How to Celebrate Labor Day During the Pandemic

by Kelly R. Smith

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A patriotic Labor Day parade
A patriotic Labor Day parade

We have a long and interesting history of Labor Day. Although it began similar in nature, and partly inspired by the Socialist May Day celebration, in America we have moved away from the political aspect. Now it’s a time to enjoy the end of summer, attend parades, and socialize with family and friends.

But this year will be a bit different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year it’s all about wearing masks (not the fun kind) and social distancing. As if “quarantine fatigue” wasn’t already enough of a problem. So let’s look at some guidelines and activities.

Considerations for Labor Day Gatherings

  • Masks: All guests should be wearing them while they’re not eating or drinking. When they do take off masks, they should move an appropriate distance away from others to social distance. Sorry to rain on your parade. That your city may have canceled anyway. It’s ironic; politicians support Antifa riots, I mean peaceful demonstrations, but celebration gatherings and church are prohibited.
  • Food and drink: Avoid shared items, like putting your hands into a shared cooler full of soda and beer or bowls of chips and dip. Have everyone use their personal disposable gloves on serving tools such as shared tongs to plate something like a hot dog.
  • Location: Will there be plenty of space for people to socially-distance? Is the area well-ventilated? Outdoor gatherings are optimal because of the open air and the ability to spread out. Also, there has been some speculation that UV rays kill the virus. In fact, if it’s true, It’s a good idea to have a cell phone UV sanitizer at home.
  • Personal hygiene: Do you have somewhere where attendees can wash their hands? Hand washing using soap and warm water is always more effective than using hand sanitizer. Be sure to clean your hands before and after eating, and before and after you touch any high-traffic surfaces.

Labor Day Activities

In addition to the kind of party described above, you can avoid the traditional and get creative.

  • A Netflix or Amazon Prime binge-watching party. These tend to be smaller gatherings so they reduce the probability of catching the COVID-19 virus.
  • Have a backyard bonfire. If you plan to do your celebrating in the evening (and maybe viewing some fireworks in the distance if you’re lucky), this is a great idea. Hot dogs and marshmallows, anyone? A firepit is also an option.
  • Spend the day on the water. In your boat, the crowd will be small. One family per boat in a multi-boat gathering really mandates social-distancing. How about a group of kayaks?
  • Attend a drive-in movie theater. The tables have really turned lately. Regular theaters are hurting but drive-ins are experiencing a revival.

These ideas of how to celebrate labor day during the pandemic should provide you with some precautions and some options. We may not like the new normal but we have to make the best of it.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Our American Society is Now All-Black, 24-7, a Cultural Shift

by Kelly R. Smith

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Martin Luther King and Barack Obama
Martin Luther King and Barack Obama

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls along so does another social phenomena — the machine that is the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and their partners, Antifa. It might seem like this is a recent development, but in fact, it has been fomenting for quite a while.

Long before white people were only acceptable if they were “woke,” and you might notice that’s woke not awoken or woken up (incorrect grammar is NOT cool), things were not as revisionist history portrays it today.

Which Party is Socially Progressive?

That’s a good question and one that has been decided. The Democrats are for the crazy stuff (does the New Green Deal strike a nerve?). It should. The spearhead are the so-called Democrat Socialists, people like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Just prefixing democrat to socialist doesn’t change anything. Socialism is Socialism.

It’s true that people like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden are still wandering the halls but they are not leading anymore. They’re mouthpieces and fund-raisers.

The term progressive is misleading anyway. Returning to Marxist ideology and Saul Alinsky mob tactics is not making progress. Job growth, prosperity, and a renewed military presence under the leadership of President Trump is progress.

Enter Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, and Antifa

All the rioting, burning, and looting have very little to do with the death of George Floyd, although that was clearly a tragedy. The chaotic domestic terrorism is a means to push a social agenda. Part of that agenda, from blacklivesmatter.com, says, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Sound familiar? It should. Disrupting the family unit and transferring allegiance to the central state is what the Soviet, Chinese and North Korean communists did too. How did that work out?

Colin Kaepernick entered the game focused on shining a bad light on the police when he showed up to football practice wearing those cute cops-are-pigs socks. There is some credibility to the theory that this was the impetus to the defund-the-police movement. As a side note, although he riles against the ills of slavery in the past, he stills shills for Nike (paycheck!), who uses child labor in sweatshops to make their shoes. Oh, the hypocrisy is under-whelming.

Antifa is the cadre of domestic terrorists in all this. They are much more organized than many people think, as this article on the history of Antifa shows.

Being All-Black in a Capitalist System

I liken this to curbside grocery pick-up, at least where I live. Once one grocery store chain started doing it, the rest scrambled to get in the game. It’s understandably about market share. And, this was before the COVID-19 pandemic with its social-distancing woes. As one of the order-fillers at Kroger told me, “It’s a blessing for moms with 2 screaming kids. Why would they come in?”

Commercial companies across the board are imitating this model with their pandering to black interests and customers as well as social warriors of all stripes. Just the other day, Discover card announced that they are gifting $5,000,000 to black-owned restaurants, saying, “In an effort to support the restaurant industry as it rebounds from the impact of COVID-19, Discover announced today that it will be giving $5 million to Black-owned restaurants.”

Wait — did I read that right? How is this social justice? What about Mexican restaurants? Chinese? White-owned diners? How about Thai and sushi shops? And Lord help me, pizza shops. I assumed all businesses were on the COVID-19 pandemic chopping block. No sir, only blacks qualify; this is pandering at its lowest.

If you’ve got Discover plastic in your wallet, you’re the patsy here. That $5 million is coming out of your 25% monthly high interest rates, not the CEO’s annual bonus. It doesn’t matter where you stand on non-blacks losing their livelihood while only blacks get the lifeboats. This is life as we know it in the new all-black, 24-7, cultural mode.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Do UV Light Sanitizers Kill COVID-19?

by Kelly R. Smith

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Disinfecting a countertop with a UV light sanitizer
Disinfecting a countertop with a UV light sanitizer

The short answer is that yes, UV light sanitizers do kill COVID-19. In fact, for years now HVAC technicians have been installing them in heating and cooling ducts to kill viruses, mold spores, and bacteria as air gets recirculated. This might have prevented Legionnaire’s Disease.

The long answer is, it depends. ConsumerLab.com puts it this way, “Yes, ultraviolet light in the “C” range, also known as UVC, has been shown to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The big challenge with using UV-C light is being sure your UV lamp provides a large enough dose of UVC light to all the surfaces you need to disinfect, such as a mask, phone, or an entire room, and that you are not exposed to the UVC light, as it is dangerous.”

Should You Buy and Use a UV Light Sanitizer?

It certainly couldn’t hurt as long as you take ConsumerLab’s advice. Just as it is with other products that have skyrocketed in demand (remember toilet paper when the COVID-19 pandemic struck) overnight, these UV lights are flying off the shelves.

Consequently, there are likely to be a lot of “cheap imitations” out there, mostly from China. These things do have a way of coming full-circle, don’t they? Just be sure to do due diligence before parting with your cash.

Other Ways to Protect from the Coronavirus

  • Wear a mask. Yes, I know people are polarized about this issue, about whether the mandate infringes on their constitutional rights or not. People on both sides tend to get very bellicose about it. I don’t like it but on the chance that it works, I’ll do it.
  • Use disposable gloves. I saw more people using these when we embarked on this journey than now. They’re practical for some things, not for others.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Also, clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub. Hygiene is important.
  • Avoid touching your face. This touching is automatic so this strategy might be difficult. The mask makes my nose itch.
  • Practice physical distancing. Avoid unnecessary travel. Stay away from large groups of people.

It seems that the verdict is in — UV light sanitizers are effective at killing COVID-19 virus if you use one that is powerful enough and you do it with zeal and overkill. There’s no visible meter that tells you when you’re done. Don’t shilly-shally.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Why Pandemics Like COVID-19, or Coronavirus Persist

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Spanish flu pandemic of 1918
Spanish flu pandemic of 1918

Pandemics and epidemics are nothing new; the only constant seems to be that we are never adequately prepared for them. The “expert doctors” can’t seem to agree on symptoms, courses of action, which vitamins help, and what to do about social interactions. That’s just one reason why pandemics like COVID-19 persist. It’s like eggs; we better enjoy them today because next week another panel of “experts” will say they’re killing us.

Reasons why Pandemics Persist

  1. The virus is easily transmissible in the air we breath and the surfaces we touch. We are highly-mobile lifeforms.
  2. It may take several waves to create a herd immunity.
  3. Vaccines, like any prescription medicine, take time to develop and will likely not create 100% immunity from the virus. While it’s being worked on, the virus is mutating; it is a moving target.
  4. The various government entities (federal, state, county, city) don’t coordinate or play well together.
  5. Citizens are advised to self-quarantine, but groups like Antifa and BLM use the situation to get up in everyone’s faces and cause chaos and confusion and push radical agendas.
  6. Many individuals and even entire communities don’t take it seriously. They may continue to spread it as others curtail it. Don’t be a jobbernowl; put on the damn mask already!
  7. People get tired of lockdowns and closed businesses. They get cabin fever and let their guard down. The case-count goes back up.

Pandemics and Epidemics Throughout History

  1. Prehistoric epidemic: Circa 3000 B.C.: China.
  2. Plague of Athens: 430 B.C. (maybe typhoid or ebola).
  3. Antonine Plague: A.D. 165-180: Roman Empire (thought to be smallpox).
  4. Plague of Cyprian: A.D. 250-271 (cause unknown; Cyprian wrote, “The bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength [and] a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces (an area of the mouth).”
  5. Plague of Justinian: A.D. 541-542: (Byzantine Empire; bubonic plague).
  6. The Black Death: 1346-1353: (Asia to Europe; caused by a strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis spread by fleas on infected rodents).
  7. Cocoliztli epidemic: 1545-1548: (Mexico and Central America; caused by subspecies of Salmonella known as S. paratyphi C, causes enteric fever, a category of fever that includes typhoid).
  8. American Plagues: 16th century: (caused by an assortment of of Eurasian diseases including smallpox. There goes those privileged white imperialists again)!
  9. Great Plague of London: 1665-1666: (the Black Death again; transmitted by plague-infected rodents).
  10. Great Plague of Marseille: 1720-1723: (a plague brought by a ship with fleas on plague-infected rodents).
  11. Russian plague: 1770-1772: (another plague).
  12. Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic: 1793: (transmitted by mosquitoes; the “experts” at the time wrongly believed that slaves were immune).
  13. Flu pandemic: 1889-1890: (worldwide; killed ~1 million people).
  14. American polio epidemic: 1916: (started in New York City; flared up intermittently until 1954 when the Salk vaccine was developed).
  15. Spanish Flu: 1918-1920: (worldwide; ~500 million people died).
  16. Asian Flu: 1957-1958: (worldwide, started in China, sound familiar? Killed over than 1.1 million).
  17. AIDS pandemic and epidemic: 1981-present day: (worldwide; 35 million deaths so far).
  18. H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic: 2009-2010: (worldwide; between 151,700 and 575,400 dead says the “experts” at the CDC; can you narrow that down a bit, fellas?).
  19. West African Ebola epidemic: 2014-2016: (primarily in West Africa with 28,600 reported cases and 11,325 deaths).
  20. Zika Virus epidemic: 2015-present day: (primarily in South America and Central America; spread through mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, but can also be sexually transmitted).
  21. COVID-19 pandemic: December 2019-present: (worldwide; originated in China).

To do your part to slow or stop COVID-19 from persisting, keep your guard up, self-quarantine, and wear a mask (we can discus the constitutionality of it later). In short, you don’t have to live off the grid, just use common sense.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

10 Popular Home Renovation Trends in 2020

by Kelly R. Smith

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Home floor and walls renovations.
Home floor and walls renovations

Remodeling, whether done for contemporary style, preparation for sale, or just general repairs continues as usual. The most popular home renovation trends vary from year to year depending on a number of factors. Renovation budgets are always high on the list. Going green not only lowers your bills but helps the environment. Other factors can influence decisions but let’s look at how 2020 is shaping up thus far.

  • Floors, ceilings, and walls. Traditionally, these surfaces get a lot of attention and 2020 is no exception. The Joint Center for Housing For Housing Studies says homeowners average $3,282 per year on these surfaces.
  • Prioritizing on saving money. This trend is not specifically tied to aesthetics. Rather, it is focused on frugality. Migrating to lower operating-cost lighting like LED bulbs, for one. Beefing up attic insulation and adding radiant barrier foil may not boost curb appeal, but oh, what a difference when the power bills come due each and every month.
  • Slapping on another coat of paint. This is always one of the most popular weekend DIY projects. The cost of paint is reasonable and the outlay of cash for tools is minimal. You can even employ paint illusions to make a room look larger.
  • Be a DIY weekend warrior. This is the best way to stretch your budget. Plus, who doesn’t love that sense of pride? DIY varies in the level of difficulty but with the help of sites like this one, I Can Fix Up My Home, you might be surprised at what you can accomplish. The Senior Director of Customer Insights at Lowe’s, Amy Anthony, says, “Seventy-four percent [of consumers] do research to get as much information as possible before making a purchase.”
  • Preparing for climate change. Whether you are an ardent believer in global warming (now called climate change) or believe Al Gore is just out to make a buck preaching about it, there’s no doubt that the preparation steps saves money. So, weatherstrip, caulk, upgrade your windows; all changes are cumulative.
  • Home sanitation and wellness is moving up. This is understandable and goes hand in hand with many other home improvements because the topic of off-gassing is more well-known that ever. Forbes.com puts it this way, “Wellness-focused changes can include paint, flooring or cabinetry with non-toxic materials, touchless faucets that reduce germ spread, circadian lighting that improves sleep, water and air purification systems, bidet style toilets for enhanced hygiene, and many others.”
  • Focus on lower budgets, bigger consequences. Smaller projects encompassing a big wow factor are becoming more popular and are expected to continue. For example, instead of gutting the bathroom and re-doing it, why not have your tub re-finished, update all faucets, put in a new recessed medicine cabinet, and re-paint?
  • Smaller brand names are becoming more competitive by adding luxury features. Kitchen cabinets are a good example of this. After Hurricane Harvey, when our home flooded, one of the things we needed to replace were our cabinets and countertops. Home Depot gave us a lot of modular options with freebies like self-closing doors and stainless steel sinks thrown in.
  • Home automation is going mainline. Once the purview of science fiction novels, it’s coming at us fast and furious now. I recently installed a Ring Doorbell. It not only responds when someone rings it, but also when someone just approaches it.
  • More services are becoming negotiable. When emergency repairs are called for instead of long thought out projects, it would seem that the repair person has you over the barrel. Not always the case. Since our economy has shifted to being service-based (some hands-on crafts still can’t be outsourced to China), the competition for your business has become fiercer. Good news for the homeowner.

These 10 popular home renovation trends for 2020 are likely to continue as the COVID-19 lock-down continues. It’s just the new-new. Many employers are not only accepting work-from-home staff, but embracing it. It saves on the overhead. And I might say, as a writer I am used to working from home but it has been really nice having my wife working from home rather than in her downtown high-rise office.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Loneliness as an Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Loneliness and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loneliness and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Although the COVID-19 pandemic (or Coronavirus, if you prefer) has caused abundant death, the toll in terms of depression and loneliness is even more widespread. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reffers to it as a “loneliness epidemic.” Spending so much time in isolation wreaks havoc on our emotions. When we do get out, it is increasingly harder to see the person behind the mask; it is essentially dehumanizing. It can cause what has become known as pandemic dreaming.

Our Brains Operate in Two Modes

Matthew Lieberman is a founder of the field of social cognitive neuroscience and he discovered that our brains operate in two distinct modes. He found that one is utilized for engaging with the physical world around us. Looking for shelter when a hurricane is blowing in, for example. The other for is utilized for considering mental states; it views other people in terms of being psychological entities with distinct thoughts and feelings of their own. He used MRI imaging to show that the second mode, what he called the social brain, is actually the default mode. That could explain our some of our current issues with isolation.

We are Wired to Mingle with Our Fellows

Some 2,348 years ago Aristotle told us that man is by nature a social animal. By in large that is true, although introverts are the chemical exception to the rule; they are more governed by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which warms up as they turn their focus inward. Extroverts, on the other hand, are governed more by their dopamine reward network. This is triggered when external stimuli and sensory input happens. In other words, if you are a party animal or used to spend a lot of time at the office moving through the cubical farm gossiping or being a kvetcher, this lock-down is hurting you more that your more taciturn neighbors.

Social Media is a Poor Substitute for Real Interaction

We have all grown used to social media over the years, texts, emails, Facebook, etc. But are these really good substitutes? Not at all, although talking on the phone and Skyping may be marginally better. In fact, social media may make things worse. Just look at how bad and polarized things were even before the lock-down. Does Donald Trump bashing and BLM and Antifa ring a bell? Too many trolls, so little time.

One study conducted in 2018 of 18 – 30-year-olds concluded that the odds of depression were significantly decreased by face-to-face encounters, but significantly raised by interacting via social media. Yet another study discovered that lowering time spent on social media lowered feelings of loneliness in 18- to 22-year-olds.

According to Primack, using social media may be simply a way of projecting a version of ourselves out there or perhaps they’re fostering real social connections we otherwise wouldn’t be able to have. There is just no way to know at this point.

How Can You Cope with Pandemic Loneliness and Depression?

  • Maintain a Schedule. A consistent routine can make things feel more normal. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, use an alarm clock, lunch at noon, tea and scones in the afternoon if you are a subject of the Queen; you get the idea. If you are sick, try keeping a log to monitor your symptoms.
  • Keep Yourself Informed. Staying up to date on health information and advice on precautionary measures will make you feel more proactive and in control of your situation.
  • Learn lucid dreaming. If you are experiencing pandemic dreams, follow these techniques to learn lucid dreaming. I learned it long ago out of curiosity and I’ve been controlling and actively participating in my nocturnal adventures ever since. It is easier for some than others but well worth the effort.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle as much as possible. The authorities want you to stay indoors as much as possible. But, and then this is only my opinion, you can still get out to walk, bike, or run (if allowed where you live). If you must stay in, you can still do resistance exercises with household objects or get up and walk around. My Garmin 235 watch not only counts my steps but also alerts me when I have been sitting too long.
  • Indulge in some self-improvement. Take an online course. Pick up that instrument, dust it off, and start practicing. New Years resolutions are valid anytime. Myself, I’m learning Irish Gaelic. Ta go maith!
  • Stay connected. Use Skype. Watch a Netflix movie at the same time as one or more friends and critique it as it plays. If you have ever watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 you know what I mean! Write letters. Remember when that was a human function?
  • Cook some new comfort food. Here are some of my recipes. I like to experiment much to the chagrin of my wife.

In short, none of us is immune to loneliness as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is just good to understand it, accept it, and mitigate it as much as possible.

References:

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

CDC Urges Doctors to Mislead about COVID-19 Deaths

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COVID-19 as cause of death.
COVID-19 as cause of death

COVID-19 deaths are up here, and down there. Here a hotspot, there a hotspot. Such are the earmarks of a pandemic. The mainstream media is frantically relaying the most recent numbers to us and the deaths are going up, as are the confirmed cases. The number of confirmed cases might correlate with a greater number of people being tested. However, the number of fatalities is suspect because the CDC is urging doctors to mislead about COVID-19 deaths on death certificates.

Popular TV shows lead us to believe that the coroner, and doctors in general, are all Sherlock Holmes when it comes to diagnosing the cause of death. But as you will see in the following video that is not the case. Even when some other immune system issue caused a death, it is supposed to add another check on the Coronavirus side of the card.

Dr. Annie Bukacek Explains CDC “Suggestions”

Dr. Annie Bukacek explains CDC “suggestions”

Granted, if the good doctor hadn’t backed all this up with the CDC’s actual verbiage, the story would have all the makings of a good old conspiracy theory. But the only conspiracy theory that might be bandied about is this — why is the CDC urging doctors to mislead about COVID-19 deaths via death certificates? What is to be gained by doing so? Logic tells me that there is no more vested interest in generating hysteria than in minimizing it. The media certainly understands it as they minimize Antifa riots, going so far as to call them “peaceful protests.” Bottom line? Believe nothing. Sadly.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.