The WHO Wears Face-Masks

The World Health Organization (WHO) has led America on COVID-19 throughout the year. As new information and data poured in from across the globe, the WHO has been paying attention and adjusting guidelines appropriately.

President Trump has plenty of ‘fall guys’ for his flock to give him a pass on his COVID-19 failures. The WHO received their blame and bill at the end of May. 

For too many of the world’s developing countries, the WHO is the first and only line of defense against a pandemic/endemic threat like COVID19. Now that America has stepped backward from its a leadership role, its role is even more critical.

Of course, Trump has eliminated essential, vital funding and resources from the WHO when the world, including America, need it most. 

It is almost as if Trump is trying to sabotage the world COVID-19 response moving forward in order to increase world COVID-19 infections to make his failures not look so bad.

I am not going to be distracted by Trump, by haters, by anything. 

That is why when I saw Fox News sharing WHO guidelines, today of all days, regarding face-mask guidelines that are different from our CDC, I had to take a fresh look.

I have been busy inundating myself with scientific research, scientific journals, scientific commentary, public health data, public health commentary … I think you get the picture.

Also, for the last month or so, I have traveled while social distancing across central and southern Illinois, crossing into Indiana and Missouri. I was examining the way each community, municipality, each business and their employees as well as each individual interacts with the state and federal government response to COVID-19.

This face-mask issue is an essential piece in the public health fight against COVID-19 in this new phase of the endemic. It is a difficult pill for many to swallow.

That is why the intense over-politicization of this single issue has led to more political and divisive trenches being dug than new ditches to help with flooding along our waterways and rivers.

That is not how you nor elected officials should be making decisions about your health, the health and safety of your family and friends, the health and safety of your neighbors and community members, and especially the health and safety of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The WHO guidelines for healthy members of our community make the most sense to me given the breadth of all of the science, the public health data and all of the commentary on both sides, with a minor additon. 

We should be primarily be using face-masks when we are symptomatic and when we are in zones where social distancing is impossible. 

In this transitional period as outdoor socializing begins in public, use of face-masks would fall under ‘use at your discretion’ for customers.

Employees and employers would be wise to protect themselves, their customers and the public as much as possible.

Now, anyone who has worked in the restaurant industry, the bar industry or any customer service industry know how vital eye contact and facial interaction is with customers. 

Balancing employer liability, employee risk and access to healthcare, customer satisfaction and safety, and the public health risk with that vital customer interaction to me is a simple equation. 

Reports from Georgia, which completely ignored the CDC, the WHO, and any other intelligent source of information, have had many of their restaurants and bars close down permanently after opening way too early and with few if any precautions or mitigating strategies, economic or otherwise.

I’ve been happy to see business owners personally thrilled with the opportunity to open their doors to their loyal customers again while remaining vigilant and mindful of the COVID19 risk without losing their minds.

What most of us are doing is the best that we can do with the information that we have available to us from sources that we trust and rely on to protect the public from threats and real risks.

We have to remain open to new information, new experiences and to change course when faced with evidence. This principle has been largely missing in Americans for much of my life.

Personally, I know when I deliver information to people, I have sources for literally every bit of it and not just one source but multiple sources. 

I am elaborate, methodical and relentless in my pursuit for challenging the status quo, including my own.  We all are in this together. We cannot change that reality without each other and 64+% of the nation.

The political parties aim for 50% + 1 to win an election . . . not one percentage point . . . one person. America, as a nation, a government and as a people, are incapable of the transformational reforms necessary without an additional 14% not just agreeing but fighting for those transformational reforms.

(Roughly, 14% is the percentage size faction of the minority party in the House and Senate that can signal a major shift in direction without garnering the necessary votes for an override of the President’s veto)

When COVID-19 is classified as an endemic virus, we as nation need to have already prepared for it. The structural reforms necessary to successfully and consistently tackle a 5th endemic virus are extensive and should have been accomplished decades ago.

For this reason, I am hopeful that with America’s renewed vision, we will lead the world through this endemic into a better, stronger and healthier future where the economy doesn’t work against the people but builds upon success and community.

This is a vision for a better future that propels me forward in innovative and challenging ways.

If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19 or in an environment where social distancing is impossible.

  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Picture: Action News Now

COVID and You

Pretty ****ing typical American model for governance.

Businesses violate, let them skate. Individuals get sick, indict. Businesses will be able to operate which is great for them since they have no legal consequences. Individuals having a gathering? Not so much. That would violate the state COVID19 guidelines. 

Does State’s Attorney Danley’s policy violate equal protection under the law?

No one wants to go through what we’re going through as a nation, but it is an opportunity to see how public servants prioritize and balance our rights and safety with their responsibilities and actions. 

Unfortunately, lives are on the line as well as a further disintegration of our American values and systems of government. 

We must not only observe but respond. Too many are allowing anger and resentment to guide their reaction and obstruct any new information.

It is understandable for people to have questions and to have real concerns about the virus and about the decisions that are taking place here.

Currently, as a nation, we are struggling to find a proper balance between public health risks and economic consequences, federal and state rights and responsibilities, local and state control, and specifically here in Coles County, business immunity versus individual legal responsibility.

America was already highly polarized heading into this pandemic. It is important that we do not let our fears and anxieties overwhelm our empathy and ability to see another person as a human being. This is especially true when we have profound disagreements.

When criminal lability and viral testing both are involved, the best example that still is in place today, is HIV.

I worked in the HIV/AIDS field in some degree for over 20 years. 

HIV is a completely different kind of virus than COVID19. However, HIV does expose the best and the worst nature in people, just like COVID19 has done in 2020. We have wonderful groups that have contributed their time, efforts, and materials to making PPE for local healthcare clinics, nursing homes and neighbors while we all waited for COVID19 testing to become more available.

Testing is a key in the treatment and prevention of HIV. Once you know your status, you can make different choices that protect yourself, protect others and increase the longevity and quality of your life, regardless of the outcome of the test.

What state’s attorney Jesse Danley has done here is similar to what happened with HIV in the 80s. That mistake still keeps at risk people from being tested and getting treatment for HIV.

Danley’s policy places all the criminal liability on the individual. Workers are not given immunity from prosecution, just their boss.

Having an unelected attorney make policy that impacts both public health and our short and long term economy exposes the lack of leadership on these issues from the White House. 

It is dangerous when public health is predicated on fears and anxieties. That is not a way to best serve the public good. In fact, a number of the laws on the books about HIV are still counterproductive to public health and are predicated on fears and anxieties and the need for someone else to be responsible.

HIV disclosure laws make common sense, but they don’t make psychological sense. 

Disclosure laws actually predispose at risk people to not get tested for HIV so they don’t have to disclose to potential sexual partners and be rejected. Not being tested allows these at risk people to continue about their sexual life without any legal or ethical issues. Meanwhile, they are putting at risk every sexual partner.

The actual science says people who know their HIV status, are on HIV drug treatment and are undetectable don’t transfer the virus to anybody during sex. 

So, does anyone revoke all of the HIV disclosure laws? No, they do not. 

‘It’s not my responsibility. It’s their responsibility.’

People would prefer to live in the dark and blame others later.

What these disclosure laws have done is place all the responsibility, legal and otherwise, on the individual that already has all the weight and all the responsibility for keeping themselves alive in a government and social system that does not work efficiently, effectively and at times appears to be out to be rid of them entirely. 

This allows everyone else to just carry on while people that have to disclose their status also have to absorb the piling on of other people’s fears and anxieties, often which appear as toxic hate and rage. 

Why does any of this matter to COVID19? 

When businesses reopen while COVID19 cases keep increasing, employees have no choice but to go back to work. 

I’m certain the vast majority are very glad to get back to work, but they have no choice or they lose their job.

Under the the Coles County policy, the business has no responsibility for COVID19 only employees do. That is not equal protection under the law.

If an individual comes into that business, that individual has the responsibility. In addition, those employees that potentially could get infected now have the responsibility if they become infected. 

How about the entire household where the employee calls home?

Businesses aren’t taking names and addresses.

But, the legal responsibility only exists if someone knows they have COVID19. So, workers are the only ones to be legally responsible, because no business is going to go after a customer.

It’s not like the customer is going to take any responsibility for coming in a store during this interim period where rogue counties are doing whatever they want and hope no one in the community ever responds in kind to local law enforcement.

This is the most concerning dynamic and precedent and is why SA Danley’s policy is so dangerous. Our local law enforcement already got hit with COVID19 on the chin having been on the front lines interacting with the public.

Why would anyone get a COVID19 test in Coles County now? 

A business owner might try and sue you for their business not becoming successful again because you got sick with COVID19 while working and the public found out about it. 

The employer isn’t responsible any longer. Only the individual has legal responsibility in Coles County. 

And, I’m sure, Danley will say this was not the intent of his policy. The intention behind his policy is clear. Individuals aren’t a priority. 

He claims his policy has no impact on civil liability. Many people know a criminal complaint makes a civil case a slam dunk. 

The workers take all the responsibility. If you don’t show up, you are fired. If you show up sick, infect others, know your status, you’re to blame for the lives of your fellow workers going to hell, and you’re likely fired, or you or your loved ones could die.

There’s literally no plan for the people or the workers, except they’re to blame for anything that happens.

This is just a reactionary policy for folks that are freaking out about COVID19, the shelter in place orders and face mask guidelines.

Yes, these are frustrating and require discipline and patience.

It is not easy being in a position to make policy and implement it.

The most important people to think about right now are the people that are sick. 

What about if a person is sick:

Especially if they don’t have health insurance.

Especially if they have to pay massive co-pays and deductibles for healthcare.

Especially if they don’t know the answers to any of those questions. 

Now, thanks to Mr. Danley, they also have to fear criminal and civil prosecution in the Coles County state’s attorney office if they seek treatment and have COVID19. 

Mr. Danley has proven, yet again, if you’re a business and breaking the law, going against rules and regulations . . . who cares if anyone gets hurt, you can blame it on an employee or someone else. There’s always Madigan, JB, or anyone else but Trump. 

Most people already knew that this is the way our system worked. It’s who you know and how much money you have that matters more. 

This same ideology is why no one went to prison after the financial collapse.

We just had a former National Security Adviser, a convicted liar, someone who had admitted his guilt, have all charges dropped. If that is not clear evidence that our system protects those at the top and is not for workers and individuals and folks with no influence, I don’t know what is.

We have people in these positions that might be doing their best but are so beholden to something or someone else that they are breaking their bond to place the people and the public good above all else. 

When you look at Congress and the White House, they aren’t doing any better. 

People might ask, who am I to talk? I’m not a perfect person by any shot. My own PTSD has been extreme for months. 

Yeah, that doesn’t negate one fact, one logical argument nor American value, principle or truth that I’ve said. 

And, Danley has a tough job. Putting away murderers is something I’ve helped to do. It is not easy work. 

The police are only doing as they are directed and trained. They have the toughest job during COVID19, and the testing proves it. Every moment they are out serving and protecting the public, they are opening themselves, their families and their households up to COVID19 infection.

Danley also has an election coming up. He has wealthier and more well connected members of our community and every person they can get to harass and pressure him to go against the public health executive orders of Governor JB Pritzker. 

There are people that have a political agenda that are likely pushing him in many directions. When folks attempted to push me in one direction or another, my mentality was simple. No, I’m focused on listening to people, gathering all the facts, information, history and background, and then, decide where to set the vector. 

That is the fundamental issue here. What is the vector, the direction with force, that Danley and others are signaling here?

The entire country is experiencing something they’ve never experienced before. It’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of intense emotions, and as a public official or anyone, we all have to make choices and live with the consequences . . . not just for ourselves but for others. 

Even if you’re not doing anything different, you know you’re not doing anything different. That in itself alters your brain neurochemistry and your thought process. 

And, regardless of whether we agree with JB, Trump or not, we’re in this together. Your choices impact my life. My choices impact yours. We can deny that. Our government did for two months, and we’re living with the consequences.

It’s a policy like Danley’s that furthers an ideological pattern that separates out businesses and corporations from individuals, making those entities a special class above people. Does that not trouble anyone? 

The people get screwed while businesses and corporations screw us. They get a golden parachute and get to do it all over again with millions of taxpayer money. 

That certainly is the way this ideology has framed their approach.  

Why pit business versus the working class?

Those that push this ideology have been at this for my entire life. It has led to wages stalled out at the bottom. It has led to working people pitted against one another. It has led to working people pitted against those that barely survive. 

Where are the beneficial results for any of those groups of people that is in any single metric comparable to the wealthy and established? 

It doesn’t exist.

I’m just shellshocked that public servants cannot breathe new life into public service at a time that America needs it most. 

We are blessed to be in this country. There is so much to be thankful for in every single day. 

The struggle is very tangible and is staring many of us directly in the face, and we all see something different when we stare in its face.

The way we perceive differently is America’s greatest strength. We need to harness our capacity to adapt and innovate, not return to what wasn’t working before. 

It is vital that America, starting with our community, begin seeing each other and correcting these mistakes that we’ve already made before. 

That is what I urge Danley and us all to do. Thank you. 

A Lot of Work Left to Be Done

It is clear the voters will have the first woman Representative to Congress in Southern Illinois come 2021. I congratulate Erika Weaver on a hard fought campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the 15th Congressional District. As I’ve expressed to her personally, I will provide any advice, expertise or personal effort that I can to help to make this a Democratic Party victory in November. 

There is a lot of work to be done throughout the 15th District, and I am dedicated to push forward our efforts to reform government, programs and policies that promote our economy, our communities and our people. 

As we trudge through this ongoing and unfolding coronavirus pandemic and response, you can make certain that we will continue to provide leadership on our priorities of healthcare, education and an economy that works for everyone. 

Now, more than ever, we must rely on facts, science and each other, holding elected officials and candidates accountable for their actions, for their words and for the consequences from what they’ve both said and done. 

We’re in this together. However, we must not be silent when confronted with facts and bad faith. 

I certainly won’t be. 

Thank you for your vote, for your support and your strength that keeps our district, our communities and our country alive. 

Endorsed, Our Values

Last night, Dennis Austin, the county chair of the Hardin County Democratic Party, asked me to attend their county meeting in Cave-in-Rock. I jumped at the chance to visit with voters, and if anyone hasn’t been down to this part of the state, you definitely should make it a priority. 

As on nearly every drive I ever take in the 15th, something blessed happens. Right outside Norris City sat a glorious bald eagle in the middle of the brightest green grass you’ll ever see. Such a sight of strength, elegance and serenity.

I would have stopped to take a picture, but I had zero seconds to spare. 

Literally, I arrived at 6 in Cave-in-Rock. 

It stunned me when I walked into the room and Dennis shakes my hand and tells me they had endorsed our campaign for the 15th Congressional District. #Gaither15IL

I don’t take that lightly. It is a honor and with deep respect that I accept their endorsement. 

Hardin County is one of the toughest counties I’ve ever been through, and it has a special place in my heart. 

I’m thrilled that the Rosiclare Public Library will be receiving a contribution from Appellate Court Judge Judy Cates after hearing some of the stories I’ve told on the campaign trail. She’s running for Illinois Supreme Court. You’ll never find anyone more fair than her. 

The other night when I was up in Bond County at a Democratic BBQ, I sat down with some voters after we all got done speaking. They asked me if I was the only Democrat running in this race. I just might be. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in supporting American workers, that America prospers when American workers are paid more. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in reforming the American healthcare system, because America prospers when Americans are healthier and don’t go broke when they’re sick. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in rebuilding America, because when we invest in American infrastructure, those are union jobs that can’t be outsourced. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in educating and training Americans, because a highly educated and trained workforce promotes a strong Middle Class and more informed voters. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in supporting our American seniors, veterans and people living with disabilities, because living in poverty makes us more unhealthy which is more costly in the long run. #Gaither15IL

We’re not going to get to a better future for our children without funding our priorities and ignoring the tough realities staring us directly in the face.

That is why I continue to show up in community after community, listening and learning, and then doing something about it.

Call Dennis Austin and ask him why the Hardin County Democratic Party endorsed our campaign. We’re similar in how we answer questions. Directly. We’ve also been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.

Oil & Gas, Coronavirus and the Joker’s Oval

President Obama paved the way for the resurgence and dominance of the American oil and gas industry.  President Trump has continued on that path.

I would have demanded changes in the way subsidies are managed regardless of who was President. Our small oil and gas companies throughout the 15th District deserve some relief. 

In 2020, the outlook in the industry as a whole went from great, to okay to rather miserable in two weeks. 

Oil prices are going to drop because of two reasons:

First, Saudi Arabia and Russia didn’t get a deal done at the OPEC meeting. Maybe, Trump is rubbing off on others. In retaliation, the Saudis are going to lower their oil prices by 10%. That is going to sting American oil and gas.

Second, the coronavirus is forecasted to lower GDP significantly. 


We already are seeing the canceling of many conferences, the cruise industry might as well start hoping for some sequels of the Poseidon Adventure, but more than that, tourism is going to take a big hit if this rolls into the summer. 

If people start fundamentally changing their behaviors, not going out for a night on the town, that’s going to hurt small businesses.

Then, there’s going to be some real hard choices for different parts of the health sector. Staffing across the nation will be a rolling situation, and if it does, as some predict, staffing will become a critical concern.

Businesses that adapt and respond quickly will likely weather this as it goes.

Background on the oil and gas industry:

Our oil and gas companies, under two administrations, have been drilling and ramping up production wherever they could. 

That has placed these companies in a tough position, a financial bind.

Let’s remind the American people about those Trump tax cuts. The oil and gas industry received massive tax cuts. 

That industry also finds all sorts of goodies elsewhere in the tax code. This makes their tax half of what it is for most any other sector of the economy. 

I do have to say, the oil and gas boom has created a lot of American jobs, good paying ones. Just none here. 

We really have needed a tighter focus on these companies and families who deserved to be a priority of federal tax and energy policy toward our 15th District oil and gas sector.

It doesn’t make any sense that these small companies often have to pay more of their income than big oil on regulations, equipment and time when they don’t get any more of a percentage of these subsidies. It’s not right, it doesn’t make sense, we’ve got to change it. #GaitherIL

One of the harsher realities I’ve come to understand is that the larger the corporation, the bigger the business, the easier it is for that company to just pay a fine as opposed to fixing the underlying problem. 

In the oil and gas industry, the problems they are glossing over actually undercut all of our other efforts to cut emissions.

What sets our small oil & gas companies apart is how their wells are pumping right in the middle of farmland. These families are dedicated to protecting that land. That’s why we should give them more of those subsidies in order to get that job done more quickly. #Gaither15IL

I trust these families more than I do big oil and big gas. And, we have to find a better way to address the violations. They won’t deal with it until it hurts the bottomline. 

And, that bottomline has serious issues because of what that industry decided to do. 

In some cases, companies have gone belly up overextending themselves. That problem is about to get a lot worse as the Saudis price war begins to play itself out in the market.

Anyone that has been paying attention knows what’s about to come down the pipeline, as they say. You can smell bailouts coming. Anything to keep more of these failed economic policies going forward.

What is most heartbreaking are the millions of American workers that have their families to think about because their livelihood just might be going on a forced vacation. This vacation is about oil and gas prices, not a quarantine demand because of the coronavirus. #Gaither15IL

And, that’s when I look up and I see some Tweet from the President of the United States from the Oval Office. Well, he’s obviously got a ton to deal with. 

We’ve been pretty lucky as a nation not having some crisis, some major malfunction that fundamentally altered our current path.

I really prayed that President Trump wouldn’t have to deal with anything so vital to get right. Every part of the policy is pivotal. And, here we are. 

I do hope that people heed these pubic health alerts and get to know what’s happening.

The phrases “Fake News’ and ‘science is a hoax’ are less than humorous right about now. And, people wondered why it was so offensive and concerning. 

As I’m writing this, they just declared the coronavirus is an official pandemic. 

When I link the coronavirus up with what President Trump is doing to Social Security disability, and how broken Medicare Part D is, I think we’re going to see some of the initial results of those broken polices. #Gaither15IL

This is the same crap Mike Pence and supermajority Republicans did in Indiana. They gutted essential programs and services because they thought they knew better.

Guess what? Sometimes, no, most times, everyone knows better than you about something. 

I do really hope that the stubbornness, that the unwillingness to believe science and medicine, that these attributes cannot survive only to continue the false belief that you know better. 

I know I don’t know everything. How could anyone?

When I don’t know, I seek out direct experiences. I have to know how it works, how it doesn’t work, and I always have a massive exploration ahead of me that truly never ends.

That’s how a small post about our oil and gas companies getting hit hard right now became a global view. 

These Congressional Republicans have said they’ve known better for my entire life.

I’ve not seen any of their policies focus on our workers. 

I’ve not seen any of their policies make certain these big corporations invest in their brick & mortar, invest in the community infrastructure, invest in their employees, and invest in our schools as well.

As far as the National Democratic Party, I don’t see any results for us either. If they cared, they would show up with resources for a different message than has been the prevailing and failing one my entire life.

Every day I think about what Glenn Poshard would do. He has passion, he has a vigor and an urgency that I share. #Gaither15IL

I’ve been blessed in my life to have met some good and great people. 

We can be doing so much better. And, we should be a hell of a lot more prepared for this.

I’m so glad our #IllinoisNationalGuard is on this. I know people that are in there, and I pray they all make it back. I wonder how this will impact some of our troops heading over to Ukraine this summer. #Gaither15IL

We have to be prepared for threats from some of these rogue countries that are looking to take advantage while President Trump is Tweeting about why this virus plan is perfect, just like his ridiculous call to Ukraine.

Who has ever heard of a perfect call? Someone who says this sounds like a child that has been caught red-handed. And, no, that’s not a reference to Russia collusion. I read the Mueller Report. It’s not good for the President. It certainly doesn’t make him look all that reputable. Did he sign some blood oath with Russia? No.

Here we sit, multiple crises hitting us directly in the nose.

We have to shake this off and get to work on it. 

The Joker’s Oval . . . I think the laughing is about to end. 

So, regardless of what happens in this election. I am going to work my butt off to make sure we do better as a nation and as a region. 

It’s about time we started taking care of this and taking care of us.

Unemployment is at a 50-year low and economic growth is steady. Assess the state of the economy and tell us how you would improve economic prospects for Americans.

Our unemployment might be low, but the 15th District is losing jobs everywhere. Honeywell in Metropolis shuttered and Rep. Shinkus did nothing. LSC in Mattoon is closing this summer and GSI is closing in Flora, neither of which had anything to do with the Illinois economy.

Wages are only increasing because of the minimum wage, which is welcomed by workers but the economic benefits for the economy won’t be felt for some time.

The Republicans only economic agenda remains the same, massive tax cuts for the donor class with no guarantees for workers, no guarantees for wages, no guarantees for benefits and no guarantees for investments in American brick and mortar and our communities’ infrastructure. #Gaither15IL

We have to connect any tax cuts to gains for our economy. Watching stockholders take home all the tax cuts every year while American workers work longer hours and more jobs is unacceptable and has drained the American Dream of hope and joy. #Gaither15IL