Sunday, May 31, 2020

Who will we be after the coronavirus pandemic is over?



I’ve seen so many commercials emanating what the essence of the American spirit looks like.  I’ve seen images of major company’s displaying their generosity to the American public by providing everything from much needed food to supplies to facial masks needed for the survival of the citizens of this country; which gives me pause as to who we are as well as what we hope to be once we come out of this global pandemic.

Who will we be when we come out on the other side of this illness?  Will we have learned anything at all especially when it comes to the respect of life after a disease that has killed over 1) 106,000 people in this country alone: 370,000 souls worldwide? 
 
I am constantly reminded of our new normal in the news cycles, the commercials that we take in as well as the people that we see on the street.  Everyone has on a mask that they hope will protect them from the coronavirus.

But I wonder if we’ve truly learned a much-needed lesson from all of this.  As front-line responders continue to put their lives on the line and fight for those of us that can’t, I am amazed, and I take my hat off to you.  My younger brother is a police officer in Delaware.  He along with many others continue to fight against crime and illness regardless of the provisions they have in place at the moment.

Will we remember those that have fallen in the name of what is right and decent?  Will their lives continue to matter long after this pandemic is over even as their families continue to grieve their passing because of their unselfish sacrifice?

Or will we go back to being a divided people?  I wonder if we are more comfortable hating one another for one reason manufactured in our imaginations because we need someone to blame for our misfortunes. Slowly but surely, the middle class is being erased much to the dismay of everyone around us.  The blame does not rest on everyone and everything with the exceptions of where the blame rightfully belongs.

We have the choice to come out better and truly being our brother’s keeper because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  It doesn’t matter how you make a difference as long as you do.  Every contribution is appreciated.  Every hour donated to help our neighbors who probably never thought they would need the type of assistance provided is one filled with gratitude.

More importantly, (and no one is talking about this now) is that we are seeing the slow erosion of the middle class.  The middle class never thought for a moment that they would need the type of assistance that they are getting.  In the meantime, the wealthy don’t experience any of the hardships that the poor and middle class have had to endure.  No one is talking about that.

Although the manufacturing of the corona virus was not Donald Trump’s creation, the reaction before the virus washed up on American shores is.

So, who will we be after this pandemic?

We argue, fight and agree to disagree; but we’ll always be at odds with one another. The reason for this difference is not because we don’t understand where we are as a people.  We understand where we are all too well.  One of the main problems with that that thought process is that we don’t believe it.

There are two America’s that exist…not one.  There is an America for people of color, and there is an America for whites.  The moment we understand this, the better off we’ll be.  We’ll be able to address the issue of race in this country without the anger that is deeply hidden on both sides.

 We need to come to grips with the fact that we have always been divided as a country.  The division didn’t just come about because of Donald Trump.  He is a symptom, not a cause. If you look at our history (and I hate to say this) but people of color have never been welcomed in this land unless we were to assume the role of being subservient to white people.  White people need to own how they feel.  They also need to own why because it’s that thought process that caused many people so much pain.

However, whenever this topic is brought up, it’s often in an accusatory tone in which white people will react with the look that all people have come to know.  Anger runs deep when one race mistreats another.  But the reality is that white people need to own what has happened in the past so that we can move forward as a people.
"There are two America’s that exist…not one.  There is an America for people of color, and there is an America for whites.  The moment we understand this, the better off we’ll be.  We’ll be able to address the issue of race in this country without the anger that is deeply hidden on both sides." - J.L. Whitehead
 Part of the problem is that most white people are acutely aware of what has been done.  In their minds, two things are going on.  One is that they personally should not be held responsible for any mistreatment of people of color in the past because in their mind, they haven’t personally violated the rights of anyone.  The second is that even though the average white claims to not see color, you see it all the time.

But who will we be once the coronavirus scare is over?  Will white people respond with understanding or more hatred?  I’m not sure because the two America’s that I described is so deeply entrenched in our DNA and yet we don’t acknowledge or respond to it.

We live under a flag that is supposed to cover all of us; but it doesn’t.  

People of color should not have to hold rallies, marches or violent confrontations to show that they are Americans.  Nor should they be the only ones shown by the media as being responsible for looting the businesses that the owners painstakingly built.  But when America is divided so that one group of people get the benefit of the doubt or presumed innocence before a guilty sentence is just as bad as someone who’s not guilty but is automatically deemed guilty before they’re taken into custody.
 
We can choose to be what we say we are and stand up for what we believe.  We can come out of the coronavirus epidemic by being a little bit kinder to strangers regardless of race in addition to the neighbors they know.

We can be better…but it starts with believing and instituting that belief system in their everyday lives.  We can choose to embrace our differences like we did during the pandemic.  Or we can go back to hating one another.  The choice is yours.  What will you do?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Enough

Enough.  Have you ever had a child get on your last nerve and you had to say to them (somewhat sternly) Enough?  That's kind of how I feel every time I see Trump's face come on television.  I imagine that this is how many people felt when they saw Obama in their news cycle.

The difference is Obama did not get on television to bask in the adulation of the people that put him in power.  We have seen Trump in action for almost four years and we've all been witness to the damage that he has caused the country despite the fact that everything he says he does is for the benefit of the citizens that occupy this great land.

There is no humility when he comes on television.  Everything...and I do mean everything is the finest, the best, the most powerful, the greatest that people have ever seen.  And I wouldn't mind that except logic bears that the pendulum swings both ways.  At some point in time, you have to take responsibility when that pendulum swings to the opposite end of the spectrum.  We may not like it, but that's how life works.  At least for most of us.

But I've had enough.  I don't hate the man as I one time thought I did.  Instead, I dislike his lack of moral leadership.  It upsets me that at the end of the day, everything for him has to end in some type of business negotiation...a negotiation that he wins.  Every time.

He surrounds himself with "yes" people.  He has done this most of his life.  He has heard from people near him that he is the most intelligent, most business savvy, the smartest, the greatest human being since the coming of Jesus himself.

I say "enough" because I don't need for the United States to go back to what it used to be prior to his coming to power.  God knows it wasn't that great for people before he came into power.  It wasn't that great for us even when it was supposed to be great for us because the moment that the first black president said anything that would remind white America that he is a black man and he understood the plight black people would make said white America lose their mind.  It wasn't supposed to be that way, but it was.

It is said that if you give a man unlimited power, it will show you the true character of who he is.  If you allow a man to get away with actions that will benefit him, his family and friends, you will see exactly who he is.

The problem is, I've seen who Trump is.  I've seen it for almost four years.  I've seen him do things that directly profited he and his family.  And yes, I will say that he has done some good while he was in office.  I'll give him that. I'm sure that his followers can advise me accordingly.

But even with the good that he may have done, it is overshadowed by the useless name-calling, filling his staff with "yes" people, denigrating the office of the presidency so that instead of treating him as a public servant, we are forced to treat him like the dictator that he always wanted to become.

Enough.  The office of the presidency is so much more than what he has forced it to become.  The United States as a whole will never be happy with whoever we elect.  Some will believe that the elected official is too...something.  He or she may be too liberal or too conservative.  We can never seem to find the appropriate medium that would work for everyone.

But for me...today.  At this very moment.  I am saying Enough.

~ J.L. Whitehead


Monday, March 16, 2020

When will this virus go away?



Jim was going to take his husband out dancing.  He wanted to go out to the clubs and experience what he thought he’d experienced when he was single…minus the flirting and possibly drinking to excess.  He wasn’t going to let a virus scare him into staying home.  He knew that the gay scene itself had changed due to his age, but he didn’t care.  He was looking for the one night where he and his partner could go out and become enthralled with the music and dance until they worked up a sweat.  Maybe they would leave by 12:30 and be home by 1:00.  But in the back of his mind the thought of the corona virus setting up shop in America.  And he wasn’t ready to conform to a life of being indoors for a prolonged period of time.

The problem was evident.  How is the corona virus changing the landscape of America?  We know that the virus is here, and it seems at least for the moment that it’s here to stay.  Jim is HIV positive and isn’t sure how this virus will impact his life. He wasn’t sure if he should be doing the things that he enjoyed doing before the virus invaded America and subsequently, his life.  He wasn’t sure what to believe as the government or rather, the president came across the local airwaves and proceeded to give misinformation about the virus.  In the end, some people were confused and unsure of what to do.

This did not stop people from making a mad dash to the market and clearing out the aisle that contained bread as well as the adjacent aisle that held paper products.  And when he picked up the few things that he needed at the store, he wondered how his world would change.

The scary part about all of this is that he has deliberately chosen to tune out the words of the president despite how somewhat presidential he sounds.  Instead, he pays attention to the health experts that he has surrounded himself with.  He’s finding that most of his family members and people that are in his social circle are doing the same thing.  He knows that there is no sense in panicking.  That will not accomplish anything because like it or not, the world is changing.  Instead, he sought some information that we are willing to share with you.  Some of it is common sense and others may be new to you.  But after doing some searching, this is what we found:

1.What is the coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, some of which can infect people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.
What is a novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2019 novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel member of the coronavirus family — SARS-CoV-2 — that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.
There is still much to learn about the disease. Globally, about 3.4% of people infected with COVID-19 have died. At greater risk are people with chronic health conditions and the elderly. For perspective, flu cases currently dwarf the number of COVID-19 cases, although the death rate is less than .1%.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, include respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, it can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
How can I prevent getting the new coronavirus?
The World Health Organization has the following recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including the new coronavirus:
  • Frequently clean your hands by using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share your travel history with your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk, and animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, per good food safety practices.
Should I wear a mask?
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection, according to the World Health Organization. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask to protect others and seek medical care.
The WHO states that a medical mask is not required if you are healthy, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons. However, masks might be worn in some countries according to local cultural habits. If masks are used, best practices should be followed on how to wear, remove, and dispose of them and on hand hygiene action after removal.

Can antibiotics prevent and treat the new coronavirus?

Like the common cold, there is no specific antibiotic or medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. But people infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive medical care, which may include antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
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How did the new coronavirus start?

The National Health Commission in China informed the WHO on Jan. 11 that the new coronavirus outbreak is linked with exposure to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are common in people and many species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rarely, animal coronaviruses infect people and then spread person-to-person, such as with MERSSARS, and this new coronavirus. All three of these viruses are betacoronaviruses, which have their origins in bats.
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How are governments trying to control the spread of the virus?

The Chinese government has taken extraordinary measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, both within the country and across borders. Wuhan and many other cities are in lockdown, affecting over 51 million people. The government has suspended transportation and launched a massive program to ramp up the number of hospital beds.
The World Health Organization has also been working with the Chinese government and others to track the spread of the disease and advise health authorities. Many airlines have stopped flying to China, and in countries where cases have been identified, people infected are being isolated for treatment and monitoring.
As countries and communities respond to the virus by closing schools and places of work and imposing quarantines, along with people limiting public interaction, it is children and the very poor who will be greatly impacted.  Any loss of work for people who survive on minimal earnings will have a devastating impact on household incomes where people survive from day to day.  The price of food and goods is also likely to rise as shortages emerge and people begin to hoard supplies. The very poorest won’t be able to stock up in the same way, and the loss of earnings will make it very hard for them to feed their children.
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What is the difference between an outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic?

When even one case of COVID-19 is diagnosed in a new location and determined to be locally transmitted, it is an outbreak. When it spreads rapidly to many people, that is an epidemic. A pandemic occurs when it spreads globally.
According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic can occur when three conditions have been met:
  1. A disease emerges which is new to the population.
  2. The virus infects humans, causing serious illness.
  3. The virus spreads easily and sustainably among humans. Most people will not have immunity to the virus.
The WHO is extremely careful about when to declare a pandemic. It seeks to avoid creating panic that a declaration can bring. However, a declaration can also spur countries and individuals into action to do more to prevent the spread of the virus.
Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses. The 2009 swine flu pandemic is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.  With no vaccine currently available, containing the spread of COVID-19 is vital.
Although the seasonal flu can spread globally, the mortality rate is typically much lower and a much larger number of people have immunity.
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How is World Vision responding to the coronavirus-caused disease pandemic around the world?

World Vision teams worldwide, and particularly across Asia, are doing all they can to keep children, families, and their communities safe. In China, World Vision aims to support nearly 1.3 million people at an estimated cost of $4.7 million. World Vision will not only respond to the rapid increase in the emergent needs for protective and hygiene items, but also to the needs for psychosocial support and future preparedness.
“Time is of the essence,” says John Teng, the national director for World Vision in China. “… China faces one of the biggest crises it has seen in recent history.”
World Vision is working in collaboration with local authorities, hospitals, academic institutions, and other humanitarian organizations, prioritizing the response to the needs of children, their families, and their communities, as well as local health workers.
“With many cities on lockdown and livelihoods affected in many situations, it’s critical to ensure that people have the resources and knowledge to be able to care for themselves and their families, especially as children are vulnerable in such situations,” John says.
Our response includes providing face masks to communities and health workers, distributing hand sanitizers and other personal hygiene items, and supporting efforts by local health authorities, schools, and local partners to communicate stay-safe health messages.
World Vision staff member Che Zifa helped distribute surgical masks to a rural community in Honghe County on Feb. 3. Honghe County is located more than 700 miles southwest of Wuhan, China, epicenter of the pandemic. “Although we all wore masks, we still felt nervous,” Che says.
World Vision is also working on a global preparedness plan with all its offices.
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How is World Vision responding in the U.S.?

World Vision warehouses in Washington state, New York City, Chicago, Texas, West Virginia, and Connecticut are stocking up on items that its partner network of churches, schools, community- and other faith-based organizations can use to prevent infections. These supplies include liquid and bar soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, face masks, and disposable bed sheets. We are also collecting emergency protective supplies for immediate distribution to over 900,000 children, school staff, and parents. Staff members also are working on procuring additional supplies for which the demand is highest, such as disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

 How is the pandemic affecting World Vision’s operations?
World Vision staff are closely monitoring the situation, which is changing by the day. We are providing travel guidance for staff as well as health information designed to keep them safe. We will also observe government and local authority health guidance, which may at times prohibit travel or require people to work from home.
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What are World Vision’s concerns for children and communities we work with?

Countries with effective health systems are in a much better position to monitor, identify, and treat those with the respiratory disease, as well as to prevent its spread. We are most concerned about countries where the health systems and monitoring are weak, where people may already be suffering from diseases that are common among the poor, such as malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV and AIDS, and Ebola, or where severe malnutrition compromises immune systems. People living in these contexts are at much greater risk.
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Although the respiratory disease is present in areas where World Vision has existing development projects, no sponsored children have been infected to date. World Vision is working diligently to keep children safe.
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Novel coronavirus and COVID-19 timeline

December 2019

  • Dec. 31: In Wuhan, China, reports surface of people with pneumonia due to an unknown cause. Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, national authorities in China report 44 cases to the World Health Organization.

January 2020

  • Jan. 11: The National Health Commission in China informs the WHO that the outbreak is linked with exposure to the seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities identify a novel (new) coronavirus.
  • Jan. 12: Chinese health officials share the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus for countries to use in developing specific diagnostic kits.
  • Jan. 21: The WHO confirms 314 cases of the novel coronavirus. Of those, 309 are in China, two are in Thailand, one is in Japan, one is in the Republic of Korea, and one is in the United States. The death toll in Wuhan rises to six. Many people affected have underlying health issues, according to Reuters. The CDC confirms that a person in Washington state who returned from Wuhan on Jan. 15 tested positive for the respiratory disease.
  • Jan. 24: Reported cases increase to 846 around the world. The majority, 830 cases, are in China, and 11 are outside of China. Singapore and Vietnam report their first cases, and a second case is identified in the U.S. — a person who lives in Illinois and recently visited Wuhan. The death toll increases to 25.
  • Jan. 25: The WHO confirms 1,320 cases globally. Australia, Nepal, and France report their first cases. A third U.S. case is identified in Orange County, California — a person who had recently traveled to Wuhan. Forty-one people have died so far, all in China.
  • Jan. 28: The total global cases jump to 4,593, with 4,537 in China. The death toll increases to 106, and three more countries — Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Germany — report cases.
    • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping and commends China’s “seriousness and transparency” in response to the outbreak.
    • An airliner with about 210 U.S. citizens, mostly consulate personnel and their families, leaves Wuhan for the United States. Officials with the CDC recommend avoiding all travel to China and expand airport health screenings to 20 U.S. locations.
    • Scientists in Australia become the first to recreate the new coronavirus outside of China.
  • Jan. 29: There is now a total of 6,065 cases around the world and 132 deaths. The United Arab Emirates reports its first four cases.
    • WHO Director-General Tedros calls for the emergency committee to reconvene to again discuss if they should declare a public health emergency of international concern.
    • The plane carrying U.S. citizens arrives at March Air Reserve Base in California. Passengers exhibiting symptoms are transported to a hospital, while those who are symptom-free are asked to stay on base for further screening.
  • Jan. 30: The global case totals jump to 7,818, and with China reports accounting for 7,736. Of the cases in China, 1,370 are severe, and 170 people have died. Outside of China, there have been 82 cases identified in 18 different countries. The WHO reports cases in Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and Finland. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirms Italy has its first two cases during a press conference.
    • The CDC confirms the first human-to-human transmission in the United States. The patient, a man in his 60s living in Illinois, is the spouse of a woman who recently visited Wuhan and was diagnosed with the disease on Jan. 24. President Donald Trump announces the formation of a coronavirus task force to lead America’s response to the outbreak.
    • The WHO emergency committee makes a nearly unanimous decision to declare a public health emergency of international concern.

February 2020

  • Feb. 5: The U.S. State Department has commissioned evacuation flights of U.S. citizens and their families out of from China and has placed repatriated Americans under quarantine. All the passengers will be under federal quarantine orders for 14 days.
  • Feb. 11: The WHO names the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it. Co and Vi comes from coronavirus, with D referring to disease and 19 representing 2019, the year the first cases were seen, according to the WHO.
  • Feb. 14: A Chinese tourist who tested positive for COVID-19 dies in France, becoming the first person to die in the outbreak in Europe. That same day, Egyptian officials announce their first case of COVID-19, according to a joint statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Health and the WHO. This is the first confirmed case in Africa.

March 2020

  • March 11: The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic.
  • March 12: The global case total of the COVID-19 pandemic reaches more than 128,000 people globally, with the death toll now at more than 4,700 people.
  • March 16: Coronavirus vaccine testing begins in the U.S. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine wouldn’t be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, says Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
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Heather Klinger and Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.

~J.L Whitehead

Editor's note:  I did not come up with the statistics of this article.  The statistics written belong to Heather Klinger and Kathryn Reid of World Visions staff in the US.