ranging epithet, heaped upon persons of any and all colors, nationalities, and conditions of servitude.
Marc Leepson, author of a biography of Key, What So Proudly We Hailed: Francis Scott Key, A Life has said that while researching his book he “did not find any historians who interpreted the ‘hireling and slave’ line as anything but a reference to the enslaved people who escaped their bonds and went over to the British side.” Leepson himself also believes it is “clear” this is the correct way to interpret the stanza.
There’s no record of Key ever explaining why he chose those words.
Many citizens of the US consider the anthem to be a sacred piece of history that exemplifies the pride people have in the country.
Others believe the national anthem does not fit present-day society, which is constantly evolving to be more inclusive of all types of people, regardless of their race, gender and sexual orientation.
As we begin to re-evaluate statues and names on buildings, maybe it is time for a discussion looking at the Star-Spangled Banner under a new light.
Does our National Anthem, a symbol of nationalism, contradict our modern views? Does the nationalism displayed through the anthem outweigh those that find the words alienating?
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day
So, are you still nibbling on heart shaped chocolates?
Did you know that the first mention of St. Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday appeared in Chaucer’s 1382 Parliament of Fowls? It is considered one of the earliest known Valentine poems.
During the medieval period Knights would give roses and wrote celebratory songs to a maiden that caught their eye. Sugar was much too expensive, so candy was not yet a part of the holiday.
The Victorian’s had strong feelings about courtly love, and created elaborate cards and gifts to celebrate this love.
Richard Cadbury, scion of the British chocolate manufacturing family developed a process to make chocolate more palatable. Cadbury began marketing these “eating chocolates” in decorated boxes that he designed himself.
Being an excellent business person Cadbury marketed the boxes as part of the package. When the chocolates were gone, the pretty, decorated boxes could be used again and again to store mementos, from locks of hair to old letters.
San Francisco weather: 55 degrees and raining
NYSE DOW compared to one year ago: +1984
COVID cases in the US: 28,262,656
Deaths from COVID in the US: 497,177
OED word of the day: embarras de choix -The state of having an overwhelming or encumbering excess or abundance of options from which to make a selection.
Days since Shelter In Place was initiated: 336
Reading: The Library Book by Susan Orlean
My Black and White Picture of the Day
Something Silly From the Internet: