Early Bird/Donation Special
There may be more effective ways to send a DRASTIC message, lol.
I plan to never require a paid subscription to this blog - my entire purpose for speaking out about the pandemic was to warn, educate and encourage others about the storm I saw coming [my original, unedited Facebook messages are below]. The sudden explosion of users recently [I now have six times as many subscribers as I did 14 days ago] and impending return of my mortgage [thankfully paused over the winter] have given me renewed optimism & urgency to try and reach a point where I can continue to do what I’m doing and ensure my family isn’t having to deal with stress beyond the normal tornado that follows in my wake, lol.
Anyone who chooses to become a paid subscriber can do so for $3 [40% lower than the normal minimum for Substack] through August 31st; the rate will never change for you if you do-even for gift subscriptions. If you’ve already donated, I will figure out a way to credit [future periods, reduced gift subscription amount, etc], if you want me to do so. If you’re as frugal as I am these days, simply helping to raise awareness for myself and/or the other members of DRASTIC [see our website] will be just as welcome, truly.
I’m indebted to Tyler Cardon of The Blaze, who reached out to me and re-published my latest Fauci article on the front page of his network’s site; I’m also indebted to the users who flooded this blog in the 4 days since. I’ve been blessed to have such a strong response to that article, because it adds gravitas to the message I’m working to get across to the representatives taking action in Congress.
Truly any further support that can be raised will be awesome - whether that be a donation or simply forwarding my articles and helping to spread the truth of DRASTIC’s efforts to a larger audience. If my goal was to commercialize these efforts, I certainly would’ve begun long before now! Even if all you can do is provide pointers on my sarcasm/writing/etc., I’ll gladly accept anything that can help ensure justice for the millions of victims of this pandemic [firstname.lastname@example.org is my secure email, should you be inspired to offer such constructive criticism, lol].
If anyone had told me back then - as I lay quarantined in an upstairs bedroom after returning from an MBA trip to Europe - that 18 months later I’d be a member of the ad hoc group that was seeking to solve the question of the pandemic’s origins, I honestly can’t say what my incredulous response would’ve been. DRASTIC invited me to join the same week I published my first article about Dr. Fauci, which was only 2 weeks after I made the decision to withdraw from the semester at SMU to focus on this work. I knew that waiting even longer to graduate [my original graduation date was 5/2020] was going to complicate my job search, but I also knew that the WHO was going to issue the final report of its investigation at the end of March.
Nothing could make me regret my choice - and I must re-iterate the gratitude I’ve felt at seeing people respond so positively to my output. Just know that the rest of DRASTIC has labored even longer, with less fanfare, and against stiffer headwinds.
I know that they are encouraged by our increasing momentum; I hope that in some small measure, we can help bring back optimism and hope to the people, like you, who’ve endured the many different levels of this tragedy.
Messages to My Family (3/15/20)
My Private Message of 3-15:
Since I'm now under jurisdiction of the CDC pending results of blood testing of samples taken this afternoon, I want to provide some information that I was reluctant to share until now, without any basis other than a hunch. I’ve included an explanation of my travels because every aspect of this story is being reported with information contrary to my experience.
I traveled to Prague last week as part of a class on “Doing Business in the European Union” that was a capstone requirement for my MBA. On 2/29 there were 6,800 cases of COVID-19 outside of China (as of 503am, there are 74,500), and a few cases in the US. I landed back in Dallas on 3/7, having stopped in Heathrow briefly on the way to the Czech Republic and in Madrid for an overnight layover coming home.
Since it was Spring Break, Phil’s [my twin brother] two teens were already at the house, and the morning after I returned I drove to Oklahoma City to pick up Garrett for the week. I began feeling sick early in the morning of 3/10 and have mostly been staying upstairs in Evie’s future room since. Although it took 2 days to conclusively locate a clinic that was capable of taking and sending a COVID-19 sample, that has now happened and I am waiting an expected 5 days to hear back from the CDC. It was very unnerving to have spent two days investigating before a testing location could be found, since the organization giving me guidance was the Texas State Department of Health-ostensibly the authority specifically charged with that task by the governor and the federal HHS. I should note that all efforts to investigate came from me, even after I had notified the county and state authorities. After a second night of frustration, I called the state’s dedicated COVID-19 hotline, which turned out to be an answering machine with no instructions. 48 hours later, I have still not received a return call, even though I am now officially a person under investigation (PUI). Perhaps I’ve been lost in the crowd; with 61 confirmed cases in a state of 28 million people, it’s probably hubris on my part to expect a response so quickly.
[it’s now been five days, as of 3/17, but I’m not holding my breath anymore]
I searched for a clinic because I knew that the few hospitals admitting suspected cases would automatically quarantine me, and I wasn’t ready to abandon the people sitting in my house when my date of return was unknown and the exponential growth of a pandemic was coming soon (with potential social upheaval).
To preclude questions about how I’m feeling, the best definition is “dogshit.” On the bright side, our family’s minute net worth is tied mostly to real estate, not index funds, so at least I can hold onto my lawn for a while (so if you visit with a dog, they have a place to shit). On a serious note, my ability to leave my quarantine room is limited by the availability of disposable masks and disposable gloves, so my family would be appreciative of any extras, if anyone was able to stockpile a quantity prior to the current shortage.
2nd, more detailed message [to the older members of my family]
We happened to be at the US embassy for an economic/political brief when they informed us that the first Czech cases had been confirmed (1 of the 3 was a US citizen). I was very surprised to see almost no evidence of adjusted screening by customs in the UK or CR or a distinctly heightened level of preparedness from the Department of State in Europe (not to be confused with awareness-I do believe that events in China were being dutifully observed).
My conclusion was drawn from the lack of DOS guidance for American citizens during the week I was there, and from my experience with customs once back in the US. None of the four countries I passed through were asking or checking for symptoms, investigating any travelers except for those from China, Iran and Italy, or making major adjustments to the typical security screening process. On the flight from London to Prague, a paper questionnaire was given to each passenger; I didn’t have a pen, so I waited until approaching customs in expectation of verbally answering the questions. I wasn’t asked for the paperwork, and my two fellow students on that flight weren’t asked any questions after handing it in with their passports. In Dallas, the pre-screening was done via kiosk, and customs didn’t make detailed inquiries of passengers that hadn’t come from the specified danger areas.
In Madrid, I decided to book a hotel rather than attempt to stay at the airport, since it would be a more sanitary waiting place. I followed signs and reached the taxi area, having never passed through customs; I had seen an area for those with items to declare, but never came across another checkpoint. When I arrived the next morning, the customs official was suspicious of my lack of inbound stamp, but the passenger behind me didn’t have one either. Given how many others have likely had the same experience, unintentionally (or intentionally) bypassing the arriving customs station, I can only imagine how many travelers might have come from Italy or elsewhere without being accounted for. This wasn’t nearly as disturbing until Italy shut down their borders not long after I got home.
I realized that the 27 members of the Schengen Zone (the majority of EU members) had not reacted quickly enough after the emergence of cases in Italy, or truly been diligent overall. It appears that the global community made assumptions about the threat because so few confirmed cases had appeared outside of China, and the potential cost of large-scale pauses in commercial traffic was too high to warrant more comprehensive measures of security. Obviously, the US followed that example. It would’ve been possible to effectively quarantine Washington state, for example, if an obvious, fast-acting threat like Ebola was the culprit. But attempting to cordon off a virus with a long incubation window, with potential infectees coming from five continents, could only work if implemented a month ago.
I was actually relieved to be flying back through Spain, as opposed to the busier global hub at Heathrow. But Spain’s number of cases has exponentially grown this week to 6,000, and yesterday (3/14) there were 1,500 new confirmed cases just in Madrid.
My first instinct in recent days was to wonder if the cancellation of all sporting events was overkill; it will turn out to be the most impactful decision ever made by the NBA, because it pressured the other leagues to follow suit. A small but substantial fraction of domestic passengers in the next three weeks would’ve been bound for NCAA tournament games. As disgusted as I have been by professional sports in the last three years, the decision to sacrifice huge revenues on short notice could ultimately save tens of thousands of lives.
I remain optimistic that COVID-19 will continue to resemble typical influenza patterns of mortality rates, although I have no faith in statistics that come from China. However, for anyone above 55, I strongly believe that it is more deadly than any flu strain. My symptoms are not the same as those I treated at Christmas in 2009, when all three kids and Lindsay endured H1N1 (along with 57 million other Americans); the stability and average of my blood pressure has been weakened by various medical issues and were part of the mix that nudged my early departure from active duty. I have become acquainted with ‘shortness of breath’ in the last two years, and regardless of the eventual results of my blood test I can personally attest that what I am experiencing is not pleasant. I have no illusions about how long I should hold out if my symptoms rapidly decline, and I cannot put too much emphasis on the degree to which anyone that can get the senior discount at McDonald’s should immediately reduce contact with as much of humanity as you can.
I have chosen to reach out to my various family branches because, regardless of how recently I have seen you, I would still like the option to rectify that in the future. In my opinion, COVID-19 is likely more lethal for seniors than any previous flu or corona virus we have record of. The 6% mortality rate among 60+ rises to 50% when the infection is able to fully attack the heart or lungs, and much like anthrax, a majority of survivors of that level of infection will have permanently reduced heart and/or lung function. Most people in most age groups do not experience severe infections very often, and there is still the possibility that mortality rates for all other ages are higher than influenza (not enough statistics to compare yet).
The window to have avoided large-scale outbreaks has passed, which is why it is emerging everywhere seemingly all at once. If there are 2,952 confirmed cases in the United States, those people were infected 4-10 days ago, or more. I’ve been sick for four days and I won’t have results from the CDC for another 5. The lesson: there are 5-10x (or more) individuals infected in the US, and most of them will never know because their symptoms will be mild. Presuming that your local area is still clear because no confirmed cases exist yet is a gamble; my advice is similar to what I used to provide to Marines (about assumptions), in that you shouldn’t assume that a quick visit to see the grandkids before battening down the hatches is worth the risk. If I do have COVID-19, I got it in a place still deemed safe, from a person within arms’ reach or from touching a surface soon after someone else. And a 36 year-old Marine who was on active duty in 2018 spent a couple of minutes catching his breath after walking back from the x-ray room 12 hours ago.
It’s entirely possible that the pandemic quickly fizzles out after a random DNA mutation, as many do. It’s also very likely that very few infants and children succumb, like with H1N1. Our federal government’s response is actually not terrible, but there is a huge disconnect between the CDC and hospitals and the cities and states share in the blame. There hasn’t been enough time to develop tests, and when I tried to locate the proper place to go, it took two days and multiple attempts for our county health department to send me to a location that could test me.
In sum, if you were born before Woodstock then you should Skype the grandkids and pay the delivery charge for groceries. Ideally, until at least the tax deadline. I couldn’t care less what the media projects or recommends, but I also can’t claim that this is more than an informed opinion. I wanted to put this message out so that you could be aware of the situation within the family (and a few select friends). I currently have plenty of time to respond to any questions about that specific topic or more general concerns someone might have. I would much rather not have experience or the need to share that experience when it comes to biological threats, but I am also disgusted at the lack of clarity and partisanship that the media at large has displayed.