Merigian Studios


Restock the Shelves

The time has come to restart the Stone Blogs. Much has happened in the last eighteen months, the range of events is unpredictably bizarre; the spectrum includes the rare occurrence of the impeachment of a US President as well as the global spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is uncanny that the US portion of the coronavirus pandemic came on the heels of the impeachment. If anyone does not think that the single most important political issue going forward is high-quality healthcare-for-everyone, they need to have their head examined. And I do not mean by a phrenologist.

The rapid, unrelenting spread of the COVID-19 virus is real. It is no hoax perpetrated by a political party or a conspiracy to destroy the economic sovereignty of our nation. The idea that animal saliva in an open-air market in China somehow mixed creating the ideal epigenetic circumstance for the virus to mutate and infect humans is absurd. So are the hundreds of other propagandistic theories floating on the waves of social media. If these creative spin doctors spent more time propagating the need for social distancing, wearing disposable gloves, washing hands, closing social events and entertainment venues, and self-quarantines, we would all get the message in some form or fashion.

COVID-19 will eventually infect everyone in the United States as well as the world. It will die out after the phenomenon of herd resistance takes hold. Isolation and social distancing will not prevent the spread, but the acceleration of the onset of new cases will slow down dramatically. The velocity of the transmission will remain the same, but the acceleration will drop. We have one of the most pitiful healthcare systems for economically developed countries in the world. Our marketing is superior, but our delivery of comprehensive, compassionate care is at an all-time low. Medical Insurance Companies, Pharmaceutical Companies, and Hospital CEOs are the most greedy robber barons in the world today; these men and women put profits over people on a routine basis. I have seen public health officials stand up and require testing and social isolation for symptoms. Still, not one area hospital CEO has taken measures to create a safe working environment for their hospital employees, nor have they assured our community that they would commit reserves to help those who require hospital resources for treatment. These community leaders created an incredibly lean healthcare system, and baste it with mediocrity; there is no room for emergent expansion of care for any reason, much less a worldwide pandemic. None of the Hospital CEO’s want testing. They are worried that their nursing and bedside care staffs are infected, requiring a fourteen-day quarantine. These same men and women mandate flu shots for all hospital employees, which has a meager mortality rate in an unvaccinated person.

Physicians should be outraged that there is no testing available for case confirmation. But I am not surprised. Our community has not had a comprehensive toxicology laboratory in twenty years. The University of Tennessee shut it down when the laboratory director retired. I have heard Infectious Disease experts promote the idea that doctors should rule every possible disease out, and by doing so allows them to assume that the patient has a probable COVID-19 infection. Why not test for COVID-19 first? The need to check and confirm the disease is an absolute if we, as a group of concerned citizens, desire to determine the acceleration of transmission of the virus and its natural velocity. Acceleration and velocity are a very different phenomenon in assessing the virulence of a transmissible disease.

Where are our local Public Health Officials? Our community leaders? Pastors? Council members? County Commissioners? University of Tennessee Professors? Our community is building a new state of the art Public Health Department building in the downtown healthcare zone. Why? One restaurant operator in the region wants to hold a meeting to assess what restaurants can do to reduce the spread. It’s simple. Close the restaurants to dining in and shift to take out/delivery. My wife, daughter, and I own Earnestine and Hazel’s located in the downtown South Main area. We decided to close the bar for at least two weeks. We are committed to helping flatten the acceleration slope of the spread of new cases in our community. We are also protecting our employees from patrons who either did not know they were infected or were sick and decided to break their self imposed quarantine for a night out on the town. Everyone can do something in the short run to reduce the likelihood of grinding our community hospital system to a halt.

The City and County should shut down Beale Street. In late January early February, Beale Street operators hosted the IBC (International Blues Challenge). Those international band members and tourists brought COVID-19 with them. Afterward, I started evaluating people in our office with a flu-like syndrome: probably fifteen total so far. They all went to Urgent Care or their Primary Care Physician and tested negative for Influenza A or B as well as streptococcus. One patient required daily IV antibiotics for two weeks; he had an x-ray confirmed pneumonia. Beale Street is an Iconic tourist attraction for our City and a cesspool of germs for our citizens. I believe our citywide inoculation of COVID-19 was due to the IBC. I am confident that many of the employees of these establishments have COVID-19. Since they live paycheck to paycheck, they do not miss work, regardless of their health. The City, County, and State Governments should guarantee funds for operators who voluntarily close, stopping the spread of the virus. Where are these government leaders? Perhaps they are in quarantine themselves like others who belittled the risk to our Tennesseans. This catastrophe is not over. It is just getting started.

The virus can cause mild, moderate, or severe illness. Eighty percent of those infected will have mild symptoms of cold or lower respiratory disease. Any kind of sign is possible. There are many blogs about the identification of a COVID-19 infection based on signs and symptoms without a confirmatory test. All upper and lower respiratory diseases mimic each other, both bacterial and viral. There are no absolutes. If you contract pneumonia, you need antibiotics. If you have a sinus infection, you need antibiotics. The idea that physicians can somehow identify a bacterial infection from a viral etiology by taking a one or two-minute survey of a patient’s symptom complex is not just illogical; it is absurd and irrational. I am tired of the unscientifically spoken medical folklore that antibiotics for a five to ten-day course of therapy are creating resistance and superbugs.

Without a confirmatory test, we have no choice to assume everyone is infected with COVID-19 if they have cough-cold signs and symptoms regardless of its severity. Moderate cases will manifest fever and malaise; patients may not wish to get out of bed due to fatigue and exhaustion. Moderate cases may progress to the severe category: requiring hospitalization for twenty-four-hour supportive care. Some will require artificial ventilation to survive, and others will have a full-body collapse. Fortunately, only one percent or less of those infected with COVID-19 degenerate to full body failure. The death rate is less than one percent.

I would welcome a community-wide action plan to reduce our citizens’ risk of overwhelming community healthcare and hospital resources. In-home testing for the virus if someone self-quarantines, governmental financial support for those who suspend social gatherings and entertainment operations, transparent communication regarding the number of infections and impact of our actions on community-wide outcomes, the establishment of a COVID-19 clearinghouse available to all healthcare providers and citizens for medical information; Activate the airport medical clinic for on-site testing for airline travelers, drive-by testing in our local closed auto-inspection facilities as well as confirmation testing if the screening test is not specific enough due to the sensitivity of the screening. Activate the airport medical clinic for on-site testing for travelers. These are a few ideas. I have many more.

This pandemic will not continue forever. Let’s make sure that our community’s citizens, governmental officials, and local hospitals and healthcare professions do make uninformed choices that could affect each of us permanently. The bread and bleach wipes will be restocked. We will never be able to restock the lives that we lose due to our wanton disregard for the Truth.


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