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What Does America’s Coronavirus Response Look Like Abroad?

Yesterday Katie and I went downtown. We ran some necessary errands, and had a nice lunch in a cafe. Few people here are wearing masks, with the exception of food service workers that are required to. Most people are practicing social distancing. There are hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and people are using them. All cashiers are behind plexiglass screens. Life is more or less normal.

The situation in Finland in brief

  • Reported cases in total: 7,483 (+ 17*)
  • Tested samples in total approximately 380,800 (+ approx. 13,400*)
    * Change from previous day. In total, 17 cases have been reported to the register, of which 16 are new and recent cases reported during the previous two weeks. Also see below for information on Reporting of data.
  • A total of 331 (+ 2**) deaths associated with the disease have been reported.
  • The number of people in hospital care in Finland is 6 (- 2**)
  • The number of patients in intensive care in Finland is 1 (+ 1**)
    *
    * The figures from Monday, August 3, have been specified and updated on Tuesday, August 3. The numbers in parentheses illustrate the change from 31 July. Hospital districts report the numbers for patients in hospital care and deaths associated with the disease.
  • In relation to Finland’s total population (5,543,233), the prevalence of cases is 135 cases per 100,000 people.
  • During the most recent seven-day monitoring period (26 July–1 August), 69 new cases were diagnosed. The incidence of new cases in relation to the population was 1.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. During the previous monitoring period (19–25 July), the corresponding figures were 50 new cases, with an incidence of 0.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
    • Reporting delays can affect the numbers stated for the most recent monitoring period. It is therefore not possible to draw any certain conclusions on the increase or decrease of cases on the basis of the most recent monitoring period.
  • Virus testing currently has a capacity of over 13,000 tests per day.
  • An estimated 6,950 people have recovered, which is over 90% of reported cases. The estimate is based on the follow-up of the observed cases over a period of three weeks (21 days). A person is considered to have recovered, when they do not have any follow-up data related to the progress of the illness after 3 weeks have passed from diagnosis. The estimate is updated once a week on Wednesdays, the estimate has been updated on 29 July.
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78% of COVID Survivors Show Cardiac Damage

Yes, the study has a small sample size (100 patients). Some ‘Murcans are going to be dismissive because it’s not a ‘Murcan study. A lot of people just won’t know how to read the thing. But a new study out of Germany shows that 78% of COVID survivors show cardiac damage. These are people who did not have preexisting conditions, so it was the virus that did the damage.

The high-concept nonsense about lizard people, alien DNA, and demonic possession is distressing enough. It’s the everyday ignorance, though, that wears me down. The “99% survivable” myth is the one that makes me lose my cool. There’s the permanent cardiac damage, as noted above. Other studies indicate kidney damage and cognitive impairment. Polio was survivable, too, if you were okay with people in wheelchairs, needing crutches, and spending their lives in iron lungs.

Saying it’s “99% survivable” also show an ignorance of basic math. As of this moment, 30 July 2020, Johns Hopkins is showing that there are 150,708 deaths in the United States, out of 4,426,935 confirmed infections. That is a 3.4% mortality rate. Not 1%. And for those tempted to say “so it’s still 96.6% survivable” I point out that’s still over 150,000 people dead and potentially 3,453,009 with permanent heart problems.

Globally there are 667,011 deaths. That means that 22.5% of the deaths from COVID are in the United States. There are 16,978,206 cases globally, so the worldwide death rate is 3.9%. Still not 1% but sure, go ahead and brag that the percentage in the US is lower than the global average. Yeesh. That’s potentially over 13 million people with lifelong cardiac issues.

We’re all going to die of selfishness.

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Gratitude in Finland: Revisiting Camp Corona

Revisiting Camp Corona: The other day Katie and I went downtown because she needed a haircut. There were a lot of people out, enjoying the nice weather as one does during summertime in Finland. I hung out in a coffee shop and got some work done while she was visiting with the nice Thai lady that does her hair. Afterwards we considered getting lunch, but decided against it because we’re trying to save money. We compromised on getting ice cream, so we stood in line at the stand outside the department store. Ever the traditionalist, I got a chocolate-and-vanilla soft serve in a cone. Katie got a scoop of mango-passionfruit sorbet in a cup.

Are we insane, going out among people in the middle of a global pandemic? Why would we do such a thing? Well, the reason is in the following chart:

I’m writing this on Friday, 17 July, so by the time you’re reading this the data is already at least one day out of date. I don’t think it’s going to matter much. The last day that I reported numbers for Central Finland was 16 May, when they’d just announced plans to reopen the country. There were 130 cases in this district at that time. Two months later, that number has risen to… 137 cases. Yes. Only 7 new cases in over 60 days.

This is not to say that precautions aren’t being taken. When Katie got her haircut, her stylist was wearing a mask and gloves. She does in the back and puts on a fresh mask and gloves for each client. The apron she put around Katie’s neck was disposable, a new one for each client, and disposed of in a very particular manner. There is a lot of cleaning between clients.

A lot of things are still closed or cancelled. All of the major music festivals were scrapped early on. The Rally isn’t happening. Some people are still grumbling, but they’re also a lot more understanding about the necessity of it.

While no one is wearing masks, everyone is social distancing. This is pretty normal behaviors for Finns, though. The joke is that you stand no closer than arm’s length plus the length of your knife. There is hand sanitizer everywhere, in motion-sensor pumps so you never need to touch anything, just put your hands underneath and it delivers a squirt. Cashiers are behind plexiglass and wear masks. Anyone working with food is wearing a mask and gloves.

Schools will be reopening at all levels, yes. But they will so so with heavy precautions. Those will include some continued distance learning, and smaller class sizes.

There is a lot of testing. More testing isn’t resulting in more cases. It’s resulting in fewer cases. Because it allows for contact tracing, and effective quarantine, and reflects that this situation is being handled well. The reason there are only 7 new cases here isn’t because they’ve stopped testing. It’s because they continue to test aggressively.

Compare and contrast this with the United States, and I really can’t explain what the hell is wrong with Americans. Katie and I voluntarily wore masks early on, and stayed inside for weeks at a time, and exercised an abundance of caution. Now we are the opposite of oppressed. We’ve got all the haircut and ice cream.

Revisiting Camp Corona

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Accepting that 2020 Has Us All Off Balance

Most of us can probably agree that 2020 has us all off balance. It’s nt the pandemic or protests that are killing me. We are at the mercy of unpredictable humans and seemingly unstable leaders. Common sense says to do one thing, so people naturally do the exact opposite. It’s maddening, it’s draining, and it seems impossible and pointless to make plans.

On another level, though, things continue to operate with clockwork efficiency. The rent still needs to be paid on time, or else. Paperwork still needs to be filed, if you don’t want consequences. We still need to eat. Those things don’t jibe with the randomness and chaos and desire for a basic, functional schedule.

For the past few months my productivity routines have been changing. I have to release new books to keep money flowing in. There are filing deadlines I have to meet to maintain my immigration status. Inside my apartment it still feels like groundhog day: wake up, shower, breakfast, write, lunch, write, dinner, write, go to bed, repeat. I rely on my bullet journal, my white boards, and a wall calendar to remind me that time is not a meaningless abstraction. Meanwhile, a large part of the world has embraced that time in a meaningless abstraction.

Spoon Boards

Currently all of my planning centers around what I’m calling “spoon boards”. It’s basically just the bullet journal method with an emphasis on the reality that I only have so many spoons to use in a day. Everything gets pushed out to the furthest possible week of the furthest possible month – a spoon future log.

I’m using weekly logs instead of monthly ones. What needs to be done this week. Of those things, what needs to be dealt with first? Do that today. Then the next thing, and the next. With luck, toward the end of the week I’ll run out of tasks for the current week and can get a jump on next week.

I pad to account for the unforeseen. Keep some spoons in reserve for when I get blindsided by the thing no one could have possibly anticipated. Push down the urge to try and prepare for every possible contingency, and stick to high-level and universally useful things, like making money and keeping the cupboards full of food.

Anything that’s not on my dashboard for this week isn’t anything I need to worry about this week. If it’s not on the future log for this month, I don’t need to worry about it this month. The key is to not become overwhelmed.

Cry when in spite of everything I get blindsided and it takes up everything, including the spoons I’d held in reserve. Learn to live with the contradiction that I am in control but still behind schedule. Feel guilty about taking time for self-care. Lapse into self-loathing for needing so much self-care. Realize that guilt and self-loathing use spoons and get over it.

It’s been a hell of a week. I hold out hope that the coming week will be better, while mentally preparing for the likelihood that it will only get stranger and more difficult.

2020 Has Us All Off Balance

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It’s Time to Stop Counting

It’s time to stop counting. As of right now, I’m no longer counting how many day I’ve been in isolation. The whole thing is moot, and honestly, more than a little morbid. In the early days when we really had no concept of how long this would go on it made a kind of sense? It was almost a gamification of the pandemic, like bragging about endurance or flexing over the sacrifices being made. This no longer feels like a sacrifice. It never really did, to me, because I like being a hermit. This is a new normal for some, but this has been the normal I’ve been chasing for years.

Besides, the world has gotten bored and moved on. No one was wearing masks or practicing social distancing anyway. There’s this blasé “if it kills me it kills me” thing going on in the United States, coupled with the “if it’s God’s will” stuff that creeps me out. Everything’s all race riots now. I should make some anti-police graphics and tags and blog about that now. (I’m not. I won’t).

It’s Time to Stop Counting
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