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Thursday, September 24, 2020
Home Features Rain, rain everywhere, but not on the coast in Stann Creek

Rain, rain everywhere, but not on the coast in Stann Creek

The Belize River has swollen over its banks twice since the rainy season began, and at least twice we have heard of villagers in Toledo West running to high ground, but some people are experiencing the best of tourism weather. My good friend, Brother Gaspar Martinez, told me that he has sown two corn crops this year (the second after the first one failed), and bah, no rain no gain, no green corn in Hopkins.

It’s like incredible. There’s been heavy rain in the west and deeper south all week, but none to spare for our brothers and sisters living near the coast in the Stann Creek District.

The folk at the Met Station, I think it was Brother Ronald Gordon, said that we would be having some more drought this year, but that hasn’t played out in most of Belize. These folk at the Weather Bureau, even though they don’t have their Doppler, they are pretty darn good at their jobs, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it gets dry in the rest of Belize later in the latter months of 2020. The old folk in Camalote told me that the terrible drought of 1975 started out like it was going to be the best of everything, and then before the corn matured the drought came, and the corn and rice grains didn’t fill out.

Hey, our weather folk are human, and the weather can be contrary, which means that they can’t be right all the time. If I had any say, it would be for less rain in our part of the country, and some showers of blessing to fatten up the corn and the plantain in Stann Creek.

Oh, going a little inland in that district, how come we haven’t heard anything more about all the pikayri or waari that we were told were found in the bushes behind Maya Center? My first sniff was that some farmer had poisoned them because they were eating the cassava, but officialdom knows best. What happened?

Reduced exposure could mean less severe bout with COVID-19

The evidence is irrefutable that wearing masks over the mouth and nose helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and to make wearing masks even more compelling, some studies show that the decreased exposure to virus particles could lead to less severe bouts with the disease if we get sick.

Jon Eichberger, in a July 31 article, “Wearing a Mask Could Keep You from Getting Seriously Sick”, for Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health, reported that it is believed that the reduced amount of virus particles in the air (brought about by mask wearing) could lead to people having more mild infections, produce greater community-level immunity, and slow the spread of the disease.

Eichberger said that in a question-and-answer session with infectious disease epidemiologist, Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH ’91, and Desmond M. Tutu, Professor of Public Health and Human Rights at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the virologists said that it has been known “for more than 50 years that lower inoculums of other viruses, including flu, lead to milder illnesses”, that this is a basic principle in virology, so it “likely holds true for COVID-19.”

The doctors said epidemiologic data from cruise ships showed that “even though many people on cruise ships have gotten COVID-19, since they are quite closed environments, the rate of mask-wearing made a very big difference in how many people who got COVID-19 got much milder infections. In the case of a ship in Argentina, where mask wearing was mandatory for passengers and the staff had N95 masks, more than 85% of people who got COVID-19 had asymptomatic infections…(while) in the general population only about 40% of people have this mild form of COVID-19. This suggests mask wearing really made a difference in health outcomes.”

Quentin Fottrell, in an August 11 story published on MarketWatch, said the WHO reported that studies had shown that many people infect others before they themselves become ill, and that among people who don’t have symptoms, the virus can be detected one to three days before the onset of symptoms “with the highest viral loads around the day of the onset of symptoms, followed by a gradual decline over time. This level of contagiousness appears to be one to two weeks for asymptomatic persons, and up to three weeks or more for patients with mild to moderate disease.”

Failure after Wuhan set the blueprint

The fear of COVID-19 was at its greatest when the disease hit Wuhan, China, because no one knew how bad it really was or what to do to combat it. It turned out that the disease was terrible, but it wasn’t the absolute worst; fortunately, in a matter of weeks, Wuhan, China showed the world how to handle it. Some countries learned, and unfortunately some didn’t.

In our hemisphere, the USA, with all its resources, proved to be the worst manager of the disease. From the outside looking in, it appears that their leaders decided they wouldn’t take the cue because it was from their rival, the Chinese. Brazil’s leader made what appears to be a Nazi-type move to eliminate the older folk and the poorer folk in that country. Mexico, which excelled in its control of the Swine Flu about a decade ago, badly underestimated COVID-19, and now their death toll is the third highest in the world.

Things are rough with our neighbors in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras too, even though we are sure a couple of those countries stepped up their game very early. Some people say that El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele didn’t act like a democratically elected leader when he responded to the pandemic, but his immediate closing of the country’s borders and some rigid people control were intended to save lives. Still, according to August 11 data from Worldometer, El Salvador, a country with 6.4 million people and a population density of 811 per square mile, has recorded 21,269 cases and 570 deaths.

Guatemalan president, Alejandro Giammattei, a medical doctor, certainly didn’t want his country to get ravaged by the pandemic, and the UN has praised the measures his country put in place. Unfortunately, the poverty in the nation he took over earlier this year made it very difficult, and the US’s deportation of many Guatemalans who were COVID-19 positive during the first two months didn’t help. On August 11, Worldometer reported that Guatemala, a country with a population of 17.25 million and a population density of 433 persons per square mile, had recorded 56,987 cases and 2,222 deaths.

Honduras, a country that has been experiencing political turmoil since the military chased out their left-leaning president, Manuel Zelaya, in a coup eleven years ago, has not done a good job with COVID-19. On August 11 Worldometer reported that Honduras, a country of 9.9 million persons and a population density of 229 persons per square mile, had recorded 47,872 cases and 1,506 deaths.

For love of country, share your COVID-19 story

Big respect to all those persons who came forward when they unfortunately caught the virus, because even though the authorities won’t say it, it gives us a better chance of controlling the disease. It’s a good idea to say, everybody has it, but when you know someone has it, you will take your defense to a higher level. That’s just the way it is. Hey, it’s a flu, a very, very bad, contagious flu, so we must expect people, and that includes our family, friends, and neighbors, will shy away from us, until we recover.

Because of the way this disease is spread, anyone can catch it; in fact, every one of us will catch it, someday, so only an utter fool will stigmatize. However, if we are desperately trying to catch COVID-19, and are not wearing a mask in public, not physically distancing, not washing our hands, and flouting all the safety measures directed by the health services, really, we have to expect somebody to tell us about ourselves.

Dammit yes, call out everyone you see who thinks the experts are fools. If your cousin just came home from one of the hot spots and you see them carousing about the village, what yu gonna do? Respect corona or respect corona not, this virus has the capacity to hurt our health and ruin our economy.

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