Mary Beth Writes


Judy suggests a podcast that her daughter-in-law, an infectious disease physician, listens to and recommends. It’s The Osterholm Update: COVID 19. Osterholm is an epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He’s on President Biden's COVID-19 Advisory Board.

The podcast is a little wordy here and there but one can fast-forward. Here is what I learned that makes a difference to me.

Yes, omicron is less virulent than previous variants but don’t assume that means we are safe. Vaccine AND THE BOOSTER are the best protection. Without complete vaccinations, omicron is dangerous for many and deadly for some.

Experts are looking at the efficacy of a second boosters. They are being administered in Israel, and right now testing shows that the antibodies in the blood are boosted but only a little. A second booster is a probably helpful for people who are very immune compromised but for the rest of us it’s not going to make that much of a difference. That being said, it is being studied now. Because this is science, things can change.

Wear N95 or KN95 masks. We should have had them when Covid started, it would have made an enormous difference in the number of people who became infected.

He talked about peaks and tails. Omicron will peak in 3-6 weeks. Until it has peaked, when one is in public assume that omicron is in the air around you. Infections will bust hospital care at the seams in the coming weeks.

After the peak will come the “tail” which is when fewer people will all be sick and need care at the same time. But as Delta showed us, that tail is long. Quite possibly more people will be infected, need care, and have fraught outcomes than we will see during this peak time. The tail spreads out longer, so it won’t be the first story on the evening news. It will mean we are more likely to receive better medical care because HCW’s won’t be stretched so thin. It will make a difference to us as individuals to be super careful now and get it later.

He said this about schools. If/when Covid is hitting a school so hard there are not enough teachers or staff to run the school – then they should close a while. Students are neither learning nor safe without regular teachers and support staff. Figure out the opening or closing schools on the basis of enough teachers and staff. Kids are going to get and share covid; you can’t control Covid by closing the school. But decisions can be logically made on the basis of enough adults to keep the place running. 

The kicker for me is this. My daughter and her family just came through their weeks of in-house Covid. Two days ago, they went back to daycare and work.

Since then, I learned my nurse practitioner and her family just came out of weeks of Covid.

Three friends are now positive, some with mild symptoms, some not.

Are you experiencing this also? Two weeks ago you didn’t know people with Covid and now you do?

If you get possible symptoms, test ASAP. (Have tests on hand) If you are positive, call your medical person right away because medications exist that can lesson symptoms for some newly diagnosed patients. And maybe that's you. 

I’ve been walking a lot. I’m Midwestern descended from forest and tundra Swedes so I figure this weather is my birthright. I put on a lot of clothes and walk fast.

Last night my face was hot. Fever? Covid?

I realized I’d been outside early afternoon without sunscreen.

Not Covid. Sun and wind.

Last night we watched some of PBS’s, Middlemarch. It came out in 1995 and has too many simpering characters. Not recommending it unless you, too, think Rufus Sewell is beyond gorgeous. (Len was not all that amused at my sighing.) 

The industrial revolution dropped dizzying changes into the moral codes and culture of middle-class Victorian England. Suddenly the way money worked in society changed. Suddenly there were new situations ripe for greed, graft, and exploitation. Too much credit is extended to the doctor whose wife shops too much trying to keep up with the nouveau rich. Looming bankruptcy pushes that nice doctor into a very narrow place. The most pious character is trying to hide the profitable sins that enabled him to get so rich that he now judges others.

What an observation. There are people who exploit vulnerable fellow humans for financial gains and then, later, those are the same people preaching "family values" sexuality.

Big shifts happen when society changes fast and money gets tight.

Like now.

The novel by George Eliot, which was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, was written in 1871. One of the reasons she took a man’s name was to shield herself and her lifelong partner, who was married to someone else, who loved someone else.

People with complicated lives are often very good story tellers.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

 T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men




thanks for passing along pertinent summary from the podcast.....hey, you are a good writer :)
Mary Beth's picture

Hah! Thanks!

Like you, I know lots of people with COVID. Most of them are experiencing mild symptoms as they are all vaccinated but it is still very concerning to me. I was hoping to have a "Dips, Drinks, and Disco" gathering to celebrate my 61 and make up for not being able to celebrate my 60th. I will not. I hope soon. I so enjoy your writing. Have a wonderful sunday. Patricia

Thank you for the Omicron podcast "cliff notes". I had heard that Israel was giving a 2nd booster. Interesting to hear that it doesn't raise antibody levels much. Yes - I know more folks who have Covid with this Omicron wave. My younger son came down with it, but with being vaccinated, was not down with symptoms very long. Interestingly, he and his girlfriend live together; and she did not get it. Like your granddaughter, she had received her booster a few days before his symptoms came up. It protected her from getting the virus. Proof is reassuring.

In LA county we are consistently getting 40,000 new cases every day for the past 10 days. I was planning an in person outdoor gathering around a fire pit to celebrate my birthday (early for various reasons) but when 5 of the 12 people I invited turned up positive in the past 10 days I decided it postpone it until the surge has relented a bit. 3 friends and I made collages over zoom instead. And it was fun. Made us reminisce about the early days of pandemic when we did stuff on zoom all the time.

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The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



How Do We Remember What We Remember?


The Jan 6 Hearings, huh? This is an amazing moment in US history and I’m trying to understand our incredibly intense response. Four of 10 voters have watched at least some of the hearings, which is 20,000,000 people. It’s not just me that can’t look away.

Our Terrible Canoe Adventure

The eagle photo was taken by Len - but not on this trip! 


We are fine but I have a tale to tell.

American Successes / American Failures

Did you ever have to tell the truth when it was hard? Did you ever lie to avoid a hard situation?  Did you ever know a hard, wrong thing but you told no one because it was going to be complicated and some people wouldn’t believe you and you might end up disrespected or worse for “telling on” someone else?

Most people work hard at learning truth-telling when they are 4 and 5-years old.

Molecule Moving


I didn’t know a Panoply of Dental Moments was coming my way this week, but such is life with teeth. One can brush, floss, slosh, and swish - but if one’s teeth want to crumble, they do. Yesterday I had my six-month cleaning. The hygienist said several times that I brush and floss beautifully. I was proud and thinking maybe I would give myself a “well-done” sticker when I got home. Then the dentist came in to do the check-up and said two fillings had cracks around them and needed to be replaced.

Rough Stories, Tough Week


Last Friday evening on PBS Tonight David Brooks said something like this. “I am afraid for all of us. The news just pummels us.”

There are as many tough stories as there are fingers on a closed fist. The shooting in Uvalde. The shooting in Buffalo. The corrupt power of the NRA and other obscene wealth-mongers that are destroying our society from the inside of elected reps’ pockets outwards. Ukraine. Global climate mayhem. Oh, and covid is everywhere. Less traumatic for most; long covid for some. So that’s six fingers on that pugilistic fist.

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