Virus notes: April 6, 2020

MERCED (BLJ) – The numbers in Merced County remained the same today, 29 confirmed cases, one death, three recovered.

In California, confirmed cases grew to 6,342, 385 deaths, 307 recoveries.

In the United States, the number of confirmed cases grew to 369,629, deaths 10,941, recoveries, 19,810.

Globally, confirmed cases are 1,347,343, deaths, 74,769, and recoveries 284,882.

We noted that Mendocino County, population 87,697, manages to count the number of coronavirus tests administered by the commercial lab, Quest Diagnostics, the same lab that is the largest provider in Merced County, population 257,000. The Merced County Public Health Department doesn’t or won’t count commercial tests now, after counting 67 of them 10 days ago. The Merced department won’t even count the tests it does, although maybe the results from their recently dispatched mobile test sites are not yet in.

It’s pointless to expect government to do much, given the national leadership, but some governors, including our own, are not bewitched by rightwing ideology into becoming corrupt enemies of government.

The virus is stronger than the defense against it by any level of government in our country now and for probably the next severa; years, until an effective vaccine is created, produced and distributed across the whole population. I don’t think this has begun to dawn on most people and I believe that our only defense, physical distancing, may prove to be an extremely difficult discipline to maintain without increasing forms of policing.

But if you pause for a moment and compare the inconvenience we are experiencing as a nation now to the inconveniences we have inflicted on the Middle East or supported in recent years, you can see that inconvenience is a matter of degrees.

We cannot tell whom the virus will strike. We play the odds in an untested population by “sheltering in place,” but the virus doesn’t care, it doesn’t play favorites or belong to a political party, and it will strike the rich as much as the poor if the rich are playing frisbee in the park or dug the music at Tipitina’s during Mardi Gras, or go where the weather suits their clothes during spring break.

Nature is vast beyond our comprehension,  and our vision is constantly shrinking as our obsession with conquering Nature increases. But Nature turns toxic when it’s under too much stress, and the first two decades of this century have been filled with “liquid war,” as Pepe Escobar calls contemporary war. Add to war the constant aggression of forestry and agriculture and urban development and maybe that may help explain the constant stream of epidemics of deadly influenzas, cholera, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Zika, Dengue fever, Meningitis and COVID-19.

Nature fights back the best it can. Global warming is more dangerous than the present epidemic but the thirst for profit now is stronger than any sense of responsibility for the damage done to get it – from the fished-out Newfoundland Banks to the Deep Horizon Oil Spill to plastic fragments killing Albatross on Midway Atoll. Everywhere you look, Nature is under increasing stress. The Delta Smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will probably go extinct while its human neighbors are complaining of the inconvenience caused by the virus.

Where have the birds of the San Joaquin Valley gone? Perhaps this spring will quiet enough for us to hear the footsteps of the virus behind us. It is up to us to hear that, we “the lotta people” in Trumpspeak, because Trump can’t even hear the virus stomping his fascist crony, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.