Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fear Is A Virus

Previously: The Sins at the Top of the List

After all this fear and hysteria dies down, Americans may look back and realize it was actor Tom Hanks who first helped them come to their senses.

By then the economy will probably be a wreck, but hey, better late than never.

As I write these words on Saturday evening, so far 18,492 Americans are known to have contracted the COVID-19 virus.  Chances are very good that no one reading this blog is acquainted with any of these victims personally.  Odder still, we hear almost nothing about these individuals in the news.  Who are these people? How are they faring? What are their chances of recovering from this illness? We know that so far 348 people have died, but who exactly were they, and what were the circumstances of their deaths?

And what do we know about those who have so far been listed as "recovered" other than the number so far, which stands at 178?

Well, we know this much: if we subtract the number of dead and recovered from the 18,492 Americans who have contracted the virus so far, we know there are 17,966 Americans who are either going to recover or they're going to die.  Boy, I'll bet those folks are on the edge of their seats!

But who are these people? Isn't anybody curious?

With every other instance of a national crisis, reporters give us no shortage of human interest stories showing us how the victims are coping.  But in this particular disaster scenario, we're getting...bupkis. Except, that is, in the case of one celebrity couple, actor Tom Hanks and his lovely wife, actress Rita Wilson. Because they are celebrities, and because they both contracted the coronavirus, their story is getting out.

And what are we learning about them? We learn that they're both "doing just fine" and are likely to make a full recovery. Hanks himself tweeted an update that read,
"Hey folks. Good News: One week after testing Positive, in self-isolation, the symptoms are much the same. No fever but the blahs. Folding the laundry and doing the dishes leads to a nap on the couch," Hanks captioned the post. "Bad news: My wife @ritawilson has won 6 straight hands of Gin Rummy and leads by 201 points."
What's this? Folding laundry and doing the dishes? Taking naps? Playing cards?!

Here in America we're told we should be absolutely terrified of exposure to this horrible new plague because we're led to believe it has the capacity to wipe us all out in a matter of days.  We're expected to shut down the whole country and hunker down in fear inside our dank dwellings while we shiver in terror.

Meanwhile Tom and Rita Hanks, virtually the only victims of the virus the media are bothering to report on, are ensconced in a suite in Australia experiencing what Rita describes as "my coronavirus vacation."

A week into this thing and the worst Rita's husband can say about it is that they're feeling the blahs.  We really have no idea if their experience is typical of the majority of cases, of course, but it would seem that the harshest description one could come up with for the Hanks' experience with COVID-19 is that right about now they're finding life to be slightly inconvenient.

And what of those of us who have not yet had any exposure to the virus? Is it possible we are over-reacting?

Is it possible we're being manipulated into over-reacting?

At Least It Doesn't Come With Trouser Chili
Tom and Rita Hanks don't report coming down with vomiting or diarrhea, which puts them in league with nearly all reported cases around the world.  Unlike most flu afflictions, where vomiting and diarrhea are almost inescapable, if you happen to come down with COVID-19, you'll likely escape that misery. The New England Journal of Medicine has relayed findings from the leading medical researchers in China who report that diarrhea accompanying this virus is "uncommon." Specifically, they report that that miserable experience has occurred in fewer than 3.8% of the 1199 Chinese persons who were studied over there. That means that if you catch the coronavirus, there is a 96.2% chance you will avoid blowing chowder or coming down with a case of the turkey squirts. That counts as a moderate affliction by any measure.

I have no small experience in these matters, so believe me when I tell you that if given a choice, I'd take the coronavirus over the flu any day.

I don't wish to minimize the seriousness of this malady. People are indeed getting sick from COVID-19. Some are even dying. But percentage-wise, this new virus indicates an outcome of far fewer fatalities compared to any of the viruses and influenzas we have endured for generations. We didn't have to live under near-martial law when those ailments landed in our midst, so why all of a sudden are we freaking out over this one?

If you're really concerned about catching COVID-19, the proper response is to be concerned, but not afraid. You should be prudent, not panicky. God doesn't want you to be fearful. Indeed, it has been my experience that it's much more difficult to receive His divine assistance when we're filled with a spirit of fear and anxiety.  If your heart is full of fear, your body is less likely to heal. Fear tends to block God's ability reach you. That just seems to be one of the laws of the universe.

I find it interesting that a scary virus that contains the numbers 1 and 9 in its name has a corresponding response in the book of Joshua 1 and 9:
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9)
What Are We Afraid Of, Anyway?
When discussing pandemics or epidemics, there are only two things that matter, and both are facets of the disease that are almost always glossed over in the current hysteria:
The first is the percentage of people who died from the contagion.
The second is the overall health and lifestyle of those who ended up dying from the contagion.
That's the heart of the matter. Those are the only two things that should concern us if we're going to decide to live in fear. Everything else is just filler put in there to feed the hysterics.

Ever since Pandora opened that box and released all those diseases upon the earth, illness has been an unavoidable reality on our little planet.  Although we can avoid some of this unpleasantness some of the time, we can't avoid all of it all of the time. It's also important to realize that although a good number of people who are exposed to a particular pathogen end up getting sick, and an even smaller number of those succumb to death, the great majority of people who are exposed to a given virus neither get sick nor do they die. The virus just bounces right off of 'em. They will not be fazed or affected by it at all.   As Bill Sardi writes:
A Harvard professor says up to 70% of the global population will be infected with coronavirus within the next year. That is actually a positive because most will naturally develop antibodies. If one were to say 70% of the world just got vaccinated against coronavirus, that would be considered a major achievement; but if 70% were naturally immunized against coronavirus without a needle and syringe that would be considered a dire problem. Why?
Here is a short list of terrifying scares we were put through here in the United States during the last 20 years. Each of them was hyped by government and media as if an asteroid was about to hit the earth and we were all gonna be flattened in an instant. Do you even remember half of these end-of-the-world events?
2001, Anthrax: 43 people tested positive for exposure, 22 got sick, and 5 of them died. No common factor among those who died other than exposure. 
1999-2018. West Nile Virus: 50,823 exposed. 2330 died, mostly elderly people with weak immune systems. 
2003. SARS (short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome): This was the first coronavirus, SARS CoV.  The current outbreak commonly referred to as the coronavirus was labelled SARS CoV-2 early on in order to differentiate it from its daddy, but then The Guys Who Name The Viruses changed the name to COVID-19. Not because it was the 19th virus (as I had originally assumed), but because it was discovered last year, in 2019.  Well, 8,098 people came down with that first SARS virus, resulting in 774 deaths across 29 countries. But only 8 cases wound up in the United States. There were no deaths from SARS in the U.S. So, that scare turned out to be a dud. Chalk up a victory for the Yanks.
2006-Present, Ecoli: An estimated 255,000 people in the United States get this nasty bugger every year.  About 100 people die from it each year, mostly those aged 65 years and older with weakened immune systems or under age 5 with weak immune systems.  
2009-Present, Swine Flu (H1N1 Virus) As far as effective scare efforts go this is one of the biggies. It just sounds scary! In 2009 an estimated 22 million Americans contracted the virus in the U.S. and 4,000 Americans died. The Swine flu is ongoing, with a total  number of 61 million Americans infected to date, and 12,469 dead. 
2014, Ebola Virus: Medical experts and the media did their best to convince us that this virus was going to kill us all, but as it turned out, only 11 cases were reported in the U.S. Nine of those were people who traveled into the country after being infected in Africa, and only two contracted it inside the United States; a couple of nurses who treated one of those incoming patients. Both nurses recovered.
2016, Tuberculosis: This should give you pause: 10.4 million people came down with TB in 2016 and 1.7 million died from it. The following year saw an infection rate of 10 million, with 1.6 million fatalities.  
In 2018, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis worldwide: 5.7 million men, 3.2 million women and 1.1 million children. A total of one and a half million deaths resulted that year and 205,000 of them were children. There were cases in all countries and age groups. TB is curable and preventable, but it is by far the most infectious and dangerous disease of all. I guess because it hasn't been labeled a "novel" virus, no one really cares about its victims. As Congressman Ron Paul asked recently, "where's the panic over this?"

Well, tuberculosis is caused by bacteria and not by a virus, so somehow maybe that's why TB doesn't matter.  Okay, then, let's get back to talking about viruses.

For some reason this COVID-19 virus has completely overshadowed the more serious killer virus, which is the seasonal flu we have all become accustomed to living with. Despite the endless hub-bub over COVID-19, the ubiquitous flu still remains a higher threat to public health than the coronavirus. According to a report filed by CNBC Health and Science Editor Jessica Bursztynsky last month,
 At least 19 million people have come down with the flu in the U.S. with 180,000 ending up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu season, which started in September and can run until May, is currently at its peak and poses a greater health threat to the U.S. than the new coronavirus, physicians say.
Compare those 19 million flu infections reported in February with the mere 18 thousand reported as of yesterday morning from the coronavirus. Then also compare yesterday's tally of coronavirus deaths -348- with the over 10 thousand dead just this season so far from the flu.

But wait, there's more!

Those numbers were accurate on February 3rd when that CNBC piece was written, but they've gone up a lot since then. If you thought the coronavirus was spreading fast, you don't know its cousin the flu. From, here are the numbers comparing both the COVID-19 and the current flu season:
So far, the new coronavirus has led to more than 220,000 illnesses and more than 9,300 deaths worldwide. But that's nothing compared with the flu, also called influenza. In the U.S. alone, the flu has caused an estimated 36 million illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But wait! There's still more!

The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and as many as 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. The CDC explains why the estimates vary so widely:
The burden of influenza disease in the United States can vary widely and is determined by a number of factors including the characteristics of circulating viruses, the timing of the season, how well the vaccine is working to protect against illness, and how many people got vaccinated. 
Add to that the fact that a very large number of people who come down with the flu don't bother to go to the doctor or to a hospital, so it's difficult to know who those people are and get them counted.  Think about the last time time you got the flu. Did you feel like dragging your tired butt to the doctor and risk infecting others? You probably did what most people do: you called in sick, bought some over-the-counter medications, stayed home, drank lots of water and warm herbal teas, and rested up until you got better. The CDC didn't know you even had the flu, so you didn't get added to the national tally.

If you were smart, you built up your immune system with teas, tinctures, and nutrients before the inevitable start of the flu season. That's what I do, and although my lungs remain wonky, I haven't had the flu in over twenty years.  In fact, the last bout of the flu I had was soon after I had taken the flu vaccine, something I did religiously every time it was available.  I'm a slow learner, but once I realized I was getting the flu like clockwork every time I got a flu shot, I made the conscious decision to build up my immune system instead of tearing it down by injecting mercury and monkey pus into it in the false hope that poisoning my body would build it up better than feeding it with the fuel God provided for us all.

So it's partly because a good number of people who get the flu stay home and off the medical grid that there may be many more people who get the flu each year than actually get counted. Of course those piles of wrinkled corpses cluttering up the nursing homes can give a more accurate picture of the death toll.

COVID-19: Making It Up As They Go
Well, you may say, there still may be time for the coronavirus to catch up with those flu statistics since the game is still too early to call. We don't know but that tens of millions more Americans could still succumb to the coronavirus, right?

Okay. Could happen, I guess. Dr. Mike Ryan agrees with you. He is executive director of WHO's health emergency forum and he says that "a relatively mild [corona]virus can cause a lot of damage if a lot of people get it."  Hard to argue with him on that, but admittedly that's a big "IF." Ryan himself admits that "this is the issue at the moment; we don't fully understand it."

And then there's the man of the hour, Dr Anthony Fauci, who, until quite recently, was a dependable source of information on the COVID-19 virus. He's the same guy who kept insisting we don't know anything about this virus or what the final outcome will be, but then one day he just couldn't resist predicting that the coronavirus would be ten times more lethal than the flu. Where is the science to back up that prediction? There isn't any. He just pulled it out of his butt.

I suspect Brother Fauci has come to enjoy being in front of the camera a little too much and may not want that celebrity face-time to end. So he keeps thinking of more reasons to make the rounds with the talking head circuit, even it it means he has to alarm the populace with false updates in order to remain relevant.

Anyway, Doctors Ryan and Fauci are quickly getting outmatched by analysts who tell it to us straight. Here's Dr. Jennifer Lighter, hospital epidemiologist at NYU Langone Health who says of the coronavirus,
"In the U.S. it's really a fear based on media and this being something new. When in reality, people can take measures to protect themselves against the flu, which is here and prevalent and has already killed 10,000 people." [22,000 since Lighter first cited that number.]
Referring to the coronavirus, Dr Lighter continued,
"I think we’re going to find that the mortality number is going to be lower [than the flu]. There is more than likely many times that number of people that have mild [cases] or are asymptomatic. It may end up being comparable to a bad flu season".
Add to that The Confusion Factor, as Bursztyntsky reports,
The two viruses have similar symptoms, which some health officials fear will cause misdiagnoses. Common flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat and aches. Coronavirus  symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. 
For now, Lighter stressed that the public should focus on the flu, which is affecting children especially hard this season. 
Dr. Lighter is far from alone in doubting the unsupported coronavirus predictions. Many health care professionals and analysts are highly skeptical of the possibility that this thing is going to continue to grow and take millions down with it. Give yourself six minutes and watch this short video by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai. Dr Shiva, who has a PhD from MIT in Biological Engineering as well as degrees in three other disciplines, studies and does research nearly every day on the Immune System. He says the coronavirus fearmongering will go down in history as "one of the biggest frauds to manipulate economies, suppress dissent, and push for mandated medicine." He insists it’s time to stop scaring people and start talking about immune health.

Among many other skeptical sources, there's this interview with Richard Epstein below, titled Don't Expect Millions to Die From the Coronavirus. Epstein, a fellow at the University of Chicago's Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, explains his math, which draws on his work dealing with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. This is from the introduction:
"He also discusses why the stimulus plans being floated are unlikely to help the economy in the short run but will cause major problems in the long run, why he thinks local and state governments are overreacting by shutting down businesses and schools, and why he expects the crisis to ease up in a few months, as it already has in the Asian countries hit first."
This may very well be the most intriguing and informative 38 minutes you spend all week. I hope you'll take the time to listen.

So You Want To Become A Statistic...
I've been posting things on Facebook for some time now showing why the coronavirus "crisis," though worthy of serious attention, hardly warrants being given its own national emergency, especially since we don't tend to declare national emergencies over any of the more egregious and proven health crises in our country's history. Sometimes people get so mad at me for sharing my opinions that you would think they're looking forward to having this new virus overrun our country, and that my protestations might somehow keep it from happening.

Invariably these enthusiasts point to how quickly the coronavirus has already spread through other countries as proof that there is no avoiding a germ armageddon here on our continent. But these people fail to recognize that in the countries that had the worst outbreaks, there were factors that exacerbated the spread that we are not likely to follow suit with here. We don't have to have an American Pandemic. But if you personally desire to increase your own chances of dying from the coronavirus, here are five things you can do:

1. Be a male living in China.
Over three hundred million Chinese men are heavy smokers. This makes them extremely susceptible to contracting pneumonia once they've been exposed to the virus, and it's the pneumonia that tends to kill people, not the virus itself. The virus just helps pneumonia find its way to the lungs. In contrast to Chinese men, less than 2% of Chinese females smoke. Both males and females who live in the cities are exposed to a great deal of smog, but the males exacerbate the problem by smoking.

Then there is this other thing the Chinese do that we tend not to. They openly spit on the pavement in public. Not just saliva spit, but deep, throat cleansing loogie-hocks. And they do it all day, all the time, wherever they happen to be.

Says Russ Coomber, professor of sociology at Plymouth University, "While in China, many people view spitting as a cleansing action for the body."

"It should also be acknowledged that many Asian cultures see the Western act of blowing or sneezing in public into a handkerchief and then putting that into a pocket as truly disgusting and much worse than spitting."

Then there's this new trend among some Chinese of going into elevators and rubbing their spit on the buttons. Who says the Chinese are not a sharing culture?  If you have the stomach for it, you can see some examples of that delightful practice recorded here and here. 

2. Be a smoker living in Italy.
The percentage of smokers in Italy has actually decreased in the past few years, and it's nowhere near the percentage of smokers in China, but Italians who smoke tend to be very heavy smokers. Smoking weakens the lungs, as we know, and the lungs just happen to be COVID-19's organ of choice.

And let's not forget the reason the coronavirus spread so far and fast in Italy. Back when we were first learning of the disease spreading through China, the mayor of Florence, Italy thought it would be a good idea to promote solidarity with the wave of Chinese immigrants flooding into his country from Wuhan, so he announced February 1st would be "Hug a Chinese" day in order to show lack of prejudice and support for the fight against the Corona virus. It was well known that many of those immigrants were infected with the Virus, but many people followed the advice of their local politician anyway.

During the incubation period, most Italians would not have realized they were infected, and so the virus continued to spread to family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else infected Italians came in contact with. To date, the number of deaths from the virus in Italy actually exceeds the number of deaths from the virus in China, and the entire country is now on lockdown. All because of a desire many Italians exhibited to be seen as "woke."

The video below was posted on February 4th, not as a warning, but in actual celebration of this campaign to show solidarity with a contagious infection. That campaign seems a bit ill-conceived now.

3. Be a smoker living in America.
Just cut it out, you moron.

4. Have respiratory problems or an otherwise weak immune system.
Same thing as above; viruses can morph into pneumonia, and pneumonia in a person who already has lung problems can be extremely discomforting, if not fatal. Take it from me. I have severe asthma, and sometimes when I get the flu or a bronchial infection, it turns into pneumonia. If the coronavirus ever makes it up here to Northern Idaho, I'll most likely catch it and there's a real possibility my lungs will turn on me and if that happens I'm in for a very unpleasant time.

I've had pneumonia at home and I've had it in the hospital. In either venue it's virtually impossible to sleep, and when you're that sick you really need to sleep. If I do get laid up by this virus you can bring me over a casserole if you like, because I'll be awake.

5. Grow old.
Hate to break it to you, but the older you get, the closer you are to the end of your life. Sometimes it's simply because your body is not as able to fight off infections as well as it did when you were younger. This is true whether you catch a virus or fall prey to a variety of other illnesses. The COVID-19 virus doesn't posses some magical power to kill that other afflictions don't have, it just makes it more likely that if you're elderly and infirm and this thing gets ahold of you, your time may have finally come.

The good news is that the fatality rate of people over 80 with the Corona virus has been 15 percent so far. That's fifteen percent of people over 80 who contract the virus, not fifteen percent of everyone who gets it. That's good news because it means even old geezers have an 85 percent chance of licking this thing and waking up alive after it's run its course. If you're 93 and you've already been spending your last days lying in bed in a nursing home already close to breathing your last, this disease will probably put you over the hump. But if you're 93, in good health, and regularly play racquetball or whatever it is you old people do for sport these days (shuffleboard?) you may not have anything to worry about.  The killer instinct that COVID-19 harbors is for the old and seriously infirm, not just the old.

Everyone Else:
Just as with a head cold, you have an excellent chance of surviving the coronavirus if you happen to catch it, because the overall fatality rate of COVID-19 is 0.018%, and most of the people in that percentile are those in the classifications listed above.

So congratulations. I have only an 85% chance of making it through this, but yours is just under 99.

Fear Not
If you've been captured by the spirit of fear over this over-hyped virus, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be. That's not to say there isn't plenty to be concerned about regarding this virus scare. There is. And I don't mean the virus, I mean the scare.

The reaction to this thing -particularly the government plan to subsidize pretty much every American's lost income over the next few months- is about to plunge us into a recession that will most likely devolve into a seriously deep depression. Then while we're still reeling from that, we'll suddenly be whip-sawed by hyperinflation the likes of which none of us have ever experienced.  If you think toilet paper is hard to come by now, just wait until there's plenty of it around but it's so expensive you can't afford to buy it.

Hyperinflation is inevitable if this plan goes forward. There is no such thing as free money; the government can't suddenly pump two trillion additional unbacked dollars into the economy and not expect us all to suffer on the back end. So if you want to be afraid of something, be afraid of that. Be very afraid.

But I don't recommend you let fear overtake you at all. Instead I suggest you do what you can to prepare for the coming storm.  "If ye are prepared," the Lord reminds us, "you shall not fear." Even if, like me, you don't have the funds to stock up on the necessities you're going to need to see this thing through, it is still extremely important that you are prepared with knowledge so you don't fall into the same traps most of your countrymen will be walking into.


If you are ready to stop being lied to about what's going on with this virus and the government's reaction to it, you might try stepping away from the usual news sources that are steering you in the wrong direction and instead look for information that will actually be of some use.  I'm including two links below where you will find copious voices of reason and common sense -virtues noticeably lacking in our public discourse today. Both links are already stocked with a number of other links to articles well worth checking out. You could tunnel around in there for days and still come up wanting more:

This is Reason Magazine's coronavirus page. It will be updated frequently with new articles as they appear.

Here is a variety of different articles on the coronavirus from various contributors that have appeared on  This site presents about eight new pieces every day on a variety of issues. It's one of my favorite sources of informed commentary.

Stay informed, stay hydrated, keep your body fueled, and keep taking that daily walk with God.  Like most tribulations in life, these troubles will pass you by.