COVID19: Two Bikers, an MD, Hemp, and COVID19 ©

Florida State Representative and Veteran Surgeon Dr. Ralph Masullo Jr. talks Hemp and COVID19 with Florida Night Train and Everywhere Eddy

If you are anything like me, when your freedom starts to be threatened or infringed upon, a brewing starts in the pit of your stomach and wells up to the point of a boiling rebellion when the only thing that makes sense is to buck the system. But, I don’t want to cave into that.  Rather, I set out to learn from reliable sources who know more than I do. That’s where Dr. Ralph Massullo Jr. comes in, and that’s why I met with him to discuss hemp bill HB333 and COVID19.  My good buddy, Everywhere Eddy, joined the party too.

Dr. Ralph Massullo Jr. has been a physician and business owner for more than 26 years.  He was elected into the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, representing Citrus County and the Northwest portion of Hernando County.  His legislative priorities include: Education Reform, Healthcare Reform and Environmental Conservation.  Dr. Massullo currently serves on the Appropriations Committee, Education Committee, Health Market Reform Subcommittee, PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, Public Integrity & Ethics Committee, and is Chair of the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee.

COVID19’s birth in China showed up on social media and I, like a multitude of others, did not take it seriously. How could you?  We’ve seen it before, a common cold or flu gone bad but not like this. I figured it would go away like so many other baseless, impeachable, nonsensical things out there.  So when push comes to shove and we want to demystify what has become a social reality, the journalist in me had the privilege to speak to Dr. Ralph Massullo Jr.  In my interview with him and Everywhere Eddy, it quickly became evident that social media is definitely not helping here at all.  If you are not one to read and would rather get the full interview on video between Dr. Massullo, Everywhere Eddy and I, go to Florida Full Throttle Magazine or Bikers Post Facebook pages.  In the interview we speak about hemp bill HB333, what is COVID19, symptoms to look for, potential drugs, business stimulus package qualifications procedures, etc.

Everyone now it seems is an expert in medical matters, has an opinion and has the best sources with the best credentials, right?  Heck, I have family members now living in fear, hating certain political views because they trust their son-in-law’s expertise about USA politics and medicine more than their own judgement. The irony of this is, their son-in-law never worked in politics or the medical field and does not even live in the USA.  He, like a multitude of USA critics, never lived in the USA yet seems to know all about our beloved America and how it should be run.  Lots of those out there.  Now, a common trip to the grocery store that you would expect to be filled with displays of friendliness and kindness is met with outright fear. Families argue, friends fight, and the “tragedy” is they unfriend each other on social media, pouting because their differences of opinion aren’t validated.  

According to Dr. Massullo, like any other virus when it unexpectedly comes out, there is no vaccine of any sort for COVID19.  Unlike any other virus, COVID19 spreads more rapidly than any others and has caused many more deaths than we all would expect.  Understandably, that is a bit scary.  Indeed, the “unknown” creates serious fears in the human heart.  Mix that fear with social media, ill-informed masses and political opportunists of all breeds, you will have something equally if not more potent than the virus itself; fear.  

I remember the days when HIV/AIDS came out.  People had an extremely deep fear just to breathe air outside their own home!  I would have hated social media to exist then.  There was no vaccine and no one knew what to think.  Did humanity conquer it?  Not 100%, but today’s life expectancy of AIDS-inflicted individuals is almost back to normal and the virus can now be controlled to some degree. 

In the case of COVID19 we need to stay calm here and as Dr. Massullo states, we will handle this enemy as we handled all others—with some good old, solid American resilience.  I agree with Dr. Massullo.  We need to take heart, stay calm, and use our common sense to let a stronger head prevail.

During the 2018-2019 season, the CDC estimated 16.5 million people went to a health care provider for the flu and more than 34,000 people died in the U.S. The prior season saw 61,000 deaths. When I interviewed Dr. Massullo on March 28, 2020 in his office, USA had 85,356 COVID19 cases and 1,246 deaths.  Sadly, by the time this will be published, these numbers will have likely worsened.

According to CDC, between 2016 to 2017 we had;

  • Heart disease: 647,457 (-3%)
  • Cancer: 599,108 (-2.1%)
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936 (+4.2%)
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201 (+0.7%)
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383 (+0.8%)
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404 (+2.3%)
  • Diabetes: 83,564 (+2.4%)
  • 68% of the 70,237 U.S. drug overdose deaths involved an opioid.
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672 (+5.9%)
    • The swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus that appeared in 2009 became a pandemic.  It was six months later in October, that then-President Obama’s administration declared a public health emergency on what was already a pandemic. By that time, the disease had infected “millions” of Americans, 20,000 were hospitalized and more than 1,000+ people had died in the U.S.
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633 (-0.8%)
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173 (+3.7%)
  • 890,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2016 – According to the Guttmacher Institute

The differentiators here are the apparent “unknown” factor and the “speed” at which the virus spreads says Dr. Massullo.  Thing is, in my humble opinion (yes I have an opinion too), is that there is still a lot we don’t know about in heart disease, cancer, suicide, Alzheimer, influenza, etc., but no one is panicking or raising hell on social media over it.  The difference here in the above stats from CDC still to this day and for each item have an unknown factor to them, yes, but we now have a fair degree of knowledge about each and we also can control each to some level.  Our unsettling fear of COVID19, I believe, stems from the speed at which it contaminates humans.  Fair.  

Still, we must take heart here and stay calm.  Folks, we are all going to face death one way or another.  Some will face it in fear and some, fearlessly.  The difference is that those who will die fearlessly will die fulfilled and happy.  We have no control over death whatsoever, so choose your path wisely.  American resilience and fearlessness is what will lead us all to defeat this invisible enemy.

Something else dawned on me about this COVID19 virus and it gave me a renewed hope in the good faith of the human race; pretty much the entire globe right now is going through self-imposed isolation so that a minority of the race at greater risks can have better life-expectancy and beat this virus.  A very large majority of us all will beat COVID19 because we are healthy and strong.  We are, however, looking after the ones who are in the greatest need across the globe without even knowing it. While governments work to contain us, one has to ask at what economic cost does the focus of the spread of COVID19 mean for our future.  We do not know what that will mean but I can tell you one thing and I believe it to be true, this will be life altering.

While you can look at the apparent despair this virus has caused, there is a silver lining that is naked to the eye.  When you get out there to do your essential stuff, look and observe carefully.  You will see families in their yards doing things together, you hear laughter in the air, people are walking and courteous.  Tell me the last time you saw that. 

Perhaps a lesson learned, too, is to value time and spend it with those we love doing the simple things because that is what matters most.  We’ve heard that so many times but now COVID19 is making this reality quite obvious.  People, despite the 6-foot distance rule, have now become more courteous to each other, more polite and smiling more.  I sense a real peace out there that you can see and feel if you really pay attention.  It feels frankly like we are all coming back to the basics of life that really do matter: relationships, communication, and family.  This virus took away a massive part of our freedom and things we took for granted.  Things I too took for granted.  Now people are on high alert it seems and truly valuing what matters. Fear has turned into care and lack of time has turned into value for time. 

Let’s unite and not divide.  Let’s use our common sense and be bigger than our opinions, politics, or financial agendas.  This is our opportunity to shine together.  I have asked myself what is the price of freedom?  It’s different today than it was just two weeks ago…the price is staying home for now, limiting my interactions and if it is called, taking less income so that others can share in what financial stability can be offered to the masses.  This is such a small sacrifice when you look at the gain.  COVID19 too shall pass my friends and it is just a matter of time.  We just need to stay calm, wash our hands, only purchase what we truly need, ask for help if and when we do need it, and reach out to offer help to someone who, in these moments, becomes much more visible to you today than that of yesterday as a passerby on the street.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –C.S. Lewis

Night Train:

Everywhere Eddy: