Family Friday: How to Train Your Pandemic Pup

In Daniel Bortz’ recent New York Times article, Pandemic Pups Swamp Trainers, he cites the American Pet Products Association’s number of 12.6 million households that took in pets between March and December. That’s a whole lot of new dogs locked into homes with their humans 24/7 during the past year.

Before the pandemic, they would have needed to hire daytime walkers or find pet-friendly workplaces. Under current circumstances, they are getting time to bond, and the dogs are helping to ensure that their humans get outside at least a few times a day.

Daniel Bortz, The New York Times
Kumba in our yard, so happy to be waiting for a ball that he completely doesn’t care about hitting the lanai. His glossy coat is helped by a omega oils product Alison suggested, Shed-X

We adopted our Lab rescue, Kumba, through Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida in February. This sweet dog was weak, anxious, and had aggressive tendencies around other dogs, which Alison Chambers of Complete Canine Training had just begun helping us with when the world went into lockdown. Here’s what we’ve done over the past year on our own to address these issues, and advice from Alison on how crate training may be the single most important thing we can do for our canine friends.

Socialization

Alison has found that, counterintuitively, the pandemic has done wonders for dog socialization.

The six-foot mandate has given dogs exposure to people, dogs, and places without being expected to interact. Being able to keep neutral — what I call ‘elevator behavior’ — is a great skill to give our dogs.

Alison Chambers, Complete Canine Training

Having that space sure helped Kumba, who was docile and sweet around humans but nervous and downright aggressive around other dogs. Getting him accustomed to seeing other dogs without reacting was the first step.

Alison taught me to interpret Kumba’s reactions and reward him when he let down his guard as she and her dog walked parallel to us and at a distance. Although the pandemic cut short our in-person training, I continued the process in the subsequent months as I walked Kumba through our community. I looked forward to seeing other dogs as a training opportunity, instead of fearing the encounters. Slowly, Kumba relaxed, and one day he made his first dog friend: Reese, a wonderful little bundle of golden/dachshund happiness. Adam, the community’s friendliest French bulldog, and Leo, a new pug down the block, are also Kumba’s pals. My best friend, Coni, and her Goldendoodle, Linda, now take weekly walks with us. One day, they will be friends.

Separation Anxiety

Kumba had been abandoned by his family at a shelter in Puerto Rico, so having his humans leave was traumatic. For the first few weeks, we hardly noticed: I was was home 24/7, and my husband left only periodically to do pandemic hunting and gathering. But on March 13 we were gone for several hours — picking up a car we’d ordered — and he barked non-stop (a neighbor told us) and chewed through whatever he could find, including this book. Clever dog.

Since then, we’ve made huge progress. Although Kumba came to us crate-averse and people-connected, he has learned that he gets a chewy treat when we go out (a filled Kong which we reserve for this special occasion), that his bed is his home, and that we’ll be back. We clear clutter to make it easier to behave and there is less and less amiss when we return. He no longer barks. And his greeting!

Crate Training

Alison is a huge proponent of crate training. At some point in their lives, dogs may need to be confined, in a kennel, in a vet’s office, at a friend’s. In our recent conversation, she got me thinking.

Being home all the time isn’t normal to us, but our pandemic dogs think it is. However, their humans’ constant attention may give us emotional support, Alison says, but can make them attention-demanding. The close bonds that have formed between house-bound humans and our canine companions may actually hamper our dogs’ well-being. In making dogs our emotional support, we forget that they need our support to become independent creatures, able to self-soothe and have down time.

A separate kennel gives a dog space to become independent.

Before the pandemic, I used to tell people, get a dog, then go on vacation so the dog becomes accustomed to being in a crate. A kennel becomes the dog’s home, for eating, for down time, for resting.I know that people resist confining their dogs, but they are truly den animals — anyone who has seen their dog digging in their bed or making a hole in the backyard or at the beach has seen den behavior.

Alison Chambers, Complete Canine Training

She recommends that people begin crate-training by having their dogs eat their meals in them, as well as be in them to rest after walks, after training, and randomly. If you’re working at home, put the crate in another room so the dog has their own space. This way, the kennel is not just the place you put your dog when you are leaving the house.

Which, now that we are vaccinated, we can do a whole lot more safely!

Alison Chambers at Complete Canine Training, (781) 424-2590,
alisonchambersdogtrainer@gmail.com

Alison Chambers and friend

Wellness Wednesday: Exercise Doesn’t Guarantee Weight Loss, So Why Do It?

I’d like a good swim or long walk to earn me a Snicker’s bar, but that’s not how it works.

As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.

Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, cited on Oprah.com

So, why exercise if it’s not about weight loss?

I posed that question to my friend Marlo Scott, owner of First Class Fitness and Wellness and a former colleague when I taught exercise classes to active seniors in nearby Boynton Beach. Marlo, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, holds a Masters degree in Health Education and is on the faculty of Broward College.

Although exercise alone doesn’t guarantee weight loss, it does make us healthier by reducing blood pressure, the risk for diabetes, arthritis pain, and depression and anxiety.

Marlo Scott

Exercise reduces blood pressure

The Mayo Clinic explains the correlation: physical activity makes your heart stronger = pumping more blood with less effort = reducing the force on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure.

Exercise reduces risk for diabetes

The Joselin Diabetes Center says that exercise alters fat to release a protein into the blood system, helping to improve glucose tolerance.

Exercise reduces arthritic pain

The Aquatic Exercise Association has partnered with the Arthritis Foundation to develop pool-based classes that use water’s buoyancy, resistance, and pressure to facilitate movement and relieve arthritic pain. I was an AEA-certified instructor before my 2019 illness, and being in water gave me back my body after losing so much muscle mass in the ICU.

Exercise reduces depression and anxiety

The Mayo Clinic says that exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals, and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Getting more social interaction lifts the spirit. And the positive feed-back loop about knowing you’re doing something good for yourself brings you back for more.

Above all, find something that you enjoy! Have fun while you move.

Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness

You can find out more about Marlo Scott’s fitness and wellness work here.

Politics Monday: Why our nation must have the difficult conversation

My recent post about the possibility of America using Germany’s example of talking honestly about the Holocaust to move the deeply dysfunctional race conversation forward prompted me to write a letter along those lines to the editors of The Palm Beach Post. In the final paragraph, I mention reparations:

Let’s restore the physical vestiges of the slave trade to guarantee the memory of what happened there. Let’s make Juneteenth, the largely Black holiday commemorating emancipation, a national holiday. Let’s talk about what happened during Jim Crow and after — the “white conversation” as AP reporter Deepti Hajela wrote in your March 28 edition. Let’s make amends with reparations, a process the city of Evanston, Illinois has begun. 

Jane Kelly Amerson López, Opinion column, The Palm Beach Post, April 7, 2021

A week later, a Palm Beach Post reader whose great-great-grandparents were in a Polish ghetto wrote this stunning reaction.

The concept of paying “reparations” for slavery is absolutely absurd. No white person today has any connection at all to that hideous practice. And no Black person alive today has been affected by the events of more than 150 years ago. So why in the world should money be paid from whites to Blacks?

Frederick A. Lehrer, Letter to the Editors, April 13, 2021

Today, a Black reader jumps on that final line.

As a Black man, I am not in favor of reparations. But, if they were paid, it would be the government which pays. I guess the writer assumes that only whites work and pay taxes in this country.

Richard Lewis, Letter to the Editors, April 18, 2021

He then goes on to address the even more troubling assumption that Blacks have not been affected by slavery.

What the writer fails to mention are the systems that were put into place to exclude Blacks from almost every segment of American life — voting rights, the Dred Scott decision, redlining and limited access to capital, Levittowns and the GI Bill, just to name a few.

Richard Lewis, Letter to the Editors, April 18, 2021

I had to go back to school on the reference to Levittown and the GI Bill, which gave my father and thousands of other WWII soldiers a boost through college education. The History Channel’s Erin Blakemore writes that although the GI bill did not specifically exclude Blacks, it was administered by states whose discriminatory practices disenfranchised Black veterans. The Levittown Long Island suburb did not allow Blacks in 1944, thus preventing those veterans from accessing the GI Bill-guaranteed mortgage.

Mr. Lewis then hits the bullseye.

However, what is needed is a deep discussion on how we got here. Many feel the plight of minorities in this country is upon the minority. They don’t want to understand or talk about the idea that the United States has not lived up to her promises for everyone.

Richard Lewis, Letter to the Editors, April 18, 2021

How do we have that very difficult conversation? Look for a future post where I’ll be sharing a couple of approaches that are being tried around the country.

“We The People” being inscribed by hands of different skin colors, editorial cartoon by Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune
“We The People” being inscribed by hands of different skin colors, editorial cartoon by Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

Family Friday: How to help your unsocialized dog say hello

A dog on a leash encountering another dog is like a person in handcuffs walking into a party.

Alison Chambers of Complete Canine Training

Alison Chambers knows dogs, and she shares her expertise to help us better understand and live with our pets. In my March post, she gave us tips on helping pandemic dogs through separation anxiety. We’ve had great success using her tips to wean our rescue Lab Kumba from our constant presence. Things to chew on help!

Our rescue Lab Kumba and his chew toy
Our rescue Lab Kumba and his very well chewed toy

Today’s advice is on helping socialize our pets. We discovered that our sweet new boy had a wild streak of aggression when confronted with another dog. The pandemic has helped keep such encounters at bay. But as life opens back up again, how can we help our dogs meet each other? Here’s Alison’s advice.

Rule Number One: Don’t let dogs go nose-to-nose. Human look each other in the eye and face each other when we speak. To a dog, a direct stare is an invitation to conflict.

Rule Number Two: Keep the leash loose. Restraining a dog sends the message that what they are greeting is dangerous.

Rule Number Three: Limit the transaction to two seconds. Then recall your dog with his name, not a yank on the leash. Remember Rule Number Two?

Rule Number Four: Not all dogs want to say hello. Read your dog and the dog you have encountered.

Rule Number Five: Always ask permission before approaching another dog. Use the social distancing skills we’ve learned during pandemic to keep aware of personal space.

Alison Chambers of Complete Canine Training

We’ll be working on these tips as we help Kumba navigate his environment in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned for a progress report and tips from Alison Chambers on how to understand our dogs.

Alison Chambers and Otto

Wellness Wednesday: Krispy Kreme, Sam Adams, and the Tooth Fairy

In his article for USA Today, Nathan Bomey writes that Krispy Kreme — click here for video — is offering a free doughnut every day day for the rest of 2021 to anyone who shows their vaccination card. That’s 260 original glazed doughnuts, or 54,600 calories, according to My Fitness Pal. That’s nearly a month’s worth of food value, all free! Please plan accordingly.

The marketing incentives promoting vaccinations can’t hold a candle to my mother’s subtle control strategies. Here’s a story about Krispy Kreme, Sam Adams, and the Tooth Fairy.

Free rides and beer

Bomey writes that Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to vaccination sites to some customers. Staples is offering to laminate vaccination cards for free. Samuel Adams offered free beer to a limited number of people who showproof on social media of their vaccination.

Maybe good health is good for business, but savvy marketing may not be good for our health.

…you’ve got to recognize that giving people a doughnut a day might not be consistent with the message about caring about health.

Peter Jaworski, Georgetown University, quoted by Bomey USA Today

It would be weird if Krispy Kreme was offering a kale smoothie.

Theresa McEndree, Blackhawk Network, quoted by Bomey USA Today

Because I drove so far for the doughnut, I did end up getting six, so I think it was a good business practice.

Valerie Bennett, Roanoke college student, quoted by Bomey USA Today

Selling the baby blanket

My mother was a master at spotting opportunities for incentivizing her kids’ behavior while making us think it was all our idea. Here’s how my sister came to finally releasing her ragged security blanket.

The year was 1960. We were settling into Dad’s Foreign Service assignment in Milan when I lost my first tooth one evening as my little sister and I were going to bed. After she finished dressing to attend the evening’s performance at La Scala, my mother put my tooth in a little box and tucked it under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy.

However, I really did not want some strange lady poking around while I was asleep. My mother thought fast. “How about Dad and I take your tooth to the office on our way to the opera for the Tooth Fairy to find there?” And sure enough, I had money in my hand in the morning.

My savvy sister saw a business opportunity. “I want to sell my nighnee to the Tooth Fairy babies,” she announced over breakfast Susie had clung to that raggedy baby blanket for two years, from Caracas, to Minnesota, to Milan. Mom quickly found a box, Susie packed it up, and Dad took it to the office.

By gum, the fairy bought it and Susie was thrilled to be paid. Lucky fairy babies.

Nancy Amerson, letter to her parents

It’s about providing an additional extrinsic motivator.

Theresa McEndree, Blackhawk Network, quoted by Bomey USA Today
Illustration, USA Today Network; photos, Amy Huschka, Detroit Free Press; Diedre Laird, Charlotte Observer

Travel Tuesday: Looking At The Dutch Tulips

Visitors tiptoe through the tulips in Dutch virus test, wrote Mike Corder recently for the AP, documenting the opening of the famed Keukenhof Gardens for a lucky 5,000 people. It is one of hundreds of public venues that the Dutch government has allowed to reopen under strict conditions to evaluate whether rapid testing can safely help the country ease coronavirus restrictions amid rising levels of vaccinations and warmer weather.

This is a gift. It feels great today. It is beautiful weather anyway … but to walk through the tulips is fantastic!

Corder quotesWritingBerries blogger Berry de Nijs, who shared the following picture on her WritingBerries Facebook page. Dank, Berry!
Dutch blogger Berry De Nijs posted this photo of the tulips in Keukenhof Gardens after her recent visit.

On May 5, 2019, we were scheduled to spend the day at Keukenhof Gardens when our cruise ship stopped in Amsterdam for the day before sailing on to Norway to complete a three-week cross-Atlantic voyage. We had missed the brief tulip season when we were in Amsterdam 2018, catching glimpses of the flowers only at the floating market during our week-long stay, so we’re really looking forward to seeing the 7 million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and myriad other flowers meticulously hand-planted throughout Keukenhof’s manicured lawns by a small army of gardeners.

Photo by Jane Kelly Amerson López, 2018

But, through one of the zillion of timing miracles that allow me to tell you this today, we were not among the tulips on May 5, 2019, when I fainted on an Amsterdam sidewalk. We were outside a pharmacy getting medication for my husband’s bronchitis. Quick response by EMTs had me in an ER within minutes just as my heart stopped. I had ruptured an undiagnosed aneurysm. OLVG Hospital’s expert intervention sealed the leak, but I would be in the ICU for six weeks as my body struggled to survive, and another six weeks in the gastroenterology unit as I slowly regained movement of my wasted limbs.

I celebrated my one-year anniversary back on my feet. But this year as I commemorate surviving and recovering, I am even more grateful to have been spared breast cancer, to be vaccinated, and to be the least interesting patient in my doctor’s roster.

There’s a whole lot to look forward to, maybe even tiptoeing through Kukenhof one day, while living in each moment.

Politics Monday: Of Course We Need a Vaccine Passport

Travel is ticking back up, and with it talk of a vaccine passport, writes New York Times reporter Claire Moses. It’s not a new idea — inoculations against yellow fever and other diseases are already required for travel to certain countries. Growing up in the Foreign Service, my diplomatic passport was twinned with a passport-sized yellow vaccination booklet.

Opposing on grounds of personal freedom

Like everything else pandemic, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has politicized the notion of a vaccine passport, using the cover of “personal freedoms” to prevent their use.

…vaccination passports reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy.

Governor Ron DeSantis

Suing the feds to release cruise industry

And there’s a weird twist to this position, because the return of Florida’s cruise industry, in dry dock since March of last year, is dependent on the concept of a vaccination passport. DeSantis cares so much about this key business that he has sued the Biden administration to release the CDC’s hold. Does his left hand not know what his right hand is doing?

It’s just such a bizarre, mixed signal.

Peter Ricci, director of hospitality and tourism management programs at Florida Atlantic University, quoted in Wendy Rhodes, The Palm Beach Post, April 12

Prolonging the pandemic

He’s fighting for the liberation of unvaccinated people to spread germs as they please in the middle of a worldwide pandemic — one that appears to be surging again. By preventing Floridians to distinguish between who is vaccinated and who is not, DeSantis is telling us to be content with prolonging the pandemic.

The Editors of The Palm Beach Post

Florida leads the country in the number of COVID variant cases, which are 50% more contagious and 64% more deadly. On March 21st, Florida’s deaths surpassed two million. Two million souls are nothing more than data points. You won’t hear this from the state’s confident governor.

I think things are going well.

Governor Ron DeSantis
Pulitzer Prize winner Clay Bennett, Washington Post News Service, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Family Friday: What I Learned About My Grandfather in His Eulogy

He was what you saw: a simple, forthright, kindly, gentle man of utmost integrity. In fact, he leaned backward to avoid any pretense.

Reverend Harold Rekstad’s eulogy of James T. Robb

I was bent on surviving seventh grade as a first-timer in a Maryland junior high when my mother’s father, Grandpa Robb, died in April, 1967. He was only 69 — three years older than I am now — brought down by prostate cancer. I didn’t know that his illness was the reason for the trip my sister and I made with our mother from Bogotá the summer before sixth grade, or that the last time I’d see him would be in a Winona hospital, where he noticed my stylish pale pink lipstick. Brief visits to Winona were all I’d known of Grandpa until the week that my grandparents spent with us in Colombia, when we connected as fellow writers in a way that felt very special.

Grandpa had a quiet smile on his face as he wandered over to a bench and pulled his notepad and pencil out from his jacket breast pocket. I recognized the unseeing gaze — he was building a poem. I hoped he would share it with me, like Mom shared my poems with him in her Monday letters home.

Jane Kelly Amerson López, When the Dictator Flew Over Our House & Other True Stories, Bogotá, 1964

Dad was five thousand miles away setting up press for the Pan-American summit in Uruguay that April, so my sister and I stayed with next door neighbors while Mom flew to Minnesota alone.

Laying in the Murrays’ guest room bed, I realized that I would never again hold Grandpa’s soft, creased hands, never again hear his voice reading my poetry back to me over the telephone, never again seek his counsel on a rhythm or a rhyme. The void was as big as the night sky over the White House the night we stood vigil for President Kennedy.

Jane Kelly Amerson López, The Dictator Flew Over Our House & Other True Stories, Rockville, 1967

Just this week, I discovered the typed-out eulogy that Grandpa’s pastor and close personal friend, the Reverend Harold Rekstad, delivered on April 13 at the First Congregational Church in Winona. Reading it, I felt that I was sitting in those pews but also sitting with Grandpa.

Quality of character

Jim would be greatly distressed if he thought this would be a sad or mournful occasion. He would dislike even more any kind of flowery eulogy. However, he manifested many qualities of character which we want to recall, not in eulogy, but as an inspiration for ourselves in the years to come!

The Reverend Harold Rekstad, First Congregational Church

Soul of a poet

There was neither sham nor guile in his makeup. Jim had the soul of a poet. He sensed and saw the world about him and felt deeply what is missed by the casual observer.

The Reverend Harold Rekstad, First Congregational Church

Compassionate man

Jim was a man of genuine compassion. He cared about others, and expressed his concern In quiet, thoughtful, unobtrusive ways. He was a man of genuine religious faith, the kind that comes from the heart by deed and thought, not rote or ritual. Of all the possessions he might bequeath his loved ones, this would be the choicest, for it was was plain and simple.

The Reverend Harold Rekstad, First Congregational Church

Grandpa’s Bogotá poem: A Call and Farewell (1964)

I cannot leave this place

This town

Or any land

But must look back

And then I see

One beckoning

And gently waving hand.

Wellness Wednesday: Feel the Liberation of Getting the Vaccine

Not only was there no longer like a light at the end of the tunnel, there was no longer any tunnel.

Kristen Whitson, 38, Oregon, Wisconsin, in Jordan Mendoza’s USA Today article.

We were in the dark

Yes, we were all in that dark nowhere for months, feeling terrified and lost and hopeless and unseeing.

I thought I’d never get sprung.

My friend Deb

The vaccine lights the way

And, then, the unimaginable happened. A light beamed from not too far away, revealing a short tunnel through which we only had to step to be delivered from the Coronavirus killing machine. Yes, it seemed like an eternal wait, complicated by lottery scrambling for access, but then I entered a grocery store for the first time in eleven months. Inhaling the heady scent of fresh bread, I got a needle in my arm and the world changed.

Gratitude washes over us

United States is the first country to administer 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, on track to meet the president’s goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office. USA Today reporter Jordan Mendoza writes about Americans getting emotional when being vaccinated.

As soon as I got into the line, I saw an elderly person in a wheelchair getting their vaccine, and I think it was just like a really full-circle moment for me.

Michael Limus, 29, Sacramento, California

The magnitude of the moment just kept washing over me.

Kristen Whitson, 38, Oregon, Wisconsin

I had tears in my eyes, literally. But I also had just a tremendous amount of gratitude and hope in my heart that better days were ahead for all of us.

Tom Miner, 25, Charlotte, North Carolina 

I feel like it’s one step closer to a little bit more normalcy for my family.

Travel blogger Hather Montgome

It’s still miraculous that we’ve been able to come so far.

Mike DiBenedetto, 46, Phoenix

Zimbabwean-American Dr. Tererai Trent and her husband, Mark Trent, celebrated being vaccinated in the best possible way.

Compassion carries us forward

Everyone benefits if you’re a little bit more compassionate and open to being more flexible and more understanding of different challenges and needs. The pandemic is not the only time we should be thinking about these things.

Travis Chi Wing Lau, Assistant Professor, Kenyon College, Columbus, Ohio

Travel Tuesday: How to travel the world without leaving home

Today, I’m sharing some great photos and posts from British blogger Rebecca Ruane, who writes to inspire others to travel and to be more adventurous at home. Her recent series combines those two ideas for a perfect pandemic getaway.

Kirk and I have chosen to take a week off to celebrate our one year anniversary. To make it feel special we’ve planned a week of travelling the world from our home!! Each day we will visit a different country, eating foods and drinking drinks from those countries, as well as trying different activities we feel are linked to these countries.

Rebecca Ruane, blogger, Rebecca Travels the World

France

Croissants for breakfast, Tuna Niçoise for dinner, and From Paris With Love to end the day. To see all of this très bonne journée, click ici.

Greece

Mezze of hummus, stuffed vine leaves (Dolmades), tzatziki, halloumi, olives and flat breads, and cleverly creating instant Greek pottery out of terracotta and markers! To see all of this fun day, click here.

Mexico

Nachos for lunch, churros for a snack, and do-it-yourself tin art. For recipes and how-to instructions click aquí.

India

Day four of Rebecca’s week was India. Take-away from a local restaurant brought them , and Rebecca shows how to draw your very own mandala. See how-to’s here.

Origami art kit turns first-timers into paper folding experts.

Japan

Soy milk donuts, dumplings and origami. For more on Rebecca’s day walk down memory lane in Japan, click here.

China

Bao buns for breakfast, egg fried rice for dinner, and Tai Chi in between. To see all of Rebecca’s day-at-home-in-China, click here.

Italy

We actually wanted to get married in Tuscany. Logistics of getting married abroad meant we decided not to but we were lucky enough to find a venue in the UK which embodies the Tuscan feel. Therefore our wedding day still had an Italian feel with the wedding breakfast being Caprese salad, Italian meats and bread followed by lasagna and then tiramisu.

Rebecca Ruane, for more on Relaxing in Italy, click qui..

New York City

New York City’s daylong homage began with all American pancakes and peanut butter and ended with pizza and Goodfellas. Check out all of Rebecca’s Big Apple day here.

Adventures and experiencing new things are the key to life no matter how far you travel for them!!

Rebecca Ruane, blogger, Rebecca Travels the World

Politics Monday: How I Make The Pandemic Numbers Count

We’ve become used to the COVID numbers

As the pandemic war on and people became more accustomed to the new reality, the statistics on new cases and deaths largely receded from the public consciousness, the numbers less of a blaring siren than quiet background music.

Zac Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Deadly illness has become the elevator music of our daily life.

I type the numbers out each morning

One of the rituals that I have adopted during the pandemic is typing the daily numbers into a spreadsheet. It comes out of my career as a New York State budget examiner in Albany. Identify the data to understand the world.

As I add the digits, I repeat the figures out loud and connect them to real people. Yesterday, 325 people, the equivalent of my entire Florida neighborhood, were diagnosed with COVID in my county. At the state level, nearly 5000, twice the number of students at my Maryland high school, found out they have COVID, too. The 100 Floridians who died on April 2 feels like losing two-thirds of all my Facebook friends.

Florida deaths exceed those of Canada and Australia combined

Florida had more COVID-19 deaths in a year than Canada and Australia combined, even though the combined population of the two countries is triple that of Florida.

Zac Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Florida leads the country in the number of COVID variant cases, which are 50% more contagious and 64% more deadly. On March 21st, Florida’s deaths surpassed two million. Two million souls are nothing more than data points. You won’t hear this from the state’s confident governor.

I think things are going well.

Governor Ron DeSantis