COVID-19 – “Are We Ready To Open Again?” or “How Much Is A Life Worth?”

Until there’s a vaccine, if ever, things will not be the same as before. We need to wrap our heads around that. Every urge to re-open needs to be considered this way: ​”How much is a life worth?“. When we do re-open we will need to be strict about sanitation and face coverings, hand-washing, etc. My wife is super high-risk, having had 2 open heart surgeries, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury and more. I’m a 62-year old ex-smoker trying to lose some weight. We have a 12-year old boy to take care of. My job involves science, specifically test engineering. The kind and amount of testing being done is wholly insufficient for us to know the data we need to know:

  1. How long can I be infected and infectious without having any symptoms? ​
  2. How many people have already been infected? ​
  3. ​How long can I ​be infected before I test positive? ​
  4. Of those who’ve already been infected, how many are over it and how many are still contagious? ​
  5. Can a person who’s been infected get it again? ​
  6. What’s the deal with Kawasaki-like disease in kids who’ve gotten COVID-19? ​
  7. ​How much is a life worth? ​

For me, it’s all about testing. I’m a test engineer. We’re not doing enough testing. Not even close. 

​The actual ​death toll from this disease is surely much higher than the “official” ​death toll. First, if you got it and went to the hospital, they didn’t test you because they either couldn’t or wouldn’t. They sent you home. Only people with a positive test result are counted – but “you” ​didn’t get a test, so no result, and if you got sicker, and went back into the ICU and died, or died at home, you were not part of the official death toll because you had no positive test result. 

​We have now confirmed people dying as early as December 27 from COVID19 whose deaths were previously attributed to other causes. In Santa Clara, we know for sure someone died Feb 6 from it, which means they were infected in January. There are likely cases earlier than that if we dig deep enough. Blaming China is a distraction and solves nothing. I will add that regardless of your opinion, we humans are part of one world now, and denial of that will get you nowhere. Surely with all the travel among nations, thousands of people got infected in China and left the country for destinations all over the world, in the first 1 week of the outbreak. For that matter we don’t truly know when the outbreak began. Building walls and erecting bogus imaginary or procedural barriers to people traveling is a fool’s errand. Humans are a migratory critter, denial of that is nonsense. Managing it in a humane way is possible but not without cooperation from leaders around the world. That’s idealistic, isn’t it? ​Yes, I will admit that. 

​The administration is not interested in the truth because it’s damning to Trump’s re-election efforts. You can’t get a test just because you want one. That’s only one of countless lies being spewed by our so-called leaders. There are lots of unreliable tests out there, complicating matters. There are charlatans selling fake cures. It’s like some perverse carnival out there with the President encouraging the barkers.  

​A certain level of testing is required to have any confidence in decisions to re-open. That level of testing hasn’t been done and it doesn’t look like it will be, either. So, what do we do? ​How much is a life worth? ​​

Here’s some more background on my family, and thus my perspective – your experience is surely different, I get that. 

GEV Magazine was Kaye’s baby, but since the stroke, we can’t keep it open any more, just the website and Facebook. Now, there are no more events to cover, anyway. For us, this whole thing started to go South when Trump was elected. Kaye’s an immigrant. She just became a citizen in 2016. The anti-immigrant sentiment and behavior from Trump supporters was frightening to her. Her stroke was 2 weeks after the election. It caused a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in surgery to remove the blood clot. She can drive now, but has great difficulty speaking, reading, writing, and understanding spoken language unless it’s delivered slowly. She was 41 when it happened, she’ll be recovering for the rest of her life. Now there’s a rise in anti-Asian bigotry again. She’s aware of it and sensitive to it. We’re a 1-income family and she feels responsible for that. It’s not her fault. I’m doing my best to stay positive here. In a former life, I played the Blues and traveled around the country and did sound engineering for great blues and rock musicians. I ​have what I would like to believe is a special affinity, respect and camaraderie with my African-American brothers and sisters, because of Blues music. It pains me to no end to see African-Americans being shot in the streets unarmed, unsafe even from the police, in their own homes, and routinely abused and vilified in ways both subtle and overt, by White people. It’s intolerable and unacceptable. I ​support those who resist that oppression. It makes me ask – How much is a life worth

​Right now, I’m working from home. I ​work in Mountain View. 36 Million people are out of work, yet my LinkedIn is buzzing with recruiters trying to poach me from my current gig – it’s flattering but a little incongruous. Like the stock market, which, until the last couple of days, was climbing back up as if 25, 30, 35 Million unemployed people was no big deal. 

​Economically, I’m sure we’re all ready to open again. We need to do it with a measured, methodical and cautious approach and be prepared to close back down again if things get outta hand. Personally, I expect there will be another surge because I have little faith that people will be able to maintain their distance, keep their masks on and wash their hands and faces. Rules are made to be broken and America was forged on people breaking rules – for better or worse. So here we are. How much is a life worth? ​