Roy Exum: My Musings In Sunshine

Monday, April 6, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The weather yesterday was so gorgeous and the world around me so quiet that I spent a good deal of the day on my outside porch, watching my herd of squirrels try to out-think the new squirrel-proof bird feeder, and praying more than once about this week ahead. Our Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, speaking on “Meet The Press,” had the most ominous prediction of the day when said that starting this morning, we would face “the hardest and saddest (week) of most Americans’ lives.” He said that the loss of lives would be akin to “our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, easily one of the top infectious-disease experts in the world, appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and readily agreed, saying what is projected over the next eight or nine days will be “shocking to some.” Dr. Fauci said, “Things are going to get bad, and we need to be prepared for that.”

The wise voice on the White House coronavirus team told Americans to “just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation, because we’ve got to get through this week that’s coming up. Dr. Fauci is perhaps the best-known member of the White House coronavirus task force.

My more immediate dilemma – as trivial as it is in face of our pandemic – is that yesterday I couldn’t discern which of the stories in my “idea box” were more important. I am blessed in the fact so much interests me so, maybe it is best to touch on the biggest I want to share in a way that gives a taste of each. Here is what I thought about Sunday afternoon on my porch:

* * *


The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington with its offices in Seattle. In a report published on April 1, a team led by Christopher Murray presented “Forecasting COVID-19 impact on hospital bed days, ICU days, ventilator days and deaths by U.S. state in the next four months.”

Among its findings were:

* -- Our “peak day” is expected to be next Wednesday, April 15.

* -- It is expected on ‘peak day’ the United States will need 262,092 hospital beds, and projections show we’ll have a shortage of 87,674. In addition, we will need 39,727 ICU beds, with a shortage of 19,863.

* -- On “peak day,” our nation will need 31,782 ventilators.

* -- We must encourage social distancing until June 1, with the full knowledge this could be extended.

* -- On April 16, one day after “peak day,” there are expected to be a reported 2,637 deaths from the day before, on “peak day” (with 2,644 on April 16; 2,634 on April 17; and 2,607 on April 18). One week after "peak day,” deaths on April 22 are expected to be 2,375, and the following Wednesday, April 29, the day’s count is forecast to be 1,779.

* -- On Aug. 4, 2020, the coronavirus is expected to have killed 93,531 in the United States. On May 1, the count is anticipated to be 68,022. On June 1 the death count is expected to be 91,074. On July 1 the death count is expected to be 93,416.

* -- In Tennessee, the death count is projected to be 3,422 on Aug. 4, 2020 (with the daily report at zero for the first time on May 1.)

* -- In Georgia, the death count is expected to be 3,232 on Aug. 4, 2020.

* -- In Alabama the death count is expected to be 5,516 on Aug. 4, 2020.

* -- With Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Infectious Disease expert Anthony Fauci warning us the next week, and the next “eight to 10 days” will be staggering, let’s look at the predictions of projected death rates leading up to April 15. The first number is for the United States, is parenthesis is Tennessee:

Monday, April 6 – 1,699 (Tennessee 34)
Tuesday, April 7 – 1,865 (Tennessee 42)
Wednesday, April 8 – 2,025 (Tennessee 52)
Thursday, April 9 – 2,169 (Tennessee 62)
Friday, April 10 – 2,296 (Tennessee 73)
Saturday, April 11 – 2,407 (Tennessee 85)
Sunday, April 12 – 2,496 (Tennessee 97)
Monday, April 13 – 2,563 (Tennessee 108)
Tuesday, April 14— 2,601 (Tennessee 120)
Wednesday, April 15 – 2,637 (Tennessee 131)

- - -
10-Day Projected Totals: 22,758 (Tennessee 804)

Note, at 9 p.m. on April 5 (last night) there were 9,611 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States with 1,173 within the last 24 hours. In Tennessee there were 44 dead.

* * *


As one who adores the United States military, I’ll rarely be critical and, yes, I am a keen believer in the “chain of command” but to fire the skipper of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt over his coronavirus alarm was a strategic blunder. It was a nitwit response by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly after a letter written by Captain Brett Crozier was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. Crozier had over 100 sailors sick when he veered course and berthed in Guam, this after his email plea stated, “We are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset – our sailors.” I’m hardly alone in the belief Modley is the one who panicked, not Crozier – there are over 245,000 signatures on a petition to “Reinstate Captain Crozier as Commanding Officer” on on Sunday afternoon. There were also reports that Captain Crozier tested positive for the virus. (Oh, and presidential candidate Joe Biden called Modley’s decision “near criminal.”)

* * *


In 1970 New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey booted a 63-year field goal that for the next 20 years would be the gold standard in the NFL. He made the kick against Detroit in the last seconds, giving New Orleans a 19-17 win. What made the kick all the better was that Dempsey was born with no fingers or toes on his right side; he kicked the ball with what appeared to be a “club football.” Of course, there was an instant rhubarb that his deformed foot gave him an undue advantage. Several years later I ran into him and asked the reverse question: “Is it unfair that you’ve had to go your entire life without toes or fingers on your right side?” That got a big laugh, of course, and we became instant friends, but no one laughed seven or eight years ago when he got dementia, and no one laughed Saturday when the coronavirus killed him.

* * *


As I sat on my outside porch in Sunday sunshine, I found myself wondering about this:

* -- The United States has about 328 million people, in addition to some 40 million illegal residents. Yesterday afternoon, at one point, we had 325,200 cases of the virus we are dealing with, and 9,300 deaths.

* -- Russia, with a population of 144 million, has 5,389 cases and 45 deaths thus far.

* -- China, with 1.4 billion (with a b”), has had 82,602 cases and 3,333 deaths.

* -- Cuba, with a population of 11,329,794, has had 320 cases and eight deaths.

* -- North Korea promises it has had no cases of the coronavirus, a claim Jung H. Pak, a former CIA expert on North Korea, said is “impossible,” especially when neighbor China says they have had 3,333 deaths. North Korean leader Kim Jung Un claims that a 30-day quarantine, a closed border, and the suspension of trade with China have worked, but most world leaders say Un “will tell a lie when the truth would serve him half as well.”

* -- South Korea, with a population of 51,962,000, has 10,237 cases and 183 deaths.

You reckon somebody somewhere knows something we don’t?

* * *


First, there is nothing to be ashamed of if an American falls prey to circumstance. That’s what it’s there for, but we are assured that no matter how tragic life is right now, the virus will level off on what is now believed to be June 11 and out economy is every bit as ready as we are to get moving again. If you need a job right now, grocery stores are hiring, and warehouse jobs are plentiful. Volkswagen is having a huge hiring spree and you can go online to submit an early application. So help me, I’m thinking by mid-summer there will be a huge demand for employment and any smart person can go online and land a dandy job by the time “the coast is clear.” Look at this “hiring now” list:

CVS HEALTH – 50,000 full and part-time jobs, with bonuses up to $500.

GE HEALTHCARE – All comers welcome. Bonus points if you know anything about CT scans, respirators, patient monitoring devices, ultrasound and stuff like that.

7-ELEVEN STORES – 20,000 full and part time jobs available. (Almost all convenience stores have “help wanted” signs posted.)

DOLLAR GENERAL – Wants 50,000 new workers by the end of April, this with the virus raging.

DOLLAR TREE & FAMILY DOLLAR – 25,000 jobs as cashiers, stockers, fillers, equipment operators (think: forklifts) and warehouse personnel.

PEPSI – 6,000 job openings and they need people now to keep store supplies up. This is an “essential” industry.

PUBLIX – Eager to hire “thousands” right now.

WALGREENS – wants 9,500 full and part-time employees.

WALMART – Wants 150,000 right now. Company says these are temporary positions, but the best will be offered full-time jobs. (And did you know the company just paid a $300 bonus to those already working?”

LOWE’S – Has 30,000 full and part time jobs. Hiring today.

TARGET – 9,000 positions open. (Also, Target knows new hires are at a premium. Two weeks ago, headquarters announced a $300 million employee retention program that offers early wage increases, bonus payouts, relief programs and a new paid-leave program)

ACE HARDWARE – Has 30,000 jobs and this includes its independent stores, like Elder’s in Chattanooga)

AMAZON – Stung by accusations it is a hard place to work, Amazon is now revamping to become more employee friendly and has 100,000 openings right now.

INSTACART – The grocery pick-up and delivery company, and others that serve the Chattanooga area, have 300,000 positions as “shoppers.” This is another “right now” available.

DOMINO’S – 10,000 jobs, mostly delivery, full and part-time.

PIZZA HUT -- 30,000 openings – team leaders, shift leaders, delivery drivers. – Hiring 5,000 teachers for online K-12. Teach the courses you like, small group via online video chat, no discipline problems.

MICROSOFT – The productivity chat app is eager, especially for engineering and management hires.

ZOOM – The video-conferencing app is overwhelmed by virus-created demand. Engineering, finance, IT, sales, and other opportunities.

* * *


* -- For weeks we’ve been urged to wash our hands with soap and very warm water for at least 30 seconds, this at the minimum of four times a day. The chief reason because each of us touches our face at least 75 times a day, allowing the virus to enter through our mouth, our ears, our eyes and our nose. So why is it that only yesterday some wizard came up with the idea we should wash our face, too?

* -- The CDC has a great instruction page on its website for cleaning and disinfecting homes and businesses when someone is sick. High-touch surfaces are doorknobs, tables, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, computer keyboards, toilet handles and seats, bathroom faucets including the shower, and sinks.

* -- At Walmart I offered to take a lady’s buggy, rather than causing her to walk it back and she appreciated it. But before she handed it over, she generously squirted the buggy handle with hand sanitizer ... a gesture not lost on me or a nearby couple who watched. Is America great or what?

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