Wednesday, April 22, 2020

How Low Can We Go?

Frank Cerabino
Frank Cerabino is a Palm Beach Post columnist who tweets humorous one-liners on the news from Florida and elsewhere. Since 1992, he has been a full-time news columnist and now writes four columns a week for our local news paper. In 2012, he took first place in Humorous Columns in the 62nd annual Green Eyeshade Awards, a journalism contest that recognizes excellence in news media in eleven Southern states.

Frank is a local treasure and has a direct and humorous approach to the news of the day. I enjoy his columns enormously and even when the subject is serious, like the column below, he manages to bring a reality to the topic. Over my many years in Palm Beach we have bumped into each other enough so that he might say he knows me; "that's my story and I am sticking to it".  

Several of column have been adapted by him into books that provide an amazing, humorous look at the crazy South Florida lifestyle. (Shady Palms: A Condo Caper)

Here is his column from April 17:


Killing grandma as an act of patriotism?

By Frank Cerabino

Posted Apr 17, 2020   

TV pundits keep trying to tell us that letting old people die is an acceptable price for a speedier return to pre-coronavirus gatherings.

Oh, no. Like a bad virus, the toxic argument that two to three percent of deaths in America is an acceptable trade-off for easing and ending mitigation efforts for the coronavirus is making a new comeback.

This argument flared up briefly at the end of March when there was a sudden outbreak of the theory that older Americans would be happy to die if it meant a speedier return to the pre-coronavirus economy.

This was most succinctly expressed by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” the 69-year-old Patrick said. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

Others, like conservative media figures Brit Hume and Glenn Beck, validated that sentiment.

Hume called Patrick’s view “entirely reasonable.” And Beck, who is 56, said people his age should think of the big picture.

“Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country,” Beck said.

This let-the-olds-die approach — borrowed seemingly from a Dystopian science-fiction movie — lasted for only a few days.

Dead and gone, I thought. But no. This past week the Grim Reaper Caucus made its zombified return. This time on Fox News with a pair of TV doctors.

Dr. (Mehmet) Oz took time out from his sketchy hyping of the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a COVID-19 cure, to turn his attention to quantifying acceptable levels of otherwise preventable deaths in the U.S.

“I just saw a nice piece in The Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us 2-3 percent in terms of total mortality,” Oz told Sean Hannity. “Any life is a life lost but to get every child back into a school where they are safely being educated, being fed, and making the most of their lives, with the theoretical risk on the back side, might be a trade-off some folks would consider.”

Here we go again.

That was Wednesday night. The next night, Dr. Phil (McGraw) — a non-licensed psychologist — was on Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News.

“The fact of the matter is we have people dying: 45,000 people a year from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that,” Dr. Phil said. “But yet, we are doing it for this, and the fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed.”

This is a twisted argument, based on an either/or choice that doesn’t exist.

There’s no reason to shut down public gatherings because of swimming pool and automobile deaths because these deaths aren’t spread by exhaled water droplets.

And we have significant mitigation measures in place to curb swimming and driving deaths, such as seat belts, speed limits, pool alarms and fences.

Deaths from COVID-19 can also be lessened by mitigation measures. It starts with social distancing followed by routine and repeated testing with tens of millions of tests administered to non-symptomatic people on a regular and repeated basis.

“Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” President Donald Trump said on March 6.

It’s still not true more than six weeks after he said it. But making it true would be a life-saving pathway to getting the economy started again while also preserving the lives of the millions of Americans who are too old or too sick to survive the virus.

The economy could open safely with the contact tracing of those nascent infections. As cases pop up, they can be identified and quickly isolated from the rest of the population.

Restarting public gatherings without being able to identify the non-symptomatic carriers of the virus is just a recipe for a relapse into more infections and deaths.

Tragically, some people have concluded that it’s easier advocating for more death than more tests.

So here’s my suggestion. The next time you hear some meathead say that we can’t afford to take measures that would save millions of American lives, recommend the following three-step plan.

Step 1: Designate the relative or loved one you are willing to sacrifice.

Step 2: Conduct an immediate funeral before the infection occurs. Sure, it’s a little awkward with the dead person being alive, but it’s the only way you’ll get to say a proper goodbye. The way COVID-19 is, once the infected person’s on a ventilator, the hospital won’t let you in the room and your loved one will die alone. You don’t want that.

Step 3: Remind yourself how proud this makes you feel for doing your part to “keeping the America that all America loves.”


See this articlet in the HuffPost: Boston Globe Death Notices Fill A Staggering 16 Pages Amid Pandemic 


  1. Dr PILL, McGraw had to walk back the phony stat on swimming pool deaths. When so called "learned men" fail to 'cross-examine' their own thoughts before 'bloviating' indicates it is time for him to 'take down his shingle'

    That is what my boss, over at Big Huge Fortune 30 Corporation would say, often with a shrug of the shoulders.
    In spite of that requisite so called 'Ethics Class' over at BFSU (Big Fat State University) -- that 'ethics crap' is quickly forgotten or you are quickly forgotten.
    The 'numbers' are increased, quarter by quarter, regardless of any mote of rationality as to why the numbers have increased. Big numbers are better than lesser numbers.
    Numbers are usually demanded by the 'The Big Talking Head', often TBTH, is waiting nervously for his 'golden parachute' to deploy before everything 'hits the ground'.
    As long as the demanded numbers 'get larger', regardless of means (fraud is OK), just be aware, it is YOU who will be left 'holding the bag', when things 'blow up'. And blow up they will. YOU will get prison time, the 'big dogs' get probation, and PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS.

    War is good business. Invest YOUR son. (My son has bone spurs!) Remember that saying from the 1960's?
    Big Dow Jones Industrials are good. Invest (disinvest?) your GRANDPARENTS! The NEW Slogan!
    Look at all the Social Security Assets we will save. Never mind that WE plan to 'shit you out of your S.S benefits', come mandatory retirement age of, say 72. Its called the 'dead mans pension'.
    Today it is NYC and BOSTON.
    Tomorrow, rather 15 or so days from now, Atlanta, given their plans to abandon quarantine sanctions as of this date.
    Frankly, I am scared to death.
    But not just about the virus,
    but too many of our 'pragmatic', 'Christian', leaders are beginning to sound like NAZIS from the 1930's.