Update on the coronavirus pandemic – with some reflections from The Anglophilic Anglican (warning: LONG!)

President Trump has announced, in a brief statement at a news conference this afternoon (Friday, May 22, 2020), that churches and other “houses of worship” are to be considered essential, calling upon Governors to allow churches to open.

The President stated that he identified houses of worship “as essential places that provide essential services” – which they certainly are! – and called on governors “to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend.”

In a statement which is certain to be controversial, he asserted that “if they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” although it is unclear by what authority or by means of what practical mechanism he would do that.

Now, I generally tend to be on the side of “States Rights,” but to be frank, many of the governors have seemed to be using their heads for little but hat-racks in this crisis, and that’s putting it as gently as I possibly can. Kudos to the President for expressing a truth which earlier generations would have held to be self-evident! It’s just a shame he had to.

He further noted that “In America, we need more prayer, not less.” To all of which I can only say, about darned time! The fact that, as the President pointed out, many governors have considered bars and abortion centers to be “essential,” but left out churches, is something that has stuck in my craw for a good while, now! Again, kudos to President Trump.

Dr. Birx: These areas still show high numbers of positive tests ...

In addition, Dr. Deborah Birk, chief of the national Covid-19 task force, has pointed out that nationwide, new hospitalizations and emergency room admissions for both influenza-like illnesses and covid-like illnesses have been declining throughout the past month, according to CDC data. In fact, across the country, she points out that we are “below baseline.”

Maryland, sadly, has been lagging behind: it remained stubbornly “orange” when most other states had turned various shades of green: Dr. Birx reports that the CDC has been “calling out” the “high plateau” in Maryland for some weeks, now. But even the Old Line State has dropped to yellow, at least, over the last week. That is excellent news! The CDC website confirms this overall improvement, stating that

“Nationally, levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-19-like illness (CLI), as well as the percentage of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continue to decline. Mortality attributed to COVID-19 also decreased compared to last week but remains elevated above baseline,” noting cautiously, as always, that numbers “may increase as additional death certificates are processed.”

This doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, as of yet; and of course, there is always the chance for the dreaded “second wave.” But it is certainly encouraging to see some significant progress, at long last! Other pieces of data from the CDC website: Continue reading “Update on the coronavirus pandemic – with some reflections from The Anglophilic Anglican (warning: LONG!)”

Captain Tom Moore: Still serving his country, 75 years after WW II ended

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Source: British Tri Services _ The Best Armed Forces In The World.

Captain Tom Moore, a decorated combat veteran of World Wat Two (China-Burma-India Theater), has complete his self-imposed challenge of walking 100 laps of his garden – with the aid of his walker – to raise money for the British NHS (National Health Service).

He had originally hoped to raise £1000, but donations kept pouring in: more than 800,000 of them! He completed his challenge yesterday, but as of this morning his JustGiving page recorded donations of more than £17 MILLION! That is over $21M USD.

The War has been over for nearly 75 years, but he is still serving his country!

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As he completed his challenge yesterday, he was given a surprise Guard of Honour by soldiers of (the successor to) his old unit. Respectful salute to Captain Moore. Well done, Sir! Well done.

More information on this amazing gentleman is found here: Capt Tom Moore’s NHS fundraiser hits £17m, including a video of him finishing up his final lap, and receiving the salutes of his Honour Guard!

And then there is this wonderful picture, also from British Tri Services, picturing him completing his laps, surrounded by his fellow-soldiers from his old Regiment, The Duke of Wellington’s. Makes the tears come to my eyes, I must confess!

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‘We’ll meet again’ – Queen recalls WWII song in bid to lift nation in lockdown | UK News | Sky News

Source: ‘We’ll meet again’ – Queen recalls WWII song in bid to lift nation in lockdown | UK News | Sky News

The Queen’s address to the nation, the Commonwealth, and the world!

Her Majesty has outdone herself, yet again. In only the 5th such address in the 68 years of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II speaks with her characteristic mix of absolute graciousness, steely determination, and lifelong devotion to her people and her duty. As Sky News reports,

“The Queen has drawn on her experience of wartime spirit to call on the country to ‘remain united and resolute’ to overcome the coronavirus crisis. In an historic address to the nation recorded inside Windsor Castle, the monarch said: ‘Together we are tackling this disease and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.’

“In a deeply moving and personal message, Her Majesty reflected on how difficult it is for many spending time apart during the coronavirus pandemic. ‘We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,’ she said…

“‘While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed – and that success will belong to every one of us.'”

Her Majesty is, as always, an inspiration. God save The Queen!


UPDATE: Reports are that Britons have “flocked to Twitter” to express their support of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, following her extraordinary address.

Screenshot_2020-04-05 Queen praised by Britons as monarch issues moving coronavirus rallying call - REACTION

The Express noted that Her Majesty “provided a deeply personal address as the UK desperately fights the accelerating coronavirus outbreak,” as she asserted that “those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” and “that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humoured resolve and of fellow feeling still characterise this country.”

“The monarch acknowledged the ‘grief’ some have experienced, the ‘financial difficulties’ many face, and the ‘enormous changes’ the country is enduring during the current nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus. She added in the future everyone will be able to feel ‘pride’ in how they rose to the challenge.”

I say again: God save The Queen! God bless Her Majesty, and keep her in health and safety.

 

His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales, with a compassionate and encouraging message at this time of coronavirus.

As most watchers will know, HRH The Prince of Wales has recently recovered from what was fortunately a mild case of COVID-19, himself, so he is presumably especially empathetic to others suffering, or with anxiety because of, this pandemic. May God preserve Her Majesty and all members of the Royal Family. God save The Queen!

 

PSA: Coronavirus (COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, C-19) precautions

C-19 Precautions

There is a lot of mixed information, and most likely a lot of misinformation, out there about the current outbreak / pandemic of what, for simplicity, I’ll call C-19. There are, it seems to me, two general category errors that a lot of people are making, currently.

The first is panic / gloom-and-doom pessimism: “It’s going to kill us all! Millions dead! It’s the end of the world as we know it! And it’s all Trump’s fault!” To people on that side of the spectrum, let me say, take a chill-pill. For one thing, there is no situation that it helped by panic. For another, the stark and, yes, frightening “worst-case scenarios” are precisely that: what might happen if governments and people do nothing.

But a lot is being done. Social distancing and voluntary isolation – even, yes, government-enforced shutdowns and quarantines, as little as us liberty-minded folks like them – do a great deal to break the chain of transmission. So do closing borders, although it can certainly be argued that that should have been done sooner!

Moreover, there are tremendous efforts underway in labs across the nation and world to bring new antiviral therapies and even vaccines online, and there is a lot of promising being done. We are by no means out of the woods yet; but the chance of a mass die-off is, while not zero, at least fairly unlikely. Particularly if proper precautions, such as those in the graphic above, are utilized.

And that brings me to the other significant error I see in this: the idea that “oh, it’s just a bad cold!” Or, “oh, it’s just another flu” – with the assumption being that it’s not that big of a deal; it’s an over-reaction, or worse yet a hoax, and I don’t really have to change my behavior or worry about this thing.

That attitude, frankly, could get you killed. Or worse yet, get someone you care about killed: your grandparent, your friend or relative who is immuno-suppressed or has an underlying condition you didn’t know about. Too many knowledgeable people, who have no reason to be advancing a hoax, have sounded warnings about this for me to take it lightly.

I was, frankly, horrified to see the videos of college kids on Spring Break in Florida hanging all over each other on the beach like nothing was wrong. Yes, when you’re that age, you think you’re immortal, invincible – right up until something happens. Stupidity shouldn’t be lethal, but it often is – and it’s not always the stupid one who suffers.

So it’s not only or even primarily what might happen to them; it’s what they may take back to their communities, and more vulnerable members of those communities. And while younger people do tend to have milder effects from this thing, they’re not immune: 1 in 5 of those hospitalized in the US are younger adults, between 20 and 44.

But if ignorance, foolishness, and chance-taking go with the young, what is even more frustrating is older adults, including some who should be thoughtful, intelligent, and responsible, who are not yet taking this with the seriousness it deserves. Most of those are skeptics because they assume that it is an attempted Deep State takeover, or part of the vendetta against President Trump, or both.

To be fair, I think there are very real dangers to our Constitutional rights and civil liberties stemming from government actions to limit the effects of this virus, and they will increase the longer the threat continues, and the more drastic the steps taken to contain it. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as the old saying goes.

This is particularly the case since, unlike (for instance) World War Two, in which  the American people had to put up with some pretty extreme government limitations – including rationing of fuel and foodstuffs, censorship of mail, and even limitations on travel – there is not necessarily a clear and obvious end-game.

The war against the Axis had a definitive conclusion: surrender, and the signing of peace-treaties. The war against a virus isn’t likely to end on the deck of a battleship. Like the also-nebulous “War on Terror,” there will always be a new virus, a new threat, and a new (or worsening) temptation to misuse power, even for good reasons. And of course, not everyone in the government has pure motives, and the Deep State does exist.

But that is a separate (though related) issue from limiting the spread of a dangerous virus. If the government oversteps, that’s a problem; but it is, in my view, a more serious and immediate problem to refuse to take the danger posed by C-19 seriously, or neglect to take appropriate steps to mitigate it, just because one is concerned that the government will take Rahm Emanuel’s infamous dictum (“never let a good crisis go to waste”) to heart.

At minimum, the suggestions in the infographic above provide reasonable, common-sense precautions that will help prevent or limit the spread not only of C-19, but of other dangerous viruses as well. The top two apply to everyone (and the instructions for hand-washing should apply to all times, not just pandemics); the lower one is for those whose state or municipality has not already imposed more stringent restrictions.

Yes, by all means let’s keep a weather-eye on the government! But in the meantime, let’s also do what we can to prevent C-19 from becoming even more of a problem than it is already. The life you save may be your own… or a beloved grandparent’s.


And don’t forget to wash those paws!

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Obviously, you can also use bar soap! Just make sure you work up a nice lather.

 

Beijing Fears COVID-19 Is Turning Point for China, Globalization | RealClearPolitics

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While the world fights the coronavirus pandemic, China is fighting a propaganda war. Beijing’s war aim is simple: shift away from China all blame for the outbreak, the botched initial response, and its early spread into the broader world. At stake is China’s global reputation, as well as the potential of a fundamental shift away from China for trade and manufacturing.

Source: Beijing Fears COVID-19 Is Turning Point for China, Globalization | RealClearPolitics

“More broadly, the pandemic of 2020 has brought doubts about globalization into the mainstream. Decades of open borders, unceasing intercontinental travel, study abroad, just-in-time inventory systems, and the like have created unexpected vulnerabilities in populations and economies thanks to unfettered openness. To worry about such weaknesses is not to adopt a Luddite reactionary stance, but to try and salvage the bases of the post-World War II global economic architecture.  

“Those who assumed that global markets were the optimal economic model and would always work, now have to consider whether globalization is the best system for dealing with pandemics like coronavirus, let alone old-fashioned state power plays like China imposed on Japan back in 2010, when it blocked the export of rare-earth minerals over territorial disputes in the East China Sea. Perhaps the biggest long-term economic effect of coronavirus will be on long-standing assumptions about global supply chains. 

“Because of the way the global economy has developed since 1980, to question globalization today is in large part to question the world’s relationship to China. As Sens. Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have pointed out, America and the world have a prudential responsibility to reconsider their dependence on China.”

Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen asks: “Coronavirus & covid-19: Is this how freedom dies?”

I like Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen, because he is even-tempered, reasonable / rational, and thoughtful. I like other YouTube videocasters, too, but folks like Dr. Steve Turley can sometimes be a little too bombastic and ebullient, and Marcus Follin (a.k.a. “The Golden One“) a little too narcissistic (although he’s gotten better since becoming a father), for me to take in large doses. But Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen seems like a guy I’d love to sit in the woods with, by a campfire, sipping coffee and talking about these things.

And we do indeed live in troubling times! At this writing, many things in my home state are closed down – schools, government offices, gyms, bars, restaurants (except carryout) – and the Federal authorities are recommending avoiding gatherings with more than 10 people. I am willing to accept that we need to deal with certain restrictions on movement, on gathering, etc., while the authorities try to get a handle on this virus.

And there are enough different countries affected, with enough different types of governments, on enough different locations on the political spectrum, and enough responsible, respectable medical personnel involved – and genuinely concerned – that I do not think this is a hoax, or a tempest in a teapot.

I’d rather us do more than necessary, and it end up looking (at least here in the States, as it’s already been pretty bad in some other countries) like – as one commentator put it – “a great big nothing-burger” than to have us not take it seriously enough, and it ends up killing thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or more people. To that end, I’m willing to put up with a good bit of inconvenience, even frustration.

I am more concerned, as Bull-Hansen says, with what comes after. The government – the various governments – have now had, for the first time in a very long time, probably since the end of World War Two (a conflict with a very specific enemy, or group of enemies, and a very specific end-point), experience with imposing curfews, travel restrictions, restrictions on the size of assemblies, and so on. And like the war on terrorism, a war on viruses does not have a clear end-point. You can’t have a ceremony on a battleship to sign a peace treaty ending a war with a disease.

So, the government has, in a sense, tasted blood. Like a sheep-killing dog, are they going to be able to go back to being the family pet? Something they haven’t been, for a very long time, anyway! Not since the 1860s, at least. What will be the next excuse? Or the next, to all appearances, legitimate reason? I’m a historian. Most dictatorships, most authoritarian forms of government, don’t come into being without what are initially good reasons, or what seem to be good reasons. But once the camel’s nose is in the tent…

Well. As Bull-Hansen put it, “we need to be alert, vigilant. We need to think for ourselves. We will be tested in the days, weeks, and months to come.” Beyond that… we’ll see.

We’ll see.