"The war has changed."
July 29, 2021 10:05 PM   Subscribe

Internal CDC document urges new messaging, warns delta infections likely more severe (WaPo) The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal federal health document that argues officials must “acknowledge the war has changed.”

The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.
It cites a combination of recently obtained, still-unpublished data from outbreak investigations and outside studies showing that vaccinated individuals infected with delta may be able to transmit the virus as easily as those who are unvaccinated. Vaccinated people infected with delta have measurable viral loads similar to those who are unvaccinated and infected with the variant.


NYT: How Often Do the Vaccinated Spread the Virus? The C.D.C.’s new masking advice was based in part on data

New research showed that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carry tremendous amounts of the virus in the nose and throat, she said in an email responding to questions from The New York Times.
The finding contradicts what scientists had observed in vaccinated people infected with previous versions of the virus, who mostly seemed incapable of infecting others.
That conclusion dealt Americans a heavy blow: People with so-called breakthrough infections — cases that occur despite full vaccination — of the Delta variant may be just as contagious as unvaccinated people, even if they have no symptoms.
Some of the research may be related in part to an outbreak in Provincetown, Mass., where Fourth of July festivities have led to 882 cases as of Thursday. Nearly three-quarters of those people were fully vaccinated.
It’s still unclear how common breakthrough infections are and how long the virus persists in the body in those cases. Breakthroughs are rare, and unvaccinated people account for the bulk of virus transmission, Dr. Walensky said.
The variant is twice as contagious as the original virus, and one study suggested that the amount of virus in unvaccinated people infected with Delta might be a thousand times higher than seen in people infected with the original version of the virus. The C.D.C. data support that finding, said one expert familiar with the results.
Anecdotes of clusters of breakthrough infections have become increasingly frequent, with groups of vaccinated people reporting sniffles, headache, sore throat, or a loss of taste or smell — symptoms of an infection in the upper respiratory tract.


Washington Post: Pfizer data shows vaccine protection remains robust six months after vaccination even as the company argues that boosters will be needed

Executives of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer predicted Wednesday that vaccine boosters would soon be needed, a declaration that came on the same day the company published data showing that its coronavirus shots remained robustly protective six months after vaccination, providing nearly complete protection against severe disease. 
Pfizer’s paper, which has not yet undergone peer review, showed a slight drop in efficacy against any symptomatic cases of covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, from 96 percent protection in the first two months after vaccination to 84 percent after four months.
Company officials also presented data showing that a third shot could boost disease-fighting antibodies many times higher than the level achieved by the standard two-dose regimen. They said on a quarterly earnings call that they planned to seek authorization for a booster by mid-August, reiterating the company’s belief that a third dose would be needed to enhance immunity within a year of vaccination.
“There is very good protection in the beginning, and then there’s waning. And when you come closer to six months, [waning] which is even more profound with delta [variant],” Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said. “The waning is … more profound for mild cases, but there is a clear waning also for hospitalizations and severe disease.”


Washington Post: Should we be wearing masks again? Dr. Leana S. Wen answers questions on the latest CDC guidance.

Q: Is it still safe to go maskless at big outdoor events, given the increased transmissions from the Delta variant? I know two fully vaccinated people who attended a soccer event in the UK and soon tested positive. Both are in their 30s. Neither was hospitalized, but one was pretty ill.

A: The delta variant is a lot more contagious than previous variants, but it's still spread the same way as before, and outdoor settings remain much safer than indoor ones. There will be some risk involved going to large outdoor events, especially if people are crowded together, maskless, and speaking or cheering loudly. However, I'd be much more concerned about indoor gatherings associated with these outdoor events; the risk of getting infected at an outdoor baseball game is much lower than the risk of the pre- or post-game indoor party.

f you are in indoor settings with people of unknown vaccination status (i.e. on public transport), you should be wearing at least a 3-ply surgical mask. Consider putting a cloth mask on top to provide a snugger fit--but don't wear the cloth covering alone. In very high-risk settings, or if you are particularly vulnerable (i.e. you have immunocompromise), you should be wearing an N95 or KN95 mask.

Q: Do you foresee a situation in which outdoor masking (in parks, bike trails etc) will be necessary for vaccinated people?

A: I doubt it. Outdoors, the risk of transmission remains extremely low. Vaccination protects you very well. Masks are another good layer of protection, but I don't think it will be needed if you already have these two other very good layers of protection.


Related In The Bubble podcasts:

Delta: What to Worry About and What Not to (with Eric Topol) Notes that the Delta variant rise and fall in other countries lasts about 8-10 weeks.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on the Delta Variant, Boosters and Masks Indoors (Part 1) Emphasizes that protection is still good but starts to fall a bit after six months, boosters are recommended and really boost the immune system.
posted by jenfullmoon (345 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well! Back into quarantine for me!!
posted by bleep at 10:18 PM on July 29 [13 favorites]


Yeah. Me, too.
posted by bz at 10:20 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I have to say, these results are not in the least surprising. There were early indications that vaccinated people did not have mucosal immunity, and so could carry the virus even if they themselves had otherwise systemic immunity.

As a result, many folks correctly realized that continuing to wear a mask even when you’re vaccinated was not, as some suggested, “virtue signaling”.

Rather, it was simply recognizing that we weren’t out of the woods yet and anything we could do to reduce the spread of the virus — even from our vaccinated selves — was worth doing for the sake of the unvaccinated and immunocompromised among us.

Of course, the increased contagiousness and severity of the Delta variant makes it all the more important to remain vigilant. I just feel bad for folks who are listening to the misinformation of politicians and media with ulterior motives, and who will suffer as a result.
posted by darkstar at 10:23 PM on July 29 [77 favorites]


I have felt for a while like we stopped masking too soon.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:24 PM on July 29 [52 favorites]


I am now super depressed at having to go back into quarantine again, either indefinitely or until it takes months to years to get permission for booster shot #3 with delta variant upgrade.

Super depressed. I only got out of jail for three months.

Though I guess on the other hand, that whole "back to the office, back to school" worry thing is going out the window.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:28 PM on July 29 [17 favorites]




Chicago is holding 4 day lollapalooza this weekend and in pretty sure the entire city is going to regret this decision and sooner than later.

I called it for my family this week, not that we were doing alot, but that now we weren't going to be participating in indoor gatherings that weren't highly controlled. We need know and trust the vaccination status of all participants, and that they will mask appropriatly. I am for sure not comfortable doing restaurants even outside right now.

I'm also very worried about my own health as I work in a setting that does see covid+ folk. I was recently hospitalized for asthma on its own and am pretty shaken up by that.

Also I need to talk with my therapist if we are going to continue doing face to face. I don't think it is wise but it's so much better for me when we do.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:47 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


A good thread from Bob Wachter, chair of the UC San Francisco Department of medicine, on interpreting this information. My main takeaway: boosters may be needed for those at risk soon-ish, vaccines are still strikingly effective even with reduced efficacy ("8-fold reduction in cases, and a 25-fold reduction in hospitalizations and deaths"), accelerate vaccinations and back to masks indoors.

Bob has also been an excellent source of knowledge for the year and a half, I recommend following him for COVID news. (He was also quoted in the WaPo article.)
posted by redct at 10:52 PM on July 29 [26 favorites]


I also worry that many healthcare workers are already past 6 months on their vaccinations. I really don't want to see this variant spread through nursing homes and hospital wards because people assume they are okay because they are vaccinated.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:52 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


NSW in Australia is really struggling with Delta, because of their anti-lockdown sentiments there, while the other states in Australia (VIC / SA / QLD / WA / NT / TAS) have thus far still maintained zero community transmission by stamping out the occasional outbreak.

Australia provides a "blank slate" of zero cases against which to observe the different strains - and every infection is sequenced to determine the chain of transmission - and wow, Delta is a whole new ballgame.

The original virus had about 5 days between exposure and re-transmission - which meant that on average, a person would start showing symptoms on Monday, get tested on Tuesday, get results on Wednesday, and contact tracers would start working and get their close contacts into isolation by Thursday --- just about in time to prevent their close contacts from infecting others. Delta has been observed to be retransmitted within 1 day - which means you have no hope of isolating the close contacts in time.

Similarly for transmission - original virus needed 15 - 30 minutes of continuous presence in an indoor location for transmission. Delta has been observed to transmit with fleeting stranger to stranger contact - as short as 5 to 10 seconds. This means that tracing close contacts isn't good enough.

Melbourne got ahead of the latest Delta outbreak in 10 days of lockdown by getting contact tracers to draw 7 rings around every positive case - their close contacts of close contacts of close contacts of close contacts of close contacts of close contacts. (7x). This is because by the time you get around to doing tracing, the virus has already raced ahead to the 3rd or 4th ring. Each 1 person who turns positive could put 1000 to 2000 people in mandatory isolation. The template for making the short, sharp lockdown workable to get back to zero cases basically involves putting the city in lockdown for a few days while throwing up 7 rings around all positive cases, then crossing your fingers that all future positive cases you see were captured by those 7 rings and that's how you know you've cut off all chains of transmission.

I'm not sure what this means, for the national strategy going forward. No one does, it seems. Up until Delta, Australia's economy was doing pretty well the lowest unemployment in the past 10 years, and almost the highest labor force participation (off by 0.1%) in that time period too, and air-travel was about 70% of pre-pandemic volumes. A "new normal" achieved without the use of vaccines, just capable infection control and geographic isolation. But Delta is a game changer, and might push those numbers back down into another recession.

Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand are in the same boat, but worse. They too got through the pandemic with good infection control but low vaccination rates like Australia, but they are being devastated by Delta - 15,000 - 17,000 cases per day for each of them. Lockdown and movement restrictions alone doesn't help, you also need extraordinarily quick contact tracing. NSW reported 170 cases today and they're desperate to not follow those other countries.
posted by xdvesper at 10:56 PM on July 29 [89 favorites]


+many to darkstar. This is long overdue. I long for the day when humans don’t need to believe motivated zero-sum exaggerations in order to do things that are good for us.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 11:13 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


The pushback I got in this thread reminded me of the people around me at the grocery store who do not wear masks and crowd me while I wait in the checkout line. I knew then what I know now, that it was too soon to stop wearing masks. We should have pushed hard against the anti-vax, anti-mask right-wing then, while we had the chance. Letting these ignorant people have their way is murder.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:16 PM on July 29 [56 favorites]


Also, as far as I can tell, there's basically zero evidence that booster shots help, but of course Pfizer would say it does, because that's their plan to massively profit from this pandemic - sell doses at a healthy margin "now" while we're in a pandemic, then after the emergency is over, they can really increase the prices to insane levels.

Booster shots increase antibody levels, but antibodies are just 1 aspect of immunity: maybe T-Cells are more critical to fighting off the infection? A lot of immunity is how quickly the body can manufacture the antibodies when needed, not necessarily the ability to maintain a high level of antibodies in the blood at all times. Ideally you would want to do research on how antibody levels correlate to protection - so instead of the original trial where you had two cohorts, vaccinated vs unvaccinated, you'd have a trial with say 4 cohorts, split by level of antibodies in their body, then you'd have a scale measurement to see if protection varies by antibody levels. You might actually even find that antibody levels make no difference and are just a red herring, but you won't know until someone actually does the research. It's a pretty good assumption of course, right now, in the absence of data... but who is going to fund that research? Certainly not Pfizer, because maybe they don't want to know the answer either.
posted by xdvesper at 11:23 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


That conclusion dealt Americans a heavy blow: People with so-called breakthrough infections — cases that occur despite full vaccination — of the Delta variant may be just as contagious as unvaccinated people, even if they have no symptoms

I’ve been seeing this claim phrased, well, like this, and I’m not actually completely sure which part is supposed to deviate from previous assumptions? It’s widely agreed that vaccinated people are less likely to develop any infection, and that they are more likely to be asymptomatic if they do, no? Even if the protection is somewhat reduced for Delta. And I think it was generally reasonable to think, before, that asymptomatic carriers (not to be confused with presymptomatic people, who are very infectious) were less likely to transmit the virus than symptomatic people, regardless of vaccination status, though known to do so. People who were both vaccinated and asymptomatic might be even less likely, but I thought a lot of the reduced risk of transmission from vaccinated people would be captured by the reduced risk of infection in the first place, and in keeping viral shedding to the lower level of asymptomatic carriers if infected. And I never had an assumption that symptomatic breakthrough cases would not transmit the virus.

So I’m a little confused about what this is saying. That infected vaccinated people transmit the virus as effectively as unvaccinated people with a similar level of symptoms? That the level of symptoms isn’t relevant? Is it even clear what I’m asking, here?
posted by atoxyl at 11:32 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


I mean I would tend to think that viral load is correlated with both severity of symptoms and viral shedding, and that vaccination is correlated with decreased viral load. Does some part of this formula not hold, on average? Or is the point really just that every layer of protection is less effective against Delta - which is bad but in a way that is sort of expected at this point, and which does not support the statement that assumptions about transmission risk between vaccinated and unvaccinated people are fundamentally changed?
posted by atoxyl at 11:40 PM on July 29


which does not support the statement that assumptions about transmission risk between vaccinated and unvaccinated people are fundamentally changed

The statement that assumptions about the difference are fundamentally unchanged, I mean. Because broadcasting a message that makes it sound like there is no overall reduction of transmission from vaccinated people would be, unless it’s somehow actually true, once again a colossal messaging failure.
posted by atoxyl at 11:50 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I mean I would tend to think that viral load is correlated with both severity of symptoms and viral shedding, and that vaccination is correlated with decreased viral load. Does some part of this formula not hold, on average?

So, I think what is going on here is that COVID tends to start in the upper respiratory tract and move down and into your lungs as the infection becomes more severe. But the transmission is mostly coming from viral load in the nose and sinuses! So for breakthrough infections, you're getting that initial upper respiratory infection and transmission ability; it's just that the vaccine means you're overwhelmingly likely to fight it off before it progresses to lung involvement.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:55 PM on July 29 [44 favorites]


I was going to post about the NSW vs VIC natural experiment happening in Australia, but xdvesper beat me to it.

As a New Zealander I am watching NSW with great concern. Australian state borders aren't exactly easy to seal, and although the "travel bubble" between New Zealand and Australia is closed, it seems to me there is a non-zero chance of Delta overwhelming Australia and then NZ.

In both countries, our strategy has been to pursue elimination (still successful in NZ, successful in Australia except for NSW), have closed borders with quarantine and achieve high vaccination levels before liberalising inbound travel. Perhaps because elimination was a very successful strategy until recently, both countries are not as close to fully vaccinated as others that have never been able to lock down hard and pursue elimination. It is now a race to vaccinate before Delta makes a breakthrough.

An issue here is that citizens should have the right to return and we are both countries with large expat populations... and limited quarantine capacity. We cannot and should not turn our own people away, but neither can we accommodate all those who want to come home. On top of this, particularly in Australia, there is reason to doubt that quarantine facilities are being run with the rigour one would hope.

Anxious times down under. Although we have it really good compared to so many places and shouldn't complain.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:07 AM on July 30 [21 favorites]


I will add that in the opinion of this biassed New Zealander, xdevesper did not make it clear enough: NSW half-arsed their initial response. New Zealand (and Melbourne) have shown that "go hard, go early" is likely to succeed, while waiting will make you a victim of lead times and exponential growth. The Liberal state govt in NSW delayed lockdown too long for ideological reasons and even now have been reluctant to be strict. We may all end up paying for that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:35 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


I'm grateful that in my corner of the US, along with above-average vaccination rates, most people pretty much never stopped wearing masks (but more poorly) in public places. However we're still experiencing a drastic rise in cases.

It's probably due to the newly vaccinated like myself trying to make up for lost time with friends and family, without the precautions (outdoor, distanced) of last year. It was a nice couple of months while we told ourselves that things were different now. I'm expecting that this surge/spike/wave/whatever won't look the same as ones before, but you never know. And sometimes you just get unlucky.
posted by meowzilla at 12:45 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Unsurprising, and I'm only mildly allayed by the fact that social pressure in Japan means nearly everyone masks up. As of July 10, 30% of new coronavirus infections in Tokyo were the Delta variant. We are also experiencing low supply of the vaccine, and many people are unable to make appointments even if they've received the voucher from their local government. Only a few clinics are offering vaccines to non-(city) residents and/or those without vouchers, and cancellation lists... exist, but they're not the norm. Mass vaccination sites run by the Self-Defense Forces require signups and typically run out the day new signup batches are released. My ward registration site crashed for hours until I was finally able to log in. And, for the past three days, Tokyo has experienced record daily highs, while the Olympics are--obviously--still going on.

It's going to be a long 7 weeks until my first shot in September.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:58 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


Imagine a general who doesn't adapt their strategy when the enemy moves to a flank attack, even though there may have been great success in the battle on the main front. Of course, it doesn't help that a large percentage of the soldiers have been turned into enemy collaborators through propoganda.
posted by fairmettle at 1:24 AM on July 30 [24 favorites]


I felt the CDC mask mandate drop was an extremely suburban decision. I live in a building with 162 units. I ride an elevator several times a day. Because of the CDC my building ditched the elevator limits and mask requirements. My wife and I are now in a group of about 5 people who still wear masks indoors in our building now that the mask mandate was ended. The majority of my neighbors are in the "young and dumb" 29 and under socializing category that Delta is ripping through but some are seniors and two are undergoing cancer treatment. Only people who don't live in forms of group housing could ever have thought the premature drop of the mask mandate was a good idea.

While my building dropped the mask mandate the same week the CDC said that was okay there has not been a peep about it since the most recent announcement that Chicago and Cook County are now considered areas where the mandates should be restored. Grocery shopping yesterday I saw 2 other people wearing masks out of maybe 50. Restoring indoor mask use is going to probably be an impossibly steep uphill battle.
posted by srboisvert at 1:55 AM on July 30 [43 favorites]


The original virus had about 5 days between exposure and re-transmission - which meant that on average, a person would start showing symptoms on Monday, get tested on Tuesday, get results on Wednesday, and contact tracers would start working and get their close contacts into isolation by Thursday --- just about in time to prevent their close contacts from infecting others. Delta has been observed to be retransmitted within 1 day - which means you have no hope of isolating the close contacts in time.

One of the reasons why contact tracing worked a lot less well with classic Covid than it does with other illnesses is that very short interval. Peak contagiousness is right around symptom onset (partially because of the upper respiratory tract replication) which means you have very little time to track and notify contacts. Obviously with more than a trivial number of infections, multi-ring contact tracing becomes impossible very quickly.

If this is now reducing that interval further and increasing the amount of virus shed by even vaccinated people, then that is problematic indeed. That does appear consistent with what is happening in Australia and Asia where countries that have successfully managed to contain the virus up to now using contact tracing no longer seem to be able to.
posted by atrazine at 2:12 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I’m in Milwaukee and I’ve been noticing more people wearing masks indoors again, after the initial “drop it like it’s hot” response to the cdc ‘no mask for vaccinated’ change. So some people not far from Chicago got the message.

Booster shots increase antibody levels, but antibodies are just 1 aspect of immunity: maybe T-Cells are more critical to fighting off the infection?

Much of this is being or has been researched and yep, t-cells and others are important here and remain active longer.

And the uk seems to have it

Also interesting, the latest research i read a few months back was that the 2nd dose of mRNA vaccines for those that recovered from covid did not show any additional protection from that second shot- they peaked with the first, and it was higher the first time than people without prior covid infections! So why would a booster shot help?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:16 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


xdvesper did not make it clear enough: NSW half-arsed their initial response.
i_am_joe's_spleen


With the benefit of hindsight, sure. But (at the risk of an... interesting derail) a somewhat more balanced view is that, every state is different, in fact, every LGA within a state is different, as NSW is now finding out to their regret. "Anti Lockdown" sentiment isn't even necessarily a Liberal trait - South Australia is Liberal, and they are even more trigger happy about going into lockdown than Victoria, a Labor state.

My take on it is that NSW is mostly affluent, and the more affluent you are, the better the compliance rates tends to be. After all, they handled all the previous outbreaks just fine (post March 2020) without resorting to a lockdown. Even in the current outbreak - Delta was seeded into Bondi Beach early on, and they cleared it up fine with excellent contact tracing without really needing a lockdown.

The issue - which Victoria also found out in June 2020 - is that once you get the case seeded into socioeconomically disadvantaged areas who are mostly non-English speaking - like Melbourne's North - that's where things get tricky. It's an area with 25% unemployment from about 10 years ago and still continues at that level. Many people are working cash jobs in the informal economy, and thus not eligible for Jobkeeper payments which would allow them to stay home during a lockdown. I've talked to workers who said they missed out on $15,000 to $20,000 of Jobkeeper payments because they work outside the formal economy.

There were accusations of racism when images of heavy police presence emerged from Fairfield, while there was virtually no police presence in Bondi, but fast forward a few weeks and the difference in infection rates is clear - you never really needed police in Bondi to begin with.

Just walk through Craigieburn versus Boxhill and the compliance rates for wearing masks is clear as day: it's no wonder one was the nexus of infection for Victoria while the other escaped unscathed. In June 2020 Melbourne tried to use the same playbook (Stage 3) that worked previously on the wealthier areas that got infected in March 2020, and it completely failed to stem the infection now that it was in the Hume, getting up to 700 cases per day. Same thing is playing out in July 2021: NSW is using the same playbook that used to work in their wealthier LGAs, and it's completely failing now that Fairfield and Blacktown are involved.

Of course, there's the added factor that Delta is more contagious - and surely it's something they would have known about - but I think they completely underestimated the socioeconomic factors involved, just like Victoria did. I can only assume they're smarter now, and they are taking it seriously, getting the army involved to enforce restrictions, so I'm optimistic about their chances of getting back to Covid zero.
posted by xdvesper at 2:21 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


I'm interested in what TWiV has to say about this; on their podcasts last month, Racaniello and his virologist colleagues have consistently argued against media hype about delta (e.g. see also their NYTimes Op-Ed), advising people to worry less about variants and just get vaccinated; interestingly last month Racaniello also said that fully vaccinated people not in crowded environments may go maskless if they desire. Does this new news change their position?
posted by polymodus at 2:24 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Hello America. I see you're now experiencing the 'Johnson Variant'.
posted by pipeski at 2:24 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


NSW is also, from what I understand, the heartland of News Corp's political and cultural influence; the local Murdoch tabloid, the Daily Telegraph, is at once the most vitriolically right-wing of the Australian papers and has the highest penetration. So Qanon-adjacent anti-mask/anti-vaccine sentiment seems like a case of lying down with dogs and getting up with fleas.
posted by acb at 2:28 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


xdvesper: thanks, that's some really interesting detail. I guess from this distance what stands out is the looooong list of exemptions/"essential" businesses in the NSW lockdown. Landscaping and garden supplies? Plant nurseries? Stationers?

The issue of informal employment does explain a lot. In NZ there was a lot of criticism of support going to employers as wage subsidies rather than employees as benefits. In hindsight, that has worked well in terms of minimising economic damage. But I don't know how you can get money where it's needed so workers will stay home if either the worker or the employer is worried about getting dobbed in for tax or immigration law breaches.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:31 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


As a parent of two under 12 year olds this is freaking me out. School here for most of the US goes back in less than a month. In Utah where I am there will be no remote options for us, and no state mask mandate. Our school district sent a “back to school” newsletter the other day that did not make *any* mention of Covid or *any* precautions.. It’s been thrown in the too hard / don’t want to think about it basket as the squeaky wheel of anti-vac anti-mask adults, plus a horrifying republican state legislature, have made any discussion a minefield for school administrators.

We are likely still at least 2-3 months away from under 12’s getting vaccinated best I can tell. It will start to get cool from late September and traditionally we’ll get our first snow here in October. I don’t expect our kids will have first shot until they are mostly indoors with 30 other kids per room for hours at a time - with no mask mandate.

My wife toured a private Montessori school yesterday that is requiring masks and all staff to be vaccinated. It’s expensive. We can stretch to it with significant fiscal restraint. We are well aware not everyone can do the same. So why the fuck are we making the under 12’s a delta experiment given there is a clear risk that we are dealing with something new and uncertain, it’s becoming much more widely spread, and we don’t have all the data to even think about taking our hands off the wheel.

I know Covid has been less impactful so far on children - but holy cow it seems like most of the US is setting itself up for a massive issue with the schools coming up. Massive respect for other parents dealing with the past 18 month’s of absolute shit show schooling has been. My new 1st grader has had over 20% of their life so far under Covid. Please - please - mask-up and vaccinate. Please.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 3:02 AM on July 30 [57 favorites]


Sydney's socio-economic divide falls along a diagonal known as the "Red Rooster line" after a fast food chain that doesn't serve high-income areas. North and East, near the beaches, is more affluent and whiter. South and especially West in the sweltering interior, are poorer and more diverse. It's a pretty stark divide.

Transmission very clearly happing because essential workers catch it and then transmit it to their (often large) households. The reason infections are spiking in the southwest is because that's where all the essential service workers live. Of course all the office workers on the northeast side of the Red Rooster line are frothing that all the nasty Westies should STFAH because they're too hypocritical to realise the filthy Westies are the ones filling their online supermarket orders and delivering their online shopping orders.

And now they're sending in the fucking army to keep these disadvantaged people "in line" and the amount of fascist ecstasy I hear from fairly liberal people for the police to beat up and lock up people who are already so disadvantaged disgusts me.

I grew up in a migrant family in Bankstown, which apparently often ranks as the "worst" suburb in Sydney.
posted by other barry at 3:21 AM on July 30 [46 favorites]


Anyway, a fun fact about Western Sydney Muslim culture. You know how "Aussies" like to shorten names and put a vowel on the end? Shazza, Deano, Jonesey?

The Australianised version of Mohammed is Moey!
posted by other barry at 3:33 AM on July 30 [33 favorites]


Once again it's not surprising to see countries watch Europe struggle under a wave of this and completely ignore the possibility that the same thing is going to happen to them. The minute the UK cases hit the same level as the January peak again, it was clear that this variant was everywhere and it's going to cause mayhem in places that want to pretend that the pandemic ended in the spring.

I do want to make one point clear in contrast to the alarmist phrasing used in the headlines in the FPP: it's not fully known, at this time, whether Delta is more severe or dangerous than any other variant. Yes, it's more contagious (I've seen speculation that while Alpha and the "classic" variants required 10-15 minutes of contact to spread, Delta requires only a few minutes), but currently the belief is it may not necessarily more likely to result in hospitalisation, especially in vaccinated individuals.

For what it's worth, the UK is now seeing a rather incredible week-on-week fall in case numbers that scientists and data modellers are struggling to understand. I believe this is also being seen in other places around Europe and India. So far the consensus seems to be that Delta may not only be more contagious but also faster -- you get infected faster, but you also recover faster, and the period of contagiousness may be smaller too.
posted by fight or flight at 3:56 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


There’s a press conference right now on TV in Japan with the Prime Minister and our version of Fauci. So far, they have blamed the public for not staying home, while businesses have largely ignored the government’s request to allow telework. When asked about making any measures towards an actual lockdown (which would require new laws to make possible) the doctor praised how well Japan is doing without a lockdown (we are well, well past previous daily totals).

The response to record highs in Tokyo, it’s surrounding prefectures, and Osaka is to once again tell bars to close. Meanwhile, the financial support for businesses that close voluntarily has been cut in half from last year (it’s at roughly $300/day, which isn’t nearly enough to cover rents in Tokyo) and takes months to get payed out.

Mind you, it seems they’re just closing bars again. Movie theaters, pachinko, coffee shops (packed, with everyone chatting without masks on) are all fine, and Japanese baseball games have fans in attendance while the Olympics don’t.

Again, they’ve just blamed young people for vaccine hesitancy, yet there aren’t any vaccines available. I lucked out, my employer joined with another to reach the 1000 person threshold to distribute vaccines to employees, and I’ll get my second shot in about ten days. Meanwhile, a friend at a former employer that didn’t provide vaccines spends every morning like lesser weasel does, and has had no luck even scheduling an appointment, while others I know in the same boat have been lucky enough to get appointments in mid to late September .

While typing this, once again, apathy on the part of young people was just blamed, when they’ve just announced a fifth state of emergency, and nothing changes. People are seeing the sudden influx of tens of thousands of people into Tokyo for the Olympics, and they’re wondering why the hell they’ve had to shut down their lives. People still have to go to work, vaccines aren’t available, and it’s nearly impossible to get even a test without spending a hundred dollars or more.

And the real kicker here is that, yesterday when Tokyo reported the highest single day total of 3800 infections (sounds low, right?) that came on barely more than a total of 8000 tests. That’s how few tests are being done. And if you did spend a hundred dollars to get a private test? Those tests aren’t included in the daily totals. That’s the thing that’s outright terrifying. If we’re only doing a handful of tests a day, and so many of them are coming back positive, it’s almost certain that the numbers are much, much higher.

I’m beyond livid, but from what I’ve seen, most people are just shrugging it off, after all, this is what the government here does: set incredibly low expectations, fail to meet them, shrug, and say it’s the fault of the people.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:09 AM on July 30 [67 favorites]


I am sorry for the rant. I’m lucky to be on summer vacation, but all that means is I no longer have any outlet for interacting with others in my native language. There’s been a lot of screaming inside my heart, to bring back that bit from last year.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:11 AM on July 30 [23 favorites]


35,000 breakthrough infections a week sounds like a lot, but out of 162 million vaccinated people, we're talking .02 percent! That's still minuscule. Not saying we shouldn't take this seriously, just that it's worth taking a deep breath and keeping things in perspective. Dr. Leana Wen makes it clear that the people who refuse to get vaccinated are the cause for these new rules in the US, but the CDC is afraid of making that clear.
posted by rikschell at 4:17 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


Transmission very clearly happing because essential workers catch it and then transmit it to their (often large) households.

Do you have any information on this, what kind of businesses might be causing clusters?

From where I'm coming from - in Victoria, businesses were allowed / disallowed to open based on whether they can do so, safely, without the risk of Covid transmission. With all chains of transmission traced and accounted for, it should immediately be apparent if ANY business type is causing clusters, and either given legal orders to change their operation or shut down.

For example, in Victoria, June 2020, a few clusters appeared in an essential business - meatworks. Workers would be working in airconditioned facilities with poor air circulation. Knowing this, the government ordered them to alter their operations: reduced workforce, and every worker wearing enhanced PPE (similar to medical staff working in Covid wards). After that, there were no more clusters at those workplaces.

I would be shocked if NSW was allowing any workplace clusters to emerge. Most of the news we've heard - through the daily pressers - is the premier citing latent transmission through social contact, like the illegal funeral that was held with 50 people, of which 45 people were infected. Of course, this is obviously spin and a cover up if they're indeed hiding some workplace clusters, but if there are any significant workplace clusters, like the Victorian meatworks clusters, that is news to me...
posted by xdvesper at 4:22 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


many folks correctly realized that continuing to wear a mask even when you’re vaccinated was not, as some suggested, “virtue signaling”.

The pushback I got in this thread


Yeah, I would personally be overjoyed if I never saw anyone here (or anywhere else) blindly parrot Nate "masks for the vaccinated is a sign of mental illness" Silver on epidemiological advice ever again.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 4:27 AM on July 30 [58 favorites]


I’m so disappointed. I’m so tired. We were so close here* - my 700 bed hospital which had 120-140 Covid patients at the peak was down to fewer than five at one point. I’ve been off this week so I haven’t seen the numbers, but obviously they’re coming back up. I miss life. I’m so angry at the people who chose and continue to choose not to join the fight for everyone’s safety. It’s so fucking selfish. (In case it needs to be said: I do not mean the people who cannot get the vaccination for health reasons.) dropping the mask mandate was so stupid. It’s unenforceable and you know damn well the people not vaxxing are not going to enforce themselves (exhibit a: every grocery store).

This is just an incoherent rant I guess but… that’s all I got.

*maybe we weren’t close but it felt that way and I was so hopeful
posted by obfuscation at 4:43 AM on July 30 [40 favorites]


obfuscation, I am struggling with the same things. I don't know how to bring compassion and kindness to the people I know who are willfully unvaccinated. There's a part of me that nihilistically says "Play with matches and you'll get burned," except the other, smarter part of me knows that these particular matches are recombining to create, like, a nuclear bomb that's going to flatten all the rest of us who've tried to do everything right.

rikschell: the mRNA vaccines hold up reasonably well against the delta variant. But the longer the virus has to mutate, the more likely it is to develop a new variant that evades the vaccine entirely.
posted by basalganglia at 5:10 AM on July 30 [14 favorites]


When the CDC issued its "vaccinated people can drop their masks in most circumstances" opinion not too long ago, I screeched loudly; the CDC's opinion may have been medically sound based on the current information of the time, but it was sociologically disastrous.

Pretty much every retail outlet, 95% of restaurants and other public spaces shifted from "masks required except for infants and the medically unable" to "business as usual" in a heartbeat. The only way to get the angry red people to even consider doing their part is to make it mandatory and universal and necessary. Lifting that pressure, even temporarily, even with good intentions, is the best way to ensure maximum pushback when it's time to restore it.

Some conservative politicians -- Mitch McConnell, a few governors here and there, etc. -- are at least halfheartedly encouraging vaccinations now. But masks? The message amongst the angry red people was loud and clear yesterday; DO NOT COMPLY.

And we're all going to suffer from that, one way or another.
posted by delfin at 5:11 AM on July 30 [54 favorites]


I have been (reluctantly, taking as much PTO as possible) back in the office for two months or so now. The other morning an unvaccinated, unmasked guy was complaining that “they’re saying we might have to wear masks again” and I yelled (from across the office), “nobody ever said unvaccinated people could stop!”

I did not say “you fucking dingus”, although my mind was screaming it.

Pay these motherfuckers to get the shot. $100, $500, who fucking cares. It’s chump change and would get shots into arms so damn fast.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:16 AM on July 30 [38 favorites]


We can hem and haw about dropping the mask mandates, but even if a universal mask mandate was implemented again, it wouldn't get us out of this mess.

Let's not bark up the wrong tree here: we should be pushing for vaccine mandates.
posted by vitout at 5:16 AM on July 30 [61 favorites]


I swear it couldn't have been a week ago I was opining around the house that I'd be willing to mount a secret vaccination program for people who wanted it but were afraid of local blowback, especially in small towns or rural areas. Like, show up at the house in a plumber's van or something. Anything to get the numbers up.

And then 2 days later: Missouri doctor says patients getting vaccinated in secret due to backlash.
posted by jquinby at 5:25 AM on July 30 [31 favorites]


Chicago is holding 4 day lollapalooza this weekend and in pretty sure the entire city is going to regret this decision and sooner than later.

New Lollapalooza line-up just dropped


* For those with visual issues, it's a tweet of a poster where every musical act has been replaced by "THE DELTA VARIANT"
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:27 AM on July 30 [15 favorites]


Yeah I was not at all surprised to hear about the incognito vaccinations. And I’m all for it.
posted by obfuscation at 5:27 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Well… sort of for it. It’s better than nothing, but the people who fear backlash about getting the shot probably have more sway and a better chance of being heard and changing the minds of antivax people. No one in rural Missouri cares what I have to say.
posted by obfuscation at 5:29 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Yeah I was not at all surprised to hear about the incognito vaccinations. And I’m all for it.
posted by obfuscation


Eponysterical.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:32 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


... the people who fear backlash about getting the shot probably have more sway and a better chance of being heard and changing the minds of antivax people.

Shakes Magic 8-Ball

"Outlook not so good."
posted by jquinby at 5:33 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


hearts and minds
posted by Blienmeis at 5:39 AM on July 30


I'm grateful that in my corner of the US, along with above-average vaccination rates, most people pretty much never stopped wearing masks (but more poorly) in public places. However we're still experiencing a drastic rise in cases.

Masks are just gone here in PA and I doubt that there's anything that the CDC can say that will convince people to put them back on.
posted by octothorpe at 5:46 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I would be shocked if NSW was allowing any workplace clusters to emerge. Most of the news we've heard - through the daily pressers - is the premier citing latent transmission through social contact, like the illegal funeral that was held with 50 people, of which 45 people were infected.

Victoria last year had a lot of small workplace clusters in supermarkets and pharmacies and other essential businesses that never stopped operating. After Victoria went to click and collect, it was typically employee to employee transmission.

I can't imagine why the same thing wouldn't be happening in NSW right now. You don't hear about these clusters because they don't kill a bunch of people like an aged care outbreak and there's no reason for the government or media to publicise them.
posted by zymil at 5:48 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


But I don't know how you can get money where it's needed so workers will stay home if either the worker or the employer is worried about getting dobbed in for tax or immigration law breaches.

Cash payments. Distributed through community groups and some churches for communities with more undocumented residents who might be worried about interacting with government bureaucracy. It’s really not rocket science or even a particularly hard problem, once one sets aside issues of xenophobia, racism and classism. It’s not like lower income people want to go to work when they’re sick (with anything), or expose themselves and their families to greater COVID risk.

I would be shocked if NSW was allowing any workplace clusters to emerge.

Hahahahah… oh, you’re serious? If they made meat processing plants provide PPE for workers, they’re certainly doing better than most of North America, but I find it exceedingly unlikely that classism, racism, and xenophobia aren’t also blinding your government to other things they could be doing to mitigate COVID risk at work for the populations under discussion. Do all hospital and medical office staff, including cleaners, have full PPE, for example? Home health aides? Delivery workers, taxi or bus drivers, etc.? Sex workers? Undocumented domestic servants? It’s easy to see a cluster in a large workplace, but seems to be harder for governments to notice when job categories that don’t have one centralized workplace are at higher risk and to do something for everyone in those very distributed work sites to mitigate the risk. (In many cases, this seems to be a symptom of unwillingness to listen to advocacy groups for marginalized communities.)
posted by eviemath at 5:50 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


My partner's coworker, who had COVID last fall & is fully vaxxed with Pfizer, tested positive for COVID two days ago after feeding feverish. Her partner, who also work with them, is also positive & fully vaxxed. Another fully vaxxed co-worker, feeling anxious about the first person's symptoms and who had the snifflies themselves, got tested and it came back positive yesterday. We got tested yesterday and are awaiting the results. My partner continued to stay masked up at work whilst everyone else did not, so maybe there's hope for us. But breakthrough infections in like 30% of the work force of this company (so far) is... Not great. All Pfizer, too.
posted by erattacorrige at 5:57 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


How about we follow the scientific naming guidelines and refer to the variants by their Greek letter names? Every so often it may indeed be relevant to discuss where a particular variant originally cropped up, but even in the rare cases where your comment touches on relevant geographic epidemiology considerations, the non-racist thing to do is to still use the Greek letter naming convention for the variant itself.
posted by eviemath at 6:00 AM on July 30 [32 favorites]


I want to describe my position on personal safety and broader responsibility regarding COVID right now. This isn't meant as a claim about what you should do, only a description of why I choose to do what I do.

When COVID arrived, I spent most of that year in full lockdown, following scientific guidance. At the beginning of quarantine, when the hospitals were overrun and the virus was very new, this was a choice I made for my own personal well-being, in addition to a sense of social responsibility. Over the course of the year, as treatments improved and hospitals - though still straining - were functioning, I came to believe that as a relatively young, healthy person with no pre-existing conditions, the risk COVID posed to my own personal health was moving in line with other risks I chose to accept in order to live a rich and meaningful life. So, for example, if it had just been me, I would have traveled to see my niece on her birthday, despite the risk to my health, because in assessing two values (my health and my family) the small risk to my health would've been outweighed by my commitment to my family. However, at that point, COVID was still a great risk to the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, and I knew I had a responsibility to them, so I stayed home.

When vaccinations became available, I got one immediately, and I continued following CDC guidelines regarding masks; after that guidance shifted, I wore a mask where I was requested to do so, and where I wasn't, I did not. I knew at that time that there were still many people who wanted to be vaccinated, but couldn't yet, and I felt a responsibility to them as well.

Today, all scientific evidence suggests that COVID no longer puts my personal safety at meaingful risk. Yes, I could get sick from COVID, as I could get sick from many other illnesses, and so it makes sense to take basic measures like handwashing, etc. - to prevent it; wearing a mask when in crowded public spaces makes sense to me now, in the way it does in Asia, not as this high stakes public decision, but as a sensible way not to come down with any illness - from a cold to the flu to COVID. But there are also spaces - for example, my recovery meetings - where not wearing a mask, and having my and other people's faces visible, adds a benefit that for me personally outweighs the risk of an uncomfortable but not life-threatening illness. Is COVID scarier to me that those other illnesses? Yes, on a visceral level - but if I trusted science when it told me that the disease + the state of our health system could kill me, I choose to make an effort to trust science over the visceral force of my fear.

But now a variant is spreading, and it is spreading from the vaccinated to the non-vaccinated; some very vulnerable people may now be at risk even when vaccinated.. So, what is my personal responsibility now? I would argue that it is very different from the last go-round. It is primarily unvaccinated people whose health is at risk; it is also primarily unvaccinated people who - by not getting vaccinated - are putting the most vulnerable (people sick enough that they might die even though they're vaccinated) at risk.

So, what do I do? Do I go back into quarantine, either for the sake of the unvaccinated, or for the people the unvaccinated are putting at risk? Do I make a massive personal sacrifice in order to produce a tiny change in effect, despite knowing that a large number of people - the unvaccinated - could have a much larger effect at a much smaller personal cost?

I would argue, no. I don't think that's the right thing to do. Not only for myself, but for society at large. I have done my part, and I continue to do my part by wearing masks where I am asked to, and by taking reasonable measures to keep myself from getting sick. Responsibility now lies with the unvaccinated - they are responsible for the risks they're choosing to take with their health, and they're also responsible for putting vulnerable, vaccinated members of our society at risk. I can say that without animus, or even judgment: there are a wide range of people who aren't vaccinated, for an almost infinite number of reasons, some of which I might disdain, and some of which I actually have great sympathy for.

Nonetheless, it is a simple fact that what was once a shared social responsibility has now shifted, and it is neither honest nor meaningfully altruistic for me to ignore the reality on the ground, which is that the true end of this pandemic will not arise from me and other vaccinated people exerting an extreme level of control over ourselves; it will come from the unvaccinated people changing their minds. And so, to the extent that I can help make that happen, I will - and one way I can do that is by living out the truth of what I believe, which is that to get vaccinated protects me enough that it is safe for me to go about living a basically normal life. Moreover, if have not made immense personal sacrifices on behalf of the unvaccinated, in a way that, because I'm human, I'm likely to bitterly resent, I'll be more likely to be able to engage with the unvaccinated people in my life where they are, with understanding and openness, as opposed to anger, and so be more likely to be in a position to change someone's mind, and so effect the change I wish to see.

Again, that's just me. And my opinions might change! But because it's in the middle of some of the more extreme positions I'm seeing, I thought it was worth laying out in case it's useful to anyone else who is also struggling to think this through.
posted by Merricat Blackwood at 6:11 AM on July 30 [50 favorites]


Today, all scientific evidence suggests that COVID no longer puts my personal safety at meaingful risk.

The vaccines almost universally prevent hospitalization and death. What's not clear and might still be a danger is a breakthrough infection causing long COVID.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:20 AM on July 30 [35 favorites]


it is also primarily unvaccinated people who - by not getting vaccinated - are putting the most vulnerable (people sick enough that they might die even though they're vaccinated) at risk.

I, too, have a lesser opinion of unvaccinated adults who have no medical reason that would make vaccination a greater risk to them. It is also worth remembering that the unvaccinated population includes everyone under 12, who can’t be said to have the same agency with respect to their vaccination status (even if there were vaccines available to that age group). (The degree to which individual Mefites interact with children under 12 or with people who live with or otherwise regularly interact with children under 12 will vary, of course.)
posted by eviemath at 6:25 AM on July 30 [24 favorites]


Yes, it might be. And I think everyone needs to make their own personal safety assessment, and I don't pass judgment on anyone who thinks differently than I do. But for me - and again, this might change - "long COVID" is a very hazy concept, one that, as you say, there is very little clarity on, scientifically. And if I treat long COVID as a risk that essentially makes me act as though the vaccines provide a negligible amount of safety, I am acting on my fear, rather than on solid scientific advice.
posted by Merricat Blackwood at 6:26 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


What's not clear and might still be a danger is a breakthrough infection causing long COVID.

I don’t have time to do the math/research but I would make this calculation based on the complication and infections rate of other illnesses e.g. mono. I think it’s something like 17% of people have long term complications from mono? I’m one of the people who got POTS from it (and I didn’t even kiss anyone, boo). It might be helpful to compare those two risks to understand what level of behavior modification is reasonable.
posted by brook horse at 6:28 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Yes, but again - and then I'll duck out of the conversation - the reason that children are still unvaccinated is that right now science suggests that - although there are individual, very scary exceptions - children are not vulnerable to severe risk from COVID. Are there unknowns? Absolutely. Is it every individual's choice to look out for their own children in the way they think is best? Yes. Have we just come through a year of having the risks of any kind of COVID infection drummed into our head that the prospect of getting any kind of COVID is absolutely fucking terrifying, especially when we think about it in regards to our own children? Yes. Do I feel even the slightest bit of judgment of people who aren't ready to trust imperfect science with the lives of their children? Absolutely not.

And yet. If what I am asking the unvaccinated to do is to listen to science over their fear, I think, to the best of my ability, I have an obligation to do the same.
posted by Merricat Blackwood at 6:31 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


Hahahahah… oh, you’re serious? If they made meat processing plants provide PPE for workers, they’re certainly doing better than most of North America, but I find it exceedingly unlikely that classism, racism, and xenophobia aren’t also blinding your government to other things they could be doing to mitigate COVID risk at work for the populations under discussion.

Governments are certainly racist and xenophobic, but I think the results speak for themselves: every state has achieved Covid zero multiple times, and essential services (like taxis, meatworks, hospital in the home - basically nurse and other health worker visitation to homes) have continued to operate regardless. It's like the Chinese government: an authoritarian, bad state actor is not necessarily an ineffective one when it comes to achieving their goals, even if they trample minority rights along the way, and the country as a whole has set themselves a target to achieve Covid zero, with some bumbling along the way. Big business HATES being in lockdown and the government is under intense pressure to achieve Covid zero.
posted by xdvesper at 6:36 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


The reason children under 12 are unvaccinated right now is that the safety and efficacy trials are not complete and authorization has not been given (emergency or otherwise) to vaccinate them.
posted by stevis23 at 6:38 AM on July 30 [32 favorites]


I don’t have time to do the math/research but I would make this calculation based on the complication and infections rate of other illnesses e.g. mono.

We don't have that data. Not for breakthrough infections or long covid.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:41 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


The reason children are unvaccinated is because approvals for those vaccinations is by design a more rigorous process. And don't forget the not insignificant number of people who are immunocompromised and cannot get vaccinated.

I am righteously angry at people who choose not to vaccinate when we have vulnerable community members who need protection. But I still think those of us who have done all the right things so far have that responsibility to protect them, despite the reckless actions if the unvaccinated (in the US, where the vaccine is widely available and it is a deliberate choice to not vaccinate).
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:41 AM on July 30 [23 favorites]


But I don't know how you can get money where it's needed so workers will stay home if either the worker or the employer is worried about getting dobbed in for tax or immigration law breaches.

Immigration jubilee. Just straight give permanent resident/green card/whatever the local name to any resident if they want it. Boom. This particular problem and a lot of others solved.
posted by Mitheral at 6:57 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


I’m in Milwaukee and I’ve been noticing more people wearing masks indoors again

FWIW, here in very politically mixed central California, I went to Target yesterday and most shoppers (and all employees) were masked in the store, much to my surprise.
posted by LooseFilter at 6:57 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


So for breakthrough infections, you're getting that initial upper respiratory infection and transmission ability; it's just that the vaccine means you're overwhelmingly likely to fight it off before it progresses to lung involvement.

That makes some sense as an explanation of what’s different with Delta but it doesn’t fill in the blank in what these assertions actually mean - “asymptomatic breakthrough cases are as transmissible as _________ in unvaccinated people.”
posted by atoxyl at 6:58 AM on July 30


Over here in Canada, I look at Alberta and I can't even.

My mom is having pretty serious surgery back home in South Carolina in late August. Serious enough where recovery will take until the end of the year, and I am trying to work logistics of care up here in Ontario alongside relatives back home in the US. My mom lives alone, is fully vaccinated, and will need help. My fully vaccinated aunt--who had similar surgery last year or the year before--will be staying with her for the first month, but my uncle is going to drive her from San Antonio to Greenville because my aunt does not feel comfortable with air travel in this climate. That's a hell of a haul on the road but I can't fault her. My nervousness stems from my turn for care being likely to come in October, and despite being fully vaxxed myself, I have no choice but air travel. And even more, having to go to a state that's a hot spot right now and apparently they too are acting as though the pandemic is over. Oh, and add to that that my brother-in-law willfully refuses to get vaxxed. My sister finally came around and is getting her first shot next Friday because my mom was clear in that she will be in a very vulnerable state and if my sister wanted to help, she needs to be vaxxed.

Sometimes I really can't believe that in 2021, we are having trouble getting people to believe in science. Or at least think outside themselves. I got vaccinated first for my health, and then for everyone else I might come in contact with. I don't understand people who--for non-related health reasons--won't get jabbed. You are telling me you do not care much for anyone else.
posted by Kitteh at 6:58 AM on July 30 [27 favorites]


Sometimes I really can't believe that in 2021, we are having trouble getting people to believe in science.

We are having trouble because the best information available keeps changing, as it is prone to do.

We are having trouble because the messaging from those in the best position to know also keeps changing, based on circumstances.

We are having trouble because a large number of people stand to directly benefit (money, power and influence) by instructing believers in a particular political ideology to think like the peasant in Young Frankenstein.

We are having trouble because personal convenience is at war with the public good.
posted by delfin at 7:14 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


I posit that we are also having trouble because our science education, in particular, is extremely poor. People will tend to reject information or ideas if they “just don’t get it” rather than dig in to try to understand. I am sure this is a cultural response as well as an individual one. The US laid the foundation of this response decades ago. It’s made me think strongly about becoming far more active in local city councils and school boards.
posted by Silvery Fish at 7:21 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


Would a nasally delivered booster vaccine, akin to TheraFlu, reduce transmission and viral load, and perhaps snifflies/cold symptoms? Conceptually, given what we know about the virus?

Shoulder shots apparently produce antibodies, etc. that are extremely protective of the chest/lungs, but perhaps not as strongly in the upper respiratory area.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 7:24 AM on July 30


I am righteously angry at people who choose not to vaccinate when we have vulnerable community members who need protection. But I still think those of us who have done all the right things so far have that responsibility to protect them, despite the reckless actions if the unvaccinated (in the US, where the vaccine is widely available and it is a deliberate choice to not vaccinate).

My feelings are still mixed, but I am definitely moving towards the camp of "no, I don't have responsibility to adjust my life to protect some jerk who is refusing to get a vaccine." To protect unvaccinated children, people with conditions that prevent protection, etc, sure. But specifically the people who are choosing to not get vaccinated, I don't have any sympathy.

At this point I am ready for someone to roll out the "vaccine passport" so that places like restaurants, airplanes, etc, can become spaces where virtually everyone in them has been vaccinated. The unvaccinated can continue to choose to take risks, but they can take those risks away from enclosed indoor spaces with the rest of the public. That's a complete fictional fantasy and won't happen, but it reflects my feelings right now as I very resentfully start wearing a mask again.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:26 AM on July 30 [27 favorites]


I have to keep reminding myself that that jerk who refuses to get a vaccine could have teenage children who desperately want a shot, but are forbidden to get one.
posted by Epixonti at 7:28 AM on July 30 [32 favorites]


Alas, we don’t entirely get to choose who gets protected by our responsible actions. In my heart I very much feel “fine, go get Covid and fucking die from it” for the antivax camp, but they’re going to take other people down with them.
posted by obfuscation at 7:31 AM on July 30 [21 favorites]


My feelings are still mixed, but I am definitely moving towards the camp of "no, I don't have responsibility to adjust my life to protect some jerk who is refusing to get a vaccine." To protect unvaccinated children, people with conditions that prevent protection, etc, sure. But specifically the people who are choosing to not get vaccinated, I don't have any sympathy.

Said jerk might be the guy who's handling your food, or the girl who's standing too close to you in a checkout line, or the man who picked up and breathed all over the item at the grocery store that you just put into your cart, or the woman who was the patient right before you at the doctor's office.

If we had some level of certainty that a jerk-borne virus would remain entirely amongst the jerk community, I would... have mixed feelings but I would like to think that I would still want to help. But we don't.
posted by delfin at 7:35 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


My uncle is over 60 and a practicing dentist--a HEALTHCARE PROVIDER--and lives in Florida, he's been able to get the vaccine for MONTHS. He did not get vaccinated. He now has covid. He has been putting his face in other peoples faces and his hands in other peoples mouths all day every day and he refused to get the vaccine. He's been traveling all over the country for months spreading his idiot mouth air everywhere. My grandma died last month and before that he visited her nursing home full of vulnerable old people dozens and dozens of times.

He's been laid out sick for days now and "regrets" not getting vaccinated. Irresponsible willful idiot. I am so mad at his stupid ass I don't even care one tiny bit that he is sick.
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 AM on July 30 [74 favorites]


Nasal vaccines have been in development and seemed somewhat effective in early trials that started in the spring. It seems likely in a 3-6 months kind of time frame that there would be a nasal booster targeted at delta. That seems probably too late to help with the US's current spike.

The UK's abrupt decline in their spike in cases at the same time they opened up seems important to keep an eye on. Is it a data glitch, or real? If real, it seems plausible that delta swept through their remaining unvaccinated population to enough of an extent to push them over the line to herd immunity. The shape of the curve in the UK is very similar to delta's path through India too.
posted by joeyh at 7:41 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


have to keep reminding myself that that jerk who refuses to get a vaccine could have teenage children who desperately want a shot, but are forbidden to get one.

This is my niece. She very much wants to be vaccinated but dad gets the last word and that word is no.
posted by Kitteh at 7:44 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]




My antecedent was unclear: we have a responsibility to still protect them, the vulnerable people - the immunocompromised, those with legitimate health reasons they cannot be vaccinated, children under 12, and, as pointed out above, children over 12 who do not have control over their own health and vaccine choices.

As for the anti-vaxxers? Most days I wish they'd suffer the consequences of their actions, but I do know that our society and culture and political climate has poisoned minds and screwed up education and there are bigger reasons for their decisions than their individual idiocy.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:46 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I posit that we are also having trouble because our science education, in particular, is extremely poor.

Yes. I think a lot of more or less well-meaning hesitant people really don't understand how a vaccine is developed. (Partly, I'm sure, because of TV shows where they "develop" a vaccine in like a week.) I've had a lot of conversations where I explain, eg, what is pub med, how do people get money to do science, how is science reviewed, how does international collaboration work. I think people have this idea that it's, like, one mad scientist in a lab who could in fact be plotting to sterilize us all, and then the government and big corporations are just like 'well, no way to check whether this research is legit, let's go!!"
posted by Frowner at 7:47 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


Is it a data glitch, or real?

It's very unlikely to be a data glitch at this point, considering the same fall happened in Scotland before it reached England and that the number of tests being doing hasn't changed much, so it's not a case of fewer tests being done.

I would say it's likely to be some form of herd immunity, especially given the recent news that 9 out of 10 UK adults are estimated to have COVID antibodies of some kind. This recent wave primarily burned through children and younger people who haven't been vaccinated, suggesting that once it reached the point of no longer having available carriers, it's burned itself out.

IMO Delta is a perfect storm of a few factors:
- it presents with new and different symptoms that can easily be mistaken for something else (hayfever or a cold) during a high hayfever season, when most people are looking for outdated symptoms
- it's fast to infect, undermining the current guidance that you're "safer" if you don't spend too long around people
- it presents mostly with very mild or no symptoms in young people and children, who spread it very easily
- it's arrived at a time when many populations have COVID/lockdown/mask fatigue

It's kind of the worst possible kind of variant for these circumstances but, so far, I think we can be grateful (knock on wood) that vaccines are effective against it and that Europe's experience suggests that it's possible to break the link between infections and hospitalisations.
posted by fight or flight at 7:51 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


Today, all scientific evidence suggests that COVID no longer puts my personal safety at meaingful risk.

By all means, you do you, seriously.

But while there's evidence that vaccinations massively reduce the risk of hospitalization and almost eliminate the risk of short-term death, I haven't seen any firm evidence yet that they reduce the risk of serious complications like cognitive damage or cardiac damage.

These things can happen even in "mild" cases that aren't "long covid."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:53 AM on July 30 [39 favorites]


I think people have this idea that it's, like, one mad scientist in a lab who could in fact be plotting to sterilize us all,

Doesn't help that the Tucker Carlsons and the Rand Pauls and the Laura Ingrahams of the world keep declaring that one mad scientist in a lab plotting to infect us all is why we have this pandemic in the first place.
posted by delfin at 7:53 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Nasal vaccines for the flu have been less efficacious. The only recommendation to use them previously was severe egg allergy or needle phobia. The reason that we don't have a cure for the common cold is the upper respiratory tract is the weakest part of the immune system. Or the area were the immune system has a harder time marshaling resources. IgA antibodies do not work as well IgG for neutralizing viruses. Most of viral defense is cell mediated anyways. This is part of the reason we have seasonal cold/flu seasons.
posted by roguewraith at 7:56 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"

Isaac Asimov in 1980(!)

(I know, I know, Asimov. But the quote stands the test of time.)
posted by wittgenstein at 7:56 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


Vaccine mandates are popular
The big picture: There's recently been a surge in vaccine requirements for employees among health care organizations, governments and private businesses.
  • The federal government yesterday became the latest employer to create a new vaccination policy.
  • But many of these requirements stop short of being actual vaccine mandates, and instead impose additional burdens — such as extra testing — on people who choose to remain unvaccinated. They also only apply to a select group of people, like employees, students or customers.
By the numbers: 64% of respondents said in June or July that they'd support government vaccine requirements, a slight bump up from the 62% who said the same in April or May.
  • 70% said they'd support vaccine requirements to get on an airplane; 61% support requiring children to be vaccinated to go to school; and 66% support requiring college students to be vaccinated to attend a university.
  • A majority of every demographic subgroup except Republicans said they'd support vaccine requirements. Only 45% of Republicans said they approve of such mandates.
  • A majority of respondents in all but three states — Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota — said they support requirements that everyone be vaccinated.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 7:59 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


The thing that's knawing at me as I think in similar directions as Merricat Blackwood describes above, is how similar "I won't sacrifice my nomal life for someone who fears the vaccine" is to "I won't sacrifice my normal life for someone who fears covid". Not because I can't see the differences, but because if a lot of vaccinated people are now feeling that, it makes the messaging of Republican leaders more attractive. They've staked out the "my freedom" ground while eroding society enough that more of us are pushed to stand there.
posted by joeyh at 8:03 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


There I see a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge

I'd argue that some of this is the product of historical religious and cultural attitudes; most early American colonists were religious malcontents who were by and large strongly Calvinist with a deep distrust of centralised authority and received dogma (particularly the Anglo-Scottish borderers who made up the settlers of the "back country" in the colonial era who are ancestors of most of today's Southerners, where this proud and defiant ignorance is most evident).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 8:03 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


If you're too angry about this to be able to talk about it without wishing death and violent suffering on your fellow human beings, many of whom have been lied to by wealthy politicians or the morally bankrupt areas of the media, or (in the case of some minority communities) have been historically mistreated by the medical establishment and have valid reasons for hesitancy, then I think you should perhaps step out of the thread for a while.

"Take power" and "grind their nose into the fucking street and beat the shit out of them"? Do you realise what you sound like? This is unhelpful at best and at worst exactly the kind of thing that ends up being weaponised against the most vulnerable in our society.
posted by fight or flight at 8:11 AM on July 30 [37 favorites]


I get the frustration but think there's a little too much focus on anti-vaxxers, who are not going to turn on a dime, and especially not going to respond to any kind of liberal #BelieveScience sneering or squishy #InThisTogether messaging, is my prediction.

We could easily get other giant swaths of the population vaccinated who are ready and willing if not for misunderstandings about how much it costs, whether you need health insurance, whether they'll need to take time off work from side effects, or even just plain old access in general.

Uninsured people under 65 are seeing some of the lowest vaccination numbers. And while red-staters are less likely than blue, the other fault lines along race and income exist: black and latino people are far more likely to be unvaccinated, as well as low-income people in general - with many citing appointment scheduling issues, transportation, and misunderstandings about whether there is a cost involved.

These things are so, so fixable but it has been a decentralized messaging nightmare. We have not made it truly "easy" to get vaccinated for plenty of large groups of people that could get our vaccination rate 5-10% higher than where we are now, which would be a massive win. We are not going to "individual responsibility" our way out of this one and never were, and if all-caps "GET YOUR SHOT! WEAR A MASK!" is the only tool in the tool shed then we're probably going to be dealing with this for many, many years, because it's not really working.
posted by windbox at 8:15 AM on July 30 [31 favorites]


> When the CDC issued its "vaccinated people can drop their masks in most circumstances" opinion not too long ago, I screeched loudly; the CDC's opinion may have been medically sound based on the current information of the time, but it was sociologically disastrous.

It was very jarring to see otherwise sensible people get all "trust the science" and "how dare you suggest the CDC lie to people" at the mere suggestion that the revised guidance was a bad idea that had very little upside and a lot of potential downside. I'm being prevented from taking a drug that will help me fight cancer right now because of the pandemic, and even I started having second thoughts about mandates based on some of the bank-shot arguments people were making about "carrots" to motivate people to get the shot, which of course turned out to be nonsense.

It may be true that nobody could have predicted how contagious the delta variant was, but that does not retroactively excuse the CDC's error. Phasing mask mandates in seems basically impossible now, and while it was always going to be difficult, the one thing we should have learned by now is that you can't give the American right an inch or they'll take a yard.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:16 AM on July 30 [23 favorites]


I’m not excited by the prospect of paying antivaxxers to get the shot, but if it actually worked, I’d consider it money well spent, no matter how resentful I’d be. I just don’t really believe it would work on many people - I’m sure some would consider the offer of money even more evidence to support their resistance.

My hospital announced a vaccine mandate last week. I’m thrilled and think it’s a no brainer for hospitals. I was so disappointed to learn as they announced it that only 65% of staff were vaccinated up until that point.
posted by obfuscation at 8:17 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


No, god damn it. I'm so sick of giving these loser fucks rewards for making shit harder for the rest of us. Especially when it's my tax money that doesn't get used on shit like universal healthcare for me.

They're planning on starting that in Alberta and I am very much in the camp of "we shouldn't have to bribe you to do the right thing."
posted by Kitteh at 8:18 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


We are having trouble because the best information available keeps changing, as it is prone to do.

We are having trouble because the messaging from those in the best position to know also keeps changing, based on circumstances.

We are having trouble because a large number of people stand to directly benefit (money, power and influence) by instructing believers in a particular political ideology to think like the peasant in Young Frankenstein.

We are having trouble because personal convenience is at war with the public good.


This last bit needs a bit more amplification. It’s inability to grasp the ideas, coupled with the concomitant inability to grasp one’s inability to grasp the ideas. I had some high school classmates decades ago who didn’t take science courses “because I’ll never need it” and, to judge from social media, are now are reduced to posting BillGatesFauciNWOmicrochipsCCPconspiracy memes.

So it’s not merely personal convenience, but a baffled shrug that the official guidelines have changed as understanding has grown, so they will choose personal convenience with a stamp of official approval from whatever point in the timeline suits their convenience.

I imagine that a half century or so ago, these same folks would be complaining that it used to be that seven out of ten doctors recommended Chesterfield brand cigarettes but now they at smoking is bad for you, so really, who knows what to think?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:19 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]


If you're too angry about this to be able to talk about it without wishing death and violent suffering on your fellow human beings, many of whom have been lied to by wealthy politicians or the morally bankrupt areas of the media, or (in the case of some minority communities) have been historically mistreated by the medical establishment and have valid reasons for hesitancy, then I think you should perhaps step out of the thread for a while.

Disagree. Nobody on the left is supposed to be able to get angry, only righteous. We just endured four years of people wishing half this country would die, yahoos literally stormed the capitol six months ago and erected a gallows and demanded Pelosi and others be handed over to them.

I can't help but think that part of this sort of behavior is because there's never any consequences from regular folk on the left. We're not allowed to show anger. We're supposed to walk away, calm down, come back fresh and ready to have a dialog with people who want to kill many of us.

One of the most refreshing things I've seen in a while is the guy at the Cabelas in Montana getting in the face of Tucker Carlson and telling him he was the worst human being in the world, and then when Tucker tried to walk away, the guy kept at it, followed him, told him "no no, you're not walking away from this yet."

We've tried passive resistance. We've tried being reasonable and understanding. We've told each other "well, we still have to be nice to these people. After all, they might have family members who want to get the vaccine and aren't allowed to." Fuck that. Sometimes the only way to stop bullies is to sock them in mouth.

These people have been in a death cult for years. If they want to die so badly, let them.
posted by nushustu at 8:21 AM on July 30 [72 favorites]


Public health expert Dr. Leana Wen calls CDC communications strategy "frankly, very poor"
  • Wen on the CDC's mask guidance this week: "The Biden administration was really uneasy and squeamish all along about this idea of vaccine verification ... The concern is not with the vaccinated. The concern is that the unvaccinated are masquerading as the vaccinated. They are passing it on to one another. And that's why a[n indoor] mask mandate makes sense to me."
  • On mandating vaccines: "I understand that we are a country that's about freedom and choice. But why is it that someone can choose to go into a crowded public space and infect others with a potentially dangerous fatal, extremely contagious illness? I understand that, you know, if you want to stay unvaccinated, that's your choice. But if you now want to be coming into work, into work or other public settings, then you have an obligation to play by the rules. I mean, we let people drink at home and in private. Fine, that's your choice. But you don't have the choice to get behind a wheel of a car intoxicated in a way that you could harm other people. And I think it's really time for us to start using that same kind of analogy to start talking about vaccines."
  • On the Biden administration and the CDC: "I think the administration is in a tough pickle here because they have said we're going to listen to the CDC without qualifying it ... What they should have said is we will listen to the scientists. There are plenty of scientists and doctors working and other agencies within the White House itself. That's what they should have said, not, we will listen to the CDC."
  • On the Biden administration's response to COVID: "They're trying to fix a terrible situation and they've done a great job when it comes to prioritizing health equity, getting the vaccine supply, doing the initial vaccine rollout ... But they've also really overcompensated and now they can't walk it back. Now that President Biden said, 'Oh, I'm going to listen to the scientists, I'm going to follow the CDC,' he can't now say, 'But actually, the CDC is terrible at communication and we need our comms and policy people to help them.'"
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:23 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Also, did we forget that the majority of Trumpers are not poor?

Not every unvaccinated person is a Trumper! Many of them are poor. Many of them are uninsured. Many of them are Black. Many of them are precariously employed. Your violent fantasies about the unvaccinated sweep in some people who absolutely don't deserve it.

They're planning on starting that in Alberta and I am very much in the camp of "we shouldn't have to bribe you to do the right thing."

I'm in the camp of "public health is more important than whether people deserve something." Paying people to get vaccinated will improve my life. It will improve your life. Worrying about whether someone will get something they don't "deserve" is the root of so so many miserly public benefits that hurt everyone.
posted by Mavri at 8:24 AM on July 30 [55 favorites]


They're planning on starting that in Alberta and I am very much in the camp of "we shouldn't have to bribe you to do the right thing."

Seriously, what are jails supposed to be other than places to hold people who won't do what's best for society?

Everything is upside down, backwards, and there is zero accountability for anything to anyone.

It's no small wonder /r/PublicFreakouts is so cathartic. You finally get to see so many of these losers eat shit.

We've tried passive resistance. We've tried being reasonable and understanding. We've told each other "well, we still have to be nice to these people. After all, they might have family members who want to get the vaccine and aren't allowed to." Fuck that. Sometimes the only way to stop bullies is to sock them in mouth.

Absolutely. They only understand power. They only understand actual consequences. Anything less will just result in them screaming "BABA BOOEY BABA BOOEY HOWARD STERNS PENIS" during their capital punishment.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:24 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I'm in the camp of "public health is more important than whether people deserve something."

YES YES YES. Am I mad about it? Yes. Would it be a net good? YES.
posted by obfuscation at 8:28 AM on July 30 [22 favorites]


Sometimes the only way to stop bullies is to sock them in mouth.

You realise that not every unvaccinated person is a "bully" or not on the left or a "Trumper" or whatever way you Americans want to politicise this global public health issue?

I don't understand how some in this thread don't realise how truly, deeply disturbing it is to see apparently "reasonable" people willing to hand violent power to the state in order to see their fellow citizens beaten in the street like a dog for the crime of being hesitant about a vaccine, just because of your own personal assumptions about what they "deserve".

Seriously, do those of you advocating for and agreeing with this not see where that line of thinking ends up? What it's actually allowing for? You want governments who have historically enacted horrific violence and cultural oppression against minority populations to be given even more violent powers to punish anyone you disagree with?

This is disgusting and I'm horrified to see it on the Blue.
posted by fight or flight at 8:28 AM on July 30 [35 favorites]


No, god damn it. I'm so sick of giving these loser fucks rewards for making shit harder for the rest of us. Especially when it's my tax money that doesn't get used on shit like universal healthcare for me.

They're planning on starting that in Alberta and I am very much in the camp of "we shouldn't have to bribe you to do the right thing."


Starting? No, we've been doing it since June - Kenney had to save Stampede. I'm not sure if it influenced the vaccine rates very much, as we're now the national laggard for first doses.

But we're going to be the great experiment for everyone: Alberta is getting set to lift pretty much all remaining restrictions, including isolation after a positive test, and pretty much stopping contact tracing. Whee! Our leadership has decided the pandemic is just too darn annoying to continue with.
posted by nubs at 8:30 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


No, sorry, I've really had enough of this annoying liberal "not enough people believe in scienceeeee, they should go to JAIL for not believing in science!!! They should be beaten up for not believing in science!!!" screeching. Go to the working class Bronx - among the highest indexing among unvaccinated people in my city- and go try that. Propose that unvaccinated people should go to jail or be beaten up. Ah right, you wouldn't dare. It's all talk, you people are embarrassing yourselves. Just stop.

This is as much about inequality, access, and messaging confusion and not just red-state clowns and qanon freaks on TV. It's always interesting to me though how many liberals love to ignore the former and just focus on the latter.
posted by windbox at 8:40 AM on July 30 [20 favorites]


Man alive, how is this confusing? There's a difference between "people who can't get vaccinated" for whatever reason, and "people who refuse to get vaccinated."

We have talked above about programs that help get people vaccinated, even if they have to go in undercover, or travel to homeless shelters, or whatnot. That's fine. That's not the problem.

The problem is that there is a sizable contingent of people who are refusing the vaccine and it is killing people other than themselves and nobody is allowed to get angry about that, because anger leads to hate, etc.

I am always, always hesitant in giving any gov't the power to make people do things, but jfc this is a life-or-death situation and the clock is ticking and much of the problem could be solved by getting a shot. It's not drafting young people to go fight for a year to protect our freedoms in some jungle on the other side of the world. It's a shot. This is exactly the kind of thing that we have governments for: to keep the overall population safe by making a bare minimum effort a requirement.

Over 600,000 people have died in the US from Covid. How many have to die before we say, "you know, you are required to pay taxes, and if you have a car you're required to get auto insurance, and you're required not to drive if you've had too much to drink, and there are penalties if you don't follow those rules. Maybe we should enact the same sort of thing for Covid?"
posted by nushustu at 8:43 AM on July 30 [32 favorites]


I'm sick of being told I should be ashamed of standing up to people who literally want to kill me.

Direct that anger first and foremost at the people who are driving the message, rather than the masses who are deliberately misinformed by them.

I feel bad that my mother is a trance-babbling hard-right ignoramus, for instance. I feel dread that she's 70-something with health concerns and chooses to remain unvaxxed because "you don't know what those EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS will do to you. Not like hydroxycholoroquine, which is tested," and that she and her 70-something cancer-survivor heart-surgery-survivor one-lung-remaining husband are likely toast should COVID come their way.

I feel unbridled fury at the likes of Tucker, Sean and Laura on TV, and the usual suspects on the radio, and the 12 people responsible for starting 95% of vaccine misinformation on social media, and the Gingrichites who whipped the messaging war into the highest gear and have kept it there since, and the Mirror Universe Media who make money off of ignorance and promote politicians who get elected specifically because of ignorance.

Yes, a typical Charlie CHUD is an arrogant, unpleasant ass with zero consideration for anyone or anything beyond his front door or the tip of his nose. Yes, he is a measurable contributor to the mess that we're in. But he has been taught, carefully and painstakingly, to think that way.
posted by delfin at 8:44 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


It was very jarring to see otherwise sensible people get all "trust the science" and "how dare you suggest the CDC lie to people" at the mere suggestion that the revised guidance was a bad idea that had very little upside and a lot of potential downside.

I still cannot get behind the idea that the CDC should misrepresent the data rather than providing it and expecting governments to use that data intelligently. I can't. In the long term, this is how you sacrifice the credibility of the institution even among reasonable people.

And let's be real here: the current situation isn't meaningfully the result of the guidance. The places where the spread is now becoming a real problem are the same damn places who had very limited or no mandates (or no enforcement) to begin with, and the lowest vax rates. This was going to happen to them anyway in the absence of people seeing the light on vaccination. So what we are doing is once again pushing hard on the most compliant people to get the remnants of the diminishing returns instead of being more aggressive with the only tactic that offers long-term success (vaccination).

To me, the moral calculus changes with learning that this variant is more transmissible by the vaccinated (though "just as" seems to be a big jump; hopefully we'll have more data soon and better information). My building never ended its mask rule and I've still been masking in transit (as required) and (mostly) while shopping (because NYC has been through a lot). I'll go back to complete consistency on shopping and give up my one treat, movies without a mask. But I'm not happy about it and I don't think it's accomplishing all that much in comparison with other tactics.

(We are also seriously still going to have to learn to treat COVID like other risks of its magnitude and personal applicability. Without the transmissibility issue, as a person not personally at very high risk of hospitalization or death and not living with other such people, I'd be continuing not to rearrange my life around the small risk itself, the same way I still cross the busy street I live on. I find it weird that people at this point still don't look at how they react to comparable perils (based on their own personal characteristics, can everyone just assume I grasp the concept that some people are much more vulnerable and it makes sense for them to take more significant protective measures and skip that lecture) in gauging how much effort they put into risk avoidance.)

P.S. I am also weary of hearing about how certain people are refusing the vaccine because "they've been lied to." If you are a shitty person who all your life has chosen to believe people who flatter your shitty principles and shut out all alternative information sources because they don't make you feel as good and then continue to hope you can get away with clinging to the kayfabe in the face of 650,000 U.S. deaths, you've chosen to be lied to because you like it better than grappling with a reality in which white Americans aren't the best people in the world. No excuse. I don't think you should be beaten in the streets and am in fact strongly in favor of increasing incentives along with certain types of mandates, but it's not because I think vaccine refusal in these groups is reasonable or understandable, or even because I care whether they get sick. I care about the people around them. And I'm not planning on forgetting in future how many Americans stuck to their death cult, either.
posted by praemunire at 8:47 AM on July 30 [24 favorites]


I finished watching Togo with our kids last night. If you haven’t seen it and love dogs and a good family movie with some tears I recommend it.

For those that don’t know it’s a movie about the 1925 serum run to Nome, a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across Alaska by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs across 674 miles (1,085 km) in 5 ½ days, saving the small town of Nome and the surrounding communities from a developing epidemic. The publicity also helped spur an inoculation campaign in the U.S. that dramatically reduced the threat of the disease.

What happened to the spirit of that country? I want to move there (minus the racism both explicit and implicit in the historical messages included in the Wikipedia article I linked to)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:58 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


I just looked at the vaccination rates for TN's major metro counties - Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville, which also (not surprisingly) are the 4 blue-ish islands on the last electoral map. Current numbers are as follows:

Shelby: 37.3%
Hamilton: 42%
Knox: 46%
Davidson: 48%

Memphis is currently the worst off right now, and guess what. Shelby county has TN's largest black population. There's way more going on than 'muh freedom' grotesques.
posted by jquinby at 9:00 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Mod note: Several comments deleted, some responses left up. Folks, please consider how you're showing up in these threads. It's ok to take a break from commenting if you've already said what you had to say.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:02 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]




There's way more going on than 'muh freedom' grotesques.

Yeah, but...in the Bronx (correctly noted above as a place where a lot of people who have a lot of historical reasons to be reluctant to engage with the medical establishment live) we still have a 50% full vaccination rate. In 10002--Chinatown/LES, one of the few zip codes south of 96th St. where white people not only aren't a majority, but aren't even a plurality, and which has a large poor aging population alongside the twentysomething partiers--they're at 80+%. This is kind of a sweeping generality, but I think it's more or less safe to say that the larger the black population, the more resistant the white population is to public health measures and, well, anything that supports the public well-being.
posted by praemunire at 9:11 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


This is as much about inequality, access, and messaging confusion and not just red-state clowns and qanon freaks on TV.

I can't agree with this hard enough. The outreach on COVID vaccines has been as inequitable as COVID itself, with upper middle class able to get vaccines basically anywhere and the lower class basically nowhere. It's absolutely like voting in the US - two different worlds.

Vaccines by socio-economic class

Vaccines by race

Biden's plan to go door-to-door might really be the best way to go.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:12 AM on July 30 [22 favorites]


I still cannot get behind the idea that the CDC should misrepresent the data rather than providing it and expecting governments to use that data intelligently. I can't. In the long term, this is how you sacrifice the credibility of the institution even among reasonable people.

My initial response to this is to look at many prominent figures within the United States government and how they have responded to COVID and CDC guidance so far, at both federal and state levels, and giggle until I fall over about the notion of "expecting them to use data intelligently."

But I will counter more seriously by underlining the difference between "misrepresentation" and triage. The goal of the CDC is to minimize the impact of infectious diseases. How best do they accomplish that goal?

The phrasing and presentation of the revised guidance, freeing the vaccinated from the burdens of masks temporarily, was the precise pretext that the majority of US businesses required to shift from "masks are required to enter" to "masks are suggested but no longer mandatory." Noting that unvaxxed people should continue to wear masks has no practical value when there is no way of distinguishing a vaxxed from an unvaxxed person at a glance, which is all the poor bastard manning the front door at Store X will get.

"This will encourage people to get vaccinated" has little practical value when (a) a % of Americans will never get vaccinated short of at gunpoint, and (b) those who are on the fence can now enter buildings without masks whether they get vaccinated or not.

So if the desired metric is reducing transmissibility of a dangerous virus, part of which includes reducing the number of unmasked, unvaxxed disease vectors in public places, which does more harm:

* Presenting data about vaccinated transmission but stressing the need for continued vigilance for the public good, encouraging [universal] mask mandates to continue, or
* Presenting data and declaring that the vaccinated are permitted to relax, thus greatly increasing the number of unmasked faces in public places

They picked the latter. I remain unimpressed.
posted by delfin at 9:17 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


My ire is reserved for the people who are doing their best to misinform others out of ulterior motives: right-wing media, right-wing politicians, anti-vaxx “influencers”, and big businesses who (in the short term) benefit from obstructing lockdowns.

I have no ire for people who have been their victims and who may, therefore, be confused or reluctant because of the machinations of those bad actors.

I’m also pissed off about the classist factors that make it harder for people to schedule the appointments, make it hard for “essential workers” to exercise more choice over how and whether to be potentially exposed, etc., as well as the history of systemic racism in our country that causes many to distrust a government-supplied vaccine.

A lot of people are stuck in a deadly bind between a lethal virus and their lived experience in a sociopolitical system designed to oppress and exploit them. The people I’d really like to punch in the face are those who are perpetuating the system and propping it up with lies and fearmongering and greed.
posted by darkstar at 9:25 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Never stopped wearing a mask, never really stopped lockdown. Frankly I don't miss the public at all, especially in Texas. Just gonna hunker down and hope these wretches weirdos take each other and themselves out before too many innocents.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:32 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


my ire is inchoate and unreasoning. you cannot see my scowl because it is covered by a mask.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:34 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


Homeless New Yorkers have very low vaccination rates and are currently being evicted from hotels and relocated to congregate shelters. Here is an account of how that process works, in real time. This exact process had played out in this exact way several times in the past couple of weeks.

Do you think these folks trust the City or BRC when they show up with vaccines? Do you think white Trumpers are the ones who would end up in jail under the "jail is for people who won't do what's best for society" plan? Do you think perhaps that creative, empathetic approaches would be better? In SF, some people went to homeless encampments with coolers of vaccine, food, and hygiene supplies. If your total monthly income is $200 in food stamps and $158 in cash, of course $100 will get some people vaccinated.
posted by Mavri at 9:34 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


I'm in the camp of "public health is more important than whether people deserve something." Paying people to get vaccinated will improve my life. It will improve your life. Worrying about whether someone will get something they don't "deserve" is the root of so so many miserly public benefits that hurt everyone.

As the poster from Alberta up thread said, it isn't working. And this isn't about deserve, this is about thinking about the common good. And if they don't show up for money or prizes, those who refuse to get vaccinated, what next?

My ire is for the white idiots who won't get vaccinated.
posted by Kitteh at 9:36 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


NYT newsletter this morning, The Mysteries of Covid: Made me feel slightly better.
Britain has become another example. The Delta variant is even more contagious than Alpha, and it seemed as though it might infect every unvaccinated British resident after it began spreading in May. Some experts predicted that the number of daily cases would hit 200,000, more than three times the country’s previous peak. Instead, cases peaked — for now — around 47,000, before falling below 30,000 this week.
“The current Delta wave in the U.K. is turning out to be much, much milder than we anticipated,” wrote David Mackie, J.P. Morgan’s chief European economist.

A more plausible explanation appears to be that Delta spreads very quickly at first and, for some unknown set of reasons, peters out long before a society has reached herd immunity. As Andy Slavitt, a former Covid adviser to President Biden, told me, “It seems to rip through really fast and infect the people it’s going to infect.” The most counterintuitive idea here is that an outbreak can fade even though many people remain vulnerable to Covid.
That’s not guaranteed to happen everywhere, and there probably will be more variants after Delta. Remember: Covid behaves in mysterious ways. But Americans should not assume that Delta is destined to cause months of rising caseloads. Nor should they assume that a sudden decline, if one starts this summer, fits a tidy narrative that attributes the turnaround to rising vaccination and mask wearing.
“These surges have little to do with what humans do,” Osterholm argues. “Only recently, with vaccines, have we begun to have a real impact.”
Other thoughts:

Much as I'd like to separate from the Trumpers and go "fuck y'all, Darwin Award kill yourselves if you would literally rather die than save yourselves," we can't. Public health is literally affecting everyone and we can't be separated from their shitty life choices affecting us. If bribes work, if literally anything works, we gotta do it if we want to live.

That said, the only things that will probably work are enforced vaccine mandates and enforced mask mandates, as big as can possibly be done.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:37 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


My initial response to this is to look at many prominent figures within the United States government and how they have responded to COVID and CDC guidance so far, at both federal and state levels, and giggle until I fall over about the notion of "expecting them to use data intelligently."

Absent a revolution, they are the decision-makers, the people charged with taking public health information and turning it into workable policy. If you want to talk about the breakdown of democracy as a functioning institution, that's a separate conversation, but this is where we are. "The scientists should lie because they don't trust the government to use the data properly" is...a position with certain assumptions.

So if the desired metric is reducing transmissibility of a dangerous virus, part of which includes reducing the number of unmasked, unvaxxed disease vectors in public places, which does more harm:

* Presenting data about vaccinated transmission but stressing the need for continued vigilance for the public good, encouraging [universal] mask mandates to continue, or
* Presenting data and declaring that the vaccinated are permitted to relax, thus greatly increasing the number of unmasked faces in public places


(a) Maximizing the number of masks you see in public may maximize your peace of mind, but most vaccinated people didn't need to wear masks. I won't go so far as to say it's theater, but it's a mistaken proxy.

(b) Perhaps more importantly, if people were eager to find a pretext to drop the mandate, they would've used this, too.

I am really surprised by the number of sensible people who are effectively advocating for the CDC to mislead people but don't seem to be quite able to say that that's what they're doing. I mean, hell, maybe that's a defensible position, but mealy-mouthing around it is just incoherent.
posted by praemunire at 9:46 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


As the poster from Alberta up thread said, it isn't working. And this isn't about deserve, this is about thinking about the common good. And if they don't show up for money or prizes, those who refuse to get vaccinated, what next?

It looks like it's a lottery? Lotteries and cash in hand are going to motivate different people. Do both. Do mandates. Do vaccines at block parties and churches and door to door. Don't send people to jail.
posted by Mavri at 9:50 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


> So if the desired metric is reducing transmissibility of a dangerous virus, part of which includes reducing the number of unmasked, unvaxxed disease vectors in public places, which does more harm:

* Presenting data about vaccinated transmission but stressing the need for continued vigilance for the public good, encouraging [universal] mask mandates to continue, or
* Presenting data and declaring that the vaccinated are permitted to relax, thus greatly increasing the number of unmasked faces in public places

They picked the latter. I remain unimpressed.


Precisely. There was no requirement that the CDC lie to people to minimize the damage. The scientific consensus was rapidly evolving, and they could have just said that while leaving masking guidance unchanged. The suggestion that anyone who disagrees with what CDC said is asking for them to lie to the American people is offensive and wildly off base. There was no iron-clad scientific truth that CDC was broadcasting. They were bound by duty as a public health agency to consider the effects of their guidance. They chose instead to bow to the pressure to relax restrictions in the hopes that they'd get some political benefit from it.

> And let's be real here: the current situation isn't meaningfully the result of the guidance. The places where the spread is now becoming a real problem are the same damn places who had very limited or no mandates (or no enforcement) to begin with, and the lowest vax rates. This was going to happen to them anyway in the absence of people seeing the light on vaccination. So what we are doing is once again pushing hard on the most compliant people to get the remnants of the diminishing returns instead of being more aggressive with the only tactic that offers long-term success (vaccination).

This is another false choice. We could have maintained CDC's guidance to keep masking indoors while also pushing for more vaccination. The CDC's choice to change their tune did not add any resources to support vaccination.

As for the geography -- the places where community spread was most recently a problem are of course the ones that will be most likely to become a problem again as a new more aggressive variant emerges, but there were still some voluntary privately-enforced mandates in stores, restaurants, etc. even in these places, largely based on CDC's guidance, because the store and restaurant owners don't want to get sick in rural areas, either. Once the CDC's guidance changed, they had no support for requiring a mask. This almost certainly mattered at the margins, and it would have cost CDC nothing to simply not do the thing they did.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:50 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


> I am really surprised by the number of sensible people who are effectively advocating for the CDC to mislead people but don't seem to be quite able to say that that's what they're doing. I mean, hell, maybe that's a defensible position, but mealy-mouthing around it is just incoherent.

Again, this false choice between what the CDC did and deliberately misinforming people is nonsense.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:54 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


There was no iron-clad scientific truth that CDC was broadcasting.

(a) They were not wrong that vaccinated people were not at meaningful risk of becoming infected
(b) They were not wrong that vaccinated people were not at meaningful risk of spreading the infection

This was not them jumping the gun and giving people wrong information. A new factor now exists that indicates a need to change policy. Fine. But "no, you most likely won't get it, and no, you most likely won't spread it, but keep wearing masks indoors anyway, just in case" is not a sustainable position, and not one that those marginal people could stand on, either. If you wanted to continue to support a mask mandate in a way that R governors could rely on, you would have had to be deceptive about the virus.
posted by praemunire at 9:58 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


(a) Maximizing the number of masks you see in public may maximize your peace of mind, but most vaccinated people didn't need to wear masks. I won't go so far as to say it's theater, but it's a mistaken proxy.


I don’t see how you draw this conclusion from the second article linked in this post, which describes how even vaccinated people may carry and spread the Delta variant of Covid, even when they are asymptomatic. The masks are for the benefit of others in this case, to reduce possible transmission of the virus, not just to protect the vaccinated wearer.

Or are you saying that you agree that NOW the evidence supports vaccinated people wearing masks, but it didn’t before?
posted by darkstar at 10:02 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


It's not some form of anti-intellectualism to think that the CDC's response hasn't been great, that their messaging has been absolutely atrocious, and that their reasoning seems to be at least in part based on corporate and political pressure to send more bodies into the grinder. It's not just the CDC, either; a couple of days ago Biden flat-out declared that "[w]e are not going back to that" in reference to 2020 levels of lockdowns and restrictions, which seems the height of folly for a pandemic that is not only still sending thousands of people to the hospitals and morgues, but has already mutated several times to become both more resistant and more virulent.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 10:04 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


For what it's worth, vaccination rates are increasing in Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas. Google state plus COVID vaccination rates; if you're looking at all time, the curve is bending up slightly over the last week or so; you can also see the increase if you look at the new daily doses. It's not a huge jump, but it's something. Vaccination rates are also pretty high among the 65+ group in general.

Are there going to be die hard hold outs? Yes. But both of these things seem to me like there is a tipping point for most folks (assuming easy access to a vaccine which as others noted, is not a given for everyone) that's a mixture of carrots, sticks, and personal perception of safety, and the last one is huge. Older folks - even a lot of Trump voters!- got vaccinated in pretty high rates because they knew they were in danger; Delta is starting to make an impact on the holdouts.
posted by damayanti at 10:05 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


> This was not them jumping the gun and giving people wrong information. A new factor now exists that indicates a need to change policy.

There's nothing new or unpredictable about viruses mutating and becoming more infectious. CDC did not have to know that would happen specifically for this virus for them to understand that loosening of restrictions would likely be a one-way proposition, making holding off on changing course much more of a positive value proposition than quickly changing guidance for basically no benefit whatsoever.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:07 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


Just in case it didn't come through, in Alberta as of next month, if you have just tested positive Covid, if you even bother to test (because no one will make you nor is it likely you'll have been contact traced), you can go teach kids or work the front desk of a library where seniors clubs are congregating or prepare food. There is no mandate to be in quarantine if you are positive for Covid.

Like, WTF. I can't even.

Other than political I don't even understand the benefits. So that person can work - look. I work in a small business where we really don't have a lot of extra staff at all, and we cope. This is such a small sacrifice compared to - almost anything, but like - to talk money - one ICU patient costs a shit ton of money!! JUST STAY HOME IF YOU HAVE COVID. WTF.

I was in a Twitter thread about this where someone was like "name one other virus you have to quarantine for" and it was like uhn, here's the list. I myself have been formally family doctor/contacting Public Health quarantined once with whooping cough (only 48 hrs but still).

And that got me thinking about a few things.

I had pneumonia 9 years in a row as a child/teen, and I spent my 20s feeling like I would die every time I ran for the bus. I still have bunged up lungs but they are so much better. I am really scared to go back to living like that, because it impacted me a lot both physically and mentally. I suspect a lot of people will be in that situation.

I've lost a child to a 1:10,000+ event, but what stung about that was that it could have been prevented. The physics and biology were not changing but people could have intervened and didn't. It scars you. I realize discrimination and racism and capitalism do this every day but it hurts to see people going through that.

Masking...I don't understand. I hate masks. Because, I think, of my lung issues a KN95 or N95 mask means I can't go up stairs without feeling dizzy. I have a bit of hearing loss and I have trouble understanding clients. But so what? It's so small compared to one person having permanent damage, like really one of the easiest things I do for my community - up there with handwashing!

I think students of history are going to have trouble understanding why masks were so political and why mask mandates were removed...like of all the zillion inconveniences why this simple thing removed? I hope the CDC (and other organizations) have a decent answer.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:12 AM on July 30 [29 favorites]


Again, this false choice between what the CDC did and deliberately misinforming people is nonsense.

Ultimately, what is being advocated for here was not being honest about the risk posed to and by vaccinated people in order to try to affect the behavior of unvaccinated people who very much don't want to change their behavior and voted for people who don't want to take any steps to make them. It's the advocacy of the wrong tool to try to solve the problems of political and social failure. As a vaccinated person, I have the right to accurate information about the risks of my behavior to myself and those around me. As a person who wants the CDC to maintain some credibility, I don't want them to mislead people or take positions with obvious logical inconsistencies. I think that's about all I have to say on that.

are you saying that you agree that NOW the evidence supports vaccinated people wearing masks, but it didn’t before

It seems to me that data on the increased transmissibility of Delta by vaccinated people at least for now supports the new guidelines. (As I said above, I assume that this data will be expanded and refined and give us a stronger basis for whatever guidelines will be further adopted.) It's not going to change my personal behavior much because I was still masking indoors in public most of the time.
posted by praemunire at 10:13 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


We need Congress to issue a formal declaration of war on coronavirus. Then we can start locking up the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers on TV as traitors
posted by interogative mood at 10:13 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


> As a person who wants the CDC to maintain some credibility, I don't want them to mislead people or take positions with obvious logical inconsistencies

The second "C" in CDC stands for "Control" not "Communication", and the silent P at the end stands for "Prevention", not "Publishing". You're asking the CDC to be something more akin to a clearinghouse for scientific information than an agency tasked with controlling and preventing diseases.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:16 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


(a) They were not wrong that vaccinated people were not at meaningful risk of becoming infected
(b) They were not wrong that vaccinated people were not at meaningful risk of spreading the infection


The Delta variant was first identified in December 2020. Its increased contagiousness made it an immediate concern in India and the U.K., as examples.

The revised mask guidance ("vaccinated people, set your faces free") was in May 2021.

If they were unaware that a more contagious variation of the virus was heading our way by May, or felt that its ability to be transmitted by vaccinated people was not worth studying rigorously before giving maskless summer fun and shopping the green light, then they weren't just wrong -- they were actively negligent.

"The current state is promising for the vaccinated, but we are tracking a variation that poses potentially increased risk" is not the same message as "if vaccinated, you are not at risk right now." The state of vaccinated people's protection levels at that specific moment was one piece of the equation, but it was not the only piece of importance. It was the only piece that the public and media and government seized upon, however, which they should absolutely have anticipated.
posted by delfin at 10:18 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


The part about vaccinated people being also spreaders hit me hard, not sure how we'll get out of this thing. And as a (fully vaccinated) parent of a toddler who can't get the vaccine yet, it's a bit maddening.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 10:19 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


The Alberta example almost seems like fictionalized hyperbole. I'm pouring negativity fuel on a fire here, but there is something performative and willful about how some people are approaching this. We really are seeing how this issue sits at the intersection of so many polarizing forces. I know of two individuals personally who refuse to get vaccinated and who also happen to be among the young white males who drive their loud vehicles loudly at late hours (rural Alberta) and over the past few years I am feeling more extreme in my own position.. this folds into so many other issues (the rapid increase in sales of recreational vehicles and how this impacts trails and lakes). I can't separate out the bad things anymore.. the bad covid things in this province are just more shitty cherries on this incredibly shitty sundae.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:19 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


I know what you mean elkevelvet. The nastiest members of my in-law family live in Alberta and I know they aren't all Albertans and Alberta didn't cause it but I am starting to see it as a fundamental approach to the world that is so at odds with everything I believe. I'm just taking deep breaths.

(Because I can, too.)
posted by warriorqueen at 10:22 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Don't forget that we just had an NDP government, not too long ago! One who has, if nothing else, been fundraising well off the failures of the UCP.

Deena Hinshaw was a celebrity when the pandemic started! Local artists were making t-shirts with her on them! And now, we've hit this. I don't know what happened to her, but it's horrifying to watch her just completely detach from the medical establishment.
posted by sagc at 10:28 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I have a friend who caught the virus in March of 2020. He did not enjoy it at all, spent several days in the hospital, and came home to recover. Most of him did recover, but he eventually lost a kidney to the disease. He tells us that his urologist confirms that he has seen COVID kidneys in many patients. In addition, he also notes COVID testicles, where they die and must be removed.

Perhaps this is the message that would get some of the reluctant ones to get their shots. "Vaccine or risk your balls".
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:29 AM on July 30 [31 favorites]


You're asking the CDC to be something more akin to a clearinghouse for scientific information than an agency tasked with controlling and preventing diseases.

Not announcing facts in its possession because it should know that other political entities will treat them as an excuse for a one-way ratchet down is very much a political call of the kind that should be made by the people elected to make political calls. (And, in case you're wondering, I think the decisions made by those political entities were, in fact, for the most part premature.) I'm having trouble finding a copy of the old guidelines because they were of course updated everywhere, but unless I am much misremembering, they didn't say "states should drop mandates." They said "vaccinated people aren't at meaningful risk of getting/spreading the virus while unmasked indoors in most circumstances." Then the states decided what to do with that information. Trying to change what the states do with the data by manipulating the data upstream is a dangerous choice. (Sorry, now I really am done.)
posted by praemunire at 10:29 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Up until recently, most of the anti-vaccine talk has felt like just another way to own the libs, but now, even Tucker Carlson and some of the republican governors are now telling people to get vaccinated.

I swear, it feels like somebody over at GOP HQ started running some numbers and realized that if we lose another 500,000 adults in this country, it'll be almost entirely republican voters, which would swing a whole lot of elections. So now they've all changed their tune.

Like I said, death cults can't last too long, because eventually all of your members are dead.
posted by nushustu at 10:30 AM on July 30 [26 favorites]


This is not going to last forever. In the US, at the current vaccination and infection rates* it will take about five months to reach the remaining ~100 million unvaccinated-but-eligible people. It is likely that in that time frame at least one of the mRNA vaccines will be authorized for 5-11 year olds and then eventually 6 months and up. Somewhere in there we will reach herd immunity, albeit after tens of thousands of unnecessary, preventable deaths, for which Republicans bear the lion's share of responsibility.

Personally I expect to still be wearing masks indoors (and greatly limiting time spent indoors outside my 3 person bubble) through next spring. In the end I expect COVID to look a lot like the 1918 flu, with its three waves: a relatively small initial wave, a huge second wave, and a medium-sized third wave. The US has had the first two, and delta appears to be bringing the third.

* I predict vaccination rates will remain stable at around 600k per day because although the convinceable population is dwindling, the number of employer and school mandates is increasing. Similarly, the long-term average infection rate in the US is about 60k per day.
posted by jedicus at 10:33 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


usually i object to ball-trauma humor, but "covid testicles."
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:34 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Sadly I live in Alberta and the lifting of restrictions and new public health policies around COVID are giving me (and most people I know) a serious case of whiplash. We went from not being allowed to socialize with anyone indoors on June 30th to essentially no restrictions on July 1st. This is not a transition that makes any sense in terms of phased reopenings we had last year, and even those had their problems. Tyler Shandro is saying this is all our chief medical officer's idea (Deena Hinshaw) and maybe it is, but there is definitely some politics at play. A transition to treating COVID as endemic may be a pragmatic approach in the long term, but honestly, no testing and isolation requirements seems like we'll just be driving blind. How will we even know if we are in an endemic phase or still in a pandemic.... At this point, I don't have any energy left to be truly enraged by situation, but can those roughly 25% eligible unvaccinated people left please just go and and get their doses. I don't care if we need to bribe them, make house visits or throw them a fuckin parade. Just get it done.
posted by piyushnz at 10:37 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


Anecdote about contagiousness:

Alpha.
My mother is a recovery nurse. Sometimes she has to care for Covid patients. She's been lucky enough to have full PPE, and she's fastidious about using it. During quarantine last year, when she was seeing no one outside work except my father and my sister, she contracted Covid from a patient. She had very mild symptoms so it took three or four days to realize it. Dad and Sister were exposed during that time. After that, Mom masked up in common spaces, Sister stayed in her room and masked up, and Dad wandered freely and cantankerously about the house, masking up only after much cajoling. Mom and Dad slept in the same bed, unmasked with a "pillow barrier." Neither Dad nor Sister got it. No one was vaccinated yet.

Delta.
Last Wednesday I had dinner with Friend 1. On Saturday I went for a walk with Friend 2. Friend 2 saw Friend 3 on Sunday. On Monday, Friend 1 called to tell me they had lost their sense of smell. I alerted everyone, we all quarantined and got tested. None of us has had more than a scratchy throat, except for Friend 1, who got their smell back two days later. Beyond that, we're all vaccinated— we all mask in public— and we only unmask with vaccinated people. We're all positive.
posted by lloquat at 10:44 AM on July 30 [66 favorites]


Memphis is currently the worst off right now, and guess what. Shelby county has TN's largest black population. There's way more going on than 'muh freedom' grotesques.

Tennessee's vaccination process was (is?) klunky and nearly-punitive. Mississippi might be a better example. My napkin analysis shows that the "muh freedom" counties have a vax rate of 25% compared to Delta counties at 40-45%. But the statewide numbers pretty much track racial demographics proportionally, so I'm guessing there's a local phenomenon where people pressure each other to get/not get the vaccine. There's still room for improvement on that remaning 50%.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:45 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I think making it mandatory to get it will have to start being the norm, despite the eventual cries of "fascism!" "my freedom!" that it will entail. I am not sure why a poster upthread seems to have associated me with putting the non-compliant in jail; it's more my sadness and disbelief bribes have to exist to do a small thing for the common good.

I told my husband that the Charter of Rights is gonna get a good workout in the next few years.
posted by Kitteh at 10:48 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Delta.
Last Wednesday I had dinner with Friend 1. On Saturday I went for a walk with Friend 2. Friend 2 saw Friend 3 on Sunday. On Monday, Friend 1 called to tell me they had lost their sense of smell. I alerted everyone, we all quarantined and got tested. None of us has had more than a scratchy throat, except for Friend 1, who got their smell back two days later. Beyond that, we're all vaccinated— we all mask in public— and we only unmask with vaccinated people. We're all positive.


OK, just for clarification, you are saying that your attitude is positive or that y'all tested positive for the coronavirus? With context, I believe that you are saying the former, but still, people need to be clear on this.
posted by NoMich at 10:54 AM on July 30


I thought context made it pretty clear they all have covid. Could be wrong.
posted by obfuscation at 11:02 AM on July 30 [19 favorites]


I think they're saying all of them got COVID, and that's how much more contagious Delta is than Alpha
posted by little onion at 11:04 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


This is as much about inequality, access, and messaging confusion

Nonsense. There is so much vaccine that it is being administered for free and it is available. You can visit vaccines.gov for availability of the three major vaccines in the Bronx area, for example. The misinformation is not helpful.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:21 AM on July 30


DC is one of the places where vaccine uptake is divided on racial lines. We don't really have a big contingent of MAGA hat people, but we do have a big spread in income and education. Basically White people in wealthy neighborhoods statistically have health insurance, trust the system, and got the vaccine; Black people in poor neighborhoods are often uninsured, don't trust the system because of historic racism, and often don't know how they would have access to a vaccine even if they wanted it. Vaccine uptake in those communities is much lower (not zero, but lower). There was door to door outreach, and there are walk up locations in many neighborhoods, but it is still difficult to get the vaccine to people who have valid reasons for thinking the health care system doesn't have their best interests at heart (like how some people now think DC's Black mayor is racist against Black people, which is graffiti I've seen in my neighborhood). Taking anger at MAGA hat people out on those communities isn't going to help vaccine uptake.
posted by fedward at 11:41 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


"I'm in the camp of "public health is more important than whether people deserve something." Paying people to get vaccinated will improve my life. It will improve your life.

Yeah, exactly. It's pretty simple. Do you want the best chance for a long healthy pleasant life? Then do what's most likely to prevent the most people from spreading COVID.

Refusing to wear a mask because you've decided you've "done the moral calculus" and are okay with spreading COVID to antivax people or railing against paying antivax people to get vaccinated because they don't deserve to be paid--it's all expending unnecessary intellectual effort figuring out what's the moral response. But the moral response is worse than useless. If your goal is health and longevity and avoiding, for instance, a headache that never ever goes away, skip the step where you figure out how best to punish the wicked. This disease is viral, not moral.

If you live in row housing and pay taxes to support the fire department and your neighbor who goes around bragging that he never pays taxes tries to melt chocolate in the microwave and sets his house on fire, do you relax and take a nap because you paid your taxes and installed sprinklers and counseled your neighbors to take precautions and they didn't so therefore they deserve it? And furthertherefore your house won't burn because you don't deserve it? How much is your--Understandable, okay?! I know! They're infuriating!--how much, I say, is your moral outrage skewing your perception of the threat? It would be so awesome if we could do the right things and be guaranteed healthy comfortable lives, if we could pop some corn and watch all the people who didn't do the right things succumb to the very threat we tried to tell them about but they couldn't hear us over their own voices bellowing "libtard," but that's not just not how communicable diseases and physics and stuff work. Even if you follow all the guidelines, if a fire gets big enough, it will burn you, too.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:50 AM on July 30 [38 favorites]


Vaccine mandates are popular

Just so we're thinking realistically about this: a federal or state vaccine mandate would 100% be struck down by the current supreme court, no question about it. It's dead on arrival (and so are hundreds of thousands more Americans?)
posted by dis_integration at 11:55 AM on July 30


I don't necessarily think that's true, even Gorsuch has said that Jacobson v Massachusetts is a reasonable decision.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:00 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


A transition to treating COVID as endemic may be a pragmatic approach in the long term, but honestly, no testing and isolation requirements seems like we'll just be driving blind. How will we even know if we are in an endemic phase or still in a pandemic...

This is what seems crazy about it...if (when) we spike in COVID cases, the first we might know about it is because the hospitals are filling up. No early warning for the system, no chance to try to put some preventative measures in place. And what incentive can you put in place to encourage the vaccine hesitant now? There will be no restrictions, not even quarantine, so it doesn't matter if you get vaccinated or not. I'm not going to blame any other province for getting mad about seeing Alberta plates in a few weeks.

t this point, I don't have any energy left to be truly enraged by situation, but can those roughly 25% eligible unvaccinated people left please just go and and get their doses. I don't care if we need to bribe them, make house visits or throw them a fuckin parade. Just get it done

My oldest son is one of the eligible, but unvaccinated at this point. He's on the spectrum and exceedingly needle phobic; we tried getting it done at the low-stimulus clinic, along with a hefty dose of lorazepam to get it done, and still no dice - he got up and left the room as soon as the nurse showed up with the needle, just without the usual emotional outburst, tears, and yelling. That was at the end of June; it's taken us all of July arguing with doctors at the children's hospital that yes, we do need full sedation to get this done (as our family doctor said in the letter she sent) - that we're serious about the request, that we've already tried every other option, that no we can't just distract him. He wants the shot, knows it is important, but can't get past that fear. I'm totally sympathetic to the shit our doctors and nurses have gone through and have to put up with from this craptastic government, but I've lost my patience a bit with the friction we've been having while at the same time everyone in the system is encouraging everyone to get the shot and telling us how easy it is. We finally have an appointment next week, and that's after our family doctor had to follow up on the letter she had sent in support of the request and remind them that they do have a legal obligation to actually respond to us with an appointment, not just argumentative phone calls and vague promises to get back to us.

Not taking a shot at anyone, just venting and hoping to let people know that for some of the unvaxxed its because there are still barriers.
posted by nubs at 12:02 PM on July 30 [41 favorites]


Look I get that rhetoric can be dangerous and that "the unvaccinated" are a complex and heterogeneous group. But people are acting like the no-vax imprisonments begin at dawn, in a thread that literally only exists because the left wing in this country can't make anyone do anything for any reason at all, including saving their own ridiculous lives.

Our side could barely muster the cohesion to win an election against one of the worst, most pathetic human beings ever to grace the planet. We're not mobilizing to drag your needlephobic teenager into the streets. We couldn't even if we wanted to, which we don't.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:21 PM on July 30 [22 favorites]


I agree that Alberta's coming dropping of testing and isolation requirements is bizarre, but let's not put too much weight on us being the "first dose laggard". We have about 76% of eligible people with a first dose, compared to Ontario at 80%. And we're ahead on two doses (66% or so).

I know two unvaccinated adults (that I know
of). One is a senior with health problems who is taking the advice of her naturopath. She's an old hippie with bad old hippie ideas. The other is a middle aged woman who is too anxious to make an appointment to ask her doctor whether one of her health conditions would interact negatively with the shot. (I'd say probably not, and she could just call 811 and ask a nurse practitioner. But the key here is her anxiety).

Please, enough of the Alberta as everyone's favourite assumed racist redneck scapegoat, and especially enough with the talk about license plate spotting. Other than our leadership, we're not that different from the other provinces. Most of us moved here from another province.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:22 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Not black folks, not poor folks, not undocumented people who are terrified to put their name on a form, not folks with sensory disabilities.

Yes, the system is stacked against them to have trust or confidence in the medical system. I am most definitely talking about my paternal side of the family and the family my sister married into. I am addressing the able bodied white folks at these protests with their signs and their willingness to take whatever bananapants Facebook article as gospel. I am addressing the folks who feel their lives are more important than everyone else's and have the ability and the privilege to get vaccinated.
posted by Kitteh at 12:23 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I promise you: I, and others, can tell the difference. jfc. This isn't the woke olympics where you get to medal in naming classes of institutionally vulnerable people. Let us be fucking pissed off at the rich able bodied dentists!!!!

Not my intention, was just trying to illustrate that even with vaccines freely available it can still be hard to get things done. If I've unwittingly poured fuel onto a fire, then I apologize and will see myself out.
posted by nubs at 12:24 PM on July 30


I hadn't heard anything about paying people to get the shot. I'm 100% behind that. The lottery wasn't enough of a motivator.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:24 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I see that President Biden is giving the military a vaccine mandate starting in September. I'm in Fort Bragg, NC and I predict chaos. There are a LOT of right wingers and Trumpettes around here. I don't know what they might actually do, but I bet a lot of the Special Forces guys will get out of the military and take up mercenary work. (They can them mercs here, and we already have a lot.)

The people who have made this decision a political one should, in a just world, go to prison for murder.
posted by corvikate at 12:31 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Not my intention, was just trying to illustrate that even with vaccines freely available it can still be hard to get things done. If I've unwittingly poured fuel onto a fire, then I apologize and will see myself out.

Apologies, you were merely the last one in a long line--throughout the thread, people have been shutting down posters who are angry at, specifically, the voluntarily unvaccinated. Every dipshit who won't get a shot because FREEDOM or MICROCHIPS or some other unmitigated bullshit makes it harder for your kid with legitimate barriers to get care, and more dangerous for your kid if getting the shot legitimately isn't in the cards for him. Every unremitting, unrepentant asshorn who walks around protesting peoples' choices to be vaccinated or wear masks makes things harder and more dangerous for an undocumented immigrant who now not only needs to contend with a hostile government-adjacent bureaucracy but also a bunch of fucking racist noisegarbage.

There are a lot of people who aren't really the problem here; but the people who are? ARE A HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM, and they get ZERO sympathy. I would be pleased as punch to reintroduce the public stocks specifically for them. Pelt those obstinate, fatuous, ignorant, fox news toiletgoblins with every last tomato that rotted on the vine after the farm workers who should have picked it died of COVID.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:31 PM on July 30 [14 favorites]


As my roommate during the pandemic noted: $100 wouldn't have helped him get the vaccine when he doesn't own a car and 95% of early vaccination sites required you to have a car. The only reason he managed to get one is because his roommate (me) used their car to take him to one. $100 wouldn't cover the day off of work he would have had to take off and a bus ticket to a nearby city where there was actually a walk-in clinic for vaccinations.

Paying people $100 is fucking stupid because it will only help the people who already have fucking access but just don't feel like doing it.

You wanna get people access? It's called universal healthcare and the fact that it isn't on the table after this fucking clusterfuck of a pandemic just goes to show how little either party gives one flying fuck about the citizens of this country.

Trump: "More meat for the grinder!"
Biden: "More meat for the grinder!"

Both parties are way more worried about sending us all back to fucking work and getting things back to "normal." Normal meaning rich people doing what they've always done while the rest of us get shoved further under the boot that is corporate governance.

Better stock up for when climate change gets bad because the rules these days are officially "Fuck you, got mine."
posted by deadaluspark at 12:32 PM on July 30 [13 favorites]


As my roommate during the pandemic noted: $100 wouldn't have helped him get the vaccine when he doesn't own a car and 95% of early vaccination sites required you to have a car. The only reason he managed to get one is because his roommate (me) used their car to take him to one. $100 wouldn't cover the day off of work he would have had to take off and a bus ticket to a nearby city where there was actually a walk-in clinic for vaccinations.


Right, but we can't have door-to-door vaccination because some fucking Q-addled rage-gremlin will shoot a vaccination worker before Day 1 is out.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:36 PM on July 30 [17 favorites]


Speaking for my own comment about paying people to vaccinate, there are definitely barriers to access, especially in rural areas. But I still think we should wave this carrot in front of people. It won't fix every case, but it doesn't need to. It just needs to add to the ranks of the vaccinated.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:38 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


And yes, some portion of unvaccinated people appear to be staunchly opposed to it no matter what, though I think the number of true die-hards is lower than many assume. In any case, we've still never made it truly *easy* to get vaccinated - proactive outreach is still key

At least in cities, it's pretty fucking easy to get vaccinated in the US. When I got my second shot at Walmart, they were asking passersby if they wanted one. There are three different places I could walk to in less than 15 minutes to get a shot if I wasn't already vaccinated. One of them is a grocery store. And I live in a below-median-income suburban area. They don't even require ID, FFS. Just walk in, give a name, get a shot.
posted by wierdo at 12:38 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


We really should have had mobile vaccination options a long time ago, but I understand that that takes money and manpower, and we already have an exhausted healthcare workforce.

They are closing the large scale vaccination centres in my town after the long weekend, rationalizing that it's more readily available at pharmacies and other pop-up places. I hope the momentum to get vaccinated despite not having them stays because if you don't make it easy for folks to do it, they might not.

(Where I got both shots for myself was at one of those large scale places. But it was on the edge of town, and not many buses run out there. Also, I don't own a car so I had to reserve a car both times just so I could get my shots. I was imagining how daunting that must be for folks who don't own reliable transport or any at all, or even the elderly who can't drive anymore and don't have family to get them to those places.)
posted by Kitteh at 12:39 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Via CNN: Walmart mandates vaccines for all corporate employees
Walmart is requiring all US-based corporate employees to be vaccinated by October 4…

… In an earlier Friday memo, Walmart announced that all employees are required to wear masks inside again, regardless of vaccination status, in places with "substantial or high transmission."

… Customers will not be required to wear masks, but they will be strongly encouraged, and facilities will post signs to remind them of the CDC's new guidelines.

While Walmart (WMT) is not mandating that store employees get vaccinated, it will soon implement a new process to verify their vaccine status, and is strongly encouraging workers to get vaccinated. As part of its push for vaccination, the company is offering employees the chance to get vaccinated while on the clock and up to three days paid leave for any reaction to the shot.

Additionally, Walmart is doubling its current vaccine incentive to $150. Originally, the company was offering employees $75 to get vaccinated. Current employees who get vaccinated and new employees who were vaccinated before they started at Walmart are all eligible to receive the bonus.

… Most other large retailers including Target (CBDY), Trader Joe's, Publix and Costco ditched mask mandates in May, too, but are now re-evaluating their policies.

Publix announced Friday that it will require all associates to wear masks regardless of vaccination status effective August 12, according to the company's website.

Kroger also shared on Friday that it will maintain its current policy, which requires unvaccinated associates to wear masks, and requests that unvaccinated customers do the same. The grocery chain is also encouraging, but not mandating, all individuals to wear masks in light of the Delta variant.
posted by darkstar at 1:00 PM on July 30 [13 favorites]


Last week I signed my medically-complex kid up for online school after enduring over a year of distance learning anguish. In a previous era I would say the decision was heartbreaking, but at this point we’re just resigned to the fact that the US is a shithole country, and we’ve always had to make awful choices to try to protect our child. He has a 4-hour-long medical appointment scheduled for next week that isn’t essential but has been postponed for over a year due to COVID, and I am so, so, so anxious. We will be at a vaccination site literally the minute after the Pfizer vaccine is approved for kids under 12.
posted by Maarika at 1:01 PM on July 30 [12 favorites]


I am gobsmacked that it wasn't already required in the military. Every piece of media I've ever consumed about the military makes it sound like getting a bunch of shots without asking questions is just What You Do and if you don't like it don't join up.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:03 PM on July 30 [24 favorites]


Yeah, it’s just because we’re in this transitional period for the vaccine that anti-vaxxers have been able to leverage the “freedom” argument.

Soon, the Covid vaccine will be like the MMR/Polio vaccines and become just an expected requirement for school children, college attendance, military service, etc.
posted by darkstar at 1:05 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


We have laws around wearing seatbelts, not selling cigarettes or alcohol to people under 21, we promote harm reduction practices (sometimes) & tools such as condoms for birth & STI control. If we can card people to buy beer, why not vaccination status to do something such as eat at a restaurant? It's just dining out with an extra step, which many people already do anyway when they show their IDs. Like how much harder is it?

My partner's work now has 4 people who have tested positive for COVID, my friend's friend just tested positive, & we are all pretty young & fully vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer. My partner's workplace just closed for a minimum of 3 days, although they should have closed about 3 days ago or even more when like a bunch of people began feeling unwell & chalked it up to "allergies."

WHY DID THEY TELL US IT'S OK TO STOP WEARING MASKS, IT IS NOT OK TO NOT WEAR MASKS now all of our hard work of not getting COVID is out the window even if we aren't likely to be hospitalized. There WILL be long-term health associated risks & costs that we'll have to deal with down the road as a result of getting COVID.
posted by erattacorrige at 1:09 PM on July 30 [11 favorites]


Even in the 80s I occasionally got shit for wearing my seat-belt, like a nerd. And then there was the persistent "you're safer if you're thrown from the vehicle" myth.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:13 PM on July 30 [12 favorites]


Slightly out-of-date Atlantic article on the US Military and COVID vaccines: Why Isn’t the Military Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines?
So far, the Pentagon hasn’t required service members to be vaccinated because the vaccines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration only under an emergency-use authorization. Service men and women have to give their “informed consent” to receiving a medical intervention that has not yet received full approval. Removing that legal requirement would take a presidential waiver. And Biden has previously said he did not believe that COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for anyone.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:16 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


This is what Lollapalooza looks like right now.

And you can't really blame this one on the Republicans, either, since this was done with the enthusiastic blessing (including an on-stage appearance yesterday) of Chicago's Black, lesbian, "progressive" mayor.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:26 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


I've noticed that I'm actually a little more paranoid about getting covid now than I was a year ago despite being vaccinated, and I think it's because of sunk cost.

As remote as the possibility is of getting infected and suffering adverse effects and/or dying is after having been fully vaccinated, I do not want to have spent the last year of my life isolating just to get it now.

Weirdly, I was at the beach last weekend and got out of the water because someone sighted a lone seal swimming offshore. As unlikely as it is, I also don't want to have made it this far into to the pandemic only to be killed in a shark attack. I'm not kidding.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:32 PM on July 30 [29 favorites]


Stoked about the Wal-Mart news. Many other retailers follow Wal-Mart’s lead.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:32 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


We have laws around wearing seatbelts, not selling cigarettes or alcohol to people under 21, we promote harm reduction practices (sometimes) & tools such as condoms for birth & STI control. If we can card people to buy beer, why not vaccination status to do something such as eat at a restaurant? It's just dining out with an extra step, which many people already do anyway when they show their IDs. Like how much harder is it?

Literally all of those things you describe took DECADES of activism to bring into being. DECADES. And people still fucking gripe about them. In the year of our lord 2021 I heard a man complaining loudly in an airport that he can no longer smoke in the terminal thanks to "those mealy-mouthed libruls".
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:33 PM on July 30 [25 favorites]


And now it looks like Biden and moderate Dems have completely fucked us on the eviction moratorium, and are patting themselves on the back before heading home for the entire month of August. Some backstory from Rachel Leah Siegel with the Washington Post (edited for readability):
Hard to understate how late this came, especially given public pressure around ERA spending and the delta variant. White House says the Supreme Court made clear the moratorium couldn't be extended. But that is not news, and now they're looking to Congress right before July 31.

"The President calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay." Without delay? It's July 29.
And more from fellow Post reporter Jeff Stein:
After weeks of silence, the White House is now saying -- just 3 days before the eviction moratorium expires -- that they want Congress to extend it but can't themselves. My reporting suggests no senior officials in the WH were pushing for an extension even before the court ruling.
No more unemployment insurance, no more student debt relief, and now no more eviction moratorium. If someone was writing an instruction manual on how to make the 2010 midterms look like a gentle tickle compared to 2022, it would look exactly like this.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 1:44 PM on July 30 [21 favorites]


BTW, lest you think this is all just the hapless Dems having their hands tied by the GOP, here's Pelosi on student debt, sounding an awful lot like the guys who also love to argue about age of consent laws.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 2:16 PM on July 30 [15 favorites]


It's not some form of anti-intellectualism to think that the CDC's response hasn't been great

I'm skimming through TWiV's latest Q&A from yesterday, and Racaniello is just adamant that this new wave is not because of delta variant but because it's been socially driven. He says, the CDC's messaging had recommended masks not needed for fully vaccinated people, which effectively caused everyone to skip masking, which (he thinks) is now driving this fourth wave.
posted by polymodus at 2:26 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


When the CDC issued its "vaccinated people can drop their masks in most circumstances" opinion not too long ago, I screeched loudly; the CDC's opinion may have been medically sound based on the current information of the time, but it was sociologically disastrous.

I think they really did miss the wider social implications. What's been absolutely striking to me is how incredibly polarised the American (and TBH almost exclusively the American) response has been to many Covid related issues. In UK, Dutch, and German politics (the only ones I really follow in detail) there has been vigorous debate about covid policy but really the overwhelming majority of the debate has been one of two things:

-About competence / execution of certain policies and details
-About the correct balance between opening things, allowing personal liberties and controlling viral spread and its consequences

As a result, despite masking no longer being legally universally required in English indoor spaces where people mix since July 19th, a survey today found that more than 95% of people are still doing so. That matches what I've seen, almost every shop still requires it as well.
posted by atrazine at 2:31 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


As usual, America versus Europe/EU is basically a cautionary tale about the precautionary principle
posted by polymodus at 2:36 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


As a result, despite masking no longer being legally universally required in English indoor spaces where people mix since July 19th, a survey today found that more than 95% of people are still doing so. That matches what I've seen, almost every shop still requires it as well.

Anecdata from where I've seen today:
* Craft shop: In accordance with CDC guidelines, we recommend masks for all customers (upgraded from "if vaccinated, masks are optional," though only barely)
* Pizza shop: Masks required to enter (same as before)
* Vape shop next door to the pizza shop that I didn't go into but the sign was on their door: Masks required to enter

The worst part of this limbo status we're in is that now I am paranoid about every little symptom I have of _anything_. My temperature not budging at all from normal is a good sign, I think.
posted by delfin at 2:59 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


We had strains coming out that researchers had evidence were going to be more resistant to the protection afforded by vaccines. Some people ignored that information then — even here — and so here we are.

An unfortunate thing about federal and state governments shrugging their shoulders is that it is being effectively left to businesses to decide how we respond to the anti-mask, anti-vax crowd. With no coherent approach, little to no effort to provide a legal framework for how to deal with this, what was a public health matter is becoming a matter for private capital on a per-entity basis.

We should have dealt with this nonsense as a society, with the seriousness it deserves, and no more apologies. As much on Metafilter, as well as other social media outlets where tolerance of misinformation and disinformation are rife. This attitude is a good start on the street level. Tolerance of the anti-science bullshit coming out of death cultists is just getting people sick and dead.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:36 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I'm skimming through TWiV's latest Q&A from yesterday, and Racaniello is just adamant that this new wave is not because of delta variant but because it's been socially driven. He says, the CDC's messaging had recommended masks not needed for fully vaccinated people, which effectively caused everyone to skip masking, which (he thinks) is now driving this fourth wave.

I’m no virologist but how is this any sort of either/or proposition?

Some kind of fourth wave was presumably going to happen no matter what in areas with low vaccination rates - if there’s a population to infect, that’s what the virus is going to do. But given that Delta seems to outcompete every other strain everywhere that has appeared, it seems like the most obvious explanation for the explosiveness of this wave is the extreme contagiousness of Delta?
posted by atoxyl at 4:24 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]


I understand that everyone is fearful about delta, but it’s really discouraging to come into this thread and into so many other places on social media and see people talking as if the vaccine just does nothing.

I’m a nurse case manager for a large Medicare-funded program with somewhere around 800 seniors enrolled, some in their homes and some in long term care. One of the main functions of my job is keeping track of every person in my program who gets hospitalized, and then working with hospital social workers or case managers to plan their discharges. I only started this job in the fall, so I missed the early 2020 covid wave, but without thinking too hard I can name seven of my people who died from covid since I started, and another handful with ongoing medical complications following covid infections. Most of the deaths were agonizingly drawn out and involved time on a ventilator. My stories of witnessing covid aren’t as visceral as those of the critical care docs or nurses on the hospital floors, but just reviewing hospital records like I do is enough to convince any reasonable person of the risks.

Now we’re up to an 80some percent vaccination rate among both program participants and staff, on top of being in a highly vaccinated metro area. And I’m proud to say that not one of my people has been hospitalized since covid since April. Hell, I don’t think we’ve even had a known participant case since roughly that same time. And this is among a poor and elderly population with many, many chronic diseases that put them at high risk, many being cared for by essential worker family members.

Obviously I’m concerned about the effects or delta on my patient population, because what kind of health care worker would I be if I didn’t care. I still wear masks in public indoor spaces. I feel immensely for parents who have had no reprieve at all during the past year, and hope that vaccinations for kids are approved as soon as they can safely be. I know the distribution of vaccines both in the US and abroad is wildly inequitable and shameful. (Though I do a lot of volunteer work with people experiencing homelessness and many of the folks I meet doing that are vaccinated, which at least gives me hope locally).

But sharing millions of anecdotes about breakthrough delta infections feels like downplaying the amazing efforts that got us this vaccine in the first place. A whole bunch of scientists took this framework of an idea, concentrated all their effort on making it real, and had a workable vaccine that’s still remarkably effective even given variants, all in under a year. Maybe I’m hopelessly naive, but I find it hard to be a complete nihilist about the future of covid given how much we were able to learn and do so quickly. And though we all know that the plural of anecdote isn’t data, I want to put anecdotes like mine out there along with the ones about delta breakthroughs.
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 4:26 PM on July 30 [82 favorites]


As the pandemic develops I think it is good to keep in mind that there will still be people getting sick or dying from Covid even when everybody is fully vaccinated. Percentages like 95% or 85% sound pretty good but I think few people would bet the corresponding odds of 1 in 20 or 1 in 6 when it comes to life and death.
posted by dmh at 4:29 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Its interesting to see 'war' enter into the discussion around Covid. Early articles & language tried to avoid or explain why the analogy was flawed. From early last year - "The language of the battlefield is woefully out of place in a global pandemic and does nothing but breed fear" / "Why using the ‘war’ metaphor for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is dangerous". It'll be interesting to see if this ramps up.
posted by phigmov at 4:29 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


We had strains coming out that researchers had evidence were going to be more resistant to the protection afforded by vaccines. Some people ignored that information then — even here — and so here we are.

I’m not sure who “here” you’re trying to toldyouso but in general I don’t think people ignored that. That was always one variable of many that people were trying to balance. And it’s still unlikely to be the primary driver of current outbreaks. It’s just unfortunate for people who are vaccinated that their degree of protection is probably not quite what it was a couple months ago.
posted by atoxyl at 4:32 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


As a result, despite masking no longer being legally universally required in English indoor spaces where people mix since July 19th, a survey today found that more than 95% of people are still doing so. That matches what I've seen, almost every shop still requires it as well.
Wow. Around here, in the big city industrial midwestern US, it's my household, most of the other people in the Korean supermarket, and the public transit agency. That's it. The latter doesn't enforce the rules when people refuse to wear masks. (To be fair, getting into fights with tourists isn't the job bus drivers signed up for. I can't blame them.) I work in a building with hundreds of scientists, including some who actually study the virus. Nobody is wearing masks in elevators except me and two or three others. We nod in appreciation every time. But, they still keep IPA spray bottles outside of the doors to their densely packed student cubicle farms.

I'm really getting tired of saying, "I told you so," about the deaths of tens of thousands of people. It takes effort to avoid the temptation to just say, "fuck it - clearly nobody cares, our government is as smart as a brick at every level, everyone is going to get COVID, hopefully civilization survives."
posted by eotvos at 4:33 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


And it’s still unlikely to be the primary driver of current outbreaks.

I mean, there have been strains with some degree of immune evasion hovering for months, but they mostly did not take off and take over the world. The strains that did were the ones with mutations that significantly increased transmissibility. Delta is the new breakout star because it can do both! But it’s still going to hit unvaccinated populations much, much harder.
posted by atoxyl at 4:43 PM on July 30


But sharing millions of anecdotes about breakthrough delta infections feels like downplaying the amazing efforts that got us this vaccine in the first place.

No, downplaying the risk of getting COVID whilst vaccinated (or unvaccinated) is harmful, that's exactly why my friends and maybe myself now have COVID!!

Everyone should get the vaccine, this is not about shitting on the vaccine, this is about shitting on capitalism acquiescing to the demands of ignorant extremists and saying that we could go unmasked with little risk of infection or hospitalization when it is very apparent that becoming infected is in fact not a "remote possibility". Get vaccinated, and ALSO wear masks, I don't care how uncomfortable they are, me and my community being sick and dealing with the long term consequences of getting a still little understood viral infection makes ME feel uncomfortable! That's the main point!! It's not binary, at all. Don't downplay the stories of breakthrough infections, this is all brand new to me and it's pretty much ruining my week and we absolutely SHOULD be talking about breakthrough infections which at this typing now half of my fully vaxxed partner's co-workers have!!! This ain't about anyone's bad feelings, this is about our good (or bad) health.
posted by erattacorrige at 4:53 PM on July 30 [12 favorites]


"Why using the ‘war’ metaphor for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is dangerous"

Similarly, I hate the rhetoric around healthcare workers (and worse, grocery-store employees" being "heroes" on the "front lines".

Calling them soldiers implies that they signed up to die, or at least risk their lives, for the people. They didn't, and treating them that way just made it easier to rationalize things like keeping stores open and letting nurses work without proper PPE.
posted by mmoncur at 4:55 PM on July 30 [16 favorites]


War is the only metphor a lot of Americans will accept.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:02 PM on July 30 [13 favorites]


Get vaccinated, and ALSO wear masks

I am, and I do, but if I had to bet on which one matters more in practice as far as mitigating the aggregate effects of the pandemic I’d bet a lot on it being vaccination. And all of the arguments about don’t downplay X vs Y are really implicitly about strategy to mitigate the aggregate effects of the pandemic, where people should be putting energy, what’s should be enforced and what’s enforceable.

(Perhaps the equation would be different if we had sent everybody a bag of legit KN95 type masks months ago. But we didn’t, and it seems very unlikely that we will!)
posted by atoxyl at 5:17 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I'm not arguing against vaccination, I don't need to be persuaded of its values, you are preaching to the choir here. But clearly vaccination ain't all it and we need to stay masked is my main and major point. Constant vigilance!
posted by erattacorrige at 5:19 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Grocery shopping yesterday I saw 2 other people wearing masks out of maybe 50. Restoring indoor mask use is going to probably be an impossibly steep uphill battle.

I'm in DuPage county (suburbs of Chicago.) I just got back from the grocery store and probably half of the people I noticed were wearing masks. The store has not put up any signs suggesting or requesting that anyone needs to. The county has been getting the word out on social media that we are at a "substantial" level of Delta transmission and is recommending a return to indoor masking. In spite of this being a red county and all the howling that takes place in the comments from anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, it is somewhat heartening to see that a significant number of people are masking up voluntarily.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:40 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I'm not arguing against vaccination, I don't need to be persuaded of its values, you are preaching to the choir here.

No I get that. And I’m not arguing against masks. I never stopped wearing a mask in indoor public spaces! But if I had to choose to spend public dollars on something, for example, it would be getting people vaxxed, not mask enforcement. And if I had to bet on a message that would convince people of anything at this point it would not be “constant vigilance.” It would be “look, here are the easiest steps you can take to vastly reduce the risk that this thing will put you in the hospital.”
posted by atoxyl at 5:42 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


"War is the only metphor a lot of Americans will accept."

War, what is it good for?

A metaphor, apparently.
posted by deadaluspark at 5:46 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


If you read through the leaked CDC slide deck, their internal modelling shows that using some fairly reasonable assumptions (vaccine 80% effective against transmission, R0 of 5 for Delta), it is not possible to control Delta outbreaks without NPIs even with a 100% vaccinated population.

This combined with the recent news that Covid is widely circulating in the US white tailed deer population suggests that a significant chunk of North America might be masking for years.

It doesn't seem realistic to eradicate the virus with significant lockdowns if there are going to be reinfections from the deer population. The only thing that is going to stop the requirement for masking is more effective booster vaccines.
posted by zymil at 5:58 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


This combined with the recent news that Covid is widely circulating in the US white tailed deer population suggests that a significant chunk of North America might be masking for years.

A significant chunk of North America won't mask now, and wouldn't at the absolute height (so far) of the pandemic. What chance is there of them agreeing to do so for years?
posted by Dip Flash at 7:08 PM on July 30 [10 favorites]


Can we get the deer to mask up?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:20 PM on July 30 [12 favorites]


They ain't sayin'.
posted by Rash at 7:22 PM on July 30


That white tailed deer have been exposed to the sars-cov2 virus doesn't necessarily mean that it can easily be transmitted back to humans from deer, as the link points out. Certainly worth investigating further, but so far doesn't sound like a huge worry for humans.
posted by eviemath at 7:30 PM on July 30 [11 favorites]


What does "NPI" stand for?
posted by eviemath at 7:30 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Non-pharmaceutical interventions (so masking, distancing, etc).
posted by Alterscape at 7:38 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Apropos the issue of workers in the informal sector in Sydney discussed upthread, I realised just now I had my bourgeois blinders on. There IS a way to help them stay home and comply which isn't getting the Army in: amnesty and money. That would be pragmatic, less traumatic, and maybe even cheaper in the long run.

It's only politically impossible.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:58 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


he also notes COVID testicles, where they die and must be removed.

This is utter nonsense. Let’s not have witch hunt-level fevered misinformation here.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:29 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


What does "NPI" stand for?

Non-pharmaceutical interventions (so masking, distancing, etc).


An MD friend of mine pointed out a year ago that wearing a mask was functionally a vaccine that was extremely cheap, widely available, had zero side effects (beyond a slightly warm lower face), and reduced transmission rates substantially.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:34 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Not saying your saying this, but it bears repeating that masks aren’t nearly as effective as vaccines. The CDC modeling referenced above assumes masks are 40 to 60 percent efficacious in preventing spread to others and 20 to 30 percent effective at protecting from infection. The efficacy estimates used for the vaccines are 75 to 85 percent. And that’s before you consider the impact of vaccination on chances of developing severe disease and death. Without vaccines, it’d be just a matter of time until you caught SARS-COV 2. Masks would just slow the spread some, which is why they are an important tool.
posted by eagles123 at 9:33 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


It boggles my mind that people would stop NPIs after vaccination with the virus still circulating and no long term data. Why? Was never even a question in my household, we didn't change our masking/distancing behaviour at all after we were vaccinated. And Canada hasn't even ramped up with Delta yet, though there are certainly signs in the last few days that it is starting. I'm just unable to grok the mindset.
posted by lastobelus at 9:33 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Not saying your saying this, but it bears repeating that masks aren’t nearly as effective as vaccines. The CDC modeling referenced above assumes masks are 40 to 60 percent efficacious in preventing spread to others and 20 to 30 percent effective at protecting from infection.

To be fair a mask is not a mask is not a mask. I’m a little dubious about the average quality of mask and of fit that I see on people, but I am extremely in favor of getting people high quality, comfortable ones. This seems like something people should talk about more.
posted by atoxyl at 9:47 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I’m no virologist but how is this any sort of either/or proposition?

Racaniello is emphatic that there is no virological evidence that there's anything special about delta versus the other existing variants. He says that epidemiologists as well as media who have been pushing the "delta variant of interest and/or concern, scary time!" narrative are wrong and doing bad science and bad science dissemination.

He and his hosts have constantly debunked the delta variant epidemiology by pointing out that the "founder effect" (what I understand as a variant naturally seeding itself through exponential growth to overtake other existing variants) confounds epidemiologists' ability to determine whether a variant is more contagious or infectious.

Superficially this may seem a technicality, but I think TWiV is one of the more credible sources, and what I think this means is that the media hype can't blame the delta variant for America and other countries failing to apply the precautionary principle regarding masks and vaccines.
posted by polymodus at 9:52 PM on July 30


Racaniello is emphatic that there is no virological evidence that there's anything special about delta versus the other existing variants.

Yeah, he's making the same mistake the WHO afilliated experts made early last year. They wanted so badly to believe that airborne spread wasn't significant that they insisted on conclusive laboratory demonstrations before they would accept something repeatedly demonstrated in case studies.
posted by zymil at 10:47 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]


One of the more annoying parts of this pandemic is how any policy change is met with a cacophony of "I told you so!" as if there isn't another side just as confident. If you want people to ignore the CDC and decide for themselves, you've won. Too bad they're mostly not on your side for anything else.
posted by netowl at 10:57 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I'd argue that some of this is the product of historical religious and cultural attitudes; most early American colonists were religious malcontents who were by and large strongly Calvinist with a deep distrust of centralised authority and received dogma (particularly the Anglo-Scottish borderers who made up the settlers of the "back country" in the colonial era who are ancestors of most of today's Southerners, where this proud and defiant ignorance is most evident).

posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 8:03 AM on July 30


It's definitely a valid consideration but what seems much more significant than the legacy of 18th century religious beliefs, is the legacy of resistance to desegregation from less than 50 years ago (just as with gun control). There is a significant portion of the white population of America who have not really trusted anything coming out of DC or NYC, ever since George Wallace took his stand. These attitudes are far from being confined to the former Confederacy now though.
posted by viborg at 11:13 PM on July 30 [10 favorites]


Yeah, he's making the same mistake the WHO afilliated experts made early last year

You do realize you're saying that a tenured professor of virology at Columbia University is "making the same kind of mistake" as WHO and others last year on a different debate about the properties of SARS-CoV-2?

I don't mean that to sound like any argument in support of authority, but Racaniello is an authoritative source, and to claim he is erring here is speculation and the sort of ideological shortcut reasoning these threads about masking have been an object lesson of.

My interpretation of TWiV is that they're being scientific pedants, but for good reason: insisting on scientific understanding to cut through media hype. Read their NYTimes Op-Ed if you haven't. Indeed, there's a distinction between Racaniello/TWiV's position on delta VoC, versus WHO's failure of precaution on airborne transmission: Racaniello's position is regardless in favor of mask usage, vaccination and herd immunity, and so forth. He has been critical of the current CDC's messaging and direction regarding the masks issue, and clearly says so. So the WHO example as an analogy has the opposite polarity.
posted by polymodus at 11:52 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


To read through this after the pushback on a previous thread is...interesting.
In my part of London - almost no-one wears a mask outside but there is still a high prevalence of mask wearing inside shops. Pubs and restaurants - not really. While wearing a mask is still mandated on public transport there are more and more people either not wearing them properly (not covering their nose, or wearing them under their chin, so they can whip them back up if it looks like transport staff/police are around) or just not wearing them; that said, I would contend the majority of people still wear masks, and wear them properly* on public transport.
While my partner and I are fully vaccinated, our 17 year old is not eligible, which is a bit of a worry. He has been home schooled for years, but he still goes out, meets friends, and has medical appointments at major hospitals, so he is at risk of infection. I hope that the vaccine program is rolled out to all over-12s soon. The wearing of masks among teenagers, based purely on those I see out in public, is not high but there are some wearing them.

*Let's be honest - most people are wearing masks with gaps at the sides, or other ways that are ill-fitting.
posted by Megami at 12:33 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


You do realize you're saying that a tenured professor of virology at Columbia University is "making the same kind of mistake" as WHO and others last year on a different debate about the properties of SARS-CoV-2?

I haven't seen anyone who isn't on TWiV support his "Covid variants haven't been shown to be more infectious" position, which was unfortunately not the case on airborne transmission where there was a significant droplet lobby.

He's been making this argument since at least July 2020 where he proposes an potential experimental approach to determine if the D614G variant is more infectious than the original Wuhan strain by measuring the viral shedding load in patients (it has since been shown that in Delta the patient's viral load is ~1000x higher).

But then he says
Even then I would argue that the results cannot be interpreted, because we do not know how much of an increase in virus shedding would lead to an increase in transmission. Would twofold more virus be enough? Fivefold? Tenfold? A thousand fold? Anyone who says they know is wrong.
Well, with Delta it turned out to be a thousand fold, and his position hasn't shifted an inch. On this issue he's as dug in and inflexible as the people who always want to talk about Vitamin D.
posted by zymil at 3:07 AM on July 31 [11 favorites]


An MD friend of mine pointed out a year ago that wearing a mask [...] had zero side effects (beyond a slightly warm lower face), and reduced transmission rates substantially.

At my workplace we are no longer required to be masked if outdoors and maintain 2m distance.which means 99% of people aren't masking outside even though they are routinely within a metre of other people. I continue to mostly mask anyways and always when working in groups. And it drives a lot of people crazy because quote "I can't tell what you are thinking" and "Masks make it so hard to recognize people".

Which led to the observation that I don't have this problem and then the epiphany that these comments are from the neurotypical and they don't have the decades of practice negotiating social situations where they don't recognize faces and have difficulty reading body language (IE my life at the best of times). It must be fustrating as hell. Along with that is the supposition that people who are good at that sort of thing are more likely to rise to positions of power and especially elected power. And if you could care less about the suffering of others it becomes a massive unbalanced con on the scale.

I see that President Biden is giving the military a vaccine mandate starting in September. I'm in Fort Bragg, NC and I predict chaos. There are a LOT of right wingers and Trumpettes around here. I don't know what they might actually do, but I bet a lot of the Special Forces guys will get out of the military and take up mercenary work. (They can them mercs here, and we already have a lot.)

Boy howdy it seems like if a vaccination is going to flip special forces personnel to mercenary work those might not be the people you want in those positions anyways .
posted by Mitheral at 5:24 AM on July 31 [20 favorites]


A bunch of random thoughts:

"This is what Lollapalooza looks like right now."
This is soooooooo frustrating. Cook County (Chicago + a bunch of suburbs, including mine) issued on Friday, during Lolla, a new mask advisory (not yet mandate) recommending people to mask up indoors because of surging rates in Cook County. Schools are opening in some towns next week. My kids go back in 19 days. If Lolla had been in June, I wouldn't have been nearly as frustrated. (I will say, they have been VERY AGGRESSIVE about turning away people who aren't fully vaccinated or can't present a negative Covid test -- 600 on the first day alone -- but c'mon guys, Delta!)

I've been noodling on government interventions in my state, and a big part of me wants to say, "Don't re-open schools in counties where vaccine uptake is low." (Vaccination rates in Illinois by county range from 60% to as low as 21%. Chicago and the surrounding counties are all right around 50%; very low uptake is mostly in rural counties.) But that's punishing children for their parents being idiots, and kids need access to school. But then I thought, no high school sports for counties with vaccine rates under 45%, with the threshhold rising over time. All the vax-refusers lost their minds last year over HS sports being suspended during the lockdown, and "sorry, your community is too unvaccinated for your kids to safely play against other schools" feels like a fair intervention, that the government can actually do, that would put a lot of pressure on refusenik jerks without targeting low-access populations.

On kids and infections and brain function, some teachers have anecdotally said they notice kids in their classrooms who had Covid are struggling more with long-term memory and with concentration. (Which could flatly be because the whole year has been traumatic for everyone, and worse for anyone who had Covid because it was so scary!), and some said they noticed what could be a statistically-significant correlation on standardized end-of-year "learning growth" assessments between kids who had Covid and lower learning growth. I hope public health officials are digging into that kind of data.

On "I'm hesitant because I don't understand vaccines," NOVA (on PBS) had a digital short explaining how Covid vaccines are developed and how they work, with particular emphasis on the mRNA vaccines. I was obviously going to get the shot as soon it was available to me (and did!), but I was a little nervous about getting an "experimental" vaccine of a brand-new kind (mRNA). The NOVA episode explained it really clearly, and at the end of it my kids and I were all like, "Oh, wow, this is so cool! I want to be an mRNA factory!" It's possible if you have anxious friends or relatives who are vaccine-hesitant, that episode might help.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:53 AM on July 31 [11 favorites]


Re: recognizing people: last weekend I met some folks I had only met online IRL and still we all figured out we knew each other with the masks on.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:07 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Maybe I have a forgettable face but wearing the mask hasn't been a huge barrier for people recognizing me. Like most people don't recognize me anyway and as humans, we're notoriously bad at remembering people we know passingly. I could recognize people who I am close to from far, far away based on their stature, gait, head shape, etc. Like little things that add up to equal the entity of the person, not just the tiniest fragment of the body IE the nose/mouth. Also I don't care, I can reintroduce myself to someone a million times and not take it personally if they don't remember/recognize me, masks aside, because I am an adult and I do not let such things ruin my day.
PS my partner & I both got our tests back: NEGATIVE!! I am chalking it up to him continually wearing a mask at work & our fully vaxxed status, combined.
posted by erattacorrige at 9:53 AM on July 31 [8 favorites]


Israel to offer third Covid-19 vaccine dose to people over 60 (CNN, July 30, 2021) Thursday’s announcement follows a strong recommendation from the government-appointed team of experts on the pandemic to offer older adults a third dose. The experts’ advice, which came overnight on Wednesday, was based on data suggesting significant waning immunity from infection over time. Israel began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Dec. 19, 2020 (Wikipedia).

Prev., mid-July: Israel allows those with weakened immune systems to get a third Pfizer-BioNTech shot (NYT, July 12, 2021) Israel’s Ministry of Health on Monday issued guidelines for administering a third shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to people with compromised immune systems, citing the rising infection rate in recent weeks as well as growing evidence that such people do not develop sufficient antibodies after two doses. [...] Israel initially led the world with a rapid vaccination campaign and 57 percent of its population is fully vaccinated. But the arrival of the highly contagious Delta variant has brought a rise in daily infections, up from single digits a month ago to an average of 452 cases per day. About 58 percent of the 81 Israeli Covid-19 patients currently hospitalized are vaccinated, according to Israeli Ministry of Health data.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:48 AM on July 31 [7 favorites]


I'm so worried about waning immunity in the elderly. My mom and step-dad got vaccinated in March and live in Trump country. They're still cautious and have gone back to masking indoors.
posted by Mavri at 11:02 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Nanjing: New virus outbreak worst since Wuhan, say Chinese state media (BBC, July 30, 2021) Almost 200 people have been infected since the virus was first detected at the city's busy airport on 20 July. [...] All 9.3 million of the city's residents - including those visiting - will be tested, said state-controlled Xinhua news.

Officials said the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus was behind the infections, adding that cases had spread further because of how busy the airport is.

Officials said "cleaners who worked on a [July 10] flight from Russia" had lax virus-safety hygiene; the virus has spread to "at least 13 cities including Chengdu and Beijing" and all flights from Nanjing airport are suspended until August 11.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:55 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Microcovid.org has tweaked its relative risk calculator in light of the new info about the delta variant.
posted by blue suede stockings at 1:17 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


Re: recognizing people: last weekend I met some folks I had only met online IRL and still we all figured out we knew each other with the masks on.

Frau Biscuit started a new job about a year ago and mentioned in passing that she has no idea what the lower halves of most of her coworkers faces look like.

And another report from the field: I spent the day in Toronto today; mask-wearing indoors has about a 99.95% uptake rate, and maybe 20% of people in the streets remain masked.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:39 PM on July 31


microcovid makes me want to cry and cry and cry.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:55 PM on July 31 [10 favorites]


Yeah, jeez, microcovid could have saved itself the trouble and just posted the “guess i’ll die now” meme for my results.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 3:53 PM on July 31 [10 favorites]


"the war has changed" this is not a war
posted by thelonius at 5:09 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


An anecdote about remasking - I live in a relatively poor and ethnically diverse area of a fairly liberal city. There's two grocery stores near me, about two miles apart. They're both in the low prestige class of grocery store; one US headquartered and one German. Both attract roughly the same demographics and neither are requiring masks.

About three or four weeks ago, virtually all of the customers at the German owned one voluntarily started masking up again while virtually none of the ones at the US owned one have. I'm curious what's caused that difference. The German one is in a slightly more prosperous area but not by a huge margin.
posted by Candleman at 6:37 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


virtually all of the customers at the German owned one voluntarily started masking up again while virtually none of the ones at the US owned one have

Anti-maskers would probably regard Aldi being German-owned and thus foreign as a reason not to shop there.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:42 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Again, this isn't a hotbed of conservative antimaskers, it's mostly working class non-Caucasians. What older and conservative white population lives around here tends to drive a further distance to the fancier class of grocery stores a further distance away.
posted by Candleman at 6:52 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


this isn't a hotbed of conservative antimaskers, it's mostly working class non-Caucasians

Which doesn't preclude their being a) anti-maskers or b) xenophobic.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:54 PM on July 31


I was in an Aldi in TN today and exactly one customer wore a mask. An Asian grocery had about 80%, which is lower than last fall.

It seems clear the CDC guidance on vaccinated masking is going to be broadly ignored in this area. Course the vaccination rate is below 50% too.
posted by joeyh at 7:32 PM on July 31


Given the US's recent results with wars, both literal (Iraq, Afghanistan) and figurative (drugs, terror) you'd think they would choose a different metaphor, one that doesn't evoke failure.
posted by meowzilla at 8:07 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]


Well, about 48% of the country is distrustful of the government providing services that don't involve firearms.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:45 PM on July 31


I just spent hours doing more researching after reading microcovid. So far microcovid is the only website saying that virtually everything you do at all is horrible. Everything else is so far "mask inside, distance if you can, outside still safe for about everything!!" and I'm trying to figure out if that's true because microcovid is telling me that outside with a KN95 is still horrifyingly bad and not at all mitigating what I'd like to be doing, i.e. seeing people at some volume with music.

I don't even fucking know what to say about the musical I'm supposed to be doing in August. So far the theater owner just said they'll make us wear masks indoors and are looking into clear masks. I'm debating whether or not to point out microcovid, or request that we perform outside in the parking lot, or just wait for everything to be shut down again, which seems the most likely.

I just want to scream and scream.

As for masking here: everyone here is doing it, per requirements, except the one surprise!Trumpy I unfortunately ran into today, who ranted at great length about how she's not racist or hating gays just because she's no longer a liberal/voted for Trump and then antifa doxxed her and wants to burn down her home/business.... Suffice it to say, never going into that place again.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:48 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


So far microcovid is the only website saying that virtually everything you do at all is horrible. Everything else is so far "mask inside, distance if you can, outside still safe for about everything!!"

This is why I'm ignoring microcovid. I don't see any reason to trust it and ignore everything else.
posted by Mavri at 9:00 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]


I just spent hours doing more researching after reading microcovid. So far microcovid is the only website saying that virtually everything you do at all is horrible

I’ve been saying this for months and months now: microcovid is of no value. It’s pseudoscience or even cargo cult science. The operators are like people with physicist’s disease or engineer’s disease (i.e. self-overestimated expertise) except without any actual expertise to speak of. Ignore it.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:29 PM on July 31 [11 favorites]


To be fair a mask is not a mask is not a mask. I’m a little dubious about the average quality of mask and of fit that I see on people, but I am extremely in favor of getting people high quality, comfortable ones. This seems like something people should talk about more.

I've worn masks for years to cut the grass and do yardwork because of my asthma. Its ..... not fun (but better than an asthma attack!). I'm not a mask designer, and I could be wrong, but it seems plausible that there is a relationship between mask efficacy and how uncomfortable the mask is. Masks that are really good at keeping grass clippings and pollen (and viruses) out of my lungs tend not to "breath well" for obvious reasons, which makes them uncomfortable to me (but still preferable to ending up in the emergency room). It sounds ridiculous, but I actually think a sort of helmet with air filters might be more comfortable for long term use. That seems like it wouldn't fly with most people, though.

Looking at the CDC slides published by the Washington Post it looks like their modeling assumes masks are only 40 to 60 percent effective at preventing transmission and and 20 to 30 percent effective at providing protection. That suggests to me school is going to be .... interesting this year, masks or no. I really wish we were further along with vaccine approval for the under 12 set.

I think the Washington Post shouldn't have published those slides, by the way. PowerPoint slides are hardly sufficient to convey scientific information considering you can't hear the presentation and question and answer session accompanying them. Certainly the media seemed to spectacularly misunderstand the contents, much to the frustration of the Biden administration.

Frustrated tweet
posted by eagles123 at 9:48 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


It sounds ridiculous, but I actually think a sort of helmet with air filters might be more comfortable for long term use.

There is something like this: powered air particulate respirators. Rather spendy, but I've thought about getting one for years as I've always reacted badly to things like grass mowing or wildfire smoke, and I think the belt-mounted types are slightly less weird looking than full-face respirators, while being about 20x more effective. They never really disappeared through the pandemic like masks did, but they're now back to pre-pandemic prices. It's possible they'll get dumped on the market pretty cheaply after this next wave, so if you'd like one keep your eyes on ebay.
posted by netowl at 2:19 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


(it has since been shown that in Delta the patient's viral load is ~1000x higher).

But then he says
Even then I would argue that the results cannot be interpreted, because we do not know how much of an increase in virus shedding would lead to an increase in transmission. Would twofold more virus be enough? Fivefold? Tenfold? A thousand fold? Anyone who says they know is wrong.

Well, with Delta it turned out to be a thousand fold, and his position hasn't shifted an inch. On this issue he's as dug in and inflexible as the people who always want to talk about Vitamin D.


This is so incredibly dismissive, sloppy, and a form of ad hominem. I don't care if Vincent Racaniello is inflexible or not.

Saying his position hasn't shifted is misrepresenting him and his colleagues in his podcasts, because he calls b.s. on the 1000x result. So it's disingenuous to attribute his position to intransigence or being one-note like Vitamin D "scientists". The correct response is to demonstrate engagement with his argument. In this week's cast he mentions the 1000x claims, so we should assume he has rational reasons for calling it b.s. And even in your own quote of him, it's perfectly consistent: a consistent position does not need to budge, it is only motivated detractors who want to frame truth and consistency as refusing to budge. A virologist who knows enough to know that the current science cannot say something, is not digging in, it is being a stickler for scientific truth in the way that public health and/or epidemiologists and/or the WHO and/or the media are taking shortcuts around, to long-term detriment (as Racaniello yet again warns in today's podcast).

So frankly based on your comment I don't think you really paid close attention and analysis to the positions being put forth on TWiV as the strength of your dismissal would require.
posted by polymodus at 5:19 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


I'll have to give TWIV another listen. It seems like laboratory science versus applied science. Racaniello sounds like he wants more experimental evidence and probably knows more about the measurement tools. Epidemiology may feel as though they can't wait for the evidence. Of course, if you run out ahead of the experimental evidence, you risk messing up in a big way.
posted by eagles123 at 9:46 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


How true are articles such as this one which claim that the delta variant can spread in 5 seconds? Its frustrating that none of them go into enough detail on the nature of the exposure. As mentioned in previous comments, very fit masks fit ideally, which would make public transit a no-go under all circumstances.
posted by asra at 10:14 AM on August 1


Not sure, but Nerdy Girls covers the topic.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:56 PM on August 1


I'm trying to figure out if that's true because microcovid is telling me that outside with a KN95 is still horrifyingly bad

The microcovid analysis makes basic sense but there has to be something wrong about the way they apply it to outdoor scenarios. Maybe with delta it is different but it seemed like none of the big outdoor events of summer 2020 were superspreader events (as the microcovid analysis implies). I marched a few times, and every time I got tested 3 days after afraid that I would have gotten covid from marching alongside a few hundred others (who were also often yelling as loud as they could) but I don't know of anyone who got infected in those scenarios. Events like Sturgis make sense because although they are "outdoors" much of the time people are indoors (bars, restaurants). I don't know what else to do but to continue to assume that, since I'm vaccinated, it's safe to be outside, dramatically more safe than is implied by the microcovid analysis. This can't keep going on!!!!
posted by dis_integration at 1:00 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young: "at the start of this pandemic, I spoke about 15 minutes of close contact being a concern," "Now, it looks like it's 5 to 10 seconds" "The risk is so much higher now than it was only a year ago."

I don't think 5 seconds can be common, because it's not 50 times or 100 times more infectious on average. There's a lot of variation, but this was "incredibly unlucky", according to the virologist.

The truth is, contact tracing in countries like Australia will find it significantly harder to eliminate outbreaks of variants like Delta. "[T]wice as infectious [as] last year" is plenty. This gave them a very convenient example to illustrate that.

There's probably more than one mechanism. If there's further specific and relevant detail, I suspect you'll hear soon enough.
posted by sourcejedi at 1:01 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


> 1000x result

The specific issue with this is that it is measured via PCR.

PCR does not measure live virus particles. It measures the amount of RNA in the sample that matches the particular sequences they are looking for.

So Delta variant does look to measure about 1000X the RNA at a given time, compared with earlier results from other variants. (Even that is a pretty preliminary result right now, so exercise appropriate caution.)

However: RNA is not live virus!

There could very, very, very, very, VERY easily be something with the Delta variant that causes a higher level of RNA fragments, dead virus, etc etc etc in the nasal passages, throat, etc (where PCR samples are taken) and yet the amount of actual live virus is just the same or only slightly higher.

OR maybe it is 10X higher or 100X. Or of course maybe it is indeed 1000X higher. The point is no one has done that measurement so we simply do not know.

Until someone has actually done the measurement of actual live virus, it is wise to keep all possible outcomes in mind and not lock into one single answer that is not yet actually proven by direct measurement.

Many possible explanations for the 1000X PCR test values are possible, and we need to find out which of them is the case, and not just jump to conclusions without data.

We need the data.

PCR is great for what it is, but it does not measure the amount of live virus.

It is very possible to do cultures etc and find the actual amount of live virus. It is harder, but it is possible. There are laboratories around the world the can do this.

If it is worth panicking about the Delta variant, and writing thousands of breathless articles in media around the world, it's worth getting the actual data, too - to find out exactly what we need to panic about and what we don't.
posted by flug at 12:47 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


RE: TWIV and specifically, Vincent Raciniello.

>He and his hosts have constantly debunked the delta variant epidemiology by pointing out that the "founder effect" (what I understand as a variant naturally seeding itself through exponential growth to overtake other existing variants) confounds epidemiologists' ability to determine whether a variant is more contagious or infectious.

This is only one part of what Raciniello and the other regulars on TWIV and pretty much all of the other guests on TWIV over the past several months have talked about it.

The problem regarding infectiousness is this: Every single time a new strain comes along and takes over as the primary strain in some part of the world, there is a huge flurry of media stories on how much more infectious and transmissible the new strain is.

Here is the problem: New strains don't become predominant because they are more transmissible.

They become dominant because they are more biologically fit. Think back to your Biology 101: Reproductive fitness. That is what we are talking about.

Now of course if a strain were to become more transmissible, that could be one factor in making it more biologically fit. But transmissibility is one of literally dozens of factors that can potentially play into biological fitness.

The other factor that goes along with this, is that a certain variant does not need to win the biological fitness race by a huge margin in order to become dominant in a certain area. This is a winner take all type situation, and if a certain variant is even 1% better than other variants in the area in terms of overall biological fitness then that is almost certainly enough for it to push the other variants aside.

Yet another factor is the pace of genetic change in the virus. Our thinking is primed because we are all familiar with the influenza virus, which has a very fast rate of genetic drift. A major reason for that is because the influenza viruses have adopted a very fast rate of genetic drift as a survival strategy. The fact that they copy everything "fast and dirty" with a lot of mistakes is built into the flu virus. They don't have the kind of error-checking machinery built into their replication process, that most viruses do.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, however does have that error-checking machinery. So we know right off the bat--and also by watching the development over the past 1.5 years--that the rate of mutation in SARS-CoV-2 is pretty slow. Certainly way, way slower then influenza viruses.

So when you hear the popular media going on about the huge differences in transmissibility in some new "strain" of SARS-CoV-2, anyone who actually knows how the virus changes is naturally skeptical. Of course, a few relatively small changes could lead to pretty major changes in the biology of the virus every once in a while. But by far the most common outcome of the relatively minor genetic changes will be a new variant with relatively minor biological difference from the source virus.

Finally, we do have the Founder's effect and other relatively random factors, which can result in one variant being predominant in a certain area even though it is not necessarily much if any more biologically fit than other strains in the area. The "Founder's Effect" refers to the idea that the first strain to enter and area--and, more precisely, the first strain to gain a really good foothold due to a few superspreader events--can dominate an entire geographically region just be virtue of being the first.

Putting all that together, you can see why anyone familiar with the actual working of SARS-CoV-2 will be skeptical of grandiose claims of massive increases in transmissibility:


* A variant becomes predominant by being more biologically fit than its competitors; increased transmissibility is just one of literally dozens of ways a variant could become a little more biologically fit.

* It takes only a little more biological fitness than its competitors for one variant to win out among others. It doesn't have to be 2X or 5X or 100X better than it's competitors - 5% or 10% would be more than enough.

* We know that SARS-CoV-2 mutates at a relatively slow rate. Thus relatively small changes in biological fitness from one variant to another would be the norm.

* Other effects than biological fitness, such as the Founder's Effect, can lead to one variant becoming dominant in a certain area.

None of that means that one variant couldn't crack the code to become more transmissible than preceding variants. But:

* Relatively small genetic changes, leading to small changes in biological action, are going to be the norm.

* The popular press and social media has gone berzerk about the transmissibility that "must" be the cause of one or the other variant becoming predominant, many times already over the past year. If each of the succeeding variants really had a huge increase in transmissibility as feared, we'd all be dead by now.

Putting it another way, we've heard about greatly increased transmissibility of each variant along the way. But it's clear now that any differences in transmissibility, at least up to Delta which we are not sure about yet, were relatively minor if they exist at all. These variants are pretty certainly more biologically fit than other variants that have gone by the wayside, but they can't be much if any more transmissible.

* Most changes that cause one variant to win out over the others are going to be in some other biological action, and have minor or no affect on transmissibility per se.

In short, if you are claiming the Variant XYZ is far, far more transmissible than other variants, the onus is on you to do the tests, bring the evidence, and prove your case.

"Variant XYZ is predominant, therefore it MUST be hugely more transmissible than other variants!!!!!" does not prove your case.

Finally, suppose Variant XYZ really is 2X or 5X or 10X more transmissible than previous variants. What are you going to do about it?

Vaccinate. Wear masks. Practice physical distancing. Improve air circulation. Contact trace.

In short, all the things we already know we should be doing whether it is as transmissible as it now is, or little more, or a little less.
posted by flug at 5:00 AM on August 2 [10 favorites]


One shouldn't panic over any COVID variant currently known. It is true that we don't have all the details, bit it is very clear based solely on its spread and the hospitalization data that it is more easily transmissible and is more likely to cause breakthrough infections in vaccinated people.

Thankfully, the vaccines clearly do still drastically reduce the risk of infection and make it highly unlikely one will need medical intervention in the event of a breakthrough infection.

What's hard to say at this point is whether the increased proportion of younger people requiring hospitalization is due to something with the delta variant itself or if it's just down to differing vaccination rates between different age cohorts.

On the bright side, in the county I was living in until a couple of days ago, the fear of delta got a bunch of people to go get vaccinated. They hit 70% of the 12+ population fully vaccinated and 80% with at least one shot last week, up 10% from a couple of weeks ago. Plus mask wearing seemed to be a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. It was never particularly low, yet hospitals are filling up fast.

The place I'm living now is about 10% behind. Kinda hard to say why since the distribution of vocal Trump nutters would make one think the vaccination rates should be reversed.
posted by wierdo at 5:08 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


bit it is very clear based solely on its spread and the hospitalization data that it is more easily transmissible

Yah, look like that, but

and is more likely to cause breakthrough infections in vaccinated people

Probably? I'm not denying this at all.

But it really really doesn't help that the only thing that gets consistently reported is the proportion of some infected or hospitalized group who are vaccinated. That proportion is way more sensitive to the fraction of the population that's vaccinated and the virulence across age groups than it is to the effectiveness of the vaccines.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:01 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Regarding the relative deadliness of Delta - during the July 2020 outbreak of the original Covid strain in Victoria (in Australia) there were 700 cases per day at its peak and at that point they had about 30 patients in ICU.

This year during the Delta outbreak in NSW in July 2021, they seem to have peaked at about 200 cases per day, and at that point they have about 50 patients in ICU.

Of course, there are a number of confounding factors that make them not completely comparable, but even with those factors there is a marked difference in resource consumption.
posted by xdvesper at 12:04 AM on August 3


Rates of transmission, infection, and vaccine efficacy don't exist in a vacuum but reflect particular circumstances, including behavior. If you're vaccinated you're 5x-10x less likely to get ill than someone who is not vaccinated, all else being equal. But if that protection encourages behaviors that regularly expose people to large amounts of virus, then those odds change. Much like a water-resistant watch will eventually stop working if you take extended showers with it every day, and fire-retardant materials will eventually burn if the conflagration is large enough. Exposure matters.
posted by dmh at 1:48 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Florida and Texas had one-third of all US Covid-19 cases in the US in past week. In Louisiana, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased 580% from July 1 - July 28; Louisiana children's hospitals are filled to capacity with COVID patients; yesterday the largest state hospital ran out beds (a quarter of the patients at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center have COVID); Gov. Edwards reinstated the mask mandate, effective Aug. 3 through Sept. 1. Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country: 43% of residents have had at least one dose of a vaccine, and only 37% are fully inoculated. Of the 11,109 new COVID cases identified in Louisiana Friday 7/30 - Monday 8/2, over 2,000 are children, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require proof of COVID vaccination for customers and staff at restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses as the country enters a new phase of battling the highly contagious Delta variant. (Reuters, Aug. 3, 2021) [...] The policy will be enforced starting Sept. 13. New York, the theatrical capital of the world.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:37 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


I'm sticking with TWiV as my primary source. If there's a better source for experts explaining the latest science, I haven't found it. Sure, it's possible that one expert is wrong and dug in on Delta transmissibility, but it seems unlikely that all of his guests are also wrong in the exact same way. I suppose you could argue that he's only selecting people who agree, but that starts to feel like a conspiracy.
posted by diogenes at 9:56 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Here is a set of tweets that make much the same kind of points as Raciniello:

Farzad Mostashari on the Delta Variant.

He begins by doing a little poll: What is Rt in Arkansas right now?

Choices are: 1.2, 1.8, 2.4, 5.0

I won't spoil it for you (just click through) but here are some clues:
  • Rt for polio is about 4
  • Rt for smallpox is about 5
  • Rt for chickenpox is about 8
  • Rt for measles is somewhere north of 15
5/ The reason we are in another surge has as much to do with our shift in behaviors as it does in some "contagious as chickenpox" boogie man.

We snapped back too fast, when there were still not enough people vaccinated.
The reason he thinks that is the recent history of RSV rates. Again, click through for the data and discussion.

Having said all that, the Delta variant is the first one that actually strikes me as, yeah this one might actually have some degree of measurably different behavior than previous variants. Maybe it does generate more infectious particles in the very early stages faster, go from initial infection to serious infection a little faster, have a somewhat higher amount of contagious cases among the vaccinated (though still not nearly has high as in the UNvaccinated, there is no question at all about that), and so on.

We don't yet have data to show any of those things for absolute certain, but unlike previous variants, there is at least some actual data pointing in that direction beyond the old false conclusion, "It is winning out over the other variants so that means it MUST be more transmissible and MORE BADDER in every possible way."

Any way around the conclusion is not "panic" or "get real mad and yell at close friends and family as often as possible" but "mask, social distance, stay home when sick, better ventilation, contact tracing" and all the other old standbys we know so well by now.
posted by flug at 3:52 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


There's delta, delta-plus (aka B. 1.617.2.1 or AY.1, first ID'ed in March), and lately RSV, a common childhood respiratory illness, is cropping up out-of-season in the US:

More children hospitalized with COVID-19 delta variant than previous weeks (WSVN-7 Miami, Aug. 3, 2021) Dr. Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist who works at USF, said the number of children hospitalized for COVID in Florida is six times of what it was just five weeks ago. He said in late June, six kids a day were hospitalized for the virus in Florida. Now, we’re averaging 35 kids a day. “The numbers just continue to head in a really bad direction,” Salemi said. 'This is killing children': New Orleans officials urging vaccinations amid delta variant surge (NBC WDSU, Aug. 3, 2021)

Flu-like virus having early seasonal impact in Midwest, including Nebraska (NBC Omaha, Aug. 2, 2021) Young children, seniors most at-risk from potentially deadly respiratory virus. Respiratory Syncytial Virus is usually most prevalent in the fall and winter months, but in June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about increased activity in the South. The numbers have since increased in the Midwest and other regions, including Nebraska.

Wisconsin sees big jump in RSV cases, a child respiratory illness usually seen in winter (NBC Milwaukee, Aug. 3, 2021); Doctors in Maine are reporting a concerning rise in the number of cases of respiratory syncytial virus. (WMTW.com, Aug. 3, 2021); Rise in RSV cases reported in Southeast during offseason, CDC says (ABC Raleigh, Aug. 2, 2021) The symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 [...] People infected with RSV are usually contagious for 3 to 8 days, according to the CDC but some infants, and people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms, for as long as 4 weeks.

Moderna Receives FDA Fast Track Designation for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccine (mRNA-1345) (Aug. 3, 2021) mRNA-1345 is a vaccine against RSV encoding for a prefusion F glycoprotein, which elicits a superior neutralizing antibody response compared to the postfusion state. RSV is the leading cause of respiratory illness in young children. Older adults (65+) are at high risk for severe RSV infections. mRNA-1345 uses the same lipid nanoparticle (LNP) as Moderna’s authorized COVID-19 vaccine and contains optimized protein and codon sequences.

Moderna’s RSV vaccine catches the fast track on heels of Pfizer’s leapfrog into the queue (FierceBiotech, Aug. 3, 2021) RSV tends to resurface each fall, winter and spring, but over the pandemic, the virus took a break as people around the world locked down and masked up. But the virus is back with a vengeance now as the U.S. has begun to reopen. Peak infections are now occurring later into the year than usual. RBC Capital analysts said rates are up 30-100 fold compared to the year before, according to a Monday note to clients.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:18 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Has TWIV / Raciniello dug into the evidence for *Alpha* having higher R0? As opposed to antigenic change, escaping some immunity. Hypothetically, if someone was following the pandemic through TWIV and literally no other source, I wonder what impression they would have.

PHE were able to measure secondary attack rates from contact tracing data as around 25%-40% higher, due to the "S gene dropout" quirk in PCR tests. At that point in January, the MRC model thinks around 10M out of 55M us Englanders had a prior infection; only 20%. (And if Alpha reduced re-infection immunity to 0%, PHE would certainly have noticed by now).

Independent of the contact tracing data, Davies et al found "increased transmissibility" or "longer infectious period" fit the data much better than "immune escape". (While acknowledging "the five mechanisms explored here are not mutually exclusive").

I'm not sure about how the evidence is presented for Delta. The "grumpy virologist" may have a useful criticism of these communications. PHE assert "high" confidence in increased transmissibility, but the rationales that explicitly distinguish this from antigenic change are only "suggestive" / "may be relevant". While they recently started investigating a signal of increased re-infections ("low" confidence).

The models for "step 4" eased restrictions had a range of inputs. LSHTM (Davies' group) admitted "enormous uncertainty" on Delta. However, all of the fits they showed for the data at the time included significantly higher transmissibility, not just reduced vaccine effectiveness.

Balloux Francois' observation cuts two ways, IMO. Davies et al made a "brave" prediction about Alpha. This turned out to be well-founded. If it was proved wrong, they would have faced harsh criticism because of the strength of language used. Since it was not, I have some confidence in their ability to fit models to the data.
posted by sourcejedi at 5:02 AM on August 4


F.D.A. Aims to Give Final Approval to Pfizer Vaccine by Early Next Month
President Biden said last week that he expected a fully approved vaccine in early fall. But the F.D.A.’s unofficial deadline is Labor Day or sooner, according to multiple people familiar with the plan. The agency said in a statement that its leaders recognized that approval might inspire more public confidence and had “taken an all-hands-on-deck approach” to the work.
On the one hand, I'm happy to hear that the FDA is doing what they can to get final approval, which may help at the margins to convince people to get vaccinated. On the other hand, this raises the question of why "all hands" weren't already on deck.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:25 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]




On the other hand, this raises the question of why "all hands" weren't already on deck.

Almost half of the hands in America are Republican.
posted by srboisvert at 7:50 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


If you're vaccinated you're 5x-10x less likely to get ill than someone who is not vaccinated, all else being equal. But if that protection encourages behaviors that regularly expose people to large amounts of virus, then those odds change.

This why all technical discussions of the vaccine effectiveness use the term "relative risk reduction" when evaluating the trials. It is partly because the relative risk changed during the trials of different vaccines - the mRNA trials were early and mostly against the original strain of covid-19. J&J's trial overlap with the emergence of the first major Variant of Concern (VoC) - Alpha so its initial "relative risk" was possibly higher - plus by the time of the J&J trials there was already mitigation slippage and some lockdown lifting further altering the relative risk. The emergence of Delta once again changes part of the relative risk and then the CDC's Chet Hank's like declaration of Vaccinated White Boy summer completely removed mitigations from the vaxed population's equation (and from a lot of the unvaxed as well because people are super dumb).

I do think there is a wonderful natural experiment in progress right now with Canada as the high masking + moderate mitigations + high vaccination group and the comparison with the US results could not be starker. Canada also has Alberta as internal comparison for what happens when mitigations' are dropped. It's going to be morbidly fascinating to see how it all plays out and if any countries can actually learn and act on learning. I'm not betting on the US learning anything.
posted by srboisvert at 8:08 AM on August 4


Not exactly.



On December 17, 2020, Gallup polling found that 31% of Americans identified as Democrats, 25% identified as Republican, and 41% as Independent.[3] Additionally, polling showed that 50% are either "Democrats or Democratic leaners" and 39% are either "Republicans or Republican leaners" when Independents are asked "do you lean more to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?"[3]

posted by tiny frying pan at 8:09 AM on August 4


… but one of the consistent problems with political polling is the fact that in the voting booth so-called "independents" lean further right than they indicate when asked generic questions about lean, which was a major problem with polling in 2016 and still something of one in 2020. "Independents" often vote for one party even though they claim otherwise. When you look at voting patterns and not just generic polling, "about half" is more correct than "25%" seemingly because Republican-leaning independents turn out at higher rates than Democratic-leaning independents do.
posted by fedward at 9:10 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Great! More context! Much more nuanced than "Well they are 50% of us"
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:01 AM on August 4


(I don't trust polls either but I don't believe anything that says America is 50% divided.) Sorry enough derail.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:03 AM on August 4


It's a weird shame that, near as I can tell, the most attributable origin to the quote "1/3 of America would kill another 1/3 while the remaining 1/3 watches" I can find is a Werner Herzog parody Twitter run by a professor of American literature.

It's probably worth being cuttingly honest with yourself/myself about being in the "targeted" bucket or the "watching" bucket (and what that might suggest doing next)
posted by CrystalDave at 10:13 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Canada also has Alberta as internal comparison for what happens when mitigations' are dropped.

Or would, except that Alberta is also dropping most testing and reporting too, so there won’t be any messy data making political trouble for the provincial government.
posted by eviemath at 11:56 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Widespread inadequate testing/reporting, and: Missouri county coroner removed covid from death certificates to ‘please’ grieving families (archived WaPo link, Aug. 4, 2021) The undercount in coronavirus-linked deaths in Macon County, home to around 15,000, as a result of the coroner’s actions is relatively small. But it comes amid broader recognition that the number of covid fatalities in the United States is probably higher than the official tally of 614,000. [...] In May, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said the actual number of deaths in the United States caused by the pandemic could be over 900,000 — higher than the roughly 580,000 deaths logged at the time. The United States, which has the world’s highest official coronavirus death toll, is not the only country where an undercount in fatalities is likely.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:20 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Most unvaccinated Americans believe coronavirus vaccine poses greater health risk than the disease, poll finds (Washington Post)
Just over half of unvaccinated adults (53 percent) said they believed getting vaccinated posed a bigger risk to their health than getting infected with the coronavirus. “In contrast, an overwhelming majority (88 percent) of vaccinated adults said that getting infected with COVID-19 is a bigger risk to their health than the vaccine,” the report found.

The majority of unvaccinated adults (57 percent) also said they thought the news media had “generally exaggerated” the seriousness of the pandemic, compared with 17 percent of vaccinated adults.

On the flip side, the KFF poll found 62 percent of vaccinated adults said news of the coronavirus variants had made them even more likely to wear a mask in public or avoid large gatherings, while fewer unvaccinated adults said the same (37 percent).
The data comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor, which has this appalling paragraph:
Three-fourths of unvaccinated adults, including nine in ten of those who say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine, say they are “not worried” about getting seriously sick from the virus, less than half say they are worried about the Delta variant worsening the pandemic, more than half (including 75% of “definitely not”) say getting vaccinated is a bigger risk to their health than getting infected with coronavirus, and a quarter (just one in ten of “definitely not”) say the vaccines are effective at keeping vaccinated people from dying from COVID-19 or getting seriously ill.
I just can't. I have lost the ability to can.
posted by fedward at 3:23 PM on August 4 [13 favorites]


so there won’t be any messy data making political trouble for the provincial government.

Excess deaths are tough to hide.
posted by Mitheral at 6:18 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


One might think so! But then, we also used to think, as the meme goes, that “avoid [something] like the plague” meant avoiding the thing, rather than ignoring the thing. Instead of noticing excess deaths, apparently we just get business owners complaining that “no one wants to work”, as if it’s just laziness keeping some of their workers from clawing their way out of their graves or reassembling their ashes into a presentable, work-ready human body and coming in for their shifts.
posted by eviemath at 9:03 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


apparently we just get business owners complaining that “no one wants to work”, as if it’s just laziness keeping some of their workers from clawing their way out of their graves or reassembling their ashes into a presentable, work-ready human body and coming in for their shifts.

This, and when you're putting yourself at risk just so people can go eat indoors or outdoors, and you have no idea if your customers are vaccinated. Wages haven't budged in the 15 months of this shit, and I laugh when business owners here in Canada complain that CERB has made it possible for former and future employees to live off the government teat in their eyes. I can tell you right now that $1800 a month in government money might pay your rent if you're lucky, but it doesn't pay for anything else. If anything, it tells me how out of touch employers can be about the cost of living. People who work in the service/retail industry are rightfully scared to go back to work.
posted by Kitteh at 4:55 AM on August 5 [4 favorites]


A Texas GOP leader railed against vaccines and masks. Then he died of covid. (Washington Post). 'McGinnis, who did not mention that Apley died of coronavirus, remembered his colleague as “an advocate for liberty, limited government and the highest ideal of American Exceptionalism.”'

That's right, the highest ideal of American Exceptionalism is dying because you refused a vaccine that is 98% effective at preventing death.
posted by fedward at 8:02 AM on August 5 [12 favorites]


> Excess deaths are tough to hide.

? After mid-August, they'll still be testing people with symptoms and recording those numbers, and still categorizing covid cases and deaths in hospital as such.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:03 AM on August 5


? After mid-August, they'll still be testing people with symptoms and recording those numbers

I think it's going to be questionable; the direction as I have seen it is thus:

-Effective August 16, "Testing will be available for symptomatic people when needed to help direct patient care decisions." and as of August 31: "testing for COVID-19 will be available for patients whose symptoms are severe enough to need care in hospitals or physicians' clinics."

It's not just symptomatic, it is in need of some level of care; and the testing locations may not be all that accessible - I'm hearing that the family physicians aren't too happy about this, given that there has been no discussion, consultation, or guidance for them and they aren't feeling well set-up to be testing locations.

In short, I suspect we're going to have lots of cases around not being counted because they don't qualify for testing or can't access it.
posted by nubs at 12:18 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


I think so, too. Down here, we're undercounting in part because the CDC said in May that it would stop routinely tracking so-called breakthrough infections that didn't lead to hospitalization or death. Several states then stopped tracking mild breakthrough cases. Now there's a push to reverse that short-sighted decision.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:50 PM on August 5


> In short, I suspect we're going to have lots of cases around not being counted because they don't qualify for testing or can't access it.

For sure, but it's a leap to say that Covid deaths (or even hospitalizations) will be uncounted.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:05 PM on August 5


By May 17, 2021, according to the analysis, Canada had performed 25 tests for every positive COVID-19 case since the start of the pandemic, compared with a cumulative average of 98 tests for every positive case in all other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The researchers estimate a lack of testing could have led Canada to miss three-quarters of its COVID-19 cases.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:43 PM on August 5


I'm concerned that gaps in reporting and tracking are used by nefarious souls to invent problems with vaccinations. Like, there are actual people looking for these gaps like they're coming up with new baseball statistics.
posted by rhizome at 4:06 PM on August 5


Yeah, I would personally be overjoyed if I never saw anyone here (or anywhere else) blindly parrot Nate "masks for the vaccinated is a sign of mental illness" Silver on epidemiological advice ever again.

Prominent epidemiologists are getting tired of Nate's shit, and rather unsurprisingly he's not taking being challenged by them well at all.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 8:39 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


it seems plausible that there is a relationship between mask efficacy and how uncomfortable the mask is

As far as breathability it’s true but I literally meant, like, the straps/ear loops, which is what gets to me after some hours.
posted by atoxyl at 10:01 AM on August 6


I have bought tie on masks on Etsy to avoid the ear loop issue. But yeah, the tighter the mask is, the better it is combined with a lack of super comfort that we're all just gonna have to deal with.

I did my first 8 hour workday in a KN95 and it's doable, but did dry out my throat because I was trying to remove it as little as possible in a stagnant air office.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:46 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


'Delta plus' is 'not a problem': Everything to know about the subvariant and why experts aren't worried, yet (USA Today, Aug. 5, 2021) But while little is known about the sublineage and its mutations, health experts say it’s not spreading efficiently now in the U.S., and Americans shouldn’t add it to their pandemic worry list. [...] Although health experts aren’t concerned about the delta plus variant yet, they say continuous transmission gives the virus leeway to potentially create a variant that’s more contagious and dangerous.

New ‘Delta Plus’ COVID Variant Detected In San Francisco Bay Area: ‘It’s At Least As Bad’ As Original (CBS, Aug. 6, 2021) The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has detected 46 cases of the Delta Plus mutation, according to their latest statistics. It is not the dominant strain in the area, however.

It's been over a year and a half of whiplash.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:00 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


Yeah, no matter what we know, it gets worse and it's bad and it's dizzying and I'm expecting even worse now any second, like "Even if you go outside you're not remotely safe because it's Delta, we're all gonna need airtight helmets."
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:39 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]




The Kindergarten Exodus (SLNYT)
As the pandemic took hold, more than 1 million children did not enroll in local schools. Many of them were the most vulnerable: 5-year-olds in low-income neighborhoods.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:27 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Indications emerge that some parents who tested out homeschooling earlier in the pandemic are planning to stick with it (AP via Market Watch)
The Census Bureau reported in March that the rate of U.S. households homeschooling their children rose to 11% in September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier. Black households saw the largest jump.
If I had a primary-age kid, and if it was at all a practical thing to do, I would be sincerely tempted to consider homeschooling until things are safer out there.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:34 PM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Don’t Panic, But Breakthrough Cases May Be a Bigger Problem Than You’ve Been Told (NY Mag, Intelligencer, Aug. 12, 2021) “The message that breakthrough cases are exceedingly rare and that you don’t have to worry about them if you’re vaccinated — that this is only an epidemic of the unvaccinated — that message is falling flat,” Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina told me in the long interview that follows below. “If this was still Alpha, sure. But with Delta, plenty of people are getting sick. Plenty of transmission is going on. And my personal opinion is that the whole notion of herd immunity from two vaccine shots is flying out the window very quickly with this new variant.”

“We’re seeing a lot more spread in vaccinated people,” agreed Scripps’s Eric Topol, who estimated that the vaccines’ efficacy against symptomatic transmission, which he estimated to be 90 percent or above for the wild-type strain and all previous variants, had fallen to about 60 percent for Delta. “That’s a big drop.” Later, he suggested it might have fallen to 50 percent, and that new data about to be published in the U.S. would suggest an even lower rate. On Wednesday, a large pre-print study published by the Mayo clinic suggested the efficacy against infection had fallen as far as 42 percent.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:31 PM on August 12


Today, the FDA determined that transplant recipients and others with a similar level of compromised immunity can receive a third dose of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna at least 28 days after getting their second shot. Thursday's late-night announcement applies to several million Americans who are especially vulnerable because of organ transplants, certain cancers or other disorders. Several other countries, including France and Israel, have similar recommendations. FDA news release
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:31 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


For those who've been following the decision in Alberta to stop isolation, dramatically decrease testing, and remove the few remaining mask mandates as of August 16th: Our Chief Medical Officer is currently announcing a six week pause on that strategy shift as the our hospitalizations rise along with spread of Delta.
posted by nubs at 8:51 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


For those who've been following the decision in Alberta to stop isolation, dramatically decrease testing, and remove the few remaining mask mandates as of August 16th: Our Chief Medical Officer is currently announcing a six week pause on that strategy shift as the our hospitalizations rise along with spread of Delta.


who could have ever guessed
posted by Kitteh at 11:07 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Well they could have gone full Ron DeSantis and just said "send it!" instead. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he seems to believe that the media is just making up the full hospitals and rapidly increasing pediatric cases.
posted by wierdo at 11:16 AM on August 13


who could have ever guessed

I was shocked, shocked I tell you. No, wait, the opposite.
posted by nubs at 11:17 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Canadian PM Justin Trudeau [Twitter]: "we’re going to require vaccination across the federal public service as early as the end of September."

we’re also going to require employees in federally-regulated transportation sectors - including air, rail, and marine sectors - to be vaccinated as soon as possible this fall, and by the end of October at the latest

Also [..] we’re going to require commercial air travellers, passengers on interprovincial trains, and passengers on large marine vessels with overnight accommodations - such as cruise ships - to be vaccinated

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Press Release announcing the requirements and expected policy implementation says: Further, the Government of Canada expects that Crown corporations and other employers in the federally regulated sector will also require vaccination for their employees. The government will work with these employers to ensure this result.
There are approximately 18,500 employers in federally regulated industries, including federal Crown corporations, that together employ 955,000 employees (or 6.2% of the Canadian workforce), the vast majority (87%) of whom work in medium-size to large firms (in other words those with 100 or more employees). These numbers exclude the federal public service. With the federal public service, there are approximately 19,000 employers and 1,235,000 employees (8% of all workers in Canada).
posted by Mitheral at 7:22 PM on August 14 [4 favorites]


The number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States hit a record high of just over 1,900 on Saturday, as hospitals across the South were stretched to capacity fighting outbreaks caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant. Children currently make up about 2.4% of the nation’s COVID-19 hospitalizations. (Reuters, Aug. 15, 2021) The numbers of newly hospitalized COVID-19 patients aged 18-29, 30-39 and 40-49 also hit record highs this week, according to data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Also, tomorrow is the close of the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota; last year's rally was a superspreader event.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:04 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


dis_integration: Maybe with delta it is different but it seemed like none of the big outdoor events of summer 2020 were superspreader events (as the microcovid analysis implies).

With regret, I feel like I should report that Dr. Osterholm said in his August 12 podcast episode,
Outdoor air is much safer than indoor air. And that's true. . . . Mother Nature's ventilation and basically how the virus dissipates and in the air and air movement. But we've seen a very disturbing trend in the last month. Again, I'll use my colleagues, the Minnesota Department of Health, who I have nothing but the greatest respect for. Over the course of the pandemic from its beginning through the end of June, they had investigated four different events, outdoor events, festivals, music concerts, etc., where people were close together outdoors and they've had outbreaks four of them. Since July 1, they've investigated nine. . . . Nine in the last month, and it's because Delta is that much more infectious.
He says in one of his recent episodes that he thinks cloth masks aren't enough, now, because of Delta, so I'll just mention that I've been happy with KN95s from CT Biotech (shoutout to reptile for linking to them back in January). Site; interview with the CEO who started the company to increase supply and drive down prices.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:31 PM on August 16 [2 favorites]


I'd like a better source than this, but here's some more bad news. For context, Australia's two largest states are presently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. New South Wales and Victoria are both in lockdown, and it's possible that other states may follow. Large parts of the Northern Territory are in lockdown, but the last I heard that was because of one carrier who is refusing to cooperate with authorities. Despite the lockdown in Victoria the number of infections do not really seem to be coming down. We now have a night (9 PM - 6 AM) curfew in Melbourne, and there are suggestions that fast food outlets will be forced to close to discourage mingling.

Fleeting contact between those who were initially thought to be resilient to the virus is a concern for health officials.
Health officials are investigating a Covid transmission between two school students and another at a playground.

The contact is a concern for the Victorian government and its growing exposure sites.

[Victorian] Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said with the delta variant there is a greater risk of spreading the virus between children.

“Fifty of our current cases are under the age of 10. We have seen child to child transmission throughout this outbreak, in schools, in other circumstances. It happens very quickly in households between children,” he said.

“We are investigating a potential transmission in a playground. It is not definitive and maybe we will not be able to make it definitive but it looks like there has been transmission in a playground.

“We have also seen transmission between students who were not in classes together who did not have any other face to face interaction other than sharing a walk home, didn’t play together, don’t live together, didn’t have classes together.”
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:36 PM on August 16 [2 favorites]


New Zealand has its first community case, likely but not yet confirmed Delta, in almost 6 months. Full, hard lockdown ("Alert Level 4") nationwide for 3 days starting midnight and 7 days in Auckland and Coromandel (where the infected person was during their infectious period). Hopefully that's enough time for us to catch any other cases out there and stop transmission. Alert Level 4 is basically: you can't leave the house except to go to the supermarket, or to exercise, maintaining 2m distance from other people and wearing a mask. Only exceptions, health emergencies and "essential workers", which is pretty narrowly defined. More.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:22 AM on August 17 [10 favorites]


Greg Abbot has tested positive but is experiencing no symptoms according to his office.
posted by interogative mood at 5:28 PM on August 17


Greg Abbot has tested positive but is experiencing no symptoms according to his office.

And, from the article I just read, receiving monoclonal antibody treatments. It is frustrating that for so many people the takeaway is going to be "See? Not a big deal, just like the common cold." When in fact it is because he is vaccinated and receiving far better medical care than the person sitting in the ambulance in a hospital parking lot waiting for an ICU bed to open up.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:27 PM on August 17 [7 favorites]


If he's getting the Trump medical treatments, I smell shenanigans.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:42 PM on August 17 [1 favorite]


Three hours ago, Gov. Abbott tweeted his diagnosis with a short video; five hours before that, he'd tweeted:

Honor to meet with @JimmieVaughan—brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan and a legendary Texas musician in his own right. Hope to catch your show in September at the @ErwinCenter.

Threadreader link to tweet w/pic of Abbot (63), Vaughan (70), and some of Vaughan's family, mask-less, indoors, clustered in front of the state and country flags. Vaughn's actually opening for Eric Clapton's Sept. 15 Erwin Center show. Clapton's "North American tour": Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Nashville, Tampa, & Hollywood (Florida).
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:00 PM on August 17 [1 favorite]


Last night, Gov. Abbott attended an event at the Republican Club at Heritage Ranch, located in Collin County -- scroll down at link for astounding video.
Abbott on Twitter after: Another standing room only event in Collin County tonight. Thank y’all for the enthusiastic reception. Let's keep this energy up and send a message that Texas values are NOT up for grabs in 2022.
Houston Chronicle: Abbott was not wearing a mask in photos posted on social media and shook hands with many of the attendees. He was visiting a North Texas region that is facing one of the highest rates of hospitalizations for patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:14 PM on August 17 [2 favorites]


14 children with disabilities file first federal lawsuit against Gov. Abbott over mask mandate ban (NBC Austin affliate KXAN, Aug. 18, 2021) The suit alleges the state’s executive order, which prohibits school districts from enforcing mask mandates, puts children with disabilities “at significant risk, is discriminatory, and violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act.” According to the lawsuit, the order discriminates against students with disabilities and their rights to public education programs. Several of the plaintiffs, which have varying degrees of disabilities, could be at an increased risk of medical complications and death due to their underlying medical conditions, the lawsuit states.

Last week: Federal lawsuit filed against Las Vegas school mask mandate (ABC News) A coronavirus pandemic mask mandate in Nevada has drawn a federal lawsuit from attorneys seeking class-action status for claims that the constitutional rights of thousands of parents and children at Las Vegas-area schools are being violated. It seeks an immediate court order to invalidate a directive the governor enacted last week that generally requires K-12 students and school employees in the Las Vegas and Reno areas to wear masks on buses and inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

Today: Over 8,000 students in a single Florida school district, Hillsborough, are isolated or quarantined a week into school year. (ABC) Hillsborough is the seventh-largest school district in the U.S., with more than 213,000 students. In total, there were 1,695 COVID-19 cases among students and staff, according to the Tampa-area district's COVID-19 dashboard. The district is requiring masks for students, but parents can opt-out their children. To date, at least 28,000 parents have opted out, district officials told ABC News.

Florida currently has the country's highest COVID-19 case rate. The state reported 151,415 new cases from Aug. 6 to Aug. 12 and 286 deaths, with a new-case positivity rate of 19.3%, according to its latest weekly COVID-19 report. And cases among children are up, with over 31,700 new cases reported last week among those 19 years old or younger.

posted by Iris Gambol at 12:19 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


CDC, Aug. 18, 2021: mRNA vaccine efficacy dropped 'significantly' in nursing homes after delta became predominate variant. Two doses of mRNA vaccines were 74.7% effective against infection among nursing home residents early in the vaccination program (March–May 2021). During June–July 2021, when B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant circulation predominated, effectiveness declined significantly to 53.1%.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:20 PM on August 18 [5 favorites]


How CDC data problems put the U.S. behind on the delta variant
CDC officials declined to identify what data they had cited at that meeting with Pfizer officials. But on Wednesday, more than a month later, the agency published a trio of reports showing similar trendlines as the earlier Israeli studies — declining protection against the delta variant as it became dominant in the United States.

“The moment there’s something really problematic, it should be shared,” said Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. “In the time it takes to get out an MMWR report [a weekly scientific digest], too many people have gotten infected, too many people have gotten long covid, too many people among them have gotten very sick, some even getting hospitalized.”

The CDC’s fumbles on the delta variant, following a year when its missteps were often attributed to Trump administration meddling, tell a more complicated story — that the once-storied agency faces other challenges that have hampered an agile response to the pandemic. Critics lament that the most up-to-date data about the delta variant has come from other countries, such as Israel, Great Britain and Singapore. And they say the CDC’s inability to share real-time information led top administration officials, including the president himself, to offer overly rosy assessments of the vaccines’ effectiveness against delta that may have lulled Americans into a false sense of security, even as a more wily and formidable variant was taking hold.

Some inside the agency share those criticisms.

“It’s not acceptable how long it takes for this data to be made available,” said a senior CDC official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. “It’s done in a very academic way. Cross every ‘t,’ and dot every ‘i,’ and unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury in a global pandemic. There’s going to be a need to have a significant cultural shift in the agency.”
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 2:40 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


The eternal truths as Melbourne clocks up 200 days of lockdown

It's pretty incredible when you see it all laid out like this, particularly since we're now in another lockdown and the Delta variant is so much more infectious. I'm presently scared to go shopping, while before I was merely cautious. The level of paranoia is so high that it feels as though I'm living in a zombie movie.

Excerpt:
It feels like forever. It’s been 200 days.

This week Melbourne clocks a double century of days spent in lockdown. That’s 39 per cent of our sleeping and waking lives battened down in our boxes since the end of March last year, when Premier Daniel Andrews first issued the order: “Stay home. Protect our health system. Save lives”.

“We are all going to have to sacrifice a lot,” he added. He wasn’t wrong.

Remember then? The good old days of “flatten the curve”? Mashd n Kutcher’s Get on the Beers? Gal Gadot murdering Imagine? The COVIDSafe app?

When lockdown felt like a novelty, a chance to catch up on great novels, learn new skills and emerge fitter, hotter and more learned?

When the chat was about sourdough starters and all being in it together and “we’ve got this”, rather than a revolving door of paranoia that we might not?

Of the 500-odd days that followed, we have spent 299 behind mandatory masks indoors, 100-plus at home (non-) schooling, 233 with closed church doors. We’ve lived through 93 wedding-less days, 56 curfewed nights and 178 days with playgrounds taped and silent. [...]
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:22 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


Third Pfizer dose 86% effective in over 60s, Israeli HMO says (Reuters via Yahoo News, Aug. 18, 2021)

Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to be offered to Americans beginning September 20, health officials say (CNN, 2021)

Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots (CDC, 2021)

CDC Director Walensky's Aug. 13th statement concerning an "Additional Dose of an mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine in Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People", excerpted: Emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised. In addition, in small studies, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized breakthrough cases (40-44%). Immunocompromised people who are infected with SARS CoV-2 are also more likely to transmit the virus to household contacts.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:26 PM on August 18


Today, my healthcare provider notified me that I'm eligible for a third shot (& it's to be the same mRNA vaccine as the previous doses).
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:27 PM on August 18


I liked what Seth Meyers said about Abbott: I don't want to wish him ill, but he's been going around without a mask, so I don't have to.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:52 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


Biden Admin finally starting to flex their muscles and take on these anti-mask covidiots.

It it frustrating that this has taken so long.
posted by interogative mood at 11:27 AM on August 19 [5 favorites]




More than 20,000 students across Mississippi are in quarantine after the first week of in-person classes.(ABC via Yahoo, Aug. 19, 2021) Some schools [not all] reopened last week, and so far 4,521 students have tested positive for COVID-19 and 20,334 have been quarantined due to exposure — about 5% of the state's public school students, according to data compiled by the state Aug. 9 to Aug. 13 from over 800 schools. Additionally, 948 teachers or staffers tested positive last week and 1,463 were quarantined due to exposure, according to state data. Last week, a 13-year-old eighth grader died after testing positive — the fifth Mississippi child to die during the pandemic.

posted by Iris Gambol at 9:53 PM on August 19 [1 favorite]


At $1000 a pop, those Regeneron walk in sites DeSantis has set up are going to provide a quick return on investment for those campaign contributions.

Infuriatingly, it seems that many of the people getting treatment aren't even the ones who can be helped by Regeneron, which is only effective if the treatment is administered before significant symptoms set in. Yet people who should really be in the hospital are instead visiting these clinics, literally moaning on the floor while struggling to breathe while they wait for a treatment that has a near zero chance of doing anything for them.

Adding insult to injury, many people receiving this treatment, which has not received full FDA approval, are people who refuse to get vaccinated because the vaccines haven't yet received full approval. Both are under EUA, but apparently only the one that keeps you from getting severely ill in the first place is a problem. It's totes fine to put the other one in your body. No Bill Gates 5G Wifi semen damaging chips made from fetus parts in that one.
posted by wierdo at 11:19 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


And plus too! Horrifying fact I didn't know 'til I heard it on the news this morning:

[Regeneron] can also limit the body’s ability to fight future COVID infection and make vaccines less effective, according to its manufacturer.

posted by Don Pepino at 6:54 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


LITERAL DEATH CULT.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:55 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Sick COVID patients lie on floor at antibody treatment site in Florida (ABC) Florida authorities insist the sites, touted by the governor, are not overrun. [The city, Jacksonville, also issued a statement saying the centre where the photo was taken was not intended for people experiencing advanced covid symptoms.]

Gov. Abbott recommends Texans with COVID get Regeneron treatment, but not everyone is eligible.

DeSantis and Abbott are urging the 'free' Regeneron treatments, which are only 'free' because they're federally funded.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:18 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Florida native Kenneth Griffin, CEO of Citadel Securities, the 38th-richest American, was the biggest backer of DeSantis’ 2018 campaign. His largesse bought a makeshift trading floor in the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach last spring. As DeSantis ramps up his reelection bid, the largest donation to his political committee this cycle is a $5 million contribution from Kenneth Griffin. Griffin contributed $96 million to super PACs and other outside groups during the last three election cycles [but] the Texas Ethics Commission shows no direct donations from Griffin to Abbott.

Last November, Citadel Securities, as part of the Coalition to Prevent the Taxing of Retirement Savings, met with Gov. Abbott about relocating data center operations powering Wall Street’s daily trades from New Jersey to Texas (eyeing the Dallas-Forth Worth area). Why the interest in moving those operations from New Jersey: NJ A4402, a currently-in-committee bill [text] which "imposes a tax on persons or entities that process 10,000 or more financial transactions through electronic infrastructure located in New Jersey during the year. The tax is $0.0025 (a quarter of a cent) per financial transaction processed in New Jersey." Per the Dallas Morning News, "Officials in Virginia, North Carolina and Illinois also reportedly have had discussions with the coalition."
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:07 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]




No Bill Gates 5G Wifi semen damaging chips made from fetus parts in that one.

Actually, it's funny that you should mention that...

CBS News: Regeneron developed using cells derived from aborted fetal tissue

Bill Gates had no comment about his 5G Wifi semen, though.
posted by delfin at 2:00 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


The Cruelty Is the Point.

I can’t decide if this is “the cruelty of the point” or “people who don’t believe in government can’t govern.” Maybe a bit of each?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:23 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


In Mississippi, people are ingesting a livestock-supply center dewormer medication, ivermectin, to treat or prevent COVID-19. (MS Dept. of Health alert, Aug. 20, 2021.) There are approved uses for ivermectin in both people and animals. Patients should be advised to not take any medications intended to treat animals and should be instructed to only take ivermectin as prescribed by their physician. Animal drugs are highly concentrated for large animals and can be highly toxic in humans. Some of the symptoms associated with ivermectin toxicity include rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:26 PM on August 21


Excess of COVID-19 cases and deaths due to fine particulate matter exposure during the 2020 wildfires in the United States research study (Aug. 13, 2021); WaPo coverage: A team of researchers at Harvard University found evidence that exposure to elevated levels of fine particle pollution found in wildfire smoke may have led to thousands more cases of covid-19 and more deaths among those who tested positive for the coronavirus. In some counties in California and Washington state hit particularly hard by wildfires last year, the study, published in the journal Science Advances, concluded that nearly 20 percent of the covid-19 cases were linked to elevated levels of wildfire smoke. The researchers also found that an even higher percentage of deaths could be linked to wildfire smoke in certain counties.

Earlier studies have found evidence that air pollution can worsen the severity of covid-19 symptoms and hasten the spread of the novel coronavirus, although there is still uncertainty regarding how particles and the virus interact.
[The researchers] developed statistical models that analyzed data from 92 counties in California, Oregon and Washington state where wildfires occurred between March and December 2020. In those three states, more than 73,000 people have died of covid-19 during the pandemic.

Last week, the Caldor fire in California grew 24 times its size in two days to cover 62,586 acres by Wednesday. Wildfires mainly in the northern part of California have burned nearly 1.5 million acres, or roughly 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers) and have sent smoke as far as the East Coast. In the last five weeks, the Dixie Fire, about 175 miles (282 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, has become the second-largest in state history and blackened an area twice the size of Los Angeles. California is one of a dozen mostly Western states where 99 large, active fires were burning as of Friday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center; Nationally, 96 large fires have burned 2,427,574 acres.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:13 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile the CDC, still, Only Tracks a Fraction of Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections, Even as Cases Surge (ProPublica) A May 1 decision by the CDC to only track breakthrough infections that lead to hospitalization or death has left the nation with a muddled understanding of COVID-19's impact on the vaccinated. Individual states now set their own criteria for collecting data on breakthrough cases, resulting in a muddled grasp of COVID-19’s impact, leaving experts in the dark as to the true number of infections among the vaccinated, whether or not vaccinated people can develop long-haul illness, and the risks to unvaccinated children as they return to school.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:13 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Light relief: Australian Tourism Ad in 2021
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:03 AM on August 22


South Dakota sees 352% Covid surge in wake of biker event dubbed a ‘super spreader’ last year

The headline is referring to Sturgis where half a million bikers had a big party two weeks ago.
posted by Mitheral at 12:28 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


Nursing shortage worsens in South Dakota at a time when COVID-19 is reemerging (SD News Watch, Aug. 18, 2021) From 2015 to 2016, about 1,700 registered nurses left the South Dakota healthcare workforce. Last year, more than 2,500 nurses dropped out of the state workforce [...] South Dakota healthcare systems are at a competitive disadvantage because median pay for nurses in South Dakota is the lowest in the nation, according to federal labor data.

posted by Iris Gambol at 1:16 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Republican Gov Kristi Noem told The Associated Press that she has no plans to up her messaging on promoting the vaccine, claiming that messaging around it had reached “a saturation level where people start to tune you out”.
[...]
Ms Noem has previously been mocked for her anti-drug campaign slogan: “Meth. We’re On It.”

I think the article writer might've gotten fed up at the end there.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:39 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


It's a Yahoo "reprint" of US COVID-19 news from the UK's The Independent. Given the writer, Jade Bremner, has bylined stories like last month's Woman charged with making fake Covid vaccine cards (California homeopathic doctor has been arrested for allegedly selling ‘immunisation pellets’ with fraudulent documents), and this morning's Florida is first state where deaths higher in this Covid wave than previous ones, I think that closer can be considered restrained.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:28 PM on August 24


Ivermectin being given to inmates at Washington County Jail
posted by Mitheral at 7:40 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]


That could only be more stupid if they were getting it from Tractor Supply Company.

On the bright side, several local politicians have said that the news has caused them to rethink the appropriateness of the contract with the company providing health care services to inmates in the jail, so there's at least some chance of there being consequences to that particular idiocy.
posted by wierdo at 8:47 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Largest Study of Lingering COVID-19 Effects Suggests a Looming Problem (Time via Yahoo, Aug. 26, 2021) Among those hospitalized for COVID-19, 68% reported at least one continued, COVID-19-related symptom six months after their first symptoms appeared. While this percentage decreased by the 12-month mark, it remained relatively high, at 49%. And overall, patients who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 self-reported being in poorer health and having lower quality of life—including mobility issues— compared to controls.

The most common symptom patients reported 12 months later was fatigue or muscle weakness; other issues included sleep disturbances, changes in taste and smell, dizziness, headache and shortness of breath. Certain symptoms were actually worse at the 12-month mark than they were earlier on in the study: the proportion of patients reporting breathing problems increased slightly, from 26% to 30%, from six months to a year following their first symptoms. [David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai’s Long COVID rehabilitation program] notes that while the recent Lancet study only focused on hospitalized COVID-19 patients, other, albeit smaller, studies have shown that COVID-19 symptoms may linger in around 20% of those who get infected but don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital.

The study: 1-year outcomes in hospital survivors with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study (The Lancet, Aug. 28, 2021)

South Dakota's COVID cases spike by more than 500% in weeks after Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (NY Daily News via Yahoo, Aug. 27, 2021)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:40 PM on August 27 [5 favorites]


This is one exceptionally nasty virus.

I had H1N1, it knocked me for a loop unlike anything I've experienced, but there were no long term effects... at least none that I'm aware of.
posted by chaz at 10:42 PM on August 27


UGA professor resigns mid-class after student refuses to wear mask

Totally reasonable IMO. I just wish everybody was in a position to behave this way.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:19 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


Don't fuck with a retiree/rehire, you KNOW they don't have to put up with this shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:52 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


That University of Georgia story is wild. Professor Irwin Bernstein is 88! He taught there for more than half a century. The student missed the first in-person class for the upper division psychology seminar, when the professor told his students that he would teach under a “no mask, no class” policy; unmasked students were to retrieve one from the front office and the Advising Office. Student showed up bare-faced to the second class, was given a spare mask by a classmate, and twice refused to wear it over her nose. At the front of the classroom was a board reading "No Mask, No Class;" after the second prompting, Bernstein took pains to explain that his age and pre-existing medical conditions meant a COVID-19 infection could kill him. The student didn't answer.

Bernstein, who was already informed that two of his absent students tested positive for COVID-19, then announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately. “At that point I said that whereas I had risked my life to defend my country while in the Air Force, I was not willing to risk my life to teach a class with an unmasked student during this Pandemic,” Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black. “I then resigned my retiree-rehire position.”

After Bernstein exited the seminar --
Gobsmacked students: “You know we need this class to graduate, right?”
Unrepentant chaos agent: “This is a blessing in disguise.”
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:56 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]




When Dr. Meridith Styer asked a rhetoric class at Georgia College & State University to wear masks because she had a family member for whom COVID could be fatal, she said one student declined, left the class and told the dean that she had kicked him out. Styer, who holds a doctorate in rhetoric and political culture, resigned last week over her institution’s response to the incident in her class. The student’s reasons for failing to put on his mask? He was not required to do so by the college, and “it was time to get back to normal.”

In her two years at Georgia College, Styer founded and directed the Lake Sinclair Safe Center to provide shelter for victims of domestic violence. She became involved in the community, working with leaders in health care, business and charitable groups. She served in the University Senate. She reached out to rural students. “I am everything they want junior tenure-track faculty to be, and they lost me because I didn’t feel safe in this environment,” she said. “The USG’s policy choice also endangered at least two of my students who identified as medically compromised, were unable to get accommodations, and had to be in classrooms with other unmasked students. I want to be very clear, I resigned because of USG policy that made it unsafe to work at Georgia College as a faculty member or to learn at Georgia College as a student.”


In Georgia, 5,359,671 people or 50.48% of the population have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Overall, 4,343,902 people or 40.91% of Georgia's population have been fully vaccinated. Yesterday, there were 8,379 newly reported COVID-19 cases and 61 newly reported COVID-19 deaths there.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation's public health agency, is headquartered in Atlanta.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:30 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


As a USG faculty member, I am so damn proud of my colleagues
posted by hydropsyche at 5:30 AM on August 29 [8 favorites]


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