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COVID-19 Advisory: Innate Immunity ~ WH Task Force ~ Kenny Rogers ~ CA Reopening Blues

May 6, 2020
To: All Domestic Employees
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Innate Immunity ~ WH Task Force ~ Kenny Rogers ~ CA Reopening Blues

Innate Immunology
According to a piece by the New York Times from May 1, new research in a niche area of immunology suggests that certain vaccines – some that have been around for decades – may have the serendipitous effect of reducing or eliminating coronavirus symptoms. Over 25 universities and clinical centers are commencing trials to test whether a live tuberculosis vaccine (that was discovered at the end of the 1918 pandemic) may have this effect. The interest arises from a phenomenon known as “innate immunity,” by which live vaccines may tend to provide broad protection against infections in ways that no one had anticipated. As an example, in the 1950’s in a clinical study at the Academy of Medical Science in Moscow involving 320,000 subjects, researchers found that, among persons who had received the polio vaccine, the incidence of seasonal influenza was reduced by 75 percent. Similarly, in a 2018 study, researchers in the Netherlands found that persons given a tuberculosis vaccine were better able to fight off yellow fever than those who were not. This arm of immunology is giving hope to researchers that a coronavirus treatment may already be on the shelf.

Coronavirus Task Force
To Ferris Bueller’s point, life indeed does move pretty fast, and, yes, if one does not look around once in a while, one could miss it. And that’s how it is trying to cover this pandemic. As we reported, yesterday Vice President Mike Pence stated that the White House was looking to wind up the Coronavirus Task Force. This morning – in the spirit of Mr. Bueller – I looked around only to find that, according to Fox News, President Trump just announced that the task force would continue “indefinitely” albeit with a focus on reopening the country. Just trying to stay on top of this stuff, folks. Bear with me. 

“You’ve Got to Know When to Fold ‘em” As American philosopher George Santayana once said (and this is admittedly a loose translation), “Those who forget Kenny Rogers’ song lyrics are doomed to repeat them.” Indeed, it would appear that Dana Point and Huntington Beach, both of which had apparently forgotten the unbelievably overplayed refrain to Rogers’ iconic hit song, “The Gambler,” emerged from an amnesiac cloud late last night and effectively dropped their lawsuits against California Governor Gavin Newsom (for having closed Orange County beaches) by submitting reopening plans and receiving reopening approvals. One of the stimuli for this cognitive spark could have been the fact that sister beaches in Orange County were receiving reopening orders right and left without the expense of any legal action. With restrictions against public parking at all of these beaches still in effect, however, it is uncertain how many people will actually go, but there’ll be time enough for countin’, when the deal is done.

California Reopening – Different Strokes
The state finds itself in a quandary. As reported by the L.A. Times today, more than 2,500 new cases of coronavirus were recorded yesterday – the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. However, despite the rise in reported infections (which may arise in part from expanded testing), the state recorded its first week-overweek decline in deaths (as shown in the table from the L.A. Times). In the midst of these trends, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that low-risk retailers would be allowed to reopen by this Friday with modifications – this would include such places as sporting goods stores and florists featuring curb-side pickup. 

However, as per Sly (and the Family) Stone’s fabled line, “different strokes for different folks,” not all Californians share the governor’s sense of caution. For example, as reported by the Mercury News, the health officer for both Yuba and Sutter Counties (both of which are fairly rural) issued a much more permissive reopening order, including within its ambit dine-in restaurants, gyms, and massage therapists (provided that they observe safety criteria). Similarly, some businesspeople are independently taking matters into their own hands. For instance, the owner of a gym in Victorville has reopened in contradiction of local orders. This photo (from shows his team outside of the facility; note the large copy of the U.S. Constitution taped to his window – this fulfills the dual purpose of reducing glare while reiterating the supreme law of the nation. In response to this trend, Governor Newsom stated, “They are putting their public at risk. They are putting our progress at risk. These are exceptions. The overwhelming majority of Californians are playing by the rules and doing the right thing.” All of which, taken together, roughly approximates Mr. Stone’s entreaty that “We got to live together.”

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COVID-19 Advisory: Innate Immunity ~ WH Task Force ~ Kenny Rogers ~ CA Reopening Blues