An Underreported Concern: COVID and the January 6, 2021 Pro-Trump Uprising

As I said on my blog a number of days ago when giving my most recent COVID-19 update, what happened at the pro-Trump uprising last Wednesday was awful, un-American, and frankly, insurrectionist. However, I’m not going to rehash all of the thoughts I went into with last Thursday’s post, because I feel that more people need to talk about yet another concern stemming from the uprising that I’ve heard few mention yet.

The concern is that we also may’ve witnessed a COVID super-spreader event as well.

From reports I heard, there were tens of thousands of individuals at this event. And, based on images I saw and audio I heard, many of the individuals there had just about the worst conduct imaginable from a COVID prevention standpoint:

  • Nobody appeared to be practicing social distancing.
  • Few people appeared to be wearing their masks. This is crucial, as from what I’ve heard, mask-wearing is key when you are unable to practice social distancing.
  • Many of the individuals were yelling, which results in droplets from someone travelling much further than individuals talking in a normal voice.
  • Many of the individuals came from far-away places, which meant that they may’ve already come into contact with individuals on the way to the event and may come into contact with other individuals yet on their way back home.

Time will tell as to whether this was indeed a super-spreader event in addition to being an act of insurrection. But if the behaviors I saw on the news were any indication, I think all signs point toward a potential super-spreader event. If the event celebrating Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court (a gathering drastically smaller than the one last Wednesday, albeit with similarly poor precautions in many ways) could be a super-spreader event, then this one has the potential to be a super-spreader event many times over.

All I can say is this: if there were a large concentration of individuals at the event coming from any particular part of the country, I just sincerely hope that those areas’ health systems are prepared to handle a surge of COVID patients.

P.S. The day after I scheduled this post, I heard news reports saying that some members of Congress may’ve been in isolation during the insurrection with someone who had COVID (and as such may’ve been exposed to the virus). You can find a news report from ABC on this issue here.

Also, I will not publish a post next Monday, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Coronavirus Update From New York City: December 10, 2020 (COVID Test Edition)

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe during a time when the pandemic is getting truly scary in parts of the United States, and the world. It is particularly sobering that we had more deaths from the virus yesterday than the entire country did from terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

New York City is starting to see its hospitalizations and ICU beds used due to COVID rise. Data seems to indicate that we have a few hundred ICU beds still available and a few thousand hospital beds, but with COVID rates on the rise, as well as hospital and ICU beds used due to COVID on the rise, we should not get complacent here in New York City. If you want to track data in New York on a day-to-day basis, I highly recommend your visiting the coronavirus tracker webpage for an online newspaper called The City.

With statistics trending in the wrong direction, there are noises about more things shutting down in New York City before long. Things such as indoor dining, which have been open at a reduced capacity for the past few months, may be in danger of shutting down completely in order to try and not let this virus go too out of control again. I fear though that we may be too late–since many ignored the warnings of our public health experts with regards to behaviors during the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I expect the virus to continue to get worse in New York, and nationwide. I hope I am wrong.

I want to spend most of my post though talking about my experience with getting a COVID-19 test. I got a COVID-19 test for the first time on Sunday so I thought it was worth sharing what the experience was like…

So, to give some backstory, a couple of family members had some symptoms of COVID-19 due to something that was acting like a head cold. Even though it was acting as something no more serious than a head cold for them, I decided to get a COVID test anyway since there is some overlap between COVID symptoms and head cold symptoms.

The test itself was not too bad. Having swabs go into your nose is not the most pleasant feeling in the world, but that didn’t last for long. All in all, for a virus so serious and so deadly, it was not a particularly painful experience. Having blood drawn is to me a much more unpleasant experience than the COVID test that was administered to me.

The experience beyond the test was a lot more mixed. Positives of the experience include receiving free masks, getting free hand sanitizer (not sanitizer I personally needed, but some people do want and/or need that), and a relatively simple process to ensure that I learned the results of my test (which came back negative, by the way, so I don’t have COVID). Negatives of the experience include standing in a long line in cold weather (it was a walk-in site and not a drive-in site) and the fact that the seating area where some people were waiting for test results had some individuals who were unmasked. Overall, if I felt COVID symptoms or knowingly came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, I would still get a test and strongly advise people in a similar sort of situation to also get a test. That being said, I think that in order to successfully test and perform contact tracing, we need to make the COVID testing process as pleasant as possible–something that New York City is I think trying to do through the free masks and hand sanitizer, but needs to improve on through more testing sites (something which admittedly may be difficult to achieve if we do not have adequate tests available to begin with).

Hopefully, my mixed review does not scare anyone away from getting a COVID test! In spite of my mixed review of the testing experience, I am glad to have the peace-of-mind of having that negative COVID test. And, if it was found out that I tested positive, appropriate actions could be taken so that others could quarantine accordingly, and protect others yet from the virus. While the testing experience itself was not ideal, testing is important and needs to exist more widely. What’s also important is social distancing and wearing your mask over your mouth and your nose.

Three Notes: Please Vote, Wear Your Mask, and Socially Distance

I did not publish a post yesterday evening for a reason: because I wanted to start off early Tuesday, Election Day, with a reminder for people to vote if they have not voted already.

Many of you who’ve read this will have already voted; if you are one of them, great! But if you are eligible to vote and you haven’t voted, then today is your day to vote. If you are voting today, please wear your mask and socially distance when going to the polls.

Speaking of mask wearing, I’ve noticed quite a bit of vitriol from anti-mask people. I don’t know if this is a post that will reach any such individuals, but let me be frank—before we knew about the science of mask wearing in New York (and elsewhere), the COVID situation here was a living nightmare. Hospital sirens were constant. My family went through a 10-week period where we lost, on average, three people we knew a week. A hospital in my county lost thirteen individuals…in 24 hours. This was the world without mask wearing. I beg people to wear their masks.

Want to “Support Our Health Workers”? Here are Some Tangible Ways to Do So.

“I support our health workers.”

The above is a common refrain I’ve heard while the United States has grappled with the coronavirus.

I agree with the sentiment—I think our health workers should be supported. However, I also recognize that all too often, this refrain does not turn into action. Often, we say “support our health workers” but then act in ways that show anything but support for our health workers.

But how can we support our health workers? I propose a few suggestions:

  1. If you aren’t doing so already, wear a mask or some other protective face covering[1] and practice social distancing. These two actions are widely proven to contain the spread of the coronavirus. If people performed these two actions, we would keep our health workers from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
  2. Assess the needs of the health workers where you live, and act accordingly. Speaking as someone who witnessed how difficult things were with the coronavirus in New York City, the needs of health workers were varied—at one point it included everything from equipment to food to funds for childcare. I can’t speak for what the needs are of health workers in places like Miami or Houston, but I strongly urge you to assess the needs of health workers where you live and act accordingly.
  3. If there are murmurs of a hospital closing down near where you live, do all you can (within reason) to protest the closure. There is a great deal of concern about the financial strain that many hospitals are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.[2] As such, there is also concern about the potential of hospitals closing. The closure of hospitals would put more strain on the hospitals that remain, and therefore the health workers who remain. As such, I urge readers to protest any proposed hospital closures in your area.
  4. Support legislative efforts to reduce the financial burdens that our health workers have. From current childcare costs to past student loan costs, there are a multitude of financial burdens that many of our health workers have to deal with. Given the stresses involved with trying to deal with the pandemic, we should try to minimize other sources of stress, such as financial burdens. This is where I would recommend actions such as urging your member of Congress to support legislation to forgive student loan debts for frontline health workers during COVID-19.[3]
  5. If you have a friend who is a health worker, listen to what they have to say. Don’t blow off your friend. Don’t minimize the experiences your friend had. Just listen to them.

These are just a handful of ways that you can support our health workers during COVID-19. Are there other ways we should consider supporting health workers? If so, please leave a comment below!


[1] I understand that some people have a difficult time with masks for health reasons. However, for many, there are other types of face covering, such as face shields, that may work better for you than a face mask.

[2] https://www.aha.org/guidesreports/2020-05-05-hospitals-and-health-systems-face-unprecedented-financial-pressures-due#:~:text=Hospitals%20face%20catastrophic%20financial%20challenges,of%20%2450.7%20billion%20per%20month.

[3] https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr6720

Addressing the Rise in Coronavirus Cases in Some States

Coronavirus cases are increasing at drastic rates in some states. Some people are alarmed with this rise in coronavirus cases, while other people (including some elected officials) downplay the increase in cases by saying out that there’s more coronavirus testing than before, and that because of more testing, there are more cases.

I’m here to say that there is reason for alarm in some places. But the reason for alarm is not because of the increase in coronavirus cases in many places, but because many places are struggling to adequately handle coronavirus cases so severe that urgent intervention is needed.

In places hard-hit by the coronavirus, the local health care systems get completely overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. In parts of Italy, the health care system got so overwhelmed that doctors had to make heart-wrenching decisions about who to try saving and who to let die.[1] In my hometown of New York, response times for emergency calls surged significantly at the height of the coronavirus, which in turn further endangered individuals already at risk.[2] In Alabama, fellow blogger Kim reported a few weeks ago that hospitals in Montgomery were so overwhelmed that they were needing to start sending patients to Birmingham, which is 90 miles away from Montgomery; this additional wait for treatment also further endangered individuals already at risk.[3] In places like these, the health care systems get so overwhelmed that lives are put at risk or worse—lives are lost. That is reason for alarm.

But, how is one to respond to the alarm? I have five words to say: wear masks and socially distance. People should do those two things, as much as possible. I know people want to give their friends a hug, and I know that the masks can feel hot during the summer, but this is not about you. It’s about others. Namely, it’s about saving others’ lives. It’s about making sure that our emergency responders, nurses, and doctors don’t get overwhelmed. It’s about making sure that the immunocompromised don’t catch the virus and end up seriously ill (or dead) because of irresponsible actions from others. If you don’t want to wear masks and socially distance for yourself, do it for others, because wearing a mask and practicing social distancing are the two best ways to do your part to limit the spread of this pandemic.

Note that I will not have a post next Monday because of the July 4th holiday the previous Saturday.


[1] https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200428-coronavirus-how-doctors-choose-who-lives-and-dies?ocid=global_future_rss

[2] https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/tracking-nycs-coronavirus-fight-from-911-call-to-er-door/2369206/

[3] https://cadburypom.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/family-fridays-9/