Life and Times of Alex Esguerra — COVID-19

Racism, Identify, Giving Feedback and Take Action

Posted by noreply@blogger.com (Alex Esguerra) on



I totally agree with Ibram Kendi's book when he states that the only way to undo racism is consistently identify it. Those who are in constant denial or are ignorant about racism of course will continuously resist, deny or counter the word as aggressiveness or resistance, Thus every single person has the power to resist racism regardless of color of the skin.

Let's start with some basic current examples like the PPP - Paycheck Protection Program, a loan program created to help small and micro businesses as a result of the still problematic Covid-19 pandemic. Like the thousands of small and micro businesses who applied since it was announced in March-April, the question lies why is still there funds unused. The program expiration of June 30 was just extended as of this writing. It is a program design to small businesses having 100 employees or less. Based on the data out, the majority of black and people of color small businesses that have applied and still at a limbo are those having 10 employees or less or even 1-3 employees. As we have seen at first when the program started, the major big businesses where even recipients some of whom were asked to return the money. 

I'm not gonna explore much of who and why the recipients are. But what I've found out is that when the program started where the first bank res ponders where the big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc.., So the big banks who are typically designed to deal with the same big businesses who were somehow first recipients had been task to be administer these loans thereby to be the initial or even final  evaluators whether the individuals or businesses applying are worthy of this PPP loan, And wallah, when this author talked about institutional and organizational policies here is one good example. The training set up of the people evaluating these loans in these banks are created to big businesses. Well of course they can claim they have focus on small businesses. The reality is that there so called small businesses maybe 100 or even 50 employees but these are businesses making millions of revenues. The majority of the borrowers trying to apply are those that earn from $2000 to $35,000 a month, those businesses that are in dire need of constant cash flow and working capital.

So cutting the story short after months of going and back forth on threads of emails with attachments. Attachments that can't be open as they are digitally automatically encrypted for some reason on the bank recipients, faxing documents that banks claims they have so many back logs. actual mails that never get to the right person and calls that are never return it'a useless endeavor and so much wasted time and effort on those that really needed the funds, Added to these are the constant emails etc.., asking for the same documents either already submitted and not making sense especially for sole proprietors that do not have have payroll tax records but independent contractors and services.

I've been in a micro cottage small business in most of my adult life and what is new to this scene as I tell myself. Even the richest and most powerful country in the world, this is the reality and yet when the discussion of racism opens we try to deeply contradict what the bounds of this topic. On  a side note, a lot of the recipients in the last month coming from the those 1-10 employee minority impacted businesses got their loan from the micro lending efforts of small banks some of them even unheard.


Looking at this picture, we know that these institutions employ are a lot of people of color. The repeated question would be although some of them know the true realities that exist of the real small businesses, do they have the power to change the rules or sometimes can they even voice their opinion without fear that they can be identified as a threat?  This is what the topic of racism talks on the white privilege having the power to change things. The real change will happen when we start empowering the minority and people of color to be able to sit and hold major positions on these institutions. The caveat here lies is ensuring that the chosen people of color are actually the real idealistic ones and not those still behind the shadows of the white privilege culture. I say these as it is true that there are indeed some people of color on those high positions but they are a tiny fraction they won't even say anything so they can protect their job, position or financial security.

A good example of this lies on the highest echelons of government. When politicians run for office, you will hear much of the idealism of change. Then defeat comes, yet they are identified especially if they are a person of color with such idealism, Some take what position that may come their way for their own reasons. What surprises me is that when they are working for an administration, the idealism mellows down. Then the breaking points come into picture when they are face with the realities on making their voice heard or taking a position. For the courageous that left, I salute them but for some they that pride and take a position with an administration to show loyalty and solidarity. The fastest way of fixing this is through an election. With 4 months on the way to a presidential election, a new administration starting with the right mixture having a big contingent of people of color with the ideological perspective to eradicating racism is a big factor. Although a Woman Vice-President candidate is a step, not until a big majority of an administration from the top up down who have a big contingent of minority people of color, healing cannot start to happen. 

The major private sector institutions who are somewhat in denial on racism and following the ideals of white power can change. But they won't drastically as they go side by side with politics. Until they see the government's initiatives they wont; make such significant major changes, They can make all their public relation announcements of changing names, changing their advertising policies but not until they deeply study their organizational policies and structures and really employ and promote the real minorities don't expect the eradicate the problem of racism. 


This issue on racism has been going on decades, the hard part of the battle is we deal with it in bits and pieces. We have to use the best time right now to make the best out of it by talking about it and gaining the most we can in continuing the battle of racism.

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Under the Color of Law, the onset de jure segregation, from civil rights to Covid-19

Posted by noreply@blogger.com (Alex Esguerra) on

                     
The Color of Law
     The Color of Law  one of my bestseller favorites book is back in the lime light since it was published in 2017. Written by bestselling author, Richard Rothstein this book One of Publishers Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2017
Longlisted for the National Book Award. This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide (New York Times Book Review).

In United States law, the term color of law denotes the "mere semblance of legal right", the "pretense or appearance of" right; hence, an action done under color of law adjusts the law to the circumstance, yet said apparently legal action contravenes the law. Wikipedia

Back when this book published Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation―that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation―the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments―that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. 

2017 also saw some of the continuance of massive shootings and White Supremacist propaganda's everywhere. As to how this movement got more motivated is another topic for discussion. On the other side of this was the great wall or immigration's racial divide.

The last 3 months in hiatus of the Corona virus Covid-19 pandemic, what was common was the health disparities on getting the deadly virus with the African Americans, Latino's minorities who are low income, sufferers of immune compromised due to health issues, and no health insurance. In addition, most of the essential low paid jobs exposed daily to this virus which does not have cure as of today are done by these minority groups. Not to forget this Wuhan virus was initially called "Chinese Virus" which motivated the racial tension towards Chinese and Asian Americans. Wearing a mask when you cannot social distance to prevent contamination of the no cure virus is even mock.

George Floyd
A few days ago, out of all the chaos, 
in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a forty-six-year-old black man named George Floyd died in a way that highlighted the implications that calls such as the one Amy Cooper placed can have; George Floyd is who Christian Cooper might have been. (The police made no arrests and filed no summons in Central Park. Amy Cooper has apologized for her actions; she was also fired from her job.) Police responding to a call from a shopkeeper, about someone trying to pass a potentially counterfeit bill, arrested Floyd. Surveillance video shows a compliant man being led away in handcuffs. But cellphone video later shows a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes, despite protests from onlookers that his life is in jeopardy.

In 2015, police responding to calls of a dispute between a man and a woman in north Minneapolis fatally shot a twenty-four-year-old African-American man named Jamar Clark. Police and paramedics on the scene claimed that Clark had resisted arrest and had attempted to grab an officer’s gun; bystanders claimed that he was handcuffed and on the ground when the shot was fired. Clark’s death was followed by more than two weeks of demonstrations outside the Fourth Police Precinct in Minneapolis, led by Black Lives Matter; an attempt to disrupt holiday shopping at the Mall of America, in protest; and cascading contempt from black residents that, two years later, factored into Mayor Betsy Hodges losing her reëlection bid. In light of that history, Frey has been unequivocal about police culpability in Floyd’s death. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said on Tuesday.

One of the reviews of this book, "“Rothstein’s work should make everyone, all across the political spectrum, reconsider what it is we allow those in power to do in the name of 'social harmony' and 'progress' with more skepticism…The Color of Law shows what happens when Americans lose their natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or in the case of African-Americans, when there are those still waiting to receive them in full.”
Carl Paulus, American Conservative"


These last few years in America reminds me of the past histories in third world developing countries with poverty, corruption, authoritarian rule and economic divide of the rich and poor. Can't imagine it's almost the 22nd century, that America the greatest, wealthiest most powerful country, has the most deaths in this virus now passing 100,000, there's no general testing policies, no vaccines, 40 million unemployed

We have not had time to grief for the loss souls in Covid-19 and now we have George Floyd. It truly hurts to think about these disparities.  The best most important thing to remember is in-spite of all these events we have to remain calm, we have to think about the future and get this democracy back.

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Writing Personal Histories on Covid-19 for future generations - Part 1

Posted by noreply@blogger.com (Alex Esguerra) on


Heroes of a Pandemic Heroes of a Pandemic is a good start on writing personal histories and experiences on this pandemic called Corona virus. I'll link this together with Differential Effects of Intervention Timing on COVID-19 Spread in the United States This study gives weight to one theory — and cautions against reopening the country without adequate ability to control new outbreaks. Researchers said 54,000 deaths could have been prevented in the U.S. had states implemented social-distancing guidelines earlier. And they warn tens of thousands more could perish as the country begins to reopen.

January 2020 news started to spread over the Corona virus in different context in the US. In San Francisco's bustling convention business for example, The Fancy Food Show, Intersolar-Photonics conferences that month had shown signs on the impact of conference attendees and exhibitors. Exhibition halls were drastically getting changed real time as show management had to fill and move exhibitors around. The issue that time was International Exhibitors like from China, Korea, Germany, the UK called off last minute that the shows had empty booths. 

Mid February 2020, San Francisco's big RSA Security conference took a toll when traditionally the long lines in Registration didn't turn out all these years. The Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed declares an Emergency for the City, the first one which raise eyebrows in all facets. Today, this step in history will be recorded as the first intervention which we could have turn the alarms as a nation. Kudos to San Francisco having suffered all the disparities of HIV and the 1918 pandemic notwithstanding economics to the most vulnerable that will eradicate a big part of the city's population if the tides were turned and it became the epi-center like New York.

Social distancing as the best intimidation for this virus then and now is a huge challenge to a bustling metropolitan cities like San Francisco and New York where everyone takes public transit, walks to work. San Francisco's huge housing problem and disparity having so many homeless and SRO's added to the low income minorities sharing an a one bedroom apartment with 4 people. So in March, San Francisco's mayor realized the nightmare at hand and again San Francisco became the first city to order a "Shelter in Place". This followed with 6 cities establishing a county effort and which immediately followed by Gavin Newsome, declaring the State of California to have a shelter in place order.  

These efforts where culminated with the Heroes on our public health sector, the epidemiologist, the scientist, immunologist science and data. As Governor Newsome of California mentioned the state is also blessed having some of the most advanced teaching hospitals and laboratories which is now heavily involved in the finding the cure and testing.

In March, a week and a half after the shelter in place order, with reservations I rode the bus. In pre-pandemic days the underground muni was the best method moving around the downtown area. The underground as a preventive measure after an operator turn positive for covid-19. Where I took the bus, there was an ambassador to ensure social distancing. Boarding was only through the rear side, I tried just to stand but concerned I might slip and fall standing and not trying to hold a rail, I took out a cleaning wipes for s chair and sat down. Half-way people had mask and where trying to distance. Another stop came the influx of vulnerable population, no mask standing and sitting. As we also know some of the city's vulnerable suffered on mental health challenges, so the way San Franciscan's deal with them is just let them have their own space. 

I went down on Market Street's Union Square shopping area with the plywood panels on Gap, Levis, etc., This Monday San Francisco finally allowed curbside pickup and delivery for retail stores. The Mayor says she is planning on Phase 2B in 2 weeks time.

Researchers expected to see a surge in new cases and deaths spiking in early to mid-June, even if social-distancing measures are put back into place. Even a one-week delay in reinstating social distancing could result in another 23,000 deaths by July 1. The Bay area and California did an aggressive step on the onset beginning with it's tech companies having their employees work from home even before there was a shelter in place program. This made a huge difference in mitigating as otherwise it would have been the epi=center.

The first days were crucial. “During the initial growth of a pandemic, infections increase exponentially. As a consequence, early intervention and fast response are critical,” the researchers wrote.A report in The New York Times, citing the analysis said that if the US had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than when most people started staying indoors, about 83 per cent of the people who died so far from the virus could have been saved.

This is the part where historians are now looks like debating on writing history for the history books timeline and analysis. Presidential historians will have to make a fact finding aside from the TV clips on how the administration handed this pandemic since it's first reported case in the State of Washington. As preliminary reports come up it even narrates that the first case originated from the bay area. Density and contamination are culprits in exposure. The question now lies on what happens should be be a rise on cases and deaths again since the 50 states have now reopened. 

More to come in writing this personal history series on Covid-19. Stay safe. Social distance and wear a mask to save someone.




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Curing a Viral Pandemic, the Impact on the Economy and Lessons from Past Pandemics

Posted by Alexander Esguerra on

I'll start the blog remembering the HIV/AID's epidemic as a graduating health professional then involved in the testing and seeing 2 of my former classmates then and after succumbing demise due to infection. This was a time pre-technology in my own terms that our team can get infected easily on the clinical side by either getting accidentally poke when we are drawing blood specimens from patients, or accidentally swallowing serum or plasma as we try to separate them for testing through pi petting and last when accidentally the auto-clave then for some reason explodes.
Today with the onset of the great viral pandemic, COVID-19, Coronavirus technology has been greatly changed the  laboratory settings and respiratory clinicians practices from way back. We can't accidentally swallow the hazard. But like any other health professional in the front lines, a future careful review of OSHA rules and the right adequate most talked about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment's) are eminent. Our front lines in hospital settings starts from the EMT's,  Admissions coordinators, Triage and Trauma staff, ER, Infectious disease to include bio-hazard teams, maintenance, janitorial, ICU/Acute Care, Nurses, doctors, food and canteen staff, the staff that we don't see much, Medical Assistants, Phlebotomist, Medical Technologist/Technician, Lab and Hospital Aides and our Clinical Laboratory Scientist,
I open the TV this morning alarmed to remember that one of the HIV patients stigma's then was the Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, CA. Laguna Honda, the biggest nursing home in the USA also played and is playing a great service to the patients that have outlive the HIV epidemic. I'm alarm due to the fact the most vulnerable from COVID-19 are in this facility and the last I'd like to see is these patients who had so many years fighting HIV may succumb to this new viral disease if it spreads. As of today, the public health officials have started the best measures to protect the patients by locking down the facility and starting to test the more than 100 staff in the facility. This will at least start the identification and isolation's needed.
I'll continue by way of hovering on the concern on the national level on the economic impact this is causing the US and World economy. While reading through, Economic Effects of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic by Thomas Garrett, where he quotes on his abstract, "The possibility of a worldwide influenza pandemic in the near future is of growing concern for many countries around the globe".
As the medical professionals cited the 1918 pandemic came in 3 waves where they based the mortality rates. This is why we hear a lot in the news when officials and medical people talking on making assumptions as to density and apex which somehow touch bases on population, geography, ratio and percentage rank. Garrett continues, " The greatest disadvantage of studying the economic effects of the 1918 influenza is the lack of economic data. There are some academic studies that have looked at the economic effects of the pandemic using available data, and these studies are reviewed later. Given the general lack of economic data, however, a remaining source for information on (some) economic effects of the 1918 pandemic is print media". I mentioned this as this is the reality in "viral economics" Hence is why the economist zeroes on the point that the first step is deal with the virus on test and cure. 
In summary, let the scientist take the lead towards the date and assumptions. Let's focused on what we can do individually in terms of isolation, mitigation, being responsible from staying away from the vulnerable. We don't need to be in the front lines to be susceptible being exposed or being a carrier. The harsh effects will be great but were talking about lives and mortality.
I recommend reading this great article by Thomas Garrett. I will end on a paragraph on this article. 
"The influenza of 1918 was short-lived and “had a permanent influence not on the collectivist but on the atoms of human society – individuals.”31 Society as a whole recovered from the 1918 influenza quickly, but individuals who were affected by the influenza had their lives changed forever. Given our highly mobile and connected society, any future influenza pandemic is likely to be more severe in its reach, and perhaps in its virulence, than the 1918 influenza despite improvements in health care over the past 90 years. Perhaps lessons learned from the past can help".

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