Archive for September, 2020

COVID death threats

September 9th, 2020 No comments

I read in the Bangor Daily News today that Pastor Todd Bell’s lawyers claim there have been death threats against him.  That is outrageous, and unacceptable. There is never any place for death threats.  It must stop.

However, COVID 19 threatens death to vulnerable people every day.  Even otherwise healthy young people have died of COVID 19.  It is very contagious, and it can be deadly. That is exactly the reason that most of us have altered our lives so much over the past 6 months.  We can’t hire lawyers to protect our lives from COVID. We just have to follow some pretty simple life saving rules.

I remember the first rumblings about COVID.  I went to Sam’s Club and a woman ahead of me was scrubbing off the handle to the shopping cart.  I use to walk by those wipes in stores, and just cleaned my hands when I got home.  That day was different. I felt a startling shift in the need to do such things, religiously. I told that lady, “that is a great idea” and I scrubbed the shopping cart handle. AND I washed my hands when I got home.

It wasn’t long after my Sam’s club visit, that all hell broke loose.  The cases went from 1 case and Trump saying it was a hoax, to now about 6,000,000 cases and 200,000 deaths.  We had blissful days in Maine while Seattle was exploding with COVID.  Maine didn’t see any cases for quite a while.  But, we knew it was coming….

Then we got our first case, and our second. etc.  Then we had our first death and our second, etc.  But, all things considered, Maine has done very well to stem the spread of COVID.  That was until a Pastor Todd Bell joined with other science deniers and rule breakers to officiate a wedding in Millinocket, Maine, my home town.  That was the start of the largest COVID 19 outbreak in Maine, and it keeps growing.

Less than a week after the August 7 wedding I started hearing some things about an outbreak up home. We are one month and 2 days out from that wedding, and now about 160 people, possibly more have been affected.   3 people have died, none of them attended the wedding.  They were secondary or tertiary contacts.  Others have been hospitalized.  And fortunately many have managed their illness at home.  This story has not ended.

Unless Todd Bell has been living under a rock, (and we KNOW he hasn’t because he thrives on attention) , he has seen,  heard and read about the havoc that wedding caused in our State.  He has been educated and warned by State officials about what is expected of Churches AND schools in this state, under executive orders from our Governor.  The rules are for ALL churches and his isn’t excluded.   Those orders are to protect each and every Mainer, including Pastor Bell and his flock.  Yet, he defiantly holds church services, without masks or distancing.  He did this knowing that his own personal church outbreak had doubled last week from 5 to 10 victims.  His choir, crowded in the front of the church without masks, sings hymns.  Singing is known to spread COVID droplets efficiently, especially when no masks are worn.

What will it take to bring this pastor into compliance?  Will it take a death in his own Church?  Will they have to cough, and choke and collapse right in front of him?  Will he go to them to help or will he stand back because he knows they have COVID?  Will he pray over them?  I don’t know that he has prayed for the others who have died, or their survivors, or all of the other people he has left in his path.

He has publicly scoffed at the executive orders of the State of Maine.  He has laughed at all of us.

Pastor Todd Bell’s actions threaten the lives of his flock. So, could his actions be considered a “death threat”?   Members of  his flock leave that church and go back into the community to their homes, jobs, stores, and other public places.  My guess is that most of them don’t wear masks.  That is a clear display of their selfishness and disregard for others and preventative rules. They have likely learned well from their  science defying pastor.

Should they be allowed to continue this defiance and spread of disease?  I don’t think so.  I think they have been handled with diplomacy, education, warnings, and fairness long enough.  I think they have wreaked enough havoc on our State. I think it is time to shut them down.

But, certainly not with death threats.


Fighting For Our Lives in COVID Times

September 3rd, 2020 No comments

I am 71 years old with arthritis and circulation problems.  After almost a decade of traveling around the country, attending conferences and fighting for patient safety, I am now an antsy activist who is settled in my living room. My office is a great leather Lazyboy recliner and my computer.   The traveling got to me, and writing presentations did too.  I was physically tired, but my busy mind never stops and my fingers can fly over the keyboard.

For almost 10 years, I learned everything I could about preventing Hospital acquired infections or HAIs.  My father, whose handsome face you see in the corner of my homepage on this website, died in 2009 because he got a deadly MRSA infection when he was in the hospital for a minor ankle fracture and rehab.  He and 2 others died in that infection outbreak in his tiny hometown hospital.

I knew the hospitals could do better to keep patients safe and not give them infections. I studied and joined forces with some of the fiercest patient safety advocates in the country.  We put our hearts and souls into the fight.  I got legislation passed for MRSA prevention in my State of Maine. We fought for testing, screening, treatments, precautions, mask and glove wearing, etc.


Does this all sound familiar right now?

I’ve been pretty laid back for a few years.  I retired my leadership roles in my patient safety groups and decided I was tired and it was time for a break.

Then COVID came in March of 2020!  OH MY GOD!

My husband and I have mostly stayed home and we are just going on short rides each day.  Pre COVID, RV camping trips all over the country and Canada with our travel trailer, eating out, and Casino visits were some of our favorite things to do.

campsite Our last RV trip was last October to meet my brand new 1 day old grand niece, Abbigail.  She lives in SC.

abbigail Our only grandchild is grown and married, our kids are middle aged , so it is just my husband Mike, our shih tzu Stanley and me in our home.  When I wasn’t working on HAI activism or taking care of my mother, we were living the vida loca!   Our favorite activities were crazy fun for us.  Now we honestly don’t dare to go out much at all.

My patient safety colleagues and I studied data,  CDC recommendations, FDA news, hospital ratings, etc. all the blessed time.  We met in Atlanta with the CDC three times in person and many times over the phone. I joined the Maine State HAI council as a consumer/patient representative.    We represented patients/consumers in many meetings around the country and our individual States.  We had to keep up on all the latest patient safety information so we could be intelligent participants in some pretty VIP conversations.  It was extremely hard work and also the most satisfying work of my life.

Now, all of us, every single adult and child in the US is bombarded with complex data, information and mis information every single day about COVID.  All of us are activists now. We all have to weed out the accurate information and activate it to keep ourselves and our families safe.  None of  us want to get COVID 19. Infection control precautions are now necessary in every American household and in our communties.  These precautions aren’t  just for hospitalized patients anymore.

COVID safety is about ALL of us.   All of us read graphs and scrutinize Data about COVID for our States, country and world. We watch the State racehorses all trying to get to the “GREEN” zone (lowest infection rates) like we have in Maine.


The news media tells us every day what the death toll is, and now it is over 180,000 in the US.   Everyone has had the lessons about wearing masks, handwashing ,distancing and staying home when we are sick.  These are very similar infection precautions that my patient safety group were driving home with healthcare professionals who had expertise.  Now we all have to be experts on some level.  If you have not learned how to keep yourself and your family safe, you have not been paying attention.


Teaching every person in every household about COVID prevention (except tiny babies) is like teaching HAI precautions, only on steroids.

The equation of our patient safety work  compared to public COVID education looks like  this:

HAI Precaution education x 3,o00,000 = COVID education for general public

3,o00.000 is the approximate population of the US.

We are trying to educate little kids as young as 3 years old to wear masks and clean their hands.    Oh, and try to keep them 6 feet apart.   We are educating people in all settings, in all races, in all parties, in all religions, all families, all ages…all over the country.

Scientists have learned a great deal about COVID since the March.  At first people were hoarding all sorts of disinfecting supplies, so they could clean their darned grocery bags.  They learned that masks are definitely useful in prevention, but not to protect ourselves! That would take an N 95 mask.   That seems backward, but it is a good lesson that we have to work almost as hard to protect others as we do to protect ourselves. It’s an even exchange.  They learned not to listen to the president when it comes to treatments and rabbit -in- the- hat disappearing pandemics.  There is some effective treatment though, both with medicine and respiratory therapies. We hear that a vaccine is nearly ready.  Not so many patients are going on ventilators, and more are recovering.  We have made some great strides, against an extremely contagious brand new deadly virus and some pretty wild misinformation.  Remember  the poison control calls for ingestion of bleach?..because the President said it might work and we would study that.–after-the-presidents-comments-about-using-disinfectants-to-treat-coronavirus/#4bba981a1157

It has been nearly 6 months since we first locked down.  Now what.  Some states like mine  have done a terrific job at staunching the virus.  Until recently my home town of Millinocket Maine hadn’t had a single case.  Then a church and a reception venue decided it was OK to exercise their “rights” to not wear masks, crowd into a reception, party on with too many people for an indoor setting..and a number of other broken rules. That’s how they turned that wedding into the biggest outbreak in our State…and it growing as we speak. This outbreak was started in the Millinocket region and rippled out into 3 other communities, affecting over 140 people, with several hospitalizations and 1 death.  The national story about this is evolving as we speak, and it addresses some pretty scary religious zealots and their defiance of science and State regulations and restrictions. How dare they endanger my State?  Most Churches are doing very well and are being great neighbors , but this one is an outlier.

The latest:

Some people have a really hard time with rules. I’m talking about adult educated people, not little kids.  Too many think everything is about THEM and their rights.  They defy the rules and deny the science. Some just don’t give a shit! Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to word that.   Unfortunately, this is not a disease we can avoid by just taking care of ourselves. ….we all have to take care of each other.  Therein lies the problem.  If I have high cholesterol I can eat healthy to treat it for myself. I can’t eat a healthy diet to protect my neighbor from high cholesterol.  Wearing masks protects people around us, our neighbors.

I don’t go into stores right now.  I don’t go on camping trips, or to casinos or restaurants or any of those dangerous places. I have seen far too much non compliance with the rules and recommendations.  And, I have read the stories of my fellow nurses and how horrible it is to be in the hospital with COVD.  I do ride in my car to get our little dog out for walks, but I stay home most of the time.  My husband braves the stores and I order curbside pick up of things I want or need.  We cook great meals and Maine lobsters.  We have a nice back yard to enjoy.   It is ok..we are the lucky ones because we have a comfortable home and money to pay our bills.  Others are not so fortunate.

I am one of those old people who “live in fear” that some radical and hateful jerks ridicule. We older Americans are considered disposable by people like that.   But unfortunately for them, I am actually fearless when it comes to putting my words to good use. I’m tired of being called names by my country’s leadership, and now by some who use the name of God for their name calling. I have a computer and the passion to write and network.  When my hometown was hurt so badly  because of people who defied the rules for prevention of COVID. it got my back up. I am not finished with people like that.  I simply will not abide by selfishness, defiance and denial during a pandemic, because that attitude can start outbreaks that kill people or makes them sick during COVID times.  Case in point….the Millinocket Wedding COVID outbreak…the largest COVID outbreak in Maine yet.

An effective safe vaccination is worth the wait for me.  I am pretty sure I would not survive COVID, so I will stay cautious, smart and protective of this one life I have and the lives of my family and friends.   I hope that people who read this will do the same.  We will all meet on the other side of this and have a huge COVID free party.