Monthly Archives: May 2020

What is Luxury Today?

I’ve just finished reading an excellent blog post about the recent hikes in luxury prices, which has gotten me thinking about fashion in general and what’s even relevant anymore.

There’s nothing like a few months of quarantine to make fashion seem entirely superfluous. Where are we going, and who are we going to see anyway?  Layer on the implicit showing off that accompanies an expensive purchase, and it’s even more ridiculous when our thoughts are on slightly bigger issues, such as survival.

Good health: that’s the true luxury. But I digress.

At the same time, though, fashion has long had a role in creating optimism and cheering us up: Note the exuberance of Dior’s New Look after World War II when women couldn’t wait to get back into pretty clothes again. Even if it’s an illusion, it’s comforting to put on an outfit that makes you feel life is returning to normal.

The disconnect for me lies with hugely expensive items.  If nothing else, the pandemic has forced people to think about what matters to us: the health and safety of people we love. Recent features on how celebrities are “coping” with isolation in their multi-million-dollar, multi-thousand-square-foot bunkers have met with ridicule and pushback. Showing off anyone’s net worth seems particularly tasteless these days.

So, I’m wondering: Are you shopping at all? Planning to shop? Clearing out your wardrobe to keep only the stuff you love? Saving up for a special item? Or none of the above?

pink and orange textile

Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

 

Good News Monday: COVID-19 is Killing the Drug Trade

The coronavirus pandemic has crippled cities and crushed businesses from coast to coast.  It’s also costing drug traffickers millions, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News, because their methods of moving money have been compromised.

Since the start of the crisis, federal drug agents in major U.S. hubs have seized substantially more illicit cash than usual amid statewide lockdowns that have disrupted the way cartels do business, the officials said.

“Their activities are a lot more apparent than they were three months ago,” said Bill Bodner, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles field office.

Bodner said California’s stay-at-home order has made it more difficult for traffickers to launder money and move around the city unseen.

“When there’s less hay in the haystack, it’s easier to find the needle,” he added. “It’s caused the drug cartels and money launderers to take more risks, and that’s where we can capitalize.”

Part of a $1 million seizure in the Los Angeles area.
Part of a $1 million seizure in the Los Angeles area.DEA

From March 1 to May 8, seizures of cash in the greater Los Angeles area have more than doubled from $4.5 million last year to $10 million during the same period this year. Bodner said that includes four separate seizures of more than $1 million in Long Beach, Cerritos, Anaheim, and Wildomar.

DEA agents operating on the East Coast have seen similar success.

The New York City field division’s cash seizures are up 180 percent since last year, said special agent in charge Ray Donovan, with the bulk of them coming in the last couple of months.

“It’s really around April, where we started saying, ‘Hey, we’re having a lot more success in this area,’” Donovan said.

When moving product along the West Coast, Mexican cartels use manufacturing businesses as de facto banks that help to launder the drug proceeds and funnel the money back across the southern border

But in New York, the cartels typically rely on “international Asian criminal organizations” to clean their cash, Donovan said. These cartel associates will buy American goods with drug money and ship them back to China. In return, the criminal gangs that receive the products will then send money back to the cartels in Mexico — often through bank wires, which are more difficult to track from China.

But the city’s lockdown has deprived the traffickers of using the first link in their sophisticated operation.

“With all the stores and shops closed down here, they don’t have that as one of the means to quickly launder money,” Donovan said.

As a result, the cartel’s cash has been piling up, Donovan said, resulting in larger seizures.

Pre-pandemic busts would often net cash hauls in the neighborhood of $100,000. Now, with the cartel’s laundering methods disrupted, New York DEA agents have been recovering piles of cash exceeding $1 million, Donovan said.

“More money is being stockpiled here,” he added. “So when we come across them, instead of seizing $100,000, we seize $1 million or several million dollars.”

The recent busts haven’t been confined to stacks of cash. Along the northern border, federal officers have confiscated large quantities of drugs over the past few months.

From March 21 to May 16, border patrol officers working out of the Detroit field office have seized 2,856 pounds of marijuana, 87 pounds of cocaine, 12 pounds of fentanyl and 12 guns.

“We are definitely seeing an uptick,” said Kris Grogan, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit.

Image: Drugs seized at Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich., on April 17, 2020.
Drugs seized at Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Mich., on April 17, 2020.U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DEA agents in Michigan and Ohio have hauled in $6 million in drug money since March 16, officials said. That amount is not unusually high, but there’s been a marked increase in the amount of cash seized at airports.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Keith Martin, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Detroit field office. “Which is not normal.”

Unlike New York and Los Angeles, the drug money made in Michigan and Ohio is moved the old-fashioned way — by driving it across the southern border.

Martin said it’s too early to draw a firm conclusion on what’s fueling the spike in cash seizures at airports, but a drop in car traffic because of statewide lockdowns is likely a contributing factor.

“They don’t want to be that one vehicle out in the road that gets pulled over,” Martin said. “When there’s not a lot of border traffic, you’re singled out easier than if there were a thousand cars.”

Part of a $1 million seizure in the Los Angeles area.
Part of a $1 million seizure in the Los Angeles area.DEA

While COVID-19 is already reshaping parts of the global economy, the impact on the drug cartels’ overall business remains yet to be determined, the officials said.

The coronavirus is also affecting drug prices. The price of methamphetamine has skyrocketed in California, according to Bodner, rising from about $1,000 a pound in November to upward of $2,000 a pound. He said that’s due in part to the economic disruptions and difficulties in importing chemicals from China and India, as well as the closure of the southern border to nonessential travel.

In New York, the price of marijuana is up 55 percent, according to Donovan, in part because of the increased risk of getting it into the country. Cocaine is up 12 percent, and heroin 7 percent, he said.

The virus has also changed the way law enforcement operates. One example: fewer DEA agents in the office, and more out in the streets.

“We’re practicing social distancing,” said Martin, the Detroit agent. “But the pandemic has not kept us from doing our job.”

Federal agents are also out in the streets en masse in Los Angeles and New York.

“I asked all my agents to stay in the street and just work in the street,” Donovan said. “We are there for our community, and ultimately, we’re doing a pretty damn good job.”

By Andrew Blankstein, Tom Winter, and Rich Schapiro, NBC News 5.24.2020

Small Town, Big Drama

bubble-2022390_640What is it with people who continually need to stir the pot? As one friend says about our coastal location with its dramatic cliffs and sweeping ocean views: “We live in paradise … what do we have to complain about?”

And yet.

I get it. We’re all stressed, stir crazy, and a little crazy-crazy. But oh, am I tired of people lashing out. We have a worldwide health crisis, rising unemployment, an unpredictable economy, and a significant lack of leadership. Do we really need to make things unpleasant in our own communities?

Let’s see.  We have one neighbor threatening to sue another because they had the audacity to build a home on the empty lot RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. She couldn’t have predicted that this might happen eventually? Or that no design in the world would make her happy?

Meanwhile, “Joan” — who is in charge of a lot of things although not actually everything — has been lobbying to get “Margaret” on a committee that already has enough members, claiming that she’s wanted to join for months. Mind you, Margaret has never directly asked anyone ON the committee about participating. But Joan decides to tell her she’s “not welcome.” What could possibly have been accomplished by hurting her feelings?!

Last week, we had a neighborhood brouhaha about a request from one neighbor to have some branches trimmed from a tree that blocks their TV satellite reception. From one guy’s reaction (“I’m shocked, appalled, aghast!”), you’d have thought someone was suggesting butchering his firstborn child.

I like trees too. But I’d likely run screaming into the abyss if I didn’t have the distraction of a few good TV shows.  I wouldn’t wish “no TV” on my worst enemy.

The latest is “PooGate”. “Tim” complained to the president of our board of directors that there’s a pile of dog poop where “Phil’s” lot borders theirs — the implication being that it’s Phil’s dog’s fault. Sure, that’s unpleasant. But couldn’t Tim simply point it out privately to Phil? And maybe it’s not even dog poop, since who’s knowingly going to leave it sitting ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY?!?! After the entire neighborhood has been alerted to Phil’s “transgression”, it turns out that they were merely dirt clods from construction across the street, and the totally unrelated odor was wafting over from a nearby sewer plant.

Can’t anyone just calm down?

Sigh.

 

Really Good News Monday: Hope on the Horizon?

The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus, its manufacturer, Moderna, announced on Monday.

The findings are based on results from the first eight people who each received two doses of the vaccine, starting in March.

Those people, healthy volunteers, made antibodies that were then tested in human cells in the lab, and were able to stop the virus from replicating — the key requirement for an effective vaccine. The levels of those so-called neutralizing antibodies matched the levels found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus in the community.

The company has said that it is proceeding on an accelerated timetable, with the next phase involving 600 people to begin soon. But U.S. government officials have warned that producing a vaccine that would be widely available could take a year to 18 months. There is no proven treatment or vaccine against the coronavirus at this time.

The Idiot and the Odyssey

People have long speculated that there might be intelligent life on other planets. The implication being there is intelligent life on THIS planet, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to demonstrate, especially in these so-called United States, which a moment ago I typed as the Untied States, which is a far more apt description.

Exhibit A:

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (hah) refused to regulate a chemical found in rocket fuel that can contaminate water and contribute to fetal damage. The policy acknowledges that exposure to high levels of perchlorate can cause I.Q. damage despite deciding not to regulate it.

Sounds as though these clowns have already been drinking gallons of the stuff.

Exhibit B:

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (oxymoron alert) stepped down a day after F.B.I. agents seized his cellphone as part of an investigation into whether he sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stocks using nonpublic information about the coronavirus.

Wait: He thought it was safe to discuss his stock buys on his cell phone??

Exhibit C:

I have to thank the brilliant Ellen Hawley (Notes from the U.K.) for calling this to my attention: London’s Transport Secretary is urging people to use public transport while admitting he wouldn’t use it himself. (Actually, that may be a sign of intelligence these days.) Moreover, maintaining the recommended social distancing on a bus would result in approximately enough room for six passengers plus the driver.

Which would require 10 times as many buses to service a normal rush hour.

Going out on a limb here, I’m guessing New York would face a similar dilemma. And exactly how is anyone planning to fund 10x as many buses?

Oh, they aren’t.  They’re going to let the folks who need to use public transportation rather than chauffeurs crowd on in and take their chances.  Heck, it’s the price you pay if you’re older/poorer/etc., isn’t it?

Back to the intelligent life part, which started me down this rabbit hole.  I was reading this morning — an important element of my daily procrastination schedule — that there might be life on one of Jupiter’s moons.

If they don’t have politicians, I’d say they’re ahead of the game.

photo of parking for aliens only signage

Photo by James Lee on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Good News Monday: An Expert Speaks

With so much misinformation out there, it’s useful to listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about. (Hint: Not politicians.)  While the below article is sobering, it does explain how we can avoid catching the virus.  And that’s good news.

[Reprinted from today’s New York Times]

Updated: 7 hours ago

The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them

It seems many people are breathing some relief, and I’m not sure why. An epidemic curve has a relatively predictable upslope and once the peak is reached, the back slope can also be predicted. We have robust data from the outbreaks in China and Italy, that shows the backside of the mortality curve declines slowly, with deaths persisting for months. Assuming we have just crested in deaths at 70k, it is possible that we lose another 70,000 people over the next 6 weeks as we come off that peak. That’s what’s going to happen with a lockdown.

As states reopen, and we give the virus more fuel, all bets are off. I understand the reasons for reopening the economy, but I’ve said before, if you don’t solve the biology, the economy won’t recover.

There are very few states that have demonstrated a sustained decline in numbers of new infections. Indeed, the majority are still increasing and reopening. As a simple example of the USA trend, when you take out the data from New York and just look at the rest of the USA, daily case numbers are increasing. Bottom line: the only reason the total USA new case numbers look flat right now is because the New York City epidemic was so large and now it is being contained.

So throughout most of the country we are going to add fuel to the viral fire by reopening. It’s going to happen if I like it or not, so my goal here is to try to guide you away from situations of high risk.

Where are people getting sick?

We know most people get infected in their own home. A household member contracts the virus in the community and brings it into the house where sustained contact between household members leads to infection.

But where are people contracting the infection in the community? I regularly hear people worrying about grocery stores, bike rides, inconsiderate runners who are not wearing masks…. are these places of concern? Well, not really. Let me explain.

In order to get infected you need to get exposed to an infectious dose of the virus; based on infectious dose studies with MERS and SARS, some estimate that as few as 1000 SARS-CoV2 viral particles are needed for an infection to take hold. Please note, this still needs to be determined experimentally, but we can use that number to demonstrate how infection can occur. Infection could occur, through 1000 viral particles you receive in one breath or from one eye-rub, or 100 viral particles inhaled with each breath over 10 breaths, or 10 viral particles with 100 breaths. Each of these situations can lead to an infection.

How much Virus is released into the environment?

A Bathroom: Bathrooms have a lot of high touch surfaces, door handles, faucets, stall doors. So fomite transfer risk in this environment can be high. We still do not know whether a person releases infectious material in feces or just fragmented virus, but we do know that toilet flushing does aerosolize many droplets. Treat public bathrooms with extra caution (surface and air), until we know more about the risk.

A Cough: A single cough releases about 3,000 droplets and droplets travels at 50 miles per hour. Most droplets are large, and fall quickly (gravity), but many do stay in the air and can travel across a room in a few seconds.

A Sneeze: A single sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets, with droplets traveling at up to 200 miles per hour. Most droplets are small and travel great distances (easily across a room).

If a person is infected, the droplets in a single cough or sneeze may contain as many as 200,000,000 (two hundred million) virus particles which can all be dispersed into the environment around them.

A breath: A single breath releases 50 – 5000 droplets. Most of these droplets are low velocity and fall to the ground quickly. There are even fewer droplets released through nose-breathing. Importantly, due to the lack of exhalation force with a breath, viral particles from the lower respiratory areas are not expelled.

Unlike sneezing and coughing which release huge amounts of viral material, the respiratory droplets released from breathing only contain low levels of virus. We don’t have a number for SARS-CoV2 yet, but we can use influenza as a guide. We know that a person infected with influenza releases about 3 – 20 virus RNA copies per minute of breathing.

Remember the formulae: Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time

If a person coughs or sneezes, those 200,000,000 viral particles go everywhere. Some virus hangs in the air, some falls into surfaces, most falls to the ground. So if you are face-to-face with a person, having a conversation, and that person sneezes or coughs straight at you, it’s pretty easy to see how it is possible to inhale 1,000 virus particles and become infected.

But even if that cough or sneeze was not directed at you, some infected droplets–the smallest of small–can hang in the air for a few minutes, filling every corner of a modest sized room with infectious viral particles. All you have to do is enter that room within a few minutes of the cough/sneeze and take a few breaths and you have potentially received enough virus to establish an infection.

But with general breathing, 20 copies per minute into the environment, even if every virus ended up in your lungs, you would need 1000 copies divided by 20 copies per minute = 50 minutes.

Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold; ~200 copies of virus per minute. Again, assuming every virus is inhaled, it would take ~5 minutes of speaking face-to-face to receive the required dose.

The exposure to virus x time formulae is the basis of contact tracing. Anyone you spend greater than 10 minutes with in a face-to-face situation is potentially infected. Anyone who shares a space with you (say an office) for an extended period is potentially infected. This is also why it is critical for people who are symptomatic to stay home. Your sneezes and your coughs expel so much virus that you can infect a whole room of people.

What is the role of asymptomatic people in spreading the virus?

Symptomatic people are not the only way the virus is shed. We know that at least 44% of all infections–and the majority of community-acquired transmissions–occur from people without any symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people). You can be shedding the virus into the environment for up to 5 days before symptoms begin.

Infectious people come in all ages, and they all shed different amounts of virus. The figure below shows that no matter your age (x-axis), you can have a little bit of virus or a lot of virus (y-axis). (ref)

The amount of virus released from an infected person changes over the course of infection and it is also different from person-to-person. Viral load generally builds up to the point where the person becomes symptomatic. So just prior to symptoms showing, you are releasing the most virus into the environment. Interestingly, the data shows that just 20% of infected people are responsible for 99% of viral load that could potentially be released into the environment (ref)

So now let’s get to the crux of it. Where are the personal dangers from reopening?

When you think of outbreak clusters, what are the big ones that come to mind? Most people would go to the cruise ships. But you would be wrong. Ship outbreaks don’t even land in the top 50 outbreaks to date.

Ignoring the terrible outbreaks in nursing homes, we find that the biggest outbreaks are in prisons, religious ceremonies, and workplaces, such a meat packing facilities and call centers. Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells trouble.

Some of the biggest super-spreading events are:

  • Meat packing: In meat processing plants, densely packed workers must communicate to one another amidst the deafening drum of industrial machinery and a cold-room virus-preserving environment. There are now outbreaks in 115 facilities across 23 states, 5000+ workers infected, with 20 dead. (ref)

  • Weddings, funerals, birthdays: 10% of early spreading events

  • Business networking: Face-to-face business networking like the Biogen Conference in Boston in March.

As we move back to work, or go to a restaurant, let’s look at what can happen in those environments.

Restaurants: Some really great shoe-leather epidemiology demonstrated clearly the effect of a single asymptomatic carrier in a restaurant environment (see below). The infected person (A1) sat at a table and had dinner with 9 friends. Dinner took about 1 to 1.5 hours. During this meal, the asymptomatic carrier released low-levels of virus into the air from their breathing. Airflow (from the restaurant’s various airflow vents) was from right to left. Approximately 50% of the people at the infected person’s table became sick over the next 7 days. 75% of the people on the adjacent downwind table became infected. And even 2 of the 7 people on the upwind table were infected (believed to happen by turbulent airflow). No one at tables E or F became infected, they were out of the main airflow from the air conditioner on the right to the exhaust fan on the left of the room. (Ref)

Workplaces: Another great example is the outbreak in a call center (see below). A single infected employee came to work on the 11th floor of a building. That floor had 216 employees. Over the period of a week, 94 of those people become infected (43.5%: the blue chairs). 92 of those 94 people became sick (only 2 remained asymptomatic). Notice how one side of the office is primarily infected, while there are very few people infected on the other side. While exact number of people infected by respiratory droplets / respiratory exposure versus fomite transmission (door handles, shared water coolers, elevator buttons etc) is unknown. It serves to highlight that being in an enclosed space, sharing the same air for a prolonged period increases your chances of exposure and infection. Another 3 people on other floors of the building were infected, but the authors were not able to trace the infection to the primary cluster on the 11th floor. Interestingly, even though there were considerable interaction between workers on different floors of the building in elevators and the lobby, the outbreak was mostly limited to a single floor (ref). This highlights the importance of exposure and time in the spreading of SARS-CoV2.

Choir: The church choir in Washington State. Even though people were aware of the virus and took steps to minimize transfer; e.g. they avoided the usual handshakes and hugs hello, people also brought their own music to avoid sharing, and socially distanced themselves during practice. A single asymptomatic carrier infected most of the people in attendance. The choir sang for 2 1/2 hours, inside an enclosed church which was roughly the size of a volleyball court.

Singing, to a greater degree than talking, aerosolizes respiratory droplets extraordinarily well. Deep-breathing while singing facilitated those respiratory droplets getting deep into the lungs. Two and half hours of exposure ensured that people were exposed to enough virus over a long enough period of time for infection to take place. Over a period of 4 days, 45 of the 60 choir members developed symptoms, 2 died. The youngest infected was 31, but they averaged 67 years old. (corrected link)

Indoor sports: While this may be uniquely Canadian, a super spreading event occurred during a curling event in Canada. A curling event with 72 attendees became another hotspot for transmission. Curling brings contestants and teammates in close contact in a cool indoor environment, with heavy breathing for an extended period. This tournament resulted in 24 of the 72 people becoming infected. (ref)

Birthday parties / funerals: Just to see how simple infection-chains can be, this is a real story from Chicago. The name is fake. Bob was infected but didn’t know. Bob shared a takeout meal, served from common serving dishes, with 2 family members. The dinner lasted 3 hours. The next day, Bob attended a funeral, hugging family members and others in attendance to express condolences. Within 4 days, both family members who shared the meal are sick. A third family member, who hugged Bob at the funeral became sick. But Bob wasn’t done. Bob attended a birthday party with 9 other people. They hugged and shared food at the 3 hour party. Seven of those people became ill. Over the next few days Bob became sick, he was hospitalized, ventilated, and died.

But Bob’s legacy lived on. Three of the people Bob infected at the birthday went to church, where they sang, passed the tithing dish etc. Members of that church became sick. In all, Bob was directly responsible for infecting 16 people between the ages of 5 and 86. Three of those 16 died.

The spread of the virus within the household and back out into the community through funerals, birthdays, and church gatherings is believed to be responsible for the broader transmission of COVID-19 in Chicago. (ref)

Sobering right?

Commonality of outbreaks

The reason to highlight these different outbreaks is to show you the commonality of outbreaks of COVID-19. All these infection events were indoors, with people closely-spaced, with lots of talking, singing, or yelling. The main sources for infection are home, workplace, public transport, social gatherings, and restaurants. This accounts for 90% of all transmission events. In contrast, outbreaks spread from shopping appear to be responsible for a small percentage of traced infections. (Ref)

Importantly, of the countries performing contact tracing properly, only a single outbreak has been reported from an outdoor environment (less than 0.3% of traced infections). (ref)

So back to the original thought of my post.

Indoor spaces, with limited air exchange or recycled air and lots of people, are concerning from a transmission standpoint. We know that 60 people in a volleyball court-sized room (choir) results in massive infections. Same situation with the restaurant and the call center. Social distancing guidelines don’t hold in indoor spaces where you spend a lot of time, as people on the opposite side of the room were infected.

The principle is viral exposure over an extended period of time. In all these cases, people were exposed to the virus in the air for a prolonged period (hours). Even if they were 50 feet away (choir or call center), even a low dose of the virus in the air reaching them, over a sustained period, was enough to cause infection and in some cases, death.

Social distancing rules are really to protect you with brief exposures or outdoor exposures. In these situations there is not enough time to achieve the infectious viral load when you are standing 6 feet apart or where wind and the infinite outdoor space for viral dilution reduces viral load. The effects of sunlight, heat, and humidity on viral survival, all serve to minimize the risk to everyone when outside.

When assessing the risk of infection (via respiration) at the grocery store or mall, you need to consider the volume of the air space (very large), the number of people (restricted), how long people are spending in the store (workers – all day; customers – an hour). Taken together, for a person shopping: the low density, high air volume of the store, along with the restricted time you spend in the store, means that the opportunity to receive an infectious dose is low. But, for the store worker, the extended time they spend in the store provides a greater opportunity to receive the infectious dose and therefore the job becomes more risky.

Basically, as the work closures are loosened, and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments. How many people are here, how much airflow is there around me, and how long will I be in this environment. If you are in an open floorplan office, you really need critically assess the risk (volume, people, and airflow). If you are in a job that requires face-to-face talking or even worse, yelling, you need to assess the risk.

If you are sitting in a well ventilated space, with few people, the risk is low.

If I am outside, and I walk past someone, remember it is “dose and time” needed for infection. You would have to be in their airstream for 5+ minutes for a chance of infection. While joggers may be releasing more virus due to deep breathing, remember the exposure time is also less due to their speed.

While I have focused on respiratory exposure here, please don’t forget surfaces. Those infected respiratory droplets land somewhere. Wash your hands often and stop touching your face!

As we are allowed to move around our communities more freely and be in contact with more people in more places more regularly, the risks to ourselves and our family are significant. Even if you are gung-ho for reopening and resuming business as usual, do your part and wear a mask to reduce what you release into the environment. It will help everyone, including your own business.

This article was inspired by a piece written by Jonathan Kay in Quillete:

COVID-19 Superspreader Events in 28 Countries: Critical Patterns and Lessons

About the author

Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Dr. Bromage graduated from the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences James Cook University, Australia where his research focused on the epidemiology of, and immunity to, infectious disease in animals. His Post-Doctoral training was at the College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the Comparative Immunology Laboratory of late Dr. Stephen Kaattari.

Dr. Bromage’s research focuses on the evolution of the immune system, the immunological mechanisms responsible for protection from infectious disease, and the design and use of vaccines to control infectious disease in animals. He also focuses on designing diagnostic tools to detect biological and chemical threats in the environment in real-time.

Dr. Bromage joined the Faculty of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2007 where he teaches courses in Immunology and Infectious disease, including a course this semester on the Ecology of Infectious Disease which focused on the emerging SARS-CoV2 outbreak in China.

Time Keeps On Slipping

You’d think that with all this sheltering in place, time would be crawling by and every day would seem longer than the one before due to their rather dreary lack of variety.  And yet, each day finds its own rhythm.

Time is a shape shifter. It expands to fill a vacuum, and contracts when doing something pleasurable.  It lives on in memory, where events can be revisited and reimagined for years. It’s too short when we’re happy; too long when we’re impatient or bored.

Pandemic Time is a law unto itselfExcursions now take on mythic importance, to be remembered and savored because they’re so rare.  It can feel like “forever” before we can eat out or get our nails done, even if it’s only a matter of days or weeks. And although there are certainly enough hours to do all those chores I’ve been putting off, night inevitably drops the curtain on another day where they didn’t get done — because, well, there’s always tomorrow.

Mostly I’m grateful to have these days at all, when so many haven’t.  I read somewhere recently that “Good times become good memories.  Bad times become good lessons.” One can only hope.

inspirational quotes on a planner

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com