Two months ago I shared a diary with observations from a family friend, a nurse in Ventura County CA (who shared the poster above) and perhaps some insights of where this plague was going. I shared how this poster had led to a positive conversation with a friend semi-lost to MAGA. I remember thinking the situation seemed extremely dark for everyone, but I would try to be positive — including the Bank of England warning of the greatest economic collapse on record. In retrospect I was wrong to be so positive. If you would like to read that more hopeful diary: Here.
But if you are reading this one. It will be less hopeful and be written in four parts. One — Update report from the Ventura Nurse. Two — A summary of a conversation with family members, who are doctors. Three — A summary of a conversation with 20 year friend, who is an executive in a major hospital chain. Four — The incoherent and increasingly unmanageable Covid situation I personally face running a high-tech manufacturing company.
Update One: Ventura CA Nurse + two other Nurses weigh in.
My wife’s college roommate, and our good family friend, is/was an oncology nurse in Ventura CA. She has been pulling multiple extra shifts each week. She is now a Covid nurse. She is living in a pop-up camper in her own driveway to isolate from her own family. She has been doing this since April. It was novel for few weeks. Now she says it is: Absurd. Lonely. Hot. Depressing. Sad. The idea of watching anyone watching the kiddos they love grow up through a camper window is, just heartbreaking to me.
Each week more and more of the beds in the hospital are being converted to Covid. They are discussing and planning for parking lot tent wards, and when to trigger a call for military nurses and support staff. They are improving understanding of how best to treat patients. But they are running out of people and space to treat them.
I followed up with two additional friends who are nurses one in Ohio...the other in Florida.
The reports line up.
First: The medical community believes Covid19 is killing in a lot of ways via Blood Clots, but those deaths are (mostly) not being counted as Covid deaths. Hospitals are seeing DOAs (Dead on Arrival) and DIICU (Dead In ICU) from strokes, heart attacks, liver and kidney failures at 3x-5x? (informed guesses) historic levels. Often in people who they would not suspect being likely for such morbidity. Most of these deaths are NOT being recorded as Covid19 deaths. The patient dies before Covid Testing is done, or before results can be returned. The box that gets checked is “heart attack” “stroke” etc.
There are multiple reasons for this. Hospitals often record things based on how the paperwork and e-records for insurance, billing and existing reporting structures are set up. If they have easy boxes to check for cause of death being “Stroke” or “Heart Attack” — and they have live patients needing help, they check the box and move on to help the living. But everyone at the hospital believes the actual killing mechanism is not the checked box, but an underlying Covid19 infection.
Second: “Vibration Zombies” many hundreds, likely many thousands at this point are riding out, or have rode out COVID19 infections at home. Some substantial portion of these home-infection cases are now seeking help form medical professionals for complex after effects. Effects that are lingering, and in some cases growing worse weeks after “recovery”. The effects fall into three catagories. —Loss of senses — that have not come back. Inability to breath normally. Inability to think.
It is well reported COVID19 onset often has a loss of smell and taste. But it’s not just when the disease sets in. Apparently many “recovered” patients are reporting these senses have not come back. Or in some cases, everything tastes like something odd including descriptions that eating is like “chewing foil” or “having some kind of heavy mush in your mouth that you can feel it there, but you can’t tell what it is other than weight.”
Breathing problems are well documented. But for many this remains an issue including strange spasms or inexplicable “pauses” in what is normally something you simply don’t think about.
Perhaps most horrific. An Inability to think or focus on an idea. All my nurse friends report seeing people who have “recovered” who can not remember basic things including: what road-signs mean, how to email, how to read a children’s book. Or who have mental blackouts and have no idea where they are or how they got to where they are when the blackout resides. Most of these report ongoing feelings of extreme heaviness in their limbs and/or tingling, electricity or vibrations in their body, one of my nurse friends said they are like “really tired and confused zombies.”
Being a Confused Vibration Zombie may be temporary, or it may be what a substantive portion fo the Covid cases being reported as “recovered” become. We don’t know.
But recovery may also include a growing numbers of people driving down the street, about to black out.”
Update Two: The Doctors in my Family.
I have some accomplished family members. Nearly a dozen PhDs and several MDs Either related by birth or marriage. Some in bio-research. Some in drug-development. Some in treatment. Two are front-line on Covid.
Since April all of them — every single one — has moved from:
April: “This is bad. But we we can deal with it, we have the tools and the skills...”
to July: “We really blew this (in the US), the Virus is gaining control, we had the tools, but no one seemed able to make national leadership listen.” Or as my brother (Phd researcher in emerging drugs) said this weekend. “Not staying in Europe (he worked there for years) may end up looking like a poor choice.”
I spoke yesterday with one of my two relations on the front line. I shared the observations from my nurse friends. Asked what he was seeing in his very urban hospital of a GOP governed state. He said nothing. Then sighed. Made a non-comital noise. Another sigh attached to a despairing mumble. Then said: “I can’t really speak about what I am seeing. Legally I am not supposed to say anything. But please beg people, beg everyone, to wear a mask if they have to go anywhere.” There was then another pause. Another despairing mumble. I know them well enough to know they were puzzling on something smart they could legally say. I asked if they were seeing recovered people who were suffering effects. I shared some vibration zombie stories I had heard.
“I hadn’t heard the term vibration zombie. I don’t like it. But I understand it. I guess I can say this: I don’t know anyone who has gotten this disease who has fully recovered.” He continued, “The best cases, the ones we think are the lucky ones, as far as I have seen, are all... diminished.”
Wear a mask. Stay home.
The lucky ones are “diminished.”
Update Three: A friend in the Hospital Industry.
I attended Wharton. (I took my own SATs). A fellow Alum is a snr hospital executive, also located in a state with all GOP leadership. I have long advocated M4A, from both a business and society value perspective. He once explained to me how my advocacy is misplaced. He was not convincing.
He called last week for advice on dwindling resources for his team trying to solve a critical need supply chain issue. I could not help him, but asked how it was going for him. I paraphrase below:
-We really have no idea. Revenue has cratered. For weeks we had no demand. Now we have no empty beds. Staff shortages. Resource issues. No one knows who is paying for care, or in some cases how. It’s possible health care, at least in some regions, will collapse. They will be able to give some level of care, but nothing like what people expect, and it will have to be triaged. We have several locations I am hoping don’t become Brooklyn NY. And it’s hot. —
As always he spoke with the proper emotional distance an executive in his position would have had to develop to survive in for-profit hospital admin life.
If you don’t know, triaged translates to rationed. And his concern about the heat probably is the added problem that meat rots faster when it’s hot.
Update Four: Covid on the factory floor in light of Bank of England’s prediction of the greatest industrial and financial contraction on record.
I am not a medical professional. I am a technology executive at a company deemed “critical”. We are making hardware for 1000s of can-not-fail systems for hundreds of final solutions you use. We provide Tier2/3 parts to name brands in Aerospace. Communications. Banking. Cloud Computing. Medical Devices. Transportion Safety. It is nearly a certainty that everyone who reads this will be doing so in part via a piece of hardware with a subsystem our firms built. Most of you will likely use things we added parts to multiple times a day.
I also serve on the board and have advisory roles on other companies in the Circuit Board, Advanced Materials and Water Treatment spaces. I understand I am part of a decision making process which will impact hundreds of employees, hundreds of customers, and literally 100s of Millions of end users. I also have the perspective of being in the middle of a huge supply web. I depend on hundreds of other companies to provide inputs to us. Hundreds of firms depend on us to supply inputs to them.
Jet aircraft sensors should be nominal, our parts of optical switches must be very hard to breach and very rare to fail, our water treatment systems must remove toxins and carcinogens, wireless comms we add parts to must carry designed loads, and the oxygen monitors using our parts are helping treat thousands of patients.
I don’t lose sleep over the quality of our products. Nor our ability to supply the best-in-class products my customers demand. But I can see a time just ahead where this will be an issue.
We have tried to take every possible precaution to protect our work force, leadership, customers and supply chain from both the disease, and increasing complexity of trying to operate during a building plague. But, our efforts along with the efforts of our partners— piece by piece — are cracking.
We have multiple inputs that are becoming increasingly difficult to get. Some of our usual suppliers are shut down. Or they can not get the inputs they need.
We are having to contemplate alternatives we do not have the time, nor the partnerships to fully vet or re-engineer around. Anyone who does advance manufacturing knows, if you change just one input in a 100 input process — the effects can cascade in unexpected ways.
We can no longer get on airplanes. Meet. Work through issues with other teams in person.
The global reduction of air-traffic is making our logistics harder. We can not count on brokering space in the belly of a flight bound overseas to get product to our customer, or get inputs from our supply chain. We can not courier prototypes to EU customers. Or most of Asia. Nor even some of customers in US States.
We have now had multiple employees required to self-quarantine due to possible exposures outside of the company. We have now had our first employees test positive. We believe from exposure outside the company. We have had to scramble to constantly update our own tracing, tracking, team security and safety. If anyone tells you testing is now in place. They are lying. It’s not.
If a company wants to test 100+ employees on site, it is a 7-20 day wait for a testing day. 2-5 days for results. The agreements state it has “up to” a 20% false testing rate. We were told we could buy testing blocks of 20 to self administer. The return time for results is 7 days.
This level of testing does not allow a business to operate safely.
And the mental fatigue. This is wearing us all out. Dealing with COVID and supply chain disruption is now consuming 25%+ of management time. Time that should be dealing the product development, safety and optimization.
It is happening to us. Our suppliers. Our customers. Their customers.
At what point does it break? I don’t know. But I can feel the system cracking. Complex things, like bridges, planes and supply webs don’t tend to break slowly. They give of telltale signs they are going to fail, and then the fail. Big. Fast. Completely.
I see a lot of things cracking. One of my best ops people said to me on Monday: “I’m Calling Audibles every day Boss, but I am running out of Audibles...” Exactly. It’s a plague. We have no play book for it. We are making it up as we go. Calling audibles. But there are a lot things cracking.
At some point we either beat COVID, or systems will fail.
I keep thinking about the report from the Bank of England. That the COVID19 economic downturn will be a “full collapse” worse than any they have on record. Since 1708. Or longer. They said it with so much certainty. When I wrote my last diary, I sort of … tried to put a positive spin on it.
I am sorry I did that. I should not have. I take back my positive spin.
This is really going to suck. I can’t see it any other way now.
I am probably gonna have some people call me and tell me they are upset that I say such things. I will point out my superpower — if I have one — is looking at technology and figuring out where it is going. COVID19 is a naturally occurring biological technology. I can see where this is going.
So. Here we are. Things are cracking.
If we don’t want it all to break, we need to Pass the Urine Test. Put on a damn mask.
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