Congratulations everyone! We beat coronavirus! At least, that’s what I would assume since the federal government will no longer offer support and funding for coronavirus testing sites after June 30th.
Half the country is experiencing spikes in COVID-19 infections after reopening earlier than any scientist would recommend. We’re not on the precipice of a second wave because we never hit a valley after the first wave. If you don’t live in NYC/the Northeast, Seattle, or California, your area saw a steep increase in coronavirus infections followed by a slower increase, but that’s it. There was no downward trend in the United States at all, and the only reason the US graphs show any semblance of a decrease is because half of the initial infections were in NYC and NYC did a better-than-average job of flattening the curve, so our results brought brought down the rest of the country.
Now we have a President (and his braindead supporters in every comment section all over the internet) saying we should be doing less testing because more tests equal more infections.
Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
So, great news for potential teenage moms everywhere: if we sell fewer pregnancy tests, there will be fewer babies!
As we’ve seen the past four years, nobody in government will stand up to the idiocy of this barely sentient sack of pepperoni juice, so now areas of the country will see even less testing when they desperately need more.
The federal government will stop providing money and support for 13 sites across five states which were originally set up in the first months of the pandemic to speed up testing at the local level.
Local officials and public health experts expressed a mixture of frustration, resignation, and horror at the decision to let federal support lapse.
Texas will be particularly hard hit by the decision. The federal government gives much-needed testing kits and laboratory access to seven testing sites around Texas. But in the state, which is seeing new peaks in cases, people still face long lines for testing that continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand.
I was talking about “social bubbles” on Facebook with some of my friends earlier this morning, and I hadn’t realized how parts of the country are in such different places with regard to testing. She lives in Northern Michigan. I live in NYC. My social bubble probably has about 10 people in it, because both of my roommates have partners and we have a few other people we hang out with. I feel safe with that, because testing is so readily available here. It’s free, the lines are short (if there’s any line at all), and the NYC website encourages everyone to get tested, and to get re-tested if you think you might have been exposed:
And there are testing sites everywhere. Everybody is in walking or biking distance to a site (and the subway is empty and clean, which means the train is perfectly safe), so we get tested a few days before hanging out or a few days after a protest, and it’s peace of mind to go along with our usual social distancing protocol.
That’s a far cry from the situation in Michigan.
There should be a federal program for widespread, free, and fast coronavirus testing. We should all be able to drive up to a window, have someone collect a sample, and get a text later that day that says positive or negative. When someone has a positive test result, we should be able to trace the origin of that infection, and we should be able to isolate that person away from the public. We should have access to all of this without insurance.
Instead, we have a President who thinks the numbers make him look bad so he wants less people to get tested.
Wear your masks. Wash your hands. We have a long road ahead of us.
Test your drugs for fentanyl.
The illegal drug supply is becoming less reliable and more contaminated.
When I was in college hanging out in dive bars and chugging PBR while a steady stream of local bands competed to be the next Interpol, cocaine was everywhere. If you had told 7-year-old me in DARE how much recreational coke I would do before I turned 25, I would have been horrified. When I moved to NYC, it was easier to find a bump than a cigarette. In Williamsburg on somebody’s rooftop pregaming before a night out. On New Year’s Eve with some finance bro at a swanky hotel party. In the East Village listening to a band play. In Hell’s Kitchen on the dancefloor where no one has yet offered you coke, but your lips are tingly after making out with a stranger, so you ask and receive. In all of my years partying until the sun came up, I never once bought cocaine. I simply trusted the coke of whoever was offering, because they’re obviously not dead, so it must be fine.
I would never accept coke from a stranger now. And I wouldn’t even do coke I’d bought myself without testing it for fentanyl first.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid created in the 1960s that is used in hospital and medical settings primarily for anesthesia because it works fast and it only takes a little. Outside of those environments, fentanyl is prescribed for severe pain as a last resort measure. You climb the mountain of painkillers, and if none of them work, you finally hit fentanyl at the top. It’s 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, and for many people, it’s the only drug that keeps them from committing suicide. This summer I was listening to Very Uplifting Podcasts about Enron and global warming and addiction, and Painkiller produced by Vice has a lot of interview subjects discussing their experience with Fentanyl. There’s a wide spectrum of the population, from fentanyl dealers to loved ones of overdose victims to addicts to patients who have been prescribed fentanyl for extreme pain. Listening to people who have struggled with chronic pain reach the end of their rope on the brink of suicide only to be pulled back after a fentanyl prescription is very enlightening for those of us who only hear the drug in association with illegal usage and overdoses. Those overdoses have now made it more difficult for legal users to obtain the drug, since the government is cracking down and making it harder for medical care providers to write new prescriptions. These people who wanted to die before fentanyl then realized they could live with fentanyl now want to die again.
So why are so many people suddenly overdosing on fentanyl? Well, the most basic answer is potency. Look at a lethal dosage of heroin next to fentanyl (next to carfentanil, another synthetic opioid on deck to become a widespread problem).
Buzzfeed has an in-depth article about the rise of illegal fentanyl usage in the United States, and I’ve read various works about where it comes from and who makes it and how addictive it is, but there isn’t enough focus on accidental contamination.
If I’m a heroin dealer and I want to make more money, I may mix a little heroin with quinine and milk sugar. I just stretched my heroin supply, but I also made a crap product. My users won’t get high the way they used to and they won’t buy from me anymore…unless I cut it with a little fentanyl. They’ll get the high they expect (or better!) and I increased my profit margin. They may become hooked on fentanyl and I don’t have to sell them heroin at all. That’s intentional. A heroin user who tries fentanyl is less likely to overdose than someone who has no experience with opioids.
If I’m a cocaine dealer, there is no reason for me to intentionally cut my product with fentanyl. The highs are different, so I’m not using it to recreate the feeling of a product I’ve watered down with junk for a higher profit margin. I’m likely to kill my customers, which is terrible for business. If there is fentanyl in the cocaine that I’m selling, it’s because it accidentally got there through cross-contamination. (There are cocaine users who intentionally lace with fentanyl, similar to a cocaine-heroin speedball, but that kind of overdose is what we typically think of when someone overdoses on a drug — they meant to use it, they just used too much.)
For some reason, people are very protective over their drug dealers. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard friends and acquaintances say “Oh my guy gets the best stuff…” or “Oh I buy from him all the time, I know it’s good…” We love brand loyalty in this country. I use Tide on my clothes mostly because my mama used Tide, so that’s just the laundry detergent I know. If you buy cocaine from the same guy all the time, I love that for y’all’s relationship. However, your dealer is the last person in a chain of people that stretches to South America.
Unless your dealer physically picked the coca leaves and performed the multi-cycle processes of dissolving and extracting with lime water, kerosene, and sulfuric acid in big metal drums, he is not 100% certain what’s in it. And making cocaine in the jungle is not an FDA approved process where people are wearing gloves and wiping tables and cleaning out containers. Fentanyl has exploded onto the market over the past five years and every supplier wants a piece. If your dealer gets your cocaine from a place that is now making fentanyl, he doesn’t know if the cocaine and fentanyl were packaged on the same table. He doesn’t know if bags were reused. You don’t know either until you get the first baggie of contaminated coke and your next line is your last.
If you take away nothing else about fentanyl take away this: You do not know if your regular supply will contaminated. You do not know if the bump you take in a bar from a friendly stranger is contaminated.
Cocaine has been my example because that was my party drug of choice, but recreational users across the board are dying from fentanyl. Snapchat is currently running from litigation because teenagers keep buying pills (typically Oxy) on their platform, and they’re dying from fentanyl.
Nobody stops doing party drugs because of something they read on the internet, but you can try to be safer and encourage those around you to be safer as well. If you are a regular partier, test your drugs with fentanyl strips. If you are regularly around people who party, learn how to use naloxone and carry it with you to stop an overdose and save a life.
There are many places to get both for free and the most popular in NY (or at least the one that I see the most) is endoverdose.net. You register, fill out an anonymous survey, and order what you need.
I don’t have anything to say about the War on Drugs. Addiction is complicated and should be treated as a public health crisis instead of crime and punishment. If we lived in a society that made space to talk about drug addictions openly and rationally, we would be able to talk about recreational drug usage. DARE would have us believe that every line of coke is another cobblestone on the road to destruction and embarrassing your family, but we know better. Illegal drugs exist right alongside alcohol and the fact that we can’t talk about it means we can’t regulate it. Lack of regulation means opportunity for intentional malfeasance and unintentional contamination. The only solution to accidental fentanyl overdoses that the law and the government will suggest is to simply Stop Doing Drugs. Humans have been doing drugs for all of recorded history, so take care of each other and use your best judgement. There is no reason to accidentally die from something you could easily test for free.
Does being “pro-mask” mean you have to wear one 100% of the time?
We have to change how we think about interaction and exposure.
Yesterday, I posted this handy little reminder on social media, because some of us are tired of wearing masks and it’s important to remember why we’re doing it in the first place.
A mask is to protect others, and we should still be striving to protect each other.
Someone called me a hypocrite because I’m very pro-mask even when vaccinated, and yet I go to bars and restaurants where you don’t need a mask if you show your vaccine information.
So let me clarify!
I wear a mask on the subway, in grocery stores, picking up food at the deli, at the post office, in the gym etc.
I don’t wear a mask when I’m socializing in a bar or a restaurant. And that’s because I feel like those are two different social contracts.
I wear a mask so that if I have a breakthrough asymptomatic case of COVID, I’m not spreading it to other people who did not sign up for the risk. The post office, the subway, the grocery store — these are essential services that everyone has to participate in, vaxxed or not. I don’t know who around me on the subway is immunocompromised or can’t get the vaccine or lives with someone who can’t get vaxxed, etc. They are just trying to go about their day and I’m trying to do my part.
In a bar, everybody assumes the same risk. You know someone COULD have COVID, even though everyone is vaxxed, but that’s the contract you all signed to socialize. If some of those people get grandma sick, that’s their irresponsible action, not mine. I am not at risk of transmitting COVID to anyone because I wear a mask when I’m around people outside of the social contract, and nobody that I’m maskless around is vulnerable. If *you* live with Grandma then *you* should not be in a bar.
This is how I feel about COVID: it’s here forever. There is no point when we go back to pre-COVID where it is “safe” to go to a bar or restaurant. We have to change how we think about interaction and exposure. Social settings are consensual exposure. Everyone there signed up for the same risks. Essential services are nonconsensual exposure. Everyone *has* to participate in them, so we collectively do what we can to minimize risk and protect each other.
I don’t think that’s hypocritical.
Ivermectin would be so profitable…if it worked.
The US is a deeply capitalist country. Forget doctors, the FDA, the CDC and whoever else is allegedly conspiring against ivermectin. If livestock dewormer worked to defeat or prevent COVID, *all* of the companies who make it would be pushing it for that reason to make more money!
It’s so funny to me that these raggedy ass, anti-government, Facebook Researchers are so convinced the world is cahoots to keep horse paste away from them when the people who stand to make an absolute killing off the sales of horse paste aren’t trying to pimp the shit out!
Merck is an ivermectin manufacturer and they flat out said don’t use it for COVID. You really think they would lie about that and miss out on a bag? Please.
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