We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, April 18. 2020
My world, like all of yours probably, shrank dramatically 36 days ago. It shrank even more 2 weeks after that when I tested positive for Covid. I'm now a full 10 days since my last symptoms, but I'm not healthy yet, for a variety of reasons. I'd say I'm 95%. So let's pick through what's been going on.
To begin with, there's 'reinfection' taking place, although at very low levels. I'm skeptical of these stories. My guess is these are relapses. I almost experienced a relapse, as did other people I know, when I thought I was healthy enough to rake leaves for one hour. ONE HOUR. That was 4 days after the last symptoms. Nope. Wound up in bed the whole next day. Another person (who had scolded me telling me to be more careful) thought it wise to try and cut his lawn the day after I tried to rake. 6 days out, he wound up in bed for a day after only pushing the mower for 10 minutes. Still another, crazier, friend went for a 3 mile run a week after. He finished a mile and had to struggle to walk home, spending 2 days in bed. My feeling is people recover, feel good, try to do too much, and relapse. Since my raking adventure, I've only gone on walks. None longer than an hour, once a day. I'm still winded, but feeling stronger. As the linked article points out, "For now, the most likely explanation of why people are retesting positive seems to be that the test is picking up remnants of the virus." I'm sure if I was tested again, I'd likely be positive.
So I'm taking it easy, not pushing it. I'll try to push a little a week from now, when I'll (hopefully) feel much better. I've regained 3 of the 8 pounds I lost, so my appetite is back, and that was likely water weight, due to how dehydrated I was.
At this point, I have learned quite a bit more about the nature of what I had. I'm still not overwhelmed by its dangers. I know 10 people who tested positive. I know 10 more who definitely had it, but their doctors told them not to get tested because 'tests are for those in real need'. I have a friend at FEMA, instrumental in doing work in NYC, who told me the scare stories are just scare stories. They saw what was really going on, handling resource procurement and (now) distribution to other states. I know people who lost relatives, and we do believe (as we found out today) a relative who was in a home may have contracted it and died. So I have not said (nor would I say) this is not a dangerous virus. Certainly it requires an abundance of caution and respect. I don't believe in 'solutions' only trade offs, when politics is involved. You have to hurt someone to help someone with a political solution. It is inevitable. As a result, I believe this 'solution' was overkill of the worst kind. The trade offs are starting to be apparent...and will become more stark as they extend this.
I've slowly expanded my activities, at least socially. A friend called and asked if I wanted to do a 'social distancing bonfire'. Needing to get out, I said sure. See picture. 5 of us, all good friends, 2 of us having recovered from Covid, and spaced ourselves appropriately and enjoyed 4 hours of a nice bonfire and some beer. None of us, thankfully, has lost our jobs yet. One will in 2 months since his job is a government grant and these are not being renewed (for I think somewhat obvious reasons). But in the meantime, we're all busy and thankful we are still with an income.
One fellow is in reinsurance brokerage. I mentioned small firms without business interruption insurance would be suffering. He replied it wouldn't matter, all interruption insurance has a clause which exempts pandemics. However, he said Trump has stated he'd require it. If Trump does this, he said, expect markets to collapse and insurance companies to go under. As he pointed out 'there just isn't that much ready money available'.
This did get a bit more personal for me. My tenant of 10 years called and told us that her job was moving to Chicago. She has to be out May 15. This isn't income we need to survive, but it does mean whatever we earn will only cover bills. That's not a horror story, it's a lucky story. Still, there is no way of getting a tenant in before July or August. That's not insubstantial, but I'm not going to cry over it. Others have it worse. This just exemplifies how bad things are, or will be, for many others if re-opening does not occur soon.
A friend where I grew up and I have remained in contact over the years. A very rural area, my friend lost their job at a local university. There are concerns building fast in the region. While limited gig work is available, most people don't have the skills for that. I was informed that food banks are empty, there is no income for most families, and real hardships in these areas will start in the next two to three weeks. Hunger is not an issue now, but certainly will become one. Rents have been unpaid this month. Spousal abuse and child abuse are on the rise. A college friend, counselor to alcoholics, sadly said "there is no shortage of work in my industry" after I mentioned my liquor store stated business is up 60% year over year. I have avoided drinking, for the most part. On the other hand, I haven't been a big drinker since I decided to keep weight off 7 years ago. In this situation, I chose to simply not drink at all (within reason - I did have some beers at the bonfire).
Jacksonville opened beaches from 6-11 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. daily, with some restrictions including no sunbathing or lounging in chairs or on blankets. This is a peek at how poorly government manages things. What will happen with a 5 and 3 hour window? People will jam the beaches. Open them for the day, and you'll have people seeking low density periods. I'd wake up and walk at sunrise, as would a few others. But this is how government works - thinking they've 'fixed' a problem they create a new one (my in-laws live here and told me the beaches have been overloaded).
Re-opening is critical. It can be slow, it can be deliberate and it can be careful. An abundance of caution can be utilized. I still wear a mask and gloves when I go to a store, I will probably do so for 3-4 more weeks. We need to change how we approach this. I suspect, with new information, we will learn that by midsummer we can live our lives again.
A final note. I watched Cuomo's presser this morning. He spent 20 minutes excoriating Republicans and things he disagreed with that Republicans support. I'm not Republican, I don't really care. What stunned me was, only shortly after engaging in political diatribe, Cuomo stated that he was the 'conduit' for all things that worked well during this crisis because he 'didn't have a political agenda' nor 'should we have a political agenda with this'. Gee, I agree Andrew. Shame you don't know what that means. I simply don't know why people trust or listen to politicians.
I remain hopeful you are all well, that you remain healthy, that your work is still providing income, or your retirement accounts providing effective returns. I'm not sure many people have thought long and hard about this and what it means. They want to rely on 'experts' to tell them what to do. I'm pretty sure I mentioned this before, but I'm supporting herd immunity, but I won't support herd mentality. Live your lives well and safely, folks. Trust yourselves and your instincts. Adam Smith's invisible hand is still at work, it never goes away.
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So good to hear of your continued recovery. All three I know personally who tested positive have recovered, two from a "mild" version, the third had a bad time, ER, ICU, etc., eventually treated w Q/Z pac.
Good to hear about those you know. Blessings to them and their families.
Everyone I know has avoided the hospital, save the one (Alzheimer's) relative. 2 of the worst cases were diabetic, one was high blood sugar but not pre-diabetic.
I wonder if high sugar levels play a role? It's a question I haven't seen addressed.
I always appreciate your level-headed take on things. Glad to hear you're improving. Poco a poco, as my dad used to say.
re: blood sugar and COVID-19, I recalled this:
It's not much, but it does link to the study on which it's based. Perhaps you'll find it interesting, or even edifying.
1. RE: "I know 10 people who tested positive. I know 10 more who definitely had it, but their doctors told them not to get tested because 'tests are for those in real need'."
Unless the doctor is going to treat the COVID with an unproven treatment, e.g. hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, ivermectin, etc., there is little logic in this approach. You would simply treat symptomatically as you would for any other respiratory illness. The purpose of the tests has largely been to define the nature of COVID-19 infections, i.e. how many are infected and what is their fate.
2. The "recurrence" of symptoms that you and your friend are experiencing with activities may not be due to a "relapse" per se, but rather from damages (temporary or permanent I cannot say) from the original infection that became clinically apparent only when you placed stress on the system.
3. Things that the government does are often hard to undo - this particularly applies to money or security provided by the government. When the government says it's dangerous and life threatening to go to work, people will need to be convinced that it's safe to go back. This is especially true when the government hands out free money even if you are out of work because you self-identify as being afraid of COVID-19.
Like you said, there are trade offs - but the government has removed the trade off between "working with some risk of COVID, but eating" and "not working in order to remain safe, but not eating".
On the employer's side of the equation, there's the fear of reprise from OSHA (as well as the compliance costs) of providing or even defining a safe workplace - as well as the fear of civil and perhaps criminal actions for putting workers at risk. Every government solution results in a new set of problems, many of which are unanticipated and most of which are worse than the original problem (or should I say "problem"?).
4. As with any situation where there are bad outcomes (like life in general), some people will either self-identify as victims or be told they are victims by those looking to monetize the problem, with resultant finger pointing and identification of "oppressors".
All true. Point 1 is my #1 reason for re-opening. I believe it is far more widespread than people realize, simply because no tests. Also, a review of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (100% exposure) and Diamond Princess (also 100%) don't map against the models well. Small samples? Yes - but these are good indicators of what can/would actually occur. The USS TR has a very high level of asymptomatic infected. I suspect the # in the general population is high, too.
Point 2 isn't any recurrence. We were just tired, wiped out. None of us fell into relapse. We all recognized "hey if I did this, and feel so much like crap, maybe I could get much sicker if I continue on this path." Which is likely true. It could be due to damages - but my breathing has improved every day I've been walking. I suppose there could be some permanent damage I'm not seeing (yet), but the worst for me and most of those I know was breathing issues. None of us are experiencing any right now...and all are slowly improving.
3&4 - no question, absolutely.
Appreciate your thoughts as always, and best wishes for continued recovery.
Thank you for the update. My nephew in California has it. He has a job in retail, so he had ample opportunity to get it.
It sounds as if recovery is problematic, as loss of symptoms doesn't mean that one is back to normal strength.
Any illness will require recovery. I suspect, with this, the recovery is longer than most other illnesses. I had the flu earlier this year, too. I was in the gym a week later, and building strength quickly.
This is a bit trickier, I've found, so I'm really just engaging what I have promoted all along - an abundance of caution.
I suppose I could go out and run a mile today and feel OK. But why would I risk it? Better to just let it all sort itself out. My body will tell me when it feels good.
It's starting to. Of course, working from home without a gym limits opportunities for exercise - and THAT is NOT helping, nor will it when I feel good enough to do it again.
Keep in mind, the very first time you had flu, it likely wiped you out. Each subsequent infection is less debilitating.
Hong Kong Flu, which I had in 1968, left me in bed for the better part of 2 weeks. It took another month before I could resume a relatively normal life. I would go to school, come home and collapse on the couch until bedtime. On the weekend, just lounged around and took a lot of naps.
An interesting piece, Bulldog.
Glad to hear you are continuing to get better, though I had imagined you would be 100% by now. That's not a slight in any way, that's just what I would have guessed.
I think being able to walk an hour a day is impressive. I know healthy people that can't do that.
As for tenants, my wife has a stake in a family company in California that owns retail space. We had a virtual annual meeting yesterday. One tenant is already behind, and if things aren't open by June my guess is that they are toast. Not sure about the others, but if Newsom keeps the state shut down until December, there won't be a one of the tenants left.
My guess is that he won't be able to do that. I think by June he will be under so much pressure to reopen the state that he will have to do so . . . but we'll see.
Unlike you, we are very dependent on her investment income. If that income goes away, we won't be on the street, but I will probably have to sell assets to pay the bills.
Your situation is one which concerns me most. Selling assets will exacerbate the downward pressures on the market. Yes, it's up now (Fed money) but the downward pressures are increasing. The bottom may be very ugly by June/July. Prepare to buy if you can is my philosophy...but obviously it's one not everyone can engage (I cannot at this moment).
Dividends and yields will not improve in the near term. So that's difficult for many on fixed incomes.
This was not well-thought out at all. What's good for New York is not good for Podunk. The one-size-fits-all approach was just very bad. Each state should have been more thoughtful and careful engaging these "solutions".
We WILL come out stronger, I believe. I do fear one thing, though.
After speaking with my brother, who suffered more than I did, he has become very passionately anti-Trump. Now, I'm not pro-Trump. Call me ambivalent. He was parroting the same BS lines from the media that I've heard over and over. His main complaint was "politicians and bureaucrats are just trying to win votes and save jobs and it's Trump's fault because everyone is lined up along party lines." He also said (incorrectly) that Trump 'gutted' the CDC and the CDC could have helped us have more information by now (which I'd dispute).
I pointed out to him that the CDC is a government institution, staffed by politicians and bureaucrats. Did he believe their agenda would not be to save their jobs or win votes, as he said was so common right now? This, of course, angered him. Nobody likes when words are tossed back. But the point is, the CDC is not a solution.
He asked if I believed UPenn was political? I said no. But they and many other institutions are doing their own studies, and most of them are proving counter to the 'experts' expectations. He said "the CDC could take all the studies and aggregate them." I replied, "that's really more the job of an impartial health organization. Maybe (but not necessarily since it has become political) the AMA. But there are medical groups that could do this. They just aren't.
The Stanford studies will be the ones I'm most interested in. I am familiar with who is running the studies there and I respect his opinion. I suspect they will bear out this is already more widespread then anyone knew or realized.
Wishes for continued good health Bulldog, and thanks for these lengthy and interesting wide-ranging updates. Your walking an hour is better than I’ve been doing, LOL.
Especially interesting comment from your FEMA friend.
Thank you for the update with a personal touch, Bulldog. I am glad to hear that you and yours are on the mend.
It does appear that we are past the worst and it is time to be phasing activity back into life. Too many key pieces of the puzzle remain undefined, but at least we have some confidence now that its effects are manageable.
Don't pay any attention to Andrew, Cuomo, he's just running for President. The weeks ahead will be a true test of our elected/appointed leaders, especially those that are drifting back into their bad political habits. But I think it would help immeasurably if Trump were to address the nation with a message of inclusiveness, and say words to the effect: This virus has set the world back, and set us back as a nation. But we are Americans, and we bounce back. Let us all know that the world will look to us for leadership when it comes to rebuilding from the devastation of this virus. As it has been with fighting the virus, our success at rebuilding will be down to how each one of us responds. Give it your best! And demand nothing less that from those whom you have elected to serve you.
Cuomo has done well with this exposure, but I have to say that for 90% of the U.S. population they would have voted for him if they never saw him or heard him speak but he comes across as a bitter, long-winded sub-IQ bully. I'm gonna step on some toes with my next comment but honestly I don't mean to it is more of an explanation of what is not intended as an insult: Having grown up back East and with Italians (Jews, Greeks, Irish, etc.) it is a culturally AND "Northeast" thing. He sounds just like a New York Italian grandfather because that's what he is. But in the South, the West and much of the Midwest he comes across very badly.
That isn't to say he couldn't win if he runs. just that the more he appears on TV and the more he speaks the less likely it is.
I had mono back in freshman year in college. When I was discharged from the hospital, I walked the ~mile back to my dorm. My room was on the fourth floor — no elevator.
I walked up, stopping on every landing for a couple minutes to catch my breath. Then I made it "home" and floped into bed. Slept, I don't know how long, woke up for dinner at the dining hall.
Trudged over, got dinner, repeat the climb to the room.
I took me SIX MONTHS to be able to move around normally without wheezing, stopping for breath, saying "You guys go one without me..." And so on.
You can be medically dischargable as "cured" — but you are still a long way from being actually [i]recovered[/].
Take it easy. For longer than you think it should take.
Happy to hear you seem to be completely out of danger, Bulldog. Now you have only to be patient a while longer as your strength returns. The economic situation is frightening, but we still have--for now!--the economic system that should let us bounce back and we re-open state by state, and people see what works.