Consulo Indicium - 9/29/20
Information for your Consideration…
Where’s The Prevalence? – The Centers for Disease Control recently announced that our nation’s more youthful participants (i.e. “people in their 20s…”) account for the largest number of cases of Covid-19 with the median age dropping from 46 to 38 by early September. While the older populace remains at the “highest risk” of death, the incidence is going way up with other age groups. In fact, Wisconsin in the last week of September had the largest percent increase going from about 700 new cases per week to over 2,000 in a very short period of time. And, importantly, it appears to be among all age groups.
Not Enough Data? A National Mask Mandate? Not to be outdone by the medical journals, Goldman Sachs – an investment bank concerned about the overall economy – recently published a report noting that a national mask mandate would likely increase the percent of people wearing masks by 15% thereby cutting daily growth rate of cases by 0.6% to 1%. That rate of reduction would then save the U.S. economy from a 5% GDP hit in lieu of additional lockdowns. Hmmm. Masks instead of lockdown. Sounds like an attractive option. The current rate of mask wearing (although not always) is around 60% which leaves a very large segment of the populace not wearing masks. And, on top of it – the doctors and epidemiologists were not the ones who thought of it. It was a bunch of economists. Imagine – the confluence of doctors and economists…
What About Flying? One of my fears relates to the risk of flying. I haven’t been on an airplane since early March and have dropped plans for upcoming flights. Why? Because I’m basically a bit paranoid – as are many of my other elder friends! In a recent report from the CDC there were more than 1,600 cases of people who flew while at risk of spreading the coronavirus with the potential for infecting about 11,000 fellow travelers. BUT, due to inadequate contact tracing, the spread could not be ascertained. Hmmm. Perhaps my paranoia is well founded… However, if you do have the itch to travel by air, consider Southwest where the middle seats will always (according to them) be vacant. Here are some helpful hints if you do decide to travel:
- First and foremost, wear a mask – preferably a surgical mask or a mask that allows you to change a paper filter. All of the major U.S. airlines require the use of face masks, including United, (my favorite)American and Delta who actually ban passengers who refuse to wear them. If you forget your mask, almost all the airlines will provide you with one.
- Use touchless options as much as possible! For example, use your smartphone to check in advance for your boarding pass (it’s actually far easier than the old process of standing in line!!). Also, you can avoid the wait lines for baggage as well and go through the expedited lines.
- Open your air vents above your seat. The filters in the planes these days are incredibly good and will remove 99+% of particles. Aerosolized viruses are a bit of a different breed; however. Regardless, keep the air moving.
- Even though the airlines have committed to a cleanliness policy, be advised to bring your own sanitizer and use it liberally to wipe down your seat, tray table, armrest and other areas around you – as well as your hands. Also, the airlines will allow up to 12 ounces for carry-on of sanitizer.
- Pack your own food and bring a water bottle (empty of course until you get past security). A number of the airlines have reduced – or even eliminated – their inflight service to reduce the amount of interaction the attendants and the passengers.
- Some sites suggest that you get a window seat but, I’m an aisle guy. Always have been, always will be. Besides, urgency is more of an issue these days :-) .
Meanwhile, passenger volume is down 65% with the airlines in total losing about $5 billion per month with a rebound to prior flight levels not occurring for at least another 15 – 18 months according to airline officials.
Toto Has A New Job Opportunity! – Toto (= Toran Tormah) and his new companion (Lole – Lachlan Leigh) are our two Glen of Imaal Terriers. Not only are they absolutely wonderful companions but they also have the best “sniffers” in the world. I’m amazed at how they can identify the deer and fox and other assorted creatures which occupy the nearby woods. So, I was quite taken by a new study coming out of Finland’s Helsinki Airport which has trained dogs to sniff out probable Covid-19 carrying people in less than 10 seconds. The program was initiated on September 22, 2020 as an initial test but due to passport limitations, Toto was not accepted for early entry into the training program. For the test incoming passengers will simply wipe the back of their neck, hand it to the human inspector and the dog says “yea” or “nay” – in dog speak, of course. The researchers have worked out a whole protocol to evaluate the effectiveness of the doggy review. I’m sure it works. After all, Toto (and Lole, of course) seem to be expert trackers in the forest with their noses constantly sniffing one direction or another for a critter to chase. Finland got the idea from Dubai where a similar program found that dogs were 94.5% accurate in identifying Covid-19 positive people. When I approached Toto; however, he didn’t seem very interested. He simply gave me that look, “When’s the next bowl of ice cream coming?”
Statins Are Not Just For Cholesterol Control – In a study released in mid-September by American Journal of Cardiology, researchers from the University of California at San Diego announced a discovery that cholesterol-lowering statins reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 infection and reduced recovery times. In fact, statin consuming patients had a 50% reduction in “severe” Covid-19 reactions to the virus. More importantly, their research went beyond mere association between the two findings to actually defining the cellular mechanism explaining why statins are valuable. And the apparent answer: removing cholesterol from cell membranes prevents the Covid-19 virus from entering the cell. The research is compelling, based on science as well as facts. Read the research. You’ll be convinced like me that statins should seriously be consider as a “preventive” measure for inhibiting Covid-19 infections.
In other findings on statins, it’s also been shown that taking statins seems to slow and/or diminish the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease – a familiar trait among the Fickenscher family especially on my Mom’s side. So, in addition to reducing my air travel, I’ve also been bugging my cardiologist about the need for statin coverage – along with the Vitamin D that Dr. Fauci recommends as well as mask-wearing which is de rigueur!! In case it’s not clear, I’m not quite ready to succumb.In Case You Missed It – The Association of American Medical Colleges recently released its annual report on the supply of physicians noting that a U.S. physician shortage of 54,000 to 139,000 is anticipated by 2033. In particular, the shortage of primary care physicians will range from 21,400 to 55,200 based on their study or nearly 1/3 of those providers. The concern is that the rural areas will disproportionately be affected on the primary care front and will far ahead of the curve compared to the whole nation. And [editorial comment] there is no way we can train enough physicians to replace the outgoing group.