Editorial by Bea Garth:
So the word is from the LA Times (please see the article below) that there was a spike of pneumonia in California this last November and December. Whether it was COVID-19 in all cases is not known since almost no one was being tested for it. However it is reported now in the LA Times that there was a case of COVID-19 in Los Angeles in December 2019. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-11/bay-area-coronavirus-deaths-signs-of-earlier-spread-california
As noted by the article, there is generally a huge amount of airplane traffic between California and China each each year.
I had been wondering about this very thing since I got sick with what quickly became a dry cough and pneumonia December 2019 soon after attending an international festival with a number of Chinese from their mainland. Both shortly before and after that meeting, I also knew of a whole lot of other people here in San Jose that came down with a devastating viral flu/pneumonia too. It took me nearly two months to get over it, just as it did my older brother and a co-worker. My husband got sick too with the similar symptoms of pneumonia, including not being able to taste or smell anything. He had to take multiple showers each day in order to breathe better. One friend in Santa Cruz had to have shots since her lungs were so bad.
Another friend who usually never gets sick nearly died and had to go to the hospital late December. He had an operation to remove excess fluid outside his lungs which fluid had made it nearly impossible for him to breathe. In addition his heart was so severely affected he had to have a machine to artificially pump it. His illness stemmed from a viral pneumonia of unknown origin. After four months he is finally much better, but he still is not the strong man he used to be.
My completely unproven theory is that something like COVID-19 could have been spread amongst the homeless in California. Many homeless live here in San Jose in the scrub next to the creeks. We apparently have the third largest homeless population in the country. And certainly my friend who got so sick in December and the people that I know have associates living there. I can only imagine how awful it is to be ill with a bad virus and be living without heat, water or plumbing, and only some scrabbled together shelter. This is not to blame them, since many come here with few alternatives, looking for a better life after they lost their homes due to circumstances beyond their control.
Normally viruses don’t jump from animals to humans unless they are put in packed, unsanitary conditions–which is exactly what we have given the current practices of animal husbandry here and abroad as part of Big Agri-business. It was suggested by Dr. Gregger in 2008 that we change our practices of animal husbandry or likely come down with a potentially worldwide coronavirus pandemic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se9yqWNIG8A&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3aa0V5puE4GdzU69N9V2yvYgo1KqWZSHdRPSB_ld5BlR1ugbWWjlGQ-HI.
Whereas I am not a vegetarian, I do think it is wise for people to eat less meat overall, and certainly only eat meat that is raised outdoors in clean uncrowded conditions, without antibiotics, much as they were pre 1975 when virulent new viruses like this were rapidly disappearing. All of that changed, as Dr. Greggers suggests, with the “advance” of modern crowding and unsanitary conditions in animal husbandry. Cheaper, increased meat has come at a high cost as we are now discovering. That coupled with continued practices of “wet markets” in China and elsewhere have turned out to be likely centers for potential pandemics, such as this one we are now experiencing.
Scientists suggest that in 1916 this very thing may have happened in Fort Riley, Kansas. The close proximity of crowded chickens being raised for food next to soldiers living in close quarters preparatory to going to war led to a new coronavirus transferring from the chickens to human beings. This then resulted in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 after American soldiers unknowingly carried the virus to the war trenches of Europe.
I don’t know if any of us will ever know the true initiating paths of COVID-19 since there are so many overlapping possibilities. However common sense would suggest that as a world culture we change our current unsanitary practices of animal husbandry if we are to survive this and further pandemics. In order to stop the plagues that scoured Europe, for instance, people had to stop living in the same buildings as their farm animals. Now we too need to clean up our act with both Agri business in the Western world and wet markets in Asia.
As far as antivirals go, given the fact we still don’t have an effective cure for any of the coronaviruses after more than twenty years of research, I think it is more likely we will come up with a stop gap by using the antibodies from those who have already recovered from COVID-19 than actually come up with an effective anti viral cure in 18 months as some claim. I also think that mass antibody testing could help us figure out how to better limit this disease in the meantime more effectively.
It also makes sense to me that in one of the richest countries of the world that we would be a lot smarter taking care of the homeless. It is both un-humanitarian and unsafe to let so many people live in such squalid conditions as America commonly does. This rise in the homeless has been caused by poverty, which has increased due to the fact most of our major manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas (which by the way is also why we don’t have the ppi and ventilators we need to deal with the pandemic more effectively). Lack of sufficient jobs for the working class plus the exponentially rising costs of housing and other basic living costs such as medicine etc. has created a true crisis that has not helped people have the resources to counteract this pandemic. Here in San Jose its not hard to see or figure out that homelessness (and near homelessness) has been a huge problem, despite this area being one of the richest places on Earth.
Fortunately California’s governor Newsom has engineered providing places in now empty hotels and motels for many of the homeless to stay in during the pandemic. However what happens afterwards? He had been trying to create housing for more of the homeless to live in, but despite having funds earmarked for it, so far he had been frustrated by local homeowners working against it. It is my hope that Californians and people in other states will realize we cannot continue to be so selfish and not provide for our own if we want to live in a healthier more humane society.
Whether America is ready to create that healthier society ruled by humanitarianism and doing what we need to for our own survival, remains to be seen. It is my hope that given this pandemic we just might become more ready for it. However it still won’t happen without a fight since the rich and their minions still have it too cosy to want to change just yet, as evidenced by the selection of Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee, and outrageous bailouts for the rich in the US while the common person will just get mere scraps.
Jane Goodall, internationally known for her seminal work with chimpanzees, reiterates this sentiment of how we need to make fundamental changes to recognize our common needs for care and decency be extended to animals as well as each other. Thus she promotes protecting our wildlife and create improved animal husbandry to help avoid future pandemics. She also suggests that creating a less greed driven world will improve our teetering eco system in her recent video and writing on the subject, the Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/jane-goodall-interview-animal-markets-wildlife-trafficking-a9458611.html?fbclid=IwAR1lA2LEuQ1uQtbjG3CIPeuktSJcxTIxn6lg_NQEvuhy-4ayxFHJnBYizig
I can only agree. Neo-liberal economics are killing us and the world at large since these practices are devastating the ecosystem and creating the real potential of continued pandemics. We have to change, or face the continued consequences.
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