#COVID19 / #Coronavirus Updates and Info Sources

#COVID19 / #Coronavirus Updates and Info Sources

As some of you know, my mom (almost 88, but mostly healthy) and I (65) live in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA, which just “confirmed” its first case of the #Coronavirus. It exists in a young woman who was allowed to return from ‘studying abroad” Italy last week unencumbered (!?!). She went to a hospital that is and therefore must live very close to us.

Who knows where she went, who else she contacted/infected, who her people are, etc.? No other info was made available, so I am feeling very cautious locally for the first time.

My mom, however, is in huge denial and refuses to cancel her four-times weekly mah jong gatherings/games with 4 – 5 elderly women (she is one of the youngest!) this week (3/8/20).

I, however, after reading up on all this, am beginning to ‘stockpile” toilet paper (not too much), tissues, non-perishable or less-perishable food, and put out the Hydrogen Peroxide spray and paper towels for her to use when she returns each day, to wipe down the handles of her cart and/or walker.

We are also going to cleanse her mah jong tiles each afternoon after she returns.
They eat lunch there twice/week, and use the bathroom frequently; plus, others use the same space (the condo’s “clubhouse”), so who the hell knows what anyone is carrying and/or shedding??). I begged her to demand that her friends to WASH THEIR HANDS every time they leave the table for any reason, before returning to play. She is pooh-poohing that request (so far).

I finally decided: if this is what kills her, so be it. At least she’s having fun. Not kidding. I’m a Buddhist, so we take a common-sense approach to everyone’s inevitable demise.

Not wishing death on anyone any time soon, but since these articles and stats are likely to be correct, we are ALL going to lose friends and loved ones, or our own lives, before this is “finished,” if it ever is…. Buckle up.

And, if you’re not sure if what you’re sneezing, coughing, or aching about is this virus, check here:
corona_virus_symptoms

So, FYI: Some great sources, in detail, below, and links, first, for more info.

Please make sure the info you “follow” is reliable, accurate, and trustworthy!

Stay safe and well. In case you are thinking: Oh, don’t be such an alarmist, read this, of the CLOSING DOWN of main population centers in Italy this weekend (3/7/20): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51787238?fbclid=IwAR2yMGdBkvhyn8Kyae9Xt6P_dSqebjXWGbsN31Ut8EZuRTaL5GQ8MFs06qM

When/if you are self-quarantined or hospitalized and want to read utopian, romantic, non-violent sci-fi, buy my 3 ebooks and/or paperback books! Give them as gifts. Why not? http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners

Sally Ember, Ed.D. (NOT A DOCTOR OF MEDICINE)


A) One excellent ongoing and frequently updated source, here, is Germ Info, http://germinfo.org  which is excellent. Read and share from there and/or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/germinfo/permalink/2311603802276736/

B) A little light in the tunnel, for this horrible time, from Stanford University Labs: a faster and soon-to-available corona virus test kit for USA use: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article240974406.html

WHO-coronavirus-infographic-1

    C) This is a cogent list of info and tips, from a public health expert (Malia Jones, PhD, MPH), who posted the main part of this on Facebook and Google Docs.
******Anyone planning to travel in the next two-three weeks, or even 6-7 weeks from 3/8/20, read number 5!!!******
*************Keep reading, and share!
“What I think about COVID-19 this morning”
“March 5, 2020”
“Maybe I’m the closest thing you personally know to an infectious disease epidemiologist. Maybe not–I’m not an expert on this virus by any stretch, but I have general knowledge and training from studying epidemics that is applicable, so here are my thoughts.
“First and foremost: we are going to see a tremendous increase in the number of US cases of COVID-19 in the next week. This is not because of some new pattern in the spread of the disease, but rather due to a major change in the requirements to be tested. Until yesterday (3/4/20), if you had flulike illness but had not recently traveled to China, Italy, South Korea, or Iran, you could not be tested. This is just the way healthcare works, you get tested if you meet the case definition and the case definition included travel.
“As of yesterday (3/4/20), you can be tested if you are sick and have a doctor’s order to be tested. So expect things to feel a lot more panicky all of a sudden. We will see hundreds or thousands of new cases as a result of testing increases.
“Second: is that panic legitimate? Sort of. This is not the zombie apocalypse. The death rate of 30 deaths per 1000 cases is probably a wild overestimate. (The denominator is almost certainly wrong because it is confirmed cases–and we only confirm cases when we test for them). That said, even at 3 per 1000 cases, this would be a big deal. A very big deal.
“By way of comparison, the death rate for influenza is between 1 and 2 in 1000 cases. So, yeah. Roughly 0x to 30x worse than a bad seasonal flu year? That’s a problem.
“Unlike flu, COVID-19 is not *particularly* dangerous for children, so that’s some happy news. It is dangerous for older adults and those with lung conditions, so we need to be extra careful to protect those populations from exposure.
“Also, for millions of Americans, getting any serious illness requiring a hospitalization is a major problem because they can’t pay for it. And our health care system is probably going to struggle to keep up with it all. And with China basically closed, our global economy is going to take a huge hit and we’ll feel the shockwaves for years. Those are real concerns.
“What can we do? Our focus should be on *slowing down the spread* of this disease so that we have time to get caught up. Here is my advice:
“1. Wash. Your. Hands. Wash them so much.
The current best guess is that coronavirus is transmitted via close contact and surface contamination. A very small study came out yesterday suggesting that the virus causing COVID-19 is *mostly* transmitted via contact with contaminated surfaces.
“I have started washing my hands each time I enter a new building and after being in shared spaces (classrooms especially), in addition to the standard practice of washing after using the bathroom and before eating. Soap and water. Hand sanitizer also kills this virus, as does rubbing alcohol (the main ingredient in hand sanitizer).
“There is no need to be obsessive about this. Just wash your hands. A little bit more effort here goes a long way.
“2. Don’t pick your nose. Or put your fingers in your mouth, on your lips, or in your eyes. Surface contact works like this: you touch something dirty. Maybe it’s an elevator button. Virus sticks to your hands. Then you rub your eye. Then you touch your sandwich, and put the sandwich in your mouth. Now there is virus in your eyes and mouth. See?
“You may be thinking, ‘but I don’t pick my nose because I am an adult!’ An observational study found that people sitting at a desk working touched their eyes, nose, or lips between 3 and 50 times per hour. Perfectly normal grown-ups, not lowlifes like my friends.
“2a. There was one note that came out suggesting that face masks actually promote surface contamination because you’re always adjusting them–i.e., touching your face. I don’t know if that’s true. But face masks should not be worn by the public right now, unless you are the person who is sick and you’re on your way to or actually at the doctor’s office. The mask’s function is to prevent spit from flying out of your mouth and landing on things when you cough or sneeze. It flies out of your mouth and is caught in the mask instead. If you are the person who is sick and not on the way to the doctor, go home. Let the people who really need them have the masks. Like doctors.
“[ETA on 3/6/2020 honestly people I am getting so much push back on the mask recommendation!! The world is running low on masks. If everyone wants a mask so they can feel ok about keeping their Daytona Beach Spring Break plans and then hospitals in India can’t buy them anymore, shame on us.]
“Coronavirus does not appear to be airborne in the sense that doesn’t remain floating around freely in the air for a long time, like measles does. You are probably not going to breathe it in, unless someone is coughing in front of you. If someone is coughing in your face, feel free to tell them to get their ass home and move 6 feet away from them. (Yeah I know, if you have a toddler, you’re screwed.)
“3. Sanitize the objects you and lots of other people touch, especially people outside your family–like door handles, shared keyboards at schools (brrr), salad bar tongs, etc. Best guesses are that the virus can live on surfaces for 2-48 hours, maybe even longer, depending on the surface, temperature, and humidity.
“Many common household cleaning products will kill this virus. However, white vinegar solution does not. You can make your own inexpensive antimicrobial spray by mixing 1 part household bleach to 99 parts cold tap water. Spray this on surfaces and leave for 10-30 minutes. Note: this is bleach. It will ruin your sofa.
“4. “Social distancing.” You’re going to get so sick of this phrase. This means keeping people apart from one another (preferably 6 feet apart, and sanitizing shared objects). This public health strategy is our next line of defense, and its implementation is what will lead to flights and events cancelled, borders closed, and schools closed.
“For now, you could limit face-to-face meetings, especially large ones. Zoom is an excellent videoconferencing option. If you spend time in shared spaces, see #1. Ask your child’s school about their hygiene plan, if they haven’t already told you what it is. If I were in charge of a school setting, I’d be hand sanitizing the s*** out of the kids’ hands, including in and out of each space, and taking temperatures at the door. I am planning to email our school nurse right after this to ask if they need my volunteer help cleaning surfaces.
“If you can telecommute, do that a little more. If you are someone’s boss and they could do their job remotely, encourage them to do that.
“Avoid large gatherings of people if at all possible, especially if they are in an area with cases OR places that lots of people travel to. If you attend group events and start to feel even a little bit sick within 2 to 14 days, you need to self isolate immediately. Like for a tiny tickle in your throat.
“5. All your travel plans are about to get screwed up. If you are considering booking flights right now, get refundable tickets. ETA: most trip insurance will not cover cancellations due to a pandemic. Look for “cancel for any reason” trip insurance.
“Considerations for risks related to that trip you’re planning: how bad would it be if you got stuck where you are going for 3 to 6 weeks? How bad would it be to be isolated at home for 2-3 weeks upon your return? Do you have direct contact with people who are over 70 and/or have lung conditions? If those seem really bad to you, rethink your trip, especially if it is to a location where there are confirmed cases.
“6. If you are sick, stay home. Please! For the love of all that is holy. Stay at home. Your contributions to the world are really just not that important.
“7. There is a good chance some communities will see school cancelled and asked to limit non-essential movement. If someone in your family gets sick your family will almost certainly be isolated for 2-3 weeks (asked to stay at home). You could start stocking up with essentials for that scenario, but don’t run out and buy a years’ worth of toilet paper. Again, not the apocalypse. 2 weeks’ worth of essential items. Refill any prescriptions, check your supply of coffee, kitty litter, and jigsaw puzzles.
“8. I do want to remind everyone that when public health works, the result is the least newsworthy thing ever: nothing happens. If this all fizzles out and you start feeling like ‘Wah, all that fuss for nothing??’ Then send a thank-you note to your local department of public health for a job well done. Fingers crossed for that outcome.
“9. Look, I think there are some positives here. All this handwashing could stop flu season in its tracks! We have an opportunity to reduce our global carbon footprint by telecommuting more, flying less, and understanding where our stuff comes from. We can use this to think about the problems with our healthcare system. We can use this to reflect on our positions of privilege and implicit biases. We can start greeting each other using jazz hands. I’m genuinely excited about those opportunities.
“There is a lot we don’t yet know about this virus. It didn’t even exist 90 days ago. So stay tuned, it is an evolving situation. The WHO website has a decent FAQ. Free to email or text with questions, and you can forward this to others if you think it’s useful.
“May the force be with you.
Malia Jones, PhD, MPH
“I’m an Assistant Scientist in Health Geography at the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I study social contact of humans, and spatial patterns of infectious disease, among other things.”
“P.S. The number one question I am getting is, ‘did you really write this?’ Yes. I wrote this.”
“I didn’t write it for professional purposes, so I didn’t put my work email on it. It was really just meant to be an email to my friends and family in advance of what I expect to be an escalation in the panic level. But it was apparently welcome information and went viral on FB. I’ve decided not to edit out the swears, even though I wrote this with a much smaller audience in mind.
“Thanks for checking your facts! Go science!”

D) More good info about what to expect regarding the USA and global experiences of the #COVID19 pandemic (and a bit less discouraging in some places; more, in others), from Juliana Grant, MD, MPH:

“Coronavirus: an email to my family”
[not mine; this woman–info, below–who is a public health expert]

“Notes: I originally wrote this to share with my family and close friends. It’s now getting passed around so I’m posting it publicly. I have revised the language slightly a few times. This is the most current version.”

“Hi folks,

“A number of you have asked me what I think is going to happen with coronavirus (COVID-19) and what we should be doing to prepare. I have a few thoughts about what’s likely to happen and what you can do about it. For those of you who don’t know me well, I am a preventive medicine physician and infectious disease epidemiologist. I graduated from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and have over 17 years of experience in the field, most of that with CDC.

“Wishing everyone good health,

“Juliana”

—“Who[m] should you listen to?”

“The CDC and your state health department are your best place for information about COVID-19. (Listen to them before you listen to me.) Be cautious about other sources of information – many of them will not be reliable or accurate.

—“How bad is this going to be?”

“It’s possible that COVID-19 will be similar to a bad flu year but there are a number of indications that it will be very much like the 1918 Flu Pandemic. To put that in perspective, the 1918 flu did not end civilization as we know it but it was the second-deadliest event of the last 200 years. It is likely that people you know will die from COVID-19.

“However, there is one critical difference between COVID-19 and the 1918 flu – the 1918 flu virus hit children and young adults particularly hard. COVID-19 seems to be most severe in older adults. Children and young adults generally have mild infections and we are grateful for this.

—“What can we expect?”

“This is not the zombie apocalypse. Core infrastructure (e.g., power, water, supermarkets, internet, government, etc.) will continue to work, perhaps with some minor disruptions.

“There will be significant economic disruption: a global recession is very possible and there will probably be significant shortages of some products. The healthcare system will be hit the hardest. The number of people who are likely to get sick is higher than our healthcare systems can probably handle.

“Daily life will be impacted in important ways. Travel is likely to be limited and public gatherings will probably be canceled. Schools will probably be closed. Expect health departments to start issuing these orders in the near future, especially on the West Coast.

“The acute pandemic will probably last at least for several months and quite possibly for a year or two.

—“What can we do?”

“We can’t keep COVID-19 from being a global pandemic but the more we can do to slow the spread of the disease, the less severe the impact will be. With that in mind, here are the things you can do:

—–“Stay calm but take it seriously. This will likely be bad but it’s not the apocalypse.

—–“Stay home if you’re sick or someone in your house is sick.

—–“Leave medical supplies for healthcare workers. You shouldn’t be stockpiling masks or other medical supplies. They are needed in hospitals to keep our healthcare workers healthy.

—–“Wash your hands. Get in the habit of frequently washing your hands thoroughly and covering your cough.

—–“Minimize your exposure. Now that we’re seeing community transmission in the U.S., it’s probably time to start cutting back on your exposure to other people. Depending on your circumstances, consider:

——-“Canceling non-essential travel

——-“Avoiding large-scale gatherings

——-“Working from home if possible

——-“Minimizing direct contact with others including hand shakes and hugs

——-“Reducing your trips out of the house. If possible, shop for two weeks of groceries at once or consider having your groceries delivered. Stay home and cook instead of going to a restaurant.

——-“Remember, keep calm and prepare. This is likely to be bad, but if we respond calmly and thoughtfully, we can handle it.

“Feel free to share this [email] as you see fit.”

from: https://www.julianagrant.com/blog/2020/2/29/coronavirus

E) If you’re ready for very sobering stats about the trajectory of this, that we are all facing NOW and soon:

“I am sharing this with you because many people have not yet started preparing. For schools being out. Work being out. No parties. No restaurants. No gatherings. No Uber. No eating out. This may make you panic or worry a lot. This is what I see happening. In 6 weeks from now. Not only in America. In every country.

“That’s why I tell you to cancel all you travel plans. Cancel any parties you are going to or organizing. I want you to protect your family. The only way to get ahead of this is to minimize human to human contact until we have diagnostics, vaccines, medications. I believe all schools should close soon. Very soon. Do not read if you are already panicked!”

“From Liz Specht on Twitter, @LizSpecht

“‘I think most people aren’t aware of the risk of systemic healthcare failure due to COVID19 because they simply haven’t run the numbers yet. Let’s talk math. Let’s conservatively assume that there are 2,000 current cases in the US today, March 6th. This is about 8x the number of confirmed (lab-diagnosed) cases. We know there is substantial under-Dx due to lack of test kits; I’ll address implications later of under-/over-estimate.

We can expect that we’ll continue to see a doubling of cases every 6 days (this is a typical doubling time across several epidemiological studies). Here I mean *actual* cases. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster in the short term due to new test kit rollouts.

‘*** We’re looking at about 1M US cases by the end of April, 2M by ~May 5, 4M by ~May 11, and so on.

‘*** Exponentials are hard to grasp, but this is how they go. As the healthcare system begins to saturate under this case load, it will become increasingly hard to detect, track, and contain new transmission chains. In absence of extreme interventions, this likely won’t slow significantly until hitting >>1% of susceptible population.

‘What does a case load of this size mean for healthcare system? We’ll examine just two factors — hospital beds and masks — among many, many other things that will be impacted.

‘The US has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1000 people. With a population of 330M, this is ~1M beds. At any given time, 65% of those beds are already occupied. That leaves about 330k beds available nationwide (perhaps a bit fewer this time of year with regular flu season, etc). Let’s trust Italy’s numbers and assume that about 10% of cases are serious enough to require hospitalization. (Keep in mind that for many patients, hospitalization lasts for *weeks* — in other words, turnover will be *very* slow as beds fill with COVID19 patients).

‘By this estimate, by about May 8th, all open hospital beds in the US will be filled. (This says nothing, of course, about whether these beds are suitable for isolation of patients with a highly infectious virus.) If we’re wrong by a factor of two regarding the fraction of severe cases, that only changes the timeline of bed saturation by 6 days in either direction. If 20% of cases require hospitalization, we run out of beds by ~May 2nd. If only 5% of cases require it, we can make it until ~May 14th. 2.5% gets us to May 20th.

‘This, of course, assumes that there is no uptick in demand for beds from *other* (non-COVID19) causes, which seems like a dubious assumption. As healthcare system becomes increasingly burdened, Rx shortages, etc, people w/ chronic conditions that are normally well-managed may find themselves slipping into severe states of medical distress requiring intensive care & hospitalization. But let’s ignore that for now.

‘Alright, so that’s beds. Now masks.

‘Feds say we have a national stockpile of 12M N95 masks and 30M surgical masks (which are not ideal, but better than nothing). There are about 18M healthcare workers in the US. Let’s assume only 6M HCW are working on any given day. (This is likely an underestimate as most people work most days of the week, but again, I’m playing conservative at every turn.)

‘As COVID19 cases saturate virtually every state and county, which seems likely to happen any day now, it will soon be irresponsible for all HCWs to not wear a mask. These HCWs would burn through N95 stockpile in 2 days if each HCW only got ONE mask per day.

‘One per day would be neither sanitary nor pragmatic, though this is indeed what we saw in Wuhan, with HCWs collapsing on their shift from dehydration because they were trying to avoid changing their PPE suits as they cannot be reused. How quickly could we ramp up production of new masks? Not very fast at all. The vast majority are manufactured overseas, almost all in China.

‘Even when manufactured here in US, the raw materials are predominantly from overseas… again, predominantly from China. Keep in mind that all countries globally will be going through the exact same crises and shortages simultaneously. We can’t force trade in our favor.

‘Now consider how these 2 factors – bed and mask shortages – compound each other’s severity. Full hospitals + few masks + HCWs running around between beds without proper PPE = very bad mix. HCWs are already getting infected even w/ access to full PPE. In the face of PPE limitations this severe, it’s only a matter of time.

‘HCWs will start dropping from the workforce for weeks at a time, leading to a shortage of HCWs that then further compounds both issues above. We could go on and on about thousands of factors – # of ventilators, or even simple things like saline drip bags.

‘You see where this is going. Importantly, I cannot stress this enough: even if I’m wrong – even VERY wrong – about core assumptions like % of severe cases or current case #, it only changes the timeline by days or weeks.

‘This is how exponential growth in an immunologically naïve population works. Undeserved panic does no one any good. But neither does ill-informed complacency. It’s wrong to assuage the public by saying “only 2% will die.”

‘People aren’t adequately grasping the national and global systemic burden wrought by this swift-moving of a disease. I’m an engineer. This is what my mind does all day: I run back-of-the-envelope calculations to try to estimate order-of-magnitude impacts. I’ve been on high alarm about this disease since ~Jan 19 after reading clinical indicators in the first papers emerging from Wuhan.

‘Nothing in the last 6 weeks has dampened my alarm in the slightest. To the contrary, we’re seeing abject refusal of many countries to adequately respond or prepare.

‘Of course, some of these estimates will be wrong, even substantially wrong. But I have no reason to think they’ll be orders-of-magnitude wrong. Even if your personal risk of death is very, very low, don’t mock decisions like canceling events or closing workplaces as undue “panic”. These measures are the bare minimum we should be doing to try to shift the peak – to slow the rise in cases so that healthcare systems are less overwhelmed.

‘Each day that we can delay an extra case is a big win for the HC system. And yes, you really should prepare to buckle down for a bit. All services and supply chains will be impacted. Why risk the stress of being ill-prepared?

‘Worst case, I’m massively wrong and you now have a huge bag of rice and black beans to burn through over the next few months and enough Robitussin to trip out. One more thought: you’ve probably seen multiple respected epidemiologists have estimated that 20-70% of world will be infected within the next year.

If you use 6-day doubling rate I mentioned above, we land at ~2-6 billion infected by sometime in July of this year. Obviously I think the doubling time will start to slow once a sizeable fraction of the population has been infected, simply because of herd immunity and a smaller susceptible population.

‘But take the scenarios above (full beds, no PPE, etc, at just 1% of the US population infected) and stretch them out over just a couple extra months. That timeline roughly fits with consensus end-game numbers from these highly esteemed epidemiologists. Again, we’re talking about discrepancies of mere days or weeks one direction or another, but not disagreements in the overall magnitude of the challenge.

‘This is not some hypothetical, fear-mongering, worst-case scenario. This is reality, as far as anyone can tell with the current available data.

That’s all for now. Standard disclaimers apply: I’m a PhD biologist but *not* an epidemiologist. Thoughts my own. Yadda yadda. Stay safe out there.'”

 

F) What about a vaccine? Israel claims to be able to have one ready near the end of April, or by mid-May, 2020, but “Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (N.I.A.I.D.) [in the USA], spoke up. ‘A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable,’ he said. The earliest it would be deployable, Fauci added, is ‘in a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go.’”
https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-long-will-it-take-to-develop-a-coronavirus-vaccine

Trials/testing take more than a year, but this just got released (3/8/20):

“Coronavirus vaccine ready for clinical trials in Seattle”

“Researchers seek 45 participants to help gauge the immune response of a new vaccine for 2019 novel coronavirus….
The goal of the first phase of the study is to learn about the vaccine’s safety and see how the immune system responds to it….
“Researchers said this vaccine is similar to vaccines developed for Zika virus and human metapneumovirus….
“Kaiser Permanente said participants will receive $100 for each of the in-person study visits….
“People who complete all visits will receive $1,100….
“[Participants must be] healthy adults between 18 and 55 years old. The participants can’t have certain health conditions, such as medical conditions that impact the immune system or be taking medications that affect the immune system….
“Participants must come to 11 in-person study visits in downtown Seattle and have four phone conversations over 14 months. Over the course of the visits, participants will be injected with the vaccine twice.”
FMI or to sign up:

https://www.king5.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/coronavirus-vaccine-clinical-trial-recruitment/281-a33490a2-e3e4-4911-94fc-60473c2d4fe7?fbclid=IwAR2h3B_6dEOPQUUBNV8EMntFJKuup3IkAubxVlpc0uYlo3yKpMqjGyBD1aE

 

#MacArthur Foundation 26 Newest Fellows 2019: #Scientists, #Artists, #Dancers, #Musicians, #Writers, #Activists, More

#MacArthur Foundation 26 Newest Fellows 2019: #Scientists, #Artists, #Dancers, #Musicians, #Writers, #Activists, More

“The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.”

There are three criteria for selection of Fellows:

  1. Exceptional creativity
  2. Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments
  3. Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Meet the newest crop of very fortunate creative sorts, this year’s MacArthur Fellows, who will each receive $125,000/year for 5 years to do WHATEVER THEY WANT!

“From addressing the consequences of climate change to furthering our understanding of human behavior to fusing forms of artistic expression, this year’s 26 extraordinary MacArthur Fellows demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone. They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts,” — MacArthur President John Palfrey.

2019 McaRTHUR fELLOWS

For bios, specific info on each Fellow, and more about the Program and the Foundation, check out their website: https://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows/

Imagine: There are no outside or public applications or nominations. The process for selection is so secretive and unknown that very few people (no one outside the Foundation, supposedly) even knows who the nominating and selection committees’ members ARE each year!

“Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

“The Foundation does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows and does not evaluate recipients’ creativity during the term of the fellowship. The MacArthur Fellowship is a “no strings attached” award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.”

In the Foundation’s favor, this year—for the second time since I’ve been tracking it, which is many years—the female-appearing Fellows outnumber the male-appearing Fellows: 11 seeming males, 15 seeming females. The Fellows process has been great on “diversity” and varying geographic locations (but still too many are from the coasts) for quite a while. You can check out the stats on their site any time.

Again, very cool!

My fave recipient this year: cartoonist and activist, Lynda Barry. Love her work (“Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” and many other writings/graphic contributions)!

Favorite recipient’s displayed quote…
Ocean Vuong: “Language, like people, can be perpetually in flux. Words are, in a sense, bodies moving from one space to another. Our very cells, too, are always moving. They are just overflowing, and dying, and being reborn. What is seemingly so static is actually constantly in motion. Literature, then, is movement—but it is also the measure of movement in our species’ thinking and feeling. To participate in that great migration, as a writer, is the ultimate gift.”

You can view ALL recipients of this Genius Grant (all Fellows): https://www.macfound.org/fellows/search/all

The 2019 #TED Fellows and Senior Fellows Are Amazing!

Unlike the “genius grants” recipients selected annually by the MacArthur Foundation, the #TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Fellows and Senior Follows are culled from many countries, not just the USA.

Fantastic and exciting group of many types of innovators, scientists, artists, creators of such talent and skill! Fabulous!

ted2019fellows_blogheader
image from http://blog.TED.com

These grants and this program “support extraordinary, iconoclastic individuals at work on world-changing projects, providing them with access to the global TED platform and community, as well as new tools and resources to amplify their remarkable vision. The TED Fellows program now includes 472 Fellows who work across 96 countries, forming a powerful, far-reaching network of artists, scientists, doctors, activists, entrepreneurs, inventors, journalists and beyond, each dedicated to making our world better and more equitable.”

if you live nearby and/or want to go, there is a conference in which they will all appear: TED2019, April 15-19, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Check them out, here: https://blog.ted.com/meet-the-2019-ted-fellows-and-senior-fellows/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Got balls? Or, know someone who does? READ AND SHARE! #medical #testicular #testicle #cancer #surgery

Got balls? Or, know someone who does?
READ AND SHARE!
#medical #testicular #testicle #cancer #surgery
A youngish (aged 38), white, employed man—one with great health insurance in the USA—first noticed a pea-shaped/-sized nodule in one testicle while doing a manual self-exam over 10 years ago. At that time and for each subsequent year, he kept having that testicle checked by his doctor.
He noticed that that testicle had felt and looked different from the other one almost right away. During these 10 years, that testicle kept shrinking (and he never took steroids, which are known to cause shrinking balls), but otherwise, it didn’t change much.
shrunken testicle
Every doctor he saw told him that this shrinking testicle problem was “nothing to be concerned about.” Some diagnosed it as something like a “varicose vein” problem (varicocele); others said it was a “dysfunctional” or “atrophied” testicle. No one seemed concerned.
NO ONE suggested, nor did this young man know to request, an ultrasound, which is what SHOULD have happened, right away.
The major change that occurred about 6 months ago (over 10 years later) was that this shrunken testicle began to grow, to swell and to hurt. He said it felt as if he had pulled a groin muscle. It also looked even more different from his other testicle, on the outside of the scrotum.
When he went in to his doctor, he was having trouble walking because he was in some pain, but he still thought he may have pulled a groin muscle. That internist again did not suggest an ultrasound and only gave him the most cursory manual exam.
The doctor told him: “If it hurts more or changes again, I’ll refer you to a specialist.”
Six months later, in early November, those types of changes happened: more pain, even more swelling. This time, the young man knew that this was not a pulled muscle.
When he called his doctor, he was referred to and then quickly scheduled an appointment to be seen by a urologist.
why see a urologist
That doctor did a much more thorough manual and visual examination, asked a lot more questions, spent more time. This doctor concluded without hesitation that this testicle was a problem and ordered an ultrasound, to occur a few days later.
The ultrasound (which was painful and that pain lasted several days, BTW), confirmed that the testicle had “multiple masses” internally, something no man wants to hear.
ultrasound testicles
NOT this man’s ultrasound, but similar; from http://www.ceessentials.net/article42.html
The urologist explained the possibilities (none great) and then immediately scheduled for that testicle’s contents to be removed one week later. This inguinal (through the lower abdomen) surgery was to be done in order to find out, by removing and sending the contents for pathological analysis, whether or not these masses were cancerous (probably were), and, if so, what kind.
The surgery took about one hour. Luckily, everything went fine.
Cross-Sectional Diagram of Inguinal Surgery Procedure to Remove Testicular Mass
inguinal surgery for testicular cancer
Post-surgery, the urologist seemed optimistic about the “containment” or “encapsulation” of these masses within the scrotum (best possible outcome). The urologist mentioned that, by his observations of the scrotal contents’ look, color and texture, the masses were likely to be seminomas (also known as pure seminomas or classical seminomas).
Seminoma is “a germ cell tumor of the testicle or, more rarely, the mediastinum or other extra-gonadal [outside the scrotum] locations. It is a malignant neoplasm and is one of the most treatable and curable cancers, with a survival rate above 95%, if discovered in early stages.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seminoma

Seminoma “is a slow-growing form of testicular cancer found in men in their 30s, 40s and 50s. The cancer is in the testes, but it can spread to the lymph nodes. Lymph node involvement is either treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Seminomas are very sensitive to radiation therapy.”  https://medlineplus.gov › Medical Encyclopedia
seminoma-morphology-n
However, the man had to wait for pathology (to be available five – seven days later or sooner) to hear if he had to have any “next steps” (e.g., radiation or chemotherapy), or if he’s “clear” (presumed to be cancer-free).
If he’s presumed to be cancer-free at this first checkpoint,  he and his doctor are on “watch and report frequently” duty, which means that, for about 10 years, the man is to:
1) continue doing monthly self-exams of the other testicle and the empty scrotum and
2) schedule visits for ultrasound or CAT scans every 3 – 6 months.
If, at any time, post-surgery, the cancer seems to have spread or MAY have spread, a treatment regime is proposed, agreed to and then started. This could include radiation, chemotherapy, and/or more surgery, depending upon what is detected.
For THIS man, his story has this “outcome” (for now):
This man’s blood tests were clear: no tumor cancer markers, but the surgeon said there was some “leakage” outside of the testis. There were no signs of any other masses.
The urologist  ordered CT scans to determine if any of these masses had spread (metastasized. which everyone always hopes cancer does not do). he told this man that getting the scans was “not urgent,” but should be done “soon.”
The surgeon also referred him to an oncologist (cancer specialist), who would go over all these results with him and help him understand his options and decide how to proceed at that point. [I will update this saga after all that has occurred.]
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NOTES TO ALL HUMANS between the ages of 15 – 50 who have testicles, DO THESE THINGS:
Self-exams (manual and visual) are crucial (which is the way this man first found the nodules);
testicle self exam
the above graphic and the video, below, were posted by: Justin Birckbichler on Twitter:

—Get better-informed internists, so that early detection via ultrasound is routine.
If you know a or you are a human under 50 with testicles (self-identified as “male” or not), spread the word!
ANY nodules, masses, pain, changes in size or texture of a testicle MUST be reported to a doctor AND that doctor should refer to a urologist and/or should request immediately to have an ultrasound, for diagnostic purposes. 
Unless scans can prove a mass/nodule is only a fluid-filled cyst (epididymal cysts, which are quite common, painless and harmless), the affected testicle will probably be emptied out from within (an inguinal surgery, which this man, above, had), or the testicle itself is to be removed completely, ASAP.
This surgery generally works very well and urologists do it frequently, so they have the procedure down. This does involve having general anaesthesia and cutting, and, therefore, has associated risks, but most do fine with this procedure.
The surgery is usually done as an “outpatient” procedure, meaning, the person goes home that same day/night.
Depending on several factors—the general health of the person and the type of surgery done as well as the pathology results—full recovery may take 4 – 6 weeks or longer. During this time, the recovery may have restrictions (no heavy lifting or pulling, no airline travel, limited sitting, lots of rest vs. work or ordinary schedule) but walking and other non-strenuous exercises are encouraged right away.
Success and recovery rates for this type of cancer are quite high:
99% if the cancer has not spread;
96% if it has.

STILL: early detection is key.

 

testicular-cancer-prevention

FMI: 

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
  • A lump or enlargement in either testicle.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin.
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum.
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts.
  • Back pain.


There are several causes of testicular lumps and swellings:

  • varicocele – caused by enlarged veins in the testicles (may look like a bag of worms)
  • hydrocele – a swelling caused by fluid around the testicle
  • epididymal cyst – a lump caused by a collection of fluid in the epididymis
  • testicular torsion – a sudden painful swelling that occurs when a testicle becomes twisted (this is a medical emergency and requires surgery as soon as possible)
  • epididymitis – a chlamydia infection in the epididymis can cause inflammation, swelling and tenderness inside the scrotum (ball sack); a few men will notice that the whole of the scrotum is red and tender (this is called epididymo-orchitis)
  • testicular cancer – an estimated 4 in 100 lumps are cancer, so this is an uncommon cause of lumps

Types of testicular cancer

The different types of testicular cancer are classified by the type of cells the cancer begins in.
The most common type of testicular cancer is “germ cell testicular cancer,” which accounts for around 95% of all cases. Germ cells are a type of cell that the body uses to create sperm.
There are two main subtypes of germ cell testicular cancer. They are:

  • seminomas – which have become more common in the past 20 years and now account for 50 to 55% of testicular cancers
  • non-seminomas – which account for most of the rest and include teratomas, embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas and yolk sac tumors

Both types tend to respond well to chemotherapy.
Less common types of testicular cancer include:

  • Leydig cell tumors – which account for around 1 to 3% of cases
  • Sertoli cell tumors – which account for around 1% of cases
  • lymphoma – which accounts for around 4% of cases
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Think you or someone you know needs a monthly reminder to do a self-exam?
If you/they have a texting phone, show them this:
Text 81010 to @selfexam to receive a monthly text message reminder!
self-exam reminder text
checking balls app

Our Ball Checker mobile app provides a few facts every guy and girl should know about testicular cancer as well as how to do a testicular self exam. If you have testicles or know someone that does, then you should get this app.

With early detection testicular cancer is almost 100% survivable but lack of awareness leads to late diagnosis and unfortunate outcomes. The lack of awareness and education is one of the biggest challenges we have in the fight against testicular cancer.

Make sure you and the men in your life have the knowledge that could end up saving their life.

A Moment of Awkwardness Could Save A Lifetime. Talk About Testicular Cancer.

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Best of luck and good health to you all!
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Some other info and worst-case scenarios information:

“Dr Turnbull and her team uncovered new genetic mutations in testicular germ cell tumours, which make up the vast majority of testicular cancers. They found new chromosome duplications and other abnormalities that could contribute to the development of this cancer, as well as confirming a previous association with a gene called KIT.

“Their study also found defective copies of a DNA repair gene called XRCC2 in a patient who had become resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy. They were able to support the link between XRCC2 and platinum resistance by sequencing an additional platinum-resistant tumour.

“’Although generally testicular cancer responds well to treatment, resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy is associated with a poor long-term survival rate,’ explains Dr Turnbull. ‘The repercussions of these findings could be significant for men suffering with this disease. In the future, men who are destined to fail platinum treatment— currently around 3% of cases—could be identified before they endure courses of chemotherapy and be offered different treatments, more suited to their particular type of tumour.’”

from: https://www.icr.ac.uk/news-features/latest-features/understanding-why-some-men-still-die-from-testicular-cancer

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“If the cancer has spread, the patient may get treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. The cancer will come back in about 15% to 20% of patients, most often as spread to lymph nodes , but if it does, radiation or chemo can still usually cure the cancer.”
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Seminomas

Stage I

“These cancers can be cured in nearly all patients. You first have surgery to remove the testicle and spermatic cord (called a radical inguinal orchiectomy). After surgery, you have many treatment choices:

“Careful observation (surveillance): If the cancer has not spread beyond the testicle, the plan most experts prefer is that you be watched closely by your doctor for up to 10 years. This means getting physical exams and blood tests every 3 to 6 months for the first year, and less often after that. Imaging tests (CT scans and sometimes chest x-rays) are done every 3 months for 6 months, and then once or twice a year.

“If these tests do not find any signs that cancer has spread beyond the testicle, no other treatment is needed. If the cancer has spread, you may get treatments like radiation or chemo. The cancer will come back in about 15% to 20% of patients, most often as spread to lymph nodes , but if it does, radiation or chemo can still usually cure the cancer.

“Radiation therapy: Radiation aimed at para-aortic lymph nodes is another option. These nodes are in the back of your abdomen (belly), around the large blood vessel called the aorta. Because seminoma cells are very sensitive to radiation, low doses can be used and you’ll get about 10 to 15 treatments over 2 to 3 weeks.

“Chemotherapy: An option that works as well as radiation is 1 or 2 cycles of chemotherapy with the drug carboplatin after surgery. Many experts prefer chemo over radiation because it seems to be easier to tolerate.”

Survival by stage

“There are no UK-wide statistics available for testicular cancer survival.

“Survival statistics are available for the different stages of testicular cancer in one area of England. These figures are for men diagnosed between 2002 and 2006. They don’t provide information about the type of testicular cancer or tumour marker level.

“The [data] below are for 4 stages of testicular cancer. Your doctor may use a different system that only has 3 stages.

Stage 1

“Almost all men survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.

“Stage 1 means the cancer is only in the testes.”

Stage 2

“Almost 95 out of 100 men (almost 95%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

“Stage 2 means the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.”

Pure seminoma

“Pure seminoma means that there are no teratoma cells in the tumour. You will have normal Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) marker levels if you have pure seminoma.

“There are two categories of outlook for pure seminoma testicular cancer – good prognosis and intermediate prognosis. No one with pure seminoma is classified as having a poor prognosis.”

Good prognosis

“Almost 90 out of every 100 men (almost 90%) survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

“Most men have a good prognosis. Good prognosis means that the seminoma has spread only to the lymph nodes or the lungs. It has not spread anywhere else.”

Intermediate prognosis

“More than 70 out of every 100 men (more than 70%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

“Intermediate prognosis means that the seminoma has spread beyond the lung or lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the brain or liver.”

Survival for all stages of testicular cancer

“The outlook for testicular cancer is one of the best for all cancers. Nearly all men survive their disease.” [NOTE: in the 1970s, this statistic was almost the opposite: 90% DIED from it!]

“In England and Wales:

  • almost all men will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • almost all men (98%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis

“Unlike some other cancers, it is rare for testicular cancer to come back more than 5 years later.”

from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/treating/by-stage.html

and from:
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“First Targeted Cancer Drug Approved Based on Mutation Rather than Tumor Type”
Please read and share this detailed, informative article about new ways to treat cancer, especially unusual types, particularly in those individuals with specific mutations.
from:

#MacArthur Foundation 25 Newest Fellows 2018: #Scientists, #Artists, #Dancers, #Musicians, #Writers, #Activists, More

#MacArthur Foundation 25 Newest Fellows 2018: #Scientists, #Artists, #Dancers, #Musicians, #Writers, #Activists, More

“The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.”

There are three criteria for selection of Fellows:

  1. Exceptional creativity
  2. Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments
  3. Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Meet the newest crop of very fortunate creative sorts, this year’s MacArthur Fellows, who will each receive $125,000/year for 5 years to do WHATEVER THEY WANT!

Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these 25 MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities. Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all.

MacArthur Fellows 2018

For bios, specific info on each Fellow, and more about the Program and the Foundation, check out their website: https://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows/

Imagine: There are no outside or public applications or nominations. The process for selection is so secretive and unknown that very few people (no one outside the Foundation, supposedly) even knows who the nominating and selection committees’ members ARE each year!

“Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

“The Foundation does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows and does not evaluate recipients’ creativity during the term of the fellowship. The MacArthur Fellowship is a “no strings attached” award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.”

In the Foundation’s favor, this year—for the first time since I’ve been tracking it, which is many years—the female-appearing Fellows outnumber the male-appearing Fellows: 10 seeming males, 13 seeming females, and two gender-free. The Fellows process has been great on “diversity” and varying geographic locations (but still too many are from the coasts) for quite a while. You can check out the stats on their site any time.

Very cool!

#Science for Fun! The 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes (reblogging)

Scientific studies on the cleaning power of spit, a lone fruit fly’s ability to spoil wine, and cannibals’ caloric intake garnered top honors at the 28th Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The seriously silly citations, which “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then think,” were awarded on Sept. 13 at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre. […]

via 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes — It’s Interesting

“10 Newly Discovered Species for 2018”! #scienceforthewin

“10 Newly Discovered Species for 2018”! #scienceforthewin

How fun and fascinating?

These 10 (plus many more) newly discovered species are found in video form and with more textual details in the link, below. Here is the shortened list:

  1. Xenoturbella churro = a new marine worm that resembles…yes, a churro (Mexican, sugared, fried, oblong snack, kind of like a doughnut in cruller shape, usually dipped in sauces), that is kind of large, “between 4 and 10 inches,” and carnivorous: it “feeds off mollusks like clams.”


    Xenoturbella churro, image from https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/churro-marine-worm-discovered-scripps-scientists-one-top-10-species-2017

  2. TO BE NAMED: a new, bright blue tarantula, discovered by some random guy (maybe it will be named after him, which would be “Andrew Snyder”?). It is the “first blue tarantula found in South America” because they’re usually in “Southeast Asia, and secondly, this one was living in a colony, which is very unusual for spiders.”
  3. Deadly Fruit is actually not new; been known for over 50 years. Named by Australian 7th-graders due to its characteristics. This “obscure relative of the tomato…when cut open, the flesh of the fruit changes from whitish green to blood red and then matures into a dry, white bony state.”
  4. The Devil Orchid aka Telipogon diabolicus, is said to resemble the “head of the Devil” (?), but what I found fascinating is its hermaphroditic status, because it is said to be “a fusion of male and female flower parts.” Found, but may soon be lost, in Columbia’s reconstruction zone.
  5. NOT YET NAMED, a new gecko, astonishing because it can elude predators by completely shedding its overlapping scales, then regrow them within a few weeks.
  6. Plenaster craigi is a newish species of abyssal sponge, actually discovered in 2013 but confirmed in 2017, in The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), the East Pacific Ocean near Singapore. It survives in total darkness and eats “metal-rich nodules.”
  7. Arcella gandalfi is a kind of single-celled but large freshwater amoeba—“quite big, measuring 81 micrometers in diameter and 71 micrometers in height”—found in Brazil. Yes, it vaguely resembles the hat worn by the character, Gandalf, as seen in the trilogy of films based on the J.R.R. Tolkein books, The Lord of the Rings.
  8. Pink Floyd pistol shrimp is “a new species of snapping shrimp found in the waters off the Pacific coast of Panama.” Besides its neon pink claw, this predator is LOUD! It “can kill its prey with noise! The snap of that giant claw is loud and powerful that it creates cavitation bubbles, which then burst into the prey, either stunning them or killing them. The sound reaches levels of 210 decibels, which is louder than a gunshot!”
  9. UNNAMED SO FAR, an ancient giant sloth fossil (up to 500 lbs, estimated) was found “in an underwater cave in the jungle of the Yucatán in Mexico.” Notable both for its huge size and the location (most fossils decay rapidly in this area of high humidity). No live ones spotted, though.
  10. NOT YET NAMED a hermit crab with a sea anemone fastened onto its back is a new dual species found in South African, only about 2 – 3 inches long.

All quotes and info, above, are from this page, below, has the “top 10,” plus 11 more, plus even more and more links to other new-ishly discovered species:
https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/top-10-newly-discovered-species-for-2018/