Who Sent COVID-19 Patients to Nursing Homes?

In some places governors demanded that nursing homes take COVID-19 patients even though it was clear that the people there were at greater risk. We’ll talk about this on the next Heart Health Radio show Saturday at noon on WPTF.

From the Washington Examiner:

The great influenza of 1918-19, for example, tended to kill otherwise healthy people in the prime of life, ages 20 to 40. The COVID-19 virus tends to kill people age 70 and above, especially those with comorbidities.

Yet, even though that was apparent early on, America’s governors have done a poor job of protecting those most at risk — residents of nursing homes, elderly people with physical frailties and, often, cognitive impairment.

The result: One-third of reported coronavirus deaths in the United States, according to the New York Times’s reporting, are of nursing home residents or workers. And nursing homes accounted for a majority of deaths in heavily hit states, such as New Jersey (52%), Massachusetts (59%), Pennsylvania (66%), and Connecticut (55%), and for 80% of deaths in otherwise lightly hit Minnesota.

That percentage is much lower (20%) in America’s COVID-19 epicenter, New York, but the Empire State still leads the nation with 5,403 nursing home deaths — about 1 out of every 14 COVID-19 deaths in the entire country.

Why so many?

Read the whole thing, or listen to Heart Health Radio on FM 98.5 AM 680 WPTF. We’re on Apple Podcasts and WPTF.com.

Did New York City Seed the American COVID-19 Pandemic?

And how dirty are New York City subway cars? Turns out pretty dirty.

Heart Health Radio with Dr. Franklin Wefald is on Saturdays at noon on WPTF. Find the podcast here for the 5-9-2020 Episode.

James in Raleigh updates us on his heart surgery, and apparently doctors removed a clot the size of a golf ball.

Homesick

I miss my country where cancer screenings, heart surgery and other blessings of modern medicine aren’t “non-essential” and can be withheld at the mercy of some bureaucrat whose increasingly more insane commands are completely divorced from scientific reality, but he wants to make sure you jump when he says “frog” before he lets you have a little more of your life back. — Sarah Hoyt

According To Hoyt

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I want to go home.

For two months and counting we’ve been in this strange vacation in a not very comfortable place.  That’s fine. I’ve gone on vacation to places where life isn’t every easy even if you have plenty of money. That’s okay. BUT not forever.

I miss my country where I don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store and finding it stripped of basic items. Where I don’t have to worry about whether or not there will be meat this fall. Or enough to feed my family, no matter how much money we make.

I miss my country where morality police don’t stand around making sure the right body parts are always covered and can’t scold you and shame you for not following the irrational precepts of their religion.

I miss my country, where no petty bureaucrat or (probably crookedly) elected politician can tell me…

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Don’t Put Off Dental Emergency Treatment

Barbara called our most recent Heart Health Radio Show and asked about dental offices. Many are on either limited hours, or they only see emergency patients. From the show:

Dr. Frank Wefald: They’ve been open.  Certain dentists have been heroic and have been open for emergency cases.  But I can tell you there are so many aching tooths at my practice.  Oh my gosh!  You know, and Johnston County, it doesn’t have the greatest history of dental care so I have a lot of patients with bad teeth.  And it’s been really hard for me to find somebody to help them so I’m giving a lot of antibiotics and a lot of analgesics and a lot of prayer that they can make it to a point where somebody opens.  And a lot of them can’t drive to Raleigh. 

Heart Health Radio is on FM 98.5 and AM 680 WPTF. Saturdays at noon.

But I will say this, hats off and really, you know, high-fives to the dentists who have stayed open for emergency cases.  And I tell you, with an N95 mask and a face shield and extra precautions including a gown and gloves I think it’s a doable thing.  And there are, you know…. Have you ever had a toothache?

Dave Alexander: Yes.

Dr. Frank Wefald: And what’s it like?

Dave Alexander: It’s bad.

Dr. Frank Wefald: I’ve never had one so…

Dave Alexander: It’s continuous. 

Dr. Frank Wefald: And I hope they open up dentistry very soon.  Because remember when HIV was really, really rampant in terms of its spread and fear?  Well, the dentists had to keep doing procedures. 

Dave Alexander: Right.

Dr. Frank Wefald: And so, they have developed really great techniques to prevent the exchange of body fluids during dental procedures.  And so, you know, I think it’s probably a wise idea at the beginning to cut back on routine procedures.  I think that’s going to be relaxed pretty soon but there are dentists who are doing emergency procedures. 

If you’re looking for a dentist, friend of the program Dr. Macon Singletary is a good guy with a practice in Northern Raleigh.

North Raleigh Periodontics

(919) 518-8222

For Heart Health Radio podcasts, click here.

“Sorry, We Know Nothing About This” — Wuhan Institute of Virology

I went searching for information on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of the laboratories operated by the Chinese government near the outbreak of COVID-19. Just for kicks I used the search feature to see if they had anything about the virus.

Nope. Nothing to see here.

Disturbing news stories are popping up about China and this virus.

This is from the AP:

In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by that time, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data.

This is from the Washington Post:

Two years before the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the world, U.S. Embassy officials visited a Chinese research facility in the city of Wuhan several times and sent two official warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats. The cables have fueled discussions inside the U.S. government about whether this or another Wuhan lab was the source of the virus — even though conclusive proof has yet to emerge.

From the Times of Israel:

There is authoritative and compelling evidence — including a study from the University of Southampton — that if interventions in China had been conducted three weeks earlier, transmission of COVID-19 could have been reduced by 95 percent.

For 40 days, President Xi Jinping’s CPC concealed, destroyed, falsified, and fabricated information about the rampant spread of COVID-19 through its state-sanctioned massive surveillance and suppression of data; its misrepresentation of information; its silencing and criminalizing of its dissent; and its disappearance of its whistleblowers.

This week on Heart Health Radio, we’ll discuss China. By the way, Dr. Franklin Wefald has mentioned that there have been attacks on Asian people around the world in the wake of the pandemic. This is irrational and evil. If any group is to blame, the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party should share blame as their inaction early in the crisis caused the virus to spread quickly.

Listen to Heart Health radio here.

Personification of a Virus

Is a virus something that thinks and seeks out hosts? Does a virus actually know when the natural host is becoming endangered?

David Quammen is a scientist who studies spillover events. COVID-19 is apparently a spillover of a virus from one animal species to humans.

His book Spillover is on my reading list, should I ever get sent into quarantine. He spoke with NPR’s Scott Simon and seemed to indicate that when animal hosts grow scarce, viruses look for new hosts — and this time we’re “it.”

Well, it happens by human contact with wild animals. Every species of wild animal living in our diverse ecosystems and our remnants of ecosystems carries viruses. And many of them carry a lot of viruses of which most are unique to the human species. So as we come in contact with those animals – hunting them, cutting down their habitat, building timber camps, building mining camps in those diverse ecosystems – we offer ourselves as an alternative host to them.

If a species is becoming endangered and going extinct, the viruses in that have a chance to transfer to a new host. They will seize that opportunity.

And if they transfer to humans and are able to replicate and spread, then they have, as one scientist has told me, they’ve seized the golden ticket. They’re now in the world’s most abundant large animal, and they’ve achieved great evolutionary success. This virus now has achieved great evolutionary success.

I’m not a scientist, I’m a school teacher. In 4th grade we teach personification. Winnie the Pooh talks and dresses himself and occasionally feels pensive, unlike actual bears.

I have an idea that a virus, lacking a brain, eyes or strategy…does not know that its favorite host species is becoming endangered. Eat a bat, and you might get a virus.

Not because the humans have hunted bats to near extinction, because we haven’t. Just ecause a virus does what it does: reproduce and destroy.

The more we tackle this science problem with science, the better off we’ll be.

Lets stop pretending that the experts can tell us how deadly this thing is

They can’t.

THe real problem is fractions, and most people hate fractions. Statistics show that 75% of people hate fractions.

My God! That’s almost half!

I’m not a medical expert. I’m an elementary school teacher who co-hosts a medical show called Heart Health Radio. My radio partner, Franklin Wefald and I have talked about COVID-19 for weeks.

We still don’t know how bad things are or even if things are looking better. The problem of COVID is fractions.

From The Conversation:

Fractions are made up of two parts: the numerator – for instance, the 3 in the fraction ¾ – and the the denominator – for instance, the 4 in the fraction ¾. Another way to think about this fraction is: “of 4 parts, 3.”

Whole number bias happens when people tend to automatically think about the numerators and denominators of fractions as whole numbers before they process the numbers more deeply to grasp their actual size.

Kids in my class often assume that 1/8 of a pizza is bigger than 1/4 of a pizza just because the denominator is bigger. It doesn’t work like that, of course andI have every 4th grader draw pictures to prove it. Then I ask them what a 1,000 slice pizza looks like (assuming all pizzas are the same size) and they start to get it.

The problem is, we don’t know the denominator or the numerator with COVID-19. Without reliable numbers, we don’t know how deadly this thing is.

If you want to try to calculate how deadly this pandemic is compared with the flu, you need to divide the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 by the total number of people infected by it. Keep in mind, it’s impossible to know the true denominator, or the total number of infected individuals, in the midst of a pandemic because these numbers change daily, and testing is limited.

The authors of the article toy with the numbers a bit to try to calculate the fatality rate based upon the Johns Hopkins totals available here.

There’s a problem. With due respect to Johns Hopkins, the numbers are wrong.

The Chinese government has lied about the extent of the death toll and infection rate. They’ve been stuck at around 82,000 confirmed cases for weeks. But even with total truth from all nations, we still wouldn’t have enough information. There were reports of satellite photos above Iran which showed huge rectangular pits dug in a cemetery. Apparently filled with bodies then covered with dirt. Lots of governments are liars.

We need to know how many people have died from COVID-19. That’s the top number or numerator in our fraction. We don’t actually know that because in a lot of cases the people dying are not being tested. Are flu deaths being lumped in with COVID mortality?

We also need to know how many people have been diagnosed. That’s the bottom number, or denominator. We don’t know this because testing is still only starting. We don’t know how many of us have had the virus but got only a mild case. Are there millions of people who have been exposed, caught the bug and will never be tested?

How about these statistics on the last flu season:

We have effective tests for the flu but in the period shown we had between 19 and 26 million cases of the flu. Not exactly a specific number. Somewhere between 10 and 25 thousand deaths from the flu. Again, we don’t have a specific number.

The Spanish flu epidemic in 1918-1920 took the lives of between 17 and 100 million people according to Wikipedia. Historians have had a hundred years to try to narrow down the number and we still can only get that close.

Because of these unknowns, the fatality rate could ultimately be lower than early figures because so many infected people were not immediately tested or officially diagnosed. While it may be too early to tell exactly how much deadlier than the flu COVID-19 will be, some current estimates suggest COVID-19 may be closer to 10 times more deadly

There’s another reason the experts will not be able to give us an accurate picture of the virus. Some of those so-called experts aren’t really good at fractions, either:

From American Thinker:

The mother of all modeling when it comes to COVID-19 is Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London. It was he who first said 500,000 people in England would die, and another 2.2 million in America unless drastic steps were taken. Then, when both countries panicked, he came out with a new, downgraded model (one that still overstates the reality).

Ferguson was presented to the world as one of the world’s foremost epidemiologists and modelers. Perhaps we should have learned more about him before accepting that claim. With help from Bill Steigerwald, Power Line has an exposé that gives us more information about Ferguson.

It turns out that, in 2005, Ferguson had some predictions about the Bird Flu. He estimated 200,000,000 deaths worldwide. In fact, in the last 17 years, there’ve been 455 diagnosed Bird Flu deaths.

I’m just an elementary teacher, but I’m also someone feeling the effects of this quarantine. At some point, this has to end. I suspect strongly that when we lift the travel bans, stay at home orders and social distancing rules we will still be ignorant of the real numbers.

Let’s stop pretending that the experts are going to be able to tell us what kind of danger we are in.

Is This the End of the Beginning, or the Beginning of the End?

The CDC just published guidelines for folks to return to work. The entire document is here.

We’ll discuss it on Heart Health Radio Saturday on WPTF. Find the latest shows here.

Dr. Franklin Wefald and Dave Alexander

A Little Harsh to Blame the President?

Something to think about, from Townhall columnist Larry Elder:

For three years, critics of President Donald Trump have claimed that he arrogantly refuses to listen to his experts and that his exaggerated sense of self prevents him from accepting his limitations. Applying that narrative to Trump’s initial failure to appreciate the gravity of the coronavirus, NBC host Chuck Todd recently asked former Vice President Joe Biden, “Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands, considering the slow response? Or is that too harsh of a criticism?” Even Biden called the criticism a “little too harsh.”

“A little too harsh?” Trump, neither a doctor nor a scientist, merely followed the advice given him from his medical experts. The problem is that a lot of the advice was vague, inconsistent, contradictory or flat-out wrong.

On last week’s episode of Heart Health Radio, Dr. Franklin Wefald took the president to task for refusing to wear a mask. There are lots of people refusing to follow common sense advice, and some of those people are in the business of doling out advice.

When this is over, we’ll have a good picture of what strategies worked, how bad things really were and who we can blame. Until then, can anyone explain why everything President Trump does is described in the most unflattering light?

I swear, if the president suggests we spend some time gardening, there will be some folks lining up to oppose photosynthesis. — Dave Alexander

Why Don’t We All Take Hydrochloroquine?

On our most recent Heart Health Radio, John asked a great question about hydrochloroquine, the malaria drug now being given to COVID-19 pateints.

John: We’ve been taking hydrochloroquine, For years as a prophylactic for malaria.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Yeah. It’s also good for rheumatoid arthritis and I’ve got 50, maybe 60 patients on it.

Caller John: So why…I don’t understand why we didn’t go ahead and let people start taking it…and then worry about is it really effective if there is a possibility of it being good and we know what the side effects are.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Let me tell ya, it’s good for preventing deaths. It will not prevent you from getting Covid. And that’s a good question. What it does…see people who die have an overactive immune system and they produce what’s called an inflammatory storm. And so, they have overreacted to the virus. The virus has activated their immune system in the wrong way. Then it’s good because it drops that amount of inflammation. So, when do we use it? Somebody who is having respiratory difficulties you give it to them to prevent the progression to death. And it’s a good drug. It’s not 100% effective but it’s better than anything we’ve got.

Dave Alexander: Is it possible we’re going to all take this?

Dr. Frank Wefald: No.

Dave Alexander: As a preventative?

Dr. Frank Wefald: No, don’t do it because it’s not going to help you.

Dave Alexander: OK.

Dr. Frank Wefald: It’s only good for when you’ve got it and you’re having trouble breathing. It will help, not in 100% of cases, but it will help prevent you hopefully from getting on a ventilator and if you’re on a ventilator, help you get off of it.

Find heart Health Radio at WPTF.COM or on Apple podcasts.