August 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

August 1, 2020

Another month of blogs.  Today’s news is that there are six vaccines in Phase 3 of testing.  But one expert warned that even if some work, the question will be for how long will they work?  And how will 300,000,000 doses be distributed in a timely fashion?

 

The forecast for the next two weeks has thunderstorms every single day.  At least the temperatures are supposed to be lower those the humidity will be high.

 

The rain held off today and I was able to get the grass cut.  It needed it; all the rain we’ve had recently had caused it to grow.  I can remember some times in the past when you could almost go the entire month of August without mowing.  That won’t be the case this year.

 

Deaths rose in 35 states over the past 24 hours including Virginia.  Many outbreaks are traced back to large gatherings.  For example, a prom in Indiana led to many new cases.  New Jersey is cracking down on parties and indoor gatherings.  There were more than 1,000 deaths on 11 of the 31 days in July.  California now has over 500,000 cases.  Over 9,000 have died there.  Texas passed New York in confirmed cases.

 

I did something for the first time in four months today–I went into Aldi’s grocery store.  Lynn can’t go in with her broken foot and we needed a few things so I went in.  Aldi’s is a very safe store with arrows on the floor directing traffic and everyone wearing masks.  There were a sparse number of customers when I was there so I felt unthreatened.

 

We had Lynn’s sister Kay over for dinner tonight.  It was her 73rd birthday.  She and Lynn are so close, especially since her mother has moved to The Legacy several years ago.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               17,989,715              687,660

US                       4,762,954              157,827

Virginia                  90,801                  2,215

Augusta County          251                         4

 

It sounds like a broken record:  another 1,000 more deaths in the US, another 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Virginia’s death total increased by another large number, 41.  In early July the daily death total in Virginia was 4-6 per day.

 

August 2, 2020

Things are certainly not good in the US as we start into August.  As I’ve documented nearly every day, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire.  The unemployment benefits that those who were put out of work due to coronavirus expired this week and Congress and the White House can’t agree on assistance for the future.  People everywhere are suffering from the virus and suffering financially.  To add insult to injury, a hurricane is sweeping up the Atlantic coast.  Racial discord is rampant.

 

In our household, Lynn’s foot is still hurting but she and I would both admit that this is nothing compared to what others are going through.  Actually, our household is currently not suffering from any of the items mentioned in my previous paragraph.  We have both health and money.  Our weather forecast is rainy but not severe.  There is no evidence of discord in our home.  We are lucky and acknowledge that.

 

NBC news had a story this morning about all the false information about COVID-19 that is posted on social media.  There is misinformation about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and facial covering.  These blatant lies just fuel the conflict between those on the right and left and deter the US from getting control of the virus.

 

Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of Health and a White House coronavirus task force member, was on Meet the Press today.  He basically gave a non-answer to the question of why testing is still not adequate in America, often taking nearly two weeks to get back results.  He said the key was to have 95% of the public wearing masks but wouldn’t go so far to say the US needs a mask mandate nationwide.  He said that there have been five studies which show that hydroxychloroquine does not work for coronavirus cases.

 

This morning was the first Sunday in August so Central had another drive-by communion service which Lynn and I participated in.  Then we hustled back home as I had agreed to play the piano for Pastor Won’s Zoom Bible Study at 11:00.

 

COVID-19 has certainly emptied our calendar.  I don’t have any appointments or calendar notes for the next nine days.  Lynn’s Pergola swings are due here on Tuesday so Wednesday will hopefully be installation day for them.  I don’t really have any work projects scheduled, either, though the projected rainy weather would deter any outside work anyway.

 

We had an afternoon grocery pickup at Kroger; before then Lynn baked bread and helped her mother with lunch.  It was the first time she had driven since her accident.  Since it is her left foot that is broken it isn’t too hard for her to drive.  Her car has automatic transmission unlike our other two vehicles.

 

Lynn’s sister Jane and Darrell came to our house after dinner.  Darrell had asked me last night about when I’d like to play tennis so I suggested they come over tonight.  The four of us enjoyed wine slushies and some avocado dip afterwards.  Darrell and I hit for a good while before and after the wine slushies.

 

Lynn and I have quickly gotten hooked on a Netflix TV series.  It is Dead to Me.  We originally started watching it because it was listed as a comedy but there’s nothing funny about it.  It has a very twisted, but believable, plot.  And it is well written and cast.  I believe it is just starting season two; we are currently watching episodes of season one.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               18,195,161              691,773

US                       4,809,490              158,307

Virginia                  91,782                  2,218

Augusta County          252                         4

 

The Virginia deaths were down considerably (3) as were the national ones (480).  Virginia again had almost a thousand new cases.

 

August 3, 2020

Today we are three months away from two momentous occasions to me:

  • On November 3, we will hold national elections. The best case scenario to me is that Joe Biden will be elected President and both the House and Senate will become Democratically controlled.  We need to drain the swamp, for sure, beginning in the Oval Office.  The further we can get those who are now leading our country out of office, and perhaps behind bars, the better.  Look at where we are now–COVID-19 is everywhere thanks to the anemic response from our federal government at the beginning and lack of a coordinated response now, unemployment is catastrophic and relief is nowhere to be found, race relations are the worst they have been since the 1960’s, and trust in leadership has evaporated.   Gun violence occurs daily.  Protesting turns into rioting in many cities.   School opening is in chaos due to the justifiable fear of coronavirus.  Healthcare workers put themselves at great risk due to the many COVID-19 cases they have to deal with daily and the continued lack of protective equipment.  Reliable tests for COVID are not available to everyone and some take up to two weeks to return results.  Vaccines to prevent coronavirus and treatment for those who have it are still nowhere to be found.  Meanwhile, our President is playing golf and touting vodoo doctors’ advice.   Can it get worse?  Well, it can get better if we dump Donald Trump and unseat those senators and representatives who still advocate rushing students back into an environment ripe for COVID-19, supporting an egomaniac president who sets a horrendous example for others, disavowing advice from medical experts, and allowing the public to own guns that can kill hundreds of people in a matter of seconds.
  • I turn 70 on that day. I’ve written before that reaching the seventh decade is something that my most direct ancestors did not achieve.  Of my two parents and four grandparents, only two of the six lived to the age of 70.  My brother and sister have both passed this landmark.  I look forward to doing the same.  To do so, I’ll have to avoid COVID-19 as well as the other maladies that have taken my forebearers down such as cancer and cerebral embolisms.  I’ll have to continue to receive the grace of God as I drive and walk on our highways.  And I’ll have to be sure not to infuriate any of the many gun-toting, maskless, right-wingers in Virginia.

 

I hope all those who are making decisions about schools reopening heard the story on this morning’s news about the YMCA summer camp in Georgia.  I found the article below on the webmd website:

 

With school reopenings just a few weeks away, a report on how the new coronavirus spread rapidly through a summer camp in Georgia suggests kids transmit the virus very well.

 

Nearly 600 young campers and counselors attended the camp in late June, and of the 344 who were tested for COVID-19, 76% tested positive by mid-July. Three-quarters of the COVID-19 cases for which information was available involved symptoms, including sore throatheadache and fever.  The camp opened for staff on June 17 and kids started arriving four days later. The first known case involved a teen camp staff member who developed chills on June 23 and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.  After that, the camp was quickly disbanded and it closed on June 27.  Campers, who averaged 12 years of age, hadn’t been required to wear masks although camp staff wore masks, the researchers said.  There was also a “variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering” — prime activities for the spread of breath droplets laden with coronavirus.  Campers were also housed closely together — 15 to a cabin, on average — according to a team led by Christine Szablewski, of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Among the 31 cabins, the COVID-19 infection rate averaged 50%.  The odds that a camper would be “attacked” by the virus “increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp,” the researchers said. That means that camp staff (who arrived about a week before the campers) experienced the highest attack rate, at 56%.  Szablewski’s group said the rate of infection reported in the study is also “likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested.”  They also noted that, pursuant to a recent Georgia executive order, kids and staff at the camp had been mandated to show a negative result from a COVID-19 test performed 12 days or less before they were allowed to enter the camp. But that was still not enough to keep the infection at bay.

 

Augusta County Schools reopens on August 18.  The parking lots at Clymore Elementary, Stewart Middle, and Fort Defiance High School were loaded with teachers’ cars today as they reported for duty.  Four of our grandchildren will be in attendance at these three schools when school starts.  I’m predicting that by Labor Day the system will be shut down.

 

I’m not a Facebook poster.  Actually I have fewer than 40 Facebook friends so even if I did post something few would see it.  I do appreciate all of the re-posts Lynn makes which reflect my thinking.  Writing this blog does give me a way to express myself though the its audience is primarily one–me.  Even Lynn rarely reads my posts here.

 

Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaias we got a lot of rain today.  There were heavy rain and flash flood warnings posted for our area.

 

We did a couple of good deeds today.  We bought pizzas for Mary Gooden who is undergoing treatment for the return of her brain tumor and for the Toni Sheets family because Toni is dealing with a return of her colon cancer plus whose son Grayson was hurt in a beach accident.  All three of them looked good when we dropped the pizzas off.  While we were at Vito’s Pizza Pie we got some for Ann’s family and for us.

 

Tonight’s ABC news had another COVID-19 school opening nightmare.  Gwinnett County Georgia schools opened only to have 300 teachers and staff who either tested positive or were in close contact with someone who did.  Positive coronavirus rates are climbing in 25 states.  On a positive note, Eli Lilly announced that an antibody treatment has been developed which may be given to some nursing home residents.

 

Today Trump falsely insisted that the US has made significant progress in the pandemic and even called his own task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, “pathetic.”  He was worn a mask in public just three times.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               18,426,972              696,605

US                       4,860,508              158,899

Virginia                  93,106                  2,218

Augusta County          253                         4

 

I wonder about the accuracy of Virginia’s figures today.  There were 1,324 new cases but 0 reported new deaths.

 

August 4, 2020

The east coast is recovering from Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias which flew up the coast last night and this morning.  It will be in upper New York by the end of the day.  We had a good bit of rain overnight but today’s forecast is OK for the afternoon.

 

Rockingham County and Harrisonburg City Schools have both decided to start school virtually for students in grades 2-12.  Plus, RCPS delayed the start until September 10 and will be virtual for the entire semester.  Yet Augusta County is still planning on in-person instruction starting in just two weeks.  Hmmm.

 

Trump said again that the coronavirus is “under control.”  As cases surge and deaths rise, he said the US is doing well. The truth is that the US death rate is the 4th highest in the world.  He said “we’re beginning to see evidence of significant progress.”  The number of new cases daily is still around 50,000.  Trump stupidly still touts hydroxychloroquine.  No competent medical authority agrees with him including his own advisers.

 

On ABC news, the FDA Commissioner insured that the decision on vaccine distribution would be based on science and data, not politics.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Even George Stephanopoulos asked if there wouldn’t be some kind of “October surprise” about vaccine release.  This is what I’ve been predicting for months.

 

Apple News said that at least 30 states suffered higher rates of new deaths this past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.  In twelve of those states, including Virginia, the increase in deaths was at least 50%.  And test positivity rates–an indication of how rampantly a virus is spreading–remain stubbornly high in more than 30 states.

 

Two days ago I chipped off the very edge of one of my front teeth, probably on a peach pit.  So this morning I went to our dentist to have it taken care of.  I’ve thought highly of Dr. Karrel since he took over as our dentist when Ross Testerman retired.  But now I think even higher of him because he fixed my tooth, putting some filling in and filing it off, for just $20!

 

After that, I went to Central UMC to work with our administrative assistant who is new to treasury data entry.  The reports she produced for June had some mistakes in them that I wanted to correct.  It took several hours to get it resolved but I think we made good progress.  I’ve never used QuickBooks before which is where the errors were made.

 

Butch got some news from Ann’s doctor today that was very bothersome to him.  Ann’s recovery from the stroke has been slow though she has definitely made progress.  But today he was told that she may not recover 100%.  That had to be tough on him.  She’s likely to go to skilled care next though I do not know where that will take place.

 

Lynn and I had a very pleasant dinner on the back porch this evening.  The weather was great.  We had leftover pizza and guacamole dip.  It’s too bad that she can’t walk because the weather would have been perfect for a hike.

 

Today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               18,652,206              702,167

US                       4,910,179              160,037

Virginia                  94,251                  2,244

Augusta County          260                         4

 

Another day of no walking, no exercise.  I may be gaining weight!

 

August 5, 2020

Well, I weighed this morning and so far, so good on weight.  I’m a little under where I started when the pandemic began.

 

Lynn had an appointment this morning with the orthopedic doctor.  She is elated that he saw no need to put her foot in a cast.  She is to continue doing as she has been–wrapping it, keeping it elevated, and walking as pain allows.

 

While I waited on her in the parking lot I overheard lots of people talk about their medical conditions.  I am more thankful than ever that our health problems are minimal.  For some reason, perhaps mine to find out, God wants both of us to be around for a while longer.

 

We’ve been discussing the need for another computer for months now since my iMac’s hard drive died before Easter.  With our bank balance now in good shape I took the plunge and ordered a replacement.  Lynn had the idea of ordering a second laptop so each of us could use a computer while upstairs.  I was hesitant because I wanted a hard drive large enough to hold all of our pictures, iPhone backups, documents, etc.  Yesterday I found that Apple had released a new MacBook Pro with a 1 TB hard drive plus 16 GB of RAM, Retina display, fast processor, and even free personalized engraved iPods with charging case.  It was pricy, especially since I also had to order various adapters because it has the new USB-C ports and I need to be able to connect our phones, camera, televisions, and thumb drives.  I ordered the adapters from Amazon.  The laptop is supposed to be delivered tomorrow but the adapters won’t come until next week.

 

I e-mailed Nevin Diener, who still works on the RCPS Tech Staff,  this morning about my old iMac.  It is eight years old but has a huge 27″ screen.  Its hard drive is fried but otherwise it may be of some use.  I asked him if Rockingham County Schools would have any use for it.  He kindly replied that RCPS could put it to use but also offered that he would try to resuscitate it for me if I wanted him to.  By luck, Lynn had to go to the school board office today to take some papers so I dropped it off there for him to check out.  I can’t say enough good things about Nevin.  He was always a favorite employee of mine–superbly talented, level-headed, and kind hearted.  When I grow up I want to be like Nevin!  I told him that if he could bring it back to life I’d keep it for the grandkids to use when they’re at our house.

 

I’ve been chauffeuring Lynn around a lot lately.  She can drive but I’m able to drop her off nearer to her destination.  For example, at The Legacy I can drop her off in a parking lot not intended for Legacy patrons which is within 50 feet of her Mom’s door.  At the doctor’s office this morning I let her out right at the entrance so she wouldn’t have to limp through the parking lot.  To be honest, without being able to walk, I’ve been quite bored anyway.

 

This afternoon I chauffeured her to shop at TJ Maxx in Staunton after we made the run to Harrisonburg to drop off my computer and her papers at the Rockingham County School Board Office.  We also picked up a large pile of lima beans at an outdoor market.  Lynn loves limas!

 

Lynn’s swings did not come yesterday as she was initially told.  Actually the FedEx tracking finally said they would be delivered some time tomorrow.  They have now made their way from Alexandria, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee to Hagerstown, Maryland.  Jim agreed to come on Saturday and we’ll get her Pergola all set.  The only thing it will need then is to stain all the wood.

 

Today is Thomas’ tenth birthday.  We’re going to see him on Friday when he has an outdoor party at the park near their house in Arlington.  Despite COVID-19 he has maintained a busy summer with tennis, swimming, and soccer.  We had a Facetime visit with him today and also one with Faron and Coen as they demonstrated their new tire swing Jim installed for them using an old tire he found.

 

Trump said today that schools should re-open and that children were “almost immune” from it.  This is clearly not true and even if it were there would be the possibility that students like Freddie could bring it home to his family and us.

 

And no sooner did I write the last paragraph than I saw this from the Washington Post:

Facebook on Wednesday said it removed President Trump’s post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he said that children are “almost immune” from covid-19, marking the company’s increasingly tough stance on political speech amid heightened pressure. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” said Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone.  This is the first time Facebook has taken down a post from the president for violating the company’s policies on covid misinformation.

 

Florida had another one-day record in the number of cases even though Trump claimed it is “going away.”  Deaths rose in 32 states today.

 

In the race for a vaccine, at Johnson & Johnson said that with one injection monkeys were prevented from being infected.  Their vaccine will be available in early 2021.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               18,939,745              709,700

US                       4,968,989              161,511

Virginia                  95,049                  2,274

Augusta County          262                         4

 

Another 30 Virginians succumb to COVID-19.  Another 1,500 people nationwide.  In neighboring Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, the number of people infected is 1,989.  The population of those two combined is 134,000 which means 1.5% of the population there has been infected.  Rockingham County Public Schools, where I worked for 25 years, has approximately 11,600 students.  If 1.5% of these students is or has been infected, that makes 172 students.  What do you think the probability is that in-person learning will work there without spreading COVID-19?  Augusta County’s infection rate is better, of course, but still the chance of spreading COVID-19 by having in-person schooling is very high.  Yet school starts there, in-person, in 13 days.  Lynn shared an open letter to the Augusta County school board requesting that schools back off of opening for the time being.  Both of us signed the letter as did hundreds of other residents.

 

August 6, 2020

Lynn and I have never had green thumbs.  Our tomatoes are lousy again this year though I blame that on the deer.  We’ve done a better job with flowers around the house but suffice it to say we’ll never make Southern Living.  One exception is our zinnias.  We planted them around the outside light pole and at the mailbox.  They have done very well, multiplying into many bright red blooms in both places.  Lynn kept the seeds from last year for some of these; they have done very well.

 

This morning ABC news has an example of what I wrote about late last night.  Last week, schools in Corinth, Miss., welcomed back hundreds of students. By Friday, one high-schooler tested positive for the novel coronavirus. By early this week, the count rose to six students and one staff member infected. Now, 116 students have been sent home to quarantine, a spokeswoman for the school district confirmed.  Despite the quick fallout, the district’s superintendent said he has no plans to change course.  “Just because you begin to have positive cases, that is not a reason for closing school,” Superintendent Lee Childress said in a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday on the school district’s Facebook page.  As districts around the country debate the merits of in-person classes vs. remote learning amid an escalating novel coronavirus pandemic, the Corinth School District’s early experience shows how quickly positive tests can lead to larger quarantines.

 

Yesterday Facebook had a photo from a high school in Georgia with the hallways very crowded and few students wearing masks.  Today we learned the student who posted it has been suspended.  That’s some way to handle the situation!

 

My latest hobby is creating cards and printing them on our printer.  Our HP color laser printer is not new but does a fine job printing on card stock.  I’ve made a bunch of cards recently and spent time this morning making one for Thomas’ birthday.

 

Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over this morning for a back porch chat session.  I went to the dump and also got the Gutshall’s trash.

 

Lynn drove herself to help her mother with lunch today.  Afterwards she had a WalMart pickup.  Ordinarily I would have gone with her but we wanted one of us to be home at all times today because of two important shipments:  the Pergola swings and new MacBook.  Both shipments were here by 2:30 PM.

 

Jim is going to come on Saturday morning to work on the Pergola.  He would have come this evening but the weather forecast isn’t good.  Saturday’s weather should be much better.  And I’ve decided that I’ll wait until the adapters from Amazon come next Thursday to set up the new laptop.  I want to be able to restore files and settings from the backup I made of the old iMac but I can’t do that until a USB-C to USB adapter is available.

 

Once everything was delivered I looked at the weather forecast.  It said there was a 35% chance of thunderstorms starting at 4:00.  So at 3:00 I left home on a walk by myself.  I got to the one mile mark when I felt a drop of rain.  By the time I got back home it was pouring and I was soaked.  Lynn tried to text me when she saw the rain start but I was afraid to get my phone out of my pocket with the rain coming down and no shelter in sight.  So I walked as fast as I could and tried to protect my phone.  Lynn put it in the rice bag (leftover from when my phone took a dip in the dishwater) and it appears to be fine.  With a change of clothes, so am I.

 

In fact, before 4:00 the Weather Bureau had issued a Flash Flood Warning for our immediate area.  Our phones, iPads, and laptop all buzzed with the warning.  It certainly rained hard and the storm was slow moving.  I’m sure we got over an inch of rain in less than a half hour.  The TV-3 news said that our area got three inches of rain in all.  The flooding in our immediate neighborhood was worse than I have ever seen since we’ve lived here in the past 32 years.  For example, our neighbors, the Parishes, couldn’t get to their house because there was a river that erupted in the valley between our house and theirs.  The water overflowed their bridge.  Danny Link’s field looked like a lake, as my pictures showed.  We had water dripping in our living room and some small damage to its ceiling.  Otherwise our house survived it OK.  We had no water in our basement or garage.

 

One of the issues with the ceiling in the living room is that I believe our upper gutter is clogged on one end which forces all of the water to come to the side of the living room.  It runs down toward the lower gutter, overflows and runs back into the ceiling.  I hope it won’t take much to fix this.

 

By 5:00 the rain had stopped.  But the meteorologist on the Channel 3 news said flooding in the Mount Sidney – Fort Defiance area was significant and encouraged listeners to avoid the area.  We heard that both US 11 and I-81 were closed.  Apparently Dam Town Road which connects Fort Defiance to New Hope was a mess.

 

In the news tonight, Trump is quoted as predicting there will be a new vaccine by Election Day.  Didn’t I predict he’d be saying that?  Look at my May 25 post.  Certainly we all wish this would be true but none of the national experts agree with him.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               19,215,008              716,088

US                       5,025,646              162,654

Virginia                  95,867                  2,299

Augusta County          261                         4

 

Again we have more than 50,000 new cases in the US and over 1,100 additional deaths in the past 24 hours.  Virginia has over 800 new cases and 25 new deaths.  Not good!  Somehow Augusta County is listed as having one fewer case today than yesterday.  I’m not sure how that happened.

 

August 7, 2020

New research from the University of Washington is predicting 300,000 deaths in the US by the first of December.  In good news, however, an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News shows that the U.S. is slightly coming down from its recent national surge. New cases and deaths in the last week have both decreased in week-over-week comparisons. At least 396,559 new cases were confirmed during the period of July 29 and Aug. 5, which is a 12.6% decrease from the previous seven-day period.  There were 7,348 deaths recorded in the same time frame, marking a 2.4% decrease in new deaths compared with the previous week.  The national test-positivity rate is also going down. In the last seven days, the rate was 7.5%, which is down from 8.6% from the previous week.

 

The Augusta County School Board met last night but decided to keep in-person schooling starting on August 18.  So I guess our four grandchildren will be subject to COVID-19 infections twice a week starting then.  In Georgia, where schools have restarted in-person, a seven year old just died from the virus.  The child had no underlying conditions.   The WHO reported that the proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up six-fold, and in very young children and babies the proportion has increased seven-fold.  Apparently the Augusta County School Board hasn’t read this information or just doesn’t care.

 

ABC news reported today on just how bad the month of July had been.  It turned out to be another deadly month for the U.S. as hundreds of thousands of people contracted the novel coronavirus.  There were 1,882,692 new cases diagnosed throughout the month and 25,259 new COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In total, over 4.5 million Americans have contracted the virus and 152,000 have died since July 31.  (Note, this data is from Johns Hopkins whereas the data I report daily comes from worldometers.info whose numbers are somewhat higher).  The jump in infections took place in almost every state across the country, but the biggest rises were in Texas and Florida.  Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has ordered some residents to wear masks, bowing to political pressure as COVID-19 infection rates continue to shatter records in the state which saw 1,775 new cases in a single day.  Reeves made the announcement on Tuesday as the coronavirus infection rate shot up to 23.3%, pushing the state one step closer to becoming the nation’s next COVID-19 hot spot.

 

ABC also reported on how bad a month July was for the economy.  At the end of the month, the U.S. recorded a 32.9% decline in GDP during the third quarter of the year, marking the worst loss in productivity in decades. A combined 5.6 million Americans filed for unemployment during the month, as several businesses shuttered throughout the country.  Unemployment benefits for those Americans expired on July 31 after Congress failed to reach an agreement over an extension on The CARES Act in time, but negotiations have continued into August.

 

But to hear Donald Trump talk, everything is fine and dandy.  His disregard of science has allowed this virus to take over.

 

Our afternoon and evening were spent traveling to and from Arlington for Thomas’ 10th birthday party.  It was at the park very near to their house.  About ten kids came and they had a good time squirting each other with water guns.  We got to visit with Andy’s parents plus Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia.  The kids seemed to have such a good time playing with each other.  You can tell that they’re all starved for companionship after this awful summer.  They were pretty good about keeping their distance though the kids did not wear masks.  The weather was very cooperative.  It was a fine party!

 

After stopping back by their house to open Thomas’ birthday present from us we headed home.  I-66 had been very slow going up there in the afternoon and there were a few slow spots coming back though it was better.  By the time we got to Front Royal we were in need of gas and hungry.  It turned out to be a great stop–we got gas for $1.79/gallon, went to the nearby Target store for bathrooms (everyone had on masks), then picked up a great curbside meal from Cracker Barrel.  Lynn and I both like their country ham biscuit meals, which only cost around $5.00.  We got back home around 9:30.

 

I had over 100 pictures from the party to post to Flickr so I finished this post then started the upload.  This is past our normal bedtime!

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               20,541,216              724,050

US                       5,095,524              164,094

Virginia                  97,882                  2,317

Augusta County          264                         4

Not a good day:  over 70,000 new cases in the US and over 1,300 more deaths.  Virginia had 2,000 additional cases and 18 more deaths.

 

August 8, 2020

Today is the day to assemble Lynn’s Pergola swings.  Jim came up in the morning and we put together all five swings and mounted them to her Pergola.  Except for staining, this project is complete!  He got here at 11:00 and it took us until nearly 5:00 to finish the job.  We had no major troubles; it just took a while to assemble the swings and mount the hardware to attach them to the Pergola construction.  By the end of the day I also had pictures posted to my Flickr album which has detailed this project from start to finish.

 

Well, actually there’s one more job besides staining.  The chains that came with the swing are much too long and need to be cut off.  I might hacksaw them but I also may see if one of my friends has a bolt cutter I could borrow.  Another possibility is having Jim bring back the angle grinder we bought today at Harbor Freight that he used to cut off the ends of the bolts once everything was set.

 

Jim is such a good worker.  I’ve written before about how skilled he is.  His work ethic is excellent, too.  He doesn’t take short cuts.  For example, I would have left the eye bolts sticking above the Pergola with their nuts and washers.  Not Jim.  He insisted on countersinking the nuts and washers then cutting off the 1/2″ of the bolt which was still visible above the beams.  To do the latter we had to go to Harbor Freight and buy the cutter.

 

Jim also climbed our extension ladder to see if our uppermost gutter was stopped up.  It wasn’t.  I’m still confused as to why all of the rainwater drains from one side of the upper roof instead of both.  Why we’ve had some leaks over our living room is still very confusing to me.

 

Lynn is very, very pleased with the Pergola.  It is good to see her so satisfied.  Her foot is hurting too much for her to enjoy it a lot but she did have time this afternoon to swing on it with her friend Pat Collins who came over and brought supper for us.   Pat is so nice!  She made a very good taco salad.  For lunch Lynn had made pepperoni rolls so I ate well today!  And that included a very delicious stuffed pepper for dinner which Lynn had made yesterday.

 

I’ve been in tune with very little news today, especially about the pandemic.  I heard that Florida exceeded its previous records for infections and deaths.  And I heard that the reason that Virginia’s totals were so high yesterday is that there was data missing from the previous days which got counted in Friday’s data.  Regardless, having 2,000 more infections from what was reported on Thursday is frightening.

 

Here’s today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               19,783,872              728,535

US                       5,148,079              165,041

Virginia                  99,189                  2,322

Augusta County          275                         4

Something is not correct about the world’s number of infected as per worldometers.com.  The number today is 800,000 under the same statistic yesterday.  Perhaps they’ve entered the wrong values.  Still, the number of infections in the US is 53,000 higher than it was a day ago and the number of deaths is almost 1,000.  Virginia’s total infections are 1,300 higher than the previous day though the number of deaths is only five more.  Tomorrow Virginia will likely break the 100,000 mark in number of infections.

 

August 9, 2020

Today is the 112th consecutive day I’ve written about Life in the COVID-19 Era.  Fact is, little has changed.  I did a lot of thinking today about the way it used to be, including the way it was in Bramwell when I grew up, Morgantown when the girls were born, and here in the Staunton area over the past forty years.  Nothing was ever like this.  I long for those “good old days.”  I long for the day in which I won’t be suspicious of everyone I see in public wondering if they are a COVID carrier.   I long for when we could go into whatever restaurant or store we wanted to when we wanted to.  I long for ball games, church services, and large gatherings.  I long for seeing people without masks on.

 

People are getting better about masks.  Yesterday I took Jim to Harbor Freight.  Everyone I saw had a mask on.  Today Lynn and I went to Costco.  Everyone was wearing a mask.  We did a Kroger pickup, too.  Everyone I saw had on a mask.  Augusta County still has had 276 active cases but that’s much less than our neighbors to the north.

 

Not everyone elsewhere wears masks.  Today on Facebook I saw a picture of the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, North Dakota.  Tens of thousands of people were crammed into the streets of tiny Sturgis.  Masks were nowhere to be found.  The Facebook post said there should be lots of used motorcycles available in a month or so.  Behaviors like this are inexcusable.  As I’ve seen often on Facebook, you can’t fix stupid.

 

We were relieved to find out that Kay and family had made it to Topsail Beach last night around midnight.  It was a long day for them in the car.  She called us today and said the house they are renting is very clean and they felt safe on the beach as it was not crowded at all.  They’re going to be there for two weeks.  Of course, during that time both she and Andy will have to do some work via the internet.

 

For the past two Sundays, I’ve been attending and playing the piano for Sunday School.  There are sixteen of us who attend via Zoom.  I just take my laptop to the basement where our piano is and play a hymn.  Pastor Won is leading the study of the book of Matthew.

 

This afternoon I was able to cut our grass after we did our shopping at Costco and Kroger.  It had only been eight days since I cut last but we’ve had lots of rain since then so the grass was high again.  I’m ready for it to slow its growing down.

 

Staunton had a flash flood last evening.  Three to four inches of rain came down and flooded the downtown area.  Some businesses were devastated.  Many vehicles were destroyed.  Damage was especially bad in the wharf area.

 

Trump’s latest stunt is to enable his own version of economic stimulus via executive order.  It may sound good that he plans to continue sending the unemployed money, albeit $400 per week as opposed to the $600 they previously got.  And it may sound good that he put a moratorium on “payroll taxes.”  Payroll taxes are what fund Medicare and Social Security.  So his plan is to bludgeon two of the programs that Lynn and I depend on.  We paid into Social Security every year we worked.  His plan is to stop funding it.  This cannot happen.  I really don’t think Congress would let this happen but he has a way of doing what he wants to regardless of Congress and the Constitution.

 

ABC news tonight reported that nearly 100,000 kids tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July.  The Georgia high school that made it online with the pictures and videos of crowded hallways has now moved to fully virtual education as a dozen kids came down with the virus.  Ann’s kids go back to school in just nine days.  One man in Ohio infected 90 people in a church.  About 40% of the fatalities are said to be in nursing homes.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               19,982,142              732,783

US                       5,192,289              165,538

Virginia                100,086                  2,326

Augusta County          276                         4

 

 

Virginia has officially crossed the 100,000 mark although there have only been nine deaths in the past two days.   For the 5th straight day, over 1,000 Americans died to the virus.

 

After dinner, Ann’s family came over to try out the new Pergola swings and enjoy some ice cream treats.  We swang and talked for an hour and a half.  It was a very good visit.  They are such a good family!

 

Butch’s Ann got moved this evening to a Rehab Hospital.  That’s a good step in her recovery.  She’s definitely better physically.

 

August 10, 2020

Today I had my annual physical with Dr. LaGrua.  It went well; I feel blessed to be as healthy as I am.  My blood pressure was good as was my temperature.  The only thing that irritates me is that the other two doctors he has referred me to, Dr. Degene at Sentara Rockingham for my lung issues and Dr. Gillock at Augusta Health for my prostate enlargement, are at facilities whose reports do not come to him directly.  I had to show him the printout from my latest appointment at Dr. Gillock’s office about how stable my PSA has been.  I showed him on my phone the results from my December CT scan at RMH.  I wish that he, as my primary care physician, had ready access to all these reports.  At any rate, both results were good so there was nothing for him to do except make notes on my record.

 

The day went by very fast though I can’t give a long list of things I got done.  I worked on a few minor fixes around the house and went to the dump.  Lynn went to help her mother with lunch.  We ate a great dinner featuring tacos and got ready to welcome John and Ginny Bauman over to chat in the evening after dinner.

 

One of the things I was not successful in getting done was cutting the spare lengths off of the ten chains on the Pergola.  Josh’s dad, Allen, had some bolt cutters he let me borrow to cut the chain but they were short ones, only about 16″ long.  To cut these heavy-duty chains I’m going to need some of the long ones with plenty of lever distance.  I’m just not very strong.  Never in my life, even when I was young and playing lots of sports, have I been strong.   I did come up with some alternate ways of getting the spare chains out of the way of those who swing and that will have to do until I can get the huge bolt cutters.  I guess I could take each swing down and cut the chains with a hack saw or get Jim to bring back his angle grinder.  There’s no rush in getting this done.

 

I did get an e-mail from Nevin that he had replaced the hard drive and added RAM to my iMac.  He was so kind to bring it back to life.  It is eight years old–I bought it when I retired from Rockingham County Public Schools.  I’ll try to pick it up tomorrow. On my way, I hope to run by a restaurant I believe he likes and get him a gift card for his excellent work.

 

Dr. LaGrua told me today that he and his fellow health care workers are expecting COVID-19 to have an increase in infections this coming winter.  It does seem so much safer outside where there is plenty of air to circulate.  Indoors, as we’ll be in the winter, we end up all breathing the same air which will likely cause more transmission of the disease.

 

Here’s a good laugh.  Donald Trump thinks that it would be a good idea if his image were added to Mount Rushmore.  “Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!” Trump said in a tweet late Sunday.  The Republican Governor hopeful, Kristi Noem, in South Dakota said he told her when they first met that it was his dream to be added to the monument.  He also posted a photo from this year’s July Fourth weekend campaign-style appearance at Mount Rushmore — with his face carefully aligned with those of the other four of the nation’s most memorable presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  What an egotistical jerk!

 

 

ABC news reports that nursing homes have accounted for 40% of the deaths due to COVID-19.  Nursing home residents have taken steps to try and halt the spread by closing doors to loved ones, eliminating group activities and implementing strict protocols to isolate themselves.  Nationally, coronavirus infections have not been leading to deaths as frequently as they did earlier in the outbreak, according to public health data. While July had by far the most cases, the deadliest month of the outbreak was in April. According to the COVID Tracking Project, in April there were nearly 54,000 deaths while in July, there were 25,295 deaths.  Of the total 162,000 coronavirus deaths, nursing home fatalities accounted for at least 63,000 of them.

 

I guess this is good news from ABC:  There were 46,395 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Sunday, bringing the nationwide total soaring past 5 million, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the first time in six days that the nation has recorded under 50,000 new cases. An additional 516 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.  Sunday’s caseload is well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

 

On Channel-3 news, we were told that experts say that the coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over.  COVID-19 deaths could hit 300,000 by December 1, a university report says.  As we all know, wearing masks would help stop this but many people still refuse.  Another expert said we should be doing 4,000,000 tests per day but we’re only doing 800,000 daily.  The number of cases is still rising in 21 states.  There were increases in deaths in 25 states.

 

ABC news tonight reported that 100,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 in just the past two weeks.  Yet many still believe it is safe for them to be arm-to-arm back in schools.  Dr. Fauci says we should try to get students back in the classroom but there should be universal mask-wearing.  He warned that if we do not keep social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent washing of hands, we could have a very bad fall and winter including both COVID-19 and the flu.  He is optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the beginning of 2021.  He contradicted Donald Trump by saying the virus is not going to disappear.

 

This evening John and Ginny Bauman came over to sit in our Pergola and chat. Lynn fixed wine slushies again.  It was a great night to talk–weather was superb with low humidity.  The stars came out brightly again.  Using the app Star Guide we could tell that Jupiter and Saturn were in clear sight.  They brought us a jar of honey from John’s bees.  They are good friends!

 

Here are the coronavirus numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               20,244,944              738,623

US                       5,251,446              166,192

Virginia                100,749                  2,327

Augusta County          280                         4

Virginia added 650 new cases but only one more death.  The US has slowed somewhat–59,000 new cases and 650 new deaths.

 

We learned tonight that Staunton City Schools has elected to go all virtual for the first semester.  So Augusta County Schools is the only local school system scheduled to have in-person learning, which starts in just six days.  Maybe they’ll reconsider…

 

August 11, 2020

Another full day, full of good and bad events.  Let me begin with the bad.  I was so excited when Nevin offered to fix my old iMac.  As I said yesterday, he had put a new hard drive in it and added RAM.  So today I first drove to a restaurant in Grottoes that I thought he liked and got him a $50 gift card.  Then I went to Rockingham County Public Schools and picked up the computer, leaving him the card.  Lynn also sent three cupcakes to him and two of her co-workers in the County Office.  I was elated.  So I drove home.  As I exited I-81, I came to the stop light at the end of the exit ramp.  I braked for the light and crash–the iMac tumbled from its back seat position and the screen cracked in hundreds of pieces.  I was sick.  I was angry at myself for not securing it better in the seat and very embarrassed to call Nevin back and tell him what had happened.  As would be expected from him, he was calm and suggested I bring it back again for him to put a new screen on.  The iMacs have a glass screen that is actually held on with strong magnets, he showed me.  So once again I am without this computer and dependent upon his kindness and skills to get it working again.

 

The good news is that all of the adapters I needed for the new MacBook Pro came in from Amazon.  So tonight I set up that computer.  I was able to restore all of the documents, pictures, and settings from the iMac to the MacBook Pro using a Time Machine backup I had from March.  Well, of course, the backup didn’t have any new documents or pictures between March and today but I had them stored on another external hard drive so I was able to get it set up in a matter of a few hours.

 

The MacBook Pro is a neat laptop.  It has a large hard drive and a nice retina screen.  I think I’m going to like it a lot.  Lynn will take over using this MacBook so we won’t have to fight over it anymore.

 

There’s some news on the local school situation.  Tonight the Waynesboro School Board voted to go entirely virtual for the start of school.  That means of the five area school divisions (Harrisonburg, Rockingham, Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro), only Augusta has elected for in-person classes.  Since our grandchildren are in Augusta County Schools, this is of great concern for us.  Lynn read someone’s post on Facebook which said Augusta might reconsider this week but keep in mind that school is scheduled to start in just six days.

 

With Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris as his vice presidential candidate today the field is all set for the November 3 election.  This household will be huge supporters of the Biden-Harris ticket.

 

Other news of interest on the COVID-19 front is that Russia has announced that they have a vaccine all ready for their population and have begun vaccinating people.  Many health experts here in America doubt that the Russian vaccine has gone through anywhere near the scrutiny that it should.  They certainly wanted to beat the US at this.

 

Lynn and I did a good bit of running around this afternoon.  We got tomatoes at Overlook Produce and then stopped at Smiley’s for an ice cream treat.  Then we went to Belk in Staunton for her to get some toiletry items and on to Waynesboro where we picked up an order for Ann at Target then grabbed supper at Chick-Fil-A.  We ate our dinner at a park in Waynesboro.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               20,505,144              744,691

US                       5,305,957              167,749

Virginia                101,745                  2,344

Augusta County          282                         4

 

August 12, 2020

I am having a good time getting to know my new MacBook Pro.  I’ve got it set up just the way I want it, I think.  Its 1 TB hard drive is already 80% full since I was able to restore all of the files that were on my iMac to this computer.  That is, it has every file I’ve created in the past twenty years on it plus all of our music and all of my 50,000+ pictures.  The only thing I don’t have room for is all of the videos I have created.  They are stored on a separate hard drive.  I’ve got this laptop syncing to our phones, my e-mail accounts, our messages, and am currently listening to our SiriusXM radio on it.  I’ve set up a backup drive so Time Machine will make an incremental backup whenever I tell it to.

 

I’ve also repurposed my old MacBook to make it easier for Lynn to use.  She’s getting the hand-me-down this time though the laptop is not that old.  When we get the iMac back from its broken screen we’ll have three working Macs in the house; for most of this pandemic we’ve only had one.

 

Lynn’s true character was on display again today.  As soon as she got up she began making muffins and cookies for Toni Sheets and her mother.  Toni is driving to California starting tomorrow to have surgery for her colon cancer.  That can’t be a trip you’d look forward to.  Lynn is just so thoughtful.  This afternoon she worked with Betsy on a dollhouse kit that is very intricate.  What a great grandmommy to spend time with her granddaughter.

 

While Betsy was working with Lynn on her dollhouse furniture, Freddie was dropped off at our house, too.  He and I rode our bikes at Clymore Elementary and Stewart Middle School.  It was probably the furtherest he has ever ridden his bike but he did well.  I wish he could ride every day.

 

On my May 29 post I noted that getting old had brought to me the condition of being thinned skin.  I mentioned this to Dr. LaGrua when I had my annual exam last week but he really didn’t have any suggestions on what to do.  Today, for example, I scratched my arm.  That resulted in blood flowing which I had to put a bandaid on.  Later I bumped my head coming in from the garage.  Now my forehead is bleeding a bit.  I’ll keep the bandaid companies in business.

 

WVU may still be playing football this fall.  Many conferences, including the Pac-12 and Big Ten, have decided to not have football until spring, if then, but the Big 12 Conference today announced that they are going ahead with the schedule.  We’ll see how that works out.  I know that, unlike previous seasons, Lynn and I won’t be in the stands when they play.

 

More studies show that COVID-19 has been disproportionally bad for blacks and Hispanics.  The reasons aren’t genetic but cultural and economic.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

                              Infected                   Died

World               20,760,468              751,033

US                       5,354,303              168,948

Virginia                102,521                  2,352

Augusta County          287                         4

 

On ABC News tonight, 24 states are still seeing deaths on the rise due to coronavirus.  The CDC said this fall could be the worst we’ve ever seen especially if masks aren’t worn universally.  Where some high schools have reopened, 35 or more students have now become infected.  A real battle is developing in some areas where teachers don’t want to go back in the classroom but some parents and students are insisting on in-person education.  It will be very interesting to see what the Augusta County Board of Education decides when they meet tomorrow night.

 

Tonight we had another family Zoom session.  As we were about to get started it poured down the rain so Ann’s family couldn’t join in as they always Zoom outside.  But Jim and boys plus Kay’s family and Lynn and I had a good 45 minutes together.  It ended as a dance party with all of the kids jamming!  I loved it.

 

August 13, 2020

From ABC News today:  There were 55,910 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Wednesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  An additional 1,504 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported — a jump of more than 400 from the previous day.  It’s the first time in four days that the nation has recorded over 50,000 new cases. But Wednesday’s caseload is still well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

 

My sister-in-law Ann took a really bad turn for the worse this morning.  Apparently she fell yesterday in the rehab hospital and developed a subdural hematoma from the fall.  The blood accumulated inside her skull.  She was rushed to a nearby hospital.  A hole in her skull was drilled to relieve the pressure and that only partially worked so she underwent surgery this morning.  She is now out of surgery but having major issues still.  It just doesn’t sound good.  She has been totally unresponsive since this started.  Poor Butch!   Poor Ann!

 

Today I’ve tried to do something about the ceiling issue in our living room.  I called several roofers to see if I could get their take on how the leaks came into our ceiling and estimates on getting the problem remedied.  I confess I’ve felt guilty about worrying so much about the darned ceiling when my brother has worries much, much more important than this.

 

The first company I called, Valley Roofing, is apparently so busy that they couldn’t even make an appointment to come here until five weeks from now.  I went ahead and made the appointment but told them I was going to try to find another business to come and might end up cancelling that appointment.  I also called Corbin Roofing, a company in Mount Sidney though I only got an answering machine there so I left my information.  The next call I made was to Durie Home Improvements, a roofing contractor in Verona.  Jimmy Durie and his son, Skylar I believe, came.  I showed them the spot on the ceiling in the living room and where it had leaked from the window when we had our flash flooding on August 6.

 

Though it was raining a little, both got on our roof and proceeded to find some issues which they promptly fixed.  He said he was confident that he had fixed the issues and charged $275.  I certainly hope he is right—he said he would guarantee his work for a year.  That beats the heck out of replacing the entire roof!  It is supposed to rain a lot over the next three days so it won’t take long to see if he was right.

 

He did point out that the window frame outside Kay’s bedroom was rotted and needed to be replaced.  I’d been talking to Lynn about getting all of our windows replaced sometime so I called PWD Windows and requested that they come by and give us a quote to do so.  They are to call me back and set up an appointment.  This project will cost us some money but I believe it will make our home much more attractive and add to its value.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,052,336              752,380

US                       5,411,602              170,271

Virginia                103,622                  2,363

Augusta County          296                         4

Another thousand Virginians infected and eleven more dead.

 

The Augusta County School Board met tonight.  We tuned in to part of the meeting online.  We heard many, many parents and even a few teachers who were pushing to have kids put back in school and, in some cases, five days per week.  We heard a couple of teachers ask for school opening to be all virtual or at least delayed.  In fact, the only speakers who advocated for all virtual or delayed opening were teachers.  Earlier this summer, Augusta County has offered students a choice in selecting virtual or in-person learning; 20% chose virtual and 80% chose in-person.  Ann’s family reluctantly chose in-person because both she and Josh will be working full time.  The percent of those who spoke at the School Board meeting in favor of in-person was even higher than the 80% who chose this option earlier in the summer.  Lynn pointed out that the School Board probably made up their minds long before this meeting so having the long line of speakers was really a waste of time.  As we were listening to the meeting on the phone, others were commenting on-line.  For example, one person wrote that few speakers had on masks yet many of the speakers’ mouths were bumping right into the microphone.

 

The Board also discussed its mask policy.  The policy prior to the meeting was that students could remove their masks if they were socially distant in the classroom.  That is, when they were seated they could remove their masks.  The Superintendent brought up this issue and said that new information had been received from the CDC regarding the wearing of masks.  The CDC now recommends that masks be worn by all staff and students at all time.  He recommended that the policy be changed to require cloth masks to be worn all day by everyone with some breaks scheduled during the day.  The Board voted unanimously to adopt this amended policy.  Furthermore, the Board agreed that they would provide masks for students though students could wear ones of their own.

 

The Superintendent also recommended that the start of school for in-person instruction be moved from August 18 to September 1.  Virtual students were originally scheduled to begin on September 8.  His recommendation moves the in-person group to the same start date and gives them two more weeks of data to digest.  He mentioned that there would be a significant staffing issue if cases of infection happened, given the required 14 day quarantine period for all those in contact with the infected person.  He did say that at some time the Board may have to consider a 100% virtual setting in the future.  He also said that the new face mask policy may cause more students to elect the virtual option.  The Board voted unanimously to approve his recommendation.  This was somewhat of a surprise because many of the Board members kept saying that they were “ready to get back to school.”  So we’ll be revisiting this issue again in two weeks!

 

August 14, 2020

Listening to the Augusta County School Board meeting last night just reinforced how polarized we’ve become about the re-opening of school.  One Board member, a podiatrist, did not wear a mask himself and spoke about how he’d be glad to send his grandchildren back to school instantly.  Speakers used the “it’s just like the flu” argument and talked about how they had to go back to work themselves.  How many of them went back to work in a closed environment with hundreds of different people like a school house?  One nurse said she had to go back to work so her kids should have to go back to school.  I’ll bet she doesn’t just wear a cloth mask at her job.  Plus, she is only around one person at a time.  A teacher has many kids in a class when we have in-person learning.  One lady proudly announced herself as an “anti-vaxer.”   When the Superintendent explained that one positive case would mean 14 day quarantines for teachers and students then questioned where would the substitutes come from, several Board members said they would substitute.  Yes, like seven subs would suffice in a school division of more than 10,000 students.

 

Butch is having an awful time right now.  Ann’s vital signs are OK but she is still 100% unresponsive.  He wrote last night on the “Ann’s Army” blog that thirteen of us share that “I am very clear that this is not the life Ann would want, but not so clear that I have the guts to fulfill her wishes, should it come to that.  I so much need all of your support over the next several days.”  He has cared for Ann like a parent would care for a newborn.  No one would second guess any decision he makes because no one else would have put forth the effort he has made to help her get back to normal, something which seems to be increasingly unlikely, if not impossible, now.

 

It’s too bad that Lynn’s foot is broken.  The weather has been very nice for walking compared to when we were doing our twice-a-day hikes.  The highs for the next week are in the high 70’s and low 80’s.  There’s rain forecast but probably something we could walk around if we were still walking.  I just don’t have the ambition to walk by myself and will be very happy when my walking partner is back.

 

We went to Harrisonburg today for a few tasks.  First, I went into Costco and got some items requested for Central’s Food Pantry.  For example, I got two 50 lb bags of sugar.  This is why Lynn couldn’t do it.  Her arm is hurting too much.  After Costco we went to Acme Stove Company in Harrisonburg because Lynn is considering buying a gas fire pit for the Pergola.  There were two we were shown; one was $829 and the other was $720.  Actually I think she likes the cheaper one better.  But we didn’t order it yet.  Maybe later.  Finally we went to the Rockingham County School Board Office to pick up some papers Lynn needs for next week but they weren’t ready.

 

I managed to get the grass cut after dinner.  It had only been five days since I mowed last yet the grass was very high.  The yard doesn’t look so hot because of all the clumps of grass despite the short interval between cuts.  I’m getting tired of cutting!  For the past several years Henry and/or Gus has mowed my grass but this summer I’ve done it myself.  I don’t mind riding but the weed whacking and trimming is not one of my favorite activities.

 

I almost forgot to post today’s writing.  Here are the numbers from early on Saturday morning:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,387,947              764,112

US                       5,478,009              171,568

Virginia                104,838                  2,370

Augusta County          300                         4

 

August 15, 2020

One corner of our kitchen counter, beside the refrigerator, has been a mess lately.  Lynn has lots of papers, folders, and notebooks there but the major clutter has come the charging cords for Lynn’s laptop, our two iPads, and two iPhones.  Plus, the new MacBook Pro has needed a place to charge nightly so I’ve been taking it downstairs and that was already getting old.  So today I decided to spend the morning building a small charging rack for all of our technology.  This is such a rare happening for me—I generally don’t have the skills to attempt building much of anything.  But I found some shelving boards which had originally been in a closet upstairs that hadn’t been used in many years plus some oak boards which made for decent posts and made a rack that is 12” high with two shelves 4” apart.  I used the miter saw from Jim and my drill press plus other tools.  It turned out well, given my skill set, but others may describe it as middle school shop work.  The two MacBooks fit nicely on the two lower shelves and the iPads lay on top.  The iPhones can simply lay on top of the iPads to charge.  I even moved our Amazon Echo Dot to the shelf and used some cord binders to neaten up the cables.  Lynn approved it (a major step) so now I’ll have to paint it sometime.

 

This was an ugly, rainy Saturday so I couldn’t do any outside work.  In fact, the only time I went outside all day was to get the mail.  Ugh!  The rain did prompt me to double-check our roof issues to see if there were leaks.  Fortunately, I did not find any.

 

It is so unfortunate what my brother is going through.  Basically he is having to wait to see if Ann makes any improvement at all over the next few days.   She is totally unresponsive at the moment and breathing by a tube.  Her doctor told Butch that the next three or four days are crucial; if she is going to make any improvement there would need to be some evidence showing by then.  The issue is that if she doesn’t, he’ll have to make a decision on the next step.  So tough!

 

Lynn’s mother has her 20th great-grandchild now.  Our niece Jenny gave birth to her third child and first daughter, Sandra Jane, yesterday.  They are doing well.  Lynn helped her mom with lunch today and gave her the good news.  I know that brightened Mrs. Hanger’s day.

 

Butch had texted on his group chat that a person he had met while both were waiting on visiting hours to start at the hospital this week offered to him a shirt which was lettered “Where there’s a hill, there’s a way.”  Lynn picked up on the idea, purchased a bicycle pattern for her Cricut machine for $0.99, and soon had made a shirt like this.  She was exceptionally fast in getting this entire project done.  Of course, she is very talented.  She told him not to tell any intellectual property lawyer he knew that she had stolen the idea.  (Kay, of course, is an intellectual property lawyer and is on the group chat with everyone.)

 

Lynn and I did some research on the hexagonal gas fire pit she is interested in purchasing.  We found the same model on several websites but none had it any cheaper.  Many did say that it was currently out of stock, though, so perhaps we couldn’t get it even if we decided to go ahead with it.

 

ABC news tonight was same old, same old.  Like the pandemic, the debate about opening school rages on.  The CDC says as many as 45% of child cases are asymptomatic, meaning they can spread it unknowingly.  Dr. Fauci has said that checking students’ temperatures is basically a waste of time.  As has been the case every night, there were several stories of schools opening back up for in-person classes only to find that several people were infected and multiples more forced to quarantine.  One division had to call of classes because over 100 teachers refused to come back.  The number of COVID-19 cases is tapering off nationally but the number of deaths is still sky-high.  There have been more than 32,000 deaths in the last four weeks.  Colleges are starting back now and the news showed multiple incidents of large on-campus parties.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,581,035              767,739

US                       5,526,045              172,537

Virginia                105,750                  2,381

Augusta County          306                         4

 

August 16, 2020

After a night of more rain the skies finally decided to back off a bit today.  The same farmers who were crying about drought conditions a month ago are probably whining now about too much rain.  Living in farm country, I’ve learned that there is no weather that pleases farmers.  For me, I am never happy with rain.  I guess our well needs it but besides that I’ve got no need for it.  If the flowers and grass don’t grow, oh well!

 

From ABC news today:  The CDC has issued guidance to inform pediatric healthcare providers and said that while it is unclear whether children are as susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 compared with adults and whether they can transmit the virus as effectively as adults, recent evidence suggests that children likely have the same or higher viral loads compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings.

 

I think they left out the word “schools” in that last sentence.

 

As usual, Lynn went to help her mom with lunch today.  Mrs. Hanger wasn’t doing very well.  She was given oxycodone which makes her loopy.  Lynn’s sister Kay reported that dinner was no better.

 

I think I’ve been gaining weight just because our dinners have been so good I’ve been overeating.  Tonight, for example, Lynn fixed a delicious potato salad and we had BLT sandwiches with fresh tomatoes and newly baked bread.  Yum!  We haven’t purchased a loaf of store-made bread since the pandemic started, I believe.  Lynn’s sourdough bread is so good.

 

The news from my brother today is more of the same.  He got to visit Ann but she was only able to move her toes.  No other part of her body moved.  What a tough life for both of them right now.

 

Virginia had no reported deaths in today’s statistics.  That’s good news though there were over 900 new cases.  Here are the stats:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,792,385              772,244

US                       5,564,078              173,072

Virginia                106,687                  2,381

Augusta County          310                         4

 

Tonight we had our monthly covenant group meeting at Tom and Connie Davis’ house in Staunton.  There were eight of us there:  John & Ginny Bauman,  John & Eileen Myers, Tom & Connie, and Lynn & me.  We’re discussing the book, The Language of God, by Francis Collins.  We all get along and enjoy each other’s company.  It was a good night.

 

August 17, 2020

On ABC news this morning:  COVID-19 cases among children have increased.  7.3% of all positive cases are children under 18.  There were under 1,000 deaths in the US for the first time in seven days.  There were over 40,000 new cases yesterday but that is much lower than the 77,000 record number of cases reported in a 24 hour period.  So the country is doing better, say the experts, though testing is still down.   The CDC is pushing for everyone to get an influenza vaccination this year so we won’t have two pandemics going on at once.

 

Today was a busy day for me.  It began with counting at Central in the morning.  It didn’t take long for Sam Richardson and me to count, though, since there were only a handful of envelopes.  Then I came home and weed-whacked for an hour.  Then I headed to the Blue Ridge Food Bank to pick up our weekly load and took it to Central.  Then I went to Lowe’s to pick up an order I had placed online earlier.  When I got back I loaded up the truck with trash, both at home and at Ann’s.  Just as I got through with all that Lynn called and asked me to try to get our hamburgers grilled as soon possible so we could get to her mother’s soon thereafter.  It all fell into place and we topped the day off with a trip to Smiley’s for ice cream.

 

Lynn worked this afternoon for Rockingham County Public Schools, training two new ELL teachers.  She enjoyed that a lot.

 

I have two in-laws who are not doing well tonight.  Mrs. Hanger is OK, but the hospice nurse is now scheduled to visit her daily as she is fairly weak.  Her mind is still good at 101 but her body is slipping, I’m afraid.  Sister-in-law Ann is really struggling.  She is basically unresponsive though she has moved her toes a little.

 

UNC-Chapel Hill announced that after just one week of school they are canceling in-person classes.  Too many students wouldn’t wear their masks or keep socially distant.

Today’s COVID-19 statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,033,625              776,774

US                       5,610,106              173,656

Virginia                107,421                  2,385

Augusta County          313                         4

 

Virginia had about 750 new cases in the past 24 hours and 4 new deaths.  Augusta County’s numbers of those infected keeps rising but, thankfully, not the number who have died.

 

Tonight is the first night of the unconventional Democratic Convention.  It doesn’t start on TV until 10:00.  I hope I can stay awake for it but I somewhat doubt it.  I did not sleep well last night.

 

August 18, 2020

As expected, I slept through the Democratic Convention though I caught highlights of it on this morning’s news.  Watching it is somewhat like watching WVU football; I’m a big fan and cheer for the outcome in my favor.  I do honestly believe, though, that Donald Trump has been terrible for America and needs to go.  I didn’t like Bush, didn’t like Reagan, but didn’t hate either of them.  This guy I hate.  He is an egotistical, self-serving, lying jerk.  I actually thought of other descriptors but am trying to keep this post PG-13.

 

Ann is back at work now.  Her kids stay by themselves for the most part but today I brought Freddie and Betsy over in the afternoon.  Lynn made cookies with them and helped Betsy with her doll house kit.  I took both kids on a bike ride down to Middle River, about 1.5 miles from our house.  I quickly found out that I’m getting out of shape since my walking has stopped with Lynn’s injury.  It was an easy ride down but we had to push most of the way back since it was uphill.  I also watched Freddie play on our Wii for a while.  Our investment in Wii many years ago has paid off over and over.

 

Today was a very pleasant day outside.  I did some chores in the morning like spraying the weeds around the tennis court and cutting down some growth at the front corner of our yard where earlier this year I had cut down some small trees.

 

Butch does a fine job of keeping us up to date on Ann’s condition.  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of change.  During the day, he and her “army” of texters share dozens of texts.

 

From ABC news today:

The U.S. attempt to return children to the classroom this fall has turned into a slow-motion train wreck, with at least 2,400 students and staff either infected with COVID-19 or self-isolating because of exposure, and the vast majority of large school districts opting to go online this summer amid rising cases of the virus.

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have mostly waved off the situation unraveling this week in states like Georgia, Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee, where schools opened their doors after a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic — only to quickly backtrack as soon as infections popped back up.

There’s no federal standard on when it’s considered safe to reopen schools, although the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released various documents suggesting “phased” reopenings and advising that kids and staff wear masks and keep students six feet apart.

As a result, most schools have become hyper-focused on their own local virus data, with some looking to the World Health Organization’s recommendation that fewer than 5% of an area’s daily tests must turn out positive for 14 days before schools in the area can reopen. As of Friday, only 17 states meet that criteria, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are today’s numbers:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,292,673              783,348

US                       5,653,523              174,951

Virginia                108,282                  2,396

Augusta County          315                         4

Virginia’s infected rose by 800 and deaths by 11.

 

I’m going to try to see some of the Democratic Convention tonight if I can stay awake….

 

August 19, 2020

Once again I didn’t make it to hear any of the convention.  I slept well during it but not so well from 2:30 – 4:30 when we had loud thunderstorms and rain.  This is been an exceptionally rainy August.  I’m fairly sure we’ve had at least twice the expected rainfall for the month and we still have 12 more days left.

 

I’ve made a list of projects I want to get done.  Most are outside which means I can’t get them done in wet weather.  Yuk!  It did dry off enough for me to cut grass today.  It had only been five days since I last cut but it was high.  This is the result of all the rain we’ve been getting.

 

I also walked today for just the third time since Lynn’s injury.  I did our standard 2.8 mile hike in the neighborhood.  Lynn has hosting her friend Pat Collins on the Pergola while I walked.  Combined with the other walking I did today around the yard I exceeded the 10,000 step mark for the first time in ages.  In just three weeks I’ve gone from walking for two hours and at least six miles daily to almost no walking.  I’m glad to have gotten today’s hike done.

 

We had another banner dinner tonight.  We fixed tacos and had leftover tomato and dressing casserole that Lynn made yesterday.  Superb eating!

 

The media shower associated with this election is almost humorous.  I get e-mails and texts every day from people like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, etc.  At least that’s who is on the “From” line.  Oh, most of them ask for money, too.  You’d think they’d learn that I am very supportive with my thoughts and language but not with my pocketbook.

 

Ann is having a MRI to see how much brain activity there is.  The results of this will be significant for Butch’s next steps.  He’s been a super supportive husband; no one could do more for a stroke victim than he’s done for her.  I’m just afraid that her body just is not going to recover.

 

Regarding coronavirus, ABC news tonight reported that at least 22 states reported outbreaks of COVID-19 on college campuses though Virginia is not in that list (yet!).  Locally, students are coming back at James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and Bridgewater College.  Teachers in many states are balking at coming back to work.  New York teachers are threatening to go on strike.  Florida just became the 5th state with more than 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19.  Dr. Fauci said children ages 10-19 can transmit to adults as easily as adults transmit to adults.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,524,774              789,101

US                       5,694,181              176,147

Virginia                109,019                  2,410

Augusta County          323                         4

 

One statistic I’ve not been reporting is the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County.  Today’s “dashboard” from the Virginia Department of Health states that there are now 17 hospitalizations currently in Augusta County.  That’s much higher than I’ve seen in the past.

 

Tonight was our regularly scheduled family Zoom meeting.  However, all the kids and their families were either too busy or forgot so we didn’t get together.  Bummer.  Another time…

 

August 20, 2020

Four months ago, April 20, I started this blog.  I have written every day about our life in the COVID-19 era.  Many of my writings have been repetitive because things have not changed that much since April 20.  We still cannot gather together, eat out, go to movies, attend ball games, travel on airplanes, trust public restrooms, shop without worries, and even fill up our cars with gas without quickly squirting Purell on our hands.  We can’t hug our loved ones, shake hands with our friends, worship at our church, ride in the same vehicle as non-family, enjoy Barter Theatre shows, and go to our grandchildren’s schools.  We can’t even attend funerals.  We’ve canceled multiple vacations and get-aways.  We visit and meet with others via Zoom or Facetime instead of in-person.  We carefully plan trips to the grocery store or post office.  We avoid many stores we used to visit frequently.  Worst of all, there is no relief in sight.  I suspect I’ll be writing the same sentences four months from now.  How sad.

 

I’ve posted daily pandemic numbers.  These numbers show just how pervasive COVID-19 has wormed into our world and locality.  Compare these two sets, one on April 20 and the other last evening:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8,990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

 

August 19            Infected                   Died

World               22,524,774              789,101

US                       5,694,181              176,147

Virginia                109,019                  2,410

Augusta County          323                         4

 

In many ways, we’ve been the lucky ones during this era.  Our income has not decreased.  Our children have not lost their jobs.  Our health and our immediate family’s health have been excellent.  We’ve gotten along well and enjoyed our companionship even more than ever.  Meanwhile, we’ve been pinned to our home and not visited my brother during the toughest time of his life.  Visits with friends have happened but always at a minimum of six feet distance.

 

Our house is cleaner and better organized.  Our Pergola is up and ready for company.  Before Lynn’s broken foot we were in tip top shape.  We are more in tune with local and national news than ever.  But make no mistake about it, we are not better off.  This is a miserable time, perhaps the worst year I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve had some bad ones.  We miss and long for life the way it was in early 2020.

 

Things will get back that way only when there is a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 and when there are better treatments for those who are infected by it.  Today’s news, like most morning’s, had no mention of either.  Yes, there have been claims of vaccines being developed and several are said to be in Phase 3 of testing.  But given the political nature of life in the Trump era, I am not sure how much good news is exaggerated.  Will we really have an effective vaccine before next April 20?  Will I finally stop this blog knowing that our lives are safe again?  Who knows…

 

We had the Gutshall kids most of the day today.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie were dropped off here at 9:00.  I picked up Henry at the Fort Defiance High School gym at 11:15 after he shot basketball there for a while.  Ann picked the four up around 4:30.  During the morning, I took Betsy and Freddie to Natural Chimneys Regional Park where we rode our bicycles for about an hour.  The park has almost no traffic, level roads, and plenty of shade.

 

I fixed lunch for the crew (my specialties:  boxed mac & cheese, applesauce, and potato chips) then I went to Central UMC while Lynn took over watching the kids.  She helped Freddie and Betsy make shirts on them each with a bicycle graphic and a saying below.  At Central I worked with the church bookkeeper to resolve some issues with the reports she had sent me for the church’s finances in July.  I am not skilled at QuickBooks and perhaps should become so if I’m going to continue to help out.

 

ABC news had a story about teachers remaining in the classroom despite being exposed to COVID-19.  New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom.  Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom, as a handful of school districts in Tennessee and Georgia have already said they may do, raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees. Multiple teachers can be required by public health agencies to quarantine for 14 days during an outbreak, which can stretch a district’s ability to keep providing in-person instruction.  It will be interesting to see how Virginia’s school divisions react to this designation.

 

Another ABC news story is that clinical data from a new study shows that children play are larger role in the community spread of the novel coronavirus than previously thought.

The study, which was published Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics, investigated 192 pediatric patients aged 22 and younger, of which 49 tested positive for COVID-19 and an additional 18 had late-onset, coronavirus-related illness. Researchers found that the infected children carried a significantly higher level of virus in their airways — particularly in the first two days of infection — than adults who were hospitalized in intensive care for COVID-19.  The CDC says that schools should only reopen if the positive test rate is less than 5% in the locality.  According to some data I found from Johns Hopkins University, I believe Virginia’s positive test rate is currently around 5.4%.  Georgia’s is over 11%.  Florida’s is over 15%.  West Virginia’s is 2.3%.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 20            Infected                   Died

World               22,804,478              795,674

US                       5,740,359              177,223

Virginia                109,882                  2,427

Augusta County          327                         4

 

After another good taco dinner tonight and the news we went to Smiley’s.  This week they have Lynn’s absolute favorite, Death by Chocolate, as one of the flavors of the week.  We had hundreds of reward points on our account so we were able to pick up a quart of it for her to eat at her leisure.  Of course, for dessert tonight I had a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

 

August 21, 2020

I’m starting today’s blog with the most sobering of news.  Sister-in-law Ann had the MRI last evening.  Butch wrote “The MRI shows that Ann has had a stroke in her brain stem.  That’s why she’s not waking up.  The doctor told me to take my time coming back to Columbus, that they would give her a few more days, but it is very highly unlikely that she could wake up.” Throughout the day Lynn and I have been texting with Butch who has been both very emotional yet quite in touch with the situation.  It is so fortunate that Ann had an Advanced Medical Directive so her wishes can be carried out.  Butch wrote “Assuming (in the absence of another miracle this weekend) that things continue the way they’re heading, Ann wanted no funeral and to be cremated.  I’m imagining a family and friend memorial service some time in the future (when it’s safer to travel).  Ashes will keep.”

 

I feel very badly that I can offer no help except for an occasional text message.  I did offer to come to Ohio but he said that while he would appreciate my coming he would worry about the COVID-19 risks I’d have by coming.  Plus, Lynn couldn’t go at the moment because her mother is slipping even more nowadays.  I think we’ll both just wait a few days and see what happens next.

 

This is certainly not a good time of my life.  Pandemic.  Two in-laws at the end of their lives.  I know I’ve got a million things to be thankful of but today these three items are heavy on my mind.

 

Lynn and I had a very efficient morning.  On our way to Harrisonburg we stopped at the Gutshall’s to drop off a few items that had been left at our house.  We went to the Rockingham County School Board Office where Lynn dropped off a mileage sheet and I picked up my repaired iMac.  Then we went to Costco where we got several items of need.  On our way home we stopped at Ann and Wes Ford’s house where they gave us a box of fresh vegetables.  Yum!  Their generosity is greatly appreciated.  We got home in time for Lynn to help her mother with lunch.

 

I spent the majority of the rest of the day getting reacquainted with an old friend.  My iMac is a vintage 2011 model and served me well until March of this year when its hard drive died.  I’ve written about how wonderful it was for Nevin Diener to offer to replace the hard drive, which he did, only to have the computer tumble over on my ride home and shatter its screen.  Nevin repaired the screen over the past week and now it is back ready to go.  Nevin also added more RAM and a larger hard drive so it is probably better than ever.

 

I spent several hours restoring files and settings to it, careful to not reinstall applications that were intended for its earlier operating system or applications for which I no longer had licenses.  And I had to copy my 50,000+ pictures and every document I’ve created on a computer in the past two decades to its hard drive.  As of this evening it is finally 99.9% done.

 

Lynn and I decided to buy our dinner out tonight.  Chicano Boys is one of our favorite local restaurants but it had been closed for the past two weeks after Staunton was hit by a flash flood which did considerable damage to the restaurant.  So we celebrated their reopening by picking up some carnita salads and supreme potatoes from there.  Yum!

 

Another event that happened today was a local contractor came by and measured our windows to give us a quote on replacing them.  The windows in this house are over 50 years old.  The old weight systems are broken so I’ve had to screw most of the upper windows so they can’t be opened for fear that they would fall and crush someone’s fingers.  Hopefully the quote won’t be too high.  If we were to get them replaced I know it would increase the value and appearance of this house.

 

Today’s Staunton Leader newspaper had an interesting article about COVID-19 treatment being studied at the University of Virginia.  Here is an excerpt:

 

Dr. Bill Petri feels encouraged. A professor of epidemiology and medicine and infectious disease specialist at University of Virginia’s Health System, he and his team have been focused on one thing since last March — conquering COVID-19.  In the big scope of things, he says they are much better off today with COVID-19 treatment than they were just two months ago.

Come November, Petri expects an antibody treatment now in the last phase of clinical trials that is proving to be effective in preventing the virus from attaching to a human cell will be available to the public by late Fall.  A virus has to get into a human cell to replicate, and this antibody treatment prevents the virus from getting in the cell. Even if one of your family members is positive, this treatment will prevent you from getting it, he says. And the hope is it will also lessen the severity of the illness if you are already positive. Phase III trials for this antibody treatment begin next week. As part of a big team effort, UVA is one of 70 sites that together are conducting the study. Successful completion will allow the biotechnology company Regeneron to apply to the FDA to use the “anti-Spike antibodies” for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.  If all goes as Petri anticipates, the treatment will be available for people in the Valley by Thanksgiving.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

August 21            Infected                   Died

World               23,098,181              802,365

US                       5,796,727              179,200

Virginia                110,860                  2,436

Augusta County          335                         4

 

Almost 2,000 more deaths in the US in 24 hours.  Another thousand cases in Virginia.

 

August 22, 2020

Today I put the finishing touches on getting my iMac back up and running.  I really enjoy that huge 27” screen especially when it is showing my favorite pictures which I’ve set the screen saver to do.

 

We’ve kept up our active text with Butch throughout the day again.  It is hard to lift his spirits from afar but I do think he is on top of things.  Ann’s condition is unchanged and that’s not good.  He is going back to Columbus in a couple of days and will see that her wishes are carried out.  In the meantime, she is going to be under hospice care, receiving medicines to make sure she is not in pain.  So sad.

 

Today was another day of thunderstorms.  Though we didn’t get too much rain here, we saw pictures on Facebook where Staunton was flooded again.  What wacky weather!

 

I did manage to get three jobs done today that I’m glad to have behind me.  First, I put my new cart from Jim on back of my lawnmower and raked then picked up grass in the front and back yards.  I don’t know why, but raking grass is one job I detest.  Surely there are worse jobs but that one I just do not like doing.  At least I got the grass up where it is most obvious to the viewer.  I put it in a trash can to be taken to the dump the next time I go.  Then, I got the excess on the chains holding the swings up in the Pergola cut off.  This was not an easy task.  First, I disconnected each swing onto my lawnmower cart.  Then I drove the mower to the driveway.  Lynn helped me from there—this way she was always on level ground.  I put the swings near my vise.  I counted six links up from where they were hung on the carabiner, locked the sixth link in my vise, and used a hack saw to cut the chain.  I had to do this for all five swings which made ten cuts through heavy duty chain.  After I cut the chain and separated the excess from the remaining chains connecting the swing, I reloaded the swing back on my cart and towed it back to the Pergola and hung it back.  Thankfully all of this is behind me now.  The third job I did involved the little charging stand I had built for our kitchen to hold the two laptops, two iPads, and two iPhones.  I sunk all the screws below the surface, puttied over each, then painted the stand using the same paint that I had used last year when I painted the kitchen trim.  I’ll let it dry until morning then bring it back in.  It should look good.

 

I missed the national news today so I don’t know what’s going on with COVID-19 today.  Probably same old, same old.  Here are today’s statistics:

August 22            Infected                   Died

World               23,359,254              807,688

US                       5,840,433              180,153

Virginia                112,072                  2,443

Augusta County          341                         4

 

Another thousand Americans dead and over a thousand Virginians infected.  Perhaps doctors are learning ways of keeping fewer people from dying from it but obviously there are still many fatalities from COVID-19.

 

August 23, 2020

Butch made his last trip back to Columbus today.  The doctors there told him that Ann would probably never wake up; she would spend the rest of her life in a coma, requiring 24 hour care.  He went there to, as he said it, insure that her wishes were carried out.  So this afternoon, in his presence, the doctors removed her breathing tube.  He was told that it would take up to 24 hours for her to die.  How heart wrenching this has been for him and all of the family!  He has texted over and over today on his “Ann’s Army” group chat.  Everyone is 100% supportive of him and is pleased that Ann is on medicines which guarantee that she was not in pain.  He sat in her room all day.  I cannot imagine what all went through his head.

 

I have thought how at least he was able to spend her last hours with her compared to thousands who died of COVID-19 quarantined from their loved ones.  This is some solace.

 

He has repeatedly told us to not come yet.  When she dies, she will be cremated and he will have a service later in the year for her.  We would have trouble leaving for any length of time now because Lynn’s mother is still showing no improvement.  Lynn helped her mom with lunch today and said she was groggy the whole time.

 

I joined our weekly Sunday School Zoom session again today.  Won always asks me to play a hymn on the piano so I always pick one in advance and practice it before 11:00.

 

I also put a second coat of paint on the charging stand I had built for our electronic devices.  It looks much better now.

 

We ate an early dinner tonight.  Lynn had made her signature macaroni casserole.  She also made a tasty salad and we had some corn left over she had made which included green chilies and cream cheese.  Everything was delicious.

 

I believe we will be watching Betsy and Freddie and perhaps one or more of their older brothers three days during the coming week since Ann and Josh are both back to work on-site.  They are going to Josh’s parents Wednesday and Friday.  Knowing we would be fixing lunch and perhaps breakfast for them, we ordered some extra groceries from Kroger today since Kroger has curbside pickup.  Our pickup was at 6:00; that’s why we ate dinner early.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 23            Infected                   Died

World               23,545,428              811,434

US                       5,869,507              180,555

Virginia                112,966                  2,467

Augusta County          345                         4

 

The number of new cases in the US was much lower than usual, around 29,000.  Likewise, the number of US deaths was around 400, lower than it has been.  Virginia’s numbers seemed about the same as usual—around 900 new cases and 24 additional deaths.

 

It was a pleasant evening so Lynn and I spent some time swinging on the Pergola swings.  It was very relaxing.

 

August 24, 2020

The news today said “The Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday that it has authorized the use of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 as a treatment for the disease.  So-called convalescent plasma is among a host of potential therapeutics that have been undergoing testing in clinical trials. The hope is that infusions of antibody-rich plasma from those who have recovered from Covid-19 can be injected into ill patients, kickstarting their immune system and allowing them to fight off the virus until they can generate their own antibodies.”  But is this something to really celebrate?  The fact is, Donald Trump pressured the FDA to make this Emergency Use Authorization just in time for the Republican Convention.  At a White House news conference he said “Today’s action will dramatically expand access to this treatment.” He called the EUA a “truly historic announcement” and said that convalescent plasma has been proven to reduce mortality by 35%, which he called a “tremendous number.”  However, the fine print from the FDA said this treatment meets the ‘may be effective’ criteria for issuance of an EUA.  “Adequate and well-controlled randomized trials remain nonetheless necessary for a definitive demonstration of efficacy and to determine the optimal product attributes and the appropriate patient populations for its use.”  Another health expert from the Scripps Research Translational Institute said it was “outrageous” to claim a 35% improved survival.  “There’s no evidence to support any survival benefit,” he wrote.

 

Butch has had another grueling day.  Ann has been moved to a hospice facility in Columbus.  She is resting peacefully, still hanging on.  Butch has followed her religiously.  This makes the fourth or fifth location she’s had in Columbus since this ordeal started and he’s been everywhere with her.

 

Lynn and I were talking today about how good it has been to have Message available to us.  Butch has been able to share his feelings, which I’m sure is very important to him, with multiple people at one time without having to face any of us.  And all of us, spread out through multiple states, have been kept fully aware of Ann’s fate.  Ann has two sisters who are on the group chat.  Lynn, Kay, Mary K., a bunch of his Athens friends, and I have read and responded to him regularly.

 

Kay expressed a desire to visit Butch this coming weekend.  He has always been close to her as they have a lot in common.  Based on our phone conversation with her today, I believe she is going to try to drive there on Friday.

 

I am trying to check things off my personal TO DO list.  Today’s item that I got completed was to pressure wash the kids’ playground.  It had lots of lichens and dirt on it but my pressure washer took care of that.  Tonight I began another item on my list associated with the playground—I started staining it with redwood stain.  I had a little left in a gallon from previous years so tonight I stained the new boards that Jim and I had attached around its perimeter.  Now everything is at least redwood colored.  Also tonight I picked up a new gallon of stain at Lowe’s and plan to spend a good deal of time tomorrow staining it all.  Freddie is really the only grandchild who comes here often who uses it but I want it looking and working good for when Faron and Coen come.  I just don’t think they’ll be coming until COVID-19 is under control so who knows when that will be.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 24            Infected                   Died

World               23,800,659              816,517

US                       5,914,682              181,097

Virginia                113,630                  2,471

Augusta County          346                         4

 

Virginia had only 4 new deaths and a little over 630 new cases.  The US death rate was under 600 again.  Augusta County still shows 17 people hospitalized at the current time, though.

 

August 25, 2020

Another day of waiting for Butch.  Once again “Ann’s Army” was busy with regular updates from him and supporting comments from the dozen+ friends and family that are part of this chat.  The only good thing I can say is that he has had plenty of time to prepare for what’s coming and recognize that he is fully supported by friends and family.

 

It was a busy day for me.  I spent the morning staining the kids’ playset.  We have had that playset for around a dozen years so this is not the first time I’ve slapped redwood stain on it.  Perhaps it will be the last since Faron and Coen will probably be the last two to use it.  At least now it is well supported, thanks to Jim’s work a few weeks ago, and looks good.  I made no attempt to paint it carefully.  The wood is old and soaks in the stain.  I removed a few of the metal handles but some wouldn’t come off so I just painted around them to the best I could without spending much time.  At some point I may need to give it a new, different roof.  It took the entire gallon of stain and I spent all morning on the project.

 

This afternoon I had a 2:00 Central UMC Finance Committee meeting via Zoom.  Before the meeting I had to prepare some data to share with the group.  Central’s finances aren’t as bad off as I would have predicted a few months ago.  First, we got one of the government’s PPP loans which will turn into a grant.  Then, our membership has stepped up their givings for the past three months.  Plus, our endowments have returned to the levels they were pre-pandemic so income from them has supplemented our treasury.  Finally, we got an anonymous $15,000 donation in memory of two of our recently departed members.

 

Tonight we had a Central UMC Council meeting via Zoom.  Besides being Finance Chairman, I am the Council secretary so I was busy taking notes while “zooming.”  My goal for every meeting is to e-mail the minutes within two minutes after the meeting has ended.  I met my goal for tonight’s meeting.

 

Lynn had a friend, Ginny Bauman over tonight while I had the Council meeting.  Ginny’s mother-in-law is near death and John has returned to be with his mother and family in Marion VA.  Tomorrow morning Lynn is having her friend Mary Gooden over.  The Pergola is getting good use!

 

Tomorrow we’re also having the Gutshall kids all day.  I’ll probably take Freddie and Betsy bike riding in the morning while Lynn visits with Mary.  We’re not sure what we’ll do in the afternoon.

 

This afternoon we made a trip to Harrisonburg.  Lynn had some shoes she wanted to return to Costco and we had agreed to get pizza from Vito’s for dinner.  Today was also the first day of class at James Madison University though we managed to make our two stops without too much traffic interference.  Harrisonburg reminds me so much of Morgantown—it is a completely different town when the college is in session.  Who knows how long JMU will stay on campus with in-person learning given many colleges’ bad experiences with COVID-19.  ABC news reported that the University of Alabama has recorded 531 cases of COVID-19 on campus since the fall semester began last week

 

The numbers of new COVID-19 cases and new deaths in the United States have both decreased by substantial amounts in week-over-week comparisons, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News Monday night.  Just five U.S. states and territories are currently in an upward trajectory of new cases, while five states are at a plateau and 46 states are going down, the memo said.  There were 300,366 new cases confirmed during the period of Aug. 17-23, a 16.2% decrease from the previous seven-day period. There were also 6,873 new deaths recorded Aug. 17-23, an 8.5% decrease from the previous week, according to the memo.  Meanwhile, the national positivity rate for COVID-19 tests ticked downward slightly from 6.4% to 5.5%, the memo said.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

August 25            Infected                   Died

World               24,043,580              822,528

US                       5,955,708              182,404

Virginia                114,635                  2,494

Augusta County          347                         4

 

Another thousand new cases for Virginia, though.  And twenty three more deaths.  Augusta County now has eighteen people hospitalized with coronavirus.

 

August 26, 2020 

Today was Ann’s last day on this earth.  She passed late this afternoon with Butch by her side.  It was a quiet ending to a nine week ordeal.  In the end, she died peacefully and the way she had asked that it be in her Advanced Medical Directive.  All of us on his group chat were expecting this to happen, of course.  His texts during the past week have been heart wrenching and poignant.  Even Wiley has seemed to understand more of what was going on, texting Butch that he “is so pampering you when you come home tomorrow.”

 

Butch has been such a good and faithful husband to her during the past nine weeks.  Here is one of my texts to him:  You set such a high standard for the rest of us who may someday be in your shoes.  But you have always set a high standard.  [Me to teachers, “I’m Butch Hill’s brother.”  Teachers to me, “Great!”….a few weeks later…Teachers to me, “Are you SURE you’re his brother?”]

 

Ann will be cremated and there will be some kind of friends and family service later, perhaps weeks later.  For the time being, I don’t think I’ll go to Athens since Lynn can’t leave her Mom for any period of time now.  Kay has confirmed that she is going there on Friday and coming home on Saturday.  Butch told us today that he is looking forward to her coming.

 

We had Betsy, Freddie, and Gus most of the day today.  Lynn had several other things going on so I took care of them for the most part.  Gus doesn’t need anyone to take care of him; as long as he has a WiFi signal in the basement he’s good to go.  I fixed breakfast and lunch for Freddie and Betsy, played cards with Betsy, then loaded up the bike rack and three bikes for a trip to Waynesboro.  The four of us went and Lynn dropped us off at Waynesboro’s one mile long bike path.  It is an easy one for the kids with almost no hills.  By the time we had done up and back then up and back again we had ridden four miles.  Betsy learned how to shift gears since she’s now riding Lynn’s old ten speed bike.  If all goes as planned, the three of them will have their first day of in-person schooling just one week from today.  I think we’ll have them at our house again tomorrow.

 

We had our family Zoom session tonight.  All four households were on.  Betsy was holding cats, of course, and Faron and Coen were swinging on the tire swing in their back yard that Jim made for them.  Georgia was playing on their playground and hammock.  It is always good to see their smiling faces even if the conversation is somewhat haphazard.

 

Betsy is excited about moving.  It may not happen until late October or November but that’s OK.  They will be only 0.6 mile from us.  Henry is the only one who is not crazy about their new house because he wanted a man-cave room in the basement and the Lintner’s house doesn’t have a finished basement.

 

Our housekeeper Connie was here tonight so I missed the news.  Lynn and I try to get out of her way so we ate our warmed up pizza on the back porch then went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

 

We got a quote today from a local windows vendor for replacing the windows in our house.  I asked them to send us two separate quotes:  one for replacing just the upstairs windows and one for replacing them all.  The upstairs quote is one I can live with but to replace them all will be quite expensive.  Lynn and I will be talking about this for a while.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 26            Infected                   Died

World               24,315,420              828,721

US                       5,998,702              183,607

Virginia                115,458                  2,515

Augusta County          349                         4

 

As I have said often, the site I get this data from, worldometers.com, has counts a little higher than the Johns Hopkins data but nonetheless we are almost at six million infections in the United States.  Virginia continues to add around 800 more each day and had 21 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  I wish I had better data to report.

 

I always write this using MS Word then copy and paste onto my WordPress post.  Today the Word document topped 200 pages, single spaced.   I’ve written approximately 128 posts since April 20.  I’m committed to continue writing this blog until the day I take my vaccine for COVID-19.

 

August 27, 2020

I suppose Butch will be making his final drive home from Columbus today.  He has made friends with so many of the health care people there plus those at the Residence Inn where he has stayed.  He has been treated very well by all of them and I know how much he appreciates that.  I guess “Ann’s Army” will be decommissioned.  It has been of much support to him and this morning he wrote of his gratitude.  “I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all of you.  Together we did something beautiful:  we arranged for a good ending for Ann’s life story—something that Gawande reminded me that every life story deserves.  I could never have done this alone; I’m not that strong!  Now I’m hoping to begin to repay your love and kindness that worked this miracle. I know that many of you are facing hardships and losses of your own.  Let me help you in any way I can.  (I’m NOT saying that I’m done leaning on you, by any means!). I love you all, in ways that only the sadness of the last two months could germinate.”

 

I’m so pleased to be his brother.  He is a good man.  He has gone through many tough times in his life yet has emerged as a great example of what a husband can be.  He has a wonderful mind and a skill set far beyond mine and others, but what has really defined him for the last nine weeks has been his heart.

 

Lynn and I renewed our Broadway in Richmond subscription this morning.  We’re supposing that by next year we will be safe attending Broadway shows again at the Altria Theatre in Richmond where we’ve enjoyed five or six great shows each year for the past half dozen years.  In previous years we’ve shared a subscription with Ann and Joel Palmer who originally lived in Staunton, then moved to near Richmond, but now have moved to Atlanta.  So they are not going to renew with us this year.  We took a chance and bought their tickets this time so now we have four really good seats for the five productions.  John and Ginny Bauman have told us they want two tickets for two of the shows scheduled for 2021 and perhaps Ann and Betsy would want to go to one or more of the others.

 

We had Betsy and Freddie all day today.  Lynn was tied up with four activities of her own so until 2:00 I was in charge of them.  After I fixed them some breakfast, we piled our bikes in the back of my truck and went to Grottoes and rode in and around the town park there.  The park has a nice playground which the kids also played on.  It worked out well.  When we got back I fixed lunch, mac and cheese.  Actually Lynn had also made deviled eggs which the kids enjoyed both at breakfast and lunch times.  When Lynn was finished with her chores, she helped them make some shirts using her Cricut machine.  They look professionally done.  While they worked on the shirts, I got the grass cut.  So it was a busy but productive day for all four of us.

 

I have to laugh at one thing which happened today.  As I was packing up everything to come home from Grottoes when our bike riding was over, I told the kids that I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  Betsy found them—they were on my face!  I was wearing them.

 

My sister and I talked on the phone today.  She told me how she had discovered that our adopted aunt, Zella, apparently has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home near Bluefield.  That’s too bad.  Zella was always so good to my grandmother who had adopted her.

 

On the COVID-19 front, more than 1,000 Americans have died in each of the last three days due to the virus.  The head of the CDC now says that if you have been exposed to someone who is positive but you have no symptoms there’s no need for you to be tested.  Many health leaders jumped all over this, saying the decision was made under pressure from Trump who has foolishly said that we test too many people and that’s why we have so many cases.  If we truly want to get a good grip on this disease we need to test more, not fewer, people.  You don’t have to be a M.D. to understand that.  Trump is just embarrassed over the fact that the US is doing so badly when compared to the rest of the world and has decided that if people aren’t tested the number of people reportedly are infected will drop.  Duh!  Of course that number would drop but this would greatly hinder the goal of getting coronavirus under control.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 27            Infected                   Died

World               24,584,846              834,441

US                       6,039,974              184,652

Virginia                116,579                  2,527

Augusta County          353                         4

Same old, same old.  Another thousand deaths in the US.  Another thousand cases in Virginia.  CNN News says new coronavirus cases are down across the US about 12% on average over the last seven days compared to the previous week, but the nation is still averaging more than 900 deaths a day.  According to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, cases are steadily declining in states hard-hit by Covid-19. Compared to last week, new cases are down in Arizona about 36%, California and Texas have seen a decrease of 29%, and Florida’s numbers are down 26%.

 

August 28, 2020

I’ve kept most of my negative comments about Donald Trump to his horrendous response to COVID-19.  For example, because of our coronavirus pandemic, US citizens are now banned from entering every other country in the world.  So has he made America great?  But today what’s on my mind is how he has fueled the discord that exists throughout our country–discord between blacks and whites, Hispanics and whites, Republicans and Democrats, LGBTQ people and straight, men and women, gun and non-gun owners, police and public, and certainly rich and poor.  The President of the United States should be one who binds us together, not one who revels on creating havoc.  He claims that he is the “law and order” man yet we have daily examples of violence including today’s stories about 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, a Trump fan, who took an AR-15 to Kenosha, Wisconsin and killed two people who were protesting after the police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

 

Butch shared Ann’s obituary today.  It is exceedingly well written.  Her sisters and another friend helped him put it together:

Ann Elizabeth (Bohannon) Hill, 68, of Athens, Ohio, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, at the Hospice of Central Ohio, Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. She died with her devoted husband, Butch, by her side, surrounded in spirit by an army of family and friends.

Ann is survived by her husband of 35 years, Herman “Butch” Hill and son Wiley, both of Athens; sisters Jane Thorn of Durham, N.C., and Lynn Bohannon of Woodstock, Vt.; many nieces and nephews and their children; and special friends Meredith, Elena, and Luyi. She was preceded in death by her parents Ralph and Virginia Bohannon.

Ann, the second of three daughters, was born in Fayetteville, N.C., on Feb. 28,1952, but grew up in Bridgeport, W.Va. She graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1970 and from West Virginia University in 1974 with a degree in English. After graduation, she worked in the WVU bookstore where she eventually met Butch, an engineering professor at WVU. A good friendship blossomed into romance and the rest is history. Ann and Butch were married Nov. 23, 1984, and made their home in Athens. They raised a brilliant, quirky, and sweet son Wiley. Although outnumbered by men, Ann kept both in line with her dry, no-nonsense wit. Ann loved to travel and was fortunate to have many opportunities to do so with Butch. She loved experiencing different cultures, sampling new cuisines, and walking, walking, walking in interesting cities. Ann was loved by those who knew her for her wit, her spirit of fun, her sense of adventure, her generosity, and her common sense. Those of us whose lives she touched are forever grateful.

Per her wishes, Ann was cremated and there will be no formal service, but rest assured she is being celebrated through our memories. She would have dismissed us all with an eye roll and a wave of her hand, anyway. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Hospice of Central Ohio or the Rockland Public Library in Rockland, Maine.   Please share a memory, send a note of condolence, or sign the online register book at http://www.jagersfuneralhome.

Today was a hot but dry day so I got some outside chores done.  I connected my pressure washer to the faucet in the front of our house, got my extension ladder, and took advantage of the washer’s 30 foot hose to climb on the roof and wash the siding which had gotten very ugly over the summer.  Then I loaded my truck with a bunch of debris that had been under the maple tree near our garden for years.  There were rotted fence posts, fence boards, stumps, and ancient firewood.  I took it all to the dump.

 

Lynn had a bunch of chores of her own to do but we both ended up feeling somewhat bored after dinner.  In previous months we would have walked but she still has several more weeks of healing and rehab before her broken foot is ready to resume the multiple daily walks we took.

 

With all the news about Biden and Trump I have to believe that there are no undecided voters left in America.  I believe there are 67 days before we vote but I think we’d get the same results if we voted today.  Of course, I hope that result is a Biden victory.  There’s no real reason to have debates, TV ads, rallies, etc.  No Trump supporter is going to change his mind because of these and no Biden supporter in his right mind would think of switching tickets.

 

ABC news reported the first case in America of a person getting a second COVID-19 infection after he had recovered from his first infection.  As the news said, this is just one case out of six million in the US but it still is not what anyone wanted to read.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 28            Infected                   Died

World               24,887,834              840,392

US                       6,093,027              185,837

Virginia                117,592                  2,550

Augusta County          354                         4

Another repeated story:  1,000 more cases in Virginia and 1,000 more deaths in the US.

 

August 29, 2020

I read an article today in The Atlantic that son-in-law Andy had suggested labeled “Trump is a Secessionist from the Top.”  The article states that Trump considers himself as a wartime leader of Red America against Blue America.  It states that we basically have two countries in one now, Red and Blue.  “Since we are two countries, we can have two sets of laws and rules: one for friends, another for enemies. That’s why so many prominent Trump supporters can look at the shooting in Kenosha and perceive the gunman, who went to a city where he did not live with an AR-15-style rifle in hand, as acting in self-defense. The gunman had legitimate rights that must be respected. The dead men did not, and neither did all the many victims this year of police shootings. If those victims had criminal records, then they were criminals—unlike, say, Michael Flynn, who remains a rights-bearing American despite his criminal record. Two countries, two classes of citizen, two systems of law.”  The article concludes with this statement:   Is the law a set of obligations and rights binding for all, or a tool of power for the benefit of some?

 

Reading this article reinforced something which makes my blood pressure rise—there are many people in our society who think that mandates and laws are for someone else, not for them.  They don’t wear masks or maintain social distancing.  They conduct political rallies on White House property.  I get furious even when I am driving the legal speed limit on an interstate highway and a police car with no blue lights on buzzes past me.  Why can they disobey the laws but I can’t?  Trump embodies this type of person to the fullest, promising “law and order” yet disobeying both science and the law himself:  saying hydroxychloroquine will prevent COVID-19, not wearing a mask even when he is in places that require it, inviting foreign assistance in his re-election plans, encouraging militias to arm themselves, sending in federal troops to quell peaceful rallies, and on and on.

 

Another Facebook post emphasized this polarization.  It showed a drawing of Colin Kapernick kneeling during the National Anthem with the label “Traitor” and another drawing of Kyle Rittenhouse armed with his AR-15 with the label “Hero.”

 

I’m proud of Kay today.  She drove to Athens last night to visit Butch.  It was a six hour drive for her.  She has always felt close to him for many reasons and was one of those in the “Ann’s Army” group message throughout her aunt Ann’s ordeal.  This morning Butch wrote to Lynn and me, “Thank you SO much for sharing your daughter with me!  We sat out on the patio at the OU Inn until WAY past my bedtime, toasting Ann, talking about Ann (and talking about everything else, it seems!).  Today I’m taking her to some of my favorite places and favorite people in Athens.  Tomorrow, we’ll go for a run before she heads back home.”

 

Lynn’s breadmaker was showing signs of being worn out so she bought a new one this week.  After all, as I’ve written before, she has made homemade sourdough bread every week since this pandemic began.  It has been delicious.  Today she tried out her new breadmaker.  It is a little smaller than her previous one so she was concerned that her oft-used recipe might not work in it.  But it worked just fine.  Yum!

 

Central UMC had a fundraiser BBQ today for the family of our former administrative assistant, Sarah Russell.  We picked up some pork for dinner and left a generous offering for the Russell family, who just had their second daughter who apparently has Down’s Syndrome.  We also picked up some for Ann’s family.

 

The BBQ pork on the homemade rolls plus cole slaw from the church made for a great supper.  Lynn also fried some potatoes from the leftover baked potatoes from yesterday.  Good eating!

 

Lynn helped her mother with lunch again today.  Mrs. Hanger is not doing very well.  She is very lethargic and doesn’t eat much.  She sleeps a lot.  Sometimes her mind is sharp but at other times she hallucinates.

 

As of Saturday, more than 1,200 students and 166 employees and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Alabama.  Meanwhile, WVU continues to hold classes, practice football, and prepare for a full season of Big 12 football beginning on September 12 when they host Eastern Kentucky.  No fans will be attending the Eastern Kentucky game.

 

In the afternoon, Lynn and I went to Lowe’s in Staunton.  She is somewhat bored now and wanted a project to work on.  So, she bought three 48” boards which she plans to turn into porch signs like the Welcome sign that she made that is out there now.  Actually, she bought a 12’ board which she got cut into three 4’ boards at the store.

 

The boredom we’re experiencing is due to both COVID-19 limiting our going out and Lynn’s broken foot keeping us from walking.  So for the past few days we’ve both played a lot of Solitaire.  I’m over 19,500 games of Whirly Word on my iPad.  We both also spend a lot of time on Facebook.  One favorite post of mine was a cartoon showing a group of people gawking over Trump.  They say “We’d give up our lives for you!”  Trump responds, “Thanks, I’d give up your lives for me, too.”

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 29            Infected                   Died

World               25,141,374              845,532

US                       6,135,900              186,792

Virginia                118,809                  2,568

Augusta County          361                         4

I’ve been writing that these statistics are repetitive.  Like yesterday, there’s around another thousand deaths in the US and well over a thousand new cases in Virginia.  Augusta County still has 18 hospitalized with coronavirus.  Meanwhile, Rockingham and Harrisonburg have 1,044 and 1,240 cases, respectively.  JMU is back in class and has around 200 students who are infected.

 

August 30, 2020

Today was probably the prettiest day we’ve had in August.  The humidity was low, the skies clear, and the temperatures in the low 80’s.  I wish it would continue but, alas, the forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain.  We’ve already had twice the normal rainfall for August but I guess the month will end with a stamp of more precipitation.  Yuck!

 

I almost had to make up some work just to get outside on such a pretty day.  I ended up hooking my cart to my mower and filling it with the dirt we had displaced when we dug the poles for the Pergola.  I took it to our field and used it to fill in two holes there.  The cart worked very well.

 

Before then I had done my usual Sunday morning routine which included preparing then playing a hymn for our Zoom Bible study and taking part in the hour-long meeting.

 

This is the week of in-law birthdays.  Today is Morgan’s, tomorrow is Josh’s, and Thursday is Andy’s.

 

Lynn has been working on her new porch signs today.  This morning she stained one of the boards we got at Lowe’s yesterday and this afternoon she lettered it using her Cricut machine.  Her sign says “Happy Fall Y’all.”   Lynn is the craftiest woman I’ve ever known.  She is always creating, altering, bedazzling, designing, or making something with her hands.  Her creations are varied and always professionally done.

 

Lynn reported that her mother was doing much better today.  She was alert, talkative, and ate lunch well.  An hour later Jane visited her and found a very different person.  She was confused and much less alert.

 

The upcoming week is a big one.  School resumes in Augusta County on Tuesday.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie will go on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Henry will go on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Kids don’t go on Mondays.

 

I read an editorial online in Business Insider.  The author said that Donald Trump isn’t the “law and order President,” he’s the “lawless and disorder President.”  He showed many of Trump’s defiance of the law including how many of his cronies he had pardoned, some of whom had pled guilty of their crimes.  He wrote “He speaks out against an ‘angry mob’ of peaceful protesters but encourages mob violence at his rallies. He calls himself an ally to peaceful protesters but sends federal troops to tear gas them so he can have a photo op. He calls on foreign leaders not to kill their protesters but warns Americans that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’”

 

Even more enflaming to me was an article in New York Times that said that Trump reposted messages asserting that the real death toll from the coronavirus is only around 9,000 — not 182,000 — because the others who died also had other health issues and most were of an advanced age.  “So get this straight — based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus,” said the summary of a story by the hard-line conservative website Gateway Pundit that was retweeted by the president, assailing his own health advisers, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx.  He also tweeted that Governor Andrew Cuomo from New York should be imprisoned due to the high death rate early in the pandemic at New York nursing homes.  The truth is that Cuomo was always transparent in how he dealt with the coronavirus and has New York in good shape compared to the rest of the country.  The same night as those two tweets, he liked a tweet written by someone else that said “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”  Rittenhouse, of course, is the 17-year old Trump supporter who is charged with homicide for killing two demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin, using his illegal AR-15.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 30            Infected                   Died

World               25,376,719              850,141

US                       6,171,272              187,216

Virginia                119,747                  2,569

Augusta County          363                         4

The world deaths have been increasing by around 5,000 each day.  ABC news reports that India has registered 78,761 new coronavirus cases, the biggest single-day spike in the world since the pandemic began, just as the government began easing restrictions to help the battered economy.   Virginia again had near 1,000 more cases though only one more death.  The US number of deaths was down to under 500.  Augusta County still has 18 hospitalized whereas Rockingham and Harrisonburg together have nearly 200 hospitalized at the moment.

August 31, 2020

I read an opinion by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post this morning entitled “The Five Dumbest Republican Arguments for Trump.”  This article is so right-on that I am reproducing it below:

 

None of Republicans’ commonly deployed arguments for reelecting President Trump are tethered to reality. The paucity of logic and factual support for their rationales suggests many on the right, even “respectable” columnists and elected officials, actually support him for reasons they’re loath to admit, whether it’s because they share his apocalyptic view of crime encroaching on the suburbs or are eager to see a country purged of immigrants.

He will give us law and order: If public safety is the concern, the unnecessary deaths from covid-19, which might exceed 200,000 by Election Day, and the anxiety over leaving our homes for fear of joining 6 million infected Americans surely make Trump’s tenure the most dangerous for ordinary Americans. Each week, we have been losing twice the number of Americans killed on Sept. 11.

No wonder Trump loves to highlight any domestic scene of disorder, mayhem and looting he can to frighten White Americans, arguing that if law enforcement “dominates the streets,” we will have public order. This is preposterous. We cannot go to war with millions of demonstrators. That’s simply impossible, not to mention morally objectionable. The demands of the protesters, among them police reform and voting rights legislation are entirely legitimate. But so long as Trump denies the legitimacy of these concerns and the presence of systemic racism, we will not have domestic tranquility.

Trump celebrates violence, encourages police misconduct, honors Whites indicted for brandishing guns at marchers and tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway let on that the administration believes that the more violence happens in the streets, the better chance Trump has of being reelected.

Meanwhile, Trump smears our intelligence community, spinning false conspiracy theories and adopting Vladimir Putin’s version of the 2016 plot to interfere with our election. Trump tramples on laws and precedents ranging from the Hatch Act to turning over his tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee upon request. There is no president in recent memory who has hired and associated with so many convicted felons. He personally is under investigation by multiple authorities for potential financial crimes. He is his own crime spree.

As President Trump threatens to unleash the military on American cities roiled in civil unrest, it’s clear that he’s embracing his inner Nixon.

He has vanquished the pandemic: The level of delusion necessary to sustain the fiction that Trump has handled the pandemic well is unfathomable. We have more deaths due to the disease than any other country on the planet, many more deaths per capita than many advanced countries and no national testing-and-tracing program. We remain cloistered at home and children cannot attend school in person in most places after weeks of shutdowns, largely because Trumped egged officials into reopening prematurely. He has hawked dangerous and unproven remedies and pressured government health experts to weaken or change guidelines to minimize dangers and restrictions on activities. As he did Thursday night, he gathers large crowds without masks and social distancing, creating his very own potential superspreading events.

He has been great for the economy: Multiple fact-checkers have repeatedly demonstrated that the economy under President Barack Obama’s was stronger by multiple measures than the economy under Trump. This disparity was due in part to tariffs Trump imposed, which amount to a tax hike for U.S. consumers. If Trump falsely thinks he inherited a rotten economy, it’s inarguable that it got worse even before he crashed it by attempting to ignore a pandemic. It is now evident that some jobs lost will not return when — and if — the coronavirus is vanquished. Hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses have closed. Companies will not all emerge from bankruptcy. Trump ends his four years with record unemployment and debt — and without a plan to reduce either.

Joe Biden is a socialist: Not even the Republicans have the nerve to make that argument. Instead, they argue that Biden will be tricked or led around by the nose by forces on the left. This is entirely speculative and ignores Biden’s decades-long record in office (remember the 1994 crime bill?) and policy choices during the campaign, among them his opposition to Medicare-for-all. Moreover, we have yet to see in American politics a situation in which the wing of a party defeated in the presidential primary magically controls the executive branch after their rivals from the same party assume office.

Moreover, if “conservatives” are worried about the expansion of government, then Trump’s widespread abuse of executive power, meddling in investigations and enforcement actions to benefit cronies and punish enemies, threats to harm certain companies (as in his call for a boycott of Goodyear), protectionism and capitulation to illiberal regimes, as well as the mammoth debt he’s run up, his indiscriminate use of federal forces against protesters, his misuse of government property and government employees to serve his personal interests, and attacks on the courts and free press make Trump the least conservative president ever (if that word has any meaning anymore).

“Life”: One can respect those deeply opposed to abortion in evaluating the candidates, but by the same token, a president who prioritizes the economy over preventing a pandemic, rips children from the arms of their mothers, refuses to denounce killings of unarmed Black Americans and willfully declines to protect the lives of our troops on whose heads Russia placed bounties is not respectful of human life in any meaningful sense. Indeed, Trump has turned the party into a vicious death cult that trivializes the nearly 180,000 deaths caused by covid-19 to date. When you create superspreader crowds to soothe your ego, you are endangering human life.

When one party willfully ignores a pandemic and treats Black lives as expendable, it loses any moral authority regarding the sanctity of human life. In refusing to be guided by scientific facts (be it on air and water quality, climate change or covid-19), Trump puts at risk the health and lives of millions of people here and around the world. Those who value the essential worth of every human being should be repulsed by this administration.

Staunton’s monthly rainfall for August averages 3.44 inches.  Even before today, August in 2020 had 9.81 inches of rain plus an inch and a half today today.  That means this year we saw over three times the normal rainfall in August.  I’m tired of it.

 

Despite the rain, we ran some errands today in Harrisonburg then returned in time for Lynn to visit with her mother again.  I kept checking for roof leaks but, fortunately, did not find any.

 

One of our errands was to pick up ice cream for the Gutshall’s for tonight.  We’ve offered to have Smiley’s ice cream as both a way of celebrating Josh’s birthday and for the kids going back to school.  Our choices for the night were Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Chunk, Cherry Sorbet, and Cookies & Cream.

 

We also had a second contractor come by to give us an estimate for the replacement of our 50 year old windows.  We’re having each contractor give us multiple quotes and will decide later what to do.

 

At Georgia Tech students have been back in class for two weeks.  In the past eight days the number of infected students jumped from 252 to 641.  JMU has 390 cases.  At WVU, tests were given yesterday to 136 students and 27 came back positive, a 19.9% rate.  This is terribly high.  They have had around 200 positive tests in all.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

August 31            Infected                   Died

World               25,592,653              853,451

US                       6,205,706              187,624

Virginia                120,594                  2,580

Augusta County          364                         4

The number of deaths in the US is around 400 more than the previous day, which is a smaller increase than we’ve seen recently.  Likewise, the number of infections in Virginia is around 800 more than the previous day which is a smaller increase than it has been.