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One Man's Opinion: Apocalypse Maybe?

Dozens of thousands of Georgians and millions of Americans spent the weekend heading home from various destinations, adventures, and vacations from Spring Break. In addition to some surprise screening procedures at dozens of U.S. airports, they are returning home to a vastly new normal.

As I well recall from the aftermath of 9/11, sudden and significant systemic change is often unsettling, for some unnerving and for others it produces difficulties with coping. We may consider ourselves the most high-minded creatures on earth, but in reality, not unlike that Pavlovian dog in your family...we are all accustomed to and in many cases crave repetition, habit, and routine. 

Just two weeks ago, many were moaning and kvetching about Daylight Savings Time. Crises have a clarifying way of putting things into perspective. 

Though the overall health havoc to be wreaked on Americans and our world may not be evident for some time, the economic injury and impacts may well be more lasting and debilitating sooner. For most who are exposed, come down with symptoms, quietly host and transfer the virus or feel its greater wrath, most likely atop other pre-existing conditions and the compromised immune system which comes with age...the illness will come and go in a matter of weeks. Yet tragically for thousands, perhaps millions globally, pneumonia and other related complications caused by COVID19 will take their lives. 

AP Photo/John Bazemore
A Georgia State trooper guards an area of Hard Labor Creek State Park Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Rutledge, Ga. The state is using the park to locate emergency mobile units to quarantine people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Currently, one person who tested positive for the virus is being isolated at the park, according to a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp.
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Neighbors nervous as first coronavirus patient transferred to state isolation camp

Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore
A Georgia State trooper guards an area of Hard Labor Creek State Park Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Rutledge, Ga. The state is using the park to locate emergency mobile units to quarantine people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Currently, one person who tested positive for the virus is being isolated at the park, according to a statement from Gov. Brian Kemp.

In an effort to block and reduce viral transmission, we are hunkering down, burrowing in and for a period of weeks, if not months, we will become creatures of home. Some transitions are easier to swallow, others quite costly and jarring. If children cannot go to school, there must be childcare, but if both parents work, even from home, who will manage their time, online studies, and in the absence of daily structure and many recreational options...how best to make the most of their idle minds? 

Here are some suggestions and thoughts...as we prepare to ride this out. It's not Snowmaggedon, we still have power and functioning utilities, though we can expect more rain, spring and warmer temperatures (which also help shrink spread of this virus) not far ahead of us. 

For me, it means more time with my children and family, perhaps finally putting away all of Christmas, getting my 2019 income tax returns ready and completing both an office move and a financially appealing re-finance of our home. You can always find silver linings if you are willing to look. 

Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, WSB's Bill Crane reminds us it is a chance for us to spend more time with family.
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One Man's Opinion: Apocalypse Maybe?

Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, WSB's Bill Crane reminds us it is a chance for us to spend more time with family.

Many larger employers are already shifting to telecommuting, but this isn't really possible for airlines, hotels, car rental companies or your favorite restaurant. Many businesses will fail as a result. 

The blame for this outbreak should not be political, nor partisan, but our elected officials will be judged and held accountable for the responses which they plan and deliver. Again, crisis brings both danger and opportunity, as well as a brilliant spotlight. 

And remember, our children will be less occupied, so not only will you matter more, they will be paying you more attention. What are you saying on the phone? How is your demeanor? How are you handling all of this and showing your stress? They learn from and in many cases will mirror your example. 

Panic can spread much faster than a virus or germ. Humans are perhaps more greatly susceptible to fear than they this contagion. Witness the runs on toilet paper (no pun intended) and other basic commodities. Facts, logic, calm are generally trumped by rumor, innuendo, anxiety. It's, unfortunately, human nature. 

As Americans, we have weathered numerous natural disasters, a Civil War, World War I., WWII, 9/11 and many prior outbreaks of contagions rising to the level of an epidemic and related concerns. As a young girl, my mother, prior to the invention and general availability of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, contracted the disease and nearly died. During her own treatment and recovery, including time spent in an iron lung, her younger brother became infected, succumbing to the disease at the age of 3. While that emotional scar still exists, Mother survived, that and much more since. And so will most of us. Americans can be a hardy bunch, but this won’t be an easy hurdle. 

Please buckle those seat belts, as we may have a slightly bumpy ride, one where your contents tend to shift a bit in flight...but just as the vast majority of thousands of aircraft land safely each day...again, this too shall pass. God bless you and yours.

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News

  • A recently released study by the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan suggests that the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine helps lower the death rate in hospitalized coronavirus patients. An analysis of 2,541 patients hospitalized with coronavirus between March 10 and May 2, 2020, found that 13% of those treated with hydroxychloroquine died as compared to 26% who died that did not receive the drug, according to The Detroit News. The mortality rate for hospitalized patients ranges from 10% to 30% globally, while the overall in-hospital mortality for the study was 18.1%. The study, which was conducted at six hospitals within The Henry Ford Health System in Southeast Michigan, was published Thursday in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. “The findings have been highly analyzed and peer-reviewed,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of Infectious Disease for Henry Ford Health System, who co-authored the study with Henry Ford epidemiologist Dr. Samia Arshad. “We attribute our findings that differ from other studies to early treatment, and part of a combination of interventions that were done in supportive care of patients, including careful cardiac monitoring. Our dosing also differed from other studies not showing a benefit of the drug. And other studies are either not peer reviewed, have limited numbers of patients, different patient populations or other differences from our patients. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating the coronavirus. Citing reports of heart complications, the FDA said the drugs’ unproven benefits “do not outweigh the known and potential risks.” In a separate announcement, the FDA also warned doctors against prescribing the drugs in combination with remdesivir, the lone drug currently shown to help patients with COVID-19. The FDA said the anti-malaria drugs can reduce the effectiveness of remdesivir, which FDA cleared for emergency use in May. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are frequently prescribed for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and can cause heart rhythm problems, severely low blood pressure and muscle or nerve damage. The agency reported in June that it had received nearly 390 reports of complications with the drugs, including more than 100 involving serious heart problems. Read more about the study here and here. https://www.henryford.com/news/2020/07/hydro-treatment-study https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(20)30534-8/fulltext The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • There are new rules in place for the holiday weekend if you plan to rent an Airbnb. The company says guests under 25 years old with fewer than three positive reviews will not be able to book an entire home close to where they live Airbnb didn’t reveal how it defines what is “close.” Airbnb said it wants to weed out any potential problems, specifically unauthorized house parties and feels this is the best way to do so. The company says it’s a nationwide policy, but it is most relevant for a handful of cities. The company says its technologies would block that guest from booking. “No one policy is going to stop all unauthorized parties. We’re also conscious that just because you’re 25 or older doesn’t mean that every single person in that group is booking for the right reasons too,” spokesperson Ben Breit told WSB-TV. Guests under 25 with at least three positive Airbnb reviews and no negative reviews won’t be subject to the restrictions. Airbnb began stepping up efforts to ban “party houses” last November after five people were shot and killed during an unauthorized party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California. At the time, Airbnb set up a rapid response team to deal with complaints from neighbors and started screening “high risk” bookings, such as reservations at a large home for one night. In a message to hosts, the company said reducing unauthorized parties is even more of a priority right now as states try to avoid coronavirus outbreaks. “With public health mandates in place throughout the country, we’re taking actions to support safe and responsible travel in the United States,” the company said. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, were charged Thursday with felonious assault after pulling a gun out on a Black mother and her children when a confrontation escalated outside a Chipotle in Michigan. Each of them had a loaded firearm and concealed pistol licenses. Deputies seized the two handguns, Sheriff Mike Bouchard said. On Thursday, the couple was arraigned and were given a $50,000 personal bond.  “As part of the bond conditions, they must turn over all firearms, not engage in any assaultive behavior, and may not leave the state,” sheriff’s officials told The Detroit News. The Detroit News first reported on the three-minute video posted online that shows part of the interaction. Takelia Hill, who is Black, told the newspaper that it happened after the white woman bumped into Hill’s teenage daughter as they were entering the fast food restaurant. The video footage [WARNING: Contains graphic language] starts after that, in the parking lot. A woman since identified as Jillian Wuestenberg is heard arguing with Hill and her daughters. Wuestenberg climbs into the vehicle, rolls down the window and says, “White people aren’t racist,” and, “I care about you,” before the vehicle she was in starts to back away. Her husband, who had led his wife to the vehicle, turns to the camera and asks, “Who ... do you think you guys are?,” using an expletive. Then, as someone is standing behind the vehicle, Jillian Wuestenberg jumps out and points a handgun in the direction of a person who’s recording. She screams at people to get away from her and her vehicle. A woman shouts, “She’s got a gun on me!” and urges someone in the parking lot to call the police. Wuestenberg then lowers the gun, climbs into the passenger seat and the vehicle drives off. Cooper, the prosecutor, told The Associated Press that her office viewed the available video and looked at the facts before filing charges. “It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that tempers run high over, basically, not much of an incident,” she said of the initial alleged spark that caused the confrontation. Bouchard said people are “picking sides” and that threatening calls were made to the sheriff’s office dispatch center after the videos were posted online. “We don’t see sides. We see facts,” he said. “There’s a lot of tension in our society, a lot of tension among folks and people with each other. I would just say this, we are asking and expect our police — and rightfully so — to deescalate every situation they possibly can, and we should be doing that. But I would say that needs to happen with us individually in our own lives and situations, that we interact with each other and deescalate those moments.” The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • The United States Geological Survey reported that a 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck this morning near Puerto Rico around 9:55 a.m. EDT. The quake was felt across the U.S. territory and is the latest in a series of tremors that began in late December and have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Ángel Vázquez, who oversees the emergency management agency in Ponce, said a house collapsed in the town of Lajas. The house was empty and slated for demolition, according to Kiara Hernández, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico’s Department of Public Security. Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, told The Associated Press that the tremor is an aftershock related to the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck in early January, killing at least one person and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • With The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race postponed this year, the Atlanta Police Department warned people against running or walking the course on the Fourth of July. APD noted in a tweet Friday that the course will not be closed to car traffic on Independence Day. With hashtags including #MyPersonalPeachtree and #APDCares, the police department said in the tweet that people should avoid running or walking the course on Saturday for safety reasons. >>Read MORE on AJC.com. [Summary]
  • The Washington Redskins issued a statement that they will “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.” “This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” Majority owner Daniel Snyder said in the the statement. Snyder had previously shown no indication he would change the name since buying the team in 1999, but was quoted in the release. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he supports “this step.” The title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium, FedEx asked the NFL team to change its name in a statement Thursday. The company paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Amid the national debate over race, pressure has been mounting on the organization to abandon the name called a “dictionary-defined racial slur” by experts and advocates. Investors this week wrote to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors asking them to request a change. FedEx is believed to be the first to take action. Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store Thursday evening according to The Associated Press. The other 31 NFL teams were listed and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results. The team last week removed the name of racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame at FedEx Field, and a monument to him was removed from the site of the old RFK Stadium. Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser also said the name was an “obstacle” to the team returning to the District. The team’s lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and it is still talking to Washington, Virginia and Maryland about building a new stadium. The Associated Press contributed to this story.