Comin’ at you with SARS-Cov-2

What a time to be a Fellow at NIAID – especially as a public health student.

SARS-Cov-2 is what the world is dealing with. As you know, we are now facing a pandemic.
Here is what I have to offer:
Everyone is posting this graph with the two peaks. Well, what this is essentially demonstrating is the rate of transmissibility when taking transmission prevention measures vs not – how many people an infected person will likely infect with and without non-pharmaceutical prevention measures (i.e. social distancing, limited social interaction, washing the hell out of your hands, not traveling, working remotely, etc).

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Here is something similar – understanding the preventive measures impact in the context of China. R0 = R Naught = redprediction had no preventive measures been taken. Re = Effective Reduction Rate = orange = prediction for preventive measures taken. Blue = actuality.

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Why are so many people dying in Italy? Here are some speculations:
Reactionary prevention measures – aka shutting the city down too late – when it’s already widespread. How much testing is going on? Less than places like S Korea. So, what’s the true denominator? That is, the true prevalence? Preparedness of their healthcare system? Case Fatality Rates (CFR) will appear higher when the denominator is lower than reality – the denominator being the prevalence. 
Why was the case fatality rate in the US ~5% last week but ~3% this week? Here are some speculations.
More testing is occurring now – which means the prevalence # would increase because we’re identifying more cases – thus the denominator would increase = CFR is lower.

The US healthcare system considered a level 3 in preparedness. We do have the personnel, the money, the laboratory capacity, etc. We are extremely prepared to address a pandemic.

But guess what we don’t have that everyone else does?

Healthcare here is NOT free like it is everywhere else. Therefore, preparedness only takes us so far. What happens to those who can’t afford the doctors visit when they have symptoms? What happens when a vaccine is available and those uninsured cannot afford to receive it? Trump HHS admin already said that it will not be affordable for everyone. What happens to those people? Spread of disease perhaps?

We can put 8.3 Billion dollars into vaccine development – but if everyone can’t access it then

…. . . . . .  .  .  .  .  .   .   .   .   .    .     .     .    .   .   .   .   .  .  .  .  . . . . . ….exactly.

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This is a prime example of how problematic not having free healthcare is in this country.

This is also a prime example of how interconnected the world is and how important it is to not be fucking self-centered.

This is also a prime example of how Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs), diseases we’ve never dealt with before, as a result of the [[VERY REAL]] climate change could impact the world.

Symptoms? They are similar to getting a cold or flu, most common ones being fever, shortness of breath and cough. Have symptoms? SEE A DOCTOR. DON’T PLAY AROUND. Average incubation for symptoms to be displayed is right around 5 days but could stem anywhere from 2-14 days.

Anyway, please take this pandemic seriously. Here are some links that are informative and also appealing. Utilize them. If the news is telling you the virus is living on surface areas for NINE days – then watch a different news source – because we are still figuring that out. We are still figuring A LOT of things out. Until testing capacity increases, we don’t even know the true prevalence.
Be well!

A tribute to Gram

My dear friend, you are gone and I have never felt so lost. I have never known a life without you and now I have no choice but to navigate it on my own.

I broke down tonight, finally. I haven’t had the chance to mourn since the funeral. My mind has been flooded with school-related things as it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” – finals week.

I broke down because as I was driving to dad’s, Take Me Home, Country Roads started playing. It brought me back to the time we went to PA with Aunt Jenny around Christmas. It was just the 3 of us, and it was probably 2012 or 2013. I honestly don’t remember much about the road trip itself, but I remember the drive home. That song came on and the three of us sang it together, yet to ourselves. Aunt Jenny was driving your car, I was in the passenger seat and you were in the back behind the drivers seat. I remember turning back to you as we sang the song, and you were gazing out the window at the night sky. I always knew I’d remember the moment for the rest of my life. I really didn’t know why it felt so special, perhaps I know that not everyone gets to have moments like this with the people they love. The day in and of itself was unique because it was just the three of us – but it was the ride home that will stay in my heart forever.

Yesterday I was in Rite Aid and saw Brown Sugar pop tarts and literally starting crying. You always gave those to me, and at the time I really didn’t like them but I never told you. I would let Grace eat them for the most part, actually. But now I have a whole new appreciation for them.

Lately, I’ve been catching myself thinking about when to come visit you. It obviously doesn’t take me long to remember reality. Every time I’m forced to remember reality, my heart aches. I just not able to accept what has happened.

It’s 1:30 and I can’t sleep, so I plan to continue writing. I know you’d want me to get sleep, 8 hours exactly, but I have to be up at 5:30 anyway, so it’s just not going to work out this time.

My fondest memories are the oldest, and I want to share some of them.

I remember when you bought me the red wagon for my birthday. It had two balloons on it, but one got away. We were standing in the middle of my backyard. You always remembered the color of the one that flew away. Your memory, like your mothers, was the absolute sharpest. I also remember you dumping me out of said wagon on the side of Old Fallston Road, in the rain ditch, to be exact. I forgave you, of course.

Once, we took a ride on your lawn mower, and I turned the speed all the way up thinking it would only go as fast as dad’s, but oh man I was wrong. We were both spooked. You forgave me, of course.

I remember when you caught the stove on fire. I must have been about 6 years old because I recall running between the kitchen and living room, reporting to your mom what was going on.

You watched Pudds when we went to the Outer Banks once, and I remember you telling me the story of you looking out of the kitchen window and seeing a cat chasing a butterfly, thinking it was cute, but then realizing it was Pudds! Thankfully you or Pabo patched the whole in the basement window after that.

During one of the Bull Roasts, I remember asking Pabo after he arrived where you were. He said you were looking for your keys in the fridge. Apparently that wasn’t a lie! I laughed so hard. That also reminds me of when you had your TV remote in your purse when we went to Manor Tavern for Dad’s birthday. I made you take it out so I could take a picture. Hysterical.

I miss the small things, like how you would offer me rolls of toilet paper when I was in college. You would tell me to help myself to anything in the basement. The struggle was real and you knew it. Similar to the massive snack boxes you would assemble for my vacations, which were my absolute favorite, you and dad would visit me in College Park with boxes of food and supples to ensure I wouldn’t starve. I miss our weekly dinner dates and occasion dollar store runs we were able to have once I moved in with mom after college. It was really nice living so close to you. A few other memories from that time include shoveling and salting your driveway and sidewalk before you woke up, decorating your porch for your birthday…before you woke up (common theme here), and introducing you to Starbucks – we took the drive thu, and I ordered you a kids temp caramel apple spice, and you were wearing your fingerless Steve Madden gloves I bought you – you were 100% hip that night.

I miss traditions, and now that you are gone I literally have none. On Easter I miss the game where we would crack boiled eggs and see who’s egg shell would last the longest. I think Pabo typically won that one – typical. I miss your stuffing on Thanksgiving, and your cookies at Christmas. I also miss things like lunches at the picnic tables under the big tree in your backyard, walking across your backyard to get snowballs, and having dinner with you, Pabo and Dad around your kitchen table – we always sat in the same places. I can envision it now. I miss that house. It was the only place that felt like home, especially after divorce and excessive transience.


This is only a start, but I should try to sleep. I guess what I’m really trying to say is

thank you.


My Bolivia blog post(s)

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of self-sustainability and use of natural resources, indigenous communities, or simply your comfort zone, then Bolivia should be at the top of your list when looking to study abroad. My experience in Bolivia was humbling, rich, and overall the most invaluable travel experience thus far. 

What I enjoyed learning about most was their wealth of knowledge in and use of the nature environment. The Tacana communities we visited are extremely remote (we traveled on dirt paths and rivers to most communities). As such,it takes a great effort to accomplish just about anything, and I found a lot of their techniques/methods to be extremely clever. Some examples include, use of various tree species for specific parts of the housing structure (i.e. mahogany, palm) and for cooking (i.e. palm leaves, bamboo) as well as medicinal use.

Plants are used medicinally most often as medical attention from a healthcare professional can be a rarity. For example, we stayed in an indigenous community where a doctor would only visit twice a year. As such, medicinal plant use is extremely common and can be used to treat a variety of conditions from an upset stomach to a broken bone. There are other communities along the Beni River that receive medical care from professionals more frequently. We had the opportunity to meet a small group of medical professionals who provide services to remote communities along the river; however, they face many challenges. One challenge is lack of funding, which has resulted not only in having to charge community members for services, but it has also made it extremely difficult for providers to obtain adequate medicine and afford traveling costs. Another challenge includes the physical strain that care providers endure during their travels. For example, not only do they haul medical supplies from the shore to the communities, but for more remote areas, they have had to haul 160 lb. cement water filters into communities as a means of providing a long-lasting clean water source. A final challenge that these health care providers face is lack of medication compliance from community members. They explained to us how health literacy greatly impacts medication compliance since every community has a different dialect. As a result of misunderstanding, medications tend to get misplaced, taken incorrectly, or in the hands of small children. These are only some challenges faced when providing medical care to Tanaca communities along the Beni River.

What stood out most was the warmth and compassion of the Tacana people. I find it difficult to put into words the hospitality and graciousness that community members radiated. They were always willing to share their indigenous knowledge as well as do anything in their power to ensure our comfort and safety. 

As I left Bolivia, I felt full. Full of compassion, full of knowledge, full of humility, full of resilience, full of perspective, and full of incrediblefood. 


Full post:

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The reality

Pretty much every single thing is great right now. A new healthy home, preparing for my study abroad, and catching up with lots of friends. I’ve started yoga again, I’m getting acupuncture for my shoulder… It has been a truly wholesome month.

However, the wrath of being a student has hit, in the sense that all monetary resources have been depleted. I have nothing. Quite literally nothing. This is the worst off I have been, period. I’m 28, a full-time student, living alone, and there’s no real way I can support myself. I am on my own, a team of one, and the reality is I can’t do it. I own it. This is incredibly anxiety inducing to the point that I can barely function. I feel completely out of control and like I’m drowning.

No graduate student lives alone on a stipend, but I couldn’t imagine continued transience or getting screwed by another roommate. The intent was to prioritize my mental state, functionality, etc. But now this is destroying mental state, so.

But you know what could be worse? Breaking both of my arms.

Wild side story: I was going to watch an acquaintances dogs before my trip as a means to fund my trip expenses. In short, I went over to meet her dogs, we went to walk them and the owner was pulled down backwards by her daughters dog (that she was watching), and broke both of her arms…like, in front of me. That turned out to be a v long day and I think I have some residual ptsd. Needless to say, she is no longer traveling.

I can’t imagine, honestly – not being able to use both of my arms?


Life, right?


Re-do pls

Remember that one time I wrote a post called “welcome to MY crib”?

Yeah, that was a fucking joke. I’m moving in 7 days.

Long story short, I waited around in hell, living between 2 shit-ass slum-lord apartments for about 5 weeks. Prior to that, I slept at my neighbors, and prior to that, I slept in my apt, mostly in the living room, and watched as my wall continued to deteriorate.

I have had no peace of mind for…70 days. Barely trending above water. I did it though. When you have no other choice, you just do it. Unfazed. Numb. Defeated is also an accurate word.

Three days ago, I was given an ultimatum by the management of Slumlord Inc. Hilarious, right? You’re giving ME an ultimatum? Anyway, I either had to move apts permanently and pay the SAME amount of money for a SMALLER apt, pay MORE money for a different outdated apt on their other property, OR I could GTFO in 12 days.

Oh, and I had 3 days to decide.

So you’re telling me I waited around for how long for you to blindside me with an ultimatum? WHY AM I ALWAYS BEING BLINDSIDED?

I wonder what life would be like if I wasn’t facing every single obstacle on my own.

I’ll probably never know.

Anyway, team of one found ANOTHER apt. Let me tell you, it is beautiful. Found it yesterday. Deposit went down today. Every emotion I held in for the last 70 days poured out. I called my mom right after I viewed it. I sobbed because I was so happy and relieved. She kept asking “what’s wrong?” and I just kept saying how relieved I was. This was it. Through my sob I told her how it had a washer and dryer, that every appliance was shining, central air, maintenance who is friendly and receptive. They paint the hallways and replace its carpeting, which honestly blew my freaking mind considering the building in which I am squatting in right now. I didn’t know what I had been missing. I lived like shit in a place that was literally harming every aspect of my health, and they could not have cared less. On a human decency level, that hurt.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this next step. It is hard to trust or to get too excited, but I hope this experience proves me otherwise. I cannot fathom the fact that I’m moving a 16th time, but I have an incredible pack of friends and family coming to help. That says enough. That’s all that really matters in the end. I’m lucky, too, not just a bad luck magnet.

So, wish me luck! Yeah, on the move, but also in court. That happens July 2nd.

Fucking me over is the last thing they’ll ever do. 💋

It’s time to be 28

I won’t lie, that title was really hard to type.

28 may not seem old to some people, but hell, it’s the oldest I’ve ever been. I haven’t allowed myself much time to think about it, and it’s not exactly something I am wanting to celebrate.

When people see me, I’m sure a lot of them see adventure. I do, too; however, I also see a lot of wasted time. I was directionless for quite sometime. I was in relationships I shouldn’t have been in. I expended a lot of time and mental resources on things that would inevitably fail me. I had too much hope in people who would ultimately let me down.

This is the first time in…for as long as I can remember…that I feel like I’m back in control. That the world is actually my oyster. That I can do anything and be anything I want to. It’s invigorating and scary.

I’m out here on my own, but I can do this. I’m wiser now.

I wish this realization didn’t come so late, but I’m thankful it came at all.

Here’s to 28. It’s time to erase the last ten years and ensure the next ten are exactly what I’ve needed all along,


welcome to MY crib

[[[Life Event]]]

She finally lives alone.


I now have a complete understanding of when people say that you have to experience living by yourself. I am experiencing the phenomenon and it is beyond ideal.

This was my 15th move since my parents divorce, and I have been on the run every 6-9 months since. This transience was fun for a while, especially in the mid-west. But at 27, it officially got old. Life had changed so much, as it always does, and I didn’t know where ‘home’ was or what it was supposed to feel like. I wasn’t feeling that sense of comfort I had known when I was young. However, I’m now beginning  to feel it again. I really get to make this my own. I have an opportunity to make this a place of comfort, peace and contentment. This was long overdue, but I’m finally feeling ‘at home’.