We Are All Cordairs Now

Friday, May 01, 2020

Four Things

I normally end the week on a lighter note than I do today, with four items of good or interesting news. But today, in the spirit of the old saw about a crisis being both a danger and an opportunity, I present hopeful news on the epidemics -- of both government oppression and of the disease.

1. Quent and Linda Cordair, of Napa Valley, California run an art gallery that has been shuttered for a ludicrous amount of time, even when allowing for California's statewide shutdown being a typical initial response. They have decided to defy state and local officials by reopening their gallery on Monday, May 4.

Here is an excerpt from their timely and inspiring open letter to their state and local officials, which appears in the Napa Valley Register:

We welcome other Napa business-owners willing to join us in re-opening next Monday, if and as they are able and deem proper -- but we'll open alone if necessary.

Public officials: know that we're prepared to risk fines, arrest, or jail. We're pursuing resources for any necessary legal challenge, up to the Supreme Court if necessary. Our constitution and system of government was created and established to secure the right of each and every individual in these United States to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

There can be no life without work; there can be no work without liberty; and, with so many others, we're increasingly unhappy being unable to work and live for lack of liberty. The present situation is untenable, unacceptable, unjustifiable. It's unhealthy and unsustainable. Not dying is not living.
Please read the whole thing, and consider supporting the Cordairs in any way you can. On that score, Tim White of The Objective Standard offers a few suggestions at the end of his piece about the reopening.

2. I am heartened to learn that some officials, like Sheriff Don Barnes of Orange County, California, are beginning to stand up for the rights of Americans.

Via Twitter, I have learned that Barnes has publicly refused to enforce Governor Gavin Newsom's asinine closure of the beaches there. I am particularly impressed with the last two paragraphs of his short statement:
[T]he vast majority of people on the beaches this past week acted responsibly. Law enforcement was able to address instances of unsafe activity in a reasonable manner. I implore the Governor to reconsider his action and work with local authorities, allowing us to address the few while not penalizing the majority.

We must all recognize that this is a time of incredible stress. The goal of our actions will be to protect constitutional rights, preserve safety, and maintain order. No one should fear being subject to a criminal violation merely for seeking out and exercising healthy activities, especially when using good judgment and appropriate protective measures.
Governors like Gavin Newsom, as well as lots of lower-level officials are endangering our livelihoods, damaging respect for rule of law, and arguably imperil our health with their prison warden-like responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

They must stop this -- or we, the American people, must stop them -- sooner, rather than later.

3. I have mentioned Sweden's coronavirus response here a couple of times and am glad to see that it was praised as a model for the rest of the world by the WHO.

"I think there's a perception out there that Sweden has not put in control measures and just has allowed the disease to spread," [Dr. Mike] Ryan said Wednesday. "Nothing can be further from the truth. Sweden has put in place a very strong public health policy around physical distancing, around caring and protecting for people in, in long-term facilities, and many other things."

"What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry, and the ability and willingness of citizens to implement physical distancing and to self-regulate, if you want to use that word," Ryan continued.
By contrast, too many of America's officials have betrayed our trust and treated us like infants, for whom it would never occur to watch out for our own health.

And our news media have not helped: By continually conflating universal, indefinite house arrest with (actual) social distancing (which can and should be voluntary), they have needlessly politicized pulling back to a more sustainable and effective response. (I have seen, for example, well-meaning people denounce wearing masks as symbolic of support for the lockdown mentality. For what it's worth, I oppose lockdowns, but I do wear a mask and gloves for errands.)

Voluntary social distancing -- by millions of adults working together for their mutual self-interest -- is how we could have and should have addressed this danger from the beginning. And we still can. Our choice is NOT from the false alternative between tyranny and recklessness.

Whatever the merits of Sweden's policies, its example provides an alternative and can help make public discourse about how to respond to the virus in the long term more rational and productive.

4. Before I move on to the viral epidemic, let me state something up front: I am not a physician.

Nevertheless I pass along what I regard as the best actionable news about how to survive the illness that I have encountered so far. It comes from Richard Levitan, a physician who recently volunteered at the busy Bellevue Hospital in New York:
Image by ALFRM, via Wikimedia Commons, license.
There is a way we could identify more patients who have Covid pneumonia sooner and treat them more effectively -- and it would not require waiting for a coronavirus test at a hospital or doctor's office. It requires detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter.

Pulse oximetry is no more complicated than using a thermometer. These small devices turn on with one button and are placed on a fingertip. In a few seconds, two numbers are displayed: oxygen saturation and pulse rate. Pulse oximeters are extremely reliable in detecting oxygenation problems and elevated heart rates.
The "silent hypoxia" of which he speaks is dangerously-low levels of oxygen saturation in the blood that the patient does not sense because his lungs are still removing carbon dioxide. The use of a pulse oximeter can help one detect trouble sooner, rather than later, by spotting this problem before it becomes catastrophic.

Again, I am not a physician, so take my advice with the appropriate grain of salt, run it by your own physician, and weigh contrary opinions, such as in the first letter here.

For what it's worth, I have slightly elevated risk for hospitalization from this virus, and I now check my oxygen saturation in the morning and in the evening regardless of how I feel.

-- CAV


John H. said...

When you get up in the morning hold your breath for 10 seconds; if can't see a
medical specialist to get checked out.

Gus Van Horn said...


This idea has been debunked, including by the WHO.

And, while I'm at it, the check I do isn't completely foolproof, either.


Amlan said...

There is a perception we have that North Americans (and Americans in particular) and rugged individualists and Europeans are nanny state weenies. While this might be true in many cases, I do find that in some ways Europeans can be much more individually responsible. One example from personal experience is in driving. A few years ago, we did a road trip in the UK - in over 2,000 miles of driving, there was ONE stop sign. Everywhere else is lights, circles, or yield signs, the latter even at cases where a busy road intersects an even busier road. Much more efficient and very different than in North America.

Gus Van Horn said...


You raise a good point, and it may be related to an observation by Ayn Rand and others regarding a cultural gulf between intellectuals and the "man on the street" as she put it.

At least I think it's related in terms of dealing with the disease, which is still more in the realm of medicine and scientific inquiry than common sense (e.g., wearing masks to prevent yourself from spreading it is weird, new, and probably not common knowledge yet).

But then there's self-interest. To the degree that what properly falls under the realm of personal responsibility might be adhering to tradition, I'd guess Eyropeans are more apt to comply, while Americans need to see their self-interest at stake in some way more overall.

In sum, I think lots of folks here will scoff (at first) at the idea of wearing masks) until they realize that the new custom can help someone they care about, if not themselves.