March 15 Corona Virus Update

From Heather Shepherd
Dear Friends,
There is a lot of COVID-19 data floating around out there. Here are some numbers estimated for Whatcom County recently sent. It helped me put this pandemic into perspective. I hope it can do the same for you.
– Number of hospital beds in Whatcom County: 253
– Number of ICU beds in Whatcom County: 24
– St Joesph Medical Center hospital census this last month has ranged from all 253 beds occupied to ~53 hospital beds available (prior to any confirmed COVID-19 cases).
– Number of individuals in Whatcom County greater than 65 years of age: >40,000
– Estimated hospitalization rate for COVID-19 infections: ~15% with “severe illness” (defined as respiratory failure requiring oxygen support).
– Estimated ICU rate for COVID-19 infections: ~5% with“critical illness” (defined as organ failure)
– Average length of stay for hospitalized COVID-19 patients: several weeks
Applying the numbers: If just 1% of our over 65 population becomes infected with COVID-19 in the next week, we can expect the need to hospitalize 60 patients (15%) with “severe illness” and an additional 20 patients (5%) with “critical illness”. As you can see, this already exceeds the supply of hospital and ICU beds in Whatcom County, and we know these ill patients will occupy those beds for weeks. This situation of the hospitals/ICUs being completely overwhelmed by COVID-19 is exactly what is happening in Italy.
As we ride this out remember that we are a community. Practice all the things that are being recommended (social distancing/hand washing/stay home, etc). Take care of one another, practice generosity. Call the elderly. Identify what you have (time, energy, resources) and find a way to safely share it with others.

Someone has created a Google spreadsheet to gather names of people willing to help out their neighbors all across Bellingham, organized by neighborhood:

There is also a Facebook group, also organized by neighborhoods:
ht/t Alex Pandel
You can sign up on either or both, to offer or look for help. I am so delighted!

And here’s an article about similar groups in England, from Marcia Leister:

You don’t have to wait to start contacting your immediate neighbors to organize mutual support on your block. If you don’t have their email or phone, leave a note with your own contact info, ask for theirs, and then share that with everyone who joins in so we can find each other.

If you know someone who is elderly or in frail health, see if you can set up a daily check-in. See if they have relatives who should know how to contact you and vice versa. We’ll all be safer if we knit our community together this way. Interdependence can support independence. We need each other now.

If one person is going to the store anyway, they can pick up stuff for others. We can reimburse each other using PayPal or other internet apps because they are touch-free. We’re all about to learn some new skills, but we can do this!!! You can start right now. You can teach me, and I’ll pass it on.

If anyone has TENTS you could spare, people without shelter could really use them. And a specific request for a pair of really warm women’s boots, size 10. Or men’s size 8. Thank you. You can bring them here to my house.
Fl!p Breskin
2518 Cherry

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Whatcom County
This information will be updated daily at 12:00pm, or sooner if significant developments occur. Last updated: Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 9:32 am
◦ **Confirmed Cases: 2
◦ *Negative Results: 95
◦ Deaths: 0

…Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones.
But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.
A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said.”
We are at our best when we serve others. Be civilized.
**Ira Byock, in his book The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life (Avery, 2012)

Names have been streaming in. I am delighted! For those who haven’t yet considered this, I will be hosting a virtual (on-line) meeting for people willing to host their own block (also on-line only) for a Map Your Neighborhood session on helping each other through this emergency together. Email me with your name, address, phone and say it’s for MYN and I’ll get you on a list and email back with possible times. Right now I’m getting some additional training specific to epidemics. But soon!

It is a calculated risk to bring people together. Yet there are parents who must go to work in health care, groceries or other critical services. Try to keep your sharing circles compact. Families sharing care will want to consider and keep track of whether anyone in their group has been exposed. Check the new Helper lists at the top of today’s Update to offer or seek help.

I don’t know whether any of this will come through or not, but it may be worth checking. State government structures & employees are scrambling to try to meet our needs. Be kind to them please.

ESD’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program can provide paid leave benefits for Washington workers who need to take time off from work due to a serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Certification by a healthcare provider is required for applications for Paid Family and Medical Leave due to a serious health condition. Visit: • I

Some people who are losing significant hours without paid time leave due to CoVid-19 might be able to go online to file a claim for partial unemployment benefits. Or call 800-318-6022.

This is someone to follow for real, compassionate, accurate information from the trenches. “This is truly not about you getting exposed, but your responsibility to not give it to someone else.”

Oh my dear neighbors! You’ve been magnificent. Yesterday morning my front entry was filled by an amazing stream of neighbors and friends bearing sleeping bags, coats, hats, gloves, warm socks, beautiful hand-knit hats and scarves and sweaters, everything you could think of and spare. And cash donations – almost $350! Jana came and picked it all up around noon and crammed it in her car. And I do mean crammed! Trunk, backseat, everywhere but just room to squish in the driver. Jana took it to Shari, who got tearful, and then went and bought tarps with a bunch of the cash and handed your gifts out today, with tarps to wrap around the sleeping bags to help cut the bitter wind. THANK YOU!
If you didn’t yet contact our city and county government to ask for emergency shelters to be opened, it would still be useful. You can still bring things here, and Jana will pick them up.

From the Center for Disease Control’s “Show Me the Science — How to Wash Your Hands”:
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Why? Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used. However, washing with non-potable water when necessary may still improve health. The temperature of the water does not appear to affect microbe removal; however, warmer water may cause more skin irritation and is more environmentally costly. Turning off the faucet after wetting hands saves water, and there are few data to prove whether significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet.

We live in a culture that idolizes action and struggle, gun-slingers and ass-kickers. But gun-slingers are no use today, if they ever were. You know who’s going to make a difference in this crisis, who’s going to save lives? The patient, the cautious, the careful, the caring, the steadfast, the nervous, the slightly obsessive, the checkers and double-checkers, the cooks, the cleaners, the good neighbors, the kid wranglers, the meal deliverers, the errand runners, the wash-your-hands naggers, the care-givers, the home schoolers, the late-night tale tellers, and the chicken soup makers.
I see you. You are my people. This could be our finest hour.
Rosalind Reynolds

From Victor Street neighbor Greg Hope, who works in emergency management.

The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.  Open 7 days, 6 AM to 10 PM. [I talked with them yesterday and they did their best to help. ~Fl!p]

I’m looking at Passover Over The Internet this year. Since I subscribed to Zoom for a year, I can lead my big family gathering this way. I love my family and want them to stay home. Not just to protect themselves, but even more, to protect Everyone.


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