The Texas Independence Trail is a road route that links up the locations of the major events that led up to Texas becoming independent from Mexico in 1836. I had laid out a 880 mile route that took in the most important locations from the Alamo in San Antonio to the Texas Monument on the site of the Battle of San Jacinto east of Houston. I split the route into two days with an overnight spot in Gonzales, Texas.
On the last day in June, I rode south down the west side of Houston to Brazos Bend State Park and then on to Angleton and Freeport on the coast. I then turned east to ride along the coast, visiting the beach at San Bernard, Matagordo and Palacios.
Riding north into San Antonio the temperature was 96 degF and it was very uncomfortable, especially when I was slowed by traffic. The Alamo was a disappointment as it was all border up and under renovation. I turned west through Cibolo and Seguin to Gonzalez where I spent the night. 480 miles in 9 hours.
I feel one of the biggest problems we have in this country is an ignorance of science. While so many other countries have based their response to the COVID-19 pandemic on science, sometimes imperfectly, the USA Government at the Federal, State and Local level seems to have decided that Politics is more important. While I understand that sustaining the economy is important, I believe that the public health crisis takes precedence. You can recover an economy, you cannot recover dead grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings and friends.
This graph created from data from the COVID Tracking Project shows that while the USA managed to “turn and flatten the curve” in March and April we never sustained this effort to reduce the daily new cases below 20,000 per day. Given the limited testing in April and May this to me showed we clearly still had a huge problem.
So when many States relaxed “stay-at-home” mandates in early May, ignoring both the Federal and their own guides for reopening, I knew we were going to have a major problem.
I hope that we can soon stop ignoring science and bring back strict “stay-at-home” and business closures so we can flatten the curve to the point where a “trace and track” strategy can control the spread of the virus.
Remember, it took four years to end WW1, and six years to end WW2. I don’t see this new world war being any shorter or less devastating.
I had been thinking about upgrading my Garmin Navigator V GPS on KBiK to the newer Navigator VI GPS but always balked at the price and what I considered the limited improvements over the Navigator V.
Then Garmin came out with the Zumo XT! This new GPS seemed to be the perfect replacement for the old Nuvi 2555 we used in the car and would also supplement the Navigator V on KBiK. Initially I thought I would replace the Garmin Montana GPS but decided to leave that in place.
Used it last week for a 3,500 drive by car up to Virginia Beach and back. Love the clear and bright screen. Very easy to use.
Installed my new Garmin Zumo XT GPS on KBiK. Used a Wunderlich Multipod mount that I bought a while back but had not used. It blocks the view of the speedometer, but I cannot remember when I bothered to last look at that!
At the end of May we decided we had modify our strict stay at home self-isolation regime to help our son, David, move from Chicago to Virginia Beach. David closed up his AirBnB apartment where he had spent the last three months working in Chicago on assignment with Mechdyne to the local power company. David drove a rented Tahoe with all his possessions down to Houston.
We rented a 6’x12’ U-Haul trailer which we loaded with furniture donated by the Cameron’s, James and Charlotte’s friends and from our house. James and Charlotte very kindly allowed us to borrow their VW Atlas to tow the trailer up to Virginia Beach.
With David driving the GTI following us in the Atlas with the trailer, we took three days to drive to Virginia Beach stopping overnight in Baton Rouge, LA and Augusta, GA. A long boring drive on Interstate Highway made bearable by us listening to the “Book Woman of Troublesome Creek”.
After unloading and seeing David settled at his new house in Virginia Beach, Kathy and I took the long way round on a road trip back home. We drove up to Front Royal, VA and then down the Shenandoah Skyline to stay overnight in Waynesboro, VA.
We then continued down the Blue Ridge Parkway to stay in Little Switzerland, NC. We continued to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and then over the Cherahola Skyway in to Tennessee staying overnight south of Natchez.
We drove down the Natchez Trace to Natchez, MS before returning home to Houston.
One of the challenges I have in understanding our current problems is finding good data. When I worked, I always said to my colleagues that I was always interested in data rather than opinions when it came to making decisions.
I really liked this Medium article because it took a data driven approach to understanding the problem.
This article and lots of other sources have talked about the importance of social distancing as the only effective measure as an entry tactic to “flatten the curve” so our health care services can keep up with the demand and reduce the fatalities. But because our health care system is so decentralized, we don’t seem to have a government source that can provide credible data on where we are on the curve.
After a lot of searching, I finally found this site: The COVID Tracking Project which has collated data from all the States on where we are on the curve. They make all of the data with references to their sources publicly available.
So being a geek, who has all the time I need, I took this data and put it into a spreadsheet to try and understand better where we are on the curve. I picked the “worst” seven States, Texas, and then California and Washington as they were the two states to see and react to the virus with statewide self-distancing orders. I’ll probably add more States to better understand the problem as it expands across the USA.
The results are sobering. I see no evidence that we are flattening the curve. The lack of federal self-distancing regulations, rather than the guidelines released, has allowed the virus to spread throughout the country. The slow implementation of testing does not bode well for any exit strategy
April 23rd: Added New Cases/Day graphs as the move to relax self-distancing and open business grows in strength
May 1st: Changed the spreadsheet to access the data from The COVID Tracking Project automatically via the JSON web query. My spreadsheet is included with the links to the data sources.
I think March 2020 is going to be a momentous month for historians to look back on in the years to come just like September 1940. Though we were told of the first warnings of the Coronavirus Pandemic in January, it was not until March that it set off our alarm bells. What a dramatic change it has brought to society, the economy and our way of life since the start of this month of March.
As we come to the final day of the month, Kathy and I have enjoyed social distancing while walking the bayous in our neighbourhood. The wildlife often surprises us.
With the end of the month, I turned 65 so we celebrated with a virtual Birthday Party. It was great to have family from UK and Canada join in the fun!
Kathy made a great Lemoncello cake which we shared with our neighbours while carefully keeping our six feet spacing!
We hope that next month sees the “flattening of the curve” in the USA and other countries but I fear the worse is still to come and we shall not see much good news until June. Too many States in the USA have still not implemented State wide social-distancing mandates and our implementing useless travel restrictions when the virus is already here.
We hope that early next week we shall be able to visit with James and Charlotte to help look after Evie, Flynn and Georgie.
We have been taking the Coronavirus and Covid-19 Pandemic seriously and as of March 16th we have decided to self-isolate.
Obtaining good information about the pandemic is critical. In this age of distrust, personality politics and lack of investment in our institutions, it is important to cut through the noise to determine what is really happening.
Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now. A long article that needs to be read carefully and heeded to the greatest degree possible. It is, at this point, the single best overall summary of the prospects of what we are facing with regard to Covid 19 and what we can and should do about it that I have read so far. The article is not political in any way and is blame-neutral and only deals with (in essence) the “math” of what has happened and what is happening along with some advice. Read and heed.
The last article provides this advise:
The coronavirus is coming to you.
It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.
The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.
Extreme social-distancing seems to be the best tactic for this global pandemic, but what is the exit strategy?