Covid/Health Update

You get it from your friends and family.

Yesterday I had to go to the doctor to get a pneumonia shot. You need to get one every five years, and I not only recommend it, I INSIST upon it! Frequently you can get it at your local pharmacy for a de minimis cost. Do it! And keep a record so you repeat the shot the aforementioned every five years.

Everybody in America thinks they’re immune. Unless they’re a hypochondriac, and there are more than a few of those, however not enough to abandon the thought of national health care, fearful of overuse. You see America is based on individuality, baby boomers have dominated the culture since their birth, everybody’s got a smartphone, everybody thinks they’re hip, so it just can’t happen to THEM!

But it does.

Unfortunately, everything your parents say about aging is true. Life goes really fast. Once again, the only good thing about aging is you’re more mellow, more content, you have reduced angst. But if you didn’t save up for retirement, the government won’t solve your problems, you can’t make it on Social Security alone, and no one wants you in the workforce, unless it’s as a greeter at Walmart or an order taker at McDonald’s. And at some point you’re gonna die, and it might be Covid-19.

Up until this year I’ve been amazed at how my brethren refuse to get flu shots. Have they ever had the flu? Just once and you will never be lax in this category ever again. That happened to me in the early nineties. As for the naysayers… It’s dead, so you cannot get the flu from the shot. Yes, occasionally you have a reaction, in addition to a sore spot in your arm for a short while. Said reaction happens maybe once every fifteen years or so, at least by my experience. And it’s not like you’re laid low as a result, that’s the shingles vaccine, the new one, given in two installments. You might go on a wild ride as a result, but it’s nowhere as bad as shingles itself. As for flu shot efficacy? So, it’s not perfect, does that mean you don’t want to increase your chances? Let’s put it this way… If I told you if you wore your seatbelt you wouldn’t be guaranteed to live through a wreck, but your odds of survival would increase, would you do that? Well, we needed a law to make that happen, before that people were worried about wrecking their clothes. As for public transportation, i.e. taxis and Ubers/Lyfts, just because you’re in the back seat that does not make you immune, I’ve got a friend who sustained injuries in the back seat of a limo during a crash, to the point where she needed to engage an attorney. As for eating, handling your health in an engaged way, such as to increase your odds, it seems that only members of the upper classes address this, and few of them do, as for the lower classes…well, there’s a conspiracy to make good food expensive, or bad food cheap, whichever way you want to look at it.

So, I’m talking to my doctor about Covid-19. I cannot help myself. Yes, I’m still paranoid, I have not let my guard down, even though I seem to be the only on in addition to Howard Stern, Irving and my shrink. You see I’ve got an underlying immune issue, which causes my pemphigus, so…I don’t want to get it. And since I’ve got this condition, my doctor assured me during my physical, yes, you should get one every year, you’d be amazed at what could change, like the advent of cancer, my doctor caught that during a routine physical, that I would be at the top of the list for a vaccine, ahead of those trying to use their status to push to the head of the line. As for safety? He said he’d wait until it was approved by California as well as the national government, but then he’d have no hesitancy to get it.

But a month later, yesterday, the story changed. My doctor told me the odds of him getting the vaccine were extremely low, because of its need to be kept at insanely low temperatures, his office was not set up for that. He anticipated there would be vaccine centers, run by the government. As for priority, as for who would qualify at first? WHO KNOWS?

But what he did say was that he would consider you safe after getting the vaccine. Sure, it’s only 90% effective, but the more people who get it…

Oh, that’s right, vaccines kill. You don’t want to be injected. You want everybody else to get one to achieve herd immunity to save your ass. But recently that hasn’t been working for measles. But that’s America, where the internet knows more than any professional, where you can find someone online, a group, to agree with any viewpoint you may have, irrelevant of the truth. Hell, look at the election!

And my doctor said you’ll need either two or three injections. And they don’t know how long immunity will last.

But he does know you get the infection from family and friends.

Of all the patients he has, of everybody who has gotten Covid-19, only ONE has gotten it out in the wild, back in March, a man who was infected before lockdown, everybody else got it from their family or friends, those we consider immune.

Let me tell you about quarantining… Everybody says they’re doing it, but the truth is they’re being nowhere near as vigilant as they say they are. My eye doctor refuses to socialize. He says people talk about social distancing, but as soon as the wine comes out… Just because you know someone, just because they’re a good person, that does not make them immune.

Yes, most cases, according to my doctor, come from those in multi-family housing, essential workers, but once you account for them, infections come from intimate family members who everybody considers safe. Just this week he had a couple who’d driven for a short vacation, and had had dinner with close friends and two other couples, inside, without masks. Shortly thereafter they got a call that one of the attendees was infected, that they needed to be tested, and they were, each at a different location, and they were both infected.

And there’s this belief that youngsters cannot die from the virus, so many are unconcerned with this. My friend’s daughter got it at college, you’d think he’d be freaking out, but… And let’s never forget, these kids at college are coming home for Thanksgiving…

After every holiday we see a jump in infections. Now we’re experiencing the Halloween bump. Soon, we’ll have the Thanksgiving bump. And yes, I sympathize with you, you locked down in the spring, you may not even know anybody who died, I do, and you just see no need to be as vigilant now. BUT YOU SHOULD BE! Screw traditions, the more people you’ve got coming for Thanksgiving, the higher the odds of infection. As for my doctor, he’s cut his attendees by two-thirds, and his Thanksgiving is taking place outdoors, with multiple tables with only three diners at each, who have to wear their masks when they are not eating. Guests will not be allowed in the house. And he’s more liberal than most I know, he believes you’ve got to live your life, otherwise life is not worth living. So, he’ll go to restaurants and sit outside, once a week. He’ll have social distanced dinners outside.

But unless you live in SoCal, chances are you can’t eat outside where you live.

As for my dermatologist…yes, I see a lot of doctors…they are the only people I will see during this time… She’s got two young kids, they’re bouncing off the walls, so she’s taking her family camping in Death Valley, they are going with another couple, but each family is bringing their own food, own utensils and…

My internist does go to the grocery store, but only late at night, off hours.

So, how scared should you be?

I leave that to you. But either we get a handle on this, we all try to reduce infection, or we live in a lawless state where everybody is on their own and infection is right around the corner.

So this is my appeal to you. Wear the mask. Keep gatherings small, if you have them at all. Relief is coming. There will be vaccines, and in January we will get a comprehensive national plan. It’s up to you. Sure, I want you to be safe so you don’t infect me, or others. But the truth is I want you to take this seriously for you, little old you, you’ve got to take care of yourself, and I’m imploring you to do so.


From: Jonathan

Subject: Re: Biden’s Speech

Date: November 7, 2020 at 8:51:44 PM PST

To: Bob Lefsetz

Bob – have read you for over 17 years. Milwaukee vocal cord surgeon at our academic hospital here and former Yale Whiffenpoof. You’ve been kind enough to respond to a few of my prior missives. Please don’t feel like you need to respond back to this but just wanted to thank you. 

The situation here in Milwaukee is rough and dystopian  – record COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, Miller Park home of the Brewers is now a Covid testing center, our state fairground now has a 500 bed field hospital that is slowly filling up (only a dozen patients last i checked but was lambasted by the Republicans as a waste of money – we’ll see) and our state government is hamstrung by obstructionism and no answers. As a physician I feel so frustrated by all of this.

I don’t know if Joe Biden can fix it, but I at least feel like he’s going to try as hard as he can. 

So glad that we’ll actually have a grown-up person with the right motivation in the White House again. 

Thanks for your writing – I love it. 


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