Governor Ron DeSantis continues to play the Trump Successor to that particular brand of Republicans who believe the Big Lie, have made masks the boogeyman, and equate mandates with the Red Menace.
It’s very important that we say unequivocally: ‘No’ to lockdowns, ‘no’ to school closures, ‘no’ to restrictions and ‘no’ to mandates.
Governor Ron DeSantis, speaking at a conservative political conference in Utah
In an article for USA Today, James Call reports that DeSantis mocked any pending government restrictions based on the “whims of bureaucratic authorities” who want to consign Americans into a “Faucian dystopia.” And a Ron DeSantis political committee is raising campaign cash with anti-science merchandise attacking Anthony Fauci and mocking masks.
With slogans like “don’t Fauci my Florida” and “how the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?” DeSantis has made it clear that for him, political ambitions takes precedence over science and public health.
Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Florida is the American epicenter of the COVID pandemic
The state does not issue daily reports anymore, as I wrote on July 12 in Denial and Door-Knocking and COVID-19 but that hasn’t stopped the virus. The weekly increase in COVID cases in Palm Beach County and in Florida as a whole is about 600 percent in just the month of July.
I discovered the wonderful magic of water fitness after being a distance runner for many years. I suffered from arthritis and needed to find another way to keep physically and mentally fit. At my massage therapist’s suggestion, I decided to check out aquatic exercise.
Janet Weisenford, Aquatics Exercise Association certified instructor at the Boca Raton YMCA
The water fitness class she took opened a new chapter for Janet Weisenford, a long-time teaching buddy. She discovered that she could get a great total body workout — cardio, strength training, and flexibility. Janet was so captivated that she became a certified instructor through the Aquatics Exercise Association, where she learned more about the water and its properties. Here is what Janet says about why water is such a great exercise medium:
Water’s buoyancy cushions our joints, allowing former runners like myself to run in the water with minimal impact.
The water also offers resistance, not only building muscle but also building or maintaining bone density.
Water workouts can also improve flexibility. The reduced effects of gravity allow you to move through a greater range of motion.
Flexibility, Janet says, is important for doing everyday activities, especially as we age, and it is often a component of fitness that is overlooked.
I can attest to that. There is nowhere better to stretch than in a pool, supported by the water.
Water exercises for core
As I learned during my recovery, core muscles bear the burden of holding us upright, ready for life. So focussing on these torso workhorses is an excellent idea. I asked Marlo Scott, with whom I’ve published posts on posture and on weight loss, for her favorite core exercises.
Core is a no-brainer: The plank, the push-up, and the bicycle.
Notice how the old-fashioned sit-ups aren’t on Marlo’s list? The bicycle works not only the mid-section abdominals but also the obliques, back muscles, gluteus and hips while improving coordination, stability, and flexibility. The plank and push-ups add work for the chest, back, and arm muscles.
In the water, I love cross country skiing and then anything that involves a twist — even better, a twist with a noodle. I also think pull ups at the pool’s edge are fantastic. And front and rear leg kicks (as in doing the backstroke and the crawl) are great, too.
Florida recorded more coronavirus cases last week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined. But you won’t hear about it from Governor Ron DeSantis. The state no longer reports daily illness, vaccinations, and deaths.
We’re blind. The governor has made it more difficult for people to be informed.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss
Out of sight, out of mind.
The media is keeping tabs
The New York Times shows that Florida is experiencing full-fledged outbreak, with cases up nearly 200 percent in the past two weeks.
The statewide coronavirus positivity in Florida is running at fifteen percent, three times the safe level of viral transmission. And Florida boasts one out of five new US cases, Newsweek reported.
The constant denigrating of science-based precautions — which started out with mask regulations and then shifted to vaccines — is proving to be deadly.
As the more transmissible Delta variant continues to spread across the country, we will likely continue to experience an increase in COVID cases in the weeks ahead, with these cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates.
What’s driving the new infections are unvaccinated 18-to-44-years-olds that are partying, going to gatherings and they’re coming down with the infections.
Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County Health Department
Choosing freedom over life
… getting his own vaccine in private without fanfare, outlawing mask requirements from local governments, promoting fringe medical opinions… and ordering cruise ships to accept unvaccinated Florida passengers… All to promote a disingenuous freedom argument for an airborne spread illness that can be fatal.
Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post
The governor wants to give the impression that there is nothing wrong in Florida, but we’re actually leading the country now in COVID.
US Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach
Republican lawmakers must … realize that their voters will at some point resent the anti-vaccine advice that is singling them out for death.
Jade Wonzo was working in the corporate world when she discovered yoga as a place that she could, as she puts it, “shut down.” Within a few years, she had quit her job to train as a yoga teacher, a skill she hoped to put to use in the gym she and her new husband were opening in Palm Beach County.
Jade never did end up teaching there, but was picked up by LA Fitness and pop-up studios here and there, becoming part of the yoga community. As she was training and teaching, however, she noticed that she stood out.
I was often the only person in the room who was brown and curvy.
In addition to being bi-racial, Jade has struggled with her weight, topping off at 240 pounds at one point. She knew that there were others like her, just waiting to be invited into the calming practice of yoga.
How many people have shown up at a yoga class only to be the only one who looks like them? It’s a lonely and frustrating place to be.
Instead, Jade gets on her mat and comes back to herself, showing up and sharing her journey with her students and her thousands of social media followers. Check out the stunning pictures and her candid posts on Jade’s Instagram and Facebook pages, and sign up to receive emails on her website.
And come join me in Jade’s 11AM Saturday morning class through the Palm Beach County Library, which runs through August. To register, click here.
Next time: tips from Jade Wonzo on how to get the most out of yoga.
I sat alone in the audiologist’s isolation room, my eyes closed, and concentrated on listening. And there it was, a beep. And another. And … there, another.
Why was I having my hearing tested? As we emerged out of the pandemic and into society, it seemed to me that I wasn’t hearing people as well. Maybe it was the masks. Or my ears. Or both. My husband, who wears hearing aids — most of the time, though masks wreak havoc with other things hooked around ears— thought I wasn’t hearing as well. So, I went to the ENT practice which had last tested my hearing in 2018.
We’ll get to the results shortly. Here’s what happened to me first.
Being in that small, quiet room and following the audiologist’s orders brought back an unexpected wave of nostalgia for the comforting simplicity of being a hospital patient. No errands. No to do list. No bills, no calls. Just being in that bed for that time was all that was required. Doing what I was told.
It felt really weird to miss it.
It was a simpler time. Maybe like “doing time”? Definitely much nicer than being locked up, but similar in requiring the acceptance that I was in this place and that’s all there was to it.
How did I lie in a single bed for three months? I just did.
The trade off, of course, was that a big bunch of that time there was absolutely nothing my body could do for itself. I was an indebted, and often inert, captive. But my body held on until my mind could join in the effort. I was a very good patient. I aced it.
So here I was sitting alone in this small room, following the audiologist’s commands, when I was overcome with nostalgia.
My reverie was interrupted by the audiologist as she prepared me for the next test. Had I had any antibiotics by IV? Yes, I said, loads while I was hospitalized in 2019. She nodded, wired me up, and shut the door. I anticipated hearing more beeps and tweets. Nothing happened. Or maybe, I thought, something had happened and I couldn’t hear it. Not one sound for what seemed like minutes.
“Sorry,” her voice called over the equipment, “Got a little tied up there. OK, now we’ll start.”
The beeps restarted. I sailed through the test. The audiologist pronounced my hearing “perfect.”
Despite all that I’d been through, I’d avoided damage that hardcore IV antibiotics can cause to the sensory cells in the inner ear that detect sound and motion, resulting in hearing loss, dizziness, and tinnitus. It’s called ototoxicity. Another bullet dodged. Another one-in-a-million story.
That night, I Googled the question, “Why do some people like being in the hospital?”
Because being hospitalized can be like a retreat. No decisions, other than medical ones. No dishes to wash,no housework. No work deadlines. 3 meals, clean sheets. A call bell.
Last week, I wrote about GOP-led Florida becoming the only large state to stop reporting daily coronavirus statistics. The data are now rolled into a weekly report that no longer includes the number of hospitalized COVID patients and the number of tests. The Palm Beach Post has continued to perform a critical public service by using multiple sources to keep the public informed on our continuing public health crisis.
Florida’s COVID-19 caseload is growing faster than most states, CDC figures published Friday show. Over the past week, 110 state residents for every 100,000 became infected, compared to 34 per 100,000 nationwide. [As] the number of new COVID-19 infections swells to levels not seen since early May, the pace of vaccinations across Florida has slowed to a crawl.
Chris Persaud, The Palm Beach Post, July 10, 2021
It’s tricky to parse the numbers, playing right into the denials’ game, but I have begun a weekly chart, waiting for trends to emerge. Luckily, the people in charge of our country are not lying back but, rather, leaning in to bring the vaccine right to our doors through community efforts.
Just north of us, in the seaside town of Juno, there is a stretch of sand known for being one of the largest nesting sites in the world for sea turtles. Adjacent to that beach is Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a conservation and rehabilitation organization that each year treats nearly 100 sea turtles and 1,000 hatchlings. Through an amazing network of volunteers, LMC tracks and protects nests each season and facilitates after-dark tours. Around the Fourth of July several years ago, we participated in such a tour and witnessed a turtle actually laying her eggs and then dragging herself back across the sand to the sea.
A couple of weeks ago, our rescue Lab, Kumba, and I participated in a LMC fundraiser, a virtual four-mile race called Run 4 The Sea. We walked our own local route and were 141st out of 183 participants. The 2021 Run 4 The Sea raised about $30,000 for sea turtles!
In return for our effort, we got an adorable LMC tote bag and a set of wooden utensils (in a canvas bag from Atticus Printing) to use on our next picnic.
We also got a nifty new t-shirt which Kumba kindly modeled for me. Yeah, he was rolling his eyes in this picture.
… the one in a million outcomes, the patients who surprise and humble us.
Daniela J. Lamas, pulmonary and critical care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston
I am one of those patients. I dodged death on May 5, 2019, when I suffered a ruptured arterial aneurysm while on vacation in Amsterdam, barely making it into the ER as my heart stopped. I dodged it again after sailing through surgery a day later, and repeatedly over the next several weeks, as my organs took turns failing. Somehow, I survived.
As tempting as it is to focus only on life or death in the ICU, there is a vast world between survival and true recovery.
Daniela J. Lamas, pulmonary and critical care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston
And here I sit in the patio of our home in South Florida two years and two months later, on this Independence Day, celebrating that rarest of miracles, full recovery. What made the difference? Being lucky enough to be taken to OLVG Hospital, for starters, where the staff were skilled, compassionate, and supportive. Being strong to start with. Trained by my early years to make the best out of any situation. And laughter.
Skill and compassion
The talented team of English-speaking doctors and nurses at OLVG hospital acted fast to stop the hemorrhage and never gave up as my body crashed, and they were also compassionate human beings that supported me and my exhausted family through those awful ICU weeks.
My dear friend Anne, one of the nurses who most encouraged me in the weeks after my surgery, was so matter of fact about the inevitability of my complete recovery, so relaxed about my progress, that I never once doubted that I’d make it. My physiotherapist, Gemma, was sure I’d walk out of there. And I did.
Anne and her colleagues on 7A, OLVG Hospital, sent me this greeting a few weeks back. They are still in my corner.
It helped tremendously that I was physically fit. I danced in my 20s, developed a lifetime jogging habit, and taught exercise for the five years preceding that fateful trip. Six weeks of being motionless in the ICU sapped me of a quarter of my weight and the ability to move, but I had a surplus muscle and a love of moving to draw on. Eventually, it felt familiar. Then, good. Then, great.
I’ve never been particularly ambitious, but I’m very good at making the most of whatever circumstances I find myself in. I give credit to my upbringing in the Foreign Service. Learning how to chew and swallow again took days. Learning how to walk again took months. Full recovery took two years, and I continue to book an hour of my morning, every morning, to getting stronger every day.
My love of a good community laugh has carried me over many a hurdle. I think I have to thank my Dad for that gene in my DNA, along with my passion for writing and my love of singing.
Words matter — a lot. Choose them carefully. Humor and wit matter — a lot. And puns are always good. And, music matters — sing it, play it, listen to it.
My sister, Susan Robb Amerson Hartnett, eulogizing our father, Robert C. Amerson in 2006
Lying inert in my ICU bed, unable to move and fighting for my life, I broke out into song — “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys. Although I don’t remember much of those weeks, I clearly recall hearing an ICU alarm marking that iconic beat — “Bah, bah, bah” (rest) “Bah, bah, bah” (rest) — and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to pick up the tune, just as I did many times while teaching exercise with this fun music.
Bah, bah, bah, (rest) bah, Barbara Ann (rest). Bah, bah, bah, (rest) bah, Barbara Ann (rest).Bah, bah, bah, (rest) bah, Barbara Ann (rest)
My sister and my daughter (who had flown in from the States) smiled at my husband. “That’s her,” my sister said, and joined in with the harmony. Within moments, my family and nearby nurses and doctors added their voices, all of them laughing.
Starting my next book
All of which has got me ready to begin the book about all this. Working title: “Singing in the ICU: How A Community of Strangers Saved My Life.” Or something along those lines, witty and musical and wordy as Dad would have wanted.
Midway through my weekly virtual yoga class last weekend, I sensed that I was being watched. I was belly-down, chest up doing the cobra on my mat in our backyard, and there, staring at me through the fronds of a spider plant, was an iguana. He was spring green, his spiky back like blades of grass, his neck a series of folds that could have been helped by a little yoga. I held my pose, he held his, and then we both slowly moved on.
Jade Light Yoga, Yoga 4 All
I’ve been taking Yoga 4 All with Jade Wonzo through the Palm Beach County Library for several months. Tired of a pandemic-full of ideal bodies showing us mere mortals how simple it is to do impossible things, I was intrigued by the inclusiveness of the class description.
Begin or continue your yoga journey with Jade Wonzo in an inclusive (online) space that recognizes the beauty in all shapes, sizes, colors, identities, and abilities.
The Palm Beach County Library
The instructor’s website, Jade Light Yoga, continues the theme, as she describes herself.
A curvy, short haired, biracial, brown skinned woman.
Which she is.
She is also an insightful, calm, and light-hearted teacher who gives her students crystal clear, seamless instruction with options to take things up or down a notch along the way. I taught dance, fitness, and even a little yoga for many years, and I can say that you are in good hands with Jade.
Perfect for my phase of recovery
Letting myself be directed by Jade for an hour every Saturday has become a highlight of this phase of my recovery.
I am artsy by nature but a bean-counter by trade, having made a career in the New York state budget office. One of the ways I’ve dealt with the coronavirus pandemic is by tracking the daily numbers of cases, deaths, and (when these miracles emerged) vaccinations in arms. My source was my local daily newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, and their source was the Florida Department of Health.
Florida stopped daily reporting
I say “was” because I’m no longer touching the daily numbers. Friday, May 28 was the last daily coronavirus newspaper article. When it reappeared after Memorial Day, reporter Jane Musgrave explained that the Health Department report, which for 15 months had been issued daily, had not been issued over the holiday weekend, but also that from this point, it would be a weekly report.
With that, Florida became the first of the most populous states that doesn’t provide daily information on the state of the pandemic. Barely half of Floridians are vaccinated, the more toxic variants are on the rise, but Governor DeSantis has moved on.
Florida is transitioning into the next phase of the COVID-19 response.
Weesam Khoury, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health
Non-residents no longer count
In another decision intended to understate the severity of the pandemic, Florida stopped counting snowbirds and other non-residents in its statistics. From the final daily report to the first weekly report — overnight— the numbers of COVID cases and deaths plummeted.
… nearly 40,500 less — had contracted COVID-19. The number of deaths dropped by 732.
Jane Musgrave, The Palm Beach Post, June 4, 2021
Failure to report impedes ability to respond
If states decide to roll back their COVID-19 dashboards, then the nation’s ability to respond and react quickly to the continuing pandemic will be seriously impeded.