Archives for category: Health

A few days ago, I was driving across the Brooklyn Bridge heading towards Brooklyn and saw that the Manhattan-bound side of the bridge was closed by a demonstration. I couldn’t make out what the signs said, so I turned on the local all-news radio station, 1010 WINS, to learn what was happening. It turns out it was a protest against the city’s vaccine mandate for teachers. About 90% or more of the city’s school staff are vaccinated. This was a demonstration by the holdouts.

One of them was interviewed. She said it was unfair that she is locked out of museums, Broadway plays, and soon, her workplace, because she refused to be vaccinated with a new and untested drug.

As it happened, we were returning from a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we saw a fascinating show about the Medicis. In order to enter the musum, we had to show proof that we were fully vaccinated.

I didn’t feel sorry for Ms. Anti-Vaxxer, but I realized that many doors are closed to her, and the number of closed doors will grow.

So the anti-vaxxers may talk about their “freedom,” but the reality is that their refusal to get vaccinated is limiting their freedom.

To go to a new doctor, I had to show the vaccine card that documents that I have had all my shots (Moderna). Some shops wouldnt let me in without it. Some restaurants won’t let you in without it. The number of employers requiring that their employees get vaccinated is constantly growing. Broadway plays require them, as do other performance spaces.

The world is closing its doors to the anti—vaxxers.

They say they are waiting for more evidence, as if they regularly read The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine. I doubt they do.

In every state, the hospitals are overflowing with the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated are 10 times more likely to get sick, to be hospitalized, and to die from COVID, compared to those who got two jabs.

I don’t understand their reasoning. I don’t understand why they demand the ”right” not to protect themselves and their children from a deadly virus. I don’t understand why they willingly accept many other vaccines but not this one. Why dont they take this pandemic seriously? Why are they not convinced by 700,000 deaths?

They are losing their freedom by refusing the vaccine. I feel sorry for them but also angry at them for perpetuating the pandemic.

A friend in Boston recently described New Hampshire as “the Florida of the North.” Clearly, she wasn’t referring to climate but to retrograde politicians.

New Hampshire is one of those states, like Florida, that has decided to minimize the significance of COVID. Actions have consequences.

CONCORD — A House member is claiming she was infected with COVID19 at a sub-committee meeting last week.

Rep. Nicole Klein Knight, D-Manchester, in a posting on Twitter Friday morning, said she was infected and in turn has infected her family and she blames House Speaker Sherman Packard for allowing sick members to participate without masks.

Her Twitter posting reads, “I’m positive for covid. Most due to the fact the @NHSpeaker allowed sick members to participate unmasked and come into contact and furthermore did not notify me, I since infected my entire family. If there is any legal action I can take I would appreciate help.”

Packard has insisted committees meet in person and has not allowed members who believe their lives would be at risk to meet remotely rather than physically appear at the State House or Legislative Office Building.

Democrats have pushed for remote access since the session began in January. Remote access to committee meetings was allowed this spring, but once meetings began again this fall, Packard said members would have to attend committee meetings to participate and to vote.

A number of disabled or health compromised Democrats including House Minority Leader Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, sued the Speaker seeking to participate in House session remotely, but lost the initial ruling in US District Court. That decision was overturned by the 1st Circuit Court on appeal and sent back to US District Court to determine if the House members qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act for special accommodations.

The Speaker asked the appeals court to reconsider and another hearing was held with a three-judge panel, but no decision has been released to date….

“I feel like I don’t have a right to be protected,” Klein Knight said, “the Speaker has made it impossible to protect myself.”

“This could wipe out my whole family,” Klein Knight said, “and the least the Speaker could do is notify me.”

Sandi Dolbee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about the very different public responses to two life-saving vaccines for deadly diseases: polio and COVID-19. I remember the national fear of polio. Parents were not sure how it spread, so every family had different rules: Stay out of movie theaters, avoid public swimming pools, keep away from crowds.

She began:

Church bells rang out. Car horns honked. Stores painted “Thank you, Dr. Salk” on their windows. Synagogues and churches held services of thanksgiving.

It was 1955 in America. Dr. Jonas Salk, the son of Jewish immigrants and the first in his family to go to college, had successfully developed a vaccine against polio.

A young Charlotte D. Jacobs, the daughter of Presbyterians in the Bible belt state of Tennessee, already had her shot. She got it the year before as part of the March of Dimes’ national trial of Salk’s vaccine.

“My parents signed the permission because they wanted to protect me from polio and the iron lung and paralysis,” she remembers. “They trusted the medical profession, their government leaders and Jonas Salk.”

After that news, children’s vaccinations went into overdrive, followed by a national mass immunization drive. The number of polio cases plummeted from 35,000 in 1953 to only 161 cases in 1961.

Salk was a national hero. He would go on to found the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, living out his final years here until his death in 1995. Jacobs would grow up to be a professor of medicine at Stanford and write a biography of Salk, “Jonas Salk: A Life.” 

Of course there was some opposition to the polio vaccine, though nothing like the COVID vaccine resistance. In her biography of Salk, Jacobs said the opponents ranged “from the legitimate to the psychotic.”

There was controversy between camps of researchers over whether to use a live or a killed virus in the vaccine (Salk’s was killed). And some health officials initially balked at implementing a widespread vaccination campaign, given the haste in which they thought the shot had been developed.

A man named D.H. Miller, who said he was president of something called Polio Prevention Inc., circulated vitriolic anti–vaccine letters, many of which were sent directly to Salk himself. One such piece began, “Only God above will know how many thousands of little white coffins will be used to bury the victims of Salk’s heinous, fraudulent vaccine.”

Miller did not appear to have much impact

Even after offering incentives like gift cards and free drinks and a chance to win $1.5 million, only about half of eligible Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In San Diego County, the percentage is higher — roughly 77 percent have gotten at least the first shot — though the opposition, judging by the hours of public comments at government meetings, is vociferous.

What happened?

For one of the nation’s top health leaders, a member of the White House coronavirus task force who helped shepherd this vaccine into a reality and prayed fervently for what he believes is nothing short of a miracle, this response has been shocking.

“I can’t tell you that I expected this,” says Dr. Francis Collins, who is director of the National Institutes of Health, the country’s chief medical research agency. 

If you were an alien arriving here amid this pandemic “and you saw there were vaccines that had been scientifically put together that are safe and effective and yet you have a lot of people resisting them, you would scratch your head and you would try to figure out why,” Collins adds.

“How could we have had such an incredibly compelling case to have saved potentially hundreds of thousands of lives and have that fail for almost half the population? What happened here?”

It’s a question that makes the tale of these two vaccines — polio and COVID-19 — even more intriguing. How did one become an act of patriotism and the other an act of partisanship? And how did people of faith — particularly White evangelical Christians — become part of the resistance?

Sitting in his office in Bethesda, Md., with shelves of books flanking him, the frustration in Collins’ voice is palpable.

A physician and geneticist by training, Collins has spent much of his 71 years fighting diseases. Before heading the NIH, where he has served under three presidents, he led the Human Genome Project, a massive international effort to map the genes in the human body. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for that work.

But his frustration goes beyond what he does for a living.

Collins also is a born-again Christian, a self-described White evangelical, the very religious group that polls show are among the most likely to oppose the vaccine. Their reasoning is a blend of faith and politics, with arguments ranging from Jesus being their vaccine to viewing mandates as tantamount to government tyranny.

He is, he admits, puzzled by the attitude that if you take the vaccine, it means you don’t trust God. 

“This is like God just answered your prayer. It’s a gift. But you have to unwrap it, which means you’ve got to roll up your sleeve.”

Then and now

By 1955, Americans had been in the grip of the polio outbreak for years. It was a terrible disease. Even a U.S. president had been crippled by it.

It was especially sad for children. There were “heartbreaking” pictures of kids in iron lungs, says Collins. Many would die. Many would be paralyzed.

“The idea that there might be a path forward was something everybody was hoping and praying for,” Collins says.

So when it arrived, they rejoiced.

It was a very different mindset. 

“There was, I think, a general recognition that we are all invested in the health of our nation and our communities,” Collins explains, “and that science was something to count on and to be generally favorable to achieve some success.”

The Boston Globe recently wrote about Governor Ron DeSantis’ choice for Florida’s Surgeon General.

He is Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a 2008 graduate of Harvard Medical school, who also earned a doctorate from Harvard in health policy.

The Globe wrote:

Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, Florida’s new surgeon general, made waves Wednesday in the Sunshine State, inking new guidelines allowing parents to decide whether their kids should quarantine or stay in school if they’re asymptomatic following exposure to COVID-19, and he’s also spoken critically about the public health focus on vaccines as a key tool for battling the pandemic

He wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in September 2020 criticizing lockdowns and quarantines.

He wrote in that column, which appeared long before the emergence of the worrisome Delta variant, that many states had “weathered post-shutdown outbreaks and case counts are falling,” and that policies “forged in fear and panic have wrought tremendous damage in exchange for benefits that were attainable at a much lower cost.”

Ladapo also railed in the piece against what he said were onerous quarantine guidelines for students.

“The CDC’s quarantine guidelines for healthy, low-risk students should be revisited in light of the outsize effect quarantines have on their educational experience—and the possibility of perpetual quarantining for exposed students if testing is performed frequently,” he wrote.

After Dr. Lapado’s appointment, he moved swiftly to reduce the state’s already lax guidelines for students.

Ladapo eliminated previous mandates requiring students to quarantine for at least four days off campus if they’ve been exposed to the virus. Under the new guidelines, students who have been exposed can continue going to campus, “without restrictions or disparate treatment,” if they’re asymptomatic, They can also quarantine, but no longer than seven days, as long as they don’t get sick.

As in previous guidelines, schools can require masks as long as students can opt out, though the new rules add language that opting out is “at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.”

Dr. Lapado was one of three doctors who signed the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, which held that wearing masks was not necessary, that lockdowns are ineffective, “and that allowing young and healthy people to get infected should be expected, as long as the vulnerable are protected.”

Other medical and public health experts are appalled by his views.

That sort of messaging has distressed many in public health, including Dr. Nida Qadir, an associate professor of medicine and associate director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Ladapo taught previously at UCLA as well.

“He’s expressed a lot of strange views since the beginning of the pandemic,” Qadir tweeted. “I don’t know him personally, but it’s been especially shocking considering the state LA was in this past winter. Can’t say I’m not happy he’s leaving CA but sorry for the people of FL.”

CNN wrote about Dr. Lapado:

Ladapo has expressed skepticism of Covid-19 health measures, including mask-wearing and vaccinations. He’s also among a group of doctors who have supported unproven and disproved therapies, including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine….

He praises the natural immunity that people acquire when they are infected with COVID.

“You don’t need to go to medical school to look at the data and see that there’s really great protection” offered by getting infected with and recovering from Covid-19, Ladapo said. “There’s tremendous data that supports the fact that natural immunity protects people from getting very ill, also protects people from being infected again. So that’s what it is, and that’s great.”

CNN wrote about Dr. Lapado after a Florida man wrote him a letter saying that he was right about natural immunity. A family member had COVID and now has immunity to all diseases because he died.

Steven Singer writes that teachers are getting sick and exhausted because of the stress of the pandemic. One week, they are heroes. Next week, they are villains.


At the staff meeting the other day, one of my fellow teachers turned to me and said he was having trouble seeing.

He rushed home and had to have his blood pressure meds adjusted.

Another co-worker was sent home because one of her students had tested positive for Covid-19 and she had gone over to his desk to help him with his assignment.

I, myself, came home on Friday and was so beat down I just collapsed into bed having to spend the next week going from one medical procedure to another to regain my health.

The teachers are not okay.

This pandemic has been particularly hard on us.

Through every twist and turn, teachers have been at the center of the storm.

When schools first closed, we were heroes for teaching on-line.

When they remained closed, we were villains for wanting to remain there – safe from infection.

Then there was a vaccine and many of us wanted to reopen our schools but only if we were prioritized to be vaccinated first. We actually had to fight for the right to be vaccinated.

When our students got sick, we sounded the alarm – only to get gas lighting from the CDC that kids don’t catch Covid and even if they do, they certainly never catch it at school.

We were asked to redo our entire curriculums on-line, then in-person for handfuls of students in funky two-day blocks, then teach BOTH on-line and in-person at the same time.

The summer was squandered with easing of precautions and not enough adults and teens getting vaccinated. Then schools reopened in August and September to debates over whether we should continue safety precautions like requiring students and staff wear masks and if we should expand them to include mandatory vaccinations for all staff and eligible students to protect kids 11 and younger who can’t take the vaccine yet.

It’s been a rough year and a half, and I can tell you from experience – TEACHERS ARE EXHAUSTED.

As of Sept. 17, 2021, at least 1,116 active and retired K-12 educators have died of COVID-19,according to Education Week. Of that number, at least 361 were active teachers still on the job.

I’m sure the real number is much higher.

According to the Associated Press, the Covid pandemic has triggered a spike in teacher retirements and resignations not to mention a shortage of tutors and special aides.

Difficulties filling teacher openings have been reported in Tennessee, New Jersey and South Dakota. In the Mount Rushmore State, one district started the school year with 120 teacher vacancies.

But, as he writes, it didn’t start with COVID. Open the link. Read on

The school board of Waukee, Iowa, planned to mandate masks, but then a campaign started in the community against the mandate. Faced with threats to “make the district pay” by withdrawing students, the board voted down the mask mandate. The only dissenting vote was a physician. The anti-maskers prefer to expose their children to a highly contagious and deadly disease.

A friend who works in a government health agency sent me the following thoughts about the Texas abortion ban. The bill does not permit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which amounts to a ban since very few women know they are pregnant at that time. Citizens are offered a bounty of $10,000 for identifying any woman who obtained an abortion or who helped her get an abortion. The author requested anonymity.

She writes:

You have probably already read a great deal about the SCOTUS decision upholding (for now) the Texas ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Below are a few notable excerpts (articles by Lithwick, Tribe, and some others are worth reading in their entirety) and, as usual, some comments.

Note that “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in the 1973 Roe v Wade SCOTUS decision, was a Texas resident who protested the unconstitutional abortion laws in her state.

Note also Michelle Goldberg’s useful framing of the crowdsourcing of anti-abortion enforcement as yet another illustration of the Republican embrace of vigilantism. (e.g.: Jan 6 insurrection, the call for military insubordination in defiance of civilian control, celebration of Kyle Rittenhouse in WI, praise for the Texas mob that attempted to force Biden’s campaign bus off the road, violence at anti-vaccine protests, Trump’s frequent promotion of assault.)

One of my questions today has still not been answered:

Are suits possible against individuals in other states who in any way help Texas women obtain an abortion out of state, i.e., if someone outside of Texas contributes money to an organization that helps Texas women leave the state to have an abortion, can the donor be sued? By anyone?

Dahlia LIthwick asserted on Rachel Maddow’s show tonight that the answer is not clear, and that that lack of clarity and the consequent chilling, self-censoring effect it has are deliberate. I’m sure clarity will be quickly forthcoming.

Another huge question is whether there will be sufficient political agitation (mostly among women) to make reproductive rights an issue with impact in the 2022 and 2024 elections. In theory, every legislator will now have to publicly take a position, and some are already lining up on either side. Dems see it as a winning issue – finally some serious motivation for our base and greater peril for Repubs.

A few points of clarification re misleading media reports:

– The Texas law is called a “heartbeat” bill. But there is no real “heartbeat” at 6 weeks because there is no real heart. At that point, the embryo is less than ½” long and has a slight pulse of electrical activity and a tiny tube that will eventually become a heart. After all, every living cell uses electric energy, including plants. So do cell phones. The term “heartbeat” bill is another form of emotionally manipulative, right wing branding which all journalists seem to be buying into.

– SCOTUS did not “give” women the right to abortion. The Roe v Wade decision agreed, as Jane Roe’s lawyers argued, that women have a Constitutional right to abortion based on the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides a “right to privacy.”

Here is what the Roe v Wade decision actually held. Note the differing terms and stipulations for each trimester:

State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman’s health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a ‘compelling’ point at various stages of the woman’s approach to term. Pp. 147-164.

(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician. Pp. 163-164.

(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163-164.

(c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164—165.

– An embryo is not an “unborn child.” An embryo is not even a fetus until week nine, and not viable outside the womb until 24-28 weeks. The Texas, Mississippi, and other laws outlawing abortion before “viability” are clearly unconstitutional.

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced in 2017, 2019, and again in Jan 2021 with the co-sponsorship of 42 Republican Senators, duplicitously claims viability (and capacity for pain) at 20 weeks, counting from the date of conception/fertilization, rather than the standard obstetric calculation, which is from the first day of the woman’s last period – that is, two weeks prior to conception and easier to determine. (Muddying the water about the time of “viability” is another deceitful tactic designed to push a ban back at least to 20 weeks.) In either case, according to the Executive VP of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

“…in no way, shape or form is a 20-week fetus viable. There is no evidence anywhere of a 20-week fetus surviving, even with intensive medical care.”

Further, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

“the neural circuitry necessary to distinguish touch from painful touch does not, in fact, develop until late in the third trimester.”

– Why are we only discussing the responsibility of women and penalizing those who help them? If a fetus is a child, isn’t the father a parent, guilty of child neglect if he walks away from a pregnant partner and guilty of aiding an abortion if he knows she will seek one? And why are women expected to fight for their human rights on their own? Where is the outrage of regular men, other than the liberal TV pundits and civil rights lawyers?

As Dahlia Lithwick, points out,

“…It’s almost impossible ..not (to)..declare that the court opted to end virtually all abortion rights in Texas, in the full knowledge that they were blessing an unconstitutional and brutal piece of lawless vigilantism, because it’s only about women…..

…..a court that comes to you in the dark of night, without logic or reason, whispering soothing words about how “this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law” as it upends the constitutionality of Texas law? That is the stuff of ancient gaslighting, reserved for those moments in which Power is explaining to Women that they are just being hysterical, and to kindly lie back and enjoy it…..” 

Re suggested next steps and remedies:

– Presidential “whole government” study commissions are clearly not going to meet the urgent, desperate need for action.

– Likewise, voting rights reinstatement (in order to elect new judges and leaders who will appoint different judges) and court reform (expanding the Supreme Court and other changes) are supremely (pun intended) worthy goals, but will take years or decades to achieve. Further, Biden’s Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court is not chargedwith actually making recommendations, and Biden has not expressed support for court expansion.

– Codifying national abortion rights through Congresswoman Judy Chu’s “Women’s Health Protection Act” would face highly likely defeat in the Senate (Dem Senators Manchin and Casey are anti-choice) and, if it survived that, a challenge and likely defeat by SCOTUS, which, after all, couldn’t even wait to hear normal public arguments in the Mississippi anti-abortion case (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization), which comes before the court this fall and specifically requests the overturn of Roe.

I know there are many pro choice orgs desperate for funds at this moment, but the Center for Reproductive Rights (4-star rating) will argue the Dobbs case at SCOTUS and is a very focused and potentially impactful place to put some money:

https://reproductiverights.org/

https://reproductiverights.org/texas-abortion-ban-supreme-court-ruling-sb8/  (background and highlights from dissents.)

– 19 states have already banned abortion via telehealth using pills (despite Covid), and many are rushing to ban sending abortion pills by mail. Keep in mind that anti-abortion people, including Justice Brett Kavanaugh, consider some types of birth control to be “abortion-inducing.” As Laurence Tribe, discussing this “grotesque” Texas law, statedtoday in The Guardian, there will be many other downstream consequences:

The prospect of hefty bounties will breed a system of profit-seeking, Soviet-style informing on friends and neighbors. These vigilantes will sue medical distributors of IUDs and morning-after pills, as well as insurance companies. These companies, in turn, will stop offering reproductive healthcare in Texas…….. if a young woman asks for money for a bus ticket, or a ride to the airport, friends and parents fearful of liability might vigorously interrogate her about her intentions. This nightmarish state of affairs burdens yet another fundamental constitutional privilege: the right to interstate travel….

– Neighboring states are not going to offer safe haven. As of June 2021, 12 states already have anti-abortion bans ready to be “triggered” with the fall of Roe, and 15 have early gestational age abortion bans ready to go. Per the Guttmacher Institute, abortion would almost immediately be illegal or severely restricted in 22 states. At least half a dozen states (e.g., FL, AR, MS) are now considering draconian laws modeled on that of Texas. (The idea is not new: In 2014, a Pennsylvania woman was imprisoned for buying her daughter abortion drugs.)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/01/texas-abortion-law-faq/  (Note the few purple states.)

In any case, as Michelle Goldberg and others have pointed out, the goal was never just overturning Roe. Despite the professed commitment to state determination of abortion laws, the right will never be satisfied with a patchwork of state laws. Their goal has always been a total, national abortion ban.

“Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan. Each wrote their own dissents calling for the law to be blocked.”  

Four Justices dissented from the SCOTUS ruling re the Texas law:

In case you missed the strong dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the SCOTUS ruling:

“The Court’s order is stunning. Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”

More from Sotomayor:

  • “In effect, the Texas Legislature has deputized the State’s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures.”
  • “Taken together, the Act is a breathtaking act of defiance—of the Constitution, of this Court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas.”
  • “Today, the Court finally tells the Nation that it declined to act because, in short, the State’s gambit worked. … It cannot be the case that a State can evade federal judicial scrutiny by outsourcing the enforcement of unconstitutional laws to its citizenry.”

The Washington Post editorial board published a statement condemning Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ fierce opposition to mandates for masks and vaccinations. He wants to run for President as the candidate most like Trump.

It wrote:

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, has descended to a jaw-dropping level of cynicism. At a news conference on Monday, he announced that if local governments in Florida impose vaccine mandates on their employees, he would fine them $5,000 for every worker. Then he stood silently by as Gainesville city employees made false claims about the mRNA vaccines that have saved countless lives during the pandemic.

Although the wave of illness from the delta variant appears to be receding in Florida, the state has suffered a terrible summer toll of hospitalizations and deaths. A governor facing such a cataclysm might naturally be expected to use all methods to keep people safe. Instead, Mr. DeSantis, an ally of former president Donald Trump, has for months been campaigning against mask and vaccine mandates and actively sought to prevent business, government and schools from imposing them. These are vital tools to save lives in the face of a highly transmissible disease, but the governor insists that everyone should have the right to make their own decision. He casts himself as a defender of personal freedom.

This is a favorite argument of Republican governors and others, including Mr. Trump, who last year amid lockdowns was tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and other states. But personal freedom does not give an individual the right to hurt others. Those not wearing masks and refusing to get vaccinated are spreading the virus and overcrowding the nation’s hospitals. They are the majority of those who are dying. This is not freedom; it is recklessness.

This is an arresting article that was written by respiratory therapist Karen Gallardo and published by the Los Angeles Times. I wish it was compulsory reading for everyone who refuses to wear a mask or to get vaccinated.

She writes:

I’m a respiratory therapist. With the fourth wave of the pandemic in full swing, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, the trajectory of the patients I see, from admission to critical care, is all too familiar. When they’re vaccinated, their COVID-19 infections most likely end after Stage 1. If only that were the case for everyone.
Get vaccinated. If you choose not to, here’s what to expect if you are hospitalized for a serious case of COVID-19.

Stage 1. You’ve had debilitating symptoms for a few days, but now it is so hard to breathe that you come to the emergency room. Your oxygen saturation level tells us you need help, a supplemental flow of 1 to 4 liters of oxygen per minute. We admit you and start you on antivirals, steroids, anticoagulants or monoclonal antibodies. You’ll spend several days in the hospital feeling run-down, but if we can wean you off the oxygen, you’ll get discharged. You survive.

Stage 2. It becomes harder and harder for you to breathe. “Like drowning,” many patients describe the feeling. The bronchodilator treatments we give you provide little relief. Your oxygen requirements increase significantly, from 4 liters to 15 liters to 40 liters per minute. Little things, like relieving yourself or sitting up in bed, become too difficult for you to do on your own. Your oxygen saturation rapidly declines when you move about. We transfer you to the intensive care unit.

Stage 3. You’re exhausted from hyperventilating to satisfy your body’s demand for air. We put you on noninvasive, “positive pressure” ventilation — a big, bulky face mask that must be Velcro’d tightly around your face so the machine can efficiently push pressure into your lungs to pop them open so you get enough of the oxygen it delivers.

Stage 4. Your breathing becomes even more labored. We can tell you’re severely fatigued. An arterial blood draw confirms that the oxygen content in your blood is critically low. We prepare to intubate you. If you’re able to and if there’s time, we will suggest that you call your loved ones. This might be the last time they’ll hear your voice.

We connect you to a ventilator. You are sedated and paralyzed, fed through a feeding tube, hooked to a Foley catheter and a rectal tube. We turn your limp body regularly, so you don’t develop pressure ulcers — bed sores. We bathe you and keep you clean. We flip you onto your stomach to allow for better oxygenation. We will try experimental therapeutics.

Stage 5. Some patients survive Stage 4. Unfortunately, your oxygen levels and overall condition have not improved after several days on the ventilator. Your COVID-infested lungs need assistance and time to heal, something that an ECMO machine, which bypasses your lungs and oxygenates your blood, can provide. But alas, our community hospital doesn’t have that capability.

If you’re stable enough, you will get transferred to another hospital for that therapy. Otherwise, we’ll continue treating you as best we can. We’re understaffed and overwhelmed, but we’ll always give you the best care we can.

Stage 6. The pressure required to open your lungs is so high that air can leak into your chest cavity, so we insert tubes to clear it out. Your kidneys fail to filter the byproducts from the drugs we continuously give you. Despite diuretics, your entire body swells from fluid retention, and you require dialysis to help with your renal function.

The long hospital stay and your depressed immune system make you susceptible to infections. A chest X-ray shows fluid accumulating in your lung sacs. A blood clot may show up, too. We can’t prevent these complications at this point; we treat them as they present.

If your blood pressure drops critically, we will administer vasopressors to bring it up, but your heart may stop anyway. After several rounds of CPR, we’ll get your pulse and circulation back. But soon, your family will need to make a difficult decision.

Stage 7: After several meetings with the palliative care team, your family decides to withdraw care. We extubate you, turning off the breathing machinery. We set up a final FaceTime call with your loved ones. As we work in your room, we hear crying and loving goodbyes. We cry, too, and we hold your hand until your last natural breath.

I’ve been at this for 17 months now. It doesn’t get easier. My pandemic stories rarely end well.

Karen Gallardo is a respiratory therapist at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.

While some parents are disrupting school board meetings to protest mask and vaccine mandates, a parent group in Los Angeles thanked the school board for mandating COVID vaccinations to protect students, teachers, staff, and families from a deadly disease.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2021


CONTACT: Jenna Schwartz, Co-Founder, 310.994.9764 (c); PSTLAUSD@gmail.com Nicolle Fefferman, Co-Founder, 323.376.6513 (c)
Parents Supporting Teachers Supports Vaccine Mandate for LAUSD Students

Parents Supporting Teachers (PST), the largest parent advocacy group supporting Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers and families, announces its support for the district’s recent approval for a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for eligible students. The vaccine requirement goes one step further to ensure the health and safety of teachers, staff, and students.
“We have been waiting for this and fully support the requirement that all students in LAUSD get vaccinated once they are eligible. With positive cases being reported weekly, the single best Covid mitigation measure is to ensure everyone in the community is vaccinated, both inside and outside of schools,” said Jenna Schwartz co-founder. California law already requires all students in both public and private schools to have certain immunizations, the Covid vaccination would be one more added to the list. It is imperative that in conjunction with this mandate, the district commits to educating and informing reluctant families about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

“I am thankful to our Board members for taking the necessary steps to protect teachers, families, and students. The district prides itself on having the safest safety protocols and mitigation measures among all school districts nationwide, including requiring that all teachers be vaccinated by October 15th. Requiring vaccines for students was an appropriate next step and one more added layer of protection we haven’t had yet this year.” said co-founder Nicolle Fefferman.

“At this point there is no denying that being vaccinated is the best defense against Covid-19. While some vaccinated people can still get infected, evidence shows that the vaccines are effective in reducing transmission and preventing severe illness and death. Not only that, but we do have students and staff unable to get the vaccine because of underlying health conditions. This policy helps protect these students and staff by building the community’s immunity to Covid. We hope families will feel safer about sending their children to school,” Fefferman added.

Parents Supporting Teachers also opposes the upcoming California governor recall election. Republican candidates have vowed to rescind mask and vaccine mandates for schools, and if successful would allow Covid 19 to spread throughout schools and our communities, putting the health and safety of all teachers, students, and families at risk.

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About Parents Supporting Teachers: Parents Supporting Teachers is a parent education advocacy group in Los Angeles with over 25,000 followers and is the only organically created group of this size exclusively dedicated to parent communication and education support in the entire LAUSD. Visit http://www.parentssupportingteachers.org to learn more and support our shared vision for equitable and inclusive LAUSD schools.