I started publishing this on day 41 of the pandemic. Thank you for your support and encouragement. I did not anticipate that I’d still be writing eight months later (although no longer daily!).
Today is a day of thanks.
But we have recorded 262,222 deaths, with 2,297 on Wednesday, the largest number in six months. This holiday will not be joyous for those families, friends, business associates and acquaintances whose lives have been forever changed by the pandemic. Another 12,772,653 people have had a positive COVID-19 test. For many, their future health remains uncertain.
Public health has been politicized. We live in a time of discord that rivals that of the 1860s. A reminder that the origins of this holiday included a call for peace and justice.
On October 3, 1789, George Washington issued his Thanksgiving proclamation, designating for “the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving” to be held on “Thursday the 26th day of November,” 1789, marking the first national celebration of a holiday that has become commonplace in today’s households.
In 1863, 74 years later, Abraham Lincoln would also make his Thanksgiving Proclamation on 03 October, a month before delivering the Gettysburg Address. He lamented “civil strife” and called for healing “the wounds of the nation.”
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict…
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that [they] commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
“Heal the wounds of the nation.”
Those words resonate today. We are fractured but not yet cleaved in two to the extent of the Civil War, which claimed the lives of more than a half million.
We should all heed Lincoln’s call to actively heal wounds.
⓵ Good news about virus mutations
An analysis of COVID-19 mutations, using samples from more than 46,000 people in 99 countries, suggests that “none of these mutations are making COVID-19 spread more rapidly.”
⓶ Good news about treatment
The case fatality rate (number of deaths per known infections) has declined significantly since the spring. Research from Philadelphia suggests that demographics may play a role: more younger people test positive now.
Doctors and researchers have also learned a lot since January.
[S]upportive care (such as “proning” patients), certain medications (such as dexamethasone and the recently approved remdesivir), and more experience with this infection have likely improved outcomes overall. Importantly, we have also identified ineffective treatments (such as hydroxychloroquine — see here, here, and here for studies), so that we can avoid those that are unnecessary and potentially harmful.
As this third surge progresses, on Wednesday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service announced that hospitals will be able to care for Medicare patients in their own homes. The 24x7 electronic monitoring is for Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients “who are sick enough to be hospitalized, but don’t need intensive care.” Patients with COVID-19 are eligible.
⓷ Good news in Australia and Singapore
Australia (population 25,500,000) has 109 cases per 100,000. Singapore (5,850,000), 995. The US (331,003,000), 3,859. North Dakota (762,000) has 9,900 cases per 100,000.
For the first time in 269 days, Victoria had no active case on 24 November 2020. When that last patient was discharged from hospital, it marked 25 consecutive days of zero infections.
The Singapore Ministry of Health announced on 24 November 2020 that there were no active COVID-19 clusters in the country, for the first time since 03 February 2020.
⓸ Good news for dog lovers
Asher is an eccentric, Storm likes sunbathing and Maple loves to use her brain. All three could play a part in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are not scientists or politicians. They are dogs.
There have been stories in the news about sniffer dogs and coronavirus but so far there is only one peer-reviewed report. Earlier this month, scientists and researchers met in an online workshop “to share preliminary results from experiments and to improve how their research is coordinated.”
⓹ And a reminder that hearts are big
On Monday, Sports writer Andy Larsen thought he’d donate his jar of coins to help a Utah family in need.
Instead, his tweet touched the hearts of his 27K followers. It even prompted Utah Lt. Gov. (and Governor-elect) Spencer Cox to retweet this “very cool” post. By Wednesday, Larsen had raised more than $50,000 for charity.
Chocolate bourbon pecan pie. A new recipe!