May Day! COVID Chronicles 5-1-2020


Hello stranger!  What better time to post an update to this blog than when we are all stuck at home in quarantine?  These are unprecedented times we are living in, my friends. We are quickly approaching the 3rd month of society’s shutdown and stay-at-home orders from our local and federal government. These orders, along with social distancing guidelines, are the best measures to mitigate the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic that has taken over the world since the beginning of the year.  By many indications, the first cases of the virus originated overseas late last year in the Far East.  Unfortunately, since the virus’ arrival here in the U.S., we were slow to react and have been playing catch-up from the beginning.  This was due to a combination of factors, including possible inaccurate data and a delay in communications from international sources. But more importantly, and disconcertingly, our federal government’s incompetence in dealing with the severity of this pandemic is largely to blame.  The Trump administration scoffed at the seriousness of Covid-19 in the beginning and likened it to the common flu, saying that it will more than likely go away on its own.  On February 27th, Trump exclaims in a White House briefing “It’s going to disappear,” “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”*^  His administration’s refusal to acknowledge the virus as an imminent pandemic continued into late February and early March, even after numerous warnings from international and federal health officials since the beginning of January**^.  It was not until the World Health Organization officially declared it as a global pandemic on March 11th that President Trump subsequently declared a national emergency on March 13th.*^  This excerpt from Marketwatch.com aptly describes the response: “For weeks after the first U.S. case of the coronavirus was confirmed in January, government missteps caused a shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, leading to delays in diagnoses.”**^^

Based on the data and science gathered, the people most vulnerable to this virus are the elderly and immunocompromised. But the truth is, it can cause harm and even be fatal to anyone at any age or condition. We can have the virus, have mild or no symptoms whatsoever, and be a silent carrier unknowingly infecting others. We just don’t know how it will affect any one individual.  For the majority of people that require hospitalization from this illness, it infects the respiratory system and causes fever, severe coughing and swelling in the lungs.  It can cause pneumonia and severely inhibit the victim’s ability to breathe, to the point where they need to be put on a ventilator.  And in the very worst cases, they never come off that ventilator and succumb to the disease.    

It has been a struggle for society as a whole to have enough testing and treatments to keep up with the rampant spread of this illness. It is now a race against time to come up with a viable treatment to slow the effects of this virus, let alone a vaccine to prevent and cure it.  And there is a glimmer of hope in regards to possible treatments, as they announced today that the antiviral medication “Remdesivir” has shown some promise in clinical trials. It has just been granted Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) by the FDA as an emergency treatment that can possibly quicken the recovery times of those infected by Covid-19.  Remdesivir was previously tested as a possible treatment for the Ebola outbreak back in 2014 ^.  There is also a possible vaccine coming to the forefront that is currently being researched by Oxford University in England.  The university is partnering with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to develop the drug in large scale, should it prove to be effective against Covid-19 in humans.  Results of the drug’s effects on several hundred people that were vaccinated should be complete by mid-June 2020 ^^.

As of 3:50pm on 5/1/2020, there are 3,321,402 confirmed Covid-19 infections worldwide, with 237,180 total deaths in 187 countries*. Unfortunately, America has the most cases of, and most deaths from, this virus in the world. In the United States, the national deathtoll due to this pandemic is now a very sobering 64,203 out of a total of 1,091,038 positive U.S. cases*. The country with the 2nd most confirmed novel coronavirus infections is Spain with 213,435 people infected, less than 20% of what the U.S. has.* What makes America beautiful is that it’s the land of freedom, dreams and opportunity. But what makes our country such an attractive destination, and such a melting pot for humans worldwide, also makes us the most vulnerable during global pandemics. And nowhere is this more evident than where we are in New York City, the epicenter of this crisis. In NYC alone there have been a total of 174,921 cases thus far and 18,399 deaths**. For perspective, there were 2,977 casualties from the 9/11 attacks in 2001 – an event many of us thought would be the worst disaster we would ever see on US soil during our lifetimes. The Vietnam War had 58,220 American deaths* over a span of 11 years. The current Coronavirus deathtoll has eclipsed them both, as the number of deaths continue to climb daily. Since 2010, the average total deaths from the common flu (influenza) in America is between 12,000 to 61,000***. It is now painfully clear that this is not like the common flu, not even close. 

Personally, I am on Day 51 of self-imposed lockdown and have barely been outside, aside from a handful of grocery runs and short walks for fresh air. And of course, no excursion to the warzone outside that is the streets of NYC can be taken without the combat gear of facemask and gloves. And currently in NY State, by law, you must wear some sort of mask or face covering when out in public through May 15th.  There’s only so many newscasts one can stand, and a finite number of shows and movies we can binge on Netflix before starting to go stir crazy. Cabin fever is a real phenomenon, as I’m sure the majority of people can relate to at this point. But I’d rather deal with cabin fever at home than a 105 degree fever while on a ventilator in a hospital with Covid-19.  Or worse than that, unwittingly infect an elderly family member and send them to the hospital. 

The news right now is not all bad though, because there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.  Many areas are showing signs that the rate of infection is slowing and the number of new infections and deaths are on the decline.  As a result, many states are looking into plans to re-open the economy and allow non-essential businesses to resume operations.  In NYC, the U.S. Naval hospital ship “Comfort” has left the shores of New York because we no longer need it for an overflow of Covid-19 patients since cases are on the decline.  After treating close to 1100 patients, the last remaining patient infected with the Coronavirus located at the Jacob Javits Center was discharged today, and the temporary US Army hospital at the event center is now closed.  This is all a direct result of most of the country’s shut-down of non-essential businesses, and restrictions put in place by public health and government officials to encourage all citizens to stay home to stop the spread of this disease.  We are, however, not clear of danger yet and we must not be complacent.  If we don’t collectively continue to follow public health and social distancing guidelines, things can become worse again before they get better.  

There are obvious heroes that have emerged from this global crisis, and they are the brave doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and first responders who are risking their own lives to care for the victims of this pandemic.  They are the true definition of selflessness, compassion and humanity.  Bravo.  All the other essential workers, grocery store and pharmacy employees, train and bus drivers, etc. deserve praise as well.  Thank you for sacrificing your well-being to keep us functioning as a society during these crazy times.  Thinking of them makes it all the more infuriating when you see the imbeciles in some areas forming large mobs of people in the streets, protesting their town’s lockdown and screaming through megaphones for their town to re-open.  And of course, many of them are not wearing masks to prevent the spread of any virus – and most, if not all, are standing within inches of each other.  Even if they do not care about endangering their own health, it is this type of irresponsible, selfish and ignorant behavior that can prolong this crisis and make things worse for everyone else.  

So Stay Home, Stay Safe.  If you must go out, cover your face!  Wear your gloves!  Stay 6 feet apart!  And wash those hands!  

This too shall pass…We will get through this, but we must do it as a team…from home.    

Sources:
*^‘It will disappear’: the disinformation Trump spread about the coronavirus – timeline

‘It will disappear’: the disinformation Trump spread about the coronavir…Tom McCarthyThe president was personally warned about the growing crisis beginning in mid-January – but continued to give fa…
**^  As Trump administration debated travel restrictions, thousands streamed in from China

As Trump administration debated travel restrictions, thousands streamed …Katherine EbanIn defending his strategy against the deadly coronavirus, President Donald Trump repeatedly has said he slowed i…
**^^Trump’s ban on China travel: his claims vs. the facts

Trump’s ban on China travel: his claims vs. the factsAssociated PressTrump’s order was not solely his decision nor did it fully close the U.S. off to China, the Associated Press sta…

*  COVID-19 global stats & data from Johns Hopkins University**  Covid-19 U.S. and NYC data from John’s Hopkins University & The New York Times
***  data from CDC.gov
^    info from CNBC.com
^^  info from CNN.com

9/11 Never Forget

It’s been 18 years since the most tragic and horrific day in the history of the United States of America, September 11th 2001. A few days ago, as I drove by the 9/11 ‘Tribute in Lights’ I had to take a picture as I marveled at its majesty while lamenting what it symbolizes. On this day that altered American history 18 years ago, I remember being on the subway on my way to work. People that came into the train were talking about how a plane had just ‘accidentally’ flown into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. We would later find out that it was no accident.
When I got to my office, through the big south-facing windows from the 17th floor of my SoHo office building, I saw the second plane fly smack into the middle of the second tower. Shortly after, I witnessed the two mighty towers that were engulfed in flames completely crumble to the ground. What I saw through the windows with my own two eyes that morning still haunt me to this day, and will remain in my mind until my very last day. The landscape and skyline that we took for granted for so long was now forever transformed, as were our lives from that day forward. The pungent stench and clouds of debris from all the fallen metal, concrete, glass and other materials would remain in the NYC air for many many months to follow. The thousands of lives lost and the families and friends they’ve impacted affect us all.
I personally have friends and family that narrowly escaped peril on that day, and I lost a former colleague. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I think a little bit of each of us died on that solemn day. All we can do is keep fighting, no matter what struggles and hardships we face. Not just for ourselves, but for the ones that matter to us. Never give up. Never give in. But never forget.

NYC is the place to be!

Big Tech = Big Biz for commercial real estate in New York City. Apple is looking for hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space in Manhattan. Both Apple and Facebook are eyeing the new development at 50 Hudson Yards for expansion, with Google and Amazon also looking to further invest big within NYC. And that’s great news for New York. There’s no question that NYC is the world’s business and financial mecca.

Full details can be found here:

https://ny.curbed.com/2019/8/23/20829951/manhattan-commercial-real-estate-amazon-apple-facebook

Spring Fever!

Baseball is finally back folks! 🙌 Today is Opening Day of the regular season for Major League Baseball. Being a native New Yorker, I will be biased and mainly following the progress of my local teams for the next 162 games, and hopefully beyond. There are many storylines to follow as the season begins as both New York clubs have made changes to bolster their respective teams in the off-season. Will the high-powered Yankees improve on last season’s playoff letdown with the addition of oft-injured all-star hitter Troy Tulowitski, among others, to supplement their power duo behemoths Giancarlo Stanton & Aaron Judge? Will the Mets be able to make it back to the playoffs with the addition of veteran hitter (and former Yankee star) Robinson Cano and 24 yr old star closer (with an MLB-best 57 saves in 2018) Edwin Diaz?

The Yankees will be at home in the Bronx to host the lowly Baltimore Orioles, with their 2nd best pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on the mound (#1 Yankee starter Luis Severino starts the season on the disabled list until May with a rotator cuff injury). And my boys in Orange & Blue, the NY Mets will start the season in Washington DC to play a 3 game series against the Nationals. This game in particular should be one to watch as it features 2 of the best pitchers in baseball (and winners of the last 3 NL Cy Youngs): 2018 National League Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom of the Mets vs. Max Scherzer (’16 & ’17 NL Cy Young winner) for the Nationals. This has only happened twice before in the history of Major League Baseball where the top 2 Cy Young award vote-getters match up on opening day of the following season. And it is happening twice again today with deGrom vs. Scherzer in the National League and Blake Snell (2018 AL Cy Young winner) of the Tampa Bay Rays vs. runner-up Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros in the American League. The last time this happened was 40 years ago on opening day of the 1979 baseball season. The Cy Young award is baseball’s highest honor for pitchers, given out after the end of each season to give recognition to the best in the game. deGrom easily won the award in 2018 with an MLB-best 1.70 earned run average, while Scherzer was no slouch as runner up with a record of 18-7 with a 2.53 era. Of course, being the Met fan that I am, I’m hoping that Scherzer has an uncharacteristic off-day and the Mets crush every ball that he hurls at them. The more likely scenario for this game is that scoring will be at a premium and this will be one of those proverbial “pitchers’ duels” with these 2 superstars toeing the rubber today. And deGrom should be able to focus a bit better coming into opening day, fresh off his brand new five-year, $137.5 million extension with the Mets. This new deal makes him the highest paid athlete in New York based on average annual salary. deGrom had publicly stated that he wanted to complete contract talks before the start of the season to eliminate that distraction, so kudos to the Mets and new GM Brodie Van Wagenen for making that happen. Prediction: Mets win 3-1. Let’s play ball! 🥎🥎🥎

**Stats & info from MLB.com and the MLB At Bat mobile app

#6 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆

Love ’em or hate ’em, the New England Patriots have done it again. They have won their 6th Superbowl, beating the LA Rams 13-3, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for most championships of all time. This also gives Tom Brady his 6th Superbowl win as Quarterback (most all-time), adding to his legacy as the winningest QB ever. It was not exactly an action packed game, as defense ruled the majority of the night. It was tied 3-3 until Brady and the boys finally scored a touchdown halfway through the 4th quarter. In fact, this was the lowest scoring Superbowl in NFL history. I don’t think that matters much to the Patriots right now, just look at how they’re celebrating in the video above. 🤪🤣

And what was up with the halftime show? It looked like Adam Levine was fighting his bandmates, fellow artists Travis Scott & Big Boi, and the camera itself for TV time. And he could not wait to tear off his shirt to expose his fully tattooed torso and prance around. Can someone say Narcissist? 🙄

I’m just hoping my NY Giants can make it back to the Superbowl next year, they seem to be the only team to be able to consistently stop Brady and Co. (Giants beat the Patriots in the Superbowl in 2008 & 2012). Congrats to the New England Patriots, 2019 Superbowl 53 champions!

Superbowl LIII (53) – GOAT edition

Superbowl 53 is officially upon us, folks. The biggest sports event of the year (and most expensive, with 30 second ad spots during this year’s telecast costing an average of $5.25 Million, the most expensive it’s ever been*) is happening this Sunday February 3rd at 6:30pm EST in Atlanta, GA. It is estimated that well over 100 million people will be tuning in here in the U.S.* Superbowl 2019 will feature the LA Rams, going for their 2nd superbowl win in their history, and the perennial Superbowl contenders the New England Patriots, going for their 6th Superbowl victory. The Patriots have been the AFC champions three years in a row, and consequently are making their 3rd consecutive Superbowl appearance. If the Patriots pull off another championship win this Sunday, it will tie them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most superbowl championships in NFL history (6).

And all 5 of the Patriots’ championships so far have been with Tom Brady at the helm as their starting Quarterback. If they achieve a 6th Superbowl win this Sunday, it will only solidify Brady’s status as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). Brady’s 5 championships are the most for any quarterback in history, with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw tied for second best with 4 Lombardi trophies each. Love him or hate him, there is no denying his achievements and his status as a living legend. What Michael Jordan is to basketball, Brady is to football. If he wins his 6th Superbowl on Sunday, he will have even more in common with Michael Jordan with 6 world championships each. And although the Brady-era Patriots have had its share of controversies over the years (e.g. spygate, deflategate), they are mere minor blemishes on an otherwise stellar and storied career. At 41 years old, he is showing no signs of slowing down and had publicly stated that he plans on playing until he turns 45. Although nothing is guaranteed and anything can certainly happen, I know I wouldn’t bet against the best QB of all time. Have a happy Superbowl Sunday folks!

*( info from http://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/super-bowl-53-commercials-how-much-do-ads-cost-in-2019/l9ghpuv7kwwq1uhwy9xd35rhm )

Oh, so good!

2019 is definitely off to a great and groundbreaking start for Hollywood with the Golden Globe awards telecast this past weekend. Not only did she co-host the show, but Sandra Oh became the first Asian actress in over three decades to win best actress honors for her role in the BBC America original series “Killing Eve”. Oh made history in 2018 as the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for an Emmy award for lead actress in a drama for the same role. The 2018 smash hit rom-com Crazy Rich Asians also deserves an honorable mention for being nominated for 2 awards, namely: Best Picture, Musical or Comedy and its female lead Constance Wu for Best Actress, Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film grossed over $238 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. A sequel is currently in the works with a planned release date of June 26, 2020. Let’s hope this is a sign of more positive change and representation to come. Not just in Hollywood, but in our society as a whole, in 2019 and beyond!

CES 2018: That’s All Folks!

The 2018 iteration of the Consumer Electronics Show has now come and gone.  The one recurring theme throughout most of the companies that were showcasing at the expo was that Artificial Intelligence, and voice assistants, were rampantly being implemented into the tech of most smart products.  Based on how the landscape is trending, It would not be a stretch to say that we can expect to see many more fully automated homes in the near future.  A few of the standouts from this year’s showcase:

1.  Samsung’s “The Wall” – a 146 inch behemoth modular MicroLED TV with a stunning visual display that may very well be a glimpse into how we watch TV in the future.

2.  LG’s rollable 4K OLED 65″ TV that can ‘fold’ into its base for easy hiding when not in use.

3.  SONY’s Aibo is a robotic dog that features some of the most advanced AI and robotic parts to date.  It simulates the experience of training and raising a puppy, and will supply its owners with countless hours of entertainment and enjoyment.

4.  HTC unveiled it’s new HTC Vive Pro virtual reality headset that offers 78% increased resolution over the current generation headset and features improved audio quality as well.

5.  The world’s first solar-powered smartwatch was unveiled.  What the new Casio G-Shock Rangeman smartwatch lacks in looks and sophistication it makes up for in durability, ruggedness, solar-powered charging, and great GPS navigation.  At $800 USD, it also makes it one of the more expensive smartwatch options in the market.

 

For a detailed rundown of the 2018 CES, check out Techradar’s article @  https://www.techradar.com/news/ces-2018

CES 2018: what to expect from the year’s biggest tech show

 

The annual Consumer Electronics Showcase is set to kick off in Las Vegas tomorrow Jan. 8th 2018, with previews and preliminary events taking place today, and concludes on Friday Jan 12th. Around 180,000 tech industry insiders and aficionados will be in attendance at the world’s biggest tech event. You’ll be sure to see the latest and greatest Augmented Reality gadgets and apps, the newest 4K TV innovations, and the coolest electric concept cars, among countless other modern & future tech marvels about to hit the market. We’ll keep an eye on all the cool stuff happening this week, but here’s a preview of what to expect from The Verge:

The Verge: CES 2018: what to expect from the year’s biggest tech show. https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/3/16842608/ces-2018-las-vegas-rumors-lg-sony-samsung-preview