Editorial 08-07-2020

Waiting for The Big One

As we are writing this, we are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Isaias, which is the earliest-ever ninth named storm of a hurricane season. 

Although Isaias was a weak Category 1 hurricane when it made landfall in the Carolinas and will be a tropical storm by the time it reaches us, it is forecast to combine with a storm front out of the west by the time it reaches New Jersey, bringing heavy rain to western New England and strong winds to eastern New England, similar to what Hurricane Irene did in late August of 2011.

Irene caused widespread power outages in Eastern Mass. (we recall losing all of the contents of our freezer in the basement) and the same is being forecast for Isaias, so we trust that all of our readers are prepared for some degree of inconvenience in the coming days.

Although Isaias will not cause major damage, the record number of named storms already this season gives us pause. Climate change undeniably is occurring in ways that are not fully understood, but one thing that is clear is that the number and severity of tropical storms are on the increase.

Climate change is bringing warmer ocean temperatures, which are the jet fuel for tropical storms. And for the record, the ocean temperature in Boston Harbor these past two weeks uncharacteristically has been above 70 degrees, which is wonderful for swimmers, but a harbinger of bad things to come.

 The Hurricane of 1938 still stands as the fiercest hurricane ever to strike our part of the country, a once-in-a-hundred years weather event. In terms of the odds alone, we are overdue for another major hurricane. But with the effects of climate change factored into the mix, it is clear that Mother Nature could do some serious damage if another coastal storm makes its way here.

So as with everything else in life, it’s just one day at a time as we await the inevitability of The Big One to strike.

Deaths are only part of the COVID story

Whether the subject is drunk driving, gun violence, or COVID-19, the headline that grabs our attention always is the death toll, of which there tragically have been more than 150,000 of our fellow Americans from COVID-19.

However, what often goes unreported are the large numbers of injuries, whether caused by drunken drivers, guns, or the coronavirus, that have life-altering consequences for victims.

Recent studies have shown that even individuals who are totally asymptomatic when they contract COVID-19 still are likely to have long-term, if not permanent, damage to their heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, and other organs.

With respect to the heart, a study revealed that more than 3/4 of a group of 100 relatively young and healthy persons who contracted COVID-19 had some degree of visible heart damage — 76 had evidence of a biomarker signaling cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack — two months after the virus had cleared their bodies.

We still are learning about the coronavirus, but as time goes on and as our nation lurches ahead with no strategy to contain the pandemic, thereby endangering the lives and health of all of our citizens, it is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is a far more insidious threat than initially had been thought.

And as we learn more and more about how damaging COVID-19 can be to even healthy individuals, it is hard to imagine reopening schools and businesses without a national strategy and adequate funding to ensure the health and safety of our people.

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