Coronavirus

Interview with an Artist-Activist with Long Covid

 

 

Note: This interview will also be able to be heard on Oaklandsocialist’s podcast.

John Reimann
So we’re talking with Meghan Keane, who is an artist and a political activist, including fighting for the rights
of Syrian people. And Meghan also has long COVID. And she’s done a lot of study on this issue and related
issues. And so we’d like to get her thoughts and her knowledge about that today. So how are you doing today?
Meghan?

Meghan
Hey, John, thanks for having me. I’m doing all right.

John Reimann
So, for a start, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how long term COVID affects you? And is it different for
different people?

Meghan
Yeah, definitely. So: long COVID is finally starting to be recognized. Which is: folks who have had an acute
infection of COVID/SARS2 virus, their symptoms don’t seem to diminish. Or they shape shift over time. It’s
quite a nonlinear experience for those of us that have it. My personal experience has been that I got my acute
infection, I believe, on March 10th of 2020, which was before there was adequate testing, and nobody was
masked, and it was at the onset of the pandemic. And so after that, what I experienced was absolutely crippling
fatigue. At some points it became hard to tell, like, what’s the fatigue and [what’s the] exhaustion of living in a
very difficult situation of this global pandemic, of folks staying at home. Initially, a lot of long COVID folks
experienced significant gaslighting, both self gaslighting, and kind of a public dismissal that it would be
possible that we would still have symptoms after a week or two. But now that we’re two and a half years down
the road, we understand that this is a really critical situation, actually. It impacts minimum, one in five people
who get COVID. So, ah, 20% of the population is no small figure, and that’s published by the CDC. But just to
go on to explain a little bit: [it was] crushing fatigue to the degree that I had to cut back on work, and really
could not function in the way that I always had, as more of an alpha New Yorker type, right, who had their
hands in a lot of things and was always busy. So, that occurred. And I would also have sensations in my body
that were brand new, where I would feel twinges, behind my ear in the lymph node, and then it would be in my
arm, and then it would move to my leg, or my feet. And then I would have what they’re now understanding to
probably be small fiber neuropathy, but it’s a thing where you have this buzzing experience in your
extremities. So I have it in one of my feet, where, especially in the evenings, I really feel this, like, buzzing or
throbbing, this pulsing sensation.

John Reimann
Like pins and needles? Or more like throbbing?

Meghan
A little bit pins and needles, but sometimes actual throbbing. Like pulsing, like the blood is… you know…
almost like there’s a heartbeat going in your foot. So, it’s a complex post-viral condition. Actually, part of why
this conversation is so important is to urge people to learn lessons from history, right? Where if folks paid
attention to the the people who got SARS1, this [long SARS or post-viral sequelae] was actually a really
common occurrence after SARS1.

John Reimann
Is this something that comes and goes for you, or is it just something that’s constant?

Meghan
My story is: it takes different shapes on different days. One of the ways that long COVID advocacy orgs are
describing it is that it’s episodic disability. Because sometimes you can have had like a great night [sleep], and
that seems to heal a lot of things for some people who have a mild or moderate kind of version of it. But yeah,
there are folks who have it really severely, John. I don’t know if you’ve been following that, but a lot of them
have what presents as ME/CFS. So they get that as a diagnosis, right – which is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
[ME] – and its other name is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [CFS]. But when we say chronic fatigue, it’s like, you
can’t leave bed. It’s not just, “Oh, I’m tired, because I worked out really hard.” It’s like, if you exercise
[meaning any physical exertion] you’re just completely incapacitated. So there’s a lot of overlap [between long
COVID and ME/CFS] for folks to look into if they’re interested. One of the endpoints for people who have it
[long COVID] really badly is you end up developing M.E. or you end up developing POTS, which is
[Postural] Orthostatic Tachycardia [Syndrome], I believe is what it is. And so where you stand up, your heart
rate increases. So those folks actually can’t really stand up, many of them. There’s a lot of stuff. The risk of
long COVID is it makes you permanently bed bound. So, again, to arch back to your question: my experience
is some days it’s really hard, and I end up having to work most of the day from bed. And other days, I do okay,
and I can move around more and do things. But, you know, I think I got reinfected in February, and things
have been harder since then. I tested negative on the PCR and all the rapid tests… but, the risk is you might be
on a trajectory of recovery with your post-viral symptoms, and if you get reinfected, all bets are off. You don’t
know how your body’s gonna respond. The doctors don’t know, I mean, a lot of them [don’t]. What I’m
describing is more knowledge than what most doctors are holding at this moment. Because they are busy, it’s
still a pandemic, they don’t have time to read four hours of research a day online. So, yeah, it’s been… it’s
very up and down, I would say is my personal experience of it.

John Reimann
Is there any way of predicting or influencing when you’ll have a good day, and when you’ll have a bad day in
terms of, let’s say, stress/being stressed?

Meghan
I think one of the patterns that has emerged for people who have, I would say, not as bad cases of it – the folks
who are more on the M.E. spectrum, this [upcoming scenario of having a full day] I don’t think applies to them
– but for those who have what I’m calling Long Covid lite, yeah, the way that you keep yourself intact is called
pacing, as a strategy. And that’s a strategy that I believe was founded by folks in the M.E. community. It
means that you diminish stress, you’re very aware of if you’re going to have a full day [say] on Friday, you
know that it might take you three to seven to 14 days to recover, depending on how bad your situation is. So if
I have a heavy exercise/exertion day, which for me means I have to leave the house [laughs], on the days that I
leave the house, I can anticipate the next few days, are going to be harder, I’m going to feel more fatigue. And
it is also, like, the irony of COVID is the ways to heal from it, you know, in a large part are [from capitalism’s]
stress and just reducing your time laboring and exerting. It forces you to actually take things down a notch. So,
again, heal is maybe too strong of a word, but ways to kinda mitigate what’s going on is definitely removing
stressors from your life. And for a lot of us, it includes almost never exercising again. Because exercise can
actually induce [long COVID] and make it worse.

John Reimann
How about emotional, mental stress?

Meghan
Yeah–definitely! Because… and this is where there’s a lot more science to dig into, and we could pull some
articles to share with your audience, but… because COVID is known to impact the brain, it’s causing
Alzheimer's-like effects, we know that there is a brain, or, a mental component. And so yes, [there’s no]
diminishing that. There’s also cognitive stuff: it is known that COVID causes brain damage. It causes a
cognitive decline, depending on each person it’s different. But part of it is, this isn’t 100% proven yet, but
there are lots of studies that indicate this direction, that in any infection of COVID there is some degree of
cognitive decline, but you might not be able to clock it. And one thing I notice, I’m aware of, is that I’ve taken
a hit from it! Because, my historic experience in life – I do writing, I write critiques, and I’m heavily engaged,
I’ve been an editor for people before – I now notice that I have to read an email three times to check for errors.
I’ll send it out, and I’ll go back and look at it the next day, and there will be typos that I’ve completely missed.
And that wasn’t the case before.

So that’s one of the indicators that there’s difficulty. And I did experience a moment that was absolutely wild. I
play cello recreationally. And I had a moment where I could no longer process the music and the notes. It was
too much for my brain. I was watching my brain have a casual meltdown in real time. So I was like, “Okay,
this is an indicator for me to stop and rest.” The biggest thing with long COVID is you don’t push it, because,
if you push it, that’s how you worsen it. So I can now go back to reading music. But if it’s a difficult day,
that’s not a day to be ambitious, and try to do things. You honor that your body’s telling you: “Rest, because I
need it.”

John Reimann
You know, it must be really emotionally difficult to have these kinds of symptoms.

Meghan
It’s very hard. I have what they are calling chronic, nonspecific chest pain. And so I can’t tell if I’m having a
heart attack or not, somewhat regularly, honestly. And that, that’s hard. And one of the harder parts is knowing
I used to go into the ER for it, every time, out of an abundance of caution. But now that New York has such
high [COVID] positivity levels, we’re reaching 20% – and that’s, bear in mind, right, that they’ve closed down
huge swathes of our testing abilities, so we know that if we’re actually getting 20% numbers, it means the real
numbers are through the roof – so because it would be so high risk for me to go to the ER, I often sit it out, and
I wait it out hoping that I’m not actually having a heart attack. Because I don’t want to run the risk of getting
COVID again, and actually making myself worse.

John Reimann
Wow. Yeah. Stunned listening to you talk. And you, you’re talking in such a calm tone. You know what I
mean?

Meghan
Yeah! [laughs] I would say, the other element that is discussed a fair amount, if you look into it, is the way in
which anxiety comes in. Because all of a sudden your body is behaving in ways that are like being an
immunocompromised person. And honestly, that is quite a fair description of it, right? Where you’re [likely]
both immunocompromised, and your immune system is fighting itself.

It’s important to mention that one way that we should be thinking about COVID is that it’s airborne HIV,
because there are now multiple articles published that are proving that your T cells, right, like, one of the
dominant features of HIV–just a very broad level of understanding of it–is, “Yeah, you get it, it’s bad for you
because it hurts your T cells, which are the fighter cells, and then they can’t fight off incoming disease.” And
so people don’t usually die of HIV or AIDS. From AIDS, they die of the opportunistic disease that comes in
that they can’t fight off. And what they’re discovering is, I believe… it’s the CD4?? T cell, in long COVID
folks, is coming in lower consistently than folks who have AIDS. And then the CD8 is, like, “on par.” And I
think I have that right. It’s possible I flipped them, but generally speaking, that’s the idea. (NOTE: Since this
interview, Meghan issued a correction; she did flip it: It is CD4 T cells that are on par, and CD8 is lower; see
link at bottom of this interview for more.)

John Reimann
Is there any way to tell who is at greater risk of getting long COVID? And who is at less risk of people that get
COVID at all?

Meghan
Broad strokes, the people who are at higher risk are folks who are older, and folks who have preexisting health
conditions, broad strokes, but the other element that they’re starting to see is, you may also be more likely to
get it if you’re in very good shape, or you’re an athlete, because your immune system is so – these are not
scientific terms I’m about to say – but you know, like over–, hyper-stimulated, like your immune system’s
really firing so that when COVID comes in it, it is more likely to cause the problematic cytokine storm because
it overcompensates, right, and so then it puts you into a situation where your body’s really fighting itself.
That’s why you are seeing so many athletes having to bow out. There’s definitely somewhat regular news
reports of athletes dying, because this is hitting them hard. So, ironically, being in very good shape is also a
liability. But, to be clear, part of this, like this airborne AIDS analogy, is to clarify for people that we’re still
new in this, we’re two and a half years in, we actually don’t know that everyone has long COVID, right? It’s
[potentially] just a question of when and how it presents itself. Because most viral diseases, we understand
now, have viral persistence. And there are definitely papers that are proving that, through autopsy reports, that
even asymptomatic people who have passed away of COVID have internal organs that are filled with the virus,
and they didn’t even know it.

John Reimann
Is it possible, as you say, that everybody has Long Covid, and for some, it expresses itself more severely in
some people than in others? And so it’s not like either/or; it’s kind of a spectrum?

Meghan
Yeah, I think it’s more of a… not if but when. I would just want to clarify that this is not, like, the official
understanding. But that is a very commonly held supposition amongst folks in the long COVID communities
online. Just because of what we know about other viruses, right? Like, HPV – you get it, you don’t have any acute information that you’ve even gotten it usually. It’s a surprise to most folks when they get diagnosed. You
usually find out because it’s starting to give you cancer! (laughs incredulously)

So, yes, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). One of its outcomes is that it can give you cancer if you don’t
clear the virus, and it’s notorious for cervical cancer as well as mouth and throat cancer. They used to think it
only affected women [and people with cervixs] but they now understand that the mouth and throat cancer that
men are getting is tied to HPV. Then there’s also I believe it’s hepatitis C can have cancer as an outcome. We
understand that AIDS – like your initial infection – is usually “mild symptoms”. But the end game is it’s
destroyed your immune system and so you’re more likely to die of opportunistic disease, which is an absolute
nightmare. So that’s another virus. We know that chickenpox, the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), you
[typically] experience that as a child. Now they actually finally got smart about it and created a vaccine, where
previously folks would have chickenpox parties in the ‘80s. But now they understand that Varicella can lead to
shingles in older age, which is very painful. So, shingles, that’s a chickenpox-Jack-in-the-Box surprise gift that
it gives folks. We are early in our COVID, our Cov-SARS-2 journey, so we have no idea what the Jack-in-the-
Box is.

So the long COVID community feels, generally, very strongly that any unmasking is absolutely wild. (laughs)
And massively disrespectful to disabled and vulnerable folks generally. But it is a confidence in our
understanding at present– that science doesn’t bear out that confidence, to be candid, right? We should all be
having our faces covered and protecting our internal organs. Just imagine: if 70% of the globe has gotten
COVID. And if everyone who gets it to some degree has a down regulated immune system, meaning T cells
take a hit and other things. This is part of why I think we’re seeing monkeypox right now – because the planet
has never had ~70% of human mammals with downregulated immune systems. So we are actually starting to
see and live into the problem of opportunistic disease expanding.

John Reimann
And you believe that that’s what the the rise of monkeypox is related to, is weakened immune systems?

Meghan
I think it’s probably a combination of things. You know, they’re still looking into it, but it is heavily mutated,
that’s for sure. The West has not been paying attention to the rise of infectious diseases in Africa generally.
And what we are starting to see if you pay attention to infectious disease headlines is that so many places
globally are starting to see these wild upticks in previously mostly managed, or not really seeing, issues. Like,
Iraq is having a thing–it’s called hemorrhagic fever–outbreak, which has like a 30% mortality rate?…
something wild… so it’s related to… malaria?… is my understanding.

John Reimann
That would be bacterial.

Meghan
I believe so yeah. That may be true. (NOTE: Since this interview, Meghan corrected herself. It’s actually Viral
Hemorrhagic Fever and is related to Ebola, not Malaria, so it is not a bacterial infection.) Sorry, we would have
to pull that out to be more specific, but generally speaking, I would say: what the world has not calculated into
its equation — in this really rigorous push for “normalcy,” economic churning of the wheels, making sure that the economy stays at the level that it’s been at — is that we have a whole population that’s been hit with a
SARS virus. You know, the analogies that public health officials have made to it being a cold, I think are
absolutely irresponsible.

The analogy? It’s that some public health officials – and blue check scientists on Twitter, this is somewhat
common, and you know, government leaders, like Mayor Adams in New York also – are very much
minimizing and downplaying the risk, and acting like it’s a cold. And if you get through the cold, you’re fine.
But would they really– you know, we don’t… we don’t treat HIV like that. Its initial infection is a little bit like
the flu. But we treat that with the appropriate level of seriousness for a disease that diminishes human T cell
count. So, I think it’s an important issue for socialists because, you know, our future is tied up in our thriving
and our supporting one another. And, you know, masking broadly, right, is solidarity with disabled and already
ill folks. But right now, it’s also, like, we need to be masking in very high quality masks in order to protect our
own lives as well.

John Reimann
Is there any indication that being vaccinated helps protect from long COVID?

Meghan
The studies that are out right now show that it does not confer the profound protection that was hoped. It gives
you a 15% bump against long COVID.

John Reimann
So, if it’s true that long COVID is not just either/or, then what that could mean is, it would tend to diminish the
consequences of long COVID. Not whether you get it or not.

Meghan
That may be true. Again, it’s a strange virus—and dangerous, I want to emphasize. The whole reason I’m
happy to talk to you today is because this is a dangerous virus, because it is Russian roulette with our lives. We
don’t know. People who get it the first time have been absolutely devastated by it. And this is both from early
2020, to sometime last year during Delta. To folks who have gotten it this year! We don’t know. None of us
know how our bodies are going to react. There are some people who have had what appears to be a full
recovery, but they are in a minority, frankly.

Meghan
You say they’re in the minority. What makes you say that?

Meghan
I’m in a lot of long COVID support groups, chats on Twitter, that’s really the space where folks with long
COVID are hanging out. There is stuff on Facebook as well. I’m less familiar with that. But folks kind of
regularly shout out to the community, like, “Hey, long COVID pals, have any of you recovered from this? I
need some hope!” right? This is from folks with longgggg Covid, not folks with a casual initial infection.

Again, to reiterate, COVID is not casual for everybody. Some folks are lucky that it doesn’t express strongly;
other folks are killed by it. That’s clearly a spectrum. But [what I’m describing] is folks reaching out to people
who have been in the long COVID community, with persistent symptoms, and the question is, “Guys, have
any of you recovered? I need something to hold on to! Is there hope?” And, you know, there’s like two to three
people (laughs incredulously) that have claimed that they have recovered, that they’re back, and they’re able to
exercise and they’re able to walk around. And so there’s this community space on there where people share,
you know, what are they doing, what supplements are they taking, what meds are they taking, and what’s
working for them. But it’s very clear, every single person is very specific, there is not one single silver bullet
for this.

John Reimann
So to get to the question of socialism, and zoonotic diseases, COVID in particular: We talked once before,
about the issue of habitat destruction, and factory farming, which are simply products of capitalism itself. And
you mentioned that there’s an outbreak of all kinds of new diseases in Africa. Which, incidentally, that is one
of the real hotspots for both of those – for habitat destruction, and factory or industrial farming. And we should
also include industrial agriculture, like these huge plantations in particular that grow palm, for palm oil. And
that often brings domestic animals and also human animals into close contact with wild animals, in particular
bats, that tend to have a huge number of viruses but have a strong immune system. So then that leads to, as you
say, some of these diseases have like 30% or higher mortality rate. So I think we really have to think about
about that issue. [See link at bottom of this interview for more on this aspect.]

Meghan
Yes. I agree. I agree with what you’re saying. Just for clarification, the situation in Africa isn’t maybe
necessarily new [viruses], but it’s an increased prevalence of previously more diminished [viruses]; like,
monkeypox outbreaks are now more frequent [see link at bottom]. I think there’s layers to reasons why this is a
socialist issue. This is a disability justice issue for our brothers, sisters and non-binary family members who
are disabled and chronically ill. Us showing up in ways that support them is absolutely essential to being in
right relationship in how we express our solidarity. Which extends to, are we going to protests in masks? And
so that’s an aspect. And to your point, yes, absolutely the ecological component, this is an ecological justice
issue as well, which dovetails into capitalism and the various imperialist capitalist abuses, both here and
abroad. It’s all very intertwined, right? All of these systems of harm, and oppression, and extraction are the
source of the problem, including the situation we have now, because of a neoliberal governing structure that’s
prioritizing money over human life. And, you know, we could dip our toe in the conversation of the role that
the evangelicals, Christians, many of them are now embedded in the American government, and a lot of them
are really happy if a lot of the population dies off. They believe in the rapture. So there’s an element where that
is “in the mix” let’s say. So, yes, there’s a lot to unpack and a lot to parse. And I feel like the big takeaway for
all of this is we should be lobbying our elected representatives, demanding that they reinstate mask mandates
universally, just on the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act alone, right!? It is in violation of that, it is
harming and it is preventing access. But more so, if we need a talking point that they might hear, disabling
minimum 20% of the population is going to absolutely crush the American economy.

John Reimann
Well, you said 20% of the population, you mean 20% of those who have had COVID?

Meghan
Yes, yes. So you know, flexible, but I would also say keep in mind, if the CDC is saying one in five people
will end up with long COVID that… there are reports, there are studies, like there’s one from Arizona, where
it’s 67% of the people that they did their study with had long COVID. So the prevalence of long COVID as
20%, I think, is a very suppressed number, I would not be shocked if it is more, more like 50–

John Reimann
That 67%, that’s of the whole population, or those who have had COVID?

Meghan
That was with their sample size. So if they extrapolated the sample size out to the general population, it was
67%. That’s obviously a number that people are not running with, because it’s really bad news. But that is one
study that occurred.

John Reimann
So, two-thirds of the entire population in that state have long COVID?

Meghan
In their sample size. It wasn’t the entire state, but what’s the sample size? I can pull it up [see link at bottom]. I
believe that that was cited by the University of Minnesota… So just to give a sense of… like, there are some
studies that are claiming long COVID impacts 10% and others that are citing that it’s probably closer to 70.
So, depending on your motivations… if you want to downplay it, you’ll cite a lower number. I don’t know, I
don’t have a lot of solid territory to say 50% – 20% is what the CDC says – but I would not be shocked if it is
50% to 100% of people who get COVID end up with Long Covid in some form.

John Reimann
Right. Right. So we’re talking about the percentage of people that get COVID at all. (Note: See the study in the
link below for further clarification.)

Meghan
That’s right. Yeah.

John Reimann
And I mean, there is some projection that sooner or later everybody’s going to get COVID.

Meghan
Right, which, let’s bear in mind how disingenuous a position that is, and how harmful a position that is.
Because this is coming from the same people who are refusing to put in place protection and safety measures.
It would be as if a building company decides that they’re not going to do scaffolding and they’re like, well,
everyone’s gonna fall off the building at some point, what are you going to do? I mean, it’s just wild. Like, you
know, oh, the tattoo parlor is no longer following OSHA regulations, we just reuse our needles, sorry, like, we can’t really do anything about it. It’s dishonest. It’s completely dishonest to claim that they can’t do anything
to prevent everyone from getting COVID. All it takes is: if everybody in the country wore an n95 Mask, we
could actually end the pandemic.

John Reimann
It’s really a pretty bloodless argument, but it is out there amongst quite a few (who say) that, “Oh, well, you
know, this is just a matter of survival of the fittest. And those who are the strongest will survive, and that will
strengthen the human gene pool.” What do you say to that?

Meghan
Yeah, so we have words for that. The two words would be: eugenics and fascism. You know, those are not
arguments that anybody who is socialist should have anything to do with. That sounds like Hitler to me. And
the US is absolutely guilty of these eugenicist positions. Where those of us who are modern activists
understand based on the Black feminist organizing tradition, that our objective is to center, uplift, support and
build for the most vulnerable in our communities, because that is how we will get to everybody getting their
needs met, and being okay. That should be our orientation, it should not be the survival of the fittest, because
that’s already what capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal, white supremacy has for us, right? Like, our job is to
absolutely, categorically reject that, to reject eugenics and survival of the fittest on principle, and demand
better. And, also, we have to also act individually! Because this is thrust on us, because of the failure of public
health. As individuals, we do have to take on that individual responsibility of protecting everyone in our
community.

John Reimann
So final question: How has having long COVID– has that changed your your outlook on the world and your
thinking in general?

Meghan
It has because I went from being an able bodied person to an episodically disabled person. And that’s a change.
I’d had some awareness and adjacency and had been working in some disability activism spaces previously,
but now I feel like I am much more embedded in that space. And what I think is very challenging for all of us
with long COVID that’s related [to socialism/disability discussions], is, we’re out here trying to warn people,
because we actually love human beings, we want us to all be okay. And folks are really struggling with
listening. And that’s very hard, and you know, hurtful, right, where you’re not listening to people who have
been victims. And if we really believe, “Center victims! Center survivors!” this has to be a universally applied
principle that expands not just for #MeToo [etc] but into all areas where victimhood and survivorhood exists.

Meghan
John, would it be okay to add a couple more things to share with your audience?

John Reimann
Yes, of course.

Meghan
Awesome. Thank you. So, the two things I wanted to go to bat for are, (1) right now the CDC is— there’s a
general media discourse that monkeypox impacts gay men only, which is very similar to what they did with
the AIDS crisis in the 80s. I just want to reiterate for everybody that monkeypox does not discriminate, and
that women are getting this. Non binary folks are getting this. Children are getting this. And it’s important to
know that monkeypox is airborne. Monkeypox [strain seen now outside of Africa] was previously endemic in
Nigeria. And their Nigerian CDC PDF, that states how to handle an outbreak, indicates very explicitly to take
airborne precautions. So we should all be very alert to this and the risk that monkeypox poses to our
community–all of us–it’s really going to change the game because it’s so much more durable than COVID.
You can get it from touching stuff at a grocery store or riding a bus; and airborne! [on bus, at grocer, etc]. It is,
I think, imperative that we be bothering leadership to put in place more precautions. Because if this goes off
the rails, this is really going to be bad for everybody.

John Reimann
Hadn’t you said it actually has a fairly high mortality rate?

Meghan
It’s 3 to 6%, which is higher than COVID. And keep in mind, those are numbers based on when no one on the
planet had a downregulated immune system en masse. Now we have a downregulated immune system
situation. So yeah, it’s a risk, and children die from it more frequently, which is very scary, because a lot of the
young ones can’t wear masks. And so parents honestly should be keeping their babies home and, for COVID
too, they should not be in any indoor situations right now. It’s so rampant. But yeah, it’s a significant risk, as it
has severe complications as well. Because you get these pox things, that are kinda like pimples, but if you
scratch one and it gets infected, one of the ways that people can get really messed up by it is if an opportunistic
infection hops in at the same time. People can get… say, you touch your eye after touching a monkeypox
lesion, you can actually make yourself go blind. Basically, we need to keep in mind it is not in the chickenpox
family. Chickenpox is a whole, totally separate strain. It is in the orthopox family. And it is basically Smallpox
Jr.! Which is the thing that we, bless us, we managed to eradicate. And now we’re at risk of basically kinda
recreating it if we don’t shut this down, if we don’t prevent it from getting out of hand. And right now, I’m not
seeing any movement from political leadership at any local or federal level that would indicate they’re taking
this seriously, except for vaccines, which really dovetails very nicely into their big pharma relationship.
Because the solution is again, masks! If we were all to mask right now, that would go such a distance in
stopping everything.

A P100 mask

And (2) the other thing I wanted to add on, was to encourage people to really consider a mask upgrade. Even
N95’s are not protecting a lot of people. Because there’s that 5% margin of error. Where if you get an N100, or
a P100, which is– it’s a reusable respirator when you get to the P100 level. That’s what most of us with long
COVID are wearing when we go out. Because we will not take the risk to hurt ourselves further, even though
the rest of the world is not protecting us. P100 respirators are what folks doing lead, asbestos, mold abatement
use. It is the highest quality lung protection you can buy. I encourage everyone to upgrade because you do not
want to be an accidental early adopter of either monkeypox or COVID BA.5, or what comes after. Dodge that.

John Reimann
Okay, so, in sum, would you like to summarize your thoughts and in a few sentences or is that an impossible
task for you?

Meghan
I can try to recap: I think it is in the interest of us, as socialists and as human beings generally, to be protecting
our community and ourselves through the most excellent masks that we can afford. And to understand that,
normal is actually dead. We need to grieve the fact that 2019 is really done; the current state of mass denial
and need to get back to that is, is the denial phase of grief. I don’t know what else to call it. I mean, in addition
to it being politically informed—where people are being told that they’re safe, when they’re actually not. We
need to recognize that we’re in a state of extreme danger, I would say. And, you know, because keep in mind
previously 5% positivity would set the alarms off for the CDC and for most states, and now, New York City
has 20 to 50% positivity rates for Covid. What are we doing?
Like, New York has capacity to test 20 monkeypox cases a day. So this is guaranteed to hit community spread.
And because it has a protracted [time] from infection to symptom presentation, it’s from seven to 21 days, or
five to 21 days, and it averages about a week or so. You know, we’re going to find out. Predictions for
monkeypox are that we’re gonna hit a million cases worldwide by September, if we don’t put the lid on this.
And so it really is… we have to grieve the fact that the life that we knew is no longer here. We’re going to
have to stay home more, and we’re going to have to… solidarity is going to look like this. Solidarity is also is
going to be wearing an excellent mask. And solidarity is advocating for the folks that are so incapacitated they
can’t do it, they’re in bed.

And I’d say, I think we can do it. I’m here because I’m wanting to advocate for folks who have long COVID
worse than I do. And I think we can step into better solidarity, because as you know, John, we’re at a moment
of high threat as well with the political situation, the Supreme Court, all of that. And so it’s, it’s our job to
model for others what solidarity and good practice looks like. And, let’s continue to get the word out and help
people stay safe.

Meghan also sent us these links for further reading.

For more on factory farming, habitat destruction and covid, see End Coronavirus Capitalism! An Environmentalist Manifesto

Also, for more on this aspect of the disease, see this link on our blog site

We also highly recommend the works of evolutionary epidemiologist and socialist Rob Wallace

We would also add that we should consider the possibility how the degradation of our environment has weakened the immune system. This is an issue which biologist Theo Colborn has dealt with extensively. See this review of her profound book Our Stolen Future, for example.

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