When a COVID-19 vaccine is found, give it to me first.

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Karen Zimmerman

Karen Zimmerman, 74, died on April 14, 2020 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. Two of her four children were by her side.

Bobby Rutledge, 77, died April 1, 2020; Robert Rykken, 83, died May 8, 2020; Merle and Delores Tofte, 87 & 85, died March 16, 2020.

All Oregonians, all died from COVID-19, all older adults.

They fit a pattern.

People 65 years old or older account for 80% of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States to date, according to the CDC.  It’s not just their age that’s relevant. Older people are more likely have underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, diabetes and cancer. These complications, not just age, dictate the mortality of older adults.

The mortality of COVID-19 patients is just 0.3% for patients in their 40s, according to research by Imperial College London published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. Mortality rose to 1.25% of those in their 50s,  4% of those in their 60s, 8.6%, of those in their 70s and 13.4% of patients 80 and older.

“These early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death,” the research concluded.

Not only are older adults more at risk, but as treatments have improved fewer young people are dying. In late March, Americans over age 75 made up about half of all weekly deaths while Americans under 45 made up between 4-5%, according to the CDC. People over 75 now make up about two-thirds of deaths while those younger than 45 make up less than 2%.

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With these kinds of numbers, it only makes sense that when a successful vaccine is developed it shouldn’t be given away willy-nilly or first come-first served. It should be given first to those most at risk, older adults. I’m 76, so that includes me and my older folks cohort. Right?

George Carlin was ahead of his time: Trump’s 7 Words.

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Back in 1972, ages ago to many of you, comedian George Carlin achieved some notoriety when he crafted a monologue, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”. (For the uninformed, the words were shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Can you write those in a blog post even today?)

“Those are the heavy seven,” Carlin said. “Those are the ones that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war,” he said facetiously.

Now the Trump administration has come up with its own list of seven prohibited words. According to news reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been banned from using the following seven words/phrases in budget documents: “vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based.”

We’re becoming Venezuela, where doctors are warned not to diagnose a patient as suffering from “malnutrition”, likely because it would highlight the widespread hunger in the country where, according to a horrific story in the New York Times, starving children are regularly brought to hospital emergency rooms.

Or maybe we’re becoming like Turkey, where you still can’t refer to the massacre of at least 1.5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during 1915-1923 as genocide.

In some cases, alternatives to Trump’s banned words were suggested to CDC analysts. Instead of saying “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the analysts were given options like, “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the Washington Post reported.

As overused as the 1984 parallel can be these days, the instructions to CDC remind me of Orwell’s dystopian novel’s reference to Newspeak, where words mean what the government wants them to mean. In Newspeak, “blackwhite”, for example, means to believe that black is white, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary, and “joycamp” is a forced labor camp.

In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell observed that language is “an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.” In that respect, he said, “political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” He was convinced that the language of government was often vague and misleading because its intent was to cloud and/or distract from the truth.

The Trump Administration’s conscious decision to undermine reality goes back at least to January 2017 when Kellyanne Conway, a Trump adviser, used the term “alternative facts,” what Open Culture has called “the latest Orwellian coinage for bald-faced lying.”

The newly announced CDC policy is also part of the corrosion of public policy language in general, what British writer Patrick Cockburn referred to as “the use of tired and misleading words or phrases, their real purpose being not to illuminate but to conceal” and what Orwell called “the defence of the indefensible.”

” The Blair government’s use of a buzzword such as “conversation” – to be conducted with the British people about some issue of policy – was geared to suggest chattiness and fake intimacy, “Cockburn wrote. “In practice, it reinforced people’s sense that they were about to be diddled again by a phoney sense of participation and that the real decisions had already been taken.”

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Can we still say “Moron?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost half of all American births are now paid for by Medicaid

With government playing an ever-larger role in healthcare, there’s almost an even chance that the government paid for your baby.

It’s reminiscent of an ad President Obama’s campaign released in 2012 featuring “The Life of Julia” which promoted a narrative of government taking care of people from cradle to grave.

As the national debate on Obamacare reform takes place, new research by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that, on average, Medicaid, , paid for just over 47 percent of all births in the United States in 2015, with many of those babies born to unmarried mothers. That same year, half or more of all the babies born in 24 states had their births paid for by Medicaid.

Medicaid provides healthcare coverage to low-income families and individuals. Exactly what it covers during pregnancy, for labor and delivery and after a baby’s birth varies by state. Emergency Medicaid, which covers labor and delivery only, is also available to legal immigrants in the country for less than five years, and undocumented immigrants experiencing a medical crisis.

The share of births covered by Medicaid reached 50 percent in Oregon, up from 34.4 percent in 2001. New Mexico earned the honor of being the state with the largest share of births covered by Medicaid, 72 percent. New Hampshire came in at the lowest level, 27 percent.

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Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Of the 3,977,745 babies born in the United States in 2015, 1,600,208 of them—or 40.2 percent–were born to unmarried mothers, according to the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That made 2015 the eighth straight year that 40 percent or more of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers, according to CDC data.

Single mothers are more likely to be poor than married couples. The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2015 was 36.5%, nearly five times more than the rate (7.5%) for the families of married-couple families.

According to the  the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a non-profit group that monitors federal spending, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already swallow 58% of tax revenue, and are predicted to consume 80% by mid-century. Obviously, this trajectory can not continue.