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Journal Thrive

2020 Reminds Us How Fragile We Are

If I had to state one takeaway from 2020 so far, I’d say that it has reminded us how fragile we are. That takes different forms for different people, of course. I can already image someone jumping in to insist that he is not fragile, demonstrating how delicate and brittle his ego is.

We’ve all realized, in a myriad of ways, how much we’re at the mercy of the dangerously adolescent-minded members of this tenuous society. Those who, like a teenager, feel they’re immortal and indestructible and that the rules don’t apply to them. Sure, knucklehead, you’ll probably survive if you catch COVID-19, but I won’t. I think some covidiots enjoy not wearing a mask because it demonstrates that they have a power over life and death that many of us don’t.

This extends to the cavalier attitudes of those who don’t rely on the USPS. It’s the backbone of a lot of small businesses. Folks rely on it for a wide range of reasons. Yet people who don’t have skin in the game are making decisions that negatively impact others. At some point it doesn’t matter if they’re genuinely heartless or simply clueless; we remain at their mercy.

I don’t know what to do about this. My only hope is that empathy, compassion, and legitimate democracy come back into vogue sooner rather than later.

2020 Reminds Us How Fragile We Are

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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A Second Wave is Coming Here in Finland

At the moment I’m fighting a mild respiratory infection. It’s the result of allergies, and normally no big deal. In the midst of a pandemic, however, it’s enough that we’ve gone back into lockdown. They’ve issued warnings that a second wave is coming here in Finland. So there will be fewer trips out, and those will follow my extreme “shotgun and a hazmat suit” protocol.

I’d be more at ease if I didn’t have so many errands to run in the next two weeks. There are things we need to do in order to extend our residence. That culminates in a train trip to Kuopio, to the nearest immigration office. Two hours up, an appointment that based on experience will last about 30 minutes, and two hours back. It seems like a lot of exposure to hand someone printouts of documents that have already been sent electronically, get our fingerprints taken (again), and have an official look us in the eye to ensure our faces match our passport photos.

Seriously, that’s all that ever happens in these meetings.

We have masks galore. Both Katie had I have 4 washable masks each, and a supply of disposable masks. I bought a large bottle of hand sanitizer, and parceled it out into smaller 3-ounce travel bottles. Both of us carry multiple packets of alcohol wipes, which I use to open doors and wipe down grocery trolleys. We even have latex gloves. All of which are assembled in a kit that includes a large ziplock back to put used items into for later disposal.

All of this is still better than the situation in the United States. Even though cases are increasing here because the universities are reopening and foreign students and faculty are coming it, the increase isn’t as bad as what’s happening in America. If nothing else, I’ve yet to get into an argument with a Finn that insists COVID-19 is a hoax.

A Second Wave is Coming Here in Finland

If you enjoyed this post, you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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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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