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!)”

Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Fresh air, sunlight and improvised face masks seemed to work a century ago; and they might help us now.

Source: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

“When new, virulent diseases emerge, such as SARS and Covid-19, the race begins to find new vaccines and treatments for those affected. As the current crisis unfolds, governments are enforcing quarantine and isolation, and public gatherings are being discouraged.

“Health officials took the same approach 100 years ago, when influenza was spreading around the world. The results were mixed. But records from the 1918 pandemic suggest one technique for dealing with influenza — little-known today — was effective. Some hard-won experience from the greatest pandemic in recorded history could help us in the weeks and months ahead.

“Put simply, medics found that severely ill flu patients nursed outdoors recovered better than those treated indoors. A combination of fresh air and sunlight seems to have prevented deaths among patients, and infections among medical staff… The open-air regimen remained popular until antibiotics replaced it in the 1950s.”

However, as many are aware, some diseases are becoming antibiotic-resistant, these days; while others, such as coronavirus, are viral, and therefore cannot be treated with antibiotics anyway (although antibiotics may help with secondary infections, if those are not resistant).

I remember my mother always wanted us to get as much fresh air and sunshine as possible when we were sick – and yes, it did seem to help mitigate the severity and duration of colds and flu (both of which are viral). At the very least, spending as much time outside as possible can’t hurt! I can think of no health situation which fresh air and sunlight would worsen.

And it might even help…

 

Coronavirus reveals the weakness and danger of the “global economy”

Image result for us reliant on china for drugs

I certainly hope and pray that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic does not end up having the kind of global impact – and especially, is not as damaging and deadly here in the US, and in other Western countries, where cases have so far been few in number – as some doomsayers seem to take perverse pleasure in predicting.

But if nothing else, I hope it does point out the weakness and danger of globalism: both open borders, and the off-shoring of major chunks of our economy, especially manufacturing. Cheap consumer goods (and cheap – not to say exploited – labor) are not the only things that can circulate freely, in such an environment.

Perhaps most sobering is the fact that we are reliant on China – China, the source of the outbreak, and the country hardest-hit by it – for many of our drugs!

As this article from last month points out,

“Everything from antibiotics to chemotherapy drugs, from antidepressants to Alzheimer’s medications to treatments for HIV/AIDS, are frequently produced by Chinese manufacturers. What’s more, the most effective breathing masks and the bulk of other personal protective equipment — key to containing the spread of coronavirus and protecting health care workers — and even the basic syringe are largely made in China.”

Another article notes that “the Food and Drug Administration estimates that at least 80 percent of the active ingredients found in all of America’s medicines come from abroad – primarily China,” and asks us to “imagine if China turned off that spigot.” Or if we are forced to turn it off ourselves, due to issues like coronavirus! A third article points out the hazards of contamination of generic drugs manufactured abroad:

“What’s responsible for the repeated drug safety lapses? The offshoring of the American drug supply to China and, to a lesser extent, India during the past couple of decades.”

It continues,

“China and India now manufacture about 80% of the drugs consumed in the U.S. This figure understates China’s dominance because many of the active ingredients in the Indian manufactured drugs come from China. The U.S. doesn’t even manufacture vital drugs like antibiotics anymore [emphasis added], with the last penicillin factory closing in 2004.”

That is chilling, or should be.

Particularly in the face of the current situation, in which reliable supplies of drugs are critical! But unfortunately, as USA Today notes,

“The coronavirus outbreak is sparking fears of drug shortages in the U.S., largely due to its disruption of pharmaceutical supplies from China and India.  The Food and Drug Administration has warned of shortages in one drug due to the coronavirus, while penicillin shipments to the U.S. from China have dried up [again, emphasis added]. The FDA said it expects the outbreak of COVID-19 to cause ‘potential disruptions to supply or shortages of critical medical products in the U.S.'”

And to make matters worse, as yet another article points out, “the U.S. is woefully unprepared to address even minor disruptions in the supply of these drugs.” This article continues,

“Medicines can be used as a weapon of war against the United States,” Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser on health care issues at the bioethics-focused Hastings Center and co-author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, told lawmakers last month. “Supplies can be withheld. Medicines can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective.”

Then there is the whole issue of “just in time” logistics, a primary feature of the modern economy. This may have cost and efficiency advantages when everything’s working smoothly, but it leaves us highly vulnerable to disruptions in overseas sources of manufacture and supply, whether these originate in pandemics like coronavirus, international conflicts, other forms of social or political disruption, rising fuel prices, or other causes.

While the issue is obviously most vital in the fields of pharmaceuticals and medical technology, the reality is that we need to seriously rethink our entire approach to the so-called global economy, starting with a clear-eyed understanding that independence and sovereignty begin with being able to supply our own needs from our own resources and manufacturing capability, here at home.

Anything less leaves us dangerously vulnerable to disruptions abroad.