All of this is utterly, entirely and completely unlikely. Unlikely is not a strong enough word, there must be another. Improbable is a slight improvement: unexpected and apparently inauthentic. The origins of this word does add to its meaning: late 16th century: from French, or from Latin improbabilis ‘hard to prove’, from in- ‘not’ + probabilis (see probable).
Mary Anne, a Marin County colleague unexpectedly sent a Marin County Public Health Status Update. It can be found at Marinhhs.org/coronavirus. It was implausible that she sent it to me, moreover difficult to believe that I read it. Marin County is not on my mind these days, because of the Gaza genocide Nevertheless, against all odds, I read it. I was the ideal and chosen recipient, for reasons you shall soon learn.
We shall begin with this Saudi Arabia experience. Received word while here in Medinah that Edmonton health authorities were recommending (to informed readers) that it was time for another coronavirus booster jab and the annual flu shot. Needing a prescription renewal I asked for a referral to a doctor. Within hours he came to my room. He efficiently wrote (and I received from the concierge) the needed medication. I also asked if he could get me obtain a coronavirus booster shot and a flu shot.
He: Saudi Arabia has determined that a Covid booster shot is not necessary as the virus was eradicated before it mutated.
Me: Oh yes, that is scientifically proven. All people in Saudi Arabia were vaccinated and quarantined. They could not even leave their homes for anything without permission of public health authorities.
He; Yes that is correct.
Days later the efficient doctor texted to say that he was unable to get a flu vaccine, he had tried several hospitals but none were available. .
Me: Of course! An annual flu vaccine, necessary for at risk populations, is based upon strains of the prior year’s virus. If no flu outbreak, then no last year’s virus, and no annual flu shot.
He: Yes. You seem to have knowledge of medical science.
Me: Yes I do. Reliable science kept me same during the many, many months of sporadic and ineffective lockdown.
All of this is background. Now quoting from the Marin Public Health Update.
“The amount of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in Marin County wastewater has increased five-fold in the past two weeks. This signifies the onset of RSV season, with increased risk of exposure expected to last through fall and winter. RSV can cause severe respiratory illness among infants and older residents. In Marin, only 8% of eligible residents over age 60 have gotten the new RSV vaccine. The vaccine is highly protective starting about one week after receiving the shot.”
This may be confusing to most readers. I shall attempt to translate to simple English. Widespread tests for the RSV is no longer required. It is possible, however, to detect the presence of the virus by testing the wastewater. (Do not ask me how, but this is fact.) Marin County residents are being told to get the new vaccine. This will, of course, protect the vulnerable but also halt the spread throughout the populace.
Marin County had excellent coronavirus control, compared to San Francisco. I was able to move back to Marin in December of 2020. Covid control was possible because the majority of its residents were vaccinated, there was lockdown but it was humane and consistent. The ideal climatic conditions made it possible to dine outdoors. Numerous parks made dog walking possible and safe for others. There is limited public transportation which made social distancing possible and effective. Conditions there were as good as you could get, nonetheless, not perfected, as they were in Saudi Arabia where it was possible to enact laws to protect the entire populace. Mandatory vaccinations and total lockdown, limited in time, proved utterly effective.
Despite Marin County’s coronavirus control, the virus ‘thrived’ and mutated. Knowledge of the waste water analysis alters the residents of its return, the vaccine is made readily available. There always is a shortage of medical care but the resources of Marin were sufficient – there is no shortage of doctors, their is hospital ICU bed space, ventilators, emergency room care efficient. . The lack of panic, anxiety and fear makes e it possible for residents to remain calm. Lack of anxiety and stress is necessary for the functioning of individual’s immune system,
With all of this background the moment has finally arrived to contrast Marin County with Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in general. Vaccinations are obtainable, in fact I received a booster shot upon my return from the UAE (there I was ineligible because I did not have an Emeritus ID even though millions of doses were stockpiled in their laboratories). In spite of the availability of the vaccine in Alberta there was, and regrettably still is, a virulent anti-vaccination movement A huge anti-vaccination proponent is the current Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. As a result of years of mismanagement the health care system is crumbling. There is not enough of anything – doctors, nurses, support staff, hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms. Should the coronavirus becomes widespread it will be a disaster. I receive news of Alberta from AB Today, a subscription newsletter providing factual information. For unknown, and unknowable, reasons the subsidies paid to pharmacies for vaccinations were reduced. There is a Heritage Fund of billions of dollars. It is not that Alberta is cash poor. The homeless unvaccinated population has taken over downtown Edmonton, and camps out in and on public transportation. The virus will spread through the population like wildfire. There has not been, nor will there be, any wastewater testing – by the time the folks in Edmonton and the rest of Alberta learns that the ‘plague’ has returned it will be out of control.
Again, I am blessed to be here in Saudi Arabia. If I were to return to retrieve and pack possessions left behind the outbreak may have begun. I would not be allowed to return to this virus-free haven.
Based on my identity as a Muslim woman I sent a thirty day notice to the manager of the apartment building. He sent an alarming illegal bullying response back, showing his true colors as a bully. He perceives me as being vulnerable as I have been friendly and supportive to he and his family. I had written it was unsafe for me to return. He responded that he was safe. I pointed out to him, in an initial response, that he was neither a woman nor a Muslim. Hopefully a compromise can be reached. I informed him that I was not Gaza – he is behaving like Israel. First we need a cease fire – then we can begin peace negotiations. Of course, neither he, nor others, are aware of the pending medical crisis he will be facing.
I am nearing the conclusion of this blog. My Saudi Grandson Ibraham taught me an Arab expression. The following is an English translation. “The best speech has the least words imparting a great deal of meaning.” Therefore, I must be mindful of my word count.
I will, however., tell you of a recent conversation. Grandson had became an uncle, his brother sired a baby boy. He wanted to purchase a gift to honor the child but did not know what to buy.
He: Grandmother, what should I buy him that would be special.
Me: Grandson, let me think. It should be a manly gift. I will try and remember if I was called upon to give a similar present.
A day or two later I conveyed rather brilliant suggestion.
Me: Grandson. When my grandson was born I bought him a tuxedo, a baby tuxedo of course. He looked so cute. I took his picture and made notecards, him happily sitting in his baby tux. Tuxedos are Western. You could buy your new nephew a baby thobe.
Grandson: That is a great idea Grandmother. Where can I buy one?
Me: I will see if I can find one in one of the gift stores near the Prophet’s Mosque.
Went shopping and found one. The smallest size, not for a baby but a youngster. Gave it to grandson at the breakfast buffet. His colleagues teased him, saying it was too small. Took a photo of Grandson in the thobe which shall be attached to this blog..
Wikipedia, again, informs:
Thobes commonly worn by men and are considered as symbols of national and cultural identity, and are appropriate attire for formal occasions and religious ceremonies. In recent years, the thobes have become a popular fashion item, with many fashion designers adding their own modern twists to the traditional garment.
When first coming to Saudi Arabia , seeing men in their white thobes I was rather shocked, likening them to the apparel warn by Ku Klux Klansmen. I have slowly become accustomed to them. Returning to Edmonton following my five week Saudi Sojourn found myself rather disgusted seeing men clad in grubby jeans, shorts, their fat bellies in t-shirts. I returned in gratitude to the land of the thobes. White, immaculate, starched and pressed. Once spoke to a a young Saudi couple.
Me: If I ever got married my Muslim marriage contract would contain a clause making it mandatory for him to have his thobes sent to the dry cleaners. I would not want to do the washing, the starching and the ironing of those garments on a daily basis.
I am not planning on a Muslim marriage, but if so, I shall be prepared. Dowry negotiations, marriage contracts and all. I am so grateful I went to law school, knew it would come in handy one day.
Ending on a positive note, framed photos of the spectacular Edmonton sunsets from my view apartment shall be attached. “Those were the days my friend, thought they would never end.” Well they did. Unfortunately the framed photos were left behind. Perhaps management could turn my apartment into a museum/mosque. There is a prayer room, the wall facing east has photographs of Saudi Arabia