War against pandemic changes course

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is equally contagious whether it’s contracted by a vaccinated or unvaccinated person…This means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are equally capable of transmitting the virus to other people.

Health officials need to acknowledge that “the war has changed,” one CDC slide said. “Given higher transmissibility … universal masking is essential to reduce transmission of the Delta variant…”

…vaccinated people are eight times less likely than unvaccinated people to contract COVID-19. Vaccinated people are also 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or to die from the coronavirus…Symptomatic breakthrough infections seem to be happening among 0.0098 percent of all fully vaccinated people, according to an ABC News study of cases reported by the CDC last week.

Folks have to understand that guidance from health officials has to change when more up-to-date testing against this new variant shows different results from the earlier virus. Of course, the response has to change, too. Here in New Mexico, we’re in the top ten of states with an adequate vaccination rate. Though some vaccinated folks – including my wife and I – had stopped wearing masks, we WILL BE WEARING MASKS this morning when we go to town for our weekly grocery shopping.

Given everything included in the phrase “Santa Fe Style” – I expect virtually everyone we see shopping at Trader Joe’s will be masked.

Covid is already deadlier this year than all of 2020

A return to a sense of normalcy in the U.S. has been boosted by the country’s relatively high vaccination rates, with 53% of the population having received at least one dose. By contrast, some of the world’s poorest countries are yet to register a single dose…

Speaking on Tuesday during a news conference on the pandemic, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the highly transmissible delta variant was the “greatest threat” to the nation’s attempt to eliminate Covid.

Delta, first identified in India, now makes up about 20% of all new cases in the United States, up from 10% about two weeks ago, Fauci said. He has previously warned the country must avoid falling into the trap of believing the coronavirus crisis was over and no longer needed to be addressed…

Health experts are concerned about the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant. The Covid variant first identified in India is thought to be on track to become the dominant strain of the disease worldwide.

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Thursday that the spread of the delta variant in the U.S. was “highly concerning,” noting its prevalence in the country is currently doubling every 10 to 14 days.

Sadly, most Americans fail at understanding public health questions at rates similar to their understanding of mathematics. Worth worrying about.

Social Distancing…with feathers


Burrowing owls
Amateur category/Andrew Lee/Audubon Photography Awards/2020

Click to enlarge

In my neck of the prairie, burrowing owls are about the most common owl there is. Yes, I have other favorites. But, burrowing owls are critters you might bump into most any owl-time you’re wandering around rural New Mexico. Though, not in numbers like this.

COVID-19 deaths won’t peak in most states for weeks

The model, which uses data from cellphones to determine the impact of social distancing, provides a daily estimate of fatalities from COVID-19 in the United States for the coming weeks.

The findings indicate the number of deaths almost certainly has not yet peaked and is not likely to peak in many states until after May 1, a finding in contrast to one of the most frequently cited models.

The new model, from the University of Texas at Austin…uses data from the US to estimate the impact of recent social distancing measures within each state…

“On average, there seems to be a three-to-four week lag between when someone gets infected with COVID-19 and when they’re at risk of death,” says Lauren Ancel Meyers, who leads the University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

“That means we’re just beginning to see the life-saving benefits — and the clear signal in the data — of social distancing that began in mid- to late March.”…

In addition to using local movement data from individual US states to make projections rather than drawing on patterns observed in other countries, another difference in the new model is that it accounts for greater uncertainty further in the future.

Not that our Fake President and his 19th Century advisors pay much attention to models based on scientific studies. Good sense tells us to minimize deaths from this plague. Fearless Leader is more concerned with fund-raising for the next presidential election.

Social distancing management with Republicans in charge


Click to enlargeAustin Boschen/AP
Waiting to go through customs at Dallas Fort Worth Airport

The Trump administration needs to “get its shit together” in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, the governor of Illinois said on Saturday, as travelers returning to the US at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport waited more than four hours for required medical screenings…

On Saturday night, Illinois governor JB Pritzker tweeted directly at Trump and Pence, noting that the customs process is under federal jurisdiction and demanding they take action to ease the crowding at O’Hare.

“The crowds and lines … are unacceptable and need to be addressed immediately,” Pritzker wrote.

“Since this is the only communication medium you pay attention to – you need to do something NOW. These crowds are waiting to get through customs which is under federal jurisdiction…

“The federal government needs to get its s@#t together. NOW.”…

“I’m less concerned about having to stand here for the amount of time that I am, and more concerned about where the people are traveling from that are around me and what they may or may not have been exposed to,” one traveler, Dorothy Lowe, told WFAA-TV at Dallas/Fort Worth international airport, where some waits stretched to three hours…

“We have not reached our peak,” said Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health at the same White House briefing. “We will see more cases, and we will see more suffering and death.”…

Regular readers will know I haven’t much respect for either of the two old political parties conventionally allowed in the United States. Those in charge range in practice from quasi-fascists to unimaginative incompetents. Regardless of either party’s history, their elemental function, nowadays, is to grease the wheels of short-term commerce. And today’s lackeys do a piss-poor job of that, as well.

There is no essential concern for the needs of the nation, the people who constitute the body of citizens – or their families. The self-serving creeps-in-charge have a single agenda: Take the money and run.

Do I generally support Democrats? Of course. They are “the best of a bad lot”. That’s not saying a lot for our future.