June 3, 2021

We’re almost at 600,000 deaths in the US from Covid-19. We’re still having between 500 and 1,000 deaths daily in the US so we should pass that mark in another week. When we hit 610,000, and we will by the Fourth of July weekend, the pandemic will officially pass the Civil War to become the second largest mass casualty event in US history. The first is the 1918 flu pandemic at 675,000 and I can see Covid passing that over the course of this year if we don’t get better at reducing the unvaccinated population. My inpatient friends tell me that there’s still a significant number of people coming in with new Covid infections. They aren’t coming in the numbers they were earlier this year and the system is having no problems absorbing them. They all have one thing in common. They hadn’t gotten a vaccine. The inpatient docs are losing empathy for them as they are having to expend time and energy saving people from what is rapidly becoming a preventable disease.


The next big turning point is going to come when the FDA moves the vaccines from emergency use authorization to approved status. I don’t know when that’s going to happen yet but more than a hundred and twenty million successful vaccinations in the US with minimal complications and side effects is a pretty compelling data set. As long as they remain under EUA, they remain ‘experimental’ and it’s difficult to have regulations requiring them. Approved vaccines, however, have plenty of laws backing the rights of employers, schools, and other entities to demand vaccination. Once that happens, it will be interesting to see what happens to the anti-vaccine forces. I also remain suspicious that once the vaccines have official FDA approval, that there is going to be push by the insurance industry to add riders to health policy denying payment of claims for Covid-19 treatment in the voluntarily unvaccinated.


It’s been a quiet work week chez Andy. All the usual chores have been completed and the clinical programs for which I have responsibility are humming along without too much difficulty or need for excess oversight. It’s actually rather a nice change. I do chafe, however, at the amount of data entry that’s now required 0 and it seems to have doubled over the course of the pandemic. One would think that the US healthcare system would prefer its physicians to act as doctors rather than as typists but I could be wrong. It reminds me of my days back in the 70s as a keypunch operator. (To my younger readers, google Hollerith cards).


Nothing new has turned up yet as far as the performance career goes. The local theaters are all starting to get people together to figure out how to move forward in our changed environment so there should be projects I can audition for soon. A couple of people have suggested that I take selections from these posts and turn then into a one man Spalding Gray type monologue for performance. I’m not absolutely against that idea but I’d need an external director/dramaturg to help shape it properly. That’s not something I think I could do as I don’t have the correct objective eye for the material. If someone thinks this is a brilliant idea and wants to work on it, I’m open to conversation. In the meantime, something will come along soon. It usually does. I have board meetings for the Opera, a theater company, and a focus group for another theater company in the next two weeks so I should start to hear things. I have been asked to participate as a storyteller in a local festival fundraiser next month. I have no idea why they asked me, but I foolishly said yes and have to come up with a five to seven minute piece. The theme of the evening is apparently animals and I can’t think of any of my personal stories that involves animals that would keep an audience interested for that length of time. Perhaps my story that ends up with a glass Murano fish. (If you’ve heard me tell the story, you’ll know what I’m referring to).


I had a very odd dream last night. I was tasked with rescuing Queen Elizabeth from the top of some cliffs so I picked her up, tucked her under my arm and scaled down a rocky escarpment that turned into an urban hellscape. Eventually, I had to grab a rope and swing with her across a chasm in true Luke and Leia fashion to get her back to Buckingham Palace. Then, because I was wearing my pajamas, I had to go to the costume shop to find something appropriate to wear to the royal reception and there was nothing in my size other than mismatched plaids in neon colors. Someone will have to explain that one to me. My major take away was that the 95 year old queen wasn’t very heavy so I had no difficulty picking her up and having her cling to my side.


Perhaps it’s my inner David Lynch coming out. I’ve been binge watching Twin Peaks. I hadn’t ever seen it. It came out in 1990 when I was in residency and working 80 hours a week and watched essentially no TV. I’d always heard about it, new most of the references but really hadn’t a clue what it was really about. It’s interesting to see the exteriors of the Pacific Northwest as it was in my youth but I’m not sure I completely get the highly stylized performances and storytelling. If anything, it seems to be some sort of send up of the overblown evening soaps of the 80s like Dynasty and Falcon Crest and I can see why it didn’t last very long. Still, at least I’ll now be able to say I’ve seen it. One of the Broadway pages, in response to the Spielberg version of West Side Story that’s due out shortly, was discussing pairing up other famous film directors with musical remakes. I suggested a David Lynch version of Hello, Dolly! It would be weirdly fascinating and likely more watchable than the film we have.

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